by Jonathan Pinnock
When they called me up and asked me if I wanted to become a saint, my first reaction was to ask if they’d made some kind of mistake. No, they said, there’s no mistake. Papal infallibility, they said. But I’m not very holy, I said. Doesn’t matter, they said. The less holy the better. More inclusive. But I sin regularly, I said. For example, only this morning, I – No, we don’t want to hear about that, they said. In any case, we know all about that … thing. Really, I said? How? Never you mind, they said. Bloody hell, I said.
So what are the perks, I said? Turns out there’s not a lot in the way of salary, but I do get my own stained glass window in the cathedral of my choice and I also get to pick my own style of martyrdom. Do I have to stay celibate, I said? Stay, they said? Become celibate, then, I said. Well, it would be better for the image, but it’s not compulsory. In fact, they said, very few of the saints on the new programme have taken up the celibacy option. They sounded disappointed at this.
But do I get a choice, I said? Not really, they said. Remember, we know everything. Even that … thing. Ah, I said. I see where you’re going with this. So what would you like to be called, they said? Dunno, I said. St Geoff? Really, they said? Is that the best you can come up with? It’s a bit rubbish. Chap before you came up with St Ozymandias, Slayer of Wilderbeest.
Well, sod you, I said. I want to be St Geoff. (I’ve always fancied being a Geoff. I think it’s that utterly pointless O stuck in the middle of it. Or maybe just the sheer solidity of it. You know where you are with a Geoff.) Ok, Ok, they said, we get it. St Geoff it is. Final question, then: do you want to be a patron saint? What does that involve, I said? It’s up to you, really, they said. Some saints are pretty hands-on, others take a more laissez-faire approach. What have you got, I said?
Have to say I wasn’t impressed with what they had left. Basically, the choice boiled down to Fly-tippers, Twitter Trolls or Bands Who Only Ever Appeared on MySpace. I think I’ll pass, I said. That’s what the last chap said, too, they said. There was an awkward silence and I felt I’d let them down again.
Listen, mate, I said. You don’t have to do this. This isn’t a proper job. Go out and enjoy the Vatican sunshine instead. Are you sure, they said? Yes, I said. But I might get sacked, they said. And your problem is, I said? If you get sacked, I said, I’ll make sure everything works out right for you. How, they said? Listen, mate, I said. I can make anything happen. I’m a bloody saint, right?
Jonathan Pinnock is the author of MRS DARCY VERSUS THE ALIENS, DOT DASH and TAKE IT COOL.