Letters addressed to two newspapers a couple of weeks or so back were a source of more than usual interest to me. Shrewd regular readers, aware of my self-regard, might guess what one of these missives was, but it is with the other – printed in The Times – that I shall begin today.

Writing from the charming Cambridgeshire town of March, Paddy McEvoy owned to an ethical confusion that puzzled him as a child. How was it, he wondered, that the injunction in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive those who trespass against us” went ignored by railway companies whose signs declared “Trespassers will be prosecuted”?

I, too, found aspects of childhood religious instruction to be in conflict with observable reality. For instance, why did that “green hill far away” appear to require a city wall and why was it a matter for comment that it was without one?

Perhaps the wall was to keep out the riff-raff; for the writer of the hymn, the Irish poet Cecil Frances Alexander, was a great supporter of the class system.

It was she (yes, in spite of that ‘Cecil’) who gave us – in All Things Bright and Beautiful – the shocking declaration of belief in a divinely ordained class system: “The rich man in his castle,/The poor man at his gate,/God made them high and lowly,/And ordered their estate.”

Unsurprisingly, the verse is generally dropped today. We have come a long way in the 170 years since the hymn was written.

One tenet of religion that still holds true is that outlined by St Luke: “More joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.”

I thought of this after reading the second of the newspaper letters previously alluded to, one to The Oxford Times from Margaret Bullivant, of Steeple Aston.

Fessing up to having thought me a name-dropping bus bore, she felt obliged to give praise where it was due concerning a “masterful” article by me.

The piece was one in which were offered thoughts inspired by a journey to Stratford, the book by J.B. Priestley I took with me, another from his library that I bought there, and William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor which I was going to see.

Linking the topics were a series of coincidences, among them the fact that August 14 – the date of my birthday, in celebration of which I made the Stratford jaunt – was also the date of Priestley’s death.

His library copy of John Braine’s The Vodi was one of the books I bought at Stratford’s Oxfam shop that day. Another was the Diaries 1969-1977 of playwright Peter Nichols, for some years resident in Oxford. Reading them I found that Nichols also noted coincidences.

Writing in January 13, 1971, he observed that his new play, Forget-me-not Lane, would be opening on April 1, the birthday of his late father. “He’d have added that to his list of Remarkable Coincidences.”

His A Piece of My Mind would also open on April 1 (in 1987). He writes: “That would have been my father’s one-hundred-and-first birthday, a coincidence he’d have enjoyed.”

By 1987, Nichols had long parted company with the actor-turned director Michael Blakemore who had charge of his first successes, including the reputation-making A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

From evidence supplied on both sides, it would appear that the fall-out had its origins in Nichols’s failure to acknowledge in the print edition of the play the help that Blakemore gave in its writing.

Nichols takes a number of pops at Blakemore in his diaries, published in 2000, and Blakemore responded in his memoir Arguments with England four years later.

I reviewed the book, pointing out its pleased-with-himself tone and noting that passages seemed designed to secure inclusion in the Private Eye Luvvies column.

I cited one about his role in John Osborne’s Inadmissible Evidence: “On the first night I left my dressing room for the stage numb with dread and waited in the wings like a Channel swimmer shivering on a beach with choppy water stretching as far as the horizon. However, somehow, some way, as actors always do, I reached the far shore.”

Into the Luvvies column it went, for which inclusion (not instituted by me) I never received the advertised tenner. Fourteen years later, I should really chase up the Eye’s editor Ian Hislop.