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Monday, April 26, 2010 

In which I get my head cut off (or: the Pope, that memo and religion).

It's probably got something to do with the Private Eye-style "immature" satire which, when done well, amuses me so much, but I found the leaked memo from the Foreign Office on what the Pope could do here on his state visit to be highly amusing. The less knee-jerk inclined commentators such as Jack Valero thought it was simply "a joke that has gone wrong", and that surely was what it was meant to be, a joke, written on a Friday afternoon which nonetheless got passed around Whitehall and eventually leaked.

Why then would then "Foreign Office forces" later brief that it was in fact that dreaded thing, "blue sky thinking", "trying to think the unthinkable so they could identify everything that was thinkable"? It almost looks as if this is an attempt, rather than admit that it was a group of junior civil servants larking around on a lazy Friday afternoon as doubtless happens in offices the length and breadth of the country in both the private and public sector, and for which those responsible have been demoted or reprimanded, to instead pretend it was serious and that time and expense at the cost of the taxpayer was not being wasted. Everyone (or at least almost everyone) can appreciate a joke, yet a joke stops being funny when it turns out that rather than acting like idiots those responsible actually are idiots, which is what the Foreign Office seems to be attempting to claim.

In any event, which is the more ridiculous? A man elected by men claiming to be the flying spaghetti monster's representative on Earth, whose utterances on faith and morals are meant to be infallible, or that the current incumbent might elect on his visit to perform a few forward rolls with children or launch his own brand of condoms? All the Foreign Office needs to do now, in these times of desperately needed equal opportunity offence, is issue a memo on how when the Hidden Imam arrives for his state visit he could open an art exhibition dedicated to images of himself, or alternatively crack a few jokes about Muhammad's predilection for 9-year-old girls; get Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to preside over a hog roast; and lastly urge the Dalai Lama to open the new Chinese embassy (bit weak this, always difficult to get gags flying about both Hindus and Buddhists) and we'll be err, not laughing.

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