BOOKS abound. They cannot all be mentioned, much less reviewed.

CQB, unpromisingly subtitled "The story of a North-East parish", is nonetheless as insistent as it is compelling.

CQB is Cassop, Quarrington Hill and Bowburn, south-east of Durham. The ecclesiastical parish is Cassop-cum-Quarrington, the vicar around whom much of the book turns is the Reverend Bill Armstrong.

We'd recalled back in May the turbulent priesthood of the man known as Father Bill, when Bowburn's landmark "Pineapple church" was being demolished.

We recalled how in 1973 he'd been described - by me - as "possibly the most controversial priest ever ordained by a Bishop of Durham", how in 1965 he'd been acquitted at a second trial of 11 indecency charges against children in his charge, how suddenly he'd left to join a "bush brotherhood" in Australia.

Bill Armstrong was born in Hare Law, Stanley, in 1929, said to have been so disgusted when the Church enrolled him on a general arts course that he wrote his name, but nothing else, on the examination paper.

Many loved him, still talk of him. Others, not least fellow clergy, wanted him out. The author, identified only as KL Turns, is sarcastic: "The support for their own people can surely be seen as truly reflective of the Christian lives led by so many Church of England clergy."

Now 78, Fr Bill is thought to have returned from Australia and to be living in the south of England. In Mr Turns, he has a fierce supporter.

■ The 80-page book costs £7.95, plus postage, from GWASG GFT, Highfield, Buttington, Welshpool, Powys.

A TRIP to the Lions Bookshop in Darlington has become an annual event in search of stocking fillers - we have very big feet - at ridiculously low prices.

I was in there at two o'clock on Monday.

The volunteer who'd come on at noon had just completed his first transaction, the £2 unlikely to make the Lions roar for very long.

Thereafter, it should be said, he did much better - not least the £50 for a complete, 19-volume set of the 1979 Encyclopaedia Britannica in perfect condition which is going to make someone a very good present.

The shop's up Blackwellgate Arcade, opposite Binns and opens on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am-4pm.

There's still a great wealth of real bargains there: tell the bookshop you read it here first.

COLIN Randall, Shildon lad made good, has left the Paris bureau of the Daily Telegraph, swift-wearied of early retirement and is helping start an English language newspaper in Abu Dhabi.

Small world, it was while on the back of a bus in Jaipur that he realised not only that the woman in front was from the same south-west Durham town but had lived in the next street.

Heather Shipp - Robinson, as was - was one of the family who owned the fish shop on the corner of Diamond Street, served fish and chips for around one and sixpence a bag and, on request, topped them with around half a stone of scrappins. Via his new blog - - Colin's thoughts return to such unconsidered trifles.

"The best part of the meal was undoubtedly the scraps. I have gone on in life to appreciate lobster, langoustines, coquilles St Jacques and all manner of other fruits de mer, but there is nothing in the world to match the delights of fish and chips with scraps."

HEATHER'S brother, our old friend and schoolmate John Robinson, is sadly unwell.

John, it may be recalled, is the selfstyled Barefoot Crusader who - without boots - climbed Scafell and Ben Nevis and will even now be dreaming of Snowdon, and a hat-trick.

All in aid of good causes, he also walked barefoot a few years back from Chester-le-Street to Heighington, some of the sensibly shod still hardly able to match the pace.

John's 60, a martial arts master and genuinely good bloke. We wish him a swift return to full vigour.

WE were back in Shildon last night, too, for the launch of the Christmas tree festival at St John's parish church. It continues until Sunday.

On Saturday evening we're again judging the best decorated tree competition in West Auckland, and next Tuesday we're at the launch in St Nicholas' Cathedral, Newcastle of a festival of the very many cribs collected by broadcaster and author Libby Purvis.

It's beginning to look like something is happening. More of all this in the week before Christmas.