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|His Grace of Dublin||Naiya||Survival|
The last Papal Nuncio to Ireland,
an Italian born and bred,
was a cricket fanatic.
His previous posting was to the West Indies;
when he enquired about local religions,
his informant included cricket on the list.
He decided to investigate
and in no time he was hooked.
Very soon he had devised a way
of marrying both his religions.
He spent hours incognito
at cricket matches
dressed like an upper class English gent,
to preserve his anonymity,
in order to be sure than no one
sent a report to The Vatican.
When he arrived in Ireland,
after he had presented his credentials
The first question he asked the President was:
‘Is there cricket?’
She told him there was,
as she knew that Ireland had done well
in the last world cup,
but since she was
a Northern Catholic
she knew nothing about the game.
The Nuncio soon briefed himself,
and could be seen in civvies in summer
watching cricket around the city.
He continued to practise his birth religion.
and for a while he kept
both balls in the air.
He eventually went to Rome,
tendered his resignation to the Pope
and renounced the faith of his birth.
He returned to Ireland,
joined the Irish Cricket Union
and immersed himself in his new devotion.
Not long after that one day he took ill
while watching a cricket match
in the Phoenix Park.
He died on the spot,
and as you might expect
he went straight to Lords.
An all pervasive stillness.
Silent as the grave.
Each favoured piece
a memory for one now gone.
And so bereft,
all will be dispersed
to the four winds
to stand on merit alone.
Life goes on about its business
as the ocean closes over
a ship gone down.
Don’t go back.
The years idealise
the halcyon days.
The same but changed;
the chintz is gone.
the room is smaller.
It’s who was there
and what it was then
that we remember.
Leave it alone;
keep it for the hard times.
Preserve it for old age.
Do nothing to destroy it.
HIS GRACE OF DUBLIN
In the late eighteenth century,
one of the Protestant Archbishops of Dublin
was a notorious alcoholic.
The first inkling of the problem
came to light when his secretary
was settling accounts for communion wine
for his private chapel.
He then discovered the Archbishop
had secret pockets sewn into his cassock
so he wouldn’t be found wanting
on even the most formal occasions.
Eventually the matter became
common knowledge in the diocese,
as the Archbishop smelled of drink
and slurred his words at public events.
He almost instituted a churchwarden as rector,
but fortunately the Archdeacon,
(who had the same problem himself),
noticed just in time.
Services in country parishes
were a particular problem when
His Grace disappeared behind the church
before and after the service.
Port was the Archbishop’s favourite tipple.
At dinner parties at The Palace,
after the ladies had withdrawn,
he couldn’t wait for the port to come round again,
so much so that his butler placed
a decanter for himself
on the table in front of him.
His wife, a tee-totaller, asked the butler
if he could dilute the decanter
to prevent him, (if you’ll excuse the pun),
making a complete disgrace of himself.
The butler, who had become used
to covering for the Archbishop replied:
"I’m afraid not madam, His Grace
will drink only the best vintage port available".
The end came one autumn evening,
when, late for a state occasion at The Castle,
the Archbishop fell out of his carriage.
The coachman thought he heard a thud on the way,
but didn’t discover he was missing
until he opened the door in the Castle Yard,
and stood back to let the Archbishop out!
Over the years the diocese
and the civic authorities,
had learned to make allowances
for His Grace’s little weakness,
but despite everything,
when he was sober
he was an excellent archbishop.
You came at last,
already soothed and talked to.
Much loved, you brought such joy
unique and beautiful Minny Moo.
Your Mum and Dad were well prepared.
You made for four in family
and so their love increased
to welcome and enfold you.
You will grow up affirmed
by all the care that they
will take of you,
by teaching you
of all in life that’s good and true.
One day you’ll take your leave
and fly the nest,
when all you’ve learned from them:
love, truth and beauty,
will stand you in good stead
in this mysterious world,
and make a purpose
for which you too can live.
When we went there
fifty years after the war,
the First World War that is,
in the tack room
off the coachouse in the stable yard,
on a cobweb covered
moth-eaten green-baize notice board,
pinned with a single rusted thumb-tack
was a damaged photograph
of a young man
in private soldiers’ uniform.
I wondered if he had children
Or grandchildren in the village;
Almost certainly not.
‘Boo.’ That’s what they called you
when you were little more than just a speck.
And when you increased your Mummy’s girth
they talked to you as though you were already here.
They stroked and soothed you and told you
how much they looked forward to your arrival.
Then you came
and all their pent up love enveloped you,
beautiful, miraculous little Boo.
When you were less than one hour old
your Dad held you to the window
and said: ‘There’s the world.’
It’s out there that you’ll grow up
and come to terms with all it means to be a part of it
Meanwhile your Mum and Dad will make for you
your own small world filled with love.
Love, the best meaning, you will find,
that you can give to anything.