God spoke to me. He really did.
He said to me ‘Rich – stop pissing about and get something done’.
‘Like what?’ I replied.
‘Well…’ he demurred.
‘Well, I don’t know. Something useful, at any rate –
Instead of loafing about all the damn time. Waster’.
‘Great. But what?’ I asked.
No answer came forth.
I began to question my faith in God’s wisdom.
I wandered the deserts of Hull for forty days and forty nights.
I ate a diet of locusts and wild honey.
I nearly succumbed to despair.
And then finally – during the dark lunchtime of my soul –
I overheard a verse of Helen Reddy’s song ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’:
“I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman”
So God had granted me an epiphany.
I had been chosen to impart a divine message.
Here then is the fall-out.
Jesus (their son – not a lodger)
ACT 1: SCENE 1
[God’s Wife has arrived home. It is late in the evening. She is wearing a nurse’s uniform – a costume from the play she is rehearsing in an afterlife amateur dramatics group. Her husband – God – is seated on an armchair. Their son – Jesus – is upon a sofa with a table before him. The two are watching television together. The sound of sports crowds cheering can be heard.
The setting exists outside of earthly time].
(God) Special Olympics? Fake legs?
Anyone can run with fake legs!
Running without legs – that’s the trick, lad.
If you can’t compete on a level playing field
Then you don’t deserve to be there.
Prosthetics – that’s not free competition;
That’s not evolution; that’s not the triumph of the fittest.
How are you supposed to determine the form and strength of amputees
Without them dragging themselves around in a circle?
Nobody’s saying it’s dignified – but it’s honest.
That’s what counts. A bit of honesty in paralysis.
[Enter God’s Wife, weary. Her shoulders are dusted with snow]
(God’s Wife) [To Jesus] Why are you eating soup with a medicine spoon?
And why are you using a teapot instead of a bowl?
[The kitchen sink is overflowing with dishes – some having been balanced precariously on others. The crockery cupboard and cutlery drawers are completely bare. On the table before him, it is clear that Jesus has also been using a three-tiered cake stand instead of a plate; and employing scissors as a knife to begin with, then as a fork. Different remnants of food are on each tier of the stand]
(God’s Wife) Why haven’t either of you washed the dishes?
(God) I’m not washing the dishes.
(God’s Wife) Why not?
(God) I wash virtually all of my own pots for you as it is.
(God’s Wife) What? What’s that supposed to mean?
(God) Nothing’s ever good enough is it?
I do my own laundry as well, mostly.
I nearly always – nearly always –
Tidy the bathroom, now and then.
And do I get a word of thanks? No.
And look at the boy! Look how he suffers!
[Jesus grunts with his mouth full]
(God) Or not. But the point is…
(God’s Wife) What, precisely?
(God) [To Jesus] Lad – out.
[Jesus exits, cross]
(God) Do you want to know
What they’re teaching him at school?
Eh? Do you?
(God’s Wife) I know what they’re teaching him at school.
(God) How to bake bread! Bread!
For crap’s sake, bread!
(God’s Wife) I know; I bought the ingredients.
And what precisely is the problem?
(God) The problem? The problem?
It’s bloody cookery!
They’ll be teaching him how to wash dishes next.
(God’s Wife) How was it?
(God’s Wife) How was the bread?
(God) That’s not the point. Not remotely.
Mixing concrete; wiring circuitry –
Those a boy needs to learn.
Sodding cookery. Devilled eggs, French toast –
(God’s Wife) So?
(God) Oh, it gets worse. Believe me, worse.
Do you remember when he was an infant?
Before he could walk?
When we used to put a claw hammer
And a handbag on the floor,
And see which one he picked up?
(God’s Wife) That was not ‘we’.
(God) Yes, well – you remember which one he picked up?
(God’s Wife) Well I took the hammer away for safety’s sake.
What does it have to do with anything?
(God) Oh, I got a phone call this morning
While you were out swanning about…
(God’s Wife) At rehearsal – where I’ve been all day.
(God)…his form teacher. What’s her name…
(God’s Wife) Michael.
(God) Yes. Her. She took me quietly aside –
Away From the other parents…
(God’s Wife) And?
(God) He kissed a boy!
(God’s Wife) What?
(God) He kissed a boy!
(God’s Wife) So?
(God) He kissed a boy!
(God’s Wife) And?
(God) There’s nothing wrong with it at all!
I’m as open-minded as the next person!
(God’s Wife) Then what’s the problem?
(God) What are the neighbours going to think!
(God’s Wife) You mean the Sublimes?
The ones who beat their daughter
When she tripped over and tore her new dress?
Or the Divine family?
You can’t seriously be concerned for their views.
They burned their son’s diary because he mentioned his…
(God) What other people think is neither here nor there.
Admittedly. And I don’t encourage burning diaries.
But that’s not the point.
(God’s Wife) What is?
(God) Oh, you haven’t heard the half of it. Not the half.
I caught him – earlier – in his room, on his own.
(God’s Wife) So?
(God) On his own.
(God’s Wife) [Pause] I see. Well, it’s only natural at his age.
(God) It is not only natural! It’s not normal!
(God’s Wife) Well…
(God) At thirteen, dancing around in his underwear, to this!
(God’s Wife) What is it?
(God) What is it? Take a look! [Hands wife a record]
(God’s Wife) I see. Isn’t that your record?
(God) That has nothing to do with it!
You don’t catch me jigging around on my bloody bed
In my sodding shorts and socks!
(God’s Wife) Not these days, at least.
(God) What if the neighbours saw?
(God’s Wife) Well, they’re really not fit to judge you for…
(God) The boy – the boy! Honestly.
It was bad enough when he bought me flowers for Father’s day.
Give me a hammer. Give me wood or nails.
Maybe a nice ratchet set. Or a camera.
But pansies. Pansies!
(God’s Wife) I thought they were very nice.
(God) They were not ‘very nice’ – they were a sign.
And that’s what they’ll think of us – the neighbours;
Sitting there in a vase on the front window-sill,
On show, in full view of the heavens.
(God’s Wife) The flowers, you mean.
(God) [Rubbing eyes and sinus hard with his hand]
To think of what my father would’ve done to me.
(God’s Wife) You barely even spoke to your father
For the last twenty years of his life.
(God) [Narrows eyes]
He was hard of hearing half his life; deaf the remainder.
(God’s Wife) Your mother worded it differently.
(God) She was sodding right.
Don’t get me wrong – he’s how he is,
And I’m not going to love him any the less for it;
But please – please – does it have to be so bloody blatant?
Just look at him! Pink-cheeked! Look at the knees!
The knees! Crossed! And sandals!
And why are you eating from a cake stand! Why!
(God’s Wife) Because you didn’t wash the dishes.
(God) No! I’m not taking blame for that.
It’s not my fault he is the way he is.
(God’s Wife) Me?
(God) Yes. You.
Do you have to be so womanish around the boy?
There’s no wonder he’s soft as silk.
I tell you – I prophecy, here and now –
You’ll walk in one day and find him with a husband.
(God’s Wife) Well, you said the other day
That – when he’s older –
You’d like to be able to take him out for a drink.
(God) I know what I said – and what I meant.
(God’s Wife) It’d be just like going out with the guys.
You could have a drink together; sing karaoke.
[Looks at record] All three of you could cover…
(God) Don’t. It’s bad enough as it is.
How can I ever listen to them again
Without getting a vision of
My son starkers and capering?
No; it’s not on. He’s my son.
He’s supposed to take after me.
(God’s Wife) It shouldn’t be disputed.
(God) Too right.
(God’s Wife) He shares the same taste in show-tunes.
(God) He’ll share the same taste in the backhand of angry –
That’s what he’ll share if I catch him at it again.
(God’s Wife) I think you’re over-reacting a bit.
So he’s made some bread – which you’ve eaten;
And shares your taste in music.
That’s nothing to get upset about.
(God) There is plenty to be upset about.
What have I done to deserve this?
(God’s Wife) Is this because of your redundancy?
(God) I am not redundant.
(God’s Wife) Well, the demotion then.
(God) Look – I’ve explained this.
I was not demoted; I was not made redundant.
I had to re-apply, and I was only offered part-time work.
(God’s Wife) Which you refused.
(God) I’m considering my options.
(God’s wife) You’re doing it very lethargically.
(God) I’m merely taking a break.
What do most people do when they’re on holiday?
Go out and drink. What have I done?
(God’s Wife) Stay in and drink.
(God) Exactly. I’m only thinking of you.
What do I get in return?
(God’s Wife) [Pause] I see. This is about the rehearsal isn’t it?
(God) I didn’t say that.
(God’s Wife) You didn’t have to.
(God) Yes – but I didn’t say it, though, did I?
And do I get credit? No.
(God’s Wife) You know, I don’t think this is about the rehearsal.
It’s about the theatre company full stop – isn’t it?
(God) I don’t really think you can call
Amateur dramatics a theatre company.
(God’s Wife) Look, it’s just a bit of fun;
And I said you were welcome to come along.
(God) No you didn’t. You did not say that; not at all.
You said – and I remember it quite distinctly –
You said that we could come along if we wanted to.
(God’s Wife) If you can’t manage the household chores…
(God) I created the entire universe, once.
I can make the home.
(God’s Wife) Then why haven’t you done the dishes?
(God) I cooked.
(God’s Wife) You reheated what I prepared yesterday.
(God) Exactly. I finished what you started.
(God’s Wife) Look, if you really can’t cope
Then we’ll make a compromise.
(God) Fine. We’ll make sure that
The dishes are ready in the sink for you
When you come home.
And if you cook in the morning –
Before you go out –
Then it won’t need making in the evening.
You can just warm it in the oven.
(God’s Wife) Really? How lovely.
(God) Well, it’ll just be during the week of course;
You can work to the regular regimen on the weekend.
You can fit your hobbies around quite easily.
(God’s Wife) So, rehearsals and practice?
(God) Weekdays – after work.
(God’s Wife) And actual performances?
(God) Weekends – after chores.
(God’s Wife) Or maybe I could teach you
How to cook a few basic dishes,
And you can both take care of some of the chores yourselves?
(God) No, it doesn’t work.
I’m not cooking and I’m not cleaning.
And giving a boy womanly chores
Encourages bad habits in a young man.
A certain womanliness of spirit.
Dusting, cleaning: mincing, queening.
He’s my son. It’s not on.
(God’s Wife) I think that’s a bit far-fetched.
(God) You’d think so. I’d like to believe it myself.
You don’t want to know what I caught him doing this evening.
It’s beyond words – and I won’t be held responsible.
A scouring pad has only one intended use,
And that – quite frankly – is not it.
In the wrong hands, it only has one outcome.
(God’s Wife) Well, perhaps he just needs you to talk to him.
(God) I spoke to him about it, don’t worry.
Clearly, frankly. I sat him down, and I told him:
‘You are not to touch my pewter’.
You can’t get clearer than that.
The scratches are irremediable;
But it’s not the cost that bothers me – it’s the polishing.
What would posses a boy to polish?
It beggars credulity. Wanting to see things sparkle.
[God’s wife says nothing in response. She turns and stands looking out of the window – her back to God. The crowd on the television roars. God murmurs his approval. Snow is falling outside; it begins to hit the window].
(God’s Wife) It’s snowing.
(God) Uh huh. Snow. Great.
(God’s Wife) I hope it settles.
(God) Yes, well. There we go – more slip-ups.
(God’s Wife) Everything turns pretty when it snows.
Even heaven can be lovely.
(God) Aye. At least the undertakers will be happy.
[God’s Wife turns and exits. The television sounds]
(God) Useless wasters.
ACT 2: SCENE 1
[It is late in the evening. God is seated on his armchair; Jesus upon the sofa.
The television is lighting the dark room. A stentorian voice is audible and staccato, but the words remain unintelligible, despite varying sharply in pitch].
(Jesus) I don’t understand it, father.
(God) Well look, it’s quite simple.
They believe in the absolute authority of my words:
That I’m omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent –
Which I am, lad;
That I created the entire universe –
And everything within it in six days –
Which I did;
But that I didn’t introduce homosexuals to the world.
(Jesus) Who did then?
(God) Yes – wandering around the backwaters of various sinful cities,
A harem of twelve strapping young
[Waving hands and thumbs] ‘disciples’ in tow.
Corrupting the youth of Bethlehem more like.
How Mary and Martha fit in I dread to think.
[Leans back in armchair]
Raises intriguing possibilities though.
They say you had a scandalous way with your hips.
(Jesus) I don’t believe it.
(God) You know, one of the best nights of my life
Was spent in a jessies’ haunt.
[Pause] Don’t get ideas, lad; I’m just saying is all.
(Jesus) But how could I have done that?
I’ve never even been to Bethlehem!
(God) Not yet, lad. Not yet. One day.
(Jesus) How can you be sure?
(God) A father knows.
(Jesus) I don’t believe it.
(God) You don’t have to.
It’s going to happen.
Doesn’t matter how you feel about it.
Don’t you learn anything at school?
(Jesus) One of the boy’s in class was talking about thunder today.
(God) Great. I’m always interested in boy’s insights.
(Jesus) He said you create it.
(God) He did? How?
(Jesus) He said thunder happens
From you shifting around on your chair
Because your piles are killing you.
(God) Yes; well. Don’t believe everything you hear.
(Jesus) Is it true?
(God) [Pause] Look – you just tell your friend:
Never sit on a throne for millennia.
All the angels in the heavens can’t alter hard facts.
[Shifts on chair. Moment’s silence]
Have you finished?
Have you done as I asked?
Well, nevermind. You’re mother can manage fine.
That’s what she says; I respect that.
(God) Are you tired?
(Jesus) No. [Jesus yawns]
(God) Tough. Bed. Now.
[Jesus exits, his body turning white as he passes the television’s glare. The voice thereon resounds. God tuts. Scene ends]
ACT 3: SCENE 1
It is very late at night. God’s Wife enters, exhausted. The building is silent. The snowflakes can be heard falling against the window. God’s wife sighs and casts her gaze around at the scene before her.
The house is perfectly clean. The sink is pristine.
The wooden floor sparkles.
Upon the empty armchair is a red balloon. God’s wife sits down, and holds it.