The telephone rings and it’s Madonna on. I’ve got the Pope here he’d like to talk to you.
Ah yes, I thought, Madonna, and the Pope, I’d been wondering how they’d been getting on since my previous article: Britney, Beyonce, Christina? Madonna!.
The Pope comes on the phone, we speak to each other in Latin but I’ve translated for those readers who don’t speak-a-de-lingo.*
“Hey man”, the pope starts, “what’s all this about a new calendar?” “Well it’s better. The other one is rubbish and totally out of date.” “Look, it’s only going to confuse everyone. I can’t have that happening. People think I’m addled already, what are they going to think if I start modifying the calendar just on the Pope’s whim?” “Well it’s happened before. There were two Thursdays one week in 1147. Pope Eugenius III.” “You’re throwing Eugenius the third at me?” “Well, come on? He wanted a party on a Friday. And because it was a day of fast he decried the Friday a Thursday.” “So what?” “So there were two Thursday’s that week just to suit the whim of the Pope. Don’t you think that’s a little hypocritical?” “Hey if you’re looking for hypocrisy in the Catholic church you’ll find better examples of it than that.” “Like what?” “Well. I don’t know. Like the troubles in Ireland.” “Go on.” “Well back in the days of Alexander II he was having some terrible trouble with the crazy Celtic Christians over in Ireland. So he told Henry II of England that God said that Henry was the rightful ruler of Ireland and that he should go and invade them and convert them all to Catholicism.” “Right.” “Well think about it. Now Ireland is a Catholic country and the troubles are between the Catholics and the protestants.” “Yeah.” “Well the Catholics in Ireland are supporting us against England, despite the fact it was us who told England to invade in the first place.” “That isn’t hypocrisy it’s just plain lunacy.” “Well alright. I’ll give you an example of hypocrisy. You keep banging on about your fabulous new calendar, but you don’t even use it in your own archive.”
He had me fair and square. So I did the only thing left I could do. I hung up on him. Maybe he’ll call back next week?
* In fact I’ve speak-a-de-lingo since I was in France as a child. My father decided to take me along to the fishmongers to help out with a bit of translating between French and English. French being on of the languages I was studying at school. The other being Latin. While conversing with the fish man he could obviously tell that I was English. I personal don’t think this was a slur on my French skills which were tip top but more because while I was translating into English for the man standing next to me who only spoke English** I kept calling him “Dad”.
Anyway, the man as mightily impressed with my French and asked me which other languages I spoke. So I mentioned English to kill time and get my thoughts together and then added that I spoke Latin. Of course what I really meant was that I studied Latin but the fishmonger picked me up on it straight away. He fainted surprise and then said, “I didn’t realise anyone ever spoke Latin. And was all had a big chuckle. And he gave me some free monkfish because, as he put it, “it’s good for the brain”. But then afterwards I thought, hey the Pope speaks Latin, what ever happens if I need to speak to the Pope? And so I studied hard and now I’m fluent.
** He only spoke English in this conversation, and so the fish man was only aware that he spoke English. In fact my Father can speak at least a smattering of French, Dutch and Russian.