Last century, it was presumed that The Iliad, and indeed The Odyssey and Homer himself were all just legends. In 1870, a real life adventurer named Heinrich Schliemann had other ideas. A grocer’s apprentice, he somehow managed to amass a great fortune, survive a shipwreck and learn eight languages, and, unlike most rich men, he put it all into a single gamble—the search for Troy. He remained a lunatic, or at least silly eccentric, for some years because everyone knew it was just a myth. Then he found it. Of course, he expected there would be a vast treasure and untold wealth, which there was but only for archaeology. A great yarn, which I read all about in a little book by Marjorie Braymer, which might not be the best book on the subject but was certainly the one with the best title, pinched from Tennyson who pinched it from Homer—The Walls of Windy Troy.
Father Tunks, a man with his life built on faith projected beyond the sublime, was not about to give up my immortal soul so easily. He tried me out as an alter-boy, but there was a problem with those robes. To stand in the choir stalls in such things was workable, but trying to walk reverently in them was not. On two occasions, I tripped and deposited the blood of Christ on the carpet and a third time all over Father Tunk’s cassock. Such sacred substance could not be risked in my clutches, so instead I was assigned the task of carrying the cross which, had I clearly understood its implications, might well have suited me. But soon enough I stumbled and the polished bronze cross clobbered the good Father fair on the noggin. Sublime faith had reached the limit of its tolerance, and I was banished to the general congregation where I remained out of harm’s way for some time, apart from that bass voice which caused everyone else to sing flat, and my Amens which echoed far too long in the chamber of the church.