The first was the story about the leaked memo from the British Foreign Office about the forthcoming visit of the Pope to Britain (see here). The alleged result of a 'brainstorming' session of things the Pope could do when he visits Britain later in the year it includes such things as singing a duet with the Queen to raise money for some laudable cause (a la Band Aid...etc), launch a new range of condoms, perform a same-sex marriage, or open an abortion clinic!
The list reads not like a serious memorandum (which it isn't) but like a Ben Elton script...highly amusing, but cynical in the extreme... and above all a joke!
What some commentators have noted (despite the obvious stupidity of it all) is that you should not under-estimate the depth of anti-Catholic sentiment in, even though it is now almost a totally non-Christian country, what is essentially Protestant England!
I am old enough to remember when Catholics and Protestants didn't really inter-mingle, or perhaps that it was still a cause of comment when they married. Various Catholic friends of my childhood were not allowed in the 1950s to go into an Anglican Church (still not quite sure how the Earl Marshal managed to organise a couple of coronations inside Westminster Abbey...another story!)
What seems like the ridiculous japes of some infantile Oxbridge graduates at least hints at the antiCatholicism which pervades our world. It should not go unobserved that the same faceless and, no doubt, privileged civil servants would most likely not have been so careless with a list about world Islamic leader. That the Catholic Church will not put out a death-fatwah is commendable!
The other amazing blunder is the feckless Gordon Brown who left his microphone on and got into the car and was heard to bemoan a woman as a "bigot" who he had previously politely listened to.
Caught out by his own stupidity he then went round and personally apologised to her.
Now who knows how this will play out. (see some comment from the SMH here)
But I make two observations.
One, the woman did actually seem to be engaging in one of those diatribes that could be taken as being prejudiced. When ever whole groups of people are gathered together and criticised as a group rather than as individuals then compromises in truth are made. She says: "All these eastern European what are coming in, where are they flocking from?"
Now I guess there are a lot of Eastern Europeans roaming through Europe now that the EEC allows freer movement. There are indeed also English people in Belgium, Paris or Berlin....
Two, although many commentators have derided Brown for going round to apologise. I actually found that quite human, attractive and humble. But the press by and large are not interested.
I suspect Brown had a try at making things right and doing the correct thing. I also suspect that this will not save him at next Thursday's ballot box.