CHAPTER FOUR: MY FIRST HOLIES AND THE BUBONICS (PART 1)



“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises from various sources.
 
The first part of Chapter 2 is here.
The second part of Chapter 2 is here.

CHAPTER FOUR: MY FIRST HOLIES AND THE BUBONICS (PART 1)

              My First Holy Confessional was beyond doubt one of the most anti-Protestant events the parish had ever experienced. Mother dressed me up in her best velvet evening gown, she gave me the family heirloom passed down to her from her great great great grandmother, Jacinta Tomfoolery, which was a string of beads with a little locket on it depicting the first helicopter flight of the 1550’s, a good fifty-six years before the more famous Flight of the Earls, wherein the Earl Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, with their little brother Silken Thomas Earl hanging onto a bit of bunting at the back, made good their escape from the English off Lough Swilly and were never seen or heard from again.
                Until their arrival in Catholic Spain, of course, when at that point them Spaniards had crushed the Moors and given the terrain a more rugged, mountainous look, and developed a large fleet named after a place in Northern Ireland wherein the engineers had helped to build it a hundred years before, but it was already destryed by the time those Earl Brothers arrived. Destryed by untimely overcockiness and the meteorologists under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, the first and last most powerful Protestant Faerie Queene ever.

                   And while Mother prepared my face with rouge, eye shadow, and mascara, Granny Dimbleby spat six times into my hair, endeavouring without fruit to flatten the fudgelick sticking on end with the hair oil and the shpiock. And after each gobadeen hacked from the bowels of her throat landed on my shcalp, she would shriek:
                “Hold shtill, a cushla, tis narely flatthered.” And she would repeat the procedure, but to no avail.
                So we trotted down to the Church together, me, Mother, and Granny, or the Nearly Deceased, as we called her, and I’ll tell you, the feet were in agony with the swayed high heels Mother had me in, and already weighted down by all the jewellery and the heave of phlegm dragging on my curls, and so we went into the church, what was known in those days as a crenellated chapel. And we showed our Christian papers (your “Passport to Heaven”, as it was called) to the sentry and if you weren’t to do that then you could be tarred and feathered from on high.
                So into the church we went, me in my dress, dolled up to the nines, and we waited in the back pew for the children to chronicle a good six or seven years of sins, bereft as they’d been of previous confessions. So it took a while for me to have my go, and I hadn’t been told, but wasn’t there a shortage of priests in the locality, what with Father Rorty being the only priest of the parish, and him with only a few months to live, only he survived to live a much longer life than we’d expected, and Bishop O’Brien on his holidays in Siam, and me wasting my time getting made up for the Bishop when he’s away getting a suntan, isn’t that right?
                So you’ll never guess what the good Father Rorty had to resort to, with the lack of manpower he had. He sinned against God and he sinned against the Church, but he’d seen no alternative. Didn’t he only get the local Presbyterian feckin Lutheran in to do the First Holy Confessionals?
                So I went into the Confessional Box, and I kneeled down and I saw a slot for the money, which I put the tuppence hae’penny into, each coin rolling down into a little spin in the box before falling silent, and didn’t a panel slide across and wasn’t it only the Presbyterian Parson from the Sparse and Undecorated Church of Evil up the road?
                “Would youy like toouy lisht youhr shinsh?” he demanded to know.
                So I did as was ordered of me, Protestant or no, the only fear being that I’d be condemned to Hellfire and Damnation for all eternity. There was a pause when I finished up, and finally he made the sign of the swastika, heaved a sigh out of him, and managed to boom in a whisper:
                “Nomine patre silicon implance, bamus batis bant, epsilon theta, omega. Eureka, Beat the Cheetah, Theta, New sky, Oh my God, Pie, Crappa, Lambda, Camden stew.”
                Being a child, I didn’t know what to do so I just put another coin in the slot and he went quiet for a second.
                “God lovesh ush. And noy, Iy’ll heaer yourh Act of Contrishion.”
                Now, for the love of God the nerves were shatthered on me at this stage, and I could only for the life of me remember the last sentence of that particular prayer. So I banked on his not really knowing the prayer, being a Satanist and what have you, and I started to mumble quickly stuff about loving God, and Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, and then I says quickly:
                “Help me to sin like Jesus and not live again. Amen,” I burst out, rounding off my Act of Contrition in the darkness. It was a slip of the tongue during my First Confession, and naturally what I’d meant to say was “Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again. Amen.” Any Catholic priest would have allowed such a mistake.
                “Are youy implyying thateh Jeeeeeeeshshushsh shinned byy kaaling himshelf?” clamoured the Presbyterian stand-in priest as he grabbed me by the earlobe and pulled me through the gauze which detached one half of the Confessional Booth from the other.
                “Twas a slip of the tongue, Father,” I roared in protest, holding my hands in the air like I was waving inanely but I was actually waving in the throes of agony. So the Very Right Honorific and Downright Presbyterian Reverend Tartan pulled me out of the dim light of the booth and back into the dim light of the church proper, where Father Rorty was awaiting with his flagellae for the penance we were about to be served.
                “Thishsh… youngng emp… wooyunded the Neeeee-am of Chrisht!” Reverend Tartan declared in front of the whole parish, everyone from the front pew to the back pew staring up at us in disgust, except for Mother, who had her hands obscuring her face with the shame and Father Rorty said:
                “Tsk tsk tsk. What did he do now, Reverend?”
                “He abuysed Chrishsht’s neeam!”
                Father Rorty looked confused.
                “He shpoke ouyt againsht Chrisht!” Reverend Tartan went on, seething under all of the ostensible anger.
                “I’m sorry, no, Reverend, I just got the bit about the French Revolution, but the rest of it didn’t really make any sense to me, I’m afraid.” Father Rorty shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and took my hand in his, pulling me away from Reverend Tartan’s grasp with a dirty look. Everyone applauded and someone shouted out:
                “Home Rule is Rome Rule!” and the chant was taken up, and hundreds of white discs of wafer that was blessed sacrament it very self frisbied towards the altar from the congregation, striking Reverend Tartan full force in the face and body and the Very Esteemed Reverend took a step back up onto the altar in shock and he grabbed his biceps and collapsed over the tabernacle, ugly grimace across his Presbyterian mug as he panted for breath, in tatthers from the coronary he’d just experienced.
                After the event, Reverend Tartan telexed the Pope, he telexed Bishop O’Brien, and it was more to get into the good books of the Catholic hierarchy than anything else that he tried to turn me into a scrapegroat, as if to show that Protestants knew their prayers just as well as us Catholics. Unfortunately – or fortunately for me at any rate – nobody could understand the Grump, as he came to be known, or the Bitter Fathead as even the less fundamentalist Proddies called him, and Reverend Tartan faded into obscurity and his criticism fell deadborn from the press. Because nobody wanted to print it.

The continuation of this chapter is here.