Monday, 13 September 2010

Clap him in a pair of handcuffs

My eyes ache. I’ve been staring at a screen non-stop all day and everything I’m typing seems to be swimming around me. I’m desperately trying to finish this draft of the Pepys Motet so that I can really begin to focus on vital admin. But what I’m doing is so hard and at times so unbelievably boring that occasionally I just want to scream! I worked all morning in the cafe and have worked all afternoon and evening on the kitchen table. I don’t have anything of any interest to report, unless anyone reading this is interested in a discussion about where on a choral score it’s best to place a crescendo. Under the note but above the text? Below the text? Oh, I just want to curl up and vanish.


I understand that there will be demonstrations on the streets on Saturday against the Pope, and I am extremely tempted to join them. Nathan just called to tell me that he might dedicate the rest of his life to bringing down the Catholic church in the form it presently exists. I’m certainly deeply uncomfortable that the public purse is being used to bring Panzer-Papa over here. Firstly, the UK is a secular country. If British Catholics want the fascist to come and visit, then they should pay. Secondly, if ticket sales are anything to go by, not enough British Catholics are interested in him coming to our secular country, so why’s he coming? Why not just go straight to Dublin, or better still, stay at home? Thirdly, what message are we sending out to people who have suffered abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, if we’re prepared to allow a man into our country who personally covered-up criminal acts made in the name of his religion? In my opinion, he should be arrested. Susan Boyle, should rush up to him, kiss his ring and then clap him in a pair of handcuffs.

I suggest if you’re proud of this country as a place where human beings of all creeds, religions, genders and sexualities live together whilst respecting and caring for one another, you'll get out there on the streets and march. We need to show British Catholics that their figurehead is inappropriate, and encourage them to work out out how their religion is going to work in the 21st Century in a country where abuse, homophobia, bigotry and misogyny are not appropriate; certainly not in the name of religion.

That said, it’s very important we don’t end up fuelling a sort of 21st Century Popish plot. It must be remembered at all times that everyone who lives here has the right to think what they want to think, and practise whatever religion they chose to... without fear. The only thing we have to ensure is that religious views don’t get in the way of our secular laws.

September 13th 1660, and Pepys was visited in the morning by Old Mr East, who was obviously some form of elderly 17th Century delivery man. He appears in the diary every so often, bringing bottles of wine and parcels to Pepys. 350 years ago, he arrived with letters. Pepys rewarded him for his troubles with a bottle of Northdown Ale, “which made the poor man almost drunk”.

The appalling levels of child mortality at the time are brought into focus with the news that Elizabeth spent the afternoon at the burial of Pepys’ cousin’s child. He then writes that within the month, his Aunt Wight and his cousin Elizabeth had both lost sets of twins, which seems incredibly shocking.

And to cap off a day of doom and gloom, Pepys brought the news that the Duke of Gloucester, the youngest legitimate son of Charles 1st, had died at the age of 21, “by the great negligence of the doctors.” The Duke was an interesting character. He was the only heir to the throne who’d remained (for some time) in England during the interregnum. During this time, he was forced to live in quarters within the Tower of London. At one point Cromwell even considered propping him up on the throne as a kind of constitutional monarch, with no powers, believing that, due to his youth, he’d not yet been corrupted by the Catholic and absolutist views of his mother and father. In 1552, Cromwell released the Duke and he fled to Paris to join his family in exile. Cromwell, had achieved one thing, however. During his time in the tower, the young Duke had been brought up with puritan values and remained a staunch protestant to the end of his (all too short) life.

1 comment:

  1. Benj, I can assure you that there will be many, many British Catholics joining you on the marches and protests. The Pope's views certainly do not respresent those of all Catholics. Do not tar us all with the same brush! I have been invited both to the Pope's pontifical mass and to his address to the House of Commons, and will be proudly boycotting both. Many British Catholics are working tirelessly for change from within - which is the only place from which lasting change ever really comes. You and Nathan should go to the gay Catholic mass in Soho - it's an inspiring place!

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