It's taken a surprisingly long time to gather momentum, but Pope Fever is finally hitting Sydney. As a blogger living pretty much in the middle of Ground Zero (the poor young fellow who died of polio in 1925 has been staying about 10 minutes walk from La Casa del Caliban until his room at St. Mary's Cathedral is ready) I consider it my sacred duty to bring everyone the stories that L'Osservatore Romano miss.
Starting out is a sign that perhaps there haven't been as many pilgrims as someone has expected: my office is in a very down-market part of town, and while nicking out to the bank I noticed the shop below - a fly-by-night affair selling crappy fake-label clothing (yeah right, I'm sure those $20 bags are genuine Prada) - has a special on "Official" World Youth Day clothing.
I've zoomed in on two of the signs to make it clearer:
In the interests of investigative journalism I went inside and examined the clothing. It had surprisingly official-looking labels, which just goes to show these are quality counterfeits; right after I'd looked at the them the storekeeper ran over and began checking them to see I hadn't stolen or defaced one - it's that sort of neighbourhood. And since he was so obviously rude about it I took his picture, which had the alarming effect of making him instantly run out the back of his store and hide: why do I suspect the gentleman wasn't too keen to be identified with his wares?
One thing that's certain though: if World Youth Day souvenirs have already slid this far down the totem-pole you can be sure demand in the more pious ends of town is not as high as was anticipated. Or else the Opus Dei heavies are breaking the legs of anyone caught cashing in on their turf.
If anyone wants one of these to impress their friends/local priest/that really cute Catholic guy/girl you've had your eyes on for months let me know I'll happily get you one. At OZ$10 a jumper it'll set you back about US$9.60 + postage.
Although I'm not too sure the guy'll let me back into his shop ;-)