"Is the Pope a saint ?" said the man with the dog.
"I thought the expression was, 'Is the Pope a Catholic?'," said the Major, who is always easily puzzled.
"It is normally," said the man with the dog, "but I was trying to vary it interestingly. When the late Pope died, people said it would be only a matter of days before the new chap made him into a saint. Hasn't happened yet."
"If Blair was the Pope, he'd have done it by now," said the resident Welshman. "He's created more new peers than he's actually got friends."
"Can't be more than five years before Gerry Adams gets made a Lord," said the man with the dog.
"Services to peace, and all that. AND it would stop the House of Lords from being blown up. If old Gerry was in there, they wouldn't blow it up."
"I wonder how the IRA feels about these bombings in London," said the Major reflectively. "That was their patch. They got to do all the bombings. Now there's a bunch of Islamic cowboys moving in. They must feel resentful."
"I doubt it," said the resident Welshman. "The IRA has moved on from bombings. They've got other fish to fry."
"What fish?" said the Major.
"They're big-time criminals now," said the Welshman. "Bank raids. Protection rackets. Drug-running. Arms deals. Without even changing their name Before our very eyes they've turned from being al- Qa'ida to being the Mafia."
"Maybe that's why they can't decommission their arms," said the Major. "They've sold them all. And they're too shy to admit it."
"I don't see why the IRA would resent Islamicist bombers," said the man with the dog. "They'd probably welcome them on the grounds they weren't Protestant, at least."
"Interesting," said the Welshman. "You used the word 'Islamicist'. Interesting. It's the new word that people use when they want to be rude about Islam. Like Zionist. No-one dares to admit to being anti-Semitic. So they're anti-Zionist instead."
"The thing I don't understand," said the Major, "is why Tony Blair believes a word Gerry Adams says. Over the years Adams has made and broken more promises, and told more lies, than Jeffrey Archer. He says the things that people want to hear, so people believe them without noticing that nothing has changed."
"That, if I may so," said the Welshman, "is an admirable description of Tony Blair too. Blair has always believed in making commitments and pledges and undertakings, and when he says them, he believes them, and by and by he believes he has fulfilled them, so maybe he recognises Gerry Adams as a kindred spirit."
"Do you think Gerry Adams believes he has united Ireland?" said the man with the dog. "That was always the IRA's main purpose. But if they have switched to crime, perhaps Adams has forgotten that he never got round to uniting Ireland."
"He doesn't have to bother any more," said the Welshman. "The IRA have tumbled to the fact that the Catholic minority is breeding so fast that one day it will become the majority and then they can peacefully ask the Irish government for permission to become Irish. Then Ireland will be one country at last."
"Like Wales, boyo," said the Major.
"Don't call me boyo," said the Welshman, shuddering. "And don't kid yourself that Wales is united. It's not united. Joined together, yes. United, no. The South can't stand the North, and vice-versa. I don't like either of them much. That's why I moved to England. At least in England you know that people won't start talking Welsh when you go into a pub."
At which point the man with the dog suddenly said: "Yes, Major, I am."
"Are what ?"
"Ready for another."
And we all talked about the Test Match instead.