On this day in 1633 Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to face the Inquisition. It was not the first time he’d been in trouble with Rome. Back in 1616, he’d narrowly escaped being called a heretic for insisting that they should all take a chill pill and read a bit more Copernicus, but somehow or other, they’d backed off from having him burnt at the stake for being a bit too much of a science bod and not enough of a proper religious man.
By 1633, things had got a bit more serious. As most of us know, Galileo was famous for being a scientist, for pushing the theory of heliocentrism over geocentrism, and more importantly, the muse of Freddie Mercury who wrote Bohemian Rhapsody for him. Back in the 17th century, these were all things that were frowned upon by the Papacy, but Galileo thought he was okay because the pope at the time, Urban VIII, was his mate. This false sense of security led him to be a bit less careful than he should have been, given the unenlightened period he lived in. He began going around pubs saying “Anyone who thinks the sun revolves around the earth is just an idiot!” when warned by his fellow barflies that this was dangerous talk, he’d down another pint in one (he was a prodigious drinker) and give it large that the pope was his “besh mate” and continue on with his heretic talk. It was only a matter of time before he went too far and this happened on the eve of 13th February 1633, when, drunker than usual, he dissed Urban VIII to a large audience, including a papal spy.
Called to appear in front of the Inquisition, Galileo regretted going quite so far and drinking quite so much, but still thought he’d be okay, given that Urban VIII surely wouldn’t go too hard on him; he was wrong. Urban had had enough of him and although Galilei escaped death by burning he was put under house arrest for the rest of his life, for the following crimes:
- Insisting the sun was at the centre of the universe
- Calling the Pope a bit of an arse
- Boasting that the Pope was jealous that Freddie was singing “Galileo, Galileo” and not “Urban, Urban”.
- Being too smart for his own good
Worst of all, he had to recant his views about the sun, which he did while muttering under his breath “Whatever, science rocks, you fucknuckles!” and promise never to go see Queen in concert again.
Galileo lived out the rest of his life under house arrest, secretly listening to Queen on the radio and sending jokey emails to his mate Freddie, who despite the fear of censure himself, never abandoned his muse and good mate. When Galileo Galilei died in 1642, Freddie sang at his funeral and Brian May did a nice guitar solo.
Today is the birthday of the best football referee the world has ever seen, Pierluigi Collina. The thing that helped him throughout his career was his incredibly scary face; Pierluigi looks like that scary thing off of The Hills Have Eyes, which meant that players would behave much better around him because they were scared he’d cannibalise them or something. He was also good at spotting
when some big cry baby was just pretending to be hurt and he’d whisper things in their ears like “Get up or I will poo in your mouth”, which generally had the required effect. It was a very brave or very idiotic man who dared risk having the tall bald man come real on his threats.
Despite his scary face and faecal threats, Pierluigi was a much-loved figure in the world of football and his retirement from the game is mourned by many. He now lives a quieter life with his wife and children and his little Westie, Wallace. Happy Birthday, you scary, wonderful man, may none of your cards be red or yellow!