I dreamed I'd bunked off work (at a hospital or hospice) in order to show my parents round the university. There was a chapel that looked like that famous one by Le Corbusier. All the while I was wondering what excuse I could offer the ward sister when I showed up the following day. My father appears in my dreams a lot; only these days we get on famously. Ailz's father appeared the other night; he was very ill.
The pigeons are almost tame. This morning two of them were sitting on the garden wall, waiting for me to put the bird food out.
So what was that? I'm pretty sure it wasn't any kind of sparrow. Too slim, bill the wrong shape. I flick through the pages of my bird book and find the closest match. Speckledy, pale brown with an even paler stripe across the eye. If I'm right that was a twite. Wow! But there are so many species of approximately the same size and approximately the same colouring. Charlotte Bronte was talking the other day about a hedge full of "small brown birds". That sort of amused me. So, you weren't sure either, were you, Charlotte?
Call yourself a countrywoman!
Pope Benedict has been saying goodbye to his cardinals.
Penny for your thoughts, Benny.
Warm embrace- *Treacherous bastard!*
Warm embrace- *Back-stabber!*
Warm embrace- *Child-abuser!*
What makes a man aspire to be an Inquisitor?
Because that's what Benedict used to be. They'd changed the name of the institution- for obvious, cosmetic reasons- but it was still The Holy Inquisition in every other respect. John Paul got the plaudits for being so modern and manly and fond of the common people- and little Cardinal Ratzinger- ever in his shadow- got the hisses (muted for you wouldn't want him to hear you) as his fixer, his hit-man- his closer-down of dissent and scourge of heretics. Also his protector of the Church's reputation- which meant keeping clerical sex-abusers away from the media and the police. It's hard (at least I find it hard) to think well of such a man.
And yet the testimony is he's a kindly chap. Look at those panda eyes of his; that shy smile. Lovable, no? And apparently he shares Blofeld's fondness for cats.
Benedict got to be Pope at a bad time (for the Church if not for the World). The crimes it had been his business to cover up were getting themselves uncovered- here, there, everywhere- and now it was his business to be penitent, humble, open. The great event of his pontificate was the child abuse scandal. It's too early to say whether he handled it well or not. And nobody knows what horrors are still to come.
Have you ever seen speeded-up film of a decomposing carcase- how it seems to contort and fling itself about as it bloats and farts and falls to pieces? That's the image that comes to mind when I think of the Vatican. One story has it that a gang of brothel-creeping cardinals is being blackmailed by the mafia into laundering dirty money through the Vatican Bank. It could well be true. Actually, I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
Is Benedict a hapless innocent in all of this? Probably. I don't think he quit because he's guilty but because he was overwhelmed. He's an old man. I give him respect for not burdening the Church with his senescence.
So now they'll be electing another old man to do the job. Good luck to him.