If only Anglican bishops could marry, etc.
One day, a friend rang me up and told me the Archbishop of Canterburythen George Careywas having a bit of trouble. Apparently, a Sunday newspaper had claimed that he was "tired and emotional" and that his marriage was falling apart.
So I was asked to go over to Lambeth Palace to advise him. I have to say that I found the offer quite interesting, mainly because Id never met an archbishop before, let alone a tired and emotional one.
As soon as I entered Careys study, he pointed to himself and said: "Right! Do I look tired and emotional?"
I said: "Well, let me give you one immediate piece of advice, Your Grace. Dont ever say that again. Because the moment you say it, you put the thought into somebodys mind and they start imagining that you do indeed look tired and emotional."
After that, he kept going on about how happily married he was. Then he asked if I could give him my advice as a PR man.
So I said, "Yes, Your Grace. But forgive me; Ive never met an archbishop before, so would you mind us saying a prayer to make our consultation successful."
This completely nonplussed him. He said: "Er, do you have any particular prayer in mind?"
"No, youre the Archbishop," I answered. "You know all the prayers. You decide whats best."
He said: "Do you want us to kneel?" and I replied: "Thats not a bad idea." So we knelt at his desk.
At the precise moment Carey started his prayer, the door of his study opened and a lady with a tea tray walked in and looked at us very strangely.
"Where do you want me to put the tea?" she asked. She was shaking her head as she left the room.
In the end, Carey and I had a perfectly good and constructive session. I told him to stop going on and on about homosexual priests and same-sex marriage and women priests, and instead start talking about belief in God.
Carey looked at me as though I was very naïve. Then he took me over to a horizontal framed picture on the wall that contained all his bishops in a series of long rows.
"Its not easy, you know," he said. "This job. I mean, I have to control this lot." He started to point at individual bishops in the photograph, saying things like: "This ones gay, this one has no belief in God, this one believes in black magic, this one is a suspected paedophile..."
It was extraordinary. I said: "I feel very sorry for you. But surely theres one thing that youve got in common. You have faith."
He looked as though he was anything but sure.