Social Distancing

Day 23

Good Friday? It’s too early to say. But after a mediocre Thursday coming hot on the heels of what can only be described as a Wick Wednesday, I shall reserve judgement on the goodness or otherwise of the day until it is over. But at least Lent is. Over, I mean, and I have that from the horse’s mouth. Lent actually ended last night at sunset, as an itinerant priest standing on the quay on Rathlin Island waiting on his boat back to the mainland (not that one!) explained to me one year. The Church of the Roman Rite (and other ones, for all I care) splits the year up into various seasons, beginning with Advent, followed by Christmastide, bombing through a period of Ordinary Time (not to be confused with injury time, extra-time or penalty shoot-outs) into the Septuagesima and then Lent, which ended last night because we are now into the Easter Triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, and with admirable illogicality, and following its basically Jewish tradition, the Church decrees that all these seasons actually start at sunset the night before. But don’t take my second-hand word for it, wiki knows. So, from now on, and with full authority from both me and the Pope, let your children open their Christmas presents as soon as it gets dark on Christmas Eve (i.e. BEFORE Santa comes), and feel free from sin when munching your way right now through that coop of chocolate Easter eggs you have amassed during your essential trips to the shops for non-essentials. In fact, have a plenary indulgence for so doing as well, or some sort of indulgence anyway.

What’s that? Why was I standing on the quay of one of my off-shore islands on the eve of the day before Holy Saturday one year? (And please note, ignoramuses, tomorrow is not called Easter Saturday; that is next week.) Mind your own business … but basically I was making sure the priest got the Hell off the island so that the bacchanalian festivities traditional in that corner of the Western World could commence and continue without any of the awkwardness that the presence of a priest at any community event entails. (In passing, obviously, could I perhaps point out that the major part of what is termed the Western World is actually in the Eastern Hemisphere? Just saying, like, but with terminology like that, is it any wonder that US of Aers are so bad at geography? Paris, France, anyone? The rest of us know where Paris is, dufus, we do not need a parenthetical aide-memoire!) He probably would not have wanted to be a judge at the traditional post-Holy-Thursday-washing-of-the-feet-and-other-bodily-parts wet T-Shirt competition anyway, and some of the finer points of the competitors may have been wasted on him.

There are, it goes without saying, many disadvantages to speaking Irish, and the interwobble is maybe too small a space for a comprehensive discussion of all of them [second time you’ve done that joke – Ed.]. Occasionally, however, it throws up a gem of distilled wisdom, and not only in my own writings. One such seanfhocal contains precise advice on how we, the great unwashed, should interact with ‘our people set apart’, the clergy, that is. It goes something like this, give or take a séimhiú depending on which part of the Isle of Spin and Scheisters you are from: ná bí róbheag ná rómhór leis an chléir. If you are expecting me to translate that for you, dream on, sister! Life is already too long for me to be wasting my talents on that sort of menial exercise. I will provide a link to google translate, though, while pointing out that approximately 20.1% of their translation is neither satisfactory nor accurate. To confuse linguistically-challenged outsiders, in this context, ‘big’ and ‘small’ actually mean something more akin to ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’, respectively, of course. Now nobody could convince me that both the island’s people and its largest Church would not be in a better position today had that advice been followed to the letter. Keep them set apart, particularly from underage boys and girls, and don’t pay too much attention to what they say, particularly about theological matters, not one of their strong points, historically. But, by all means, do greet them if you happen to pass them (quickly) on the street.

Dress-down Friday at work today, a tradition started by the main protagonist in the original Good Friday (wasn’t such a good day for Him either, was it?). I won’t go as far as being stripped by a passing squad of Roman legionnaires (they are never off the Upper Lane these days getting in their compulsory, daily exercise), but I may struggle to make it out of my rapidly disintegrating dressing gown. Mostly because it is getting a bit sticky in parts. Did Arthur Dent end up with the same problem while hitch-hiking through the universe?



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