Down Time

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “the weekend”….


The climb, which had been breathtakingly long yet not at all tiring, was over. The Pearly Gates towered above Trevor and as he approached they swung silently open.

He had been a good person, had lived a good life and now was about to meet his maker (in fact, since his Mum and Dad were already there, all three of his makers).

He walked through the gates and was surprised to find himself in a small waiting-room, like in a doctor’s surgery. He took a number (46,219) from a little machine and sat down to wait. On a table in front of him was a pile of magazines. He picked one up, a four-year old copy of a magazine called “Heaveno!”. He leafed through it and read that Anne Boleyn was now over her recent break-up with Elvis, looked at a series of photos of Napoleon and Josephine at home in their new cloud and learnt that Emily Dickinson was thrilled (ecstatic in fact, after all this was Heaven) with her new boob-job.

After a while he looked up at the screen and saw that it read “Now Serving: 46,219. For the second time in less than an hour his number was up.

He went to a hatch. The person behind it wore a white shirt with a coffee-stain on the front, a tie pulled open practically to his navel (assuming he still had one), a biro behind his left-ear and a harassed air of what bordered on panic.

“Er, St Peter?” asked Trevor.

“Nah,” said the other person, “my name’s Chuck.”

“Saint Chuck?”

Chuck looked witheringly at him. “Have you ever heard of a St Chuck? I’m just a trainee.”

“But where’s St Peter with the book of my life, the list of all my good and bad deeds, the Celestial Medal of Honor?”

“You made that last bit up,” said Chuck. “Anyway, he’s off for the weekend.”

“You get weekends off?”

“Of course we do,” said Chuck. “It wouldn’t be heaven if we’d to work seven days a week, would it?”

“And God allows this?”

“Oh, God takes the weekend off too. He likes to go around museums laughing at the Renaissance paintings of Himself. In reality he looks like a cross between Gerard Butler and David Bowie. Jesus is off too, he’s gone skiing.”

“Jesus likes skiing?” asked Trevor, acutely aware that his last six contributions to the conversation had ended in question marks.

“Loves it,” said Chuck. “He says it’s basically just walking on really cold water. Look, all the major deities take the weekend off. Buddha revisits past lives. Mohammad goes to the mountain, instead of the other way about. Bono goes windsurfing.”

“Bono’s not a -” began Trevor, then tailed off into silence at the look Chuck gave him.

“Anyway,” said Chuck, handing him a form on a clipboard and a biro, “fill out this registration form.” Trevor looked at the biro. It had “Angels Do It From Above” written along it. He looked up quizically at Chuck, who had the grace (naturally) to go red. “We ordered them by mistake,” he said.

Trevor noticed a laptop on the desk in front of Chuck. “Can’t we fill this in on the computer?”

Chuck went very red. “Er, no,” he said. “We do have an Online Registration Process, but you have to pick either a section marked “Heaven: Girls” or “Heaven: Boys” depending on who you’re registering. My last client was a woman and I accidentally typed in “Heavenly Girls”. I got into a website that I couldn’t then get out of, so in the end I had to turn the computer off, and the IT guys -”

“- are off for the weekend,” said Trevor.

“l don’t mind telling you, the girls up here do NOT dress like the ones on that website,” said Chuck (a little wistfully, Trevor thought). Trevor took the form and began to fill in answers and tick boxes. “It asks  ‘How did you get here’,” he said at one point, “but ‘walked up the steps’ isn’t one of the options.”

“What happened to you on earth?”

“I got run over by a bus,” said Trevor.

“Tick ‘via public transport’ “, said Chuck.

Trevor completed the form and handed it to Chuck, who stamped it and placed on the top of a giant toppling pile. “Congratulations,” he said, “you’re in.”

“Do I get wings and a harp?” asked Trevor, a traditionalist through and through.

“Yes, but these will have to do for the moment,” said Chuck, handing him a pair of kid’s water-wings. And a harmonica.

Trevor looked crestfallen, so Chuck said “don’t worry, you’ll get your proper equipment when St Peter arrives back on Tuesday.”

“Tuesday? Not Monday?”

“Well, no,” said Chuck, “this is a Bank Holiday Weekend.”

“A Bank Holiday? You mean bankers get in here?”

“Well, yes,” said Chuck. “Look, we never expected so many humans to be so good, so we didn’t build a big enough Heaven. A few years ago we had to build a huge extension and God had to take out a mortgage.” Chuck gave a sigh of infinite (and in Heaven that’s a word that really means something) sadness.

“The bankers own this place,” he said.


9 thoughts on “Down Time

  1. Pseu

    Do you listen to Radio four…. the play each week on a topical news item? This week on Bankers in a game show thing. It’s marvellous. Apply to write one for them. I KNOW you could do it.


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