So I popped in to visit God the other day. I very rarely visit him but because I'm currently testing my parents to see whether or not they're still good at being parents I thought it was important that Mum and Dad made me go to Mass. Of course, I would try to sneak out as soon as I got there and if I successfully got out of Mass without them catching me then they'd lose all important Parent Points. So far, thanks to Mum cutting my hair, they were up 100 points although considering I went off to Cafolla's Cafe for chips ON MY OWN WITHOUT TELLING THEM they should have lost a few but I'm a lovely son and forgave their negligence. This time. Next time they mess up I will deduct 100 points and call Childline.
This would be the least fun of any of the parental tests. Mass is utterly tedious. An hour that feels like a month in a massive, freezing cold stone room where grey people come together to see who can cough the loudest. Still, I wouldn't be there long. I'd wait for Mass to start and then I'd tell my parents that I was going to the toilet and I'd be free! The fools! I went round to my parents' house to walk with them to Mass and just before we left my Dad said "Have you been to the toilet? Well, go now because I know what you're like. As soon as we get there you'll say you need the loo and we won't see you again".
That was my only plan. Fuck. Think, Michael, THINK. You can't actually GO to Mass. It'll be awful. I could say I feel sick but they'd know it was a lie. Unless I throw up right now. I felt like throwing up. I never, ever liked going to Mass. I think I preferred going to school. Except when I had to go to school Mass, of course. That was like eating a turd that was also on fire. Right...look, this might not be that bad. Maybe there will be a power-cut and they'll have to cancel Mass. That's STUPID, Michael. They thrive on the ancient power of candles. They'd fucking love a power-cut. Maybe the priest will die. Priests are always just about to die so maybe I'll just have timed this right. He'll have passed away this afternoon while visiting a hospital to draw on the faces of all the Protestant coma patients. That'll never work. All my childhood I only ever saw dying priests. None of them actually died. They're still around with one foot in the grave and one stamping on my heathen soul. THIS ISN'T FAIR. When I agreed to go to Mass I made it very clear in my head that there is no way that I'm actually going. And we're going on a Saturday night? Does that even count? Is Saturday part of the Catholic Church's programming schedule now? God and Jesus's Saturday Takeway? The Cross Factor? Strictly Come To Procreate Within Wedlock?
I'm going to have to go to Mass. During the walk there my Mum told me about a man who got shot dead while he was on his way to Mass. "It was very sad", said Mum. WAS IT?, I screamed inside my head. When we entered the church I took my usual (well, usual when I was about 14) position right at the back. That meant that when my parents took their seats I could nip off and be back in time for the end. They'd never know I'd gone. My Dad grabbed my arm tightly and basically dragged me to the front seats.
I knew that wouldn't work.
Yes, my parents like to sit at the front. It meant they they could see the Mass better. Fair enough, really. Mass time isn't really about me, it's my parents' thing. I'm here now so I might as well try to enjoy it. If they want to sit at the front then good for them. We'll see the whole show right there in front of us. Dad led (dragged) me to a pew in the second row. Right behind a stone pillar that must be 12 feet thick. Brilliant. This is just excellent, I thought, because I rarely get to see 12 foot thick stone pillars this closely. Let's face it, it's got to be better than watching Mass.
But really, what is the worst thing you can say about Mass? Not religion, that debate wouldn't last long. Once you say "THEY FUCK KIDS" to any subject the matter wraps up pretty quickly. What's the worst thing about Mass? It's boring. That's it. You can't say that a load of people coming together to form some sense of community is a bad thing and the sermon's topic was on the subject of being happy. Can't really argue with any of that. Yes, the beliefs are completely daft but so what? Within this context, everything was at worst harmless and at best warmly communal. I even got into the spirit of things, sort of. My Dad gave me an envelope of money to put into the collection plate and I ACTUALLY PUT IT IN. This is the second time that my Dad has trusted me with the collection plate money envelope. The first time was when I was about 5. The man came round with the plate and Dad said "Go on, Son. Put the envelope in the plate". I just stared at the man and slowly shook my head while putting the envelope in my pocket. Clearly I've learned how to be less greedy. That's 100 Parental Points to Dad.
Look, I'm not going to go to Mass again, it's just...I didn't think it was that bad. There were a lot more Goths there than I was expecting and it always surprises and terrifies me how much of the Catholic Mass is tattooed onto my brain. Prayers and Responses are basically DNA. I'm sure when I'm very old that I'll forget my own name before I forget "It is right to give him thanks and praise". Plus it was really funny hearing the EXTREMELY confident and loud man behind me constantly saying the wrong things. Pfft. You can always tell the dickheads who haven't spend their entire childhood having the fear of God battered into them by the Catholic education system. Idiots. Then I met the priest afterwards. My Mum loves him. "He stays around after Mass and says hello to everyone. Sometimes for 15 minutes!". Well, Mum, he's no Jimmy Carr.
So, it wasn't that bad visiting God's house. Bit sad that he was in on a Saturday night. Dad knew my toilet trick, trusted me with the money envelope and my parents got me to Mass without me leaving. That's 300 Parent Points (I've decided). But how well will they do in the next test? I'm going to steal something from Page One, the newsagents in Newtownards, just like I did when I was "wee". This could be my last blog as I might be going to jail. Unless my parents can stop me.
ps. I forgot the best thing about going to Mass. It's this: My Grandfather, Owen Dorrian, graffitied one of the pews in 1925. Someone called O. Flynn paid tribute to that early piece of Banksy-style vandalism in 2012.
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