And here in heaven at the Eternal Banquet there’s strawberries and cream. I’m not fond of strawberries, I once said. Everyone was shocked. They like strawberries. Just eat the whipped cream, says one, rather than insult the Cook. You’d think with all the resources up here and stuff like that they could provide more variety. But no! When Adam and Eve arrived they said everyone would want strawberries and cream. Certainly nothing with apples. Strawberries three times a day. Full stop. Period. Permanently. Then Queen Elizabeth the First of England (she’s got really fat – I mean really really fat) says that if I want variety I should go to the other place. Hell, I say, what do they eat down there? Raw quince and crab apples. All day and every day with no whipped cream. They’re all skinny as rakes. For a special occasion they get an uncooked cooking apple. Well, I say, it sounds like that other place sucks. So I get stuck into my strawberries and cream. I’ve been here two hundred and eleven years now and have never got used to the diet. Once in a blue moon, for a special occasion, we have a big feast; like the other day when Abraham and Sarah celebrated their four thousandth year since getting pregnant. We all got a dry pink wafer cookie stuck in the strawberry concoction. Honestly, I crave a hotdog. I wouldn’t mind if it came poked into the whipped cream. The other day some visitors popped over from the Conservative Sector for a social visit. They took one look and said, Bloody hell! Is that all you eat? You need to sack the Cook. So we’re having a meeting about it, all fifteen billion of us. The angel in charge said a decision has to have a 100% consensus before any changes can be made around here. That’s impossible, especially with some of the politicians in our Sector. I’m not putting much hope on our chances of firing the Cook. Besides, God loves to personally prepare the strawberries for us Liberals. It’s the reward we get for being always right. Bon appétit. To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.
Granville had made his wife, Doreen, the most beautiful rocking chair. It had taken him months of secret working in the shed out the back. Doreen never knew what he was up to. She supposed he was simply messing about, and then one day he produced the rocking chair and said “I made this for you, Honey.”
What a beautiful chair! Carved legs! A perfect, perfect rocking motion! Even the sweetest cushion on the seat!
“What a clever husband I have!” declared Doreen. “Who would have believed?”
But the truth was, Granville had started to make a rocking chair and things didn’t work out. It was a mess, so he had a rocking chair made. It certainly was a magnificent rocking chair, but he had merely pretended to have made it himself.
“What a clever husband I have!” repeated Doreen. “Who would have believed?” She was over the moon.
Sometime later, Granville was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He grew weaker by the day. He knew, as he reviewed his life, that entrance to eternity perhaps demanded sorrow for sins. He simply had to tell Doreen about the rocking chair.
It was clear that the end was near. Granville still hadn’t confessed to Doreen. And then, with one gigantic effort he declared “Honey, I never made it”. Within seconds he was dead.
Doreen always thought, as she rocked her way through widowhood, that Granville’s final “Honey, I never made it” was some premonition that he had been refused entrance through the Pearly Gates.
Although it might appear as rather arbitrary, and in fact it was, Heaven was divided into multitudinous groups of people. The membership of each group was determined by the last words they uttered on Earth. For example, the members of the “I-Love-You-Darling Group” had experienced a fairly run-of-the-mill death in which they were able to utter a reasonably civil statement as they passed on. The “Goodbye Group” and the “I’m-Going Group” were other examples. The “Au Revoir Group” was made up mainly of foreigners but the occasional person who spoke proper English made it into their ranks.
Most groups had many, many members, and for a millennium or so St. Peter at the Pearly Gates had wondered whether or not other criteria might better suffice.
There was one group that was the envy of all. It was known rather jovially as the F Club. Very few belonged to it. The members were the victims of some sudden accident when their plane dropped out of the sky or they saw a huge articulated truck plunging headlong into their vehicle. Their last word was an exclamation of surprise, as you might imagine. So sought after was the desire for membership to this group that St. Peter had to slightly stretch the rules. He had to allow for different parts of speech that used the word. For example, some people may have turned the word into a verb and not finished the sentence before expiring. However, a line was drawn if the F word was followed by “heck”. It reeked a little of Hecate and was considered vaguely inappropriate.
No one was surprised at the small affiliation in the F Club. Most in the circumstance of final accident had exclaimed a naughty word. They had, naturally, been cast into Hell. But those more lily-tongued had screamed at the point of accident not an unacceptable curse, but simply “Flip”. As stated, those whose final “Flip” was forever wrecked by a verb plus Hecate – “Flippin’ Heck” – were cast aside. As was “Freakin’ Hell”.
So here’s to the three members of the F Club. May they forever rejoice.
During life it had always been Nina-Marie who looked after the pets. It’s not that Clive wasn’t interested or didn’t like them; it was just that the task had fallen to Nina-Marie almost accidentally years ago. Nina-Marie fed the cat and dog; Clive brought in and stacked the firewood. They were the two marriage-allotted chores that occurred most days in early evening.
In her last hours Nina-Marie had said to Clive that if she was permitted, if it was at all possible, she would give some sign that she was doing well in eternity. It would be some little thing; some surprise perhaps; something that Clive would recognize.
Upon arrival in Heaven Nina-Marie was informed that she would be granted one request regarding life on Earth; one prayer to answer. Wistfully she gazed upon her earthly family. She didn’t want to waste the single wish she could grant.
I know exactly what it will be, thought Nina-Marie. The little apple tree, the one we planted several years ago, has never borne fruit. This year it shall have fruit. Not too many apples, that would be wasteful, but just enough for Clive to say “Aha! That’s Nina-Marie’s doing!”
Nina-Marie was about to make arrangements for her “miracle”, when she noticed something; something serious. The cat and dog’s water bowls had dried up. Clive hadn’t given them water since the funeral. It was an oversight. This was an emergency. I wish he’d give them water! Give them water!
Goodness, thought Clive almost instantaneously, they’ve run out of water. And that was Nina-Marie’s one miracle all used up.
The concept of spending a considerable amount of time with these people was driving Barney batty. They were a giggling bunch of pre-adolescent zombies. Giggle giggle giggle. Barney half thought he had wasted his life; he should’ve become a comedian instead of a chartered accountant.
Giggle giggle giggle. Would they never stop? In the end, they were taken away by an “Assistant” to somewhere else; one could hardly say they went away on their own accord.
But what’s this? Another gaggle of Giggling Gerties escorted into the waiting room. Giggle giggle giggle. Barney wanted to scream. Off they go now, to wherever! Giggle giggle giggle.
It took a while for Barney to realize where he was; he had died and was in the waiting room before entering an eternal dimension. The Giggling Gerties were being taken off to Heaven. As the assistant who seemed to be overseeing the whole affair said to Barney: “Things are a bit overcrowded at present, so we’re keeping you here in the waiting room until we manage to finish expanding the boundaries of Hell.”
(Someone asked me, why don’t you write something depressing? I think they were being sarcastic. Anyway, here it is.)
Lachlan had lived an average sort of life. He’d told the odd fib, but it didn’t amount to much. He’d given the occasional dollar to the Salvation Army during their Annual Appeal. He’d paid his taxes. He never once got a ticket for speeding. He’d been worn to a frazzle rearing his kids and driving van-loads of exuberant youths to this game and that, and so on. It was an average sort of life.
Eventually he died. He joined the line at the Pearly Gates.
Saint Peter said, “You lived an average sort of life. The standard here is very high. I’m sorry but you’ve missed out.”
“Oh, dear!” said Lachlan. “So I’m going to Hell?”
“No,” said Saint Peter, “as a consolation prize we’re sending you into oblivion.”
Here’s a poem I wrote nearly 50 years ago! (Actually on 21 November 1972).
If I had tears in Heaven I would cry.
The Tigris flows from one eye,
the Euphrates from the other;
such is the Garden of Eden.
You cannot hear the birds sing
nor see the trees.
Our eyes are salted out.
Our mouths bawl with joy.
Alana was a fabulous concert pianist. She gave concerts all over the world. Critics raved. Audiences swooned.
“God has truly blessed you,” said Bethany.
“God has blessed me, my foot!” said Alana. “My talent is the result of hard work. I practised for hours as a kid. My ability has nothing to do with the fiction you call God. It has everything to do with me and me and me. Grow up.”
You wouldn’t believe it, but Alana died. “I had no idea that heaven was real,” said Alana arriving at the pearly gates. “I thought all this heaven stuff was a load of hogwash.”
“What would you like to do?” asked God (in a booming voice). “Who would you like to be?”
“I want to be the greatest pianist that ever existed,” said Alana.
WOOSH! Her request was answered immediately. There she was on a distant planet somewhere in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus. There sat the perfect grand piano. Alana began to play.
“I am truly blessed,” thought Alana.
Eventually it dawned on her. She was the only one on the planet.
An Angel: Welcome to the afterlife!
The late Mrs Melba Cunningham: Wow! It’s true after all! And I made it!
An Angel: You can’t enter with those creased clothes though, sweetheart. Here’s an iron and an ironing board.
The late Mrs Melba Cunningham: Iron my clothes? I’d rather go to Hell.
An Angel: Where do you think you are?
God decided to call a meeting in Heaven for a semi-important announcement. God wanted to look averagely authoritative, so suggested having a pair of dogs to guard the steps on either side leading up to the throne. It would be like the stone Babylonian lions guarding the temple gates, although not so frightfully imposing.
St Michael the Archangel suggested using Afghan Hounds. They’re so majestic, what with their fine features and long hair.
Archangel Raphael suggested Bernese Mountain Dogs. They’re so big and imposing. They would lend authority and friendliness.
Archangel Gabriel had another idea. Why not a couple of Airedale Terriers? They have a wonderful playful streak that would delight everyone.
But God had other plans. The meeting was held. It turned out to be not that important. The assembly dispersed. But everyone was over the moon with excitement. Each one said the same thing: Did you notice that God chose MY dog to guard the steps to the throne?