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INSIDE OUT: I have a confession to make.

IAM trying to persuade the parish priest that just because you'reajournalist, there is no guarantee that what you write will make it into the paper.

No,honestly.

No,not even if you haveGod on your side. What you need, actually, is the editor on your side.

I regale him with stories of my spectacular lack of success in publishing stories about theBrownies' pea and pie supper, the play group bun gee jump, theneighbours' 10th weddinganniversary.

I am warmed by his refusal tobelieveI can be this much of afailure. Somuch so that I end up agreeing to write a story about whatever it is that he needs a story writing about. But it will have tobeon Saturday afternoon,I tell him.

By the time. I arrive it is more early Saturday evening than lateSaturday afternoon and the housekeeper tells me Fr is not available. I decide to leave a note commiserating for having missed him. I am halfway through the note when the pen runs out and the housekeeper is forced to lend me hers. And very posh it is to.

This is a posh pen, I tell her. It was a present, she says. It was from Fr for being 40 years ahousekeeper. It occurs to me that after being 40 years a housekeeper I would expect more than a pen. I would expect a pension actually. And aholiday.

I hand the note to the housekeeper. Sorry you were out, she reads.

But he isn't out, she says. He's in church. Hearing confessions.

Soit is that I find myself in the queue for confession.

I am possibly the only one there with a smile on my face. (It is almost Saturday night, after all.) Iamdefinitely the only one there with a pad of paper under my arm. Suddenly anxious that this may be mistaken for an aide-memoire,I slip it into the handbag. Then I wait. It's finally my turn and as I enter the darkened confessional box the priest begins a blessing. Excuse me father,I say. It's me. I need some quotes for the story.

In the name of God,he says,not completely unexpectedly.

But we soon get cracking and, in spite of the lack of light and my kneeling position, we a rebeing very businesslike when there is a knock at the confessional door. I imagine it to be the next person in the queue. It isn't. It's the housekeeper, complaining that I've taken her pen.

I have toaskFr if he has a pen I could borrow. Hedoes. He pushes it through the grille. It's another posh one, I comment. It was a present from the housekeeper,he tells me,for her being 40 years at the presbytery. After 40 years of putting up with her,I would want more than a pen, I almost say. Then I remember whereI am and decide against it.

Soon I have the details I need and leave the confessional, regretting shouting ``Thanks'' as the door swings closed behind me. I genuflect, as you do,and leave the church.

And as Iclimbinto the car,amI still clutching Fr's posh pen?

Er, yes.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 26, 2003
Words:522
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