Canon Giles Fraser loses St Paul’s £20k a day
Last weekend, when the Metropolitan Police began to clear the ‘Occupy London’ protestors from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Canon Giles Fraser instead told the police to leave. In an act of Christian charity, he defended the rights of the demonstrators to protest (presumably because he agreed with them), and even invited them in to Sunday worship.
That was nice. But it's all backfired. For the first time in living memory, this great cathedral has been forced to close its doors. The Dean has written an open letter to the protestors advising them that there is no lawful alternative but to close St Paul’s Cathedral until further notice. The reason? ‘Health & Safety’.
You see, each tent has a stove of some sort, and with all this Calor Gas ‘there is a very clear fire hazard’ which constitutes a ‘public health aspect which indeed speaks for itself’.
Does it? One wonders how the Lord might ever have imparted the 10 Commandments if Moses, faced with a burning bush, had pleaded ‘Health & Safety’. Would he have said to God, with a very heavy heart, that it is simply not possible ‘in the current circumstances’ for him to fulfil his obligations to the hordes encamped at the bottom of Mt Sinai?
It is all very amusing in a way, for Canon Giles Fraser is actually the Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser – that is to say, like Judas (Jn 13:29), he guards the purse: he is in charge of St Paul’s Exchequer. And he writes very eloquently in such exuberant capitalist terms that the ‘Occupy London’ hordes might consider that the closure of the Stock Exchange last weekend was somewhat fortuitous and that they have stumbled upon a veritable den of unrepentant capitalists in the House of God. In his most recent report, the Canon tells us:
The number of paying visitors to the cathedral recorded a small increase and the global economy continued a recovery. Net assets at the year end increased to £19.0 million (2009 £15.3 million) after taking account of a decrease in the FRS17 pension deficit of £0.73 million.And he goes on to talk of the cathedral’s key income generator being ‘the number of paying visitors’ which increased by 1% in the year to 820,000 (2009 812,000) yielding an income ‘on which the cathedral remains heavily dependent to enable it to sustain its work and mission’. We are told that the surplus amounted to £1.27 million (2009 £1.46 million) which maintains ‘a strong liquidity position’.
And reaching the full flight of capitalist-accountant mode, the Canon Chancellor goes on to talk about the strength of global financial markets; investment units; endowment funds; the valuation of the investment portfolio; low interest rates; dividends; Triple A Rating; investment and property portfolios; the valuation of the assets of the closed pension scheme; and the Church of England’s ‘ethical investment policy’. In total, we are told, the gross income from St Paul’s commercial activities, which included admission charges, the crypt shop and event income, increased by £0.66 million to £8.25 million.
This will be the reason that the Dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, is mighty annoyed with the Canon Chancellor. For if the gross income from commercial activities - including admission charges, the crypt shop and event income - amounts to £8.25 million per annum, for each day the Cathedral closes its doors, it is losing in excess of £20,000. In commemoration of the colossal folly of the Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser, who ushered away the police who were ushering away the protestors, His Grace has rewritten the lyrics of a song which was also set on the steps of St Paul’s. Enjoy:
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul's
The Occupy hordes hoist their tents.
And the Canon Giles Fraser welcomes and calls,
"Come, gather at our great expense.
Come curse the capitalist world, show them you care,
And you'll be glad if you do.
As you queue for your Starbucks,
We’ll grant you a prayer;
Though our flock is kept out of the pew."
Feed the hordes, £20k a day,
£20k, £20k, £20k a day.
"Feed the hordes," that's what he cries,
While the Dean and Chapter are forced to economise.
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as the protest grows.
But the doors are locked shut as the tourists all jostle
While the hordes force the cathedral to close.
Though his words are simple and few,
Listen, listen, he's calling to you:
"Feed the hordes, £20k a day,
£20k, £20k, £20k a day."