AT THE MOVIES

FOOLS' PARADISE

With Brigadier General Sir Crispin Maddingley-Snorrt, K.B. (Retired)

Sir Crispin's reviews come to us from Upper Rogering, Surrey, England

This week, the Brigadier General reviews the recently re-released "The Exorcist."

I've never been much of a chap for going to Church. The last time I polished a pew with the seat of the old moleskins was in 1994 when my daughter hitched herself to that drip of a son-in-law of mine, and frankly I'm not sure I would have bothered, if the pitch at Lords hadn't been under six inches of water at the time. Still, in fairness, I have to admit that when a gal is chucking up green slime and bumping her bristols on the ceiling, it's time to put aside your prejudices and get on the blower to the padre p.d.q.
Reggie, Squiffer and I were agreed on this point during an in-depth discussion of the movie "The Exorcist" last Friday in The Badger and Feathers. We had just been next door to see the film, which has been re-released, owing to the fact that every other movie currently being foisted on the unsuspecting public is utter piffle. I have only seen one decent flick since "Carry On Up the Khyber" starring the irreplaceable Sidney James, and that was a little thing Reggie rented one evening a couple of years ago featuring two remarkably uninhibited young fillies and a garage mechanic. Don't recall the title. Anyway, I must admit this "Exorcist" thing came a pretty close second. It was the scariest thing to come my way since I discovered a cobra curled up in my underpants in Kenya back in '48. As I had the pants pulled half way up my legs at the time, this was very scary indeed. (In case this ever happens to you, the thing is to hum softly as you slowly lower the underpants. "The British Grenadiers" has a particularly soothing effect, apparently. Had I known this I might not have found myself five seconds later flat on the ground with my bearer M'Beko's teeth buried in my arse sucking like the devil). Anyway, watching "The Exorcist" I have to admit I came pretty close to depositing a snake or two of my own in the old Fruit of the Looms on several occasions, especially when Linda Blair pulled that green slime stunt.
Back in The Badger, it turned out that old Reggie knew quite a lot about "The Exorcist." Apparently it is based on a true story and these exorcism things are going on all the time, even in England, probably right here in Upper Rogering. They teach it at vicar school. Squiffer, on the other hand, was not convinced. He said he found it hard to imagine our local vicar, Reverend Wilkins wrestling with the devil. After all, If he could cast out evil, how do you explain Mrs. Wilkins? To cut a long story short, after a couple of pints and whisky chasers, we decided on a little experiment to test Reggie's theory.
We needed someone to pretend to be possessed by the devil. Squiffer was the obvious choice. After a couple of snifters, he has what they call a florid complexion, which is easily as revolting as Linda Blair under 8 inches of scary make-up.

Also, he is the last man in England to smoke unfiltered Woodbine cigarettes and can, if called upon to do so, produce a voice as rough and raspy as Satan choking on a gooseberry.  Out in Kenya, he was renowned as the possessor of the most exhaustive vocabulary of profanities in the whole regiment, and, as luck would have it, we were able to round out and update this collection with a few particularly picturesque phrases when someone knocked over old Jock McTurk's almost full pint at the bar. Reggie noted the best ones down on the back of a beer mat and made Squiffer practice saying them in a Glasgow accent, until Jock threatened to "pull his fuckin' tonsils oot." At that point, we decided to retire to my place to put our experiment into operation.
The vicar took a bit of persuading on the phone, but Reggie is quite an actor. I remember him as an extraordinarily convincing Mother Superior in the Battalion's production of 'The Sound of Music" out in Aden in '64, until a bottle of gin fell out from under his habit and stunned the Colonel, who was sitting in the front row. Anyway, half an hour later the Reverend was ringing on the doorbell and being ushered into the bedroom, where Squiffer lay covered up to the neck in one of my old army blankets. I must say, he looked pretty convincing to me, and Reggie was laying it on thick about how the devil had turned old Squiff into a fiend. I think the Padre might have gone for it if Squiffer's swearing had been up to the mark. Unfortunately, his mind went blank and he had to stick his head under the blanket and read the notes Reggie had made on the beer mat.
"Ye fuckin' English bastard. I'll pull yer tonsils oot." The voice was good and raspy, but a bit muffled by the blanket. The vicar wasn't fooled.
"This idiot appears to be possessed by Jock McTurk!" he said, with what I thought was very unchristian sarcasm.
Squiffer was not giving up. "Ye great Fenian lump o' shite!"
The vicar was pretty annoyed now. He sniffed, "Really Sir Crispin…."
And that's as far as he got. In the interests of realism, we had stopped off on the way home at The Star of Bengal on the High Street to pick up one of their famously fiery and indigestible prawn vindaloos, which Squiffer had scoffed down as we waited for the vicar to arrive. This he now delivered, as planned, with considerable force all over the already irrascible Reverend.
Even this, I'm afraid, failed to convince the vicar of the need for an exorcism, though he did make a few other colorful suggestions, which I will spare you here.
All in all, the experiment was a total failure, though it did yield the information that it costs 35 quid to get prawn vindaloo stains out of a vicar's suit and another 25 to buy a new dog collar - you can't get the stains out of those.
By the way, the movie - two thumbs up and the rest of your fingers down your throat.

At the Movies Special Report
Inside the Making of "The Patriot.

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