…an odd thing happened yesterday. I had to go into town at dinner time to pay the Visa bill and other deeply boring chores. As I turned the corner into the Diamond (or town square if you are not from NI) I was greeted by an physically imposing foreign sounding chap waving a large book and declaiming to anyone that would listen in a voice that needed no amplification.
He had obviously been at it for a while as there was foam flecking at the corners of his mouth and beads of sweat glistened on his brow, I had missed his opening comments but it was fairly obvious what his topic of the day was ….
“SIN! SIN!!!!!!! SIN!!!!! and lots more SIN!!!!!!!!!!!” (extra !s indicate the amount of spittle expectorated. This chap was like Roy Hattersley on speed)
I paused for a moment on the steps of the Temple of Mammon more commonly known as The First Trust Bank. While street preachers are fairly common in Northern Ireland this chap had a uniquely fired up manic way to him and I do like a bit of street theatre from time to time.
Although I missed his opening salvos it seems that we the great masses of those unwashed in the ovine haematological laundry of the Almighty are possessed by demons,
and not just any demons but the self same ones that had to their credit the Sodom and Gomorrah Tour 2300BC and the lesser known (at least to me) bringer of antipathy to the idea of rebuilding the temple in the book of Haggai and not forgetting the chief of the Demons who currently resides in Pope Benedict and is leading the Roman Catholic Church to hell where priests will have Satan specified special jobs that involved red hot pokers in the bottoms of any Protestant unfortunate enough not to be “saved”
These pearls of wisdom where thrown below the feet of the assembled Friday shopping Culshies in a voice that defies any complex classification other than “Impressively loud and damp”. I lit a ciggie and watched with growing anthropological interest, the Visa bill payment forgotten for the moment.
The world, as is very often the case, kept on spinning and people did as they normally did and went about their business of the day politely ignoring the preacher and his protestations. This was also true for a by-passing Coleraineite couple who parted company slightly to the preachers left. She to pursue the glory that is Superchem he to do something else on the other side of the town hall. This meant passing in front of our expectorationaly gifted orator. If there was a poor decision made in this tableau of real life it was this, just after this moment of separation the stranger paused, checked his watch looked at an official looking envelope and glanced first to one side of the town hall then the other. He was caught in a momentary paralysis of indecision but to the visiting preacher it appeared as something else entirely.
The preacher had got to the bit of his sermon which involved the details of the process of divesting humans of demonic possession. A skill he told us that was gifted to him by his tripartite deity and one he claimed he was particularly good at having bested demons, witch doctors and warlocks. Noticing the chap pause some 4 feet to his left there is was plain as day, at least to him, a demon possessed soul transfixed by the sanctity of the sermon being preached.
Turning he swapped the bible to his left hand and slapped an enormous hand on the paused stranger’s forehead and declaimed “DEEEEEEMON I COMMAND YOU IN THE NAME OF JEEEEEEEEEEEEZUUUUUUUUSSSSSSS TO LEEEAVE!!!”.
Squinting up the preachers arm the demon responded in a most un-demonic way .. he said
“DEMON I CAN SENSE YOU THERE IS NO POINT DENYING IT … I ABDURE YOU TO LEAVE IN JEEEEEEEEEEEZUUUUUUSSSSS NAME >> AAAAAAAAMEN!”
This time the response was slightly more demonic but not what you would call diabolical.
“Eh? What are you on about mate?”
“CONFUSION CONFUSION AND CALUMNY ARE BROUGHT BY DEMONS TO MAN! A THIRD TIME I COMMAND YOU TO LEAVE IN JEEEEEEZUUUUUUSSSS NAME!”
I had to look up what Calumny was and sadly it is not the bad things that Calum Best might get up to on a Saturday Night in Spearmint Rhino with 3 strippers, a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit and a purple wheelbarrow – it just means lying or slander.
The stranger now more than a little annoyed, swiped the hand from his head and said in a voice that carried without being loud and came complete with a fully illustrated sub-text guide to the consequences of further discussion.
“You can fuck away off!”
With those words hanging heavy in the seconds of silence that followed the stranger turned and walked away leaving the preacher arms outstretched as if asking for a Divine answer to why the demons he usually deals with could not both swear and walk away AT THE SAME TIME (*gasp* shock horror!!)
T’was then that two uniformed officers of common decorum appeared and “had a word” with the preacher in the sheltered confines of Stone Row (a stylish wee street off the Diamond, stylish because it has both Laura Ashley AND Yankee Candle shops. Coleraine is nothing if not down with the hip trendy folk!.)
As a result the rest of the conversation was lost to me and I returned to the mundanities of bill paying and seeking lunch. Such happenings as this make life more interesting don’t you think?