Thursday, September 18, 2003
In the late 1990’s a delegation of apologists from various European nations went around the Middle East apologizing for the Crusades.
Somebody I know in Jbeil (Lebanon) woke up one morning to what must be the very definition of surrealism – a group of Europeans (going from door to door) knocking on his door and apologizing for the Crusades!
He said something like don’t worry about it, let sleeping dogs lie and that what they were doing would only open up old wounds and create further sectarian discord in the country (he’s a Christian).
And that is an absolutely 100% totally true story!
The following scene isn’t – it’s a Monty Pythonesque scenario envisaged in my mind when I was told about this incident.
It’s definitely true to the surrealism of the whole affair.
Scene: a house in a street of identical old style terrace houses – similar to the stretch of houses you see in the opening and closing scenes of Coronation Street.
A John Cleesesque officious, pompous man in a bureaucrats suit (APOLOGIST) knocks on the door early in the morning.
A middle-aged harpy type housewife answers the door.
APOLGIST: Good morning madam, I’ve come around to extend my most profound apologies for the Crusades.
HOUSEWIFE: The what?
APOLGIST: The Crusades, terrible affair – you know, looting, pillaging, murdering, raping etc! Remember?
HOUSEWIFE: You isn’t a copper is yer? Well if you are, I don’t know nuthin’ about ‘em – never seen nuthin’, never ‘eard nuthin! When was they?
APOLOGIST: Oh, about a thousand years ago madam. That’s just the thing madam, we can’t remember exactly when they were – you see, most of the lads were intoxicated at the time. You know lads, being what they are – had a couple of pints and a couple of curries and next thing you know they were here Crusading.
You know that sort of thing, happens practically every weekend around here.
HOUSEWIFE: Oh them Crusades! Well, its awright you apologizing for ‘em but who’s gunna pay for mi front room carpet?
APOLOGIST: Your what?
HOUSEWIFE: Mi front room carpet! Them, them , um…Crusaders just barged in ‘ere like they were, were, ah…Crusaders, didn’t wipe their feet and brought in all the mud from the street onto MY front room carpet! Ruined it, been scrubbing it eva’ since! Can’t get it clean though.
APOLOGIST: (confounded) But that was over a thousand years ago madam!
HOUSEWIFE: Well its awright for you rich Europeans, buyin’ new carpets every ‘undred years, but us Arabs is poor working folks – our carpets ‘ave gotta last us at least a thousand years!
APOLGIST: Oh very well madam! Here’s a hundred pounds, will that do?
HOUSEWIFE: ‘Awright, I’ll let you off lightly this time but don’t do it again – coz if ya do I’ve got mi rollin’ pin ready!
APOLOGIST: Very well madam, no hard feelings – good day.
The housewife accepts the hundred pounds, closes the door and trudges over to her front room where her husband, dressed in a singlet and shorts, sits in an armchair, which is on a mud stained carpet – watching the football on TV with a beer in hand.
HOUSEWIFE: ‘Ay Saleh, some geeza’ jus came round and apologized for ‘em Crusades and gave mi ‘unred quid for mi front room carpet what they ruined!
SALEHEDIN EL AYOUBI: (Historic Kurdish chieftain who defeated and repelled the Crusaders – ending a reign of some two hundred years).
About bleedin’ time, Ive got ‘alf a mind to charge ‘im interest!
Now what’s that – ‘unred pound for a thousand years at 10% interest…?
HOUSEWIFE: You’ll do no such thing - you’ll get off yer arse, go out and get a paper and find a job! A thousand years of you indoors and underfoot is enough for me!
I ‘eard they is hiring Crusader repellers in Iraq – cant ya’ mate Saddam,you know the one what reckons he’s you, get you a job?
Ends to the strains of The Pillage People singing (from their Live in Baghdad album) “U.S can’t stop the looting, nobody can stop the looting…”