With apologies to Mark Twain, I have been involved in many startling events in my time – some of which actually happened!
On 10 April 1994, I took tea with Mother Teresa. She had heard from a friend that I knew the Minister of Housing (I did), with whom she wanted a meeting. She hoped he could facilitate the purchase of a house in North London to shelter what she described as “fallen women”. (Incidentally, I would like to hear today’s cancel culture trying to correct Mother Teresa’s politically incorrect language. What sanitised name “fallen” women are given today is anyone’s guess.)
Such was Mother Teresa’s fame that she didn’t need me to facilitate a meeting with Sir George Young – or anyone else for that matter. She only had to tilt her rosary and the entire government would have danced a gavotte before her if she had demanded it. But I was told she wanted to see me – and who was I to refuse such a request?
Tea With Mother T
Mother Teresa answered the door of a non-descript house in Tottenham and led the way to tea in the lounge. By that time, I had rung the housing minister and he soon arrived with a buzzing swarm of anxious civil servants. The nun stared unblinkingly at George.
“I need a million pounds… I should tell you the French were generous. The Germans gave me twice what I requested, and the Italians gave me a row of houses in Milan. Now, in the name of God, I appeal to you for a million pounds!”
George muttered something about times being tough and there being no money available. He would need to consult.
With a laser look, the nun knelt down and announced she would pray. Meanwhile, George “consulted” with his team.
After 10 minutes of busy praying had passed, Mother Teresa gazed at George expectantly. He muttered something about only being able to find half the million. She decided to pray for the other half.
Then the photographer from the Sun newspaper arrived. A short time later, George announced he had found the additional funds in a contingency reserve: game, set and match to Mother T! George’s misery was now complete. Meanwhile, the nun gave thanks.
“Allelujah! Praise the Lord – the power of prayer be praised!”
After George left, Mother Teresa prayed for me and my family, and presented me with several medals of the Blessed Virgin Mary. My umbrella began to grow green shoots.
Some years later, I heard that HMG’s offer of a million quid was never taken up because there were too many conditions. Instead, Mother Teresa managed to persuade some allegedly corrupt Irish builder to stump up the money.
Mother Teresa never minded too much if donations to her causes came from dubious sources. She claimed good works would sanctify the money – and I’m sure they did.
I should add that I have photos of my meeting with Mother T. Beat that for name dropping!