A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: I Should Be The Next Pope

Originally published: 4 February 2005

I had an audience with the Pope. The crowd roared. A lone voice from the back of the stadium piped up loud and clear: "Hey - who's that asshole with Luke?"

Or so I tell folks.

It's not every day you get to apply for the job of pope - I've only known two popes since I was born, so I guess you could equate the job roughly with being a brewmaster for Jack Daniels.

But the job vacancy looks as though it may come up anytime soon now as the current pope is in hospital and not expected to live much longer.

And let me tell you - there are few better jobs in the world than pope. Nobody messes with the Pope - not even presidents, Grand Panjandrums and Chiefs of the Valley. Not even Bill Gates. Nobody.

The new pope will be chosen by 120 cardinals under the age of 80, most of whom were appointed to their position by the current pope himself.

John Paul II is hardly the most modern of popes and his conservative views have led to a serious stagnation of the Catholic church, and what's worrying many folks is that most of those cardinals are just as conservative as John Paul themselves.

There are plenty of factions within the Catholic church who want the church to modern up, get some groove going and generally bring the funk back to the Vatican. Put the "Cat" back into "Catholic". Swing it a bit. Allow condoms. That sort of stuff.

But when 120 stern cardinals get together in some underground bunker illuminated by candle light in a solemn ritual dating back 2000 years, the last thing on anybody's mind in that room is going to be how to funk the church up. Please believe me.

I've met some serious Catholic bigwigs in my time and let me tell you - none of them were wearing Levis and Gucci loafers. Not a man amongst them sported serious bling. And if any of them were thinking anything other than the deepest, solemn and most pious thoughts I sure didn't pick it up.

But here's the amazing thing - in theory, anyone who has been baptized in the Catholic church can be elected pope. A layman in 1455 ended up Pope Callistus III and a few centuries later a regular priest became one.

Of course that would never happen now and word is that The Cardinals will select someone as a stopgap measure if they are unable to agree on fundamental policy changes to the church.

The temp (eat that, Kelly Girls) would then appoint some more liberal cardinals before a new vote on a permanent pope is chosen.

Once the new guy gets in we can look forward to youths with guitars in church rather than Gregorian chanting in Latin, and trendy young Catholics walking around in revealing clothing because "Da big guy say iss cool, baby".

And shagging like rabbits of course - many years of frustration there.

Now - seeing as I was baptized in the Catholic church (against my will, I might add - I remember screaming blue murder as the bastard poured water on my head and chanted some weird shit, but not having learned how to speak yet I couldn't articulate my thoughts into recognisable dialect) - I'm thinking of applying for the job.

I think I'd make a brilliant pope. I'd be Pope Luke Tagg the 1st, Baby!, but I'd be cool if everyone just called me Boss.

And I'd funk that damn church up, so bloody help me. I'd die doing it.

"Hey Boss!"

"'Sup bro?"

"What do you think of allowing female priests to practice in the church?"

"Gettem some tight little cashmere sweaters and who am I to be churlish about it?"

"You da bomb, Boss."

"Whatever, my brother. Whatever. I dismiss thee and shit."

"Cheers, Boss."

"Later, bro."

And I'd get rid of those ridiculous robes and extravagant hats and sceptres and replace my wardrobe with jeans and t-shirts.

I'd make a concession and wear a shirt with collar for meetings with the Vatican Congregation or the Department of Roadworks and Bishops, but they'll never notice the Mickey Mouse socks I wear discreetly as a way to assert my individuality and belief in personal freedom.

I'd encourage my church to constantly be challenging me and my beliefs, as any other influential or leading world authority is challenged, and then I'd get about issuing some serious dogma:

1. No poofters.
2. No outdated Monty Python jokes.
3. This dogma shit is cool, baby!

No. It would be more serious than that, probably - there are just one or two things that need clearing up in the church before we start introducing the 120 Cardinals to the concept of humour. So it would probably go more like this:

1. No poofters.
2. Oh, shit.
3. Can I start again please, Boss?
4. I am the boss.
5. Why am I talking to myself in the middle of a dogma session?

Sorry. No really. I just can't - it's too much fun doing this dogma stuff, and I'm struggling to focus. Last time - honestly.

1. Chicks are cool.

2. Okes are cool.

3. Chicks and okes are thus equal.


4. If you want to have sex get it on, baby - life's too short to deny yourself a roll in the sack with a filthy little honey who's been oh-so-bad and who needs to be punished. Waaay too short, dude.

5. No more chanting in church - that shit's freaky, man. Talk or sing like normal human beings, for goodness sake. What's wrong with you?

6. Preachers will no longer preach. They'll share some thoughts they think you might want to hear, but what you do with that information will be up to you. Since you have your own brain you don't need to be preached to, right? Am I right? I'm right.

7. Any single priest associated with this church caught molesting a child or in any other way sexually abusing someone will be taken to the blackest, darkest Mexican gaol and will be raped by violent, sadistic killers for 20 years continuously. You hear me you bitches? You sick fucks. I'll worm you out of this church if it's the last thing I do, because you motherfuckers are fucking scum. You fucking hear me??!! You pigs, defiling my church like that. Get out, you fucking animals.

8. Swearing will be allowed, but it's not necessary to go overboard.

9. Nobody kisses my hand, or the rings on my fingers, or indeed any other part of me. We stand or sit together and talk like men, not like a bunch of wet jessies with status issues. I'm no better than you (you could argue that being God's representative on earth would suggest otherwise, but I say fuck it, man), which means I don't do the whole subservient thing. Whatever needs to be discussed will be discussed like men.

10. All popes from now on will drive exclusively Ferrari products. Failure to do so will result in death.

And there - I'd issue my dogma and it would be gravely discussed by men of faith, and the best part about it all is that no matter whether they like it or not they would have to live it - it's my dogma, baby.

And I'm da Boss.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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