God’s local store, 14/1/2023. It’s whispered that the omnipresent creator (in his mind anyway) shifted from Arrowsby-on-Lyre in the outer ‘Home Counties’ to Morecambe, Lancashire, sometime in the 1990s to escape the encroachment of “commodified modernity”[i]
If my good friend God has one serious flaw it’s undoubtably an over-abundance of self-belief. Of course, He/She/It has been around a good deal longer than me – so perhaps such confidence is justified?
But to begin somewhere near the beginning, it was 1977 and I was out again walking the streets, hawking Socialist Press[ii]. Another council estate, another door to knock upon. As usual, I was ready to run if the reception was unfriendly (working class Tories being on the rise – You commie bastard![iii] being their usual cry). As it was daytime, violence was less likely, but it pays to be wary. A suffused sunlight barely warmed the afternoon and seemed to fade out altogether as I penetrated an enclosed garden, His garden – though I didn’t know it at the time. (To conform to tradition, I’ll stick to He for now).
27 Fairfax Crescent was the address, and I’d tried it before without success. At night the place was always ablaze like Crystal bloody Palace! my grandad would’ve scoffed (ash tail dropping from his fag to melt the plastic carpet as he cheerfully ignored another burning bulb). Now, it had become night again. Had time accelerated or the clouds thickened towards total eclipse? Rather than wanting to retreat however, I was drawn onward, compelled, fascinated.
A low hum was issuing from the fibre-glass façade of the building; a shape (or shapes) moving behind the wavy-textured glass which paneled the front door. Looking back, it should have been more of a surprise to discover God living here, and yes, the fact may still be hard to believe: God dwelling anonymously in one of those flat-roofed terraces which staggered idealistically up the hill towards the park! These boxy, light-brick dwellings were in a slightly posher council-house bracket – although it was said their flat roofs leaked. In fact, once I knew God a little better, He/She/It, confirmed the estate rumour that the builders had got the plans upside down: beneath His ground floor – as with all the other houses of the same design – was a triangular cellar with a hatch in the floor. But I am getting ahead of myself, or becoming muddled by the chronological time-dissolve which the presence of higher things tends to engender.
As I thought of trying the bell, a strange frequency variation preceded the motion of the door slowly hinging back by itself. The widening trapezium of light appeared to pulse. I shut my eyes as the essence of Crystal bloody Palace (I could hear my grandad’s careless complaint in the cancelled shadow inside my head) beamed forth into the night, blazing the garden almost white and filling the evening with the triumphant hallelujahs of holy choirs.
“Socialist Press?” I offered, holding a copy into the astral glare, fearing it would burst aflame or shred asunder. Not knowing for certain what or who I was speaking to, I stated the price, adding “new pence,” in case decimalization was still a problem for the light-obscured resident. But when I looked down all the type had vanished from the cover, and low and behold, every inside page was blank. Meanwhile, my pockets were filled with gold and what I can only assume was manna – since upon every subsequent occasion I scooped a handful into my mouth, it tasted quite different.
Although He ruined all my copies of Socialist Press, I often visited God after that, always remembering to wear three pairs of sunglasses on top of each other and not to carry any books or papers. I can’t say I learned much, but then perhaps my character was also seriously flawed? He/She/It was a laconic, even taciturn force without trace of chin or face or even a hint of beard, and unlike Death (who lived in a flat above one of the Dunsham Lane shops) was not fond of chess. Communication was only by thought, and if anything was taught to me, it only dawned sluggishly, upon reflection.
I had begun to believe that He/She/It was Perfect, since everything conveyed to me came in a pristine kind of way: buttercup meadows filled my mind and beautiful clouds sailed o’er awe-inspiring seas . . .
Then, on the seventh occasion I visited, It made that ridiculous, over-the-top claim: that It had created everything!
© Lawrence Freiesleben,
Morecambe, January 2023
[ii] The long defunct newspaper of the Workers Socialist League, see: www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/socialist-press-uk/index.htm
[iii] Actually: “You fucking commie bastard!” was the usual war cry, but I censored it in case God ever reads this – I doubt He/She/It can be bothered with NOTES.