Miles Kington: The advantage of being a god: there's no point in quizzes

... especially those dreadful ones in newspapers at the end of each year to see if readers can remember all the stuff that's been in the newspapers
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It being nearly the end of the year, there is just time for one last visit in 2006 to the United Deities. (The United Deities, of course, is the gathering of gods past and present who sit in judgment on our efforts to keep the planet from disaster.)

Here are some of the minutes from their current meeting:

1. The chairgod said that as it was almost the last day of the Christian year 2006, there had been a suggestion that they should discuss the events of the year and evaluate what progress humans had made.

2. The Jewish God groaned and said that as far as he could see, humans never made any progress. They simply made better gadgets with which to carry out the same old inanities.

3. As for the events of the year, he could not remember anything that had happened this year which was any different from any other year.

4. He did not want to get involved in a discussion of the events of the year if it was going to end up like one of those dreadful quizzes they had in newspapers at the end of each year, seeing if readers could remember the stuff that had been in the newspapers.

5. The Catholic God said that for once he agreed with the Jewish God. One of the great advantages of the gods all being omniscient was that they couldn't have quizzes, as if they did, all gods would get all the answers right and there would be no winners.

6. The Roman god Mercury said he had a suggestion. If a gods' quiz about past events was impossible, why did they not have a quiz about the future?

7. They could all make predictions about the next twelve months, and in a year's time they could check the results to see who had got the most things right.

8. The chairgod said he had a terrible suspicion that some of the gods could actually see into the future and would be at an unfair advantage.

9. Jove said he knew the chairgod was going to say that. (Laughter)

10. Mercury wanted to know who these gods were who could foretell the future.

11. The chairgod said that he had always had the impression that the Roman god Janus had the ability to look forward and back at the same time.

12. Mercury said that, as Janus was not present, he could testify that even for another god it was very disconcerting meeting with Janus, as you never knew which face to talk to, or whether he was coming or going. And you could not talk about him behind his back.

13. Zeus asked if a god with two faces, like Janus, had the same expression on both faces at the same time, or if he could smile with one and frown with he other.

14. Mercury said that he did not know, as he could only see one face at a time. You would need two gods to do the experiment, one standing in front, one behind, each reporting to the other on what he could see.

15. The chairgod said that if this was the best they could do for a discussion of the year's events, they should pass on. Before they did so, however, had anyone any comments on the new expression CE (Common Era) which seemed to be replacing AD (Anno Domini) everywhere?

16. Jupiter said it was a sad day when any Latin expression was lost. He had spoken Latin fluently in his youth and thought it was a fine language.

17. The Catholic God said he thought that CE and BCE was a load of nonsense. Common Era? What did that mean? What was common about it? It was just a gesture to pacify non-Christians.

18. The Jewish God said that he could never see the point of measuring time from the birth of Jesus, who, from all he heard, was not that interested in science anyway.

19. The chairgod said that he was not at all impressed by the standard of debate so far, and hoped they would do better with the next item on the agenda, which was the regular request from Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, to be allowed to attend these meetings.

More of this some other time...