Angel Delight, concluded

Pete had never heard of a new router somehow managing to reset a person’s home page, but that was what it seemed to have done. Instead of Google, Hot Babes popped up on his screen. Although…

Well she was hot enough, he supposed – blonde, blue-eyed, a shapely figure from what you could see of it beneath that white, feathery outfit. Too much of the feathers, he thought, and not enough flesh. It was hardly worth the subscription, this site. And she wasn’t… she wasn’t behaving like a Hot Babe usually did – none of suggestive pouting, the secretive smiles, no writhing… And where was the bed? The whole set looked a bit weird compared to normal. Instead of a boudoir type thing, this blonde babe seemed to be in an office, working on a computer not so very different from his own. She seemed absorbed in whatever she was studying on that screen, didn’t even look up though she must have known he was there. Some little light must have gone on.

At last the webchat box came up. Ah, that was more like it.

Helo gorjus! Pete typed, with one cigarette-stained forefinger. And wot is yr name?

The girl looked up then. He wasn’t using the webcam but he could have sworn she could see him. An expression which might or might not have been distaste flitted across her face, to be replaced by one of neutral efficiency. Must be some sort of role-play, Pete thought: a variation on the one where there was a nurse in a very short, starched white uniform which would conveniently get removed, in instalments. Sometimes the one fee covered all. Sometimes the girl would pause and demand extra in bitcoin before she took off the rest. When were those feathers going to start falling? He hoped she wasn’t going to want the extra. Pete had never really understood bitcoin, and couldn’t be bothered to find out. She was taking her own sweet time about replying.

Nameless, she replied, eventually. And your name please?  All this was beginning to unnerve Pete. His head was beginning to thump again. Why hadn’t Google come up? What was this?

Pete.

Pete short for Peter? Peter what?

Hey, liten up babe…

Surname now, please, and any middle names. Reluctantly, he typed in the information. Surely they didn’t usually ask for surnames? It was getting weirder by the minute but he couldn’t seem to unglue his hands from the keyboard.

Nameless is typing…

Nameless is typing…

The girl in the feathers appeared to be looking down a list of names, then second list of names. As she typed, he spotted something. There was something on the desk beside her. It moved… it was alive. A small, black, silky creature that looked very much like a cat. It came closer and bent to rub its head against her ear. Nameless reached up a slender, well-manicured hand to acknowledge the affectionate greeting. Then it walked right across her keyboard and for a second or two was looking straight out of the screen. What was it about that cat? Something familiar…

Nameless is…

You do not appear on my database, Mr Peter.

Yr wot?

You do not feature on any of my lists, Mr Peter. I believe the most helpful course of action would be to transfer you to a colleague.

Wot colleeg?

A colleague in different department. Transferring you now.

Hang on, Nameless. Cum bak hear!!

But another face had appeared on the screen. This time it was a middle-aged man in a very dirty singlet. He was in the process of mopping a sweaty, soot-smeared brow with what might once, many aeons ago, have been a white handkerchief.

What can I do for you tonight, mate?

Tonite? Iss no even diner tim hear!

Different time zone, matey. Different everything. Black as the night and fiery as a furnace, hahaha. Name?

Pete.

Pete what?

Jus went thru all that with the other one.

Well just go thru it again, eh, Pete? Humour me. Surname and any middle names? Ah, here you are. I found you on my Little List. Hmmm…nice one! No fewer than three pitchforks against your name, Pete. You’ll be a splendid addition. Come on down, mate…

Down were?

Down here of course, matey. Come a little closer to the screen, that’s right. It won’t hurt much I promise you.

WOT wont hurt much?

Just a little closer to the screen, that’s it.

And a little closer…

Featured Image: Black angel kitten cat – I miss you too 3: Cyra R Cancel, Florida

Lovely Bones

I imagined a heaven for my father, when he died. In my father’s heaven there would be cycling, lots of cycling. There would not be us, or even Mum. There would be narrow country lanes – the kind with hedges you can see over the top as you pedal past. There would be hills to freewheel down – great, twisty down-hills with splashy bits at the bottom like the one in Goodnight Mister Tom. The sort of hill you could cry out joyously “Yaaaaaaaay!” all the way down.

I imagined no cars in my father’s heaven – cars only got in the way of the cyclist. I imagined mostly sunshine because it is most pleasant to cycle in the sunshine, but the occasional downpour so that he got to to wear his yellow cape. He liked the yellow cape. He’d arrive home and drip all over the kitchen in it.

I imagined a heaven with no conscription, no draughty barracks in Lincolnshire with a single pot-bellied stove to keep out the winter chill. I imagined no such place as the India he had experienced, with its dead dogs and beggars. No being forced to drive trucks across it, the steering-wheel so hot it burned your hands. No such place as Burma, either. No malaria; no “top brass” to come by and insist that you stand by your bed and salute when burning up with fever.

Now, as Mum passes the age at which Dad died, I’ve moved on to a new project. I am starting to conjure a personal heaven for her. She hasn’t gone yet, of course, but when she does it will be all nice and ready for her to move into.

Mum’s heaven will be a garden, I think, with a lot of lawn to be mowed in precisely the right pattern and then raked. It will have no rose bushes but probably a peony bush to shed bright pink petals and a lot of those pretty, droopy things that seed themselves everywhere – aquilegias. There will be trees, mature trees, all different, and she will be fighting fit again so she can prune them with one of those long-handled whatsits.

I will be sure to include a massive, ancient chestnut tree, as without all those spikey green seed-cases getting stuck in the long grass and those sacks and sacks of dead leaves to rake up and take to the tip there would be nothing to grumble about. I am sure the tips in heaven will be much sweeter-smelling than the ones on earth, and the attendant angels will be more helpful when it comes to dragging stuff up all those steps to the skip labelled ‘Garden Waste’.

There will be no beds to make, no soot-filled grate to clean out, no potatoes to peel, but there will probably be a lot of ironing. Ironing was therapy.

There will be paperback books – those really thick ones that you get your money’s worth from – seagoing adventures and historical blockbusters, and always the complete set; never a stray hardback to pollute a line of paperbacks. And jigsaw puzzles, great stacks of them, giant and complex, and she will be able to do them with ease.

This morning Betty and I watched her playing with a ten-piece ‘Active Mind’ puzzle they had given her.  She picked up first one piece and then another. She tried to fit the biggest piece in the smallest space. She’d forgotten about the sky being blue, trains being shiny and red with brass bits and edge-pieces always being straight. She moved her plastic beaker of cranberry juice into the middle of the puzzle. Just another piece.

I thought of those two-thousand piece puzzles she used to do in winter. How methodical she was, huddled over the dining-room table evening after evening, sorting different patterns or colours into separate little pots; how patient, trying the same piece first here, then there…

It was Susie Salmon’s heaven in The Lovely Bones that set me off on this track. In this Alice Sebold novel a young girl, having been raped and murdered by a neighbour, finds herself in a place that contains everything she wants it to contain, even her old dog. Occasionally the edges of other people’s heavens will intersect with hers so that she has company for a while. The Being with the long white beard seems absent. Must read that novel again to check the details.

If you could design a personal heaven for yourself, or someone close to you, what would it be like?

Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Well, this is going to be a post about Heaven – or at least my idea of Heaven – and I was going – rather obviously, in hindsight – to use that line from The Eagles’ Hotel California This could be heaven or it could be hell. Then I came across this other line and couldn’t resist it. How could anybody think up a line that brilliant? It’s got everything. I am lost in admiration.

What set this weird and wonderful post off? Well, I was lying on the sofa, as is my wont (what is a wont I wonder?) watching TV and half asleep. There was a cat wedged under my chin, making it impossible to turn my head – so technically I was listening to TV – another cat on what would have been my lap had I been sitting up, and third cat half on, half off of the sofa arm, reclining heavily against my bare foot. And I was thinking – it wouldn’t be Heaven without cats.

How many cats? I wondered. I concluded it would have to be every cat in the world, plus all the cats that ever had been. Heaven would not be Heaven with a single kitten or manky old stray excluded.

You would be wading through cats, I told myself.

No, myself replied. Heaven – if there is such a place – must be infinitely vast. Heaven, if cats are involved, must also have trees, and shelves, and cardboard boxes. It must have an infinite number of hidey-holes and secret places. A cat is not happy without a perching place and a hidey-hole. That would make Heaven the classic house with many mansions – a rambling, Victorian, wood-panelled, bookshelved, mouse-holed, secret-passagewayed sort of set up. It would need to be full of dusty, half-open carpet bags, broken luggage trunks with interesting, pattable metal clasps, spiderswebs to get caught in, spiders to pursue and, eventually, chew.

It would need dirty window panes through which could be glimpsed acres of rolling countryside. It would need coaches coming and going, and gardener’s boys, and at night, foxes on the lawn. It would need moss-covered statues for butterflies to alight on. It would need a moon, and starlight.

It would be a kind of indoor place with an outdoors to watch.

It would need owls, and bats. That would be for me and the multitude of cats.

It would need books and paper, and pencils, and pencil-sharpeners. That would be for me. The books would need to be old. Musty, their pages uncut for centuries. Hidden knowledge. Sleeping stories.

It would need a park, because maybe I could go outdoors sometimes. In that case it would need to be a park emptied of people. A park with broken benches and flower beds full of pansies, daisies or daffodils, according to season. There would need to be chestnut trees, and sparrows, and blackbirds, and worms for the blackbirds to tug at.

And there would need to be the sea, somewhere or other in this particular Heaven. A warm sea and an empty beach. And fishes in the sea, all colours of the rainbow. Fishes with stickle-fins and iridescent scales. Maybe a mermaid or two. Mermaids wouldn’t bother me as long as they kept their distance, as they probably would because mermaids are not very sociable.

And it would be possible to fly, of course. Who wants to be earthbound in Heaven? Maybe the cats could fly with me.

I suppose that’s it, though. That would be my Heaven. But supposing I was a cat-hater or a dog-lover? Supposing I was by nature a sociable type, the life and soul of the party? How could it be Heaven, to that person, without parties to go to, champagne to quaff, the tinkling pianos and the dancing girls? Ergo, there would need to be a separate Heaven for each of us, a self-created paradise – and maybe that is the case.

My own feeling is that we move from lifetime from lifetime in a continuous process of learning and growing. My sense is that we are God Becoming, or God Conscious. We move from lifetime to lifetime, perfecting ourselves and enhancing or enriching That of which we are fragments. Except that linear time is an illusion, so whatever it seems like, all is happening now – is happening, has happened, will happened –in a single moment. We are, in a way, angels dancing on the head of a pin.

After each life we are able to rest for a while. Then we begin to design or to be attracted back into, the next life. And maybe at some point we come to some kind of transition or translation, where rebirth becomes voluntary rather than obligatory, and we can rest for ever if we want to. We experience what we set ourselves to experience; when in life we suffer and are enraptured and all stages in between, daily, hourly, from one micro-second to the next, moving between a multitude of levels and states of being.

Which could be Heaven, or which could be Hell.

What do you think?