In a cloud above TallBloke Towers …
Zeus stomped back over to the couch and sat down with a sigh. He put the unopened can of Special Brew in his hand on the coffee table without so much as a glance. Flicking through TV channels, he shouted with increasing frustration:
‘I bloody hate Christmas telly. Every bloody year it’s the same old rubbish. Jehovah just can’t stop rubbing it in. Jesus this, Jesus that. They aren’t even bloody showing “Jason and the Argonauts” this year!’
His wife Hera, looking over at him said, ‘I do wish you’d pull yourself together darling, and please stop drinking, you’ve got to work in a couple of days. What will all the children say if they happen to wake up and see you in the state you are in now?’
‘Ho ho bloody ho.’ Screamed Zeus, ‘that’s exactly what’s pissing me off. Not only have they taken the only films worth watching off the bloody schedule, I’ve also got to get ready to do the only bit of bloody work I’ve had for the past two hundred years; and everybody over the age of five thinks it’s their bloody parents who bring the presents!’
‘Positive thinking, darling, please. You know how much your Father Christmas character irritates Jehovah.’
‘Yes, yes, detracts attention away from that son of his, I know. That was the whole point to begin with; but toddlers worshipping me just doesn’t do that much to increase my powers, and it’s not like I do this thing out of bloody goodwill, is it?’
Some of the minor gods entered with lightning bolts balanced casually over their shoulders. One of them, Pan, juggled a couple of balls in his left hand. Zeus looked at them, swore, and reached over to the table, cracking open the can of Special Brew.
‘Good game?’ Hera inquired.
‘Pretty good fun, we’re really getting the hang of it now’, Pan replied.
‘I wish you’d stop using my lightning bolts to play that hackey thing.’
‘It’s called hockey, Mighty Zeus.’
‘Whatever’, the King of the Gods muttered.
Apollo, who’d been sat in the corner hunched over his laptop, turned around and said, ‘A couple of interesting developments, Father.’
Zeus took a slug of beer and looked up.
‘What’s that internet thingy told you now?’
‘Well, to begin with, there’s been a couple of interesting developments in England.’
‘Just north of France.’
Hera came over, sat beside him, and squeezed his hand.
‘It’s past the Pillars of Hercules and to the north, we used to buy tin from them.’
‘Oh, you mean Cornwall. Ok, what?’
‘The courts there have just upheld the right for a bigamist marriage to continue.’
‘What? So what?’
‘Well the interesting thing is, the people concerned are Pagans.’
‘Yes, they worship Thor.’
‘Thor? Thor? Why that northern upstart?’
‘Well, that brings me to a bit of bad news. I’ve just been on surveys.com, and the verdict is out on all us ancient gods. You, oh Mighty Zeus, are classed as, um, let me see… ah yes, “A Bit Gay.”’
‘A bit gay?’
‘Yes, apparently, drinking wine, eating grapes, turning into swans and beams of light and occasionally sleeping with men were the primary factors in that.’
‘But I’ve got my lightning bolts as well, doesn’t it mention those?’
‘Yes, if it weren’t for your lightning bolts, Oh Mighty Zeus, it seems you would have got the rank “Really Gay.” But the important thing is, more and more people are beginning to believe in gods like us.’
‘Hhmph’, he said, followed by another slug of Special Brew. ‘Ok, what was the other piece of information?’
‘Mighty Zeus, it concerns the environmentalists.’
‘Enviro-mentalists, what are they?’
‘It’s a new and very popular religion, they believe in the sanctity of Earth, whom some of them call Gaia.‘
‘Gaia? You mean Granny? I wondered where that old witch had been recently. Is this a Greek cult?’
‘No, Mighty Zeus, the cult spans the whole world. Whilst most just like the sound of the word Gaia, it seems that the most fervent believers do also actually worship your most Awful Grandmother in some form. Believers have persuaded all the peoples of the West to pay significant portions of their monies to safeguard this “Gaia”, and by inference, your Awful Grandmother, from imminent destruction,’
‘Really? Granny is always interfering, damn her; but do you also mean that Jehovah is buggered then?’
‘So to speak, Mighty Zeus, yes. Lots of Jehovah’s priests now believe and pledge allegiance to the priests of the new religion, whom they call… Climate Scientists.’
‘Well, good to get one over on him, but if this is going to leave him at a loose end, he’ll end up coming over here all the time and cadging more bread and wine from me…’
‘There is that possibility, Mighty Zeus, but there is another better option.’
‘What’s that then?’
‘The priests of this religion, called Climate Scientists, refer to their rather hastily constructed theology as Climate Science; and it seems a significant proportion of people have stopped believing in it and are openly denouncing it. The science-priests in retaliation have started intimidating these former believers, and now it looks like there is going to be open revolt.’
‘Yes, so I’m going to have to buy more cheap plonk for when Jehovah pops over all miserable, but what’s this new religo-science thing got to do with us?’
‘It links to the new-age Pagans sir. If the revolt succeeds, there will be lots of people with nothing to believe in. ‘
‘Prometheus’s testicles! This could be it: finally a break,’ cried Zeus, his fist smashing down on the table, the vibrations of which knocked his tepid beer over. ‘What is the sciency’s weak-point, Apollo my son?’
‘Well, a vital part of the theology is called the Hockey Stick theory and that proclaims that the world, or Gaia as they call it, will get warmer and warmer…’
‘Well that thingy is holier, I mean, has got more holes than the Trinity.’ Zeus laughed.
‘Yes, Mighty Zeus, and presumably if it actually got colder, ordinary people would not only stop believing but also get irate.’
‘Why’s that then, dear boy?’
‘Because the tithe they pay is given in the form of heating and other energy bills. If this increases, most will cry for deliverance.’
‘So, if I make the world cooler, there’s a good chance we’ll be able to move back to Mount Olympus again, and it’ll be like the good old days.’
‘I think if we all start wearing modern clothes as well, there is that chance.’
‘Hera darling, remember that bloody terrible couple of years after Knossos went? Why was it so bloody cold?’
‘If I remember rightly, it was because of a volcano, my dear.’
‘That was it! So, when I’m going around delivering those bloody presents on Saturday night, I also throw a few lightning bolts into a volcano, the world freezes, the people starve and we’ve got our first decent shot at getting back on top in two thousand years!’
‘Yes, Mighty Zeus, that was my theory.’
‘Fantastic!’ Zeus shouted, leaping out of his seat and punching the air.
‘Darling, If you were to go out and do it tonight, you’d also be guaranteeing all the children of the world a white Christmas’ said Hera, squeezing her husband’s hand again.
‘Sod that! Let’s celebrate. Apollo, go down to the storeroom and bring up as much quality plonk as you can carry. Oh, and get some grapes while you’re at it!’