Pantisocracy - Episode 6 - The Panti Monologue 6
'The Pope's Visit' - Queen Panti's opening monologue for #Pantisocracy Episode 6 - which airs at 2pm Monday October 31st on RTÉ Radio 1.
In this episode, her guests in her chamber are novelist John Boyne, (author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), Amanullah De Sondy, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam University College Cork, Sligo based Illustrator Annie West, singer Hozier and the actor and singer Bronagh Gallagher. Bronagh offers a song to the cabaret with Bronagh performing ‘Hand on my Heart’ from her new album and Hozier sings his song ‘To Be Alone.’ Pantisocracy Monologue Episode 6 “The Pope’s Visit”
I think sometimes when people look at me, this big painted ‘lady’, they find it hard to imagine that I came from anywhere. They imagine that I just appeared, fully formed, like the Good Witch Glinda from her bubble. But of course I am from somewhere. I’m from a small town in Mayo called Ballinrobe. Ballinrobe is your typical, Irish, country market town. It has a couple of streets, a church, a Town Hall and huge excitement when Tescos came to town. And even though it now has a Tescos, and a black family, it hasn’t really changed much since I was growing up there, a young boy called Rory, in the 1970’s.
Growing up in Ballinrobe, the much loved son of the local vet and his well respected wife, surrounded by five noisy brothers and sisters, countless animals, it was an idyllic upbringing: easy, free, fun. There wasn’t a lot to rebel against to be honest. But... In 1979, I started to think for myself. That was the year the Pope came to Ireland, and when he did, there were no dissenting voices. Or if there were, I was too young to hear them.
This was going to be the greatest thing that has ever happened to Ireland – the Pope himself, this huge holy celebrity, was coming to Ireland and nothing would be the same again. Everyone was on board - even I was on board. After all, I was already putting my latent drag tendencies to work as Ballinrobe’s pre-eminent altar (lady) boy. But even my enthusiasm, driven as it was really by the perceived glamour of the occasion, paled into insignificance beside my mother’s Papal devotion.
For days beforehand, our house, like every other house in Ballinrobe, was a hive of activity and nervous excitement, my mother a sandwich making tweedy blur, and at the crack of dawn on the big day she piled the Volkswagen high with egg sandwiches, brown bread, flasks of tea, Pope stools, and giddy children and drove to the next town, Claremorris, where we parked in a field. We then boarded shuttle busses to the site at Knock and in the grey early morning light it was a sight to behold – hundreds of thousands of damp pilgrims muttering their bovine devotions, stretched out across fields, ironically vacated by their actual bovine residents for the glorious occasion. We set up camp, miles from the stage, among nodding nuns, stressed mothers, praying shop-keepers, and farmers drinking cold tea from TK lemonade bottles, as an interminable rosary was broadcast over the tannoy system. By the time the Pope arrived it already felt like we’d been at a mass for days on end, but now an actual mass did start, and it was longer and more boring than any mass I’d ever been to in my twelve years. But during the mass I looked around me – and I had an epiphany of sorts. I didn’t belong here. I didn’t feel any wonder, any joy. I felt afraid. There was nothing spiritual or divine about this event; this was a cult. A cult of personality and hype. A colony of drones; a multicellular organism made up of unicellular minds. A wilful refusal to see with their own eyes. A switching off of all critical faculties. And if I’d had the courage I would have stood up and screamed, “The Pope has no clothes!” I didn’t become an atheist that day – that would be a longer process – but I took the first step... and became a Protestant. When the mass ended, the excitement was palpable, because this was wh...