The last post (as I understand it is called in military circles) proved to be controversial and I need to make one or two clarifications.
I received an email from the dawn chorus of the unattached. I wondered briefly why they didn’t leave a Comment, as my friend The Porridge Man, for example, would undoubtedly have done, but the reason is clear. They would have squabbled over choosing the password.
(I assume that you need to make up a password to leave a Comment. I don’t of course. It is one of the privileges of authorship. It comes with my registration with WordPress. I can even leave Comments on the blogs of other WordPress bloggers without providing a password. So I don’t know. But Marina, a good friend who has featured in these pages, has told me that she is unable to leave a Comment, not because she can’t think of one – she is after all a published writer of real books and a woman of acknowledged wit, compassion and depth of thought – but because it is too complicated.)
Anyway, this is what the dawn chorus of the unattached wrote, frothing figuratively at the mouth:
Of course your dear friend P is right. David Cameron is a werewolf. Bonjela said so in her blog. And what’s more, what’s more, Ed Miliband is a Jew.
I hesitate, sighing as always over the primitive Russian approach to Diversity. Live and let live is my motto. I also believe that there is good in all of us, irrespective of colour or creed. If David Cameron turns into a wolf at certain times of the month, good on him. Let him cherish those feral moments and channel them to stick it to the Frenchies and the Krauts.
And of course to the Russians themselves, now that their wilting population is to be massively augmented by Gerard Depardieu, as well (it is rumoured) as by Brigitte Bardot and other foreigners. These people apparently prefer publicly to embrace a regime that is prepared to condemn its own sick children to a lifetime of grotesque and squalid institutionalisation in order to make a cheap political point, rather than to do what any self-respecting Englishman would do and engage a competent tax accountant.
Greed as always calls to greed across national and racial boundaries.
Talking of which, the email from the dawn chorus of the unattached is followed almost at once by a message (I believe that they are technically called ‘bulls’) from Vatican City. This is from an organisation, no doubt a Papal quango of some sort, asserting independence from His Holiness but infested with placemen, always up for a bit of skulduggery if it will achieve a day or two’s relief from the great bonfire hereafter.
The organisation is called Popes Я Us, founded AD [no nonsense about the ‘Common Era’ from these lads] 50, Motto: Is the Pope a Catholic?
The message is written in almost competent English.
Popes Я Us regret my remarks about Pope Alexander, which they characterise as ‘cavalier’ and later in the email, when they get their second wind, as ‘second-degree sinful’. They point out that Pope Alexander was not so much an individual as ‘a brand’. There were Popes Alexander before and after the unfortunate VI and his demise, eaten away from the inside by a massive quantity of arsenic. They inform me that in what they call the Twenty-First Century we now know that it wasn’t arsenic anyway but a bad case of flu, and that this has been established ‘beyond peradventure’ by ‘Catholic scientists’.
(‘Beyond peradventure’! Do they get reruns of Rumpole on Vatican cable TV by any chance? And what in heaven’s name is a ‘Catholic scientist’?)
They draw my attention to the tomb of Alexander VII, which was designed by Bernini, is to be found in the Vatican and is generally regarded as rather good if you like that sort of thing.
I am happy to concede, and I have told them so, that the Borgia Pope was not the only Alexander, but I make two points to Popes Я Us. I do so with the modesty appropriate to a person who will undoubtedly burn throughout eternity for the mortal sin of having inspected the modern Roman church with its nasty buildings, lumpish music and leering priests, and decided against.
First, if I had differentiated Roderic Borgia from the other Alexanders it would have made my Pope Alexander/Alexander Pope joke completely unmanageable. And God hates more than anything a fumbled joke.
Secondly, if you are as big a bastard as he was you deserve to overshadow your namesakes. Alexanders I to V could not help their adopted Papal names but what on earth possessed VII? He decided voluntarily to take the name of a sexually incontinent mobster and mass-murderer who had died horribly after ingesting the only remaining phial of arsenic that was left after he had used the rest to poison his own enemies.
It’s as if the worthy Ed Miliband, on eventually achieving power, announced that he was changing his name to ‘Putin’.
Finally, thank God, someone who approves. The Hon Sec of a fan club for Alexander Pope writes to say how nice it is to see him acknowledged. He, the Hon Sec, lists the poet’s many virtues, all of which I endorse. He then points out that Pope is the third most quoted person in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
Not many people know that – though it’s not surprising when you read what he said. But – third. Shakespeare first, obviously, and then who? Dickens? Homer? Groucho Marx? Goethe? Mr Putin? You’d never guess.