I sense a disturbance in the Force. Or, if one may exchange Obi-Wan Kenobi for Yoda, rumblings in the Catholic Union there are. It would seem that one or two of the CU’s normally somnolent membership have woken up, pondered a certain media operation the CU is patronising, scratched their heads and wondered what exactly Dan and Jamie have got them into this time. That’s a bit of a turn-up for the books in an organisation where demands for scrutiny run the risk of coming across as terribly infra dig, even when someone can work up the energy to do so. Indeed, I can’t honestly remember if the dynamic duo faced a contested election or if they just got the top jobs because nobody else wanted them.
Be that as it may, a little puzzlement is abroad. “I tell you what,” said a contact. “Dan Brennan is a smart bloke, and people rate his judgement. Not only that, but he’s pretty orthodox – doesn’t fit the Tabletista profile. There are plenty of guys around who you could count on to buy a pig in a poke, but Dan would come quite far down the list. Don’t you think?”
Actually, that’s a fair comment. Far be it from me to speculate on what the great man is up to but… oh, what the hell.
As I’ve remarked, the Catholic establishment is not coterminous with the Tabletistas, it’s just that they happen to dominate at that level. And, while Dan Brennan may be orthodox, he’s establishment to his fingertips, and not entirely unclubbable. Two things to bear in mind. One is that he’s a New Labour peer. Another is that his law practice is at Matrix Chambers, where one can find a few other familiar characters – I think of Prof Conor Gearty, who amongst about a hundred other public-spirited jobs is a member of the Tablet Trust; I also think of Ms Cherie Booth, who I believe has some connection to the founder of the Mr Tony Blair Faith Foundation. This is not of course to allege anything so crude as a word in the ear from the Right People, but at that rarefied social level everybody knows everybody else, and connections never hurt. To put it another way, a lash-up of the government, the Suppository mob and the Magic Circle could exert a gravitational pull on people who don’t easily fit into those categories.
Maybe this is too cynical – with the big visit coming up, it’s all hands to the tiller and such a prominent figure would want to be mucking in. It’s also the case that said project has a lot going for it in principle, whatever about the detail. (Although pitfalls in the detail should have been forseeable.) And perhaps Dan was impressed by the barnstorming success of the Da Vinci Code Response Group and saw the need for that success to be replicated… no, forget that.
Or perhaps I’m not being cynical enough, and the good lord has some obscure Machiavellian purpose behind his alliance with the Catalan snake-charmer and Dr Tracksuit. What that purpose could be might be one of the great mysteries of our time, like the Man in the Iron Mask or the Marie Celeste.
Then again, it could just be a case of Dan having a rush of philanthropic blood to the head and deciding it’s time to do something for the common good. If there’s an expert on the common good handy, it may be worth underlining that “serving the common good” and “hastening Jack Valero’s march to global dominance” are not exactly the same thing.
Ah well. There are so many fingers in so many pies, we may as well term this the Little Jack Horner corner. And don’t think you’ve gone unnoticed, Abbot Jamison. The Skibbereen Eagle never sleeps.