Sunday 18 October 2009

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

Me: Forgive me Father for I have sinned.
God (appearing from behind): Really? What have you done?
Me: Ahhhh! Core blimey, mate, you scared the beejesus out of me? What are you doing here?
God: I thought you wanted to have the real McCoy.
Me: I... erm... I... erm... yes... I think that... it's OK, well, since you're here, yes, of course, I mean, you're the top guy, aren't you? You're Herr Commander, you're the one who calls the shots, so if I'm going to confess my sins, better to do it to you than to some perv...
God: Oi, stop it! Nothing's been proved yet. Anyway, what's the problem?
Me: Pumps.
God: Pumps?
Me: Yes, pumps.
God: As in water pumps?
Me: No, those are important. They cause the water to circulate in a car's cooling system.
God: OK, I see, as in ballet pumps, then?
Me: If only! No, pumps, as in those hideous, grotesque, appalling, detestable, horrendous, ghastly, garish, macabre, monstrous...
God: Stop, stop! You're going to wear out the Thesaurus.
Me: Sorry, I just got carried away for a second. But, I can't help it, everytime I see those lightweight, low-cut shoes for women, I... I... I am overcome by an insane desire to destroy them. To crush them.
God: Hmmm... I see. And have you done any crushing lately?
Me: Why do you think I am in this 6-by-8-feet cell?
God: Because you went insane.
Me: You're a clever God. But to be honest with you, now that I look at it retrospectively, what I did was... more than that. I committed murder.
God: Murder?
Me: Against a poor pump. Let me explain the genesis of my condition. To me pumps are perverse. They are objects without a reason. A pair of sandals, for instance, can be worn in summer, or in autumn, with socks on like most male denizens of this country do. Leather boots render female legs elegant and stylish. Converse trainers highlight shapely and well-toned calf muscles. Pumps do nothing of this. They exist for no comprehensible motive. They are the antithesis of footwear. If we attempted to explain their presence amongst us, we would have to apply a dose of metaphysics. Their configuration invites phrenological theories. Their cantankerous nature runs counter to our raison d'être. They have every intention to displease.
God: And that's why you committed your hideous deed?
Me: What overcame me at that moment I can only call it pure lucidity. There I was, in the South Bank, the river on one side, the music on the other. I was shaking my head side to side to the rhythm of the band on stage, completely immersed in sound and beat when I happened to cast my eyes in the direction of a young woman sitting with her boyfriend on the wall. There was nothing abnormal in her countenance, she looked happy. She was clapping and moving her shoulders in unison with the music. Then I looked down to her feet. And there it was, the cause of my misery, bane of my life, the scourge of scourges. A hateful pump was dangling from her dainty foot, a monstrous slip-on. The way it swung from side to side made it look as if it was tracing semicircles of ghastly smiles in the air. I stood there watching it for what seemed an eternity and slowly approached the object of my obsession. Yes, obsession, I know I am obsessed, but isn't obsession part of our human nature? I advanced steadily with my eyes fixed upon her shoe until...
God: Until...
Me: Until I snatched it off her foot. I ran. I ran with all my might. I ran eastwards. The people I ran past kept wondering if I intended to become the new Usain Bolt to which my reply was 'He hasn't got anything on me now'. I ran down the Thames Path, I ran past the London Television Centre. I sprinted past the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. HMS Belfast Southwark Crown Court appeared in front of my eyes like a grim foreboding. But I did not stop. I continued to run, and when my legs gave up, I stood on my hands and carried on. I was finally caught in Deptford. I had fallen, the result of trying to pick my nose whilst attempting to maintain my pace. Everyone thought I was a fetishist until they saw what I had done to the pump.
God: What did you do to it?
Me: You know those pictures they show in ads about dieting, the 'before' and 'after'? Well, let's just say that the pump looked like the 'after' but with the repulsiveness of the 'before'. The mob wanted to lynch me there and then. I can still hear their cries, even now, in this cold cell. I sometimes think I am dreaming.
God: Maybe you are. Perhaps you could get some sleep.
Me: I can't. I keep getting visions of Kanye West turning up and telling me: 'Yo, man, listen, it's cool to dream and all that but I just wanted to tell you, right, that MARTIN LUTHER KING, LIKE, HE HAD THE BEST DREAM OF ALL, you know'. I wake up in a cold sweat and then I look at the bars. It's real.
God: And that's why you're looking for help from the divine.
Me: To be honest with you, you're my last resort. And I never thought I would have to appeal to your support. You see, I'm an atheist.
God: You are what? Oh, no, not another one! Oh, bloody hell! Why, oh, why, does this have to happen to me? Nobody respects God anymore! The other day I had another case, Richard Deakins.
Me: You mean, Dawkins.
God: Yes, that's the one. He was desperately asking for help. Plugging a new book called 'The Atheist's Guide to Christmas', edited by a friend of his, Ariane Sherine. The guy was a total wreck: 'Oh, God, help me, please, make sure that we come on top of Dan Brown's latest yarn.'
Me: So, what did you do?
God: I turned up, as I did to you today and told him to phone my office. He just doesn't know the surprise I have in store for him.
Me: What is it?
God: Well, I got me a new telephone system. You know the type, press one for new converts, press two for the new edition of The Bible, press three if you're a victim of fraud (I'm not based in Nigeria), press four for media enquiries, the list goes on to two hundred and eighty-four options. Hold on the line if you want to be connected to an operator. I forgot to mention that each option branches out into ten more. Richard will go barmy.
Me: And the operator, who is it? St Peter?
God: No, Beelzebub.
Me: ???
God: Don't look at me like that. Look, the guy has fallen in hard times. He was ousted.
Me: Ousted?
God: Yup. Evicted from his own lair. It all happened a year ago when the economic crisis started. So many bankers and City people out of their jobs. Suicides went up by 200%.
Me: I see.
God: They were polite at first when they arrived at Beelzebub's residence. But soon, they began to trade in the flies' stock market. You can imagine the rest.
Me: The market fell.
God: Hit rock bottom. You should have seen the poor guy. He came up to me, his eyes swollen up from all the crying. I had to give him the job. So, he womans the phones every now and then and also doubles up as a tutor at our call centre in India.
Me: Womans the phone? That's a funny phrase!
God: Well, things are not good up there either, my friend. We're also being crunched by the credit situation. I had to amend some of the language in my documents in order to access government funding. Now all is in line with the latest equal opportunities policies.
Me: Well, are you planning to change any of the language in the Holy Book, then? After all, Eve...
God: Shhhh... Don't let the auditors hear you. That's why I'm bringing out a new Christmas edition this year. You know, a clean slate and all that jazz. Anyway, back to you, what are we going to do about you now?
Me: I don't know, I am the unluckiest person in the world.
God: You are what? Hellooooo? Welcome to the real world. I have been carrying the 'bad father' label for many centuries now.
Me: Oh, sorry, I forgot.
God: And all because I left my son alone playing with nails. How was I to know? After all, he was thirty-three. True, he had just moved back in with me. But then again, most Italian men live with their mothers well into their thirties and no one bats an eyelid. Just because he had problems at uni doesn't mean that the kid should not have had a second chance.
Me: Yes, it was that lecturer, wasn't it?
God: Pontius. My son used to muck about in his Pilates class. Well, what do you expect? It wasn't a compulsory subject and the kid just wanted to go out and mingle with people.
Me: Not fair.
God: No, not fair. But that's life, I am a bad father and the other twelve roommates my son boarded with are living la dolce vita. As for you, I think I have a solution.
Me: Really?
God: Yes, Beelzebub happens to have a contact in the legal world. Not from this new batch, though, from the old guard. They go back years and years: Nixon, Reagangate, Clinton/Lewinsky, the guy's been there, done it and bought the blue dress with the stain on it as a memento. Anyway, he owes Beelzebub a couple of favours. So we might be able to do something for you.
Me: Oh, thanks God, many thanks. How can I repay you?
God: Well, some voluntary work in one of the mosques where I temp during the week...
Me: Mosque? But I thought that you were...
God: What? That I was what? Times are hard, mate, I already told you. I have to multitask, they call it 'wearing different hats' in public sector speak. I am also available for bar mitzvahs, by the way.
Me: The voluntary work's fine with me, then.
God: OK, now, how do I get out of here?
Me: I thought you knew, you're God, the omnipresent being, the...
God: Yes, yes, don't remind me who I am. But I forgot my pin number.
Me: Well, there's the door and there's the window and they 're both locked.
God: All right, I guess I will have to lie down here with you.
Me: Will we fit?
God: You seem to forget that I am God and fully malleable.
Me: Yes, you're right. Hurry up, then, lights will go out any minute.

Note: The blog author would like to reassure readers that no deity was harmed during the making of this post. Many thanks.

Copyright 2009

Next Post: 'What Makes a Good Writer' by the British author Zadie Smith, to be published on Tuesday 20th October at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. ' . . . in his Pilates class . . .'. Good one Cuban! As Robert de Niro said, "If there is a god, he's got some 'splainin' to do". Enjoyed this . . . now about slipons . . .

  2. Hello London,
    I laughed out loud! Kanye West and Pilates, indeed...very clever, all of it.

  3. Ha! You have the makings of a one-man show here (with a pump).

    Take it from someone who works in the legal field, Beelzebub does have connections! :)

    Happy Sunday, amigo!!

  4. Such fun!! I loved this post. Very creative and yet rings true.

    P.S. The music did not play-only the clapping at the end.

  5. A highly original post, Cuban! This dialogue has just the right balance between humor and fantasy vs. drama and reality. There are some very clever exchanges during this conversation, but by far the most clever move was to include John Cage's 4'33" in this post - the perfect background "music" to accompany this dialogue, in my opinion. Excellent and thought provoking, most definitely!


  6. The post is fantastic. I love it and of course you know already that I was laughing my head off.

    Pumps....... har har.

    I think we are twins only I'm female and 53 and you are male and 37.

    Love Renee xoxox

  7. I'm imagining God peeping out of the clouds, as in the Monty Python variety.

    Very entertaining, Mr. Cuban!

  8. If you had ever spent a day with your feet crammed into elegant winkle pickers, you'd know why women choose flat pumps, given the chance! :)

  9. Many thanks to you all for your kind feedback.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Too funny!! shedding a tear for this pump with no more "raison d'être" !! :-)

  11. Pumps....flats.....funny post. In defense of all women's feet though...we do need relief from heels.

  12. I stayed right to the end;
    all I have to say is, I like flats, they're comfy; don't you go all sexist on me and demand that we wear heels all the time.
    So, did you get off?
    And how did you and God manage to get out of your cell?
    Is there another post to come? If so, do go in for hating something male like half-mast, bottom-freeing trousers.

  13. Over here, this side of the pond, pumps always have a heel, generally worn for tailored occasions... that cute little shoe you're showing is my ballet slipper, sooo comfortable.
    If I stop wearing them, it's because you've taken my sole away! I will talk to the great Avatar about that!!

  14. Many thanks for your kind feedback.

    Friko, I hope your tongue was pressed firmly against your cheek when you wrote that comment because it could be misconstrued. I'll explain a little bit about how this sketch came about, but in no way my reply should be interpreted as an excuse or even an apology to pumps-wearers, because no offense was ever intended.

    The story took shape when I was in Spain recently and a young woman was swinging her right foot (clad in a pump of course!) hither and thither. So that bit in the story is based on a real event. From there my imagination just took flight and I started adding on elements to the tale. God's telephone system was based on an actual automatic system for tolling the bells in the town where we stayed. I thought that it was monks who did it until someone told me that that had not been the case for ages. It was at that point that I realised I had to tell this story and that I had to include God in it.

    It's funny how we react to different situations in life, but the reaction I have always enjoyed the most, as an outsider, is the one that goes from one extreme to the other. Nowhere in yesterday's reflections was mentioned that I favoured high heels. In fact, I mentioned a number of footwear that to me looked comfy (and so are pumps for the record). But your mention of high heels, is like a kneejerk reaction - if you meant it, I am still hoping that you were talking in jest - against a little funny (yes, it's funny and I don't care whether that sounds biased because I am the author, it is bloody funny!) sketch. For the record, too, my sense of fashion can be summed up thus: jeans, T-shirts and jumpers. For footwear: trainers, boots and sandals. I used to be a loafers man years ago, in my teens and early twenties, but not anymore.

    Many thanks to you all, including you Friko, for your feedback. It's been most entertaining.

    Greetings from London.

  15. By now, you must know that I like any kind of God story -- irreverant, worshipful, iconoclastic, devout. Yours made me laugh. It also makes me reflect on this character we call God. What a hold he has on us! A good novelist couldn't have come up with a better protagonist.

  16. The comments were as entertaining as the post. Judith, I'm with you on liking any kind of God story!! :)

    Also want to say thanks to Cuban in London for the heads-up on the Robert McCrum column in The Observer. And looking forward to the next part of the Zadie Smith article. :)

  17. Oh, that was just the thing I needed this morning! Made me laugh out loud!! Especially the part of the son playing with nails and going to pilates class. You are genius!! :) Silke

  18. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments. For the record and I forgot to add this on to my reply last night, I hate, actually, loathe the type of jeans that rolls down men's thighs and legs. They resemble more a pair of mal-adjusted leggings (or fishnets?) than trousers.

    Greetings from London.

  19. ha! very entertaining story and comments. i especially like the part you mentioned above about the kneejerk reaction and (automatically) going from one extreme to the other. so true. i always take note of that reaction.

    good way to use 'woman' as a verb!

  20. hilarious...except for the pump part- which I am wearing right now- heels- now there is reason to rant!
    Loved your comment on my blog and I think that more sons need to live for eternity with their moms...My son left last year, broke my heart like a death in the family...
    Thank you for this awesome, fun, adjective rich post!

  21. you are so funny and clever, how have i never read your blog before? i know i've seen you around in the blogosphere for quite some time. :-)

    and i totally agree with you about those ballet flats, they're the work of the devil (or would be, if he wasn't out of a job). :-)

  22. Cuban dear, so well versed in literature, music and modern thought, I must share with you a basic unwritten rule followed by women for generations: if we're going to wear good girl clothes (the suits we wear to meetings and such), we can wear bad girl shoes. But if we want to wear bad girl clothes (those infamous short skirts we used to wear plenty of in our day), it's good form to wear good girl shoes (aka pumps...sorry).

  23. I don't get over the pumps:
    I love Ballerinas! :-)

    Do you think there is a reason why men do not wear high heels and strapless sandals? ;-)

  24. shades of P.G. Wodehouse!

    As for the portrayal of God ... so implausible that it's not even offensive. :-)

    Funny, here in the States, "pumps" means high heeled shoes. I don't know what the objects of your obsession are called, but I think it's ballet flats.

  25. Many thanks for your kind feedback.

    Greetings from London.

  26. Hi Cuban

    of course, it was, as much as yours was when you wrote the sketch.
    I did not take offence at all; I actually thought my comment was in the same vein as your story.
    Thanks for calling me over, I sincerely hope you did not take offence either.
    That's what happens, of course, with a comment you can neither hear the tone of voice nor see the body language and the written word can appear misleading. No more my intention to offend than it was yours, as I firmly believe. Friends?

  27. Have to take back my previous comment. I posted it because I wanted you to like me. But making light of the cross is always offensive, and it was disloyal of me to say otherwise.

    The chase scene with the pumps is still right up there with Wodehouse, though. Keep up the humor!

  28. Many thanks to everyone for their feedback.

    Yes, Friko, friends, of course.

    'But making light of the cross is always offensive'

    No, making light of the cross is on a par with making light of Italian men living with their mothers, or lawyers being called devil advocates. A satirist's job, and I speak as a former Improvisational Theatre actor, is to turn current or relevant events into morsels of humorous wit without being gratitious or cheap. That's why I favour the humour of The Office, of good old Woody Allen (before he became... oh, well, we all know, don't we?), the Coen Brothers and the Jonze/Kaufman combination, to name a few. I could have mentioned the cross, but by not bringing it up, I made you think of it. This is in the 'don't tell, just show' literary tradition. So no offense was intended, but if offense is taken the blog author should be exempted from it.

    Thanks anyway, Jen for your comment.

    Greetings from London.

  29. You have just offended 3/4 of the population of women in Connecticut with your pumps routine :-) I think they have an unwritten law that every woman must own at least five pairs. I never saw so many pumps, in every imaginable color and pattern, until I visited there.

    Having worn cruel shoes throughout my career, I love slipping on a pair of ballet flats and I don't care what anyone thinks of me or my legs. Plus, I daresay, I think they look better than a pair of Converse trainers.

    The existential music is perfect for this post! Do you know how much time I spent fiddling with the volume???

  30. BRILLIANT! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I especially enjoyed the "hideous deed" beginning with the snatching of the pump, and its rendering into a before and after combo piece!!! LOL. And the weaving into the story, Kanye, 419ers, pop culture, very interesting.



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