Jan 23 – Stuck inside these four walls, sent inside forever, never seeing no one… nice again… like you, маму. Youeroou, маму. Yoouereroooou…

The idea of confinement has given me an idea for novel. Someone dies, and the novel takes place in Purgatory. We observe them as they are forced to watch a second-by-second video replay of their life, with an omniscient mentor at their shoulder guiding them through the process. After a while, we find out that the person has committed suicide aged seventeen, and suddenly you get this Owen Meany (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Prayer_for_Owen_Meany) buzz about it all.

An often-overlooked feature of Heaven: one wipe and it’s clean.

Soon after that revelation, the mentor says, “See what you’ve missed.” (because they’ve started to watch the film of the life he didn’t have). And the dead person replies, “Frankly, after seeing that, I’m glad that I did it.”

From a practical point of view, you can write a picaresque novel rather than get bogged down in all that fall from grace La Chute business; besides which, we’ve had enough of that already.

Take a typical episode for example: the mentor says, “Why do you think your relationship failed with this girl?” (He rewinds the film and points at the screen)))). The dead person stutters over the response but the mentor persists, “Come on, you’re here now, you can be honest. You must, in fact. Dem’s de rules.” (In a break with tradition, the Heaven-based functionary has quite a good sense of humour, and says daft things like that all the time))))

I think Dolly’s already going.

The dead person still can’t get his words out, “It’s just that, I thought, I could …”
“What? Do better? Why don’t you say that, then?” says the mentor.
“Just say it. God’s doing Her rounds today, and She’s already in a pretty bad mood. Just spit it out.”
“She’s common.” the dead person blurts out.
“Why do you say that?” the mentor asks.
The dead person steels himself, and says, “It’s her eyes. She lacks something.”

He expects the mentor to disapprove but instead, he says, “You’re right, she is. But do you know how few people can see that?” He gets no response, so he goes on, “You need your eyes to see it.”

Then we start to think that he really is some sort of special, chosen, type; one that might be reprieved for his error and sent back to earth to do good. Yet, at the same time, we begin to get the notion that he’s a bit of an arsehole too. He is certainly self-possessed, but as we learn more about him, we come to regard his suicide as an act of vanity. It goes on, and we get further hints that he’s a little too convinced of his own rectitude; that perhaps he has resolved upon a despotic and dangerous world-view in the months leading up to his demise.

Tammy on the other hand…

Soon, we hate him, and start to believe that we are glad of his suicide, thinking perhaps that the world has been spared another Hitler or Putin. And we become confirmed in this view as we now receive hints of a hatchet-job commissioned by God’s inner circle (Tammy Wynette, Thora Hird, Roy Castle, George Formby, John Conteh, James Stewart, and Sammy Davis Jr).

As we reach the end, the novel reveals itself to be no more than Christian propaganda, designed to bend the reader to the will of the cult. You feel cheated, but just before you set fire to the book and leave it on the steps of a Christian Aid charity shop, you stop and think again. “Perhaps it was written by an atheist,” you think: “deftly illustrating the way that dangerous organisations, like Christians, spread their gospel!”

Everybody suddenly loves the author for the light he shines into their lives, and the King sends him a cheque for one million pounds. No, ten million.

Photo of the lobby of Heaven by Tobias van Schneider