Following the news that Lord Patten of Barnes is to be the new communications supremo at the Holy See, I did wonder whether he might bring some British style diplomacy to what seems frankly a bit of a mess over the whole papal interview thing. You know - millions of commuters in London seeing the Metro front page claim that the Pope says that one in 50 priests is a pervert, dwarfing the news of Hamas threatening rocket attacks on Israel, Germany winning the World Cup, the Cabinet reshuffle and the forthcoming heatwave. A story like this was never going to get pushed to page 9 with the "Killer Gran who thought Cyclist was a Badger."
Here is the possible conversation that ran through my mind:
"Franco, Hi! Great to see you again, carissimo Papa! Shall we get down to the interview?"Actually that wouldn't be all that British, come to think of it. Standard Operating Procedure would probably be to conceal the recorder anyway and not say anything about it. Then if it were necessary to quote some actually uttered words, His Lordship of Barnes could simply arrange for a minutante to pretend that he pressed the wrong button on his mobile phone and recorded the interview by accident.
"Sure, Eugenio. Have a seat. I trust you absolutely. Fire away my friend!"
"You know of course, Franco, I don't go for this recording-the-words gig - it's not very Italian."
"Hi, Eugenio, great to see you!" Lord Patten intervenes, oozing British charm you could bottle for Fortnum and Mason, "You know you're really very welcome and if I can speak on behalf of the Holy Father, we're all immensely grateful to you for taking the time to be with us. I do of course realise that Italian journalists dispense with slavishly recording every word: and what a jolly liberated way of carrying on that truly is! I hope you understand that here in the Holy See, we're a tad behind the times, and we do tend to want a, sort of, well, transcript of what the Holy Father actually said - you know, the words that in fact issued from the pontifical mouth, as it were. So if you can possibly bear it, and I know it's such a bore, I'll just put this little electronic thingy on the shelf over here. It won't intrude or make a noise or anything, and one of our chaps will just type it all up later. If you're interested, we can email over a copy to you."
Anything really would be better than what actually happened.