Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"Belle Famille," - by Arthur Dreyfus - Chapter 28

Tony rented a Mercedes for going to see the Pope.

In the comfortable car, Laurence thinks about the secret recording: "There's no ethics any more in the profession of journalism. It's all about audience figures." Happily, for some unknown reason, the government is supporting her.

They wait in a small room for the Pope's formal discourse to end.

Laurence drily tell her husband, who is praying beneath a crucifix, to "quit this circus." An escort comes to fetch the Macands to take them to the Holy Father.

On the way there, Laurence takes out of her handbag an Elnett hairspray for dry, damaged hair.

The Pope is old and tired. He looks ill. He is addressing the crowd from the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square. As he comes back, his special adviser, Comman, presents Madec's parents and Madec's photo to him and reminds him that he agreed with the French government that he would speak to them about it later.

The Pope turns back to the crowd for his final homily. To the crowd he presents, not the photo of the child, but the fax, upside down. An adviser respectfully turns it up the right way.

"Questa ragazza è sparita. Piccola Madic è stata sottratta dall'amore dei suoi genitori" (This little girl has disappeared. The little girl Madic has been taken away from the love of her parents.)

The adviser murmurs a few words in his ear. The Pope corrects himself:

"Piccolo Madec è stato sottratto dall'amore dei suoi genitori. Che Dio ci aiuti a ritrovarlo, con il vostro aiuto a tutti." (The little boy, Madec has been taken away from the love of his family, may God help him as well as all of you.)

A moment later, the Macands find themselves back in their car. Laurence is disappointed. All the Pope did was offer her a limp hand, without even looking at her.

During the journey, Laurence receives a call from the Minister. She thanks him and he tells her that the Italian police "are going to get things moving." The secret recording is not mentioned.

For the first time, Laurence feels totally cynical: "All it takes is for something to get a bit muddled for the thing to disappear. Sincerity is human, she thinks, but politics is scheming."

(Thank you Frencheuropean!)

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