24. Religion

Jim Shelley lets his white spots show

Tapehead no 24

This week’s Everyman (no, don’t stop reading just yet) looks at the current state of contemporary Catholicism, discussing issues such as whether Catholics identify with The Pope, and what inspires Anglicans like the Duchess of Kent to convert.

Yes, this week Everyman is a barrel of laughs, their idea of an Easter treat. We know this because its called ‘Is The Pope A Catholic?’
Our ribs hurt.

The reality is about as funny as a bunch of bishops sitting around discussing ecumenical ethics or Catholic philosophy (which is basically what it is).

C of E refugees talk (rather ungratefully) about their free transfer to Catholicism, and a working class family watch home movies of John Paul II driving through Liverpool in his Popemobile with all the nervousness and excitement of kids viewing the day Take That came to the local Megastore.

Perhaps next Easter, Everyman will be called Does The Pope Shit In The Woods? instead.

An equally religious event (to some of us) is The Domino World Cup.

“In the heart of Jamaica lives the soul of the domino.” Amen, we hear you.

The commentator makes a good attempt at Coleman-esque commentary (“Oh no, that’s a rid-ic-ul-ous shot”) but even his Hansen-esque analysis cannot unravel the mysterious ways of the game and the Kasparaov-like cunning of the champions.

For a start, why are the dominos called cards? Those with true faith expose their hand to their opponents as they play, and slam the winning domino down with religious fervour. Look out for an excellent, bewildering, cameo by The Bogus Americans.

Craig Johnston’s descriptions of how he developed his revolutionary football boot in QED this week are about as interesting and impenetrable as some of the guidance of the Catholic Church or the rules and rituals of dominos. He finally gets the right mix of rubber moulding and finned grips through perseverance and, presumably, Divine Inspiration.

“Enlightenment…hallelujah,” he sighs, after dozens of mouldering
processes, a feeling shared no doubt, by the audience.

From QED to From A-B: Tales of Modern Motoring, and a group of reps and company execs whose altar and chapel is their car, with religious rituals equally unfathomable to atheists or outsiders. These are people whose particular obsession is whether their Cavalier or Astra has “CD” or “i” on the back bumper and can talk about SRi, CDi, and GSi for hours, The sort of smug smoothies who don’t talk about their car, but drone on smugly about “a wunnerful looking modern car”.

Not just a bunch of tossers so tedious that you can’t even sit through their humiliation without groaning and yawning.

No such problem with Steven Speilberg’s Wonderful World of Disney-esque series, Amazing Stories. The opening line of this consummately American experience is “Hi, honey. I’m home.” It has an exploding meatloaf scene that rivals the best moments of Close Encounters, managing to be both tense and hilarious, and features not only Frederick Coffin, but Adam Ant.

Like ET meets Beetlejuice and, unlike Everyman, there is no shortage of sharply-scripted plot giveaways. Ant gets to do his Thomas Jerome Newton number, and does it very fetchingly too. Cheesy, corny, and weirdly watchable, particularly for Adam’s accent (you can’t really call him Ant with a straight face) which seems to come and go – from London to Arizona, black to white, and back again – as it pleases.

The ending obviously represents a significant spiritual event or the family and symbolises the transitory nature of our understanding of the universe. Or does it? Is The Adam Ant An Alien? Or a Catholic, even.

Over to you, Joan Bakewell.


Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories: Sun, 1.35pm-2pm, BBC1
The Domino World Cup: Sun, 4.10pm-4.55pm, C4
Everyman: Is the Pope A Catholic? Sun, 10.20pm-11pm, BBC1
QED: Craig’s Boot: Wed, 9.35pm-10.05pm, BBC1
From A-B: Tales Of Modern Motoring: Fri, 9.30pm-10.20pm, BBC2