Justin here, and in a world torn by tragedy, conflict, avarice, greed, lechery, cowardice and cruelty, our thoughts naturally turn to The Greatest Story Ever Told – not necessarily the film of that name, although I was taken to see that cinematographic milestone as a boy, by an especially devout maiden aunt, who went “Oooh” and “Aaaah” a lot. It is a long film and I had TWO ice cream tubs – the ones with little wooden spoons. In fact, a childhood friend, Donald Rossiter, once got a nasty splinter from one of those lodged in his tongue and had to be taken to hospital to have it removed. Ever afterwards, he answered the register by saying “Yeth thir.”
But I digress. For a man of the cloth, the way each religious festival is presented is very important and whilst I will celebrate Easter in the traditional fashion at the Abbey, my thoughts turned to the question of perhaps organising and presenting a more public event which might attract not only the devout, but also the unengaged amongst us.
To my surprise, the young man with the wire in his ear took an immediate interest. I had resigned myself long ago to his apparent agnosticism, but he was very swift in suggesting what he called “a crucifixion sort of thing”. He proposed enlisting the services of some of the local homeless men and dressing some as apostles, some as Romans, and one as Jesus. This last, suggested the young man with the wire in his ear, should “look a bit like Rambo”, whoever that is. His enthusiasm was infectious and he went on to describe the scenario, aided by some enthusiastically sketched pictures of Our Lord being bloodily scourged, whipped, abused and finally nailed to the Cross.
My lady wife and I thanked him very much, but were taken aback when he said, “Ah, but it doesn’t end there!” Before I could congratulate him on his knowledge of the scriptures, he went on, “No. You see, just before they nail him to the Cross, he head-butts the geezer with the hammer, shoves a nail in his eye, knees his mate in the goolies, leaps down and grabs the centurion’s spear, does for ‘im, then all his mates do the same to the rest of the Roman guard – blood everywhere – an’ a dyin’ guard says to camera – “Surely this man is the son o’ Gawd. Uuuurrr.” Then Jesus and his elite crew hunt down Judas and do for ‘im and the whole thing closes with JC and mates heading for the Roman HQ and a seriously bad end for that pilot bloke."
There was a brief silence until my lady wife said, “What a load of gratuitous nonsense. We will have nothing to do with it. You silly boy!” – this last delivered with enough passion (excuse the pun) to upturn her mug of Drambuie.
So instead, we’re having an Easter Bonnet parade.