All Australia is in a roar of excitement over the announcement that the Pope is to canonize the second Australian saint.
Saint Neil of Uputipotpon, formerly known as Neil Boyle, lived in obscurity in a bark hut for 25 years till his untimely death from lung cancer in 2003. A promising Rugby League player in his youth, he was a member of the celebrated Sydney University team that won the 1975 “bloodbath” championship against Wagga Wagga, and it was when he was on his way home on his motorbike after the celebrations that he had what he later called a “Neil of Tarsus experience”. Abandoning his Commerce studies he took to the road as an itinerant preacher. Frequently arrested, he made good use of his time in prison; his powerful physique and charismatic personality attracted followers even among the most hardbitten old lags. He still holds the Boggo Rd jail record for continuous push ups. He was a skilful chess player, goldfish-breeder, raconteur and performer on the tin whistle, and turned out a feather-light scone following his mother’s recipe. A chain-smoker with a hacking cough, he refused to consider giving up smoking, saying it was his cross to bear and he did it willingly.
A fellow goldfish-breeder first made the case for his sainthood in 2011 following a series of miracles in which dead goldfish came back to life, but the definitive miracle occurred in 2016 when a member of the Uputipotpon Country Women’s Association preparing 2000 scones for the centenary race day meeting absent-mindedly substituted talcum powder for baking powder. In despair when the scones came out of the oven flat and hard, she said, “Where’s Neil when you need him?” Instantly she smelt the familiar aroma of Neil’s hand-rolled fags, and before her eyes the scones rose – a miracle captured by an ABC camera crew filming for the series Gone Bush. As the Pope said in confirming the miracle on the spot, “La televisione non dice bugie”.
Image Michell Zappa – https://www.flickr.com/photos/michellzappa/441761507/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9525440