Friday, September 17, 2010

The pontificating pontiff

Howdy folks!
      I had a hideously unsettling dream last night. No. Really. It was utterly awful. If I am to be considered a good citizen I must share it with you, merely to illustrate the potential consequences of having a large single malt, whilst listening to the news on the wireless, just prior to retiring yourself to bed.
      As I tossed and turned about on the sofa, in my dreamstate I discovered that I'd, somehow, been chosen as the next pope. I know, right to the core of my marrowless bones, that no faith system would, or should, want me as their leader on earth. Not even the Scientologists. Armed with this information, not once have I ever endured anxieties that I may, one day, be elected head of the Catholic church. 
    The unconscious mind is a very strange beast; and as I slept it now seemed that Pope Benedict XVI, the current pope, had gone missing, and was now presumed 'gone to heaven'. It was all very peculiar. (I vaguely remember something about the British prime minister, and a canape with square tomatoes, which were actually tiny teleporters. Eat the canape and... well, you turn into a slice of cucumber and teleport to... who knows where.) 

Pro: Get to wear silly hats and dresses
  Obviously, in Pope Benedict's unexplained absence, the church needed a replacement. I prefer not to make windows into mens' souls. Nor am I a catholic man, and if were I'd certainly not be one of good standing. There's a long list of reasons as to why not, but for that reason alone I should never have been considered a papal candidate. Nonetheless, as  three a.m. approached, the room was filling with white smoke as the aging cardinals shuffled into their conclave and quickly voted me, little old Frank L. Fettle, the new Supreme Pontiff. 

    Now, initially I wasn't panicked by this turn of events. I remembered that, as part of the ceremonial procedure, the cardinals have to ask whether or not I accept the post. I say 'no'. I wake up. No harm done. Of course, in my waking hour I would never say 'yes' to such a job offer. But this was dream world. It was as if I'd momentarily been brainwashed as out of my mouth tumbled the word, 'yes'. For the sake of goodness and charity, what was I thinking!? A thin layer of clammy sweat was now beginning to cling to my fleshless body. In my mind, and possibly aloud, I was muttering to myself that I absolutely would not answer when the cardinals asked which name I now wished to be known by. I most certainly would remain silent. Yes, yes. I'd be quieter than a cathedral mouse. If I'd had a tongue I'd have been biting it. Unfortunately I don't have a tongue, and as a result, I gave the response, 'Pope Skeleta, the first and the last'... please'.

     At this point, my phantom sphincter well and truly clenched tight. Which was probably just as well because, within the blink of an eye, I'd been stripped naked and hurriedly dressed in my papal vestments. Then came the slipping of the fisherman's ring onto my left finger.  If that wasn't shock enough, the cardinals then pushed me into the Sedes Stercoraria and hoisted me into the air. The Sedes Stercoraria is a wooden throne with a hole in the seat, and... oh my goodness... I wasn't wearing any underwear, their hands were cold...It was a frightful experience. Had they been hot young studs with morals similar to my own, and had they asked first, I'd not have minded, but...they weren't, and they didn't.
      As unsettled as I was, (after all I was being passed over the heads of one hundred and twenty bishops), I thought to myself, ' Well, they'll soon discover that I'm no longer 'male intactus'. Knowing that this truth would be uncovered I stopped panicking and just tried to enjoy the unexpected ride across the room. But, in my new space of mind, I thought to myself how odd that celibate cardinals would place such importance on my undercarriage. I then thought it strangely curious that the same one hundred and twenty men were, on one hand, declaring homosexuality to be a sinful abomination, yet with the other hand they were reaching for where they thought my genitals should be.

    At least three cardinals grabbed my coccyx; I can only presume that this was why I unexpectedly passed the Sedes Stercoraria test. You'd have been forgiven if you thought I'd again be in a frantic state of panic. But in a complete u-turn, by the time the throne was placed back on the ground, I was actually beginning to wonder whether or not I could do the job I'd just been chosen to do. Maybe it was my destiny after all. Maybe I'd lost my mind. Or, maybe I'd rather enjoyed having my ego stroked. Much to my shock, whilst I was being led along a passageway and up a flight of steps, in my mind I was making a list of the pros and cons to this situation. As I entered a very ornate room that was dripping with treasures, a dreamy place where candlesticks danced with joy, I wondered whether I'd be able to preach to the masses that using condoms only makes the AIDS epidemic even worse. Could I do that? Could I do that knowing millions of people would die as a consequence? No, of course I couldn't. 

Pro: wheelies in the popemobile
     In the nanosecond it took me to reach that conclusion, I was being led to towards a door. Through this door I would step out onto the Vatican balcony as 'his holiness'. I was moving towards the crowd that I could hear cheering outside. Not a great deal to report, until, suddenly in the middle of the spectacularly huge and expensive floor rug, mysterious mounds began to appear. Wherever I tried to place my feet, a shagpile molehill erupted in front of me. I was startled but, equally, I had to know what was hiding under there. I burst free from the papal procession, ran to the edge of the rug, grabbed the corner and lifted it. More than one cardinal went flying as a result of my dream induced superhuman strength. As daylight rushed in beneath the rug, I saw the faces of some of the children abused by priests. I wondered whether or not, now that I knew the truth of who and what my predecessors had brushed under there, could I replace that carpet and behave like I'd never looked beneath it? No. Of course I couldn't. Who, in their right mind, could? 

      The cons were already mounting up. It appeared that many Catholics didn't like him either, but if the previous pope is the yardstick of the current papal voters, then, amongst other things, I was also expected to a) offend other faiths, b) cuddle up with holocaust deniers, and c) excommunicate doctors who perform an abortion on a nine year old rape victim, d) refuse to excommunicate her attacker. A quite sickening and astounding job description.
    By the time the Dean of the College of Cardinals had stepped out onto the balconies to announce to the Catholic world that they had a new pope, I had regained my senses. The thought of being one of the most dangerous men on earth was not a thought that appealed to me. I promised myself a session of self-flagellation as penance for having even been tempted by the power. From what I could see, this had nothing to do with my idea of God, and, as such, there was no way on earth that I ever wanted to be pope. 

Con: I have to entertain dangerous idiots
    Knowing that I didn't want to be servant nor leader to this kind of domineering hierarchy, I was unsure of what to do or say as I stepped out onto the balcony to meet my followers. But, as if it were a gift from God, as soon as I heard the crowd roar for me, I suddenly found myself  possessed by a spirit. The life force was that of a man, now sadly departed, of whom I was very fond. In that moment I discovered that my friend Freddie was as spirited in death as he was in life. In a move, quite out of character for me, 'I' had soon burst into song.
      "Mama! I just killed a man." This was not what the people in St Peter's square expected to witness. They had waited for days to see God's new representative and what do I give them? "I put a gun against his head...Pulled my trigger...Now he's dead!" Oh dear. The faithful crowd had been stunned into silence. I was howling as all across the world millions of TV's were being switched off in disgust. Simultaneously, millions of TV's were also being switched on in amusement and relief. 
      Initially my efforts didn't seem to be bringing all sides together.  It was quite disheartening to be on the verge of being booed and pelted with tacky papal merchandise. But then a miraculous thing occurred. The cardinals, believing my words to be as close to gospel as they're ever going to get, leapt to their feet to support me. Harmonious cries of, "Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango?" rang around the historic square. Good grief, it was reminiscent of the cast of 'Glee' high on cod-liver oil and Preparation H. "Thunderbolts and lightening. Very Very frightening."
    Before I knew it, we'd sung and danced our way through an entire set. St Peter's was rocking as I strutted along the balcony, belting out my rendition of 'Fatbottomed Girls'....

    And, just like Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan', there my substance-induced dream abruptly ends. For it was at this juncture that I was rudely awoken by not one. but two persons from Porlock - the cat and the bird. They'd rattled my bones and were now staring at me intently. They asked, "Frank, are you all right?......You were making such a terrible noise we thought you were in pain"...Charmed, I'm sure. Had I not been disturbed who knows how much peace and goodwill a singing pope could have brought to the world. I almost feel cheated for I will never know the answer.

   So kids, the moral of the story is: if you smoke, drink, or eat cheese, just before bedtime, be careful what you watch on television or hear on the wireless. It can play havoc with your mind.

  As I'm wide awake now, I really should go and make myself some porridge. It's good for my cholesterol count.

My regards to you all,


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