Jonathan Aitken’s Crisis Comforts

May 2, 2024. Series 7. Episode 87

As regular listeners and viewers will know, at the end of all our conversations we ask our guests for their three crisis comforts; their go-tos for inspiration and strength during the challenging times. Short but perfectly formed advice for getting you through the tough moments.  Over the years we have heard some incredibly interesting and more importantly, useful tips for anyone who might be feeling the weight of their own problems.

In this short episode – Revd. Jonathan Aitken – a man who has survived and thrived over eight decades of triumph and crisis – shares his three crisis comforts.


Full episode:

Jonathan Aitken on prison, priesthood and purpose



Aitken is a trustee of the Saïd FoundationMcDonald Agape Foundation, and Trinity Forum Europe.

Aitken is Honorary President of Tempus Novo and Patron of CSW. Aitken is the founder of Chance to Change Foundation/Friends of Pentonville.



Letters for the Ages Behind Bars: Letters from History’s Most Famous Prisoners, 2024.

Doing Time: A spiritual survival guide, 2021.

Porridge and Passion, 2005.

Pride and Perjury, 2000.


Stream/buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning:

Some Velvet Morning Website:

Your Daily Practice: Sleep by Myndstream:


Host – Andy Coulson

CWC team: Jane Sankey, Louise Difford, Zach Ellis and Mabel Pickering

With special thanks to Ioana Barbu and the brilliant people at Global


For all PR and guest approaches please contact – [email protected]


Full transcript:

Andy Coulson  00:04

Hello, I’m Andy Coulson and welcome back to Crisis What Crisis? in another Crisis Comforts episode short but perfectly formed advice for getting you through the tough times. As regular listeners or viewers will know, at the end of our conversations we ask all our guests for their three Crisis Comforts – their go twos for inspiration and strength during the challenging times. And over the years, we’ve accumulated some incredibly interesting, much more importantly, useful tips, for anyone who might be feeling the weight of their own difficulties. I’ve just had a conversation with former politician and war correspondent Reverend Jonathan Aitken about his eight decades of triumph and crisis – from being born into privilege fighting childhood illness to being at the top end of politics, and then finding himself, as I once did, in Belmarsh prison. We talk about what this packed life has taught him about resilience and survival. His story is unbelievable, and I would urge you to listen to his full episode, you can find links below in the notes. In the meantime, if you’re short on time, you can listen now to Jonathan’s three Crisis Comforts in this quick taster. Many thanks for listening. Jonathan, before we let you go, I’m going to ask you for your three Crisis Comforts. So these are three very specific things that you rely on in times of difficulty. We’ve talked obviously, about your faith that I’m sure run through everything. But if I were to ask you for three little specifics. Three tips, if you like for people who are facing crisis, what would they be?

Revd Jonathan Aitken  01:32

Well, one would be fitness. All my life I’ve been a runner – not a good runner at all – a jogger. But I have done some marathons. And still, I keep fit, really by enjoying running. The verb running is pretty generous and flattering. You’ve done several marathons. That doesn’t sound generous at all. I plod rather than I run, but I’ve plodded round Hyde Park for five miles yesterday. And I probably do that two or three times a week. And just so as…

Andy Coulson  02:03

You did five miles yesterday.

Revd Jonathan Aitken  02:05

Yes, slowly, but I really enjoy the fresh air and thinking and just fitness and running, but one rather… The second thing I would, I’m a kind of great reader. I love books. But if I was a desert island disc type of thing – one book, I like a really good anthology of poetry, which I love. I might take John Betjeman because I remember it so well. It always makes me laugh. Great anthologies. Charles Brown has come out with a very good one recently, an old one is Phil Marshall, Lord Wavell’s, Other Men’s Flowers, I take a book of poetry. But there’s a book which I’d take and read more than often than anything else and I read it every day, which combines the spiritual and the academic is the book of Psalms. I really am a  – almost have to call myself a scholar on the sound that I’ve learned Hebrew at one moment or a bit of Hebrew. I read a book on the Psalms. And I love the Psalms, not just the old favourites like the 23rd Psalms, but they are Songs Of Experience. These Hebrew poets 2800 years ago, understood life so well. And I find every day something which is relevant to modern life and my life. So the Psalms, fitness and poetry. Those are my three shots.

Andy Coulson  03:40

Wonderful. Fantastic, Jonathan Aitken. Thank you so much.

Revd Jonathan Aitken  03:43

Thank you.

Andy Coulson  03:44

If you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Jonathan then please do leave us a review and if you found it helpful or inspiring even we would be delighted if you would recommend us to your friends. You can watch the full episodes on YouTube, follow us on Instagram and TikTok and if you hit subscribe, you’ll find a lot more useful crisis conversations as always, full transcripts are available on our website along with links just head to Thanks so much for listening.