Exciting news from the Pope. It seems that he has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
I was a bit curious to know what this was all about, so I listened in to Radio 4's Today programme, and was rewarded with a little discussion between Christine Odone and Joanna Bogle (podcast here). I've got a lot of time for Joanna Bogle; there is something awfully compelling about someone who has apparently never doubted, never half-believed. She speaks in one of those loud and strident voices that flatten opposition with the dead weight of their certitude. She could have stepped off her hunter and out of the pages of a Waugh novel, horsewhip in hand. And, perhaps oddly, I find myself broadly in agreement with her on her core premise:
We are made male and female, and it's just bad science to pretend that it's an artificial construct. There's this fantasy going round today, a kind of flat earth theory that you invent yourself as male or female. This is just not the case. ...maleness and femaleness is much more important than we thought ...male and female matter.
Jolly good, Joanna. We're singing from the same hymn sheet, though we may be in different choirs.
I looked up her blog, and found that we have heaps of things in common. We both, to employ her terms, live cheerily among lots of books and no TV. She loathes instant coffee, extreme feminism, narrow-mindedness, cold pasta, "inclusive language" and stewed tea. I'm OK with the extreme feminism, and don't mind inclusive language, but I'm solid with her on the rest, although I do bear in mind that one person's narrow-mindedness can be another person's clarity of purpose; I recall a Chief Engineer on a ferry defending the display of hardcore pornography in the workplace by asserting that "you've got to be broad-minded at sea". Quite.
Our favourite modes of transport are train or bicycle, though I'm sure that if she had a Morris Traveller too, she'd have added it to the list.
She likes buttered toast, sticky chocolate cake, rain, old-fashioned detective stories, Pope Benedict XV1, making jam, winter teatimes, sleeping out of doors on warm summer nights, Christmas, Pimms, ginger wine, and making patchwork quilts. Me, I'll take a raincheck on the Pope, and I prefer felting to quilting and damson vodka to ginger wine; but hey, close enough.
She's got a list of men who ought to be bishops. I used to have a list of men who ought to be strung up and/or castrated, but I got over it.
This is almost scary. I wonder what will happen if Joanna ever realises that she engages in transsexual behaviour. (If you have stumbled upon this blog for the first time, by the way, I should perhaps clarify that I am a woman with a transsexual history, if you see what I mean)
Disappointingly, of course, it turns out that the Pope never actually said what the media have said that he said. This is the problem when you've got an elderly Austrian pope surrounded by Irish cardinals and it's getting late in the evening. What he actually said was probably more like, "Well, it's been lovely talking with you but frankly I could murder a pint of creme de menthe*, so auf wiedersehen, Kameraden".
*Creme de menthe: the drink of choice for popes. A Well Known Fact. It's a papal behaviour thing.