Pussy cat, pussy, where off did you slope?
I sloped off to London to visit the pope.
And pussy cat, pussy cat, did you see Benny?
I did but quite far away, small as a penny.
I have to confess the the trip into the metropolis yesterday was a bit disappointing. The Rozzers, all in high-visibility vests, had cordoned off large sections of the capital such that our original plan of waiting on Lambeth Bridge was foiled.
We managed to sidle through the crowd on Parliament Square to the corner of Millbank and thought we were in a good place to see the popemobile sweep by to the front doors of Westminster Hall.
But, it was not to be. The popemobile stopped at the side entrance just past Richard, Coeur de Lion, and in the distance, through a forest of hands held high with mobile phones and digital cameras, we saw a glimpse of crimson red. I think it was the pope. It might conceivably have been a beefeater, or even a late postal delivery. Who can tell? If the pope needed an alibi for where he was on the afternoon of the 17 September at about 5.20pm, I'm not sure I could take the stand:
Counsel for the Prosecution: Why do you think you saw the accused, Pope Benedict, from Parliament Square at about 5.20pm?
Ches: Because he was in red.
Counsel for the Prosecution: But beefeaters wear red, postmen wear red, Father Christmas wears red. Even My Lord on the Bench today is wearing red! So, how do you know it wasn't him that you saw?
Ches: I don't know.
Counsel for the Prosecution: So you cannnot be sure you saw the pope?
Counsel for the Prosecution: No further questions, m'Lud.
But there was photographic evidence, you say. Well, that that was another thing. Just about ten minutes before the pope arrived, I got caught out by the old digital-camera-battery-failure routine. I say battery failure. It was actually the failure of the operator, a.k.a. Ches, to recharge it that morning which caught me out. So, I have no pictures of the pope. The best shot I got was of some other ecclesiastical functionaries arriving. Somehow, it's just not the same thing.
I did, however, meet world-famous blogger Fr Tim Finigan who happened to know my companion and stood with us as we waited. I don't think he knew who I was, but he still showed us his press pass!
To the envy of all around, he also had the most interesting gadget for being able to see the screen of his camera when it was lifted up high. I, as a more diminutive man, looked on in envy. He was due to be a concelebrant of today's Mass but had come into town without his alb. I hope he managed to find one. I should think he would have had to have done some hard bargaining to get an alb in London last night.
So, there you have it. My cunning plan to salve my conscience of not attending a papal event was foiled. I could have waited for another hour possibly to see the pope go by, but my companion had booked us a table to eat at 6.45pm, and I'm not sure I could have stood the disappointment if the pope had emerged from the Palace of Westminster and took the shortcut to the Abbey.
This, my friends, is how kingdoms are lost.