Clerical camouflageJul 22nd, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ministry
Cinemas used to be grand, elegant buildings, landmarks in a town. Now they are stuck in the middle of shopping centres, becoming as bland and anonymous as most of the films they show. Trying to locate the cinema is no longer easy, unless you are prepared to be lured into a car park that charges as much as getting to see the film.
Sweeping around a south Dublin shopping centre, looking for a suitable place to drop my daughter, a number of cars seemed to cut though a car park. Following the line, we arrived out in the high street. “There is a car park opposite the church, up here on the left”.
We swung in the car park entrance, which turned out to be the exit.
“Dad, we are going the wrong way”.
“Never mind there is a parish hall at the end of the car park; we’ll pretend we are going there”.
Drivers gesticulated about us going in the opposite direction to everyone else and I waved at them dismissively. Let them think they were on my patch.
We reached the hall and I pulled up on the yellow box at the ‘No parking’ signs. “Dad, you can’t just ignore the rules”.
“I’m not. I’m dropping you off, then I shall reverse from here and join the traffic flow. The clerical collar is a great thing”.
Landing in Kigali Airport in fawn jacket, clerical shirt and cream trousers, the Rwandan immigration process had lasted five seconds. I handed my passport to the official who stamped it, closed it and returned to writing something. So taken aback at the swiftness, I had stood and waited until he had looked up and said, “It’s OK you can go”.
Standing at the roadside in Burundi at the scene of a motor accident, the people around paid no attention to my presence. “Why were there no comments about a muzungu?” I asked my Burundian companion.
“They will have seen your collar and assumed you were some Catholic missionary priest and just assumed you had been around for years”.
Standing at Dublin airport last week, meeting a friend arriving from England, she came through the arrivals and looked directly at me. I smiled. She continued to search around. “Hello! I’m here”.
“I didn’t see you. I saw the collar”.
Enough practice, and it should be possible to become invisible altogether.