Notre Dame de Paris. The eldest daughter of Rome. Endless masses and hoop-la attracting the faithful, faithless, homeless and the merely curious. Tonight, however, is gala night. His Eminence Andre Vingt-Trois the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris was the Master of Ceremonies at Midnight Mass. I felt it might be quite a trip to trot along, not actually ever having been within pea-shooting range of a man who’s met the Pope. Slipping unnoticed near the front of the assembled multitudes awaiting admission, just as the gigantic, thirteen ton bourdon bell, Emmanuel, woke up all the drunks asleep on the rue de Rivoli, I passed through a rather desultory security check as frozen, disinterested members of the gendarmerie peered briefly into the odd handbag or two. I slipped past them like a spiritual terrorist almost at the head of the line, just missing ‘Adeste Fideles’. The old chap, fetchingly attired in white with little black crosses, wheezed through the liturgy, excellently choreographed, his august presence permanently incense-wreathed. I was surprised he didn’t have an asthma attack. He took the opportunity to address the crowd on the evils of abortion, warming sonorously to his theme not once but on a number of occasions during a twelve minute homily. it occurred to me that the brouillard of holy smoke which quite obviously followed him around wherever he went had had the effect of cosily insulating him against the messier aspects of human reproduction and the prohibitive cost of food, clothing and higher education. The Gipsy was outraged and muttered darkly throughout most of his address about the inappropriateness of celibate old men attempting to lecture the rest of us about the advantages of full quivers. She flawlessly joined in the Credo in Latin, however, which we both found worrying. The music was, of course, outstanding, but I left during Rutter’s “I saw Three Ships”, declining a piece of cake. Organ recital at La Madeleine tomorrow. What fun.