Rector's Letter, August 2000.

 "I want you to write your own obituary," said the nun with a disarming smile, "I'll be back in an hour."  She swept out of the Chapel and left me to chew the end of my pencil.  How will I be remembered?  How would I like to be remembered?  Will I be remembered at all!  More than once it has occurred to me that an appropriate epitaph for my tombstone would be "Jeff… who?"

 Last night, in bed, I read an obituary for Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury 1980-91 who died in July aged 78.  As an officer with the Scots Guards during the Second World War, he was decorated for bravery.  Whilst commanding a squadron of three tanks, one was hit and set ablaze.  Despite coming under heavy fire, he not only rescued the crew of the burning tank but went on to capture the enemy position.  He was awarded the Military Cross for his courage and leadership under heavy fire.  Little did he know that it would ideal preparation for his career in the Church!

 The media portrayed him as a weak and indecisive man.  Journalists joked he always nailed his colours firmly to the fence that he sat on.  This portrayal was complete nonsense of course.  He was man enough to turn down two Bishoprics. He commissioned the Faith in the City report despite massive opposition from the Tory government of the day who called it "Marxist".  And it took a brave man indeed to stand up to the ire of Mrs Thatcher when he remembered the bereaved of Argentina during the Falklands Memorial Service.  He never avoided controversy, and yet was portrayed as the arch-appeaser.  If anything, I suspect he suffered from being a reasonable man!

 I never did manage to write my own obituary, much to my nun's disappointment.  Having seen those written for Robert Runcie I've decided that you have to be dead before you get a decent write-up anyway.  Judging a man's life is a fearsome thing to undertake.  I'll leave that to God and the Daily Telegraph.

 Jeff Cuttell.

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