Alexei Sayle column

Over the last couple of months I seem to have developed a strange attraction for sick and distressed animals. It started in late July when one lunchtime, returning to my house after buying a sandwich, I found a tiny kitten, its fur matted with blood, trembling on my doorstep. I took it inside, to the jealous hissing of my own cat, my wife ran up some "Kitten Found" posters on her Apple Mac, and then we took the sad little creature to the celebrity vet's in Marylebone. He confirmed that it had fallen four or five floors, presumably off the roof of our house, and kept it in overnight for observation, though it seemed relatively unharmed. "Misty's" distraught owners, having seen a poster, phoned that night. They did indeed live four or five houses up the road from us, on the top floor, and she had presumably escaped out of a window and crawled along the parapet before losing her footing 40ft above our front step. Owners and unscathed cat were reunited the next day.

Since then, I have found a lost dog called Charlie, and returned him to the hysterical neighbours of his owner, who were taking him for a walk in Highgate woods when he ran off. And I've returned a very sick lost cat called Edward to his owners after he'd collapsed in front of me in the street. I'm expecting an elephant to faint in front of me any day now.

Some of you may just regard all this as coincidence, but I reckon there is something more going on. I reckon there is a St Francis of Assisi vibe happening here - in other words, I'm being groomed to be a saint. Well, I'd just like to say to whoever is intent on making me a saint - God, presumably - hold on a minute there, bucko. Not so fast. There are a few things I'd like to sort out first.

See, I'm not your usual candidate for saintliness - a simple oyster fisherman, a dreamy gatherer of twigs or a humble hewer of sponge; no, I'm a modern media lad of the Nineties. So here are some terms and conditions which I'd like to discuss with either you, G, or your homeboy here on earth, the Pope. Rather like the Rugby Union people recognising they've got to ante up the cash, I reckon me helping you to bring the saint game into the late 20th century could benefit us both.

So, point one - beatification: "the formal process by which the title 'Blessed' is granted by the Pope to Roman Catholics of exemplary faith who are considered worthy of public veneration after their deaths". And point two - canonisation: "the culmination after a long process of inquiry whereby a deceased individual is declared a saint."

OK, so first of all, the death thing. This is a deal breaker. If I'm going to be Saint Alexei, I want to be alive to enjoy it. After all, what's the point otherwise? Second, the Roman Catholic thing. Well seeing as you, G, seem to want me to be a saint, you obviously reckon it's not a problem that I'm Jewish - I think that's very sensible of you. Considering people outside the faith for veneration increases your potential target demographic hugely, which must help in your trade war with that other firm, which we might call the Mecca Organisation. Third, the lengthy process of inquiry. Well, why bother with that? Let's just get together for a drink at the Groucho or the Chelsea Arts Club one night, and if we all get on, then let's just go for it. If you really want, maybe I could do some sort of audition - talking in Latin, that sort of stuff.

Which brings us to point three - merchandising: now, on a recent visit to Umbria, I noticed all manner of St Francis of Assisi stuff being sold in the shops - snow domes, tacky medals, propelling pencils - all with the saint's image on them. However, as far as I know, no part of the sale price of the aforementioned articles went either to Mr Assisi or to his estate. A similar situation would be unacceptable to me. What I propose is this - I would receive 23 per cent of the wholesale price of each item which has my trademarked 'Saint Alexei'' logo, plus a substantial advance on projected sales, recoupable from subsequent revenues. I would also undertake to perform miracles solely at a nominated venue - Wembley Conference Centre, perhaps - and I would be prepared to publicise these forthcoming miracles by going on The Big Breakfast, doing phone interviews with Radio 1, etc.

So that's my proposal, G. Fax me. OK? But in the meantime, don't send me any more sick animals, because I won't touch 'em until we've agreed terms.

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