I was at a loss where to go with the story about the retirement of Pope Benedict, I'll be honest. Obviously I wish him a peaceful, blessed and long retirement. I feel his Papacy has had successes and failures, but of course until they elect a woman to the job nobody's ever going to be an unmitigated success. St Peter himself did a pretty good job, but then he had a wife to keep him on the straight and narrow. So prayers for Benedict, and certainly for his successor. He - it is almost certainly going to be "he", so I hope I'm not giving any secrets away there - will be accountable before God for more souls than any other Christian. It is a terrifying calling.
But now Dwight Longenecker has given me the sort of angle a Beaker Person can really appreciate. For according to the prophet Malachy, it turns out that this will be the Last Pope.
It's such a God-send. After Harold Camping and 2012, we were starting to wonder when the world was going to end next. And, to be fair to St Malachy, he gave himself a real career in this end of the world business. Unlike Harold Camping, who twice last year had to watch an unexpected sunset, Malachy forecast the End way out into the future. Like the philosophers in Hitch-hiker's Guide, he made sure he was on the gravy-train for life.
There's just one thing that worries me. I hope he'll forgive me if I'm wrong, but there's something about the name "Dwight Longenecker" that suggests to me he may be an American. If so he may not have noticed the awful implication in the next successor to St Peter being the 111th (or, as the Shire-folk might put it, eleventy-first) Pope of Malachy's vision. All cricket people would have spotted it.
That's right. Nelson.
I've got a funny feeling that, at the Nursery End in some celestial Lords, as Marshall runs in to bowl at Grace, there's a chubby angel called Shepherd standing on one leg.