No Life for Brian (or anyone else) in Ceredigion

“Leave that Welsh tart alone”. I failed to spot that odd line when I first watched Life of Brian 39 years or so ago. Why does Brian’s mother so describe his girlfriend in a film set in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.? Catching it last night reminded me of my article below, written in 2008.

The new Mayor of Aberystwyth faces a battle as she tries to lift the ban on a 1979 film in which she had a revealing role. What this says about the narrow-mindedness of some Christians helps explains why few go to church any more.

I am afraid that I had to look up Ceredigion in order to write my post today about the petty official from that authority who fined a self-employed decorator for smoking in his own van. It is over on the coast about half-way down, and is more or less the area known as Cardiganshire from 1282 until 1974. As I pitch into my second post of the day about this backward area – well, you will see why I so stigmatise it.

The new Mayor of Aberystwyth is Sue Jones-Davies. Search for her name in Google images and you will find photographs of her as she was in 1979 and now. Then she was Brian’s girlfriend Judith in the film Life of Brian, young, pretty and, in one famous scene, bereft of all her clothes. Now she is (as we all are) somewhat older, pleasant-looking and, in her mayoral robes, rather more dignified than she appeared whilst being chased naked round Brian’s bedroom by Terry Jones playing Brian’s mother.

It appears that when the film came out, the burghers of Aberystwyth banned the showing of Life of Brian. Like Norway, another gloomy nation of closed minds which takes itself too seriously, they considered it blasphemous. Discovering this, and time having moved on by 30 years in the rest of the world, Sue Jones-Davies sought to have the ban overturned.

Enter the Rev Stuart Bell, vicar of the parish, who demands that the ban remain. He feels unhindered in his opposition by the fact that he has never actually seen it. Now, there are narrow-minded vicars all over the place, and perhaps more in Wales than elsewhere, and Mr Bell is quite entitled to his views as long as he does not purport to represent more than the handful of people who pole up to hear him drone on on Sundays (I have not heard him preach, but his photograph, and his sentiments, do not suggest a lively style).

What got me was this sentence:

“If someone was going to make fun of my wife in a film then I would oppose that.
Making fun of Jesus Christ, whom I love more than my wife, in a film is going to offend me.”

Now, I am well aware that good Christians are supposed to love Christ more than anything in the world (or, indeed, out of it), and I am sure that the Rev Bell is a good Christian, even if he is a plonker with it. I just cannot get my mind round a chap in his position actually saying “whom I love more than my wife” of anyone, even Christ (there are, of course, many men NOT in Bell’s position who would say that, or our divorce courts would be empty, but I give him credit for the implication that he does in fact love his wife – just not quite as much as he loves Jesus).

I don’t claim a close acquaintance with our Saviour’s current thinking on marital relations, but I think He would be appalled to hear a man say this of his wife.



About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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