The View From Hull.
In an exclusive interview with the Divine Creator Of The Known Universe, the ‘Mail‘s Sports Editor Randolf Hutchins chatted about Alzheimer’s and burnt Korans.
“Every time somebody takes a dislike to a book, and decides to burn it, they begin blaming me. Well, I’ve had it up to here” God says, while a waitress pours us tea and coffee respectively. I am seated with God in a small, family-owned Café on Princes Avenue. The atmosphere is somnolent at this time of the morning. The coffee is overpriced at all times of the day. God’s voice swathes through the room. “If I had wanted people to set fire to books, I would not have bestowed them with enquiring minds. After all, these are my books being burned, you know”.
– Of course.
“They may well have been ghost-written – but I still did the bulk of the work. Just leave me out of it for God…well, for goodness’ sake, I suppose”.
God is, of course, referring to the controversial decision taken by an American priest to claim that he has read a book; and, more predictably, to burn copies of The Koran. God leans back in a decidedly uncomfortable chair and sighs.
“Once a year – without fail – somebody tries to drag me into this kind of nonsense”.
– So you evidently disapprove of burning books?
“Of course I do! Well, maybe not A Farewell To Arms; or that daft one about the Mona Lisa”. God takes a heavy sip of tea. “Actually, no: it’s the principle. Even screen-plays count. It’s bad for everyone concerned – except publishers, who make a mint while the pages cinder. Nobody needs that. They have enough money”.
– Do you not feel that you may have contributed to this situation?
– Well, do you not think you set a precedent with Sodom and Gomorrah? It was my understanding that flames and burning occurred.
God paused momentarily. “Well, that’s a fair point, I suppose. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to a bit of fire and brimstone now and then – after all, I was no saint in my youth”.
– Of course.
“But Allah is a close friend of mine. And there’s no need for such a fuss. It’s needlessly inflammatory”.
– Would you agree then that burning books is an exercise in closed-mindedness?
God thought carefully before speaking. “Well yes, I suppose it is really. But more than that, it’s pompous. Once you begin to rid the world of particular thoughts or considerations, then why not those who hold them as well? It is of course people who generate ideas and principles in the first place”.
– So you believe they are equally important?
“No, no – principles exist to serve people; not vice versa. And since when were particular words so threatening as to invite riddance from the earth?”.
– Didn’t you once forbid blasphemy?
“No – too many people presume to speak for me. I consider it to be a low form of prayer”.
– A form of prayer?
“Yes, of course. An entreaty for my grace – whenever they are disappointed; or when a football team flounces out of a tournament, with all the feebleness one can muster”. This God mumbled, while struggling with a piece of shortbread. I pointed out that the standards of cafes in the city have been slipping markedly of late.
“No, no” God protested generously. “A cavity”.
– Surely not?
God chuckled: “I may be omnipotent, but that doesn’t mean I’m all powerful”.
– Well surely it does.
“What? Oh yes, I see. No – well, what I meant to say is that I may be omniscient, but that doesn’t mean I know everything”.
I am reminded that Alzheimer’s has been rumoured; but given that God did, after all, have the decency to create the known universe, I decided that discretion was meet. One universe in six days would take its toll on anybody; and having visited Manchester, I can but imagine the pains taken to create it. Anyone would tire. I decided to move on.
– Several of our readers have written in to ask various questions. Are you happy to answer these?
“Yes; of course”.
– The first is from Guiseppe in Hull; who asks ‘why bad things happening to good people’? I believe he means why do good people have to suffer so much in life?
“I’m not sure”.
– Okay. What, if anything, is the true meaning of life?
“I don’t rightly know. Actually, no – wait. I put people on earth for one thing, and for one thing only”.
– Which is?
At this point the waitress intruded, disrupting God’s omniscience temporarily. “Where was I?” God asked after the cutlery had been taken away; and subsequently dropped in the kitchen.
– You were in the middle of explaining the true purpose of life.
“What? Oh, yes. I forget it now. I’m sure people are smart enough to figure it out for themselves”.
– On a related note, another of our readers asks, ‘which is the true religion?’
“None. I know what peoples’ intentions are; irrespective of the words they speak, or the images they might pray to. There is a marked difference between protestations on the one hand, and – on the other – the true contents of hearts”.
– But didn’t you once say there was no God but God; and that you were a jealous one at that?
“I was only being facetious. People take things too literally. Unless it’s the part about selling their possessions and giving the money to the poor – for some reason they take that metaphorically”.
– Another of our readers – a Mr Calfy – asks: ‘What about turning water into wine? Is that actually possible? Only I have a friend called Dave, who reckons…’
“Don’t believe everything you read in the scriptures” God interjected.
– Very well. Denise from Scunthorpe has raised an interesting matter. She writes ‘What about Satan? Is he really all that he’s cracked up to be?’
“Well, he’s not so bad really, I suppose. Fine taste in music, for instance; very generous with loans – though you must watch out for the small print; and a beautiful wife he has too – no morals at all, of course; though I must disapprove of that. Officially. Raises intriguing possibilities, though, one must concede”.
– We received an anonymous e-mail…
– No, no – it’s not like that. Somebody merely wishes to know whether it is true that you were originally British?
“I’m afraid not – that was merely a rumour. Though I did invent the English accent, such as it is”.
– So Yorkshire is not really your county?
“I didn’t say that. How many counties can boast the choicest cuts of Wensleydale cheese? And didn’t a Yorkshire-man invent whisky?”
– I’m not sure. We invented Motown though.
– Oh yes. Marvin Gaye was originally from south Skirlaugh.
God gave me a quizzical look. “I have my doubts”.
– That Marvin Gaye hailed from the East Riding?
“No. You know, I did believe that I had seen your face before. Weren’t you promenading the other day in a beige negligee, while your wife was at work?”
– No. That must have been my son. He’s at that age. You know how they are.
“I am omniscient, you know, Randolf”.
– Right. Yes. Moving on. One final question from our readers.
‘What do you really think of Richard Dawkins?’
God sipped his tea.
“I prefer Stephen Fry”.
Thank you to the readers who wrote in with their questions. God’s latest book will be published in the next millennium.
- Axis of Evil launch controversial tour of Pennine region (p. 17).
- Lenny Henry to star in ‘Al Qaeda: The Musical’ (p. 24-25).