Black Tights, Old Rites

If I told you that I found a pair of black, ladies’ tights in my study, what would you think? That I was a suspicious man, collecting ladies’ clothes for no good purpose? That I was an immoral man, hosting unseemly goings-on in an otherwise respectable dwelling house? That I was a woke fellow, imbibing the culture’s current obsession with destroying defined gender?

In fact, it took even me a whole week to remember why they were in my possession. I had found them in a storage box and was rather appalled to even touch them. Then I realised. In 1996, I had a part in the school play Henry the Tudor Dude. I was Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the first evangelical prelate of Reformation England. I wore as my costume a dark cloak with fur lining and the real Bishop of Lancaster’s gold-threaded mitre (the geography teacher who was Stage Manager said he would literally murder me if I damaged it). The problem was my legs- what to wear? My aunt 'lent' me a pair of her black tights which seemed to nicely finish off the look. I guess I kept them at the show’s close as they were the only part of that fabulous costume I would be allowed to keep.

Sadly, I can find no photograph from that performance, but to this day I consider it a privilege to have played so great a man, even in an irreverent school play not short of inuendo and cheap laughs. I hope that I shall play well the man when, like him, I have to face a change of government which is positively hostile to the gospel. In former dark times, God raised up Cranmer. As our own times darken, I pray He will raise up another.

In the Scriptures be the fat pastures of the soul; therein is no venomous meat, no unwholesome thing; they be the very dainty and pure feeding. He that is ignorant, shall find there what he should learn.

-Thomas Cranmer.