08 April 2021, The Tablet

Don’t leave me this way

Don’t leave me this way

Richard Coles
Photo: Alamy, Gary Doak


The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 192 PP, £16.99)
Tablet bookshop price £15.29 • tel 020 7799 4064

Even before he appeared in the 2017 series of Strictly Come Dancing, Richard Coles was one of the most famous and gifted men in Britain. He can act, sing, ­compose music, play numerous musical instruments, including the piano, broadcast wittily – and write, as this book proves. That’s why it was a relief to many of us to discover from Strictly that at least he couldn’t dance.

In the 1980s, Coles had partnered Jimmy Somerville in their band the Communards, achieving three Top Ten hits, including the best-selling Don’t Leave Me This Way. In his memoir, Fathomless Riches, he described the journey from his pop days to his current pos­ition as vicar of Finedon in Northamptonshire, where, in 2005, he entered a civil partnership with another Church of England priest, David Oldham. The Madness of Grief opens on
13 December 2019. Richard Coles had been in London giving a speech and got back to the vicarage to find David lying in front of the fire, with a pile of bloodstained tissues “like scattered carnations, encircling him”. Four days later, on 17 December, he was dead.

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