Some time ago I received a short note from one Professor R Dawkins, requesting a meeting here at the Palace. Intrigued, I asked my secretary Jocasta to make discreet enquiries as to the nature of Prof Dawkins' field of study. Immediately, the ever-present young man with the wire in his ear interjected with, “You want to watch that one, Archie. We’ve got a file on him. Goes about the place telling anybody who’ll listen that there’s no God."
Now, it won’t surprise you to know that in the course of my calling, I’ve met many people who hold such beliefs. Conversely, during my time in Banking, I knew quite a few who believed they WERE God. Consequently, it was an easy decision to take and notes were exchanged to the effect that yesterday, I had the pleasure of making Prof Dawkins' acquaintance. Upon reflection, “pleasure” is not quite the right word.
Things began badly with the young man with the wire in his ear insisting that Prof Dawkins' entourage – film crew, make-up team and four PAs - should not be admitted to my study where I thought it best to receive my visitor. Prof Dawkins' chief PA, a substantial lady called Anthea, of determined visage and wearing a badge saying “God’s an Invention” protested and attempted to barge into my inner sanctum. There was a brief flurry, Anthea being propelled swiftly backwards by the young man with the wire in his ear who waved his mysterious card in the air and shouted, “I says who goes in there, darlin’, OK?”, whilst patting the bulge in his jacket. This was indeed an unfortunate beginning, but eventually more chairs were fetched and Prof Dawkins’ group were settled in the Visitors’ Waiting Room with tea and scones.
My lady wife had insisted on being present during my meeting with the Prof, saying that he was “Quite a looker for a seventy-three year old.” And so eventually Prof Dawkins, my lady wife, the young man with the wire in his ear and I sat in expectant communion. I briefly closed my eyes in prayer, hoping for an amicable coming together of philosophies.
Sadly, this was not to be. “So what was all that about?” asked the Prof, a sarcastic tone to his question. I explained my brief prayer. “Prayer? PRAYER?" said the Prof. “Who to? WHAT to? It's all a load of mumbo-jumbo and you know it. Its all designed to control the masses. Go on, admit it!”
As I collected my thoughts in the face of such unexpected aggression, I noticed the young man with the wire in his ear lean towards the Professor and heard him whisper, “Oi. A bit more respect sunshine, or you’ll be getting a smack. OK?” Professor Dawkins did thereafter modify his tone somewhat and I was touched by the young man with the wire in his ear’s loyal intervention. And so, I offered my answer, saying that prayer was my way of communicating with God, sometimes quickly as was now the case, or sometimes more slowly, in a period of meditation. At this, the Professor snorted, sat up very straight and said, “Well that’s utter rubbish! Have you any proof that this God you speak of HEARS you?”
At this, I had to place a restraining hand on the arm of the young man with the wire in his ear. But the Professor continued, “God’s a placebo! Don’t you see? God doesn’t really exist. God’s an invention!” At this point, the Professor became extremely agitated and began shouting things about defenestration, flesh, blood, bread, wine and virgin births. Despite the vigilance of the young man with the wire in his ear, the Professor evaded him and bounded about my study, blowing raspberries at crucifixes and shouting, “God’s a delusion!” Within seconds, however, the young man with the wire in his ear calmed the Professor down with a firm choke-hold and dragged him from the room.
My lady wife and I sat transfixed, she with her special herbal tea hardly touched and I with a barely nibbled Ginger Dunk ‘twixt finger and thumb. The stunned silence was broken by my lady wife. “Yes, passably good looking for his age," she said, then rather more sadly, I thought, “But also a complete nutter." We both laughed as the young man with the wire in his ear popped his head round the door. "They’ve gone, Archie. I chucked ‘em out," and I couldn’t help thinking that’s what Jesus would have done.