Shepherd of Another Flock by David Wilbourne
|Shepherd of Another Flock by David Wilbourne|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A frank, funny and poignant view of a parish priest juggling a Yorkshire rural parish, a family and a bike on a daily basis. A slice of life that's as entertaining, engaging and enlightening whether you're a church goers or a church shunner.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson|
David Wilbourne's CV looks like a career path for people who are hard-of-humoured. Banker, teacher of Ancient Greek, vicar, bishop…none of these are jobs normally connected in our minds with a jovial twinkle. Yet in David's case we'd be totally wrong to assume. The current Bishop of Llandaff takes us by the hand to show us episodes from his life as vicar of the character-packed Yorkshire parish of Helmsley proving that tears of sorrow are equally shared with tears of laughter.
Being a clergy spouse as we're known in the trade… (Yes, I know!) I can certainly vouch for the authenticity David packs into every chapter. Literally all human life and emotion is here. From the poignant privilege of being with someone in their final moments to the fun of David's children formulating a way to keep warm in a draughty, old vicarage. (I can so empathise there!) Also watch out for the coffee-choking laughter moments like when David overheard a farmer calling in his cows by name. (None of them were exactly Daisy or Clover!)
There are also some fascinating back-story vignettes in a time when World War II was still a living memory and tales more Boys' Own than Ambridge surface from time to time. Personally I don't think I'll ever forget David's wife Rachel's friend Pessy's (still with me?) story. Pessy escaped the Nazis as a child via her mother risking all on a particularly brave gambit.
As it's a memoir of Yorkshire village life, the comparisons to James Herriot with a bike and a different kind of dog collar are expected but in many ways unfair. This is a book that more than stands on its own merits.
There are plenty more revelations ready to leap out at us. In 336 pages David debunks any idea of clergy stuffiness or (for those in the trade) Bishopish middle management authoritarianism with verve, humour and honesty, not to mention courage. No, it's not every vicar who would reveal the inner wrangles of church politics and that necessary nemesis for all clergy, the parish parochial council (PCC).
David Wilbourne is well respected for standing up for his beliefs, sometimes against the church hierarchy. Here, alongside his credentials as a man faithful to his calling and principals, he also comes across as a guy who can write; someone we'd be happy to buy a pint in exchange for a story or two. By the evidence of this book, it'd be worth every penny.
(We'd like to thank Sidgwick & Jackson for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If this appeals and you'd like to read more about the inside of the Church of England, from the learner clergy's angle this time, we also recommend Becoming Reverend: A diary by Matt Woodcock. If, at the very mention of James Herriot, you fancy something more akin to the original country vet, then it's Call the Vet: Farmers, Dramas and Disasters - My First Year as a Country Vet by Anna Birch.
You can read more book reviews or buy Shepherd of Another Flock by David Wilbourne at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Shepherd of Another Flock by David Wilbourne at Amazon.com.
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