This was the memorable phrase uttered by the Principal of Salisbury & Wells Theological College to one student who had just cast doubts on my parentage at full volume on the main stairs of the College. It was said with a twinkle in his eye, which is how I will always recall Rev Canon Reggie Askew whose death on the 9th April was announced in last week's Church Times.
Reggie always stood up for his students and supported them through the ups and downs of theological training. One person who had taken early retirement to enter the church told of his interview with Reggie who looked at him and said, "Well, you'll want to get on with it then if we're to get more than a couple of Evensongs out of you!"
A man of deep spirituality I sat in the Old Chapel as he took us through Meditation techniques - posture, and then slowly listening outwards from ourselves, through to the sounds of the College, out to the Close, then to the far away traffic hum and beyond. They were magical hours.
Then there was his preferred technique of saying the Morning Office - quietly. "If you can't hear the person next to you then you're saying it too loud" was the guiding principle, and so we whispered our way through the responses, canticles and psalms, pausing monastically in the middle of each verse and saying a silent "Ave Maria" to get the timing right.
He had a deep love of the College, having been Lecturer and Vice-Principal of Wells Theological College during the 1960's before it merged with and moved to Salisbury. Every year it was traditional that we travelled back to Wells for an annual Cricket match before Evensong in the Cathedral. He became Principal of S&W in 1973 and remained there until he moved to be Dean of King's College, London, in 1988.
Reggie also had a unique way of looking at liturgy and worship. He encouraged the "Friday Night College Eucharist" which was always a liturgy pulled together by one of the Tutor Groups, and they could be anything, and usually were. The College was also responsible for Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral once a term, and on one occasion Reggie led the prayers. In them we prayed for everyone connected with death, from undertakers to pall-bearers, gravediggers and layers-out, coffin-makers, those who forged the nails and those who wove the silk linings. It was unforgettable, and as we processed out the Dean of the Cathedral was heard to mutter, "Never again!"
When I entered my training I was only "conditionally recommended" and Reggie made sure that I felt secure in my calling and that I would be approved to continue after my first year. I shall remain grateful to him for that, though whether my subsequent congregations would agree is best left unasked.
The end of Christmas term student pantomime in 1983 was based upon a cult TV sci-fi character and titled "Dr. Broo and the Diakons". We had a New Testament lecturer called Dr. George Brook, who was mercilessly parodied throughout, and Reggie was written into the script as "Canonaskew the Cosmic", the portrayal of him on the stage frighteningly lifelike. He roared with laughter throughout, as the picture shows, and that's how I choose to remember his ministry amongst us - a presentation of faith with humour.
And that sort of sums up Salisbury & Wells Theological College under Reginald James Albert Askew's leadership. Thanks Reggie.