Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Walking the Dogma – Part 3 –

Madonna and child A material girl

The remnants of Franco’s chest-beating regime were manifest in the unashamed triumphalism of the great stone buildings and monuments that lined my route towards the consulate. They seemed to whisper money, power, subjugation, corruption as I walked past them. Yet below, hidden away as if in shame, in the subway beneath wide militaristic boulevards, lay the detritus of society, the forgotten. Hopeless drunks huddled together in a miasma of rotting rags and cardboard, pitiful beggars, men and women deformed at birth and left to plead for the leavings of commuters, while beautifully stoneworked empty office space mocks their homelessness. The underclass. The ignored. The doomed. I climbed the steps from the subway into the brittle sunlight like a repentant emerging from Dante’s hell, feeling shame at my relief.

The consulate, in contrast to many of the graceful old buildings in this quarter was fairly unassuming. I entered the unremarkable lobby to find a handful of Africans waiting for visas of some sort. The Spanish guard informed me that the consulate opened at 8.30 am. I sat on a generic plastic chair alone with my thoughts until the guard roused me from my reverie at 8.20. I then had to do some kind of an imitation of an airport security check (a sad irony, I thought, if I’m denied a passport.) I was then given a visitor’s swipe card and instructed to go up to the fourth floor. I was met there by another Spanish guard who had clearly had a sense of humour bypass. He took my phone and gave me in return a rubber band. I thought I’d somehow got the worst of the deal. He gestured towards a pair of double doors – “Passporte?” “Si” I replied. “Straight through, counter 2, no espere” no waiting. hmm…I liked the sound of that…

The opened doors revealed something akin to the bastard child of a doctors waiting room and a post office. That is to say, there were 5 rows of chairs bolted to the floor (Presumably to deter failed asylum seekers from making a scene) facing a row of glass-fronted counters numbered 1 to 5. I walked straight to my allotted counter, full of trepidation. I was preparing to call on my reserves of anger and indignation, and produced my documents and copies of my concert contract with an exaggerated flourish. A small man came into view, smiling benignly. He was clearly Spanish. “Sh#t.” I thought. “I’m f##ked now. It’s going to be manana..”

I stated my case..”I have a very serious problem I’m hoping you can help me with” I blathered “I sent my passport off for renewal and was told it was ready for collection, and then it wasn’t and there’s no time…. ” I was babbling. Take a deep breath Kev. The man was still smiling. “Could I?” he said, gesturing for me to give him my papers. This seemed like a good idea. He took them and went away. Ten minutes passed. I began doing the crossword. I had just remembered the word for a young Hare when he reappeared. “I need it today” I blurted, somewhat unneccesarily, as I felt I must have looked like I had “URGENT” stamped on my forehead. “The photo is fine” he said. “We will have to check with the UK, but I will take payment now, and you must come back at 1pm.” I hadn’t had to shout at him. This couldn’t be right. He was still smiling. As he swiped my credit card I sought clarification. “I can have my passport at 1pm?” “Yes” he said. God Save the Queen!

So, my problems were diminishing. However, I now had to fill five hours wandering the streets of Madrid. And so began the morning of Walking the Dogma. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of McDonald’s, Music Shops and CD shops, so I had some fun. But its the religious artifact shops that got me. I’ve never seen a religious artifact shop, but, when you think about it, all this tasteless Catholic tat has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it? I don’t know quite what it is about a life-size figurine of a crucified Christ with a look of anguish on his face and blood pouring merrily out of his wounds, but it sure gives me the willies, so the last thing I needed to see while window shopping was just that. It literally stopped me in my tracks. Completely filling the window, a reclining Christ…I’ m guessing post-nailing..bloody, looking fed-up, you know the sort of thing. Who the hell buys this stuff. Enormous of effigies of Madonna (no, not that one, the REAL virgin) One thing that struck me was how bloody miserable they all look. It’s like when the paparazzi gleefully print the worst possible picture of a movie star. You get to wonder, if Jesus was around now, he’d be like “Oh, god not the post-crucifixion one again – can’t you use that nice one from when I was knocking about in Gallilee, it really got my best side…”

You name it, this shop sold it, and as I wandered the streets, I discovered they didn’t have the monopoly. Oh no, in Madrid, the selling of tasteless, garish religious tat was the business to be in. It’s strange how it offends me, because I’m not religious at all, but to my mind it cheapens their religion, makes a mockery of faith. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t there something in the Bible about not having false gods and idols, that you’re not supposed to have all these effigies and stuff? Ah, but I’m forgetting aren’t I? The historical role of the Church as Judge, Jury and Executioner. So basically, they’re all lawyers, so I guess they found a loophole.

Later that day I made my return journey to the coast in sunlight, awed by the scenery previously shrouded by night. My new musical friends on this trip, courtesy of a visit to the CD shop were Jethro Tull, Steve Lukather and Prince. The gig this weekend was on again, I thought, passport in hand, thanks to the very nice man at the consulate. Now there’s a guy that will surely enter the kingdom of heaven. As for the religious stallholders…didn’t I read about Jesus getting fed up and upturning vendors stalls in the temple? My guess is he wouldn’t take to kindly to likeness of his corpse being displayed in shop windows like a side of beef. Here endeth the lesson.

Walking the Dogma -Part 1 –

Walking the Dogma -Part 2 –

Kev Moore

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March 21, 2008 - Posted by | culture, Easter, God in our life, humor, life, random, religion, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Kev, you are going Luther and Calvin on us, man!
    Small correction: the Church (I mean the catholic one) was too smart to be ever an Executioner! (They did judge and condemned but the sentence was executed by the laymen…)

    Maybe some protestants did some executioning… I’m not sure-sure, but Calvin did some pretty bad burning on stake at Geneva…

    Judaism still has the thing against idols and images… Sometime in the far away past there were also the ICONOCLASTS, ortodox whom turned against images and kind of destroyed a lot of icons and stuff…

    Seems also that if you looks in some discreet places on those religious paraphernalia nowdays you will find some “Made in China” small lettering…

    Comment by iondanu | March 21, 2008

  2. Enjoyed the entire saga! and especially the triumphant ending. My mother in law has a picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns, dripping blood and countenance of pure misery. It is hand-sized and has a bare spot rubbed into it, I presume from the agonies of daily prayer with it. I believe that there is comfort of some sort for people who are suffering to have the imagined company of Jesus in their suffering. I certainly wouldn’t call on that image to take me out of suffering however. THat’s where the logic of it abruptly dissolves.

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | March 21, 2008

  3. And a saga it was indeed, Susan! I could have easily stretched it to four or even five parts as I was writing, but I took pity on you guys, having to wade through it! By the way, a song has come to mind apropos our current theme, it’s called “Plastic Jesus” by Billy Idol, and its really funny. He describes how it’s his comfort on the dashboard of his car, and then reveals it’s because its head comes off and it contains a shot of whisky! I’ll try and put it on here when we get back from France.

    Comment by kevmoore | March 24, 2008

  4. Hey Kevin never think you are wasting your words on us if you feel and write from the heart the message will be gratefully appreciated.

    Comment by Michael | March 25, 2008


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