There’s no book. I found this disappointing. I believe in tradition, and on Judgement Day there should be a book. A Book, in fact.
Instead, when I reached the top of the queue God flicked through a filing-cabinet, held up a sheet of paper and looked me in the eye.
“Your sins,” he said.
I looked at the sheet.
“That doesn’t look too bad,” I said.
God lifted it higher. It turned out to be like that old computer-paper. Sheet after sheet unfolded, the whole thing stretching out like the toilet-roll after the Andrex puppy has run away with it, leaving the kid sitting on the toilet yelling to his mum.
When it finished God was visible only from the waist up, his lower half looking like a Jane Austen heroine sitting down in a ball-gown.
“Bloody hell,” I said.
He started to read. White fibs, pulled pig-tails and knick-knocks filled the early pages. The teenage years featured smoking, underage drinking and desperately hoping to get off with girls, which God said qualified as “coveting thy neighbour’s ass”. The adult pages mentioned tax returns with small “errors” – he actually made the quotation-marks sign with as fingers as he said this -, speeding, and a hatred of the song “The Fields Of Athenry”.
The list seemed to go on forever, which unfortunately we had. Eventually, though, he reached the very last line.
“Swearing,” he said, “by saying the words “bloody hell” while standing in front of the Lord.”
“Hang on, that doesn’t count,” I said. “If this is Judgement Day then the contest is over. Adding stuff on now would be like the judges giving an ice-skater a load of 5.8s, and then changing them to 4.1s because she slipped onto her bum on the way off the ice.”
God considered my argument. God saw that it was good.
“Very well,” he said. “We’ll work with what we’ve got. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“The Devil made me do it,” I said.
“Get stuffed,” said the Devil, who I hadn’t noticed sitting behind God, like the other bidder at an auction. “You can’t blame any of it on me. I was too busy starting wars to make sure that you farted on a crowded bus.”
“Have you any other argument to offer?” asked God.
“I’ve done some good things,” I said. “I’ve held doors open for people, I’ve given directions to lost tourists, I’ve put money in the collection-plate at mass – well, I never took any out, like my friend Jimmy used to do.”
“A bit feeble,” said God. “Anything really impressive?”
“I fought in the French Resistance,” I said.
“You were born in 1957,” said God.
“Ok,” I admitted. “I root for the French Resistance in war films.”
“That’s not enough.”
I knew when I was beaten. I began to gather up my worldly goods, ready for my trip down the Stairway From Heaven.
“Wait a sec,” said God, “you play the harp.”
“How did you know?” I said.
“I know everything,” said God.
“Yeah, right,” snorted the Devil. “The shape of the case he’s carrying is a huge clue, it’s probably not a ukulele.”
“You’re in, so,” said God.
“Really?” I said.
“Yes,” said God. “Since the invention of the bloody guitar no-one plays the harp anymore. I’m running out of angels.”