The Third Leader: Dust to dust...

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But, no. Perhaps it's the best way to discover that we are on our own. And, certainly, as reported, God hasn't shown much evidence of a sense of humour. (Some observers have pointed out that the whole thing is a bit of a joke, but it now seems to be getting beyond even a bad one.)

I know of only one gag from the Creator in the Bible: when the Chaldeans invade, the Israelites demand to know why God has not done anything; to which He responds that He has: He sent the Chaldeans. Pretty dark, you'll concede; more Lenny Bruce than Ronnie Barker.

This was the epitaph of Dave Allen, the great, teasing unbeliever: "Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never - I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever." You might also remember his artiste's cremation sketch, when the curtains open again for the coffin to take a bow.

Peter Sellers, a rum cove, once phoned Blake Edwards, his director on the Clouseau films, to say that God had just told him how to do a scene. It was a disaster; and prompted from Edwards perhaps the last word on this: "Peter, next time you talk to God, tell him to stay out of show business."