On Sunday evening I had the tremendous privilege of being the compère at a celebration at the Theatre Royal Windsor for my close friend Gary Grant, founder and owner of The Entertainer toy shops. It was a great testimony to a man who has been both a tremendous Christian witness as well as a very successful businessman. The thing is that, at the start, well . . . I fell off the stage. Given that we live in an age of fake news and even fake-fake news and the reality that stories which start as dull fact on one side of the world can be attractively fictionalised when they reach the other side a few minutes later, I probably should explain what did (and did not) happen.

When I was instructed to go on the stage, it was very dark and I couldn’t see where I was going. Visibility wasn’t helped by spotlights beaming down at me.

Undeterred, I bounded onwards only to trip over a black speaker and tumbled over and fell several feet off the stage.

I got my leg caught in something but I was released by no less than an Admiral (you can always rely on the Navy). Anyway, no harm was done and I was able to step back on stage and continue with everything as planned.

So let me allay the rumours. No, I was not drunk. No, I was not on my phone or reading my Bible at the time. No, it was not a deliberate stunt and I am not retraining as an acrobat. Equally, given Gary’s courageous stand on Halloween and Sunday Trading, it was not – as far as I’m aware – the result of the Invisible Banana Skin Spell conjured up by the evil one. Rather unexcitingly, it was just one of those things.

But, if you’ll excuse the pun, being blinded by the light does give rise to reflections. Events like this – they happen to all of us, tripping over a pavement, slipping into a man-hole – remind us of our vulnerability. All our lives are in God’s hands. They are also reminders of the need for humility. History is full of greater and grander people than me being so dazzled by one of life’s spotlights that, either literally or metaphorically, they fall off the stage. They are also reminders of the need for God’s security. There’s a nice verse in Proverbs for times like this: ‘For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again . . .’ (Proverbs 24:16 niv). Well, I’m only righteous through Christ but I’m grateful that I was able to rise again.

Revd Canon