From Salisbury to York

It’s that advert I’m talking about. The one spotted by Matt Wills in Salisbury, calling for volunteers to join

the UK’s most successful Church and Bookshop Charity. – Saint Stephen the great/SPCK bookshops.

A friend tells me they’re also using it in York, although apparently they’ve at last had the decency to take down the SPCK signage from over the door. 

I still haven’t entirely made up my mind whether the Brewers’ behaviour stems from arrogance, malice or sheer stupidity. Probably an unfortunate combination of all three, but whatever the case, if you’re the praying type, please spare a prayer for any unfortunate souls who may decide to respond to the adverts. I can’t think of a worse way to be introduced to the world of Christian bookselling…

Golden Orb Weaver Spider feasts on a finch

Golden Orb Weaver Spider feasts on a Chestnut-Breasted Mannikin Finch

And I’m sure continuing prayers would be appreciated by those unfortunate enough to be caught up in the tangled web the Brewers have wrapped around Durham Cathedral Bookshop. They’re probably feeling rather like this poor finch that found its way into the press this week.

Quite why the Dean & Chapter of Durham haven’t invoked the termination clause in the lease remains a mystery, but if anyone would like to become more closely involved on the Durham side, they’re still advertising for a new Chapter Clerk; not a bad salary, either…

Back to the tangled web, however:

As for the bird, Dr Atkinson said it probably died of fright, dehydration, or exhaustion from its entrapment, rather than direct spider attack. 

“However, it does appear that the spider has decided that good food shouldn’t go to waste and is therefore attempting to eat the bird, which I find entirely believable,” he said.

Looking at what remains of the bookshops, it seems a remarkably accurate assessment…

31 responses to “From Salisbury to York

  1. Valiant for Truth

    I’m not only annoyed by the continued use of SPCK, but also by the use of SSGCT when they set up the companies in Chichester and Durham, plus ENC to run the shops but then still use SSG. I’m more than annoyed about the lack of information and comment form all sorts of sources – SPCK, Durham Cathedral, Chichester Diocese, the US Courts, suppliers etc.. Surely there must be some comment that can be made which isn’t subject to legal restraints, and which would relieve the hearts and souls of countless numbers of people. There’s a sense of protection of one’s own backs rather than care for others, which isn’t terribly Christian or caring.

  2. Valiant for Truth you remind me of the pebbles on the garden path. I’m also reminded that there are many who want to know what is going on if only for their own peace of mind. There are times when silence is not Christian.

    As for workers tangled in the present Brewer web. All they can do is tell the truth rather than help the Brewers to add more strands to the web.

  3. Did the SPCK not have an AGM recently? If so did the bookshops go unmentioned again?

  4. Valiant for Truth

    I did not attend the AGM but gather that there was very little mention of the shops except that something might be happening in Chichester and Salisbury.

  5. Phelim McIntyre

    single and Valiant – even though I know a bit more about what is going on than I say and recognise the legal reasons for the silence I find things very frustrating and in the meantime the Brewers such us dry of motivation and goodness knows what else.

  6. We can’t allow them to suck us dry Phelim – we just simply cannot. Even if I have to cover myself in garlic to protect myself – I will not remain silent.

  7. saw the shop in salisbury open this week actually…

  8. Salisbury shop opening hours
    Tuesday-Thursday 10 – 2
    Friday and Saturday 10 – 5

    You should pop in Matt and have a look at stock and jewellery. You might even want to take a camera with you.

  9. It isn’t always open those published hours asingleblog. I have been in fairly recently- fairly empty of customers, alot of books piled around, still using those SPCK sticker…

  10. Well then, Phil Brewer has got a lot of stuff wrong. He obviously doesn’t know one part of his body from his elbow.

  11. But, you`ve got to admit, anatomy IS more complex for spiders. . .

  12. Those “related links” are to other unrelated blogs.

  13. Ezra I like cats but not spiders. Matt Wardman?

  14. Presume you’re referring to the links under “Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)”, Matt?

    They are, as per the bit in brackets, automatically generated and can be fairly hit and miss sometimes, as in this instance. Unfortunately, it’s all or nothing: I can turn off “possibly related posts” for the entire blog but not on a per-post basis; and there’s no way to moderate the links generated…

    More about this in my Possibly Related Posts post…

  15. I am inclined to agree with Valiant for truth, about the lack of comment from various sources, but would add that I find it not only frustating but pretty pathetic. “Evil prospers when good people do nothing”.
    I wonder how long the line “We are not able to comment due to legal reasons ” will retain its credulity ?

  16. Those unable to comment are a bit like those who observe the damage being done to the bird by the 8-elbowed spider.
    Those working in the bookshops are the bird, being emotionally and spiritually drained by the daily negative vibes in their shops and from Brewer land.
    And as for the spider – I think we all know.

  17. Carole: Is it protecting their own backs or fear of what might land on them? Imagine you’re tangled up like that bird and there’s some great monster Brewer-spider waiting to pounce… it’s not difficult to see why some people back away rather than risk speaking out…

    Ezra: The difference here, of course, is that the spider has no evil intent: it’s just doing what comes naturally. The Brewers, on the other hand… seeing that spider makes me shudder; looking at what the Brewers have done and are still doing makes me shudder even more.

    And God looked at all s/he had made: it was good, very good. “Pity to ruin it,” s/he said, and created human beings…

    I often wonder what was going on in God’s mind when s/he topped off creation with us… God’s greatest mistake, perhaps? A mistake s/he could only rectify by becoming one of us… utterly bizarre (with apologies for going off on a tangent).

  18. Valiant for Truth

    Birds eat spiders and perhaps some larger bird of prey might surface in the guise of local councils requiring council tax and business rates even on empty properties. Come to think of it, if ENC isn’t a registered charity, suddenly the council tax etc increases because of removal of charitable relief.

  19. Valiant for Truth

    And I forgot about the other big bird, HM Revenue & Customs (terrifying big bird) who are already sniffing around about VAT, and will also, no doubt, work out that the new shops are not charities so will require income tax.

  20. Has anyone written to HMRC about what’s going on?

  21. David I gather that the Vatman is onto them.

  22. Do we know any more? I’m sending a letter to the Charity Commissioners this week, so if there are any details of other investigations I’m sure they’d be interested.

  23. Phelim McIntyre

    Plato – I know some people are doing what they can to get comments out of people, and having a hard time. I also know that there a people who want to say something but are being gagged by the legal process. They are finding it as hard to keep quiet as we are with them keeping quiet. Please let the dam break soon.

    On the Charity Commission, HMRC et al issue – if we have sent a letter what is an appropriate length of time to chase for any news.

  24. re Durham: what termination clause?

  25. SPCK’s lease – which was reassigned to SSG – had an escape clause so that it could be terminated by either party giving six month’s notice before October 31st in any year. The Cathedral Authorities invoked it back in 2004 when they wanted SPCK out in favour of Jarrolds. SPCK fought back and were able to stay.

    It’s ironic in a way: the Cathedral wanted SPCK out. Now they’ve got what they wanted but ended up with SSG for squatters instead…

    Even more bizarre, of course, is that the company now trading on the premises is the Durham Cathederal [sic] Shop Management Company, which probably has no lease at all… apart from being owned by the Brewers, who also happen to own SSG. The whole business looks as bent as a nine-bob note but no one involved seems to be willing to say so in public for fear of Brewer reprisals.

    It would be interesting to know what name Durham shop takings are being banked under…

  26. justflyingkites

    Durham Cathedral Shop Management Co probably has its own bank account. Given the publicity re the petition of which all theological students are aware, and the fact that the staff are being prayed for every day at one of the colleges, I do not think that the Brewers will be at the Cathedral for much longer. The lease expires in 2010 anyway.

  27. justflyingkites

    Some homework done. Durham and Chichester would have their own bank accounts. That does not mean that staff at those shops have control of those accounts. The Brewers can withdraw funds and put them wherever they wish. A more interesting question might be where the other shops deposit their takings.

  28. As far as I’m aware there’s a single bank account for the remaining shops (i can never keep track of which ones are still actually trading), but i know that money moves between the different bank accounts at the flick of a switch. Just seems like a patch-it-up exercise, constantly filling a bag with a hole in it!
    It is curious who would own the lease for Durham, because if PB is as bad at paperwork as he is at business then I’m guessing he’s skuppered. Would certainly be worth looking into.

  29. David, I understand that hmrc have been contacted on a number of occasions and investigations may be proceeding as we blog……..

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