Monday, September 13, 2010

A wild day of wind and rain.

I had an impulse to ride in it, and went on what turned out to be a futile journey.

I had to pedal back against the wind, and the rain which was often falling in sheets.

Often in winter this rain is horrible in Edinburgh; in the cold wind, it becomes impossible to face it.

But today it was almost warm; and a somehow exhilarating and reassuring reminder of the coming of autumn.

Many articulated lorries round the back of Holyrood house, all carrying high definition TV cameras; and a huge marquee being prepared for the press. All in preparation for the Pope's arrival on Thursday.

I have heard he is a shy man. These visits must be a kind of torment.

I think of him today, preparing himself. He must be frightened. He is 83: he must be tired of it all.

I remember at his predecessor's museum, besides John Paul's bicycle and canoe and collection of exquisite dresses, there was a series of photographs that traced his decline from handsome, exuberant, charismatic man to someone in the most dreadful agony: destroyed by the strains of his position.

I remember the picture of the Archbishop who denounced me: how sad and frightened a man, as if overwhelmed by the weight of his robes.

A cruel system, I suppose, can only sustain itself by making the cruellest demands on its leaders.
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