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2013-04-22 00:00

I DON’T know, there’s something funny going on here, something eerie. Something Biblical. Not too long ago they put up a big red flashing neon sign on the wall of the TruegospelchurchofGaaard just below my window here, a hundred or so metres away, right in the middle of my delightful low-level pop-up view of central Durbs, and it just ruined everything. I used to curse it. It said JESUS SAVES. Then a year or so later somebody came and wrote underneath with blackboard chalk MOSES INVESTS, which I thought rather cute in its way, but it wasn’t there for long; the church gardener came with a bucket of water and a scrubbing brush and purposefully scrubbed it Off. The priest/predikant/whatever they have in their tabernacle, he stood nodding his head and pointing and seeming to say Scrub harder! Well okay, it’s his bleedin’ church and he can write what he likes on it and scrub off what he doesn’t, but suddenly the very next night, a lovely quiet spring evening outside my window a couple of storeys up, suddenly POUF! just like that and JESUS SAVES blew up. Nobody throwing stones down there. Nobody at all down there. Just pouf and he was gone, the Old Testament vs the New slugging it out in the Hereafterland, prophet against prophet, bareknuckle, I tell you.

Well it was gone, and that was better! Ummm ... well 49% better. But. There was still a ghastly great spike sticking up for a spire, waiting ... waiting for some poor parachutist to get impaled just when he’d been lucky enough to escape his burning aircraft; such grim fantasy came to mind, and here it stood before my gaze 24/7. When I say spire, dear reader, think not of Amiens Cathedral; this tabernacle was designed by an ou in the congregation, it is only one storey high and the spire two storeys, like a gruesome knitting needle long and thin only sharp sharp and solid iron.

When I was small I used to go to Sunday school in a Merchiston blazer and tie midday in midsummer in Maritzburg, and one scorching day there on the bench provided by the Plough Hotel opposite the market square sat this happy old bloke with a beard contentedly belching beer bubbles ’neath a big beach umbrella. The only way you could get a drink on Sunday was with lunch at a licensed hotel, see; just a few spoonfuls of soup would count as lunch, to go with his gallon of beer. Now as I came past he looked at my suffering self and said Yes, my boy, Heaven’s all right but Hell’s the place for pals.

And now as I contemplate this evil spire the old bloke comes to mind, Heaven and Hell plus all the stuff I learnt at Sunday school. Other Friday Saturday Sunday schools had prophets called Muhammad, Moses, Jesus etc who went about the desert without toothbrushes or toilet paper, washing peoples’ feet for bonding, but we had Mrs Eddy from Boston Mass who had plenty toothpaste, t/paper etc and washing feet was no big deal, everybody had plenty water in Massachusetts. Mrs Eddy also had Plato for back up. If you know how to read Mrs Eddy you will realise that the Cosmos, the World, you and I, everything is perfect because God is perfect and He wouldn’t be so stupid as to create an imperfect world, would He, and if you know this truth then the whole cockeyed world you perceive before your eyeballs is a misconception. It is ERROR. So that’s the trick, see? And KNOW THE TRUTH is Mrs Eddy’s faith compressed real small.

Why, I remember falling off my bicycle when I was 10 or so, belting downhill from Claridge with a boy called Pieter Potgieter and sliding most of the way to Maritzburg on my face on a dirt road; people in the street would stop and stare and gasp at the sight of me and PP in tears, and the first thing my ma said to me when I arrived home with blood dripping off my elbows was KNOW THE TRUTH YOU LITTLE BUGGER! and took me off to the bathroom where she smeared me all over with Vaseline, which Mrs Eddy believed in because it didn’t count as medication, in which she didn’t believe. And truesgod, in four or five weeks I was all healed up from my ma knowing the truth. Ar bullshit, said the happy old man under the beach umbrella, it was the Vaseline, why don’t you take that sixpence you’ve got for your Sunday school and go and buy some nice chocolate and come and have a happy talk with me?

Presently I remember all this and decide to have a bash at this horrible steeple myself. I buy a carton of mango juice and a bottle of cane and take the day off for knowing the truth; I settle down one Saturday morn and lay a steady honderd perdekrag thousand kilowatt beam of truth on the bloody thing. And round about mid-afternoon the cane kicks in. Back of the Berea there’s a moerse v....n bang of thunder out of a clear blue sky, the hideous anvil of a monster cumulonimbus heaves overhead, great leaden clouds roil up over Durbs, huge hailstones hammer down, windows shatter, deafening gales thrash the city, and midst all this Hellish din a shaft of pure white energy hits the spire KLAPOTZ! Melts the bolts holding it down, flings it like a javelin through the air, slams it like a deadly dagger into the ground.

It suddenly stops. All is peace. Birdsong fills the air. The deacon/schmeacon/whatever beholds the devastation, his heaven-pointing spire is thrust into the living body of Mother Earth. He is too s..t-scared to move it; there’s a message here ...from ...er ...

All this is true, I swear it on my mother’s grave. On the tomb of Mrs Eddy. On the ashes of Marilyn Monroe.

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