This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday, 28 October 2019

What ho, James!

With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse.

Regular readers of these chronicles will know that six years ago, my Uncle Cormac, tired of seeing me lounging around all day, said "Bergie! It's time you got a proper job, so we're arranging for you to become Pope. You'll enjoy it - the Cardinals Club is just like the Drones Club."

Unfortunately being Pope isn't just a matter of saying prayers and looking humble, although that's part of it, and I kept getting into scrapes. For example, my Aunt Dahlia, who used to run a lady's magazine called Milady's Boudoir, asked me to dash off a piece on "How to be a great lover". Since I am Pope, I gave it a Latin title, Amoris Laetitia, and cobbled together a few tips from the works of D.H. Lawrence, Casanova, and Bingo Little's wife Rosie M. Banks, the writer of romantic novels.

However, the critics panned it. Indeed old "Beau Brummell" Burke of the Cardinals Club got together with some mates to send me some thorny questions about the article. Luckily the letter was taken away by "Sniffer" Cocco, who said something about dropping a line, although I hadn't really thought of him as a great letter-writer.

Pope and Martin

James takes charge.

Recently my luck changed, and James entered my employment, as manservant, valet, spiritual adviser, and physical trainer. The story starts with another of my failed literary ventures, which was originally intended as a jolly children's story about a water-rat, a mole, a badger and a toad, until I realised that this had already been done. So I threw half the pages away and renamed the rest Laudato Si'.

Some time after the publication of Laudato Si', I got a call from "Baldy" Baldisseri of the Cardinals Club explaining that he was organizing a synod, and perhaps I would like to attend. "We're all dressing as Amazonians, but you can come as you are, Bergie, if you don't have a costume. Bring a bottle!"

At that time, James and I were having a slight disagreement. James had been trying to add a touch of colour to my usual white suit - "A rainbow cummerbund would suit you very well, sir, and show that you are hoping to build bridges." However, on this occasion I asserted my authority, and James retired in high dudgeon, telling me that "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day. Demosthenes."

I had never heard of his pal Demosthenes: probably he's one of those New York Jesuits that James knows intimately. Still, I had won that round.

Pope and Martin again

Bergie and James discuss Demosthenes.

Anyway, I went along to Baldy's synod, and was slightly surprised to see everyone bowing to an ugly-looking wooden statue. James was there serving drinks, and I asked him what the statue was. "I could not say, sir," he replied. "Mr Ivereigh is telling people that it is Our Lady of the Amazon, but he also maintains that it represents Miss Madeline Bassett. Her disciples believe that the stars are God's daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born."

"Is that really orthodox Catholic doctrine, James? I'm a bit rusty on it."

"I fear not, sir, although it is one of the aims of the synod to get these teachings accepted as infallible by the Church."

"Hey, I know all about this. When I took over from Uncle Ben, he told me, 'You are allowed to make infallible statements, Bergie, but you're such a numbskull that I really wouldn't advise it.'"

"Quite so, sir."

Pachamama wild

The cabaret.

I thoroughly enjoyed the party, but the next day, when James shimmered in with the papers, I could see that I was in a dreadful fix, and it would need all James's ingenuity to help me extricate myself. The headlines read:



OHHH, MY BRAIN HURTS. (Austen Ivereigh for Crux.)

To be continued (?)


  1. My new valet James, having laid out the rainbow vestments for my day’s toil as a globalist icon, woke me with my morning Traidcraft coffee - and some news not without import.

    “Your Aunt Agatha has been on the phone, sir. She wishes to stay with you at Casa Santa Marta. Shall I prepare the Umble Suite?”

    “James, you haven’t met Aunt Agatha, have you? I think for the duration of her stay she had better occupy my apartments, and I shall remove to the Umble Suite. Ugh! No air conditioning - and eco-lightbulbs. Oh well, I suppose one must suffer for one’s art. Erm, by the way, James, what did she have to say?”

    “The telephone line from Buenos Aires was a little fuzzy, sir. But I may just have caught the words ‘blithering idiot’ and ‘apostasy’.

    “O lord…. time to execute Project Bunberry. You remember Bunberry, don’t you? My imaginary friend. No, James, not God. An earthly imaginary friend. It’s a subterfuge - I learnt this stuff from Peron. Come on, we’ve trained for this, James. You know the drill”.

    “Ah, indeed, sir. Now I recall. I shall inform Aunt Agatha that you have been unavoidably detained at an ad limina meeting of the bishops’ conference of Mongolia”.

    “Pip-pip, James. And, have the rest of the day off”.

    “Thank you, sir”.

  2. Bergie Wooster's Tune

    Now there's a good ship
    H.M.S. Cock-Robin
    On her Rome trip
    Up and down she's bobbin'
    So the crew's pretty tough
    The weather's so rough
    They're all fed up with doctrine
    They've had more than enough.

    I've got a Jesuit, he's an able valet
    And they call him Baldhead James---
    I wire to say I'll meet you
    And with our pals I'll treat you
    So who’d you think I've had a message from?

    Forty-seven ginger-headed Cardinals
    Sail to Rome across the briney sea,
    When the anchor's weighed
    And the deal is made
    Cocco will start the party with a heave-ho, me-hearty.
    A dean from down in Devon, said my idea of heaven
    Is forty-seven ginger-headed Cardinals!

  3. Such a perfect ditty. It explains it all.🐍

  4. Bergie started from his spot of shut-eye to see Bishop Roderick Spode towering over him. 'I hear you have acquired a rather disgusting statuette of Miss Madeleine Basset', he snarled. 'I have only to lift my little finger to summon an elite squad of Blackshorts who will hurl the wretched monstrosity into the Tiber - and you with it!' Bergie trembled, but as was his usual way, he managed to avert a nasty incident with a friendly gesture - well, it worked with the Chinese - and promptly offered the Fascist bishop a red hat. This seemed to do the trick, and as Spode retreated with an engimatic smile, Bergie sat down to write a stern rebuke addressed to the forthcoming deputation of hairdressers, librarians and stamp collectors, warning them of the dangers of gossip and backbiting - especially about him and his louche habits. Then off to the Drones Club for a quick snifter of whisky and a bun fight - well, a Pope's life is not all beer and skittles you know! There was also the delicate but necessary task of dropping heavy hints to atheist journalists on the subject of rigid hairdresser types dunking idols - that is, ecologically sustainable sacred objects - in the river. Mind you, perhaps he could drop a few discreet hints to WHOEVER DID IT on the subject of a certain Aunt Dahlia...