Tales From... The Archive

Pope Politics

The Edinburgh festival is over for another year and so with it the 24 hour anxiety, constant low level depression and neurosis, which frankly is a relief especially as I wasn’t even performing this year. Instead we embark on one of my favourite months, September.

The Edinburgh festival is over for another year and so with it the 24
hour anxiety, constant low level depression and neurosis, which frankly
is a relief especially as I wasn’t even performing this year. Instead we
embark on one of my favourite months, September.  No, it’s because for the first time in a long time it’s got us Brits in a bit of a tizz. Some of us have actually got genuinely annoyed at the thought of his State visit. Some of us might go on a bloody march! Some of us might sign a petition or post something on Facebook, or read something that someone else posted and get jolly upset about it! Yes, that’ll show the Pope and all those…Cardinals…and… Bishops… and other frocked folk. Let’s face it when it comes to extreme action, we Brits aren’t exactly flying the flag. In fact we’re very much the opposite, extreme action like extreme views just isn’t very British is it? We only have to glance across the Channel to see what might happen if we did. It’s all fine food and drink, rigid employment laws and banning burkas. Here in Great Britain we may have strong opinions, we just choose not to express them. When the French banned the hajib, here in Britain our response was, “That’s a bit much isn’t it?” Extreme views just don’t sit well with us Brits. When we went to war with Iraq we were really pissed off! “How bloody unfair and undemocratic to go to war without the support of the UN! We’ll go on a march and get really cross. We’ll show that Tony Blair. Honestly, who does he think he is…? I’m sorry, what’s that? We’re still going to war? Hmm, oh well, I am still cross about it but I’ve got to pick up the kids from school at 3.30pm and a Question of Sport is on at 7pm. I really love Sue Barker, she seems like such a lovely woman.”

Politics have always been tricky, it’ so hard to talk about anything political without an ensuing argument. I’m always in awe of comics who manage to make politics funny. I can’t help but rant, which frankly is not funny just annoying. In my family we expressed our opinions by shouting, yes shouting and whoever shouted the loudest won. It wasn’t about clever arguments or any actual political knowledge, just volume. Over the years I’ve alienated many a person with my inability to put my opinion across rationally and dispassionately, “YOU WILL AGREE WITH ME YOU FACIST!” doesn’t go down well at dinner with your girlfriend’s family. Still, if you really want to split a room just tell them you’re a feminist. I tried that on stage more than once and honestly it freaks people out. It’s like admitting you like watching porn at work, even other people that do it, will pronounce that it’s weird. Unlike French and Italian women who will proclaim their Feminist politics from the roof tops, “We are Feminists!” they cry, “We believe in equal rights for women!” In Britain I speak to like-minded, liberal, politically motivated women who seem to shrivel at the mention of the word. Yet none of them can come up with a rational explanation as to why they don’t like it, “No, I’m not a feminist, I don’t like that word, I don’t want to be labelled.” “But you believe in equal rights for women at home and in the work place, equal pay, rights to child care.” “Erm…yeah I just don’t like that word. I prefer other words like ‘pencil’ or ‘terracotta’ or “Buble”. One day I hope to be Mrs Buble, not because I like Michael Buble you understand, I just really like the word, ‘Buble…’” Right, well that makes perfect sense then.

However, with the arrival of the Pope I have really enjoyed hearing people, who otherwise don’t engage in political debate, become passionate and yes angry about the Catholic Church’s stance, not just on protecting Paedophiles, but on a whole host of issues including contraception to prevent HIV, women in the clergy and homosexuality to name but a few. It has also been refreshing to hear Catholics, speak out against this archaic and frankly Medieval institution . My Mother and even her best friend, who are good strong Catholic women with a powerful faith have no time for the Pope. Both incredibly supportive of their gay children and grandchildren, both feminists in their own way, both horrified by the spread of HIV/AIDS In developing countries; when asked by their priest what prevented them getting close to God, they replied, “The Church.”

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us with opinions about the Pope’s visit gathered together on Saturday. What if we didn’t stay in and watch Saturday Kitchen or Football Focus, or nurse our hangovers with another pint, or head off for our weekend shop? What if we ALL met at the arranged rendez-vous and made it clear to the Pope and the Catholic Church how we as individuals feel and how the head of an institution that protects men who ritually abuse children is not welcome in our country. What a difference we could all make…

I would honestly go but I’m rehearsing all weekend. So, for now I’ll just tell you how bloody cross I am about that awful Pope.

Posted on 14th September 2010


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