|Father Ted and the Army Chaplain
Author: A.A. Pessimal PM
Bishop Brennan has hatched another diabolical plot to make life difficult on Craggy Island. A fourth misfit priest is on his way to join the lads - and this one doesn't just believe in muscular Christianity. He wants it armed to the teeth. Many "feck"s.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Chapters: 3 - Words: 7,566 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 07-15-09 - Published: 07-07-09 - id: 5197715
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This completes the episode. Enjoy!
(SCENE:- The Parochial House living room. The window has been boarded up, inexpertly, using thick cellophane and gaffer tape. FATHER W-W, FATHER DOUGAL, and FATHER JACK HACKETT are glued to an (unseen) TV screen. The soundtrack is one of battle, combat, loud explosions, small-arms fire, and screams. FATHER JACK in particular has a look of evil rapture on his face and is incoherently cheering the action. FATHER TED periodically looks over, winces in pain and disgust, and looks away again. FATHER W-W is holding the remote and providing a commentary.)
FATHER WIGAN-WALLGATE:- Absolutely cracking film, Saving Private Ryan. I find you just can't beat it for authenticity and the special effects work is absolutely sterling. You'd have thought that poor chap had had his guts blown out for real, wouldn't you? But if I freeze-frame the action and we go through it frame by frame, I can talk you through the sequence of events for when a chap gets a high-velocity round through the stomach. It's really quite unpleasant, jolly messy for the medics to sort out,. Though these chaps can work miracles these days….
(FATHER TED dry-heaves. It is beginning to get to him. Mrs DOYLE wheels the tea-trolley in.)
MRS DOYLE:- Cup of tea, Father? Go on, go on, go on. You know you want to…
FATHER W-W (proffers bucket with a handle on):- Mrs Doyle, you're an absolute bloody life-saver! You'll join me in a cup, Ted, Dougal?
(At this point we should be aware a subtle change is happening to TED and DOUGAL. Over the previous day or two, they have been forced to join their guest in drinking so much tea that their skins are turning a visible orange-brown colour. They are beginning to look like a minor celebrity with a sunbed addiction – think David Dickinson or a Big Brother contestant - , or failing that, they're at least on the way to looking like Lindow Man after he was excavated from the bog. Mrs DOYLE is in tea-making heaven. Never in her life has she poured out so much to so few. However, one thing mars her happiness.)
MRS DOYLE (slight concern):- I don't want to worry you, Father, but there might be a slight problem. Would you come into the kitchen with me, so?
FATHER TED:- (relieved to get away from the film) Of course, Mrs Doyle!
(As they pass into the kitchen, he hears:-)
FATHER W-W:- Of course, when we've finished this film, I've got Peckinpah's Cross of Iron. 1944, a platoon of German squaddies know the war's lost, but they have no option other than to keep on fighting. Quite stupendously violent. There's a key scene where a Jerry soldier falls off the back of a lorry, but do they bother to stop to pick him up? No, the other lorries just keep rolling over the poor soul until he's mashed into the mud and quite flattened out. But that's Jerry for you…
(TED gratefully closes the kitchen door behind him.)
FATHER TED:- So what's the problem, Mrs Doyle?
(The camera follows his eye as he scans the shelves. Most are piled high with tea in every conceivable type and form. Indian, Chinese, Kenyan, Lapsang Souchang, Earl Grey, in powder, leaf, square, round, pyramidical and polyhedral teabag form. One large box advertises the NEW!!!! Duodecahedronal teabag that will allow hot water to permeate through its twenty sides, and knock the shite out of any teabag you've tried before. But Ted's expert eye spots tell-tale gaps in the shelves where usually there is tea. He recalls the lead article in the Examiner, and frowns. Mrs Doyle looks worried and wrings her hands.)
MRS DOYLE (controlling her hysteria):- Father, I didn't want to say it in front of the others, but I'm frightened we're going to run out of tea! And there's none to be had anywhere!
FATHER TED (stern and calm):- How many days' supply do you think we have, Mrs Doyle?
MRS DOYLE ( flapping slightly, one step this side of hysteria) :- Normally, Father, I'd say about a fortnight, but at the rate that English priest is drinking it, so, I'd say two days!
FATHER TED:- For sure. If there's one race on the face of this planet that drinks more tea than the Irish, it's the British. And their Army runs on it. Apparently it's their remedy for everything except a gaping stomach wound. And you wouldn't put it past them even then!
MRS DOYLE (stunned):- I never thought anyone on this planet drank more tea than the Irish!
FATHER TED (sighs, reflectively):- They've even used it as a weapon, Mrs Doyle. Back in World War Two we had to import all our tea through the British. They wanted a concession off deValera, and quite properly, Dev was telling them where to put it. And he didn't mince his words, Mrs Doyle, I'm telling you!
MRS DOYLE (misty-eyed) A great leader, so, and a true Irish patriot, mr deValera! So he told Churchill himself to feck off?
FATHER TED: In as many words, yes. Then Winston played dirty. He… (TED pauses, shivering as if relating a tale of great horror and sadistic evil-doing) . cut off our country's tea supplies…. for a month. Dev had no option, poor man. He had to give the British what they wanted. (1)
(At this point we have a slightly surreal "flashback" in black and white. In the style of a wartime public information movie:
VOICEOVER:- Irish Pathé Newsreels for August 1941. In the news this month: the Prime Minister, Eamonn de Valera, has been involved in top-level diplomatic talks with the combatants in that wee bit of a war that's going on in Europe.
(Cut to film of DEV, a small, slight, hunched man in dark glasses wearing his trademark trilby hat, even indoors. He is having an animated conversation on the phone.)
VOICEOVER:- In a determined bid to save Ireland's neutrality, Mr deValera has been talking tough diplomatic language with his fellow heads of government.
(DEV is seen to jump as one of two phones on his desk rings. He picks it up. The film goes to split-screen: Winston Churchill appears, wreathed in cigar smoke, with a very large glass of brandy on the desk next to him.)
CHURCHILL:- Eamonn, we're having a lovely war. We're just waiting for you to join us. You are an Empire dominion, after all, and all the rest have joined in: India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa…
DEV (exasperated):- How many times have I got to say it, Winston? We're staying neutral. So feck off, you Brit bastard!
Churchill (warningly) I'll cut the tea supplies again, Eamonn…
(The other phone on Dev's desk rings. He picks it up.)
DEV: Taoiseach's residence, the Prime Minister speaking? Oh jayzuz, it's yourself.
(The screen now becomes a rather suffocating three-way split between DEV, CHURCHILL and HERMANN GOERING. Both the fat politicians squeeze in from the outside, crushing Dev in between them. Think the little guy in the middle of the Three Tenors. )
GOERING: Herr deValera, have you paid any thought to our reasonable proposal that German forces are invited in to Ireland, to protect you from the nasty evil British? And that my Luftwaffe the forward bases should have, so as to bomb Britain more effectively?
CHURCHILL:- I heard that!
GOERING:- Piss off, Vinston!
(with a mighty effort and both elbows, DEV creates room for himself in the centre of the picture. He still has a phone to each ear.)
DEV (angry):- Why don't the two of you gobshites just FECK OFF? I'm telling you, we're neutral and that's the end of it!"
GOERING (warningly):- I'll bomb Dublin again… (2)
VOICEOVER:- In other news, a two-headed sheep has been born on Craggy Island, but then, you expect that sort of thing out there….
(We fade back into colour as TED and MRS DOYLE break out of a shared reverie about DEV, the great wartime leader.)
MRS DOYLE (contemplating Albion's perfidy) :- And the English Father out there wants his tea, Father. There will be trouble if he goes without, do you think?
FATHER TED:- Oh Jayzus, for sure there will be, yes. We'd better hope supplies are resumed, mrs Doyle.
(They walk back into the living room. DOUGAL tries to grab TED's attention.)
DOUGAL (excited):- Ted! Ted! We're looking at this other fillum, Cross of Iron. You'll never guess, but they found all these Russian women soldiers and some of them was in the bath, in the nip! And one of the German fellas, well, he got frisky, and you'll never guess what this Russian woman did with a knife…
(TED looks at the TV screen. Then he just looks sick. MRS DOYLE looks too. A grin spreads across her face.)
MRS DOYLE (reflective):- If only I'd thought to do that to Mr Doyle. Sure, I'd have been spared a lot!
(Scene fades out. We then see, in vision only, events from the next two days: FATHER W-W with a machine-gun in front of him on a table, lecturing DOUGAL and JACK HACKETT on its finer points. The bucket of tea is ever-present. We cut, in between every vignette, to the kitchen shelves, their ever-diminishing tea stocks, and a more worried-looking Mrs DOYLE. FATHER W-W is seen in the parochial house garden, teaching DOUGAL and JACK HACKETT how to throw hand-grenades. One narrowly misses FATHER TED as he comes round a corner of the house. He is seen staggering away from the blast. Again the tea-bucket is omnipresent. DOUGAL and JACK even get a bit of bayonet-practice in. The classic hanging dummies are both wearing bishops' purple shirt-fronts and clerical collars. Seeing this, TED taps Dougal on the shoulder, takes his rifle, and has a brief berserker fit, tearing the dummy to pieces while incoherently screaming LEN BRENNAN, YOU GREAT PILE OF SHITE! and similar devotional statements. With the dummy destroyed, he comes to his senses, coughs embarrassedly, and returns the rifle to DOUGAL. It is also clearly noticeable that all the enforced tea-drinking is turning their skins a deeper and deeper brown. But finally the shelves are empty… )
FATHER WIGAN-WALLGATE (hands out cup to a very nervous looking Mrs DOYLE): Another cup of your finest in there, if you will!
MRS DOYLE (clearly unhappy and flinching):- Father, I would so if I could. But there's no more tea!
(A frozen tableau ensues. Even FATHER JACK stops and watches, looking nervous)
FATHER W-W (disbelieving) No tea?
MRS DOYLE (shakes head):- No tea, father. There's none to be had on the Island for love nor money. Believe me I've tried…
(She bursts into tears and runs out.)
FATHER W-W (talks largely to himself) :- No tea. No bloody tea! Think, man. Be calm. Knowledge dispels fear. Somebody on this Island must have tea! Make operational plan. Rule of P's.
FATHER TED (feeling the other side-effect of excessive tea-drinking, which mention of "P's" has brought uneasily to his bladder):- Speaking of which, if you'll just excuse me for a while, Father… (TED rushes out. FATHER W-W seems not to notice)
FATHER W-W:- Rule of P's. Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss-Poor Performance…
FATHER DOUGAL (as his bladder hears the word "piss" and belatedly catches on):- I'll just be gone a wee while, Father…. (He rushes out. We hear his voice off-camera, desperate) :- Ted, Ted! Will you be long in there?
FATHER W-W:- If anyone's got tea, you may be sure it's that bloody bleeding bishop! (TED returns, looking physically relieved). Ted, did I tell you Len Brennan tried out as an Army chaplain? He didn't last five minutes! Our drill-sergeant, Canon "Brick Shithouse" O'Rourke, put us through a live-firing exercise where the drill was to deliver Last Rites while under enemy fire. The cowardly little shit was too scared to leave his fox-hole! Soiled his trousers, too!
FATHER TED (reflective):- Oh, really, Father? Do go on!
FATHER W-W:- And now the little bastard's a Bishop! I bet if anyone's got tea, it's that little – what's the word round here, Ted?
FATHER TED (happy to oblige):- "Fecker", I believe.
FATHER W-W.:- Thank you Ted, I didn't want to offend anyone! That useless slimy little fecker Len Brennan must have tea! Well, I'm going to get some off him!
(He races out of the room. A little later he returns in full SAS combat order, with clerical collar and crucifix)
FATHER W-W:- If anyone asks, I'm paying my respects at the Bishop's Palace. (He hoists a bazooka up onto his shoulder alongside an assault rifle, and leaves, full of purpose.
FATHER DOUGAL (concerned) :- Ted, do we tell the Garda that a heavily armed commando's on his way to kill the bishop?
FATHER TED:- Our duty as Christians, as priests, as good citizens, demands that we should. (He gently restrains DOUGAL as he lifts the telephone off its receiver). But we can give it twenty minutes first. Give the fella a good start Let's call it an hour, to be sure.
(FADE OUT. We fade into the next SCENE which is the parlour at A Bishop's Palace. But not Len Brennan's. This Bishop is elderly, saintly, kind, thoughtful, reflective, considerate, prayerful, decent. Everything LEN isn't. He is in earnest conversation with a trio of priests, one young, one middle-aged, one elderly in a wheelchair, who are everything the Craggy Island boys are not. In short, something horrible is going to happen to four people who don't deserve it and this is the set-up)
THE YOUNG PRIEST (possibly also played by Ardhal O'Hanlon, as an anti-Dougal) :- Your Grace, it's really quite good of you to invite us over from Clement Island to this audience with you.
THE BISHOP (blessing him) Think nothing of it, my boy. When you passed out of the seminary at Blackrock with the highest marks in your class, I was privileged to get you!
(The middle-aged and older priests nod appreciatively. They sedately sip their sherry)
THE BISHOP:- I was thinking we could discuss what the Church Fathers had to say on the subject of divine redemption and intervention. Now the good Professor Koenig says in….
(He gets no further. Suddenly a window breaks with a deceptively tiny tinkle. They all look round curiously at the source of the noise. Two or three round smoking cylinders are pushed in and land on the carpet. Then all Hell breaks loose as smoke bombs and percussion grenades go off. As the four clerics start to cough and choke, all the windows down one side of the parlour explode inwards under the weight of SAS men swinging in on ropes. The Bishop ends up with several guns to his head as the three priests are manhandled to the floor and forced to adopt the position: that is, face down with hands behind the head.)
SAS MAN # 1:- Where is he? Where the feck is he?
THE BISHOP:- Where is who, exactly?
SAS MAN #1:- We got reports one of us had gone rogue and was out to kill a Bishop! Man dressed like us. Right now he'll be out there holding a gun to some Bishop's head…oh… (realizes). And w've got to stop him.
SAS OFFICER:- Take it easy, Flanagan, that is the Bishop.
(FLANAGAN lowers his gun, sheepishly. His officer is aware something is wrong. He lowers he gasmask and raises his hood.)
SAS OFFICER:- We had a report, your Grace, that our regimental chaplain had gone rogue and was out to kill a Bishop. You are Bishop Len Brennan, aren't you?
THE BISHOP (chuckles, delightedly). I'm afraid there's been another one of those little mix-ups. I'm Bishop Leo Brannan. People confuse us all the time!
(The SAS men look at each other and beat a hasty retreat)
SAS OFFICER (apologetic) Sorry you've been troubled, your Grace! (the SAS departs, more quietly than it arrived)
THE BISHOP:- So somebody's out to kill Len Brennan. (pauses). Can't say I'm surprised.
THE OLDEST PRIEST:- That gobshite?
(FADE OUT. FADE INTO Len Brennan's Bishop's Palace. The throne room. LEN BRENNAN is on his knees with a gun pressed into his forehead. He is panicking.)
FATHER WIGAN-WALLGATE (freaking out):- the TEA, Brennan! For the last time, you greasy little bastard, where do you keep the TEA?
BISHOP LEN (semi-hysterical):- Sweet Jesus, we don't have any tea! Nobody's got any tea! There's a shortage of it!
(FATHER W-W clicks the safety catch. The sound is low and ominous. Beads of sweat stand out on BISHOP LEN's brow. At this moment a bullhorn sounds from outside.)
(SCENE: Outside the Bishop's Palace. A shattered window marks where Father W-W made his entrance. TED, DOUGAL and JACK are standing there with Sergeant Thornton of the Garda. They are not the only ones: the SAS squad that just raided he wrong bishop's palace will turn up and sheepishly deploy for action here, under the eagle eye of the Director-General of Special Forces, who has just arrived to talk Father W-W into giving himself up. I see somebody with the authority and gravitas of PATRICK STEWART playing this role, which opens up a new vein of jokes.
Beside the General, who has the bullhorn, is another army chaplain, but this one is a thick-set military brute of a man who wears a clerical collar and sergeant's stripes. His purpose will soon become clear.)
THE GENERAL (Patrick Stewart):- Captain Wigan-Wallgate. Do you hear me? This is General deFleur (3) speaking. You know my voice. I am ordering you to let the bishop go and give yourself up!
(There is no reply)
FATHER DOUGAL:- you didn't say the words. You know, your little catchphrase.
THE GENERAL:- I'm sorry?
DOUGAL:- You know, "make it so!" Like on the TV.
THE GENERAL (despairing) Sweet mother of God, not this again! (he briefly puts his head in his hands, TED pushes DOUGAL aside. He SERGEANT PRIEST takes the bullhorn, though he scarcely needs it. His voice carries.)
SERGEANT CANON O'ROURKE:- You know me, Mr Wigan-Wallgate! I was your Drill Sergeant at the military seminary, remember? Yew young recruit priests used to call me "Brick Shithouse", though never to my face! And I tell you what! If you is not down those stairs and out of that building in FIVE SECONDS, you 'orrible sorry idle priest, I will be down on YEW like all the bleedin' bricks in the shithouse wall all at once, do I make myself UNDERSTOOD!"
(Still no reply)
FATHER TED (diffident). General? Sergeant? Let me try? Please?
(He brandishes the SAS tea-bucket. In his other hand he has three or four teabags.)
FATHER TED:- This should make him docile.
DOUGAL:- Where did you get the tea, Ted?
FATHER TED:- Sergeant Thornton had an emergency supply. It's only Earl Grey (The General flinches again at another Jean-Luc Picard reference) but it'll have to do. Do you soldiers have any hot water and milk?
(A bucket of tea is poured. FATHER TED walks coolly into the palace. A minute or two later, he walks out again, leading FATHER W-W like a rat behind the Pied Piper. A little after that, LEN BRENNAN staggers out. Gardai and an ambulance crew rush to rescue him. When they get within smelling range, a certain holding of noses and checked recoil goes on, and a voice is heard saying "I think he's shat himself". THE SAS MEN rush to overpower and disarm Father W-W. However, they let him have his bucket of tea. The GENERAL and the SERGEANT shake hands with TED, who basks in the knowledge of a job well done. FADE OUT.)
(EPILOGUE:- The Parochial House Living Room, Craggy Island. Things are back to abnormal again with only three priests in the house. FATHER TED is paying off the glaziers who have repaired the big window, They shake hands and leave.)
FATHER DOUGAL:- So what happens to the English fella now, Ted?
FATHER TED:- Oh, the General was moved to be lenient with him. Apparently he's been sent to be chaplain in a military prison. Safest place for him! A shame, though, he wasn't a bad man at heart. And he scared the living shite out of Len Brennan, didn't he so!
(Ted laughs, then registers an empty chair, and pauses.)
FATHER TED:- Has anyone seen Jack today?
(At this point the newly repaired big window explodes inwards in a shower of glass and wood. A shape abseils in on a rope. Two boots hit TED square in the chest and send him flying over the back of the sofa. The intruder is dressed all in black with a clerical collar, hood, and gasmask. He takes the hood off, revealing the maniacally grinning face and wild-man-of-Borneo hair of FATHER JACK HACKETT. He thumbs-ups to the camera.
CUT TO END CREDITS.)
(1) This actually happened. Ireland had no merchant marine of its own, and the British controlled most of the major tea-growing areas of the world. Ireland was therefore at the mercy of the British as regards one of its national drinks. In 1941, at he height of the U-boat campaign, Churchill ordered that all the imported tea be retained for British use and none be re-exported to neutral Ireland. This coincided with a demand that British military personnel interned in neutral Ireland be released instantly, against international law. At first Irish leader Eamonn deValera resisted, but after the terrible deprivation of a four-week tea famine, capitulated.
(2) This actually happened. Following a three-night blitz on Northern Irish cities, the republic sent every ambulance and fire engine it could across the border to Belfast and Derry and opened its hospitals to the casualties as a humanitarian gesture. Three nights later, Dublin was bombed heavily, it is thought as a warning to Ireland not to enter the British camp. The Germans blamed it on a navigational error – their bomber force was allegedly meant to hit Liverpool – but for an air force as good as the Luftwaffe to miss their target so completely they bombed the wrong country…. After the war, the German government paid full compensation to Ireland and apologised for a war crime.
(3) The commander of British Special Forces until quite recently was a General de la Rose. Another flower reference was inevitable.