I think opera is stupid, but the truth is I have never been to one. So I finally decided to see what is all about.

So the other night I went to the opera. I must admit that the music was beautiful, but… The whole thing was done in another language. Did you know that?

Anyway, it seems that most everyone else has a pamphlet of some kind, that I presume translated the words into their native tongues. They must be regulars. I didn’t have a book, so I didn’t know what was going on. It was impossible to actively participate. I can’t imagine where they were able to obtain those booklets, its not like they were giving them out in the back. Anyway, oblivious to what they were singing about, I watched all these people moving about the stage and singing God knows what. It was dizzying and distracting.

My conclusion from this dizzying night is that opera is a complete waste of time. Seems I was right all along.


What is that? You think that perhaps I should have done a little prep before going to the opera or at the very least pick up one of the translation booklets in the back? I can hear you saying “How can you possibly come to any conclusion about the worth of opera when you did absolutely nothing to prepare for it?”

I agree. I am actually cool with Opera. But the above is not a fictional account. Rather, it is a slightly edited (replace Opera with the Extraordinary form) of one Robert Mickens, Rome correspondent of the “Catholic” weekly the Tablet.

Mickens could not be bothered to pick up a missal or even a mass pamphlet before attending his first mass in the extraordinary form. He made absolutely no effort to prepare himself but comes away knowing all he needs to know.

Damian Thompson mocks (actually the phrase Damian Thompson mocks should be considered redundant but I include it here for the benefit of the uninitiated) Mickens for his lack of effort.

Sounds to me like Mickens hadn’t bothered to acquire, or borrow, a “black book” (or even the Mass in a pamphlet) before turning up. Certainly his description of “lots of criss-crossing in the sanctuary, bowing, a constant moving of books … distracting and even dizzying” implies that he hadn’t done much homework.

Poor dizzy Bobbie. Still, I suppose we should be grateful that he wasn’t moved to tears.

Poor Bobby indeed. Self satisfied that “he gave it a try,” it doesn’t sound like Mickens will do his homework and give it another go. Truly his loss. On the upside, the Tablets readers can rest easy in the knowledge that they are not missing out on anything. Well, if they still had any readers that is. Well, that’s not fair. I mean readers that aren’t driving 35 mph in the left lane with a Woodstock bumper sticker on their cars worrying that they will miss the early bird special .