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The Pope, the Foreign Office and the truth of Hitler Moustaches

April 25, 2010

Appropriate Head Gear

The pope, in the middle of a seemingly never ending scandal surrounding child abuse, is set for a historic visit the United Kingdom in September.

In preperation, the Foreign Office, in charge of organising the visit, sent around a memo on departmental brainstorming of what the perfect visit would be. The memo has leaked. The Foreign Office is in a spot of hot water given that the memo

“suggested Britain should mark the Pope’s visit this year by asking him to open an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and launch a range of Benedict-branded condoms.”

In addition, the memo also “suggested Benedict XVI could show his hard line on the sensitive issue of child abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests by “sacking dodgy bishops” and launching a helpline for abused children.

Of course, these ideas were intended in true dry tongue and cheek humour, scribbled up by twenty-something sitting drinking tea and shooting the shit somewhere in Whitehall. But now senior officials are trying to explain themselves and the Foreign Office has  “apologised for what it described as a “foolish” document and said the individual responsible had been transferred to other duties.”

I can only imagine the individual responsible is feeling, well, a little ashamed (I like to imagine it was one of those mis-sent email moments where it dawned on him or her within seconds after the Send button had been clicked that the proverbial shit was about to hit a proverbial fan and there was absolutely nothing they could do except own up and take the proverbial bullet).

Much in the way when a schoolboy is caught when an unflattering doodle of a nasty teacher, drawn in break time with friends, falls out of his bag in front of the headmaster, someone is getting a serious bollocking.

And of course one has to apologise with total sincerity. “Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful.” said one official. A press statement stressed that “the Foreign Office very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused.”

But much like the schoolboy apologising to get out of trouble, the shame is in being caught, not in the act itself, and under the breath, as he walks out of the headmaster’s office with his head down, you can hear him mutter “but its true! My teacher is exactly like a ten legged spider-goat with a Hitler moustache and a baboon’s butt for a face.”

To take a very English idiom, there is many a true word spoken in jest.

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