Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Taking The Baton From St John
Now, my housemaster was as wet as a mackerel, and could barely control his own bowels, let alone a houseful of feral children - he devoted most of his working life to shirking his duties or shouting in an embarassing manner at House Rugby matches. He was pleasant enough, and given that I had once vomited on his shoes after drinking an obscene amount of wine at a school event, his lack of responsibility in writing to my parents was appreciated. I thought we were at an impasse, where he ran a loose ship, and we, the children, did not ask him for discipline. So this was some neck, I felt, giving out to me about responsibility. "I'm not sure what you mean, sir." I said. "I am in the second netball team and I turn up for matches - I think that is responsible of me. I'll give you that I don't go to all my lessons - but I'm only human. You wouldn't go to double German either if you had to put up with that moustachioed one breathing his halitosis all over the place". "That's enough O'Brien!" he said "The type of responsibility I am talking about, is being in charge of other people. Now remember the time you had to supervise prep for the first year boys?" I defended myself: "Oh come on now sir, that could happen to anyone!" "I have never heard a noise like it," said my housemaster "Bedlam. And the Sheikh's son was wearing your bra. I mean, you must have noticed that we didn't make you a prefect, and I hope you realised why".
Honestly? If they had made me a prefect I would have fallen down dead. Not only would it have shown a staggering lack of judgement, but I would have hated to be a prefect, loathed the thought of it. Wearing a gay little badge and trotting about "busting" people for smoking and "setting an example". I used to get these wan smiles and explanations from prefects explaining that the responsibility was worth the power it gave you- the special place you occupied there, that liminal position between child and adult, service user and serice giver, the great opportunity it gave for input and change - ah feck off.
"Noreen", said the housemaster. "I have been considering your strengths and weaknesses and I would like to offer you a position of responsibility for the religious welfare of the house - as House Sacristan". I stared at him, blankly. "Sir I am a Roman Catholic, This is a Protestant school. I don't know anything about Protestantism - I couldn't do it, I mean, thank you for thinking I am pious enough - but it'll have to be a no". I seriously thought the man had gone insane. How cruel, to make me forge a religious bond with a group of children whose faith would take them on a straight path to hell, regardless of how good they had been in life. And my mother, dear God, my mother, who had told me that it was a mortal sin to set foot in a Protestant "Place of Worship" - who had written, excusing me from the compulsory "chapel for the whole school" despite the fact that even the Jews and Arabs turned up for that one, my mother felt that the polluting atmosphere of the Protestant service would dampen my soul, like a morning fog. I was allowed to miss lessons on Holy Days of Obligation to wander down the high street to the Catholic Church and receive the Body of Our Lord onto my tongue, instead of gibbering foreign languages at a bunch of tweedy old men. If I took this role, it would kill her. I remembered a story one of the nuns had told me years ago, about a child, whose Protestant father hid her shoes, to prevent her from going to mass, so she just walked to mass in her bare feet, to demonstrate her unwavering devotion to Our Lord. I would need to show that kind of resolve, to get out of this corner.
"Nonsense, O'Brien" said the Housemaster "We are Anglo Catholics here - it's very high church, just like you lot, smells and bells, pongs and gongs, decent vestments, latin - you know. I mean good god, girl! It's all Christianity - we're all singing from the same hymn sheet - what?!
Anglo Catholic is one of those terms that makes me feel instantly tired, it is so frequently misused. The true definition of an Anglo Catholic is an English Catholic -one of those hardcore fuckers with a priesthole in their house, singing Faith Of Our Fathers, refusing to be set on fire by Protestants, withstanding centuries of pressure to switch to the other side -an entirely belligerent, English solider of the One True Faith. Anglicans, however, who describe themselves as "Anglo Catholic" are just fucking stupid. Having incense in your church does not make you a Catholic any more than it makes you a hippy. Are you frightened there is blood in your host? No? Then Fuck off, Proddy and stick your incense up your hole. And now, as a result of Anglican "Anglo Catholicism", I had a group of first year boys to occupy, for thirty minutes a week of religious discussion. How utterly, fucking appalling.
So I thought quickly, smiled sweetly and accepted the role with good grace. I remembered that people could baptise their kids in an emergency, to make sure that the innocents did not end up in Limbo, in event of their death before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism from a priest. Why then, I reasoned, could I not baptise the children for whom I was religiously responsible myself, using the BVM shaped bottle of holy water my brother had brought me from Lourdes? I had to be subtle about it, so I would just rest a wet finger on their heads and then silently to myself, I would say "I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and during the course of our meetings, I would ask a leading question like :"would you say you agree with the devil, or would you be more inclined to renounce him and all of his works?" and you know what boys are like, they will agree with pretty much anything a woman says in order to get her to shut the yapper. By the end of my post as a House Sacristan, I had baptised forty thirteen- year- old boys. I'll see them in heaven.
Right. Sounds like a convert to Islam to me.
I was also not made a prefect on the grounds that I refused to confine pupils to the courtyard when it was raining. My proudest moment.
If they have sex outside of marriage they still remain Catholics though right?
QED, you do not have to renounce the Devil and ALL of his works to be a Catholic.
I think I might just run for Pope. How do I go about that?
You may well get to heaven on the merits of this act. It won't as good as the heaven Americans go to perhaps, but it will be quite satisfactory for European types such as yourself.
Well done, Noreen. Well done.
Are you proud of writing this you racist?
Are you proud of reading this racist shit you racist readers?
It would be my wish if you could baptise me. Though, having been so, many years ago, when I was a semi-conscious squirt, it wasn't my choice at that time. Cultural aspects took precedent. How ominus, the thought!
Though, I'll have you know, Hell awaits me, anyway. The upside to that, in my opinion: no overstuffed travel bag to foist upon the sinner at the gate. Tropical slacks and a light pullover would probably do for the long haul.
Insult your own religion if you like but English relion belongs to us, not you.
You're a Nazi (except you are probably too stupid to realise you are a Nazi).
look at the turks....they did it right? where is my lurcher I am sure I left him here somewhere....
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