Monday, April 26, 2010

The last month or so I've been resisting the urge to pitch in on such an obvious topic, and especially with who else but Hitchens leading the campaign to have the pope arrested I considered any contribution from me to be pretty superfluous, but this is just too funny.

It's not really the memo itself that's so hilarious, since it's hardly the pinnacle of rapier-like wit to suggest that the pope open an abortion clinic etc. Picture the scene. A “junior civil servant” and some of his work chums, resentful at their bosses for forcing upon them the indignity of compiling a document on the utterly trivial and pointless matter of the pope's visit, which is set to cost British taxpayers - thank god(!) I'm not one of them - 20 million pounds, go out to the pub on a Friday lunchtime. Where they get pissed, angrily fucking rat-arsed, and start ranting and laughing raucously about what pompous, hypocritical cunts their bosses are, what an evil sack of shit the pope is, what child molesting scum priests are. As the beers go down, the language and the humour get cruder, the callow, beleaguered office dogsbodies get bolder. Fuck lunch, it's Friday anyway, let's just have some more beer instead and talk about this bullshit memo we've been saddled with, we can just as well do it here in the pub. That stuck up, old-school-tie wanker of an office manager and his masters in the government asked for this, they've got nobody but themselves to blame. We'll bounce some fucking ideas around all right.

Several pints later, maybe with a couple of chasers to give them the courage to face their colleagues and superiors, they roll back into the office a good two hours late, stinking of booze. Back behind their computers, charged up with the nervous excitement of juvenile rebellion, they start surreptitiously typing up the most grotesquely absurd ideas from their brainstorming session, keeping their momentum and bravery alive by sending each other sniggering e-mails or chat messages. Safety in numbers, we're all in it together. The team effort completed, they print it out, their heads still swimming, and circulate it around the office, suppressing their guffaws. Just act innocent, play dumb. Half an hour on, shortly before their shift's done and having noticed the spread of uneasy murmuring and/or incredulous mirth amongst their workmates, they're beginning to sober up fast, and inevitably their thoughts turn to the consequences of their actions. Shit, we'll never get away with this, what are we going to do? With everybody about to knock off for the weekend, the anxious pups hastily put out a cover note, stressing that under no circumstances is the memo to be shared externally. Too late! Someone in the office, either in sympathetic mischief or in vindictive outrage, has already divulged the contents to that crustiest of Tory newspapers, the Sunday Telegraph, which is going to do everything in its power to have a field day at the Labour government's expense, while certain junior civil servants are in for the bollocking of their lives.

All in all a pretty prosaic scenario, which reminds me of unwelcome school assignments that, as spotty teenagers, we used to try and sneak as much childish innuendo as we could into. No doubt it would have seemed funny to be in on it at the time, but I doubt if the people responsible are laughing much about it now. What is funny, but also, as is often the case with matters concerning the Vatican and its extended network of vice, rather tragic, is the churchy, utterly humourless, so very British and so very New-Labour reaction to it from the government and foreign office. David Miliband is “appalled” (and he's such an insipid turd that I actually believe that he wasn't secretly pissing himself at the ridiculousness of it all, like any normal person would), and we now have to deal with the terrifying prospect that, according to the BBC, some Catholics might be left “with the impression of a culture within official circles in which their Church's teaching is not taken seriously”, or even that “the pope might be regarded as a figure of fun”. God (THAT fucking word again!) forbid! So correspondingly, grovelling apologies are issued, on our behalf, to a pontiff who felt no need to apologise for recently not only attacking but encouraging active resistance with “missionary zeal” against the British government that's offered with such fawning stupidity to pay for his visit out of taxpayers' pockets. Why the righteous call to insurrection? Well, naturally not for the government's failure to regulate the banking system and for thus playing its own part in facilitating the global economic crisis, or for its controversial role in the Iraq war, but for the grave sin of promoting equality. Nevertheless, our elected representatives continue to kowtow to an institution that has systematically covered up child rape, and when cornered on the matter has decided that attack is the best form of defence with the monstrously insensitive and idiotic comparison of those who are demanding an explanation, some of them victims of Catholic pederasts, to mass murdering anti-Semites. After all, our government needs to protect its and our reputation as decent folk, and really, what's a few thousand tortured kids compared to the potentially immense damage that can be caused by a drunken office prank?

Evidently being British means always having to say you're sorry. If only we had some of the unwavering self-belief of those exalted residents of the Vatican. Fuck, do I feel proud to be British.


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