I see that Pope John Paul II is being canonised as I write this.
That takes me back to June 1979, when he arrived in Warsaw the same day as we did, and thoughtlessly blocked our way to the campsite. Derek was our driver.
However, after Pope John Paul II went through and we drove across to the campsite, the crowd of many thousands started cheering and waving at us as if we were the Pope himself. It was then that I perfected my royal wave.
I should add that I was well on the way to sainthood myself until 1977, when I was sent on that training trip with Simon Arms and Phillip Tulk, who wasted no time in pointing out the error of my ways and taught me the true path of roadcrewedness. They taught me things that were extremely beneficial in my doing my job, but which I am quite sure none of the four popes in today's ceremony would approve. However, if I hadn't taken Simon's and Phil's advice, I would never have got to Warsaw.
Me: “Bless me Vicar, for I have sinned. It has been 40-plus years since my last confession, Vicar, and I accuse myself of:
Vicar: “40-plus years!!! Keep it short: I haven’t got all day!”
Me: “It was their fault, Vicar; not mine! Simon Arms’ and Philip Tulk’s!”
Vicar: “Go on, my son”.
Me: “One night I took this girl, not from my trip, into my tent, and she started moaning even before I had fully disrobed her, and when we got fully into it her cries grew to such a crescendo that the mountains echoed and, in the far distance, a wolf howled in response.
“The next morning, passengers came up to me and complained about the filthy degenerate in the tent next to mine, who happened to be my trainee. I expressed my shock and dismay at his behaviour, and raced off to tell him that, for the good of the trip, he must take the rap.
“He did, and was roundly condemned by the others for it. ‘Now, Mike, be sure to report his behaviour back to HQ when we return’, they would say. ‘Oh, I will, I will’, I would say, but – alas oh Vicar! - I did not.”
Vicar: “Oh you fiend, you fiend! Not only did you take advantage of that poor girl; not only did you put your poor trainee in that terrible situation, not only did you fail to report it to the authorities, but now you say that it wasn’t your fault, but that of Simon Arms and Philip Tulk, who weren’t even there! Am I right?”
“Yes (sob) Vicar”
“Then away with you! I cast you into the outer darkness, where there shall be wailing, and gnashing of teeth! And there, you must pray to God, and ask what He would have done.”
“But Vicar, I have already been wailing and gnashing my teeth in my trek through the desert of guilt for over 30 years now.”
“Oh. Alrighty then. Your sins are forgiven you, but in penance you must say one Our Father and three Hail Marys, and you must promise never to do that again.”
Unfortunately, that is one promise that will be only too easy to keep. The best I can do now, as a grumpy old man, is to howl like that wolf.