God: The Ultimate Autobiography
and Satan: The Hiss and Tell Memoirs
Pan, London, 1989
(price: £3.99; 144 pages + 144 pages)
dedication: This book is dedicated to Noah.
Who begat Ham, Shem and Japhet.
And Japhet begat Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal,
Meshech, Tiras and Gomer.
And Gomer begat Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
And Togarmah begat Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Baamah, Sabtecah and Kevin.
And Kevin begat Wayne, Shane, Duane and Rover.
And Rover begat Alan, Merrill, Jay, Donny and Little Jimmy.
And Little Jimmy begat Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, Marion and Tito.
And Tito begat Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, Gummo and Omo.
And Omo begat Brillo, Brasso, Ghtto and Liquid Gumption.
And Gumption begat John, John, John, John, John, John and Kenneth, also known as John.
And Kenneth, also known as John, begat John-John.
And John-John begat John-Paul.
And John-Paul 1 begat John-Paul 2, George-Paul and Ringo-Paul.
And Ringo-Paul begat Gordon, George, Jackie, Bobby, Bobby, Alan, Gooff, Roger, Martin and Nobby.
And Nobby begat Sidney.
And Sidney didn't begat anybody because he had a very close friend called Big Gordon.
But Big Gordon begat Huey, Dewey and Louey.
And Louey begat Andrew, Lloyd and Webber.
And Webber begat 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and never paid Me any royalties.
In most autobiographies the subject starts at the beginning, but in My case that's tricky. I have no beginning. And, for that matter, I have no end. I'm Infinite.
Actually there are two books here, two companion works: Satan: The Hiss and Tell Memoirs was first published in 1987, followed by God: The Ultimate Autobiography in 1988, before the two were brought together in this single volume. Both are straightforward comedy pieces bouncing jokes off The Bible and religious tradition in a National Theatre of Brent kind of way, presenting familiar episodes filtered through anachronistic, bathetic attitudes. Like this randomly selected example:
Noah gazed at the beauty of the rainbow and said, ‘Very nice, I’m sure, but why couldn’t you give me something useful?’
And I replied, saying, ‘Noah, you are a good man and a faithful servant, but at heart you are a philistine.’ (God p.85)
And then there's the holy ghost writer’s love of word-play and puns:
It’s difficult to remember exactly what Hades was like when I moved in… In those days it was just a little hell-hole, nothing fancy, but somewhere to hang my hate. (Satan p.103)
Well, look you get the picture. Does it work? Yes, for the most part. The God bit is the better of the two, but they’re both mildly entertaining. And, lacking any real satirical thrust, they’re not likely to offend any but the most rabid of Christians.
ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5