Proving that ministers have talents outside of ministry Rev Robin Fox, from the Cheshire South Circuit, tells us about his more unusual talent that saw him on primetime TV recently.
"A tap-dancing minister, that'd be cool – it'd be camp". So said Michelle Visage on a recent episode of "Game of Talents" where she and her teammate had to guess the talent of the performer standing in front of them.
No prizes for guessing who the minister was, but unfortunately for her, I'm not a tap-dancer, I'm an escapologist. I went on to be shackled to a chair and had 30 seconds to escape before a rack of spikes came crashing down onto me.
Well, the fact that I'm writing this report some weeks after the event shows that I made it, but watching the episode from my favourite armchair showed that it was rather closer than I realised at the time. As the warning on-screen said, "Do not try this at home"
Yet it was seeing another escapologist on TV sometime round about 1976 that made me decide that I did want to try this at home – and at school, and wherever I could get the opportunity. In the same way as some people get a buzz from following a football team, or train-spotting, or collecting stamps or whatever, my interest was escapes.
I was contacted by ITV about the show a couple of years ago, but things had to grind to a halt with the onset of the pandemic. When it was looking like filming could resume after Easter, they contacted me again, and in a phone call they mentioned what the escape they had in mind was. I was taking the call hands-free whilst driving, and I am only thankful that I was stopped at traffic lights when they explained what it would involve. But several phone and zoom calls later, I was reassured that it was safer than it looks, but for someone with a fear of fire, it took some persuading to have the rope above the spikes set on fire, and in rehearsal the day before filming, the first time the fire was lit, I was terrified.
Well, many of you have seen the show for yourself, and if you haven't but are interested, it's still available on the ITV hub if you can get that – "Game of Talents" series 1 episode 7, first broadcast 22 May.
Yes, I do occasionally use escapes in ministry if the occasion lends itself to it which open-air events often do. Certainly it can be the basis of talks / sermons about freedom, trust etc and it's usually an illustration which people remember. Like many other things this past 18 months, it's something which has had to take a back seat as I haven't been able to have people close enough to get me into whatever I'm escaping from, but hopefully I will be doing some around the Cheshire South circuit, and maybe the wider district in due course.
Now, where can I find a decent pair of tap-shoes?