As I write this, pictures are being broadcast around the world of the new Pope’s first appearance on his velvet verandah giving it the Bona Sera. If you’d just switched on, you might’ve thought you were watching a fancy dress episode of Bullseye such is Frankie boy’s resemblance to the veritable Jim Bowen. I was expecting him to turn around to the cardinals left inside and shout, ‘Look what you could’ve won,’ pointing to the cagool-drenched hoards below in St Peter’s Square. He shouldn’t get too wide though, after all he’s only the second most famous Argentinian on the planet.
In the midst of the white smoke stakeout, I was trying to remember if there had been a Carry on Pope or Carry on Up the Vatican among the classic film series. Some might argue that Carry On flicks are far from classic. Then again, the same could be said of the behaviour on our doorstep of those in power of, possibly, the world’s most secret establishment. As it turns out, Kenneth Williams would’ve made a good Cardinal O’Brien (as was). Shame Hattie Jacques, or a bra-popping Babs Windsor would’ve been looking for other work, as you’ve more chance of getting a one-to-one interview with Banksy than seeing a female roaming between the walls of the conclave come voting hour.
The Vatican did its gallant best in putting on a show. Couldn’t help but feel it was all a tad fur coat and nae knickers though, in its attempt to cover up more cracks that those on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Sorting out infighting, corruption and a litany of allegations are undoubtedly highest on the new Bishop of Rome’s to-do list – or keeping a lid on each at least. The volume of my telly went from 26-to-mute in a very short space of time seeing as BBC 24 News coverage was cringingly uncomical in its waffling rhetoric. Where was Dimbleby, or Fiona Bruce? It’s only when you get a rubbish commentator that you appreciate a good one, as they say. Just before silencing their rabble, one of them went on about Pope Benedict XVI’s cassock being way too short in his first appearance to the extent you’d think he’d had his hem stuck in the elastic of his silk knickers. These guys were only funny in their own bonces.
What a lavish carry on. And in returning to that theme, where the comparison stops dead is in remembering the Carry On’s were famously produced on low budgets. While Bernard Bresslaw would’ve bent his back out of shape to squeeze into his caravan digs on the set of Carry on Camping, 76 year old Cardinal Diaz enjoys sprawling out in a 12-room Roman apartment, all part of a £21 million purchase by the Holy See. The Catholic Church is renowned for making good property and land investments around the world, but you do wonder where in the scriptures it was interpreted that Jesus Christ was an advocate of swanky living. Fair to say that he (J.C) and big Bernie had more in common with their work surroundings than your average Vatican big gun. And in true Carry On-esque plotline, it turns out the Cardinal’s pad is housed within the same block as Europe’s biggest gay sauna. Titter me not!
They say Pope Francis I is a humble man who’s rode the bus to work and doesn’t go in for the ritzy. Were he to sort out his homosexual adoption stance and lift the ban on the flock’s use of condoms he might turn out to be a good man himself. While his past goes about being dissected from this very minute on, and journalists and haters dig deep in search of his ‘Hitler Youth’ equivalent, it’s only fair that 1.2 billion Catholics take faith and hope that their new guy has a good papal innings. Perhaps today isn’t a good time to remind them nothing much will change, as we carry on watching a bunch of aging men hellbent on keeping control of the masses. In the meantime, the T-shirt printers will be rubbing their hands. . .keep your eye out for the FRANKIE SAYS PRAY range – a Sid James face on the back optional. Amen.