Angry Pope ponders Ringo Radio Row Angry Pope ponders Ringo Radio Row

By our man who knows a rotten apple when he sees one, Des Montpellier

In the wake of the recent papal succession, a furious row has broken out over the new Pope's choice of name. Speaking yesterday on PBC, Purley's local radio station, former Beatle Ringo Starr gave vent to his feelings about what he sees as the Vatican's betrayal

"Back in the '70s when we got John Paul I, most people, including me and George, assumed that next time it would be our turn," said the one-time member of the Fab Four. "But it didn't happen. When he popped his clogs a few years later they quite brazenly named the new guy John Paul II."

Wheezing between sentences, the ageing percussionist went on to reveal what had gone on behind the scenes during those turbulent years when the shady American entrepreneur, Kelvin Klein, gained control of both Apple Corps and the Vatican, and unveiled his new line of Beatle-popes, or "Poaples".

"It was a deliberate snub to both of us," he told PBC's Angelica Sweet. "We consulted our lawyers, because by this time we were getting really tired of the other two always stealing the limelight. So after a lot of litigation the Vatican finally gave an undertaking that the next pope would definitely be George Ringo I. And we took them at their word. So you can imagine how I felt when I found out they'd named this one after our floor manager, Benedict Gropes."

Asked about rumours that the present pontiff had been elected mainly because of his anti-Ringo credentials, the legendary Scouse timpanist merely shrugged. "Between me and Joe Ratzinger you could say there was a bit of previous," he commented. "He'd been to several of our Hamburg gigs in '61 with some of his old Hitler Youth chums, where they proceeded to get drunk and cause trouble. Ratzinger was always trying to stick his tongue down Pete Best's throat. Later, when I replaced Pete as drummer I got a bomb in the post with a German stamp on it."

After the broadcast a spokeswoman for the Vatican, Popo Ono, called the station and angrily denied the suggestion of an anti-Ringo bias on the part of the present incumbent. "His Holiness was a Stu Sutcliffe fan," Popo asserted, "He hated all the others equally, especially after they sold out in '63 by wearing suits. He liked the rough tousled look of the early years."

The Merseyside mop-top was in Purley to promote his new stair-lift, and was mobbed by screaming pensioners outside the PBC building. "I got the label off his underpants," sobbed a sweet old lady, holding up a fragment of shredded cotton cloth.

Mr Starr is 64.

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Story © 2005 Des Montpellier. Design and construction © 2005 utterpants.co.uk / A070605

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