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'This is Holy Week'
by Fr Richard Coles, Senior Curate

Russell Harty is perhaps not a figure one readily associates with Holy Week, but every year, when it comes round, I find myself thinking of him. Do you remember that notorious interview with Grace Jones on his ITV chat show? She was somewhat the worse for wear and when Mr Harty unavoidably turned his back on her to speak to another guest she started slapping him quite viciously. An Amazon attacking a poodle, I thought, or did until I got to know Mr Harty better.

Unusually, I only got to know him after his death. I was asked to write and present a documentary about his life for Radio Four, which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. We interviewed his friends, from Oxford, where he was a contemporary and pal of Alan Bennett and Ned Sherrin; from Yorkshire, where he lived, including a hilarious interview with Madge Hindle from Coronation Street (or Myra Hindley as he absentmindedly introduced her at the opening of Giggleswick Fête); and his family in Blackburn, who never really understood Uncle Russell and his fancy London ways. They were pretty fancy – confidante of the stars, chat show host, arts journalist for the BBC, and a man of great gusto and occasional mischief, to the delight of his friends. He was irrepressible, incorrigible; Ned Sherrin remembered visiting him as he lay dying in hospital in Leeds. As Ned approached his bedside Russell feebly pulled at his oxygen mask; what is it Russell?, asked Ned, aware that the end was near. Russell whispered, Princess Margaret... asked how I was... twice!
There were other famous stories; of how he was once at a do near Leeds with the Princess of Wales who asked him if he’d like a lift back to London in her helicopter. He gratefully accepted, talked non stop all the way to RAF Northolt, and on arrival promptly hailed a cab to drive him all the way back to Yorkshire where he actually needed to be. 
Although I never met him in reality, making the programme made me think I had, that we too were friends. His biography was so vivid, his personality so striking, that when those who really knew him told their stories he came to life for me. I could see him in my mind’s eye as as they did. I suppose I felt part of his story.
Holy Week is here and over the next seven days we share the story of the climactic events of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, another vivid biography of a man who died young, in disgrace, leaving an indelible impression on his friends. But, as the great liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter remind us, he was more than a striking personality, and this this is more than mere story-telling. It is nothing less than an invitation to share in his life, in his death, and in the glory of his resurrection.
 
THE WEEK AHEAD
Palm Sunday at St Paul's:
At 09:00:  Family Mass & Blessing of Palms 
At 11:00:  Blessing of Palms, Procession & Solemn Mass
At 18:00:  Evening Prayer (said)

Monday & Tuesday in Holy Week
09:00: Morning Prayer
18:00: Low Mass

Wednesday in Holy Week
18:45: Wednesday The Wednesday Evening Service

Maundy Thursday:
At 19:30: The Solemn Liturgy of Maundy Thursday 
 
Good Friday:
At 10:30: Stations of the Cross for children
At noon: The Preaching of the Cross - Fr Richard Coles
At 14:00: The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday

Holy Saturday:
At 09:00: Morning Prayer
then cleaning of the church and preparations for Easter
At 20:30: Vigil, Blessing of the New Fire & First Mass of Easter 
followed by a champagne reception

Easter Day:
At 09:00:  Family Mass
At 11:00:  Solemn Mass
At 18:00:  Evening Prayer (said)

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St Paul's Knightsbridge (www.spkb.org) is an Anglican church of Anglo-Catholic tradition in central London, part of the Diocese of London (www.london.anglican.org) and the Church of England (www.cofe.anglican.org). To contact us,please either call +44 (0)207 201 9999 or email us: pa@spkb.org   OR you could call in and visit in person. We are open for prayer seven days a week from 9am until after the evening mass. The clergy are happy to visit those unable to come to St Paul's - or to meet you at the church. Please pray for us - as we will for you.

Vicar: Fr Alan Gyle;  Senior Curate: Fr Richard Coles; Assistant clergy: Frs Nick Mercer, Graham Palmer and Andrew Norwood.
Churchwardens: John Tweddle and Caroline Docker
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