Knock Knock… I think we know who’s there.
(Two magazines with a person attached to them.)
One balmy afternoon, some two thousand years ago now, on a small hill near Jerusalem, stood Jesus, dressed in a pair of leather sandals that little did he know, were to change the face of footwear fashion forever. The popularity of our saviour’s sandals was to grow throughout the known world until, a couple of millennia later and for a reason as yet unknown, holidaying British men would begin to wear them with socks (1), ruining for everyone what had started out as a perfectly good idea. One can only imagine that up there in heaven, Jesus must still be absolutely livid.
More importantly, however, from that mount upon which he stood, surrounded by a multitude of curious followers, some hanging on his every word and others hanging about for more free wine, Jesus gave a clear message to his then followers which was to, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations”. Nineteen hundred years later and in a moment of total self adoration, an American called Pastor Russell decided that that command had been directed solely at him and his then little band of Bible Students. (2) Now, if only Jesus had said something along the lines of, “Go therefore and make big fluffy Yorkshire puddings from the plain flour and two eggs of all the nations”, then my life and that of millions of others could have been so very different. Sadly and rather unsurprisingly, that wasn’t to be.
And so, armed with that scripture and a head stuffed with some of the most ridiculous ideas imaginable, Pastor Russell instigated a worldwide preaching work, declaring it to be the only road to salvation. Through his obsessive promotion of the door to door evangelising, by the 70’s, which was when I was obliged to start preaching, the Jehovah’s Witnesses had earned themselves a terrible reputation, which in all honesty, my own performance did absolutely nothing to improve.
The first recollection I have of being out ‘on the doors’, as we all called it, was with my father. Childhood gives us certain anonymity and so whilst I was with him, I was able to hide like a startled rabbit behind the tails of his Crombie, whilst he merrily nattered to all and sundry about the Signs of the Times. (3) From the beginning, I knew that going from door to door wasn’t for me but I had very little choice in the matter. Better rephrased, I had no choice in the matter as Dad had taken on board the full responsibility for the salvation of the entire family. Each week, without fail, armed with the societies pamphlets and their subtlety manipulated bible, (4) he went forth to spread the light, and we, his children, meekly followed on behind like faded little sunbeams.
1. These socks tend to be of the diamond pattern variety and whilst worn, reduced the chance of a holiday romance to just slightly less than nil.
2. The Bible Students were invented by Pastor Russell, as too was the Jehovah’s Witness sect. A little while later, whilst on a roll he created a range of spaghetti dishes, all of which proved to be very unpopular in the U.S. It was his advertising that let him down. ‘Pasta Russell’: Prepared by a genius… inspired by God!
3. These Signs indicate that the End has been on the verge of coming for the last two thousand years and so one can only assume that it must have the worst case of lovers’ balls ever known to mankind.
4. The New world Translation is, according to the J.W.’s, the best translation of bible known to mankind. Perhaps that’s because it’s their translation. Recent scholars have shown, however, that to make it match their core beliefs they’ve manipulated the text dramatically; so much so, in fact, that if you leave it lying open for any length of time around the house, you can hear the punctuation weeping bitterly.