Monday 5 October 2020

Tell Clay Gilahooley

Hello from Rome! Benedict Ambrose thinks I need to relax more, so he has taken me away to the Centro Storico, where he will look at churches and I will look at the sun when not working. 

Rome is warm and rainy. Such tourists as there are seem to come from European countries, but the streets at night throng with young Italians. In the day, Italians congregate outside shops and chat. Freed from isolation and mass tourism at the same time, Italians dominate. It's ideal for tourists who love Rome but hate fellow tourists.

So far I have slept very badly (aftermath of extreme dentistry) until last night, but always with very vivid dreams. Last night I dreamed a group of unknown friends and I had been taken in charge by the Chinese police and taken somewhere to be looked at by dentists. (The dentists were a relief as we originally thought we were going to be interrogated in nasty ways). 

The story we were told was that they were going to check our teeth for recording devices, but later I realised they were probably putting them in. One of the dentists was a young American woman, blonde and now an ex-communist. She had been a doctor. She muttered to me her name and her state, which I forgot. What did stick were  her words, "Tell Clay Gilahooley that I still love him." 

Unfortunately, I repeated this story to my friends, once we were back in safety, and then I realised that I probably had a bug in my teeth relaying it also to the Chinese Communist Party. 

Relaxing is hard. B.A. says the nightmares are getting all the mental poison out.

Anyway, I am awake and soon to write a long article on the long encyclical called Tutti fratelli. The calls for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity seem heartfelt, but the irony there is that there are two unequal classes of Vatican correspondents. We are treated very differently. 

The "ordinary" correspondents were permitted to enter the l"Ufficio Santo for the live version of yesterday's Tutti fratelli Press Conference, and the "temporary" correspondents had to watch them on the livestream version, which was dubbed into Italian when it was not really Italian, from the Sala Stampa. The "ordinary" correspondents had earphones providing their language of choice, and the "temporary" did not. I was sure that listening to 1.5 hours straight of rapid Italian was very good for my listening skills, as that is where I am weakest, but it was not very good for my story.  The excuse was Covid-19 distancing procedures, but in that case, why not have held the press conference in a room big enough to hold all the press? 

My principal takeaway was that I got to hear and someone say "In the name of Allah" in the Holy Office, which was certainly very memorable. 

Before bed I've been reading a murder mystery by Antonia Fraser. Her heroine has so far been beaten up by a male acquaintance, her friend's ex-boyfriend, and seduced by another, whose first move was to pinch her hard on the breast. The character seems to think both actions were perfectly normal, which made me look at the date of publication (1981) and wonder about the private life of Antonia Fraser. I cannot imagine a Cambridge educated television presenter (as is the heroine) today not calling the police on the one and at least slapping the other. 

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