2009-12-12 00:00

WELL there are Christians and there are Christians. I mean there are those sonsofbitches who bedeck themselves with righteousness as they go about the Earth plundering and butchering and shooting their mouths off about liberty and the god-given right to free expression whilst they disallow the teaching of evolution in their schools. Bush should be dragged off to the Hague and tried for war crimes, that’s what. But president of Serbia is about as high as you can go in indictable status before cut-off. I mean come on, doing Bush would be like putting the Great Jehova Himself on trial, wouldn’t it?

And anyway you have to be defeated before you can be put on trial, hey? Like Reichsmarschall Göring, second only to der Führer. His presence dominated the Nuremburg trials all right. During evidence on crimes against humanity he would interject every now and then with: Where is Bomber Harris? I have kept a seat here for Bomber Harris! Harris was chief of RAF Bomber Command, of course, who killed more civilians than anyone except Hitler himself, only instead of the gas chamber his instrument was the Lancaster bomber. And I remember vividly a movie shown to us whilst training to fly such things: the Archbishop of Canterbury with Good Book aloft blessing a thousand of them when they were off to wipe out Cologne incl. its magnificent Gothic cathedral, which I supposed was the House of the Same God as the archbishop’s. To cremate alive 40 000 souls from its congregation. I mean for 100% pure 24-carat hypocrisy you can’t beat a good hardline Christian, can you? Thought I. At eighteen. Come to think of it, I still do.

Then again came Father McGuiness, but much later on. I couldn’t guess why Father McGuiness should want to see me. Nobody was allowed to see me anyway except my missus for half an hour every six months. Indeed my heart gave a wee leap one Sunday when she was just about due and Bewaarder Gous clanged open my grille and said Trek aan jou baadjie, kom, besoeker. But Bew Gous didn’t take me to the visitors’ room where you spoke to your visitor through a thick armour-plate glass screen with small holes for sound, he took me to an ordinary cell, empty but for a small prison table and two prison chairs. There stands a small skinny man in priest’s black raiment with thin jaggy hair on his head and small smile upon his lips. Bew Gous stands to one side, according to regulations. Father McGuiness points to the door, according to God. Bew G looks at the crucifix dangling about FMcG’s breast. Exposing a Catholic crucifix to the Dutch Reformed Church is like flashing it at a vampire. Bew G departs.

Tea? says Father McGuiness. Bloody hell, I haven’t had tea for two years, but there it stands, a teapotful, help-yourself sugar and a small jug of milk, formal courtesy from the Prisons Department to visiting clerics. But only one cup. Would you like to say a prayer? says the father in a thickish IRA accent. If you believe in prayer, then? Never touch the stuff, say I, but I’ll bow my head and close my eyes and sip this cuppa if you need to say one. Thanks, says he, and does all that goeters with forehead and sternum and clavicles. Now then, says he when it’s done, so what can I do for you? You can tell me what the hell is going on outside, say I, I’ve been in solitary for eleven months. Aha-a-a-a! says he with some glee, and lays before me a good overview of the entire political scene like he’s rehearsed it a hundred times, and I realise this is one seriously enraged Irishman who finally has found a real, physical, corporeal Satan to attach his hatred to in the name of his God. After twenty minutes or so catharsis sets in and he sighs and leans back and sips his cup of cold tea, and at this point the door slams open bang! and there stands Kolonel Aucamp, commanding officer, big, fat, rugby-size. He glares at us gruesomely, the she-wolf of Rome and the Kremlin conspiring to overthrow the state before his very eyes in Pretoria’s maximum prison. Father McGuinness steps up to his belly and looks silently at Aucamp’s face and points at the door. Aucamp thinks hard and briefly, scowls hideously and leaves. F McG sits down to his tea. That got rid of that bastard, says he.

But it didn’t, of course. Indeed F McG was never seen again, diplomacy saw to that. Aucamp comes to my cell next Sunday. If you try tricks like that again I will take away your food six days, says he, according to regulations. But the priest sent for me and it would be impolite not to go, say I. If you try to teach me about polite I will take away your food three days, says he. Ja, meneer, say I, but he knows I’m laughing at him.

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