Monday 14 April 2014
Tony Benn’s DIARY (published in Private Eye)
Saturday 15 March: My first meeting with the Almighty. Out of common courtesy, I treat him as an equal.
My first impression is of a decent enough chap, on the face of it perfectly friendly, but still hopelessly out of his depth on matters of public policy.
A media figure, really, when all is said and done.
But perfectly pleasant, and clearly delighted to see me.
He told me that I was welcome to join the heavenly choir.
I said I wasn’t by any means prepared to rule anything out at this stage, but asked Him, quite candidly, what the purpose of this choir might be.
“Primarily to praise Me,” he replied. Very candid, and I respect him for it. He then passed me some sort of 4-point plan, or policy statement, which can be summarised thus:
a) Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation.
b) Sing all you citizens of heaven above.
c) Glory to God in the highest.
d) O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather! To be perfectly frank, I’ve never read anything like it. But I didn’t want to do anything too hasty. I told Him I’d go away and have my report on His desk in the next day or two.
Sunday 16 March: I bumped into St Peter lurking in a corridor. He was tickled pink to see me. I was perfectly candid. I told him that with the greatest respect, he couldn’t expect to go on issuing lofty commands from on high, willy-nilly. I said I’d already had a word with one or two others in the heavenly community and they all agreed with me that it was absolutely vital for the future unity of Heaven that we form a pressure group to ensure that the voice of the great majority of ordinary working men and women be heard. There’s no two ways about it, I said.
Monday 17 March: I was desperately hoping to have bumped into Mao Tse-tung by now, he was a nice old boy and one of the greatest men of the 20th century, well up there with Lenin, and I think an exchange of ideas between the three of us will be extremely helpful. But no one I spoke to had ever seen either of them around. “Well, there’s nowhere else they could possibly be!” I chuckled, amiably.
Tuesday 18 March: “May I offer you my first impression?” I said.
“By all means,” replied the Almighty.
I told him there were four immediate points are crying out to be made about His so-called Gloria document.
“First,” I said, “there’s nothing in it about the rights of ordinary decent working choristers. It’s all gimmick, gimmick, gimmick.
“Second, you mention ‘citizens of heaven’. Now, that’s all very well, but what about the ballot-box? Frankly, you can’t expect any degree of happiness among the citizens if you don’t have a ballot-box.
“Third, where’s the inward investment in these heavenly choirs? It’s all very well saying they’ll sing in exultation, but not without the inward investment, they won’t.
“Furthermore, as I see it, there are broadly two courses of action open to us.
“The first is a straightforward capitalist course, recommended by the bankers and the multinationals. This involves extracting the maximum amount of praise for the minimum amount of outlay, so that before long every last man and woman will be utterly ground down.
“The second is what ye might call the decent course of inward investment, which would deliver hope, justice and equality, and carry the support of the vast majority of the heavenly citizens.
“The fourth thing I’m concerned about is –“
“My dear fellow, interjected the Almighty, his mouth wide open, no doubt from the intellectual excitement of our stimulating discussion, “I do apologise but we’re going to have to leave it there. I seem to have an urgent appointment elsewhere. Perhaps you could let me have something on paper?”
Wednesday 19 March: I deliver a memo of 150 pages to the Almighty – a bit sketchy, perhaps, but it should give Him something to think about.
Meanwhile, I have been given a harp to play. “Who makes these harps?” I asked the Angel Gabriel. “How much are they paid? What are their working conditions? And who represent their interests?” He claimed not to know – to my mind, a wholly deliberate policy of obfuscation to stop any of us getting at the truth of the matter.
It’s all becoming clear. The Angel Gabriel is doing the dirty work for St Peter, and St Peter is doing the dirty work for the Almighty who is, in turn, doing the dirty work for the Angel Gabriel. They claim that everyone in Heaven is blissfully happy. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? It’s nonsense, of course. How could they be happy, without adequate representation? And of course, it’s perfectly obvious that the powers-that-be have decided to convince them they are happy, because that way they won’t be tempted to ask any awkward questions. Absolutely sickening.
Thursday 20 March: Let’s make no bones about it. This isn’t heaven – this is absolute cloud-cuckoo-land!
Frankly, there is no power-sharing where the Almighty is concerned. Not a bit of it. He simply sits on his heavenly throne dishing out his patronage as and when he wants to, and it’s an absolute stitch-up in order to prop up a dictatorship.
I’ve been busy speaking at fringe-meetings on all the various heavenly clouds. It’s come as no surprise to find widespread support for my proposals for bringing Heaven into public ownership.
It’s simple common sense. Citizens of Heaven are sick to the back teeth at being told to sit back and enjoy themselves, play the harp, sing in the heavenly choir, and so forth, when they’d all much rather be out there, engaging with the serious issues. This society is crying out for a thorough shake-up! I’ve clearly got my work cut out for the rest of eternity! I’ve always relished a challenge, but I could do with some help. Where is Mao when you want him?
As told to CRAIG BROWN