The Shroud of Turin. Well, finally someone has remade the fraud, to demonstrate it as a fraud. To the catholic church's credit, they haven't claimed it to be Jesus' shroud, but have said it serves as a reminder of his passion and pain. What it actually is, was, and ever shall be is a startling reminder of the church's venality, and its long and sure grasp of the fact that there's one born every minute. Luigi Garlaschelli's the man who recreated the shroud, using method and materials that were known and used back in the days carbon-dating proved the shroud was made: around 100CE. As he says, however, the fact that he's recreated the shroud's picture will in no way help convince those who "believe" that the original's real that it is, in fact, BS. And why should it? There are, after all, many people who remain convinced that the earth is flat, that the moon landings were faked, and that yes, Elizabeth, there is a Kansas.
Negative Growth: In all of newspeak, there are few trite phrases packed with as much Taranaki paddock decoration as this one. We could put "going forward" up there as a contender, but it's a lightweight: mere puffery. Negative Growth delivers the heavyweight KO. Not only is it puffery, it is also a lie. Not only is it a lie, it's a malicious lie, one that's designed to deliver the untruth in such a way as to convince the listener of... well, of the veracity of the lie. No, wait. To convince that the lie is not only the truth, it's a desirable... No, wait. Actually, this is how Orwell's newspeak worked. By confusing and blurring the actual meanings of the two words"truth" and lies" so that one becomes the other, and no-one who has any grasp of reality is listened to any more. Negative Growth is, in fact, shrinkage. Diminshment. Loss. "We experienced negative growth of 230 million dollars last year" means we lost 230 million dollars last year, but we're still going to reward the Board members with a 20 million dollar bonus.
Little Girl Lost: In Waitakere City today there's 150 or so cops and volunteers searching for a two-year old child who's been missing for over 24 hours. Work harder, guys, and work well. It's something that breaks the heart of any person with a pulse. So, naturally, the 6 o'clock news today opened with a story about a corrupt politician getting his just rewards: 6 years in the slammer. I suppose that corrupt pollies actually getting what they deserve is a much rarer occurence than children going missing, but come on. I know what I think is more important: it's someone who'd have to reach up to hold my hand.
Reading: Alan Bennett, "The Uncommon Reader". It's superb. It's Bennett, so of course it's superb. But it's superb, anyway.
Listening To: Jethro Tull, "Roots to Branches". This, too, is superb, although Alan Bennett had nothing to do with it.
Word of the Day: Fraud.
That's Mum. She never can leave well enough alone. Still, it wasn't a bad idea. I said g'day to the Reverend, then turned to Chutty, and looked at him. He'd wisely kept his mouth shut, although he undoubtedly had a million or two questions buzzing around inside his skull.
“It's like this Chutty,” I started. I had to stop for moment then. I was very close to tears. “It's like this. I had an idea this morning when I was thinking about Charles and Diana, and My Surprise. And I thought that, if it's alright with you, I'd like us to restate our wedding vows. I was going to make it a family thing only, but Mum's got it into her head to bring Reverend Knox in.”
Chutty just looked at me, then the biggest smile I've ever seen on his face slowly developed. I'll keep that picture in my mind until the day I die, I swear. I turned to his holiness the reverend, and asked him if he was OK with the idea.
“Well, I say, most unusual, I must say, but yes, I'm sure.” He was a pompous thing, for a man as young as he was: if he'd cracked 30 years at that time I was Mother Teresa's hand-maiden. I looked around the room, and sighed. People I loved, a friend in need, and a stranger. It was almost perfect. Treen was radiant in her Sleeping Beauty costume, the boys were handsome – I straightened Useless's loosely knotted neck-tie – Mum was looking very smug, and Wendy was keeping to the background. Time, I thought, to deliver The Surprise to Chutty.
I looked him straight in the eye, and said “Chutty. I have something to tell you, and I don't know how you're going to react, so I'll just come out and say it.”
He was suddenly nervous, and I saw him wipe the palms of his hands on his backside. I took a deep breath.
“I'm pregnant. About two months, I think.”
He stood stock still. He looked into my face, then at my belly, then back into my eyes. You remember I said I'll carry the picture of that earlier smile with me to my grave? Actually, this smile is the one I meant.
“Pregnant?” he said. “Pregnant? Bloody hell. That's brilliant. Pregnant? Really?”
I said “Yes,” teary-eyed. Suddenly, I just needed to hold him, very tight. Suddenly, he was holding me, and I was sobbing into his collar. I have never been happier than I was at that very moment.
“Well, I say, this is, this is, I must say this is marvelous news,” said the Reverend Knox. There was a general hubbub of noise, and Russel was holding us, and Treen was getting into the action, and I saw Mum holding Wendy's hand, and smiling. Wendy looked scared, and nervous, and for a fleeting moment I wondered why.
“Should we, I say, should we perhaps start now?” The Reverend was trying to impose some order on what was turning into a generally chaotic moment. I nodded, and got Treen to open the bottles of Lindauer bubbles she'd put into the fridge earlier. She poured everyone a glass, and Chutty and I turned to the Minister.
“My goodness,' he said. “I completely forgot to bring my Bible. May I borrow yours?”
Treen turned to the bookshelf “We've got one here somewhere,” she said. “Under B for, Big and Black,or under B for um, bullsh -”
“Treen!” I snapped. “Just get it.”
She flashed me a grin, and passed the book to the priest. As he took it, I reached into the top of my wedding dress, and pulled out a couple of pieces of paper.
“These were our vows that we made 14 years ago. Do you think we should use them again?”
“Too right,”said Chutty.