American friends may be unaware that, in a Third World country like ours, one of our customs is this. Where, as in many areas, particularly of Surrey and Kensington, there is no running water and no 'sewerage system', a little hut at the bottom of the garden is provided as an answer to the Calls, so many, so manifold, and so peremptory, of Nature. 'Night Earth' deposited there is covered daily by a thin covering of soil. Since in many parts of England 'toilet paper' (what is the American term for this?) is unavailable or is too expensive for all but the wealthiest Russian oligarchs, the custom is for the daily newspapers to be cut neatly into smaller rectangles of appropriate size and to be left in a pile to be applied to the person, with as much diligence as may be judged necessary. Such rectangles can, of course, before use, easily afford supplementary reading matter.
That is how I came to find myself looking at a rectangle of newsprint which, I inferrred, had been cut from a journal of Catholic origin. It was an 'opinion piece' by a cleric called ... of course, this is probably a nom de plume ... Mgr Basil Loftus.
'Loftus' is clearly a Bergoglianist, because I read there, in the twilight of the Little House, that "Pope Francis has resolved the culture of ecclesial poverty, the renunciation of carnival custume and pretentious titles, and ...".
At that point I hesitated, and referred just half an inch to the left, to the as-yet unutilised earlier part of the article ... where the author is described as Mgr Basil Loftus.
I scratched my head. Mgr? Surely, that is an Italian abbreviation for Mon Signore? And, surely, that, in English, is My Lord? Is 'Loftus' a barone or a conte? Perhaps even a marchese? In my simple Anglican Patrimony ignorance, I (subsequently) asked a friend ... one of those Cradle Catholics from whom we poor converts have been urged by Mr Ivereigh and his friends to take our religion as from a purer fount ... what Monsignore meant. "Ah", he said, nodding his wise old Cradle Catholic head. "It means that 'Loftus' is a Domestic Chaplain to the Supreme Pontiff".
You can imagine how stunned I was. 'Loftus' is clearly very old; to think of him popping off to Rome every few days to perform the important if menial tasks of laying out the Holy Father's baroque maniples and lacy albs and satin ferraiolas and whatnot indicates a very personal devotion to the Great Man. "Er", said my mentor, "No, 'Loftus' pretty certainly never gets anywhere near the Vatican. If he did, the pope would probably strangle him with one of his maniples. Monsignore and Domestic Chaplain are just ... well, let's say, just rather pretentious titles ..."
Oh dear. Now I am terribly puzzled. How difficult it is to be a poor ignorant convert.
Do you think 'Loftus' would take me on and give me some private coaching?
To be continued.