What do you do when your past popstar success drifts into the mists of time and a higher calling prompts you to make a change of career? The answer was ‘simple’ for Richard Coles, the former member of the 1980s group the Communards. He became a man of the cloth ten years ago but is now set to put his artistic talents to good use once again, by participating in the London Literature Festival this October.

Moby Dick reading

Reverend Coles is to take part in a live reading of Herman Melville’s timeless classic Moby Dick at the Southbank Centre, which is scheduled to run from 1st to 4th October.

Among the other readers to contribute to the event will be an author with a particular insight into the psyche of the great novelist himself, Melville’s great-great-great-granddaughter Liza Klaussmann.

Familiar tome and film adaptation

The tale of Moby Dick will be a familiar one to many, either through the novel or the powerful John Huston film adaptation that starred Hollywood legend Gregory Peck in the title role back in the 1950s. Modern day audiences may have been attracted to the film re-make that was released in 2010.

Moby Dick depicts the ultimately destructive and futile quest of the one-legged Captain Ahab and the crew of the whaling vessel Pequod, as they chase the fabled sea mammal Moby Dick.

Ahab’s seemingly insatiable quest for revenge after a previous disastrous encounter with the beast proves to be his downfall. The literary masterpiece demonstrates how obsession can drive a person on to achieve an objective, when reason would suggest that a different course of action is clearly more sensible.

Communards’ chart success and later career

Coles’ chart success alongside Jimmy Somerville spawned the popular record “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, featuring Sarah Jane Morris on vocals.

It had previously been a massive disco success in the 1970s, but the Communards made the track their own and it became the biggest selling single of 1986. The group were to have further top ten success, including “Never Can Say Goodbye” which peaked at number four in the UK charts.

Now 53-years-old and a vicar since being ordained in 2005, Coles has also tried his hand as a journalist and been a broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 over a varied career.

Enjoyable narrative to the book

The decision to become involved in his latest venture came about through an admiration for the book since reading it in his twenties. He seemed to enjoy the narrative immediately and explained that it was the “weirdness” he particularly liked about the 19th century tale.

Coles and his fellow readers will have plenty of linguistic excellence to draw on from the book, judging by the following quote from Moby Dick:

“These are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.“