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Lines written in praise of Michael and Kate Coulson

on the occasion of their departure from St Johns to reside in Birmingham in September 1999, after the manner of Sir William Topaz McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian

I dedicate my ode to Mike and Kate Coulson
for whom in praise I could not be more fulsome.
Two great Caledonian people, and who dare say they are not?
For though Michael claims to be a Geordie, by temperament and by marriage he is certainly a Scot.
As they leave us for the great city of Birmingham
Taking their three boys James, Andrew and Sam.

They will first be remembered as those two brave souls
Who chose to reverse their domestic roles
And Kate it was who went out in the profession of law to work
But Michael as househusband did not his duties shirk
For surely the stress of being a solicitor
Is more restful than spending the day picking up Hula Hoops from the floor
(Though Kate hasn’t yet found, it is sad to tell
A way to let Michael do the giving birth bit as well).
And it was a bold step as I do propose
For someone as macho as Michael to have chose
And yet who would dare think himself superior
To a man whose job had once been selling Guinness in Nigeria?
For at every stage of Michael’s career
He has always retained a strong connection with beer
And when to the great metropolis he came with his lovely wee bride
It must be said that pride in London was less important to him than London Pride
And no member of clergy could resist the charms
Of a staff meeting in the Foresters’ Arms
For he has been a deputy church warden here since nineteen hundred and seventy three
Or at least so it seems to me
And several members of the PCC
(Although there was a brief period of backsliding which few people names
when they sneaked off to worship at St James).

Now a ministry has been given to each
And Kate the Climbers for so long did faithfully teach
And at the piano did grandly play
On many a happy service I am bound to say
Though mostly it was on Sunday evening
where her skills will be sorely missed now that they are levening
For she even knows what those wee black dots and lines on the paper mean
which is more than can be said for many of the St Johns Music Team.

Now Mike’s manner was sometimes gruff, but let it be known throughout the planet
That beneath this rough exterior beats a heart of pure granite.
If Michael had been one of the twelve that Jesus chose
He’d have been the one arranging the seating for 5000 to sit in rows.
A handyman, an estate agent and a tough negotiator
(Though he’d buy you a pint of Directors’ later)
And he kept a cool head when choosing vicars
Where many others may be getting a twist in their knickers
And he knew something no-one had ever known in St Johns before
That was the right key for every single door
(Although it is said that one night his concentration slipped
And Joan Hills did spend the rest of the weekend in the crypt)
But he did not have to do all this alone as we have found
For St Johns has a caretaker who lives underground
And between Michael and Gary the teamwork was plain
The Batman and Robin of Mattock Lane
They would furnish the buildings and fit burglar alarms
So none of the staff might come to harms
And yet when the hard work is done and the time comes to play - Oh
Then Mark Sheard the church warden arrives in his Alpha Group Romeo
And takes all the glory with his smooth manner and terrible shirts
And the real heroes never get their proper deserts.

Yet his greatest achievement, we will say with feeling
Was to fix the clock of St Johns, West Ealing.
For many years time had stood still
From the days of Stan until shortly before the coming of Will
You never knew if you were late or soon
For it was always either midnight or noon
(Though some did say, and this seemed churlish to me,
That this was normal in the CofE).
But Michael did tackle diocese of London and Willesden
And made sure they would pay the Billesden
And he supervised the workers almost every day
To make sure they finished without delay
And he was not above cajoling and scolding
Especially those who erected the scaffolding
So much that they threatened to sue everyone in sight
And things were not settled until Mark Sheard stepped in with his impression of Madeleine Allbright
But Mike’s diligent labours did get their reward
And time moves on again now the clock has been restored
So whene’er we look up at the tower of St Johns, West Ealing
We will remember them with deep and grateful feeling.
So let us all give thanks for Mike and Kate Coulson
For whom in praise I could not be more fulsome.

Read at a morning service at St John's, West Ealing, September 13th 1999.