“I’m not Jesus. I’m just a fella.”
As some of you may know, I’ve been working in a Catholic church now for quite some time. My remit is to conserve the merchandise, the latest being a huge gilded reredos with exquisitely carved priests gazing up at a floating Lady of Suffering with her attendant cherubs and, a bit further up, God. With a massive beard. And a book.
Every day I arrive an hour or so before the morning Mass. To get to the scaffold, I have to push my bike past an elderly man lying prostrate on the floor in a state of reverie, touching the feet of a plaster cast of Our Lady with six plastic swords piercing her sacred heart. He barely notices me. Next, I nod graciously at the Silver Vixen (who smiles provocatively back) and then head on up to the tower. Usually I bail out for the Mass itself, but sometimes I catch the last of it. A priest in white and purple robes, looking and sounding like Mark E Smith, finishes the proceedings by chanting the beginning of a hymn and then walking off to the sacristy in solemnity, leaving the congregation to wrap up the singing and follow suit. Which, for the most part, they do.
A few weeks ago, however, a straggler got locked in. She’d passed out on one of the pews and fell under the penetrating in-house CCTV radar. When she came to, frightened and coming down off something, her first vision was that of myself, alone, at height and magnificently backlit by powerful halogens. The following exchange went something like this:
Me: Are you okay?
Lady: Who…who are you? Do you want me to sing for you?
Me: Maybe not now. Do you know how to get out?
Lady: Are you Jesus?
Lady: Let me sing for you, Jesus.
Me: I think we’d better…
Lady: LET ME SING FOR YOU, JESUS!!!
Me: Ok. What can you do?
Lady: Tell me what to sing.
Me: Look, I’m really not Jesu…
Lady: WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SING???
Me: Um…How about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Do you know that one?
Lady: Just like you, Jesus. A twinkling star. In Heaven.
Me: Thank you. But I really think you should speak to Father Pat first.
Lady: I wrote you a letter. Did you get my letter?
Me: I don’t think so.
Lady: I gave it to Our Lady. She kept it for you. SHE KEPT IT FOR YOU!!!
Me: I’ll ask her for it later.
Lady: I need to go wee.
Me: Wait a minute. I’ll come down and show you…
Lady: HELP ME GO WEE, JESUS!!! HELP ME GO WEE!!!
So I did. I helped the lady go wee. And then we took a short walk together to the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital where she was taken in and my services superseded by those more qualified than I. Because I’m not Jesus: I’m just a fella.
Just been on the internet to see how much you can pay for a telly if you happen to be a rock star or a footballer or Russian. Like you do. Turns out that a quick trip over to Simply Electricals (serious about electricals) will get you a spanking 4K Curved Ultra Smart one for a mere £99,999.00 (includes delivery and four pairs of 3D glasses). That’s a quid shy of one hundred thousand for those of you who, like me, are taken in by those cunning ruses so often employed at Poundland and the HMRC. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND BIG JUANS!!! I’ll let that sink in for a bit.
Call me old-fashioned, but being curious as to just how smart the wretched thing would have to be for that much dosh, I delved a little deeper into the site only to discover that the UE65HU8500 65 is cloaked in the same kind of secrecy normally afforded only to Catholic priests and BBC news presenters. And for the kind of service that comes as standard with these guys, I would have to fill out an online form or call them on an 0844 number, no doubt giving them the codes to my WiFi sniper alert system and green light access to the remaining members of the Spice Girls still up for a party. Regrettably, I failed to deliver on both counts and consequently the mysteries of the absurdly wealthy shall remain as such.
But hold on there. My Google search revealed a further option in the topbar, presumably for anyone who isn’t impressed by or earning a living from kicking a bit of leather about or pretending to be Jim Morrison. The very same television can be bought from Currys for the stealaway sum of £4,999.00. This includes only two pairs of 3D glasses and home delivery is extra. But for the not insubstantial saving of £95,000, I think I might even consider getting a couple tailor-made in Paris by Givenchy and picking the bastard up myself, no matter where from. My only fear is that the gargantuan 65 inch width would require significant structural alteration of my front room, and the very thought of yet more builders discussing steels whilst stubbing their fags out on the kitchen tiles is almost too much to bear. I’ll live with the one I got off Dad.
It is fascinating though, no? That people are prepared to spend more moolah than I earn in three years on a bit of kit that will be redundant before the cheque has cleared? But I’m guessing that that’s the point: It demonstrates that money is literally no object and will be impressive only to those who are held sway by it. In medieval times, running about with a massive codpiece and laying claim to swathes of countryside had a similar effect, but almost certainly to a lesser demographic. We’ve come a long way, baby…
Once again, the heralding in of another year walks hand in hand with the health and fitness websites falling over themselves to help us improve our bedroom skills. Quite why anyone wishes to get down and dirty in this particular field (at a time when one’s most basic of motor skills are generally in question) is anyone’s guess, but there you have it. And besides, any cursory glance at the headlines would suggest the exact opposite is more appropriate if you happen to be hirsute, silver-topped and off the telly in the 70s.
As for myself, I have attempted to keep my galloping libido at bay with industrial quantities of NZ Marlborough Pinot Noir and a spattering of domestic chores which offer the minimum potential for sexual confusion (it is no coincidence that the more enthusiastic power tool adopter also enjoys wearing those front-weighted accessory belts). And it seems to be working: I’ve yet to have a pop at a Woman’s Hour announcer live on air, elope to France with a teenager or spend any longer than is absolutely necessary in the small room with a copy of Vogue. In fact, the only discernible improvement in the bedroom at present is a new bookshelf – I’m doing my bit.
Imagine my dismay then, when I switched on R4 only to discover that the onerous regime I have responsibly maintained will almost certainly give me gout. Yep, gout! It’s the latest shock malady to do the rounds, brought on by copious consumption of red wine, a diet rich in purines and the utter rejection of Catholicism as sole legitimate sovereign. And apparently it’s heading my way if I fail to rein in my eating and drinking habits. But I’m getting mixed messages here:
Do they want me to strut about like Cock o’ the South, terrifying the ladies of London as they run for cover? Or do I willingly infect myself with the disease of kings in order to prevent such a horror? What are my options? Will I remain handsome? How do goats make cheese?
Fortunately for everyone, the BMJ has found if not a solution, a patch. It seems that a liberal intake of cherries can reduce the risk of gout attacks by up to 35%. Which is a relief. Only thing is, they also enhance the production of dopamine which means I’ll have to be kept indoors, probably under lock and key, until my ardour is sufficiently dampened. It’s a vicious circle:
You rut too much therefore you drink too much therefore you get the gout therefore you eat the cherries therefore you rut too much.
You’d think someone in a lab coat would have culled the problem at source, wouldn’t you? Or that a Cupertino pre-teen would have an app for it by now. But until they do, I shall continue to drink the good fight in the interests of science and common decency. And my feet can sort themselves out when the time comes.