wordsout by godfrey rust
< all souls >


Roger Simpson's calypso

for Roger Simpson, on his departure in 1984 from All Souls, Langham Place, where he had been Director of Evangelism, going first to visit Australia before pastoring a church in Vancouver

I just flew in on an aeroplane
from Sydney, New South Wales,
where I heard the most extraordinary
quite amazing tales
and I come straight here cos I realise
you’re probably filled with wonder
to hear the latest things that’s happenin’
in the colonies Down Under.

Well there’s been many great evangelists
who made a great sacrifice
like St Paul and Billy Graham
and the man who make the Pilau rice
but it’s none of these great preachers
who’s the subject of my rhymes
but a man who’s not quite Wesley
(though he can be Moody at times)

The day that Roger went to Australia
there were more people on their knees
than in the day when Hudson Tayl-ia
went to convert the Red Chinese

Well the Simpson style of preaching
had the locals quite dismayed,
and praying with your nose in the carpet
just isn’t done in Adelaide
but once they got used to the accent
he soon became the rage–
a sort of cross between Rupert Murdoch
and Dame Edna Everage

The day that Roger went to Australia
they all said “Who is this man?!”
and there was such a lot of paraphernalia,
I better tell you how it all began.

Now he started as an anthropologist
in the Sixties’ student boom,
he was working the halls of residence
going from room to room to room.
If I’d argued about evolution
with Roger in his sheepskin coat
and his beard and his hair and his manic laugh,
I tell you Darwin would have got my vote

The day that Roger took the collection
with bleached hair and bare feet
there were doubts about his ACCM selection–
there were no vicars down on Carnaby Street

Well his behaviour became quite mysterious
about this time in his career,
he was working in Surrey and Sussex and Kent
but kept turning up in Oxfordshire.
There could only be one reason—
it was a girl that he had met
in his youthful days in Kenya,
and now he was kenya yet

The day that Roger proposed to Mushy,
could he do it? Would they love each other true?
He wondered, wouldn’t she or wushy?
Well she would and he did and they do.

He had to go to a college of theology,
there was no way he could dodge,
some say that it was Nottingham—
well it was certainly knotting Rog—
but the days of miracles are not over
and he passed in a way that’s unique
though we wonder what will happen if the bishop
     finds out
he never did quite pass his Greek

The day that Roger preached his first sermon
they were cheering in the back of the stands
but in one quiet corner of the platform
was John Stott with his head in his hands.

Now some preachers are polite but quite
they won't take the bull by the horns,
and some are just inscrutable,
like the Reverend Andrew Cornes,
and some wear their hearts upon their sleeve
and you wonder where they'll stop,
but Roger wears his on a placard on a
     ten-foot pole
with a neon light flashing on top.

And some preachers write their material
in a most original way,
and some lean unashamedly
on the fashions of the day
but Roger's style is simple,
both evangelical and true,
while others just use three sermon points
he has just three jokes and three sermons too

The day that Roger went to Australia
he left nobody in the dark
about his legendary moral failure
with a parking ticket in Hyde Park

Now some people are celebrities,
they have lots of parties and wives
and you can read in the Sunday papers
all the details of their daily lives.
Well Mushy doesn't get in the papers
but she's a celebrity all right
cos you can hear all the latest developments
in a pulpit on a Sunday night.

When Roger preached his first sermon
a soap opera began
and we been followin' the Simpson family
through the seven ages of man.
Now some people like to spend the evening
in front of their tv
but an All Souls sermon has a much better script
than Dallas or Dynasty

The day that Thomas got a new brother
it was another act in the play
and now we hear that there's another
little sermon illustration on the way.

Though Roger liked working in London
it was dreadfully comforta-bull
and the challenge of pagan England
had a most emphatic pull,
so he started to go on missions
where the pagan culture dwells
in the most deprived of parishes
like Esher and Tunbridge Wells.

He'd been looking at styles of evangelism
in his painstaking research
till he found a way to guarantee
that you could pack them into any church:
you had to get all the people invitin'
all their friends from the neighbourhood
to lots of interesting meetings
where you gave them lots of food—

The day that Roger took his missions
into the supper party game
his list of converts started expanding
and his waistline did exactly the same.

Now they say that he looked like a filmstar,
though I'm really not too sure,
but more than one American visitor
has mistaken him for Dudley Moore,
or you could hear a trace of Clint Eastwood
in the click of a cowboy boot—
but the image was forever shattered
the day he bought that awful suit...

The day that Simpson put on a pinstripe
there was no place he could hide—
the man who once might have rivalled
     Paul Newman
looked like the man from Nationwide.

But now he's preached in California
and he's preached in Switzerland,
he's been called to preach across the world
and we'll try to understand:
they say How lovely are the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news
but they plainly ain't seen Roger
in the morning in his jogging shoes.

Roger and Mushy we're going to miss
you more than can be told—
it's not that you're irreplaceable,
it's just that God must have broken the mould—
and the reason we laugh when you're preaching
is that you make us laugh at ourselves
(andit'sa fact that your longest sermon
is not as long as Eric Delve's...)

The day that Roger went to Australia
it was a bad day in London town,
but though you know we're going to bewalia
it is a good day
(do you know it is a good day...?) 
it is a good day to be upside down!

Performed at a farewell party for Roger and Mushy Simpson in someone's back garden sometime late in 1984.