Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about having just turned twenty-four. I suggested that my blog posts would probably become a lot more refined and sophisticated as I matured with age; no more fart jokes and sexual innuendo. It seems as if I was completely wrong with this assertion, since my first blog post as a twenty-six year old was a long piece about having sex with scores of bus drivers. I wonder what I’ll be writing about at twenty-seven.
I was walking through Stockton High Street last Friday, looking for KFC where I was meeting some friends. I
was about to ask a person a few metres away which way to go, but I became distracted by a loud voice shouting something further down the street. I listened to hear what he was shouting about. He sounded very passionate about whatever it was and he didn’t seem to be relenting to let anyone respond. As I got closer to the voice, it became clear that this man was preaching. He was preaching the word of Jesus; or at least his interpretation of it. “And the lord said”, the man trumpeted. “I am the way, the truth and the light … seek and you shall find …”
No one seemed to be listening. A few youths passed and hollered insults at him, but no-one seemed to be actually listening.
“I am the way … seek and you shall find!” This was obviously a divine sign. So I did the logical thing and asked the man for directions to KFC.
Sadly, the Jesus man turned out to be a bit of a fraud. He had absolutely no idea where KFC was. “But you said seek and you shall find?” I argued. The man had no come back. It was clear that he had been rumbled. Victory for the atheist!
The great thing about being blind – and it’s not quite enough to recommend it as a life style choice but it is a plus point – is that you can get away with doing things that would ordinarily be socially awkward or unacceptable. You can just pretend you’re unaware of what you’ve done. So for instance, I am able to pretend that I am unaware that I have just interrupted a loud, animated man preaching to people about Jesus in a busy street. I can just saunter towards him and interrupt him in full flow with “excuse me”. And then, when he falters in his impassioned speech and comes to a hault say, “o sorry, were you talking to someone? I didn’t mean to interrupt you, sorry”.
I heard a few people near us laughing. They stopped to listen. They assumed, no doubt, that I had inadvertently interrupted this preacher, rather than it being a deliberate comic conceit.
The small crowd in the street were probably laughing at me as well as the preacher. Little did they know that they were my audience and that I was the comedian and the preacher was my comedic prop.
The man was very nice. He apologised for not knowing the whereabouts of KFC but said that he could direct me to another restaurant if that would help. Presumably this restaurant would have been TGI Fridays. (Ha ha ha!) I said that I needed KFC because that’s where I was meeting my friends. I thanked the man and assured him that I’d be fine; I’d ask someone else for directions; I was confident that I’d get there. “Go now, your faith has saved you” he said. No he didn’t say that, but he might say that in the film version of this blog.
I asked the man if I’d inadvertently interrupted anything important. “You appeared to be talking to someone” I enquired, playing innocent. My audience were lapping this up. There were a few teenagers stood round, laughing heartily at this scene. If only they knew that they were witnessing a deliberate comedic construct. If only the preacher man was a bit funnier and played along a bit more; we could have sold tickets and put on a show.
I was doing my best to entertain, but the man was a bit stilted; hardly developing his character as much as he could have been doing.
“Every Friday we go down the high street and me and a few mates preach the word of god to the people” he explained.
“O well, there’s a number of people all gathered round us now” I responded, “so I’ll let you get on”. The poor preacher man would soon see the crowd move on, now that I – clearly the star attraction and the talented one in this arrangement – had gone. He had been given his chance to impress, and had quite frankly failed. Showbiz is a cruel mistress; he might as well learn that from the get-go. I thanked the man for his time and walked away.
A few metres down the road was another preaching man, only he had a much more aggressive approach and was loudly berating us for walking past him, ignoring what he was saying, just getting on with our lives with no regard for the word of God. I wondered whether I should audition this man and ask him for directions, but at that point my friend shouted me over from across the road. I had made KFC.
About half an hour later, I reached into my pocket to get some money to pay for my meal, and noticed that there was a little booklet in it. It was titled “Your father’s love letter”. A friend read the contents of the letter and it transpired not to be a letter from my father at all, but a note from God telling me that he loved me and that he knew me very intimately – the dirty deity.
How the heck did this letter get in my pocket? I assume it must have been the preacher man, but I didn’t notice him putting it in. I can’t see how I would have missed him doing it; it was my inside coat pocket. But it hadn’t been there before I saw the preacher man, so it must have been him! The man must be an illusionist. He couldn’t do comedy, but he could make things mysteriously appear.
I had rashly dismissed him for his lack of comedic value, but hadn’t considered any other talents that he may be able to lend to the act. I went back to the place where the preacher man had been. I could do the comedy and he could do the tricks. We’d definitely sell tickets. But the man had gone; perhaps even vanished in a puff of smoke in front of a thrilled audience, once he’d made sure that I – clearly the untalented fool who fancied himself as a bit of a comedian – had left. Damn!
Perhaps this blog post is a kind of modern day parable. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been too quick to judge the man. OK so he couldn’t do comedy but he had great potential as an illusionist. Let this be a lesson friends.
I hope that one day, people will read, translate and interpret this blog post in a variety of different ways and then have wars based on the individually interpreted elements of the blog post that they disagree on. If you are reading this and are thinking of having a war, or are in the process of having a war to defend the sacred purity and truth of my blog post, I want you to know that I’m on your side. You’ve got me on your side. Tell all your supporters – your army – that I am on their side. Be warned however: your enemies will be reading this and foolishly interpreting that I am talking to them; that I am on their side. They will be telling their supporters – their army – that they have me on their side. How fickle, how ignorant they are. They’re wrong, of course. You’ve got me on your side, so go out there safe in that knowledge and kill and get killed in my name. Then when you die, you’ll get to the big place in the sky (which has actually had to downsize a bit due to the current economic climate) and you’ll all discover that this blogger who you’ve been fighting for, and got killed for, doesn’t actually exist. That’s right, the whole blog was written by a ghost writer. Ha ha haaaaaa!