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I: The Christian Virtue of Resignation?
Pope Benedict XVI retired last night and the great Trinidadian musician, Andre Tanker, died ten years ago, last night, and I’m sure the next Holy Father will forgive me for being more upset at the ongoing subtraction of Andre than the abrupt resignation of Benedict—and it’s not just because we’ve had so many popes since Peter and only the one Andre. My heart wants to say Andre Tanker had a more profound effect on me than any pope ever could, and Andre Tanker’s music surely shaped my life more positively than Benedict XVI’s pontificating, but while Benny had fully zero impact on me (other than raising my hackles), his predecessors who were calling the Catholic shots when I was being warped, sorry, spiritually guided, by priests and nuns, almost laid my soul to waste, so I can’t dismiss the Pope in all my life as easily as I do the ex-Pope as of last night.
Between Andre being gone a full decade now—he died at home on 28 February 2003, while watching the soca monarch competition—and Benedict being gone from office for a dizzy few hours (but still merrily—notice I do not say “gaily”—sharing digs in the Vatican with his former male personal secretary), a column called T’ank(er) God It’s Friday had to be thrown for a loop. What is a good Catholic apostate boy to do in such circumstances, except divvy himself up into three, and offer a trinity of columns that are all mysteriously part of the one?
Part II: Sayamanda, Guitar Hero
I was 15, and lost, and you crashed into my consciousness and helped save me with one song (but it was the big one), like Bob Marley, who stopped me dead in my tracks in my parents’ living room the first time I heard War on the radio; like the Rolling Stones, who blew me away at age seven with the opening chords of Satisfaction, the first song that changed my life; like the Beatles, who made me hear the wonderful contradiction of the world in the coda-crescendo of Hey Jude; like Bob Dylan, who revealed that every answer was always blowing in the wind and you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows; like David Rudder, who, with Calypso Music, showed me I was part of something beautiful, no matter what anyone else said.
I mark my time in the here and now as pre- and post-Sayamanda. I became a different, better person because of your music; I could link up with the chain of freedom. But you were nearer than any other Trini to the most important musician who ever touched me: Jimi Hendrix, who made me weep, sitting in my parents’ living room when I was 14, and no one else was home, and I could turn the radiogramme up to ten, and succumb to the unbearable beauty of the guitar lick in 3rd Stone from the Sun. I had calypsonian heroes in Sparrow, Kitch and Shadow; I had writer heroes in VS Naipaul and George John (writing “in the papers” as Holden Caulfield) and would find more in Derek Walcott, CLR James, Harold Sonny Ladoo, Earl Lovelace and Wayne Brown. But you were my first Trini guitar hero. And thank the God I doubt your CD, Children of the Big Bang, is being re-released. (And thank you for asking me to write the liner notes to it, something I’d wanted to do since Andrew Loog Oldham wrote, in the liner notes to England’s Newest Hitmakers, that “the Rolling Stones are not a band, they are a way of life”.) If I had another daughter, breds, I’d name her Sayamanda.
Part III: Unholy Father
What a googly Your ex-personal Earthly representative has bowled Your one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church by handing in his notice! He had to be right in doing it, of course, since the Church’s dogma is the pope is infallible in matters of doctrine, which would have made him infallible up to midnight last night, and that infallibility must have extended to his decision to leave the laying-down-doctrine ‘wuk’ itself, before he becomes too obviously fallible to be infallible—even if faith, by definition, would have allowed Catholics to continue believing Benedict XVI was infallible even when he was in adult diapers.
But I have an elegant solution for You: telepathically direct Your cardinals, the way you did the Son of Sam, to appoint me as the new Unholy Father. (You’d have to fast-track my ordination and promotion but a bit of schedule-juggling shouldn’t be insuperable to a supreme being who could part the Red Sea and smite whole cities before breakfast.)
As my apostle/prophet/pardner, Dr Gadget, pointed out, I’d make a damned good pope, if only because of my pope name: BC I. Think, dear God, about the savings on letterheads alone! We could put so much more on the bottom line.
And you need not worry at all about anything I said, since, by virtue of my appointment, I’d be incapable of doing anything wrong, not unlike Jack Warner. Anyway, I leave it up to You because God knows You know best, but I’m willing to serve. I’ve also copied this to you by e-mail because I just know You have to be in the cloud.
Yours sinly (sincerely, without the ‘cere’)
BC Pires is not the Anti-Christ. E-mail your accusations of sacrilege/misunderstandings of satire to him at [email protected]
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