Richard Coles used to be the piano player in the Communards, now he’s a broadcaster and a priest. Here’s an extract from his new review of Is God Still An Englishman? “We grew up through the same dramas: Thatcherism, the miners’ strike, the rise and fall of Lady Di and New Labour. Moreton writes about these brilliantly, with a journalist’s sense for the telling detail and for seeing which were important and why.”
For example, he suggests that the public display of emotion, such a striking feature of modern British life, really took shape in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at a Cup match.
Moreton’s version of the story begins with a little boy at home worrying what has become of his 10-year-old cousin, whom he knows to be at the match. His cousin is its youngest victim, mourned by Kenny Dalglish, Kop hero, who focused the mood of Merseyside and the media’s attention, anticipating that extraordinary week in September 1997 when the Princess of Wales died.
And then a return to the scene-setting detail: the little boy who lost his cousin turns out to be Steven Gerrard, since captain of Liverpool and England. It is all there: history, drama, passion, the personal and the political, and that mixture of shrewdness and sentimentality so characteristic of our age.”