Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Nuns, a pile of wax and some Holy Water.

.........up to the highest........

You won’t find this in any history book; it don’t mean it ain’t true though.

It was a long time ago, back before 1975 at least.

Then – 1975 – Steve was living in Archway, North London and he was depressed, selling Go-boards in Portobello Market and had painted all the walls of his flat black; he was yet to fly to New York and marry Mary.

But that’s another story ‘cos this one took place earlier, in Rome.

Steve was living there and not depressed when he met these two guys who had owned waxworks in Vancouver and New York and Hawaii. They had got into trouble with the Inland Revenue and had been forced to liquidate – though when it comes to wax I’m not sure that is the right word. 

The two guys were hippies, and as a last act of defiance they had made wax statues of Jesus and his Disciples and flew them first class to Rome where they thought they may be appreciated.

Hawking them around town they walked into a church near The Forum and asked if the priest would be interested in having them – he was, and they were set them up in the crypt. Steve was signed up as director of the project and the signs outside the church announced – in huge letters – Leonardo De Vinci’s The Last Supper, and in smaller letters – waxwork replicas. 

It fooled a lot of American Tourists who thought they were seeing a lesser-known work of the great painter himself.

Steve learnt a lot about nationality with the exhibition. The Americans were gullible, the Germans disgusted and the Dutch somewhere in- between.

The Italians were more forgiving and certainly more devout; every day two nuns were the first visitors and they came and kneeled before the wax works to pray.

Part of Steve’s job was to get the place ready and this being a crypt in the early morning he had to clear up the rat shit and scare the rats off before the tourists came.

One morning he was doing just such and was round the back of Jesus re-arranging the robes, he hadn’t noticed that the nuns had come in; and they hadn’t noticed him.

Now the crypt was very dimly lit early in the morning and Steve had really long hair and beard, so when he stepped out from behind the wax figure the two nuns looked up and fainted.

Steve thought he had killed them and not thinking he throw the contents of a bottle of water he was carrying over them shouting – “It’s Holy Water!”.

Whether it was, or not, it revived them.

 formerly published in The Archives.

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