Implausibly, but entirely in character for this time of year, I found myself at 6.30 am this morning standing in the back of a truck reviewing Russian troops – a curious thing, it has to be said, to be doing on Easter Sunday. But there you are. What the troops were doing in Chiswick, West London, this morning, I have no idea, but they asked politely if I would mind reviewing them and, as both of the cafes I go to in the early morning were closed, I was more than happy to oblige. Cafe Rouge was also closed at that early hour so a couple of the lads bought some PG Tips tea bags from a local newsagent and brewed up on the pavement using military survival techniques. A most satisfying mug of tea. The commanding officer of this group asked me if I would like some vodka. It was beginning to snow and very cold. I had several shots. Before you could say ‘Pravda’, we were all cossack dancing on the pavement outside Cafe Nero. Yes…. a most unusual way to start Easter Sunday….
And… so to Urbi et Orbi.
Busiest day of the year for priests. The Pope called for an end to problems in Tibet, Iraq and the Holy Land in his “urbi et orbi” blessing to the world – broadcast live in 57 countries. Although, as far as I could tell, no call to end the current credit-crunch problems raging throughout the world. So… steering clear of money changers in The Temple this year. (BBC)
The Archbishop of Canterbury, after doing a bit of foot washing on Maundy Thursday (the first Archbishop of Canterbury to do so in 400 years), took a slightly different stance from the Pope. The archbishop said: “Individuals live in anxious and acquisitive ways, seizing what they can to provide a security that is bound to dissolve, because they are going to die. Societies or nations do the same. Whether it is the individual grabbing the things of this world in just the repetitive, frustrating sameness that we have seen to be already in fact the mark of an inner deadness…”
The archbishop, the BBC reports, went on to say “We shan’t really die. We as individuals can’t contemplate an end to our acquiring, and we as a culture can’t imagine that this civilisation, like all others, will collapse and that what we take for granted about our comforts and luxuries simply can’t be sustained indefinitely. …… To all this, the church says, sombrely, don’t be deceived: night must fall.”
I did not listen to the entire address, but I was a bit baffled about the ‘we shan’t really die’ bit. I’m not sure he should tell this to the government. Certainly not on message as far as the Department for Work and Pensions is concerned and could cause yet another collapse of the financial markets if rogue traders from hedge funds get hold of this bit of insider information before the market opens on Tuesday.
Bishops have been setting up shoe shine stalls in the week before Easter to bring home the message of serving the community – a far cry from the old days when they taxed the community, acquired land and property in ways, and on a scale, still the subject of wonder and ‘respeck’ at West London supper parties, did a bit of dodgy relic selling and ruled through fear of eternal damnation and burning in the fires of hell.
And… tomorrow… is Easter Monday. I shall do my best to write something sensible and vaguely plausible then. I’m off to improve my mind with a glass of Rioja. I’m also going to use some GCHQ code breaking techniques to see if I can decipher the archbishop’s Easter message.
That “night must fall” bit in the speech must… surely? … hold the clue? Count the letters – there are 13 letters in that phrase!
My cousin, Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo, will be apostolic with rage after reading this post. So be it.
I may be back later… as they say at this time of year.