This is the first in a series of short sketches, focusing on aspects of John’s character and his likes/dislikes. I will try to render these in the attorney’s own words. How a man turns out is an accident of circumstances, the fall of the dice of inclination. I’m not a religious man; my thoughts are too wayward, too liberal. But should I choose a particular faith, I should choose the Roman one, the reason being that it’s every inch a religion, enough to place all others in the shade. And consider its effects upon the senses, the sway it holds over sight, touch and smell! You have no need of witchcraft, black or white; no need of a demon to perch upon your back like a jockey at Newmarket. It’s all there waiting at the humblest conventicle. Relax in your hard-backed pew and let the magic commence, unaware that in the hands of a skilful incumbent you are enjoying everything that is best in any theatre in London. I’m talking about bell, book and candle; about incense, lighted votaries and cream-coloured candles with the girth of a grown man’s calf. About the rosaries, the paternosters and the angelus. About cherub-faced choristers with sweet-bird throats; the rituals, the processions, the stations of the cross; all the saints combined, all blessed by the mother of all mothers, who loved like no other: Madonna, Mary, hail her sacred heart pierced through like her son’s side; his crown of thorns, his blood trickling down the cross; his body eaten as leavened bread, his rich, dark blood drunk as wine. For to be Catholic is to be drunk while sober; it is to sleep while awake, to die while still alive. A man experiences his own funeral at every service; he partakes of others’ pain, of which there is much to choose from. The lugubrious priest tells you it is so, and his words are backed by a thousand images of suffering. Every conceivable torture done to man, woman and child down the centuries has been done to Rome’s initiated, or done to others in their name. As for the guilt they are meant to feel every second of their waking-dead lives …But there you have it, take it or leave it: eternal life for the lucky; unending damnation for the not; a chance of middle ground for those in between: Paradiso, Purgatorio or Inferno? – your destiny is in the hands of the Lord. And yet I’ll say this to end on: that my Catholic friends are in many ways my finest. Benedictus! God bless them every one!