Pope? Nope

(Pope’s visit, Part Two)

August sunshine glittered on the surface of the pool; frosted beers were handed out. A deliciously cool breeze from the Sierra rattled through the silvery olive leaves, the fig trees, the quinces, and the herb garden, stirring up the basil which had been grown from seeds brought from the shores of Lake Como. Brightly-coloured plastic balls bobbed in the swimming pool, thrown there by the cute-enough-to-eat resident toddler, who was now driving a toy truck backwards and forwards between his chubby legs, focusing intently on the task.

‘And did you know they’re hauling up to Madrid five or six important virgins from churches all over the country? In massive trailers, with police escorts? What the transport must cost, it doesn’t bear thinking about. And the insurance! Joder, these things are worth a fortune, they’re covered in gold, the robes, the adornments…. That must have cost a bomb.’

‘Four hundred special vestuaries ordered for priests. Who’s paying for that, then? The Papa’s not coughing up for that, is he? The Socialist Government is.’

Diego, who works for La Mutua, one of the biggest insurance companies in Spain, admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that his company, one of the official sponsors of the visit, was insuring the pope-mobile itself.

‘Does he know that a marica (poofter) is arranging his insurance?’ queried Anabel the Andaluz, studying her cerise nails and grinning through carefully painted lips.

‘Can’t you make its wheels fall off, or make flowers pop out of the bonnet or something? That would be so much fun.’

‘Like a clown’s car!’

I mentioned that the Incredible Ponce had been muttering darkly for weeks that Mahou was also sponsoring the visit.

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ I was told, ‘And Telepizza, Grupo Botin (the owners of Banco Santander), and Corte Ingles. We’re trying to boycott OpenCor, bit difficult- there’s nowhere else to pick up a good bottle of wine in the barrio, but you’ve got to make a stand, haven’t you? Telepizza’s easier to keep a wide berth.’

Our Italian friend Ana,  pulled a face.

‘Call that pizza?…’

‘Twenty million euros on subsidising their public transport while they’re here. They can’t do enough for the pious little bastards. And now a single metro ticket’s gone up fifty percent- it costs us, people like us who live and work here, one euro fifty now….’ This was murmured by a sleek young man in small speedos, sunning himself by the side of the pool. Just after this comment the toddler staggered to his feet, raised the toy truck above his head and gleefully smashed it into the sun-worshipper’s groin.

‘Pero bueno, Lucca, eso no se hace… le queda mucha alegria todavia con las joyas de la familia, tio…! Lo siento, lo siento….’ (Hey, Lucca, mate, you can’t just do that. He’s got a lot of fun yet to be had with those crown jewels! Sorry, sorry….)

His father scooped Lucca up in his arms and carried him away to be tickled, while the victim lay back, winded but laughing, no harm done.

Roberto the hairdresser sighed and drank deeply from his bottle of beer (not Mahou).

‘I tell you what, I’m sick of hearing about it.’ he said. ‘One of my colleagues, nice girl, from Peru, nice you know, but really religious, she can’t wait for him to get here. She’s wetting her pants. Spends all day in the salon wittering on about God, about how wonderful her God is. It drives me nuts. I couldn’t help myself, the other day, it just came out. But I said to her – ok, basta ya! (enough already!) I’ve had enough of hearing about your bloody wonderful God and how he looks after you all the time. And I tell you one thing, chica, I’m glad you think your imaginary friend is looking after you, because what kind of an almighty cock-up would your life be if he wasn’t there ‘helping’ you all the time, eh? I mean, you’re hardly en la gloria now, are you? Are any of us? Think about that.’

He glanced out over the pool, shielding his eyes for a second from the harsh, sparkling water and the yellow of the bright sun.

‘Why don’t they just pay their own way? I mean, imagine if Tina Turner came to Madrid. The State wouldn’t pay for that, would they? They wouldn’t pay for her and all her fans. And she really is divine…’

There was all-round agreement here.

‘Una Diosa, claro….’ (A goddess, you bet….)

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