One of my favourite movies is Monty Pythons The Meaning of Life, it starts off with the huge Catholic family, there are 63 children in cupboards, drawers and another child pops out whilst the mother is washing the dishes and they are all about to be sold off because the father has lost his job in the mill. At one stage, the children ask the father why doesn’t he just use a condom or chop his member off and he bursts out into song;
Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.
It’s hugely irreverent, appeals to my juvenile sense of humour and the song will stay with me forever; And across the road is the Protestant family with no children, the stark austere interior and the man of the house comparing their peace and quite because they are allowed to use contraception.
I first saw this film at home in Belfast just before I came over here to London, we loved it, both Catholics and Protestants thought it was hilarious ..and yet here’s the thing, there’s many a truth said in jest. Of course I can only speak from personal experience but last March on Paddys day I went to a local comedy club. It was a nice evening and a very boisterous crowd, the place was packed to the rafters but well into the evening one of the comedians on the stage asked is there anyone Irish here tonight? It was Paddys night so I expected nearly everyone to scream yeah, I gave out a big cheer and raised my hand… Oops, no-one else joined in… it seems I was the only Paddy there that evening…CRAP! and of course everyone’s looking at me and all my friends are pointing at me (the feckers!) going ‘over here, over here!’
The guy says, “So you’re from Ireland, where abouts?” and I said “Belfast” and he says “well now, I bet I can tell if you are Catholic or Protestant just by asking one question”, and I says “Aye OK then, fire away..”
So he says to me “How many brothers and sister do you have?” and everyone’s laughing because we’ve all seen The Meaning of Life.. and I stand up and list them all, it takes some time as I have six brothers and two sisters.. counting mum and dad there are eleven of us..
And the guys says “I’m going to take a wild guess here, you’re Catholic..” and everyone’s having a good laugh…to which I stand up and reply “Actually, no, you’re wrong, any Irish person would recognise that none of those names are Irish, we were actually raised Protestant” and pause for effect “….the reason why there was so many of us was because me ma was trying to keep with with the Catholic family next door, they had 23…” to much laughter around the pub..
(OK OK I *know* the largest family is around twenty, www.duggarfamily.com but it was just a bit of fun 🙂
Having an accent like mine and living in London, a lot of folk make certain assumptions about me, when I was working as a nurse on the wards the priest would pop in occasionally to see a patient and he’d hear my accent and assume I was Catholic and chat away, I was never sure if I was meant to genuflect or kiss his ring or whether there was some secret masonic signal I was meant to do to let him know I was one of his flock but as far as I knew doing the whole crossing yourself was just a way of keeping track of your hat, testicles, wallet and spectacles.. I went to a Catholic friends wedding last year and there was a lot of us heathens there but everyone was expecting me to tell them what to do, I had no idea myself and consequently we were up and down on those seats like a fiddlers elbow, we got some strange looks from the priest thou..
Talking about priests, did anyone spot this story last month in the paper;
“Irish priest kidnapped in Philippines released by MILF”
You may want to google that story but the more smutty minded of you will know another meaning for MILF and I now have images in my mind of commando style ladies bursting into a building Rambo style to rescue said Priest. (Note to self: If I ever get to name a terrorist organisation, I really must NOT call it something like the Army of Republican Soldiers Enlisted (or ARSE for short..) )
Anyway, the wedding reception was brilliant and great fun, I’m not a huge drinker but I know the Irish have a reputation for liking their drink and this lot was no exception, we have this joke at home which goes like this; What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral? There’s one less drunk at an Irish funeral… many a truth said in jest.. ;p