21/10/2015

The Voice and the Visitation

'Hello,' said God.

This surprised me, and rather embarrassed me actually, as I tried to explain to him by gently saying, 'I'm sorry, but I don't actually believe in you.'

'Oh,' God replied, 'and do you think that's going to make me go away?'

It seemed a reasonable question, so I pondered it for a while.
 
'The trouble in answering that,' I eventually began, 'is in deciding what you mean by "me", because to me you are just a voice in my head.'

'Yes, I do know that you can't see me.'

'So can I make the voice in my head go away? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that you are God. You see I don't actually need to make God go away because God doesn't exist. You, however, the voice in my head that thinks it is God, are a different matter.'

'Hmm… Are you trying to make me question my own existence?' the voice that called itself God asked.

'Not exactly. I am trying to persuade you that you are not God,'

There was a pause, and then God said, 'Hmm… That is troubling. I do think that I am God.'

'Let's consider this logically,' I suggested.

'OK, but humans are not very good at logic,' God replied.

'And whose fault would that be then, if you really were God?'

'That's right. That's typical,' he sighed, 'shift all the blame onto me. Still, I'm used to it. Flood, famine, earthquakes… the whole lot of it. It's all down to me, isn't it?'

'Well isn't it?'

'Why ask me, if you think I'm not really God?'

'Oh dear,' I moaned, 'this is confusing me, and now my head hurts.'

'Ha! Mine too,' God replied.

'God has a head?' I asked, rather astonished and for a moment forgetting that I didn't really believe that I was speaking to God.

'Ah… Good question,' he replied. 'Well at the moment I have your head, don't I?'

'You certainly do. Or at least you are certainly in it.'

'Yes, I certainly am.'

It was time to put a stop to this, and I knew that I could put a stop to it, temporarily, by concentrating on something else, but I felt the need for a parting shot.

'You are, or at least I have been told that you are, just an auditory hallucination.'

'Auditory hallucination?' replied God, 'Someone has told you that God is just an auditory hallucination eh? Must've been some right clever bugger to know such a profound thing as that.'

'It was a doctor.'

'Oh, a doctor,' said God, 'Maybe I need one of those.'

And with that, he shut up.

I had been hearing voices in my head since I was a child. Or actually, I'd say since forever, because what am I myself, other than just a voice in my head? At least I think I'm in my head. That's certainly what the neuroscientists tell us, though if they had told me I was in my foot I suppose I would have believed them. But when my foot gets whacked that just hurts, whereas when my head gets whacked I can disappear, like when I bashed my head  as a youngster and lost consciousness for a few moments. Lost consciousness… That is to say I ceased to exist, for a while, due to a bump on my head. So yes I think I'm in my head. But what am I? Hmm… That's the thing. I don't really know what I am. Nobody does.

The mind is created by electrochemistry, we are told, but what actually is it? What, in other words am I? Am I some sort of self-sustaining pattern of electrochemistry? Self-sustaining but ever-changing of course, and disappearing every time I enter a dreamless sleep. It screws me up sometimes, it really does, this issue of 'what the hell am I?' And what the hell is consciousness? God knows…

Oh… God knows eh? I thought. I must remember to ask him, next time we talk. Although unfortunately the God that talks with me is just an auditory hallucination, I was thinking, so I suppose I'd be just as well asking myself.

Anyway, what I have said so far was based on the first entry in my Delusion Diary that the doctor suggested I keep. He didn't call it that. He just called it a diary of my thoughts and feelings, but the arrival of God as a companion in my head is what prompted it, and the good doctor's insistence that I was experiencing auditory hallucinations. So a Delusion Diary it became. At least so others may think. For me it soon became something much more serious.

I did like tapping away at my little netbook, but all the time I was wondering if I was just working for free to produce the doctor's next paper, or book. The bastard, wanting my mad mind to do his work for him. In the meantime, by which I mean back then when I was finishing the first entry in my diary, my immediate priority was to get a Dairy Milk McFlurry.

So  I dragged my big body from the chair with the intention of requesting my ice cream. How did I do that? How did I drag my big body from the chair when I am apparently just a pattern of electrochemical activity inside a head?

Nobody knows how I did it. Nobody knows how the formation of an intention in my mind, by which I mean in myself, assuming that I am a mind, is converted into the creation of the nerve impulses and muscle movements that raise me upwards in a nicely controlled manner from my chair. The basic mechanics of stimulated nerves and moving muscles are known, but nobody knows anything much about the creation of the intention to move, or what that intention actually is. Except God, perhaps, but I don't believe that he exists.

What I really am… How I decide what to do… Whether or not I really have any choice… And how an intention is created and executed… It's all a mystery.

But it worked, somehow, to get me safely to the McDonald's counter to stand before a slim pretty girl and open my mouth and form the words that a few billion years of evolution allowed me to form, namely, 'Can I have a Dairy Milk McFlurry please?'

I felt rather ashamed really, using all that evolution for such a shallow request.
 

But I felt a wave of satisfied anticipation as the ice cream oozed from the nozzle and the chocolate chips were added and the whole fatty sugary mixture was whisked by a few seconds of skooshy swirling. Evolution and engineering all working in harmony to create and then proffer up to me a tempting if rather sickly sweet, alongside another big latte steaming in its plasticised cardboard cup. Surely we are the pinnacle of evolution, or of creation if you prefer, so far, to be capable of such wonders.

And my mind was free of external voices as I sat and slurped down my sustenance. God was only an occasional visitor at that time, to such an extent that I was accused of making the whole concept up for my amusement. The concept of God speaking to me that is, not the actual concept of God itself. Many others have invented that concept, and they don't seem to be labelled as clinically deluded. Indeed there are bishops and professors of theology making very good livings and building up fine healthy pension funds as rewards for their investigations and understandings of the machinations of a God who does not exist, in my opinion.

Yet they label me as the nutter.

Psychiatrists are nutters… in my humble and perhaps deluded opinion. But seriously, they are nutters. But male and female psychiatrists are nutters in different ways. It was a young nurse, a friend rather than a carer, who told me how to identify the psychiatrists while walking around a hospital.

'Trousers too short, horrible socks, and an awkward walk,' she told me.

That was a few days before I sat in a waiting room and saw a distracted looking man with an awkward walk and trousers that were too short revealing canary yellow socks as he wandered towards me. My new psychiatrist.

'The women psychiatrists,' my nurse informant told me, 'are more normal on the outside but more dangerous on the inside. Obsessed with sex. Everything that is or was or ever will be wrong with your mind is due to your attitude to sex. And men are all rapists, potentially, and must be psychologically neutered for control.'

'Interesting,' I had told her, 'and thanks for the warning.'

But anyway, that day when my new psychiatrist fellow had ushered me into the room, and looked at me across his desk with his little eyes twitching somewhat from his pale and undernourished thin face… He was the one who first talked to me about auditory hallucinations.

He had suggested medication but I had requested to be allowed to try to cope with my experiences meantime.

'It's the summer holidays very soon,' I had said, 'and so I will have eight weeks off with no teaching. I'd like to take a rest and try to fix my head myself please.'

'Of course,' he said. 'You are not under compulsory medication. At least not at this stage. I would not exactly recommend it, but your situation seems quite mild so we can monitor things and see what transpires.'

That was when he suggested I keep the diary on which this more reflective account of the things that have happened to me is based.

'What do you teach?' he asked me.

'Clinical biochemistry.'

'Oh. Very interesting,' he said, although not sounding very interested.

And then his eyes twitched a little more often than before as he gazed at me, looking rather distracted.

'Is that it?' I asked, after an awkward few moments.

'Sorry?'

'Is that all? Are we done? Can I go?'

'Oh… Sorry… yes,' he confirmed, and as he instructed me on how regularly to keep in touch, I stood up and backed away towards the door.

Nutter, I thought, bloody nutter. And I was thinking of him, not me.

God came back to me the very next day, in the middle of the afternoon as I sat in the bar of the Harvester Pub and Grill with a pleasingly golden Stella Cidre front of me while looking out at a dreary and rather cold June day and wondering what I could make of this summer.

'Having a nice wee drinky are you?' God asked me, with a phrase that was most unlike any question that I would have expected from God.

The bar was not busy but there were a few people around, so I was reluctant to reply out loud, so I decided to reply with the silent voice of my mind, wondering if that would work.

'Yes… I am having a nice wee drinky? Do you object to that?'

I was feeling rather guilty actually, pondering the attitude that God might take to alcohol. Not that I believed that I was talking to God, of course, but it was difficult to avoid getting caught up in the delusion.

'Not at all,' God reassured me, with his own voice ringing clear in my ears, it seemed, just as it would from a real person sitting next to me. This was a real voice, to me, not some internal thought. It was all very strange.

'Actually,' God continued, 'I could do with a drink myself.'

'Ha ha,' I replied, 'That would be interesting, me going down to the pub for a few beers with God.'

'It could happen,' he said. 'It might happen.'

'No it couldn't,' I told him, 'because you are just a voice in my head and you are not God… and you don't even have a body.'

'I could have though,' he insisted, 'I could become flesh.'

'Oh yeah, like Jesus eh?' I replied, rather sarcastically.

'Yes,' he persisted, rather quietly, 'Like Jesus.'

'Do me a favour!' I said, very sarcastically this time. I was getting fed up with the nonsense again and wanted to banish it from my mind.

'I might,' God continued. 'I might well do you a favour. But not now. Later perhaps. I must go now because there are things to be done.'

'Ah yes, a universe to run eh?'

'Precisely,' God said, and then he was gone.

And I lifted the appealing golden liquid to my lips and took a long slow sip. It was very nice, and everything improved a little as an opening appeared in the clouds outside and a warm shaft of sunlight hit me and warmed my body and my mind. And I thought about God, and religion.

I was brought up to believe in God, and having been told there was a God up there or out there looking after things I had no reason to doubt it. My parents were not devoutly religious but they sent me to Sunday School, even though their attendance at church was much less frequent.

Sunday school confused me. The stories of the bible didn't make much sense. They sounded to me like what I knew was the made up magic in other childhood fantasy tales. But the adults seemed to believe in this magic and so I did too, for a while. And I prayed, and I felt that praying helped me, although my prayers were never really answered so far as I could see.

And then I remember hearing in class one day, aged about nine, that a certain boy 'Did not believe in God.'

Wow!

And even more significantly, his parents did not believe in God either.

Wow!

I do recall that as the moment when I really did begin to have my doubts, and the doubts grew, and by the time I was about sixteen I did not believe in God.

I don't recall any flash of transformation. It was just a slow and seemingly logical realisation that it was all just made up nonsense with the dual purpose of giving us hope amidst our misery  and trying to keep us under some sort of control.

And then as I matured I began to accept that there were of course great mysteries about the world. That everything was mysterious, really, and so there might be things or beings or forces much greater than myself that could sort of correspond with the concept of what other people called God.

But all the details? The details of the bible or any other holy book? No, I remained firm in my belief that this was all just made up nonsense.

And then God began to talk to me.

Except of course he didn't, did he? It was just voices in my mind, that sounded like God was talking to me. Auditory hallucinations. Hmm… That explanation was all very well, until things became much more dramatic, and provided I didn't worry or panic about them, much more fun.

It all began with an argument with God, or at least an argument with the voice in my head that called itself God.

I did ask for it, so perhaps I should not have been so surprised when God arrived in my bedroom, but still, it was quite a shock.

I had been niggling him, as he was talking in my head again.

'I wish you would just stop pretending that you are God,' I pleaded, 'When you are just a voice in my head.'

'Yes I am a voice in your head,' he agreed, 'but I am also God.'

We argued about this back and forth for a while before I returned to an issue I had raised before, saying, 'Well just show me for God's sake! Ha ha… For God's sake… Sorry, just a turn of phrase. But just come here and show me. You have supposedly appeared to plenty of other people after all, like Jacob and, oh… I don't know, lots of people in the bible. Moses! You supposedly appeared to Moses so why can't you show yourself to me?'

'Ah… The bible,' sighed God. 'You shouldn't go believing what you read in your bible.'

'Really?' I asked, realising that we had never touched on this issue before.

'Really,' God said, 'because most of what it says in the bible, especially about me, is, as you might say, a pile of pish.'

'Oh… That's interesting. Or at least it would be if you really were God, rather than just an auditory hallucination in my head.'

There was a pause. Quite a long pause, before the voice of God continued with,

'OK. That's it! I'm coming down.'

'Eh?'

'I'm coming down, or more accurately I'm coming in. I'm coming in to see you. I hope that you are ready for this, because it has been enough to drive some other people completely mad.'

'Ha ha,' I laughed, completely confident that I was finally winning this battle with the voice in my head. 'Come on then. Let's see you.'

Nothing happened.

'Come on then,' I demanded.

Nothing. Silence. The voice appeared to be gone…

And then the ceiling of my bedroom, previously only dimly visible in the darkness, began to glow.

This scared me.

The whole ceiling became a glowing square of golden light, then suddenly pierced by a deep red shaft that penetrated through the glow and descended, quite slowly, to the end of my bed.

Of course this startled me.

I sat up and switched my bedside lamp on, just as the glowing ceiling began to dim and the red shaft began to vibrate and fizz quite loudly, whereas previously there had been no sound.

And then… and of course nobody will believe this, but I intend to continue my tale in any case, the red shaft suddenly disappeared and with a loud kind of snapping sound a man was suddenly standing at the bottom of my bed.

A rather dishevelled man, but a young man, compared to me. He looked about mid-thirties, maybe forty at most, tall and fairly skinny with rather bushy and straggly black hair, a British-looking rather handsome face, but with perhaps two days of stubble growth.

He was wearing a light blue t-shirt with a strange symbol on it that meant nothing to me – the kind of thing you might get in a designer outlet. And faded jeans with one of those designer scruffy cuts across the upper thigh, revealing a white leg with a few black leg hairs underneath.

'Hi,' he said.

I just looked. I gazed. Astonished. This was a rather surprising development, but my racing mind was attempting to rationalise it as some crazy hallucination. I really am quite mad, I thought. I really am rather mentally ill.

'I am rather surprised by your appearance,' I said. 'Not at all what I expected God to look like.'

'Oh this?' he shrugged, looking down at himself. 'Don't take this literally. I could have taken any form. I could have come here as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but that would've scared you even more and anyway I wouldn't have been able to fit into your bedroom.'

I frowned at this, while he continued with, 'But I quite like this. The casual look, the slightly scruffy hair, just a bit too long. The two days of stubble on my chin… Of course I could've come to you as a beautiful woman, but that would have been too distracting for you, and too disturbing for me, given what you might then want to happen.'

Oh my goodness. This visitation, this God, was putting many strange thoughts inside my head.

'So what do you really look like then?' I asked

It was his turn to frown.

'I don't look like anything,' he said. 'I am a phenomenon. I am not a person. But… Oh I can't explain… You can't expect someone as stupid as you to understand it. The very idea that you might be able to understand me is ridiculous.'

'Stupid?' that's not very polite.

'I'm sorry,' he said, tilting his head to one side. 'I could have phrased it more delicately, but come on mate… be reasonable… I am God and you are, eh… just you… Think about it…'

Mate? I was thinking. He called me mate?

'You have a strange use of words for a God,' I said.

'Hah!' he snorted, 'I just use your words mate. Your language. I could use any language, but I chose to use one that you will be familiar with. Would you prefer me to talk like the words in your silly bible with a load of 'begottens' and 'beholds' and 'look upon the face of your Maker and weep?'

'Eh… no… I suppose chatty matey language will be fine eh… mate.'

Mate? I called God mate? Yes I did, and he just smiled. He seemed to like it.
 

What do you say to God if you get the chance? What questions do you ask? That's what was going on inside my mind as I looked at this man, while finding it very difficult to believe that he was anything to do with any real God, whatever God is.

'Do you mind if I sit down mate?' he asked me, pointing at the chair quite near to the end of my bed.

I told him that he was very welcome to sit down, and so he settled into the chair and made himself comfortable.

'So…' he began, smiling, 'Do you believe in me now?'

'Eh… not really actually. I can't really believe that any of this is happening.'

'Ha ha. But it is! Believe me. Believe God. It is happening.'

'So… why me?' I demanded.

'What do you mean?'

'Why choose me to reveal yourself to.'

'Huh!' he scoffed, 'Don't feel too privileged. I do this to lots of people, but nobody ever believes them.'

'No?'

'No indeed,' said God firmly, 'When they tell anybody that they have been visited by God they just get put on medication, which is a bit ridiculous. They get labelled as schizophrenic or psychotic in some other way and put on medication. That's why I recommend you don't tell anybody about this. I always do, but people always tell… So then I leave them alone, generally, and the bloody doctors think the medication has worked! Ha! Crazy. Humans… So thick.'

'Aren't you meant to reveal something of great significance to me,' I asked, suddenly thinking back to my days in Sunday School. 'Like they say you gave Moses the ten commandments and things like that?'

God shook his head.

'Ach man you're thinking about your silly bible again aren't you? Don't believe in any of that guff. It's all made up rubbish, though with a bit of actual fact mixed in, just a tiny bit though. I would think it should be obvious that your bible is all just made up rubbish actually, but like I said before… humans… they're thick.'

'So why are you here then?'

'Here? I'm just here for a chat mate. I like a chat with my people, now and then.'

'So can I ask you questions?'

'Ah… questions…' And God smiled, before adding, 'So many questions, I bet. But tell you what, let's keep them for now eh, because I have to go soon.'

'You have to go?'

'Yes. Does that surprise you. It's a busy life being God you know, or at least a part of God, which is all that I really am… But let's keep your questions for next time, in the pub.'

'In the pub?'

'Yes,' said God very firmly, 'You and me will go down to the pub one evening and you can ask me all your questions over a few beers. I like a few beers.'

'You do?'

'Oh yes I do?'

'Can you drink? Are you physical?'

'Ha ha. Here, shake my hand.' And he stood up, leaned towards me as I leaned towards him, and we shook hands. He had a firm handshake, and everything felt completely physical and normal.

'Physical…' God continued, 'That's a laugh. What is physical? Do you think that you are physical? Ha ha…'

'Well…'

'No.' he interrupted. 'Not now. Later. In the pub. I've got to go.'

'When will I know you are coming?' I demanded.

'You won't, but don't worry, I'll choose the right time. And soon. But I need to put you to sleep now sorry. Bye Bye…'

'But…'

I didn't get to finish my sentence. The next thing I remember is wakening alone in my bedroom with the bedside lamp still on.

I looked at my clock. 5 am. I must have been asleep for a few hours.

My goodness! Was that a dream?

I looked at the bedside chair, feeling bemused, and yet feeling utterly convinced that someone claiming to be God really had been in the room, sitting on that chair, and talking to me having arrived on a beam of red light that came down through my bright and golden glowing ceiling, which just looked like a normal boring ceiling now.

Ridiculous! The whole thing was ridiculous. And yet I believed that it had happened, and I believed that I had received the firm handshake of God, or of someone or something who had claimed to be God, and that he had suggested we meet up again for a trip to the pub.

Ridiculous!

And yet it happened, as far as I was, and still am, concerned.

But what to do about it? That was the question. To tell my doctor and my psychiatrist? They would think I was completely mad, and as I thought that I remembered God's words: 'When they tell anybody that they have been visited by God they just get put on medication… They get labelled as schizophrenic or psychotic in some other way and put on medication.'

But should I be on medication? Would medication make the voices and the visitations go away? And if it did, would that be because these things were all false, or because the drugs would be interfering with a mental process that opens up a channel to God? What is going on? I thought. God knows…

Ha ha! God knows… So perhaps I will ask him, I thought, if I ever do get the chance.

In the meantime I was most disturbed, which seemed a reasonable reaction. Most disturbed and wary as I tried to get things done and take some walks and behave like normal, while all the time expecting God to return, either as a voice in my head or a scruffy tall man sitting by my bedside or, who knows? Maybe he would appear at any time at all…

It was all very disturbing. I fretted a lot and did not sleep very well. Days passed, then a week, without any voices or visitation. I tried to speak to him. I called out to God while on lonely walks or in bed at night, but got no reply. Was it all a mad delusion?

A few more days passed in this state of confusion, though gradually lessening as I decided it was all a delusion and that I had indeed just been rather mad. Hopefully temporarily, but nevertheless rather mad.

And then the significant Saturday arrived, and the first Saturday night that I had enjoyed out with company for a long time.

Enjoyed? Perhaps the wrong word.

Company? A strange term to use…

For my Saturday night companion was God.

His imminent arrival was announced with just one word: 'Tonight.'

I was sitting watching the early evening news and contemplating a further quiet night trying to recover from the turmoil I had been through, but I soon realised that the voice of God was back and that God had other plans for my evening.

He informed me that tonight was the night for our trip to the pub, and that he would be arriving very soon. It was an instruction rather than a request, and anyway, who was I to resist a command from God?

And then he came in just as he had done before. The glowing ceiling and the shaft of bright red light that resolved itself into the figure of God, or the thing that called itself God.

I looked at him as all the lighting effects subsided and I was left with just this scruffy man in my lounge.

'The same clothes eh?' I said to him, noting that he was identical to his previous visitation.

'The same clothes?' He pondered my remark, then continued with, 'Oh well, they're not really real after all. Did you want me to wear something different? There again nothing is really real, at least not in the sense that you understand it,' and then he laughed and added, 'or I should say in the sense that you misunderstand it, ha ha!'

'We'll need to talk about that,' I informed him. Feeling strangely calm.

'Why am I so calm?' I asked him, and then he assured me that he was making it so.

'I am calming you down,' he said. 'You need it. I do have certain powers you know.'

Those powers were another thing we would need to talk about, I thought.

'So… Are we going in your car?' asked God.

'In my car? I thought you might transport us in a winged chariot of fire or something.'

'Don't be silly.'

'Silly? Me? When you are suggesting we should go in my car? Are you aware of the effect of alcohol on the human body, and of the drink driving laws around here?'

'Oh yeah, I forgot.'

'You forgot? God forgot? What kind of God are you?'

'Not the kind that you might be expecting mate, that's for sure.'

And that was indeed sure, I thought, as I explained to God my plan for us to catch the seven o'clock bus into town, then either make the last bus home at eleven or perhaps splash out on a taxi. I presumed that I would be paying, when I came to think of that issue.

'I don't suppose you've got any cash on you have you?' I asked God.

'Don't be silly.'

'Huh. I thought you might be able to slip me a million or two. Oh well, I suppose this will have to be my treat then.'

'Is that a problem?'

'No… No, I don't suppose so, given the circumstances. A lot of people would pay a lot of money to have an evening out with God.'

But still, I was thinking, what a cheapskate! Surely he could have conjured up something? Maybe he doesn't really do any conjuring. That's another one of the things I'll have to ask him.

So there I was sitting in a bus with God beside me dressed in deliberately cut and faded designer jeans and a thin t-shirt with an indecipherable symbol on it, looking with great interest at the countryside around him as we bounced along towards town.

'This is ridiculous.' I said.

'I'm enjoying it,' he said. 'It's a long time since I've actually been on a bus.'

Questions, he insisted, would have to wait until we reached the pub.

'I need a drink before I consider your questions,' he explained, because I have to be careful about what I say.'

'But you're not even real!' I protested. 'Surely drink can't affect you? You can't be made of the same stuff as I am! You said you could've come as a bleedin' Tyrannosaurus Rex!'

'You understand so little,' he said patiently. 'In fact you understand nothing at all. Now just be quite, let me enjoy the journey, and keep your questions until we get to the pub.'

It was a very quiet bus, just three other passengers and a driver, all blissfully unaware that they were in the company of God.

'So… What are you having?' I asked as we entered my chosen pub, while thinking to myself, does it make any difference what he is having? He's not real. This can't be real. But… keep calm. It is quite interesting. Let's just see what happens.

He asked for a beer, any beer. A God who is not fussy, I pondered. And so we moved over to a quiet table beside a high window that revealed only a darkening sky outside, and began to talk.

'Go ahead then,' God said, 'Questions. Let's see if you can ask me any I have not been asked before.'

So I asked him if he was really God, and he said, 'That depends on what you mean by God and what you mean by really.'

So I said, 'Are you in charge of the universe?' and he replied, 'This universe, sort of, but this universe is very small, and I would say I manage it rather than created it, because it has always been around so far as I can recall.'

'So what are you?'

'I am certainly not what you are looking at now,' he began. 'As I think I said last time, I am a phenomenon, not a person, and a much more complex phenomenon than you can possibly imagine, so you may as well not even bother to try. And what you are speaking to now is just a tiny manifestation of the phenomenon that you would call God.'

'I am confused,' I confessed.

'And so you bloody well should be,' he laughed, while taking a big gulp of beer and declaring, 'Ah… lovely stuff,' with evident satisfaction.

'Let me offer an analogy to you,' he continued, 'a very imperfect and partial one, but think about it like this… Suppose you feel the wind on your face and it wafts your hair a little… Oh, sorry, you don't have any hair do you baldy? Ha ha! But… imagine that, as I'm sure you can. The wind is blowing your hair. So you are in the presence of the wind and it is doing something just for little you, yes?'

'Yes.'

'But elsewhere, all over and around the world, the wind is doing other things too, isn't it?'

'Yes.'

A billion little things and many great and mighty things. It is bending blades of grass, and blowing trees, and throwing up waves around the other side of the planet and pushing sail boats across the water, and, swirling up the storms of great hurricanes, and etcetera and etcetera and etcetera… You get it?'

'I think so.'

'So yes, I am God and I am sitting here talking to you, but you have only an infinitesimally small part of God's attention and influence, sorry. What you are interacting with here is but a tiny part of God. A tiny part of the phenomenon, not the person, that is me.'

'Don't apologise,' I said, 'I feel very privileged, even if I do still suspect you are a mere hallucination. So… no big old man with a long beard sitting on a chair in heaven then?'

'Ha ha! No. Such an idea is surely ridiculous isn't it?'

'And no heaven?'

'Eh no. sorry, if by heaven you mean a place where people like you may enjoy eternal life.'

'And no eternal life?'

'Not as an individual, but as a little portion of the vast and universal field of consciousness, then yes, but you'll never personally know that, once you are dead, because you'll just be subsumed into other beings' consciousnesses. But… Now I am in danger of saying too much.'

'Too much? Can God get into trouble?'

'Not exactly, but God can say too much, especially with a drink in me. Ha ha!'

And so we continued to talk, and to drink, God and me, but that is about all that I got out of him about the big questions until, as he finished his second pint, he began to get quite gloomy. Quite depressed? God as a miserable drunk? I wondered.

'This has been nice,' God told me, 'but I'll have to get back soon.'

'Back to work?'

'That's a laugh,' he said, but he wasn't laughing. 'Back to the woe and the worry, and the mystery.'

'The mystery?'

He looked across at me, out of big dark eyes that suddenly seemed infinitely sad. But of course, I reminded myself, they are not really his damn eyes. He is an illusion, I assured myself. One way or another he is definitely an illusion, whether of my own making or a more real but still unreal illusion from something and somewhere out there.

Meanwhile God was still looking at me, seemingly hesitating about whether or not he should say something to me, and then he did.

'I'm in the same pickle as you lot are, you know. The same damn puzzle.'

'How do you mean?'

'I know a heck of a lot more than you do. Infinitely more, almost, but I don't know the same things when it all comes down to fundamentals.'

'I am confused.'

'And so am I!' he declared loudly with great animation. 'That's my point! I am, my little and temporary friend, as ignorant as you are about the real meaning of it all…

I don't know why I am here, or who, if anything, made me. It's all a mystery to me mate. A complete mystery.'

'Oh,' I said quietly, pondering that awesome revelation.

'You are disappointed?' God asked.

'A little. Yes, a little… Actually no… A lot.'

'I'm sorry mate, but… looking on the bright side, I have time for one more pint.'

So off I went up to the bar for another pint, while God shouted after me, 'and peanuts, get me some peanuts please… dry roasted.'

Can you believe that there is not a lot else to say about my evening with God?

Can you believe any of this at all? Of course not. But it happened. One way or another, it happened.

And we shared another pint, while God grew increasingly quiet and sullen, while I tried to stimulate some further conversation, quite awkwardly actually.

I found out that he wasn’t really interested in sport and no he did not use his influence to respond to any sportsman's or sportswoman’s prayers.

'Don't be ridiculous,' he snorted, Prayers don't work, other than through the placebo effect… The very powerful placebo effect.'

'Oh.'

'Yeah, they can work,' he continued, but there's nobody listening to them, or at least nobody paying any damn attention… at least not so far as I'm aware.

And he didn't control earthquakes and weather and natural disasters and famine and flood.

'Don't be ridiculous,' he snorted once again.

'You know mate,' I told him, now with easy familiarity. 'I'm beginning to wonder what the heck you do actually do!'

'Ah…,' he said, 'You have a point, sort of, but I can't explain. You understand nothing.'

'Why not try to explain anyway,' I pleaded.

'Don't be ridiculous. You understand nothing. Believe me.'

And, looking at him, I did believe him. Even if I didn't really believe in him.

And we drank our third pints, after which he stood up and said, 'Excuse me, I have to go.'

But instead of disappearing he just wandered off to the toilet, and as he pushed open the door marked 'Gents' I had to smile, and wonder, and laugh a little.

But the thing is… He never returned.

That was him gone. Our evening over. And me abandoned and very confused, left to morosely order another pint, and then about half an hour later another one.

And then, feeling very abandoned and rather drunk I got the barman to call me a taxi.

'So what've you been up to tonight?' the driver asked, trying to make some conversation.

'God knows,' I replied.

'Oh! You didn't look that drunk to me. I hope you're not going to throw up in my cab mate!'

And he put his foot down a bit and sped through the dark countryside towards my home.

And some days later... My psychiatrist looked rather intently at me. A lady this time, with a most penetrating stare.

'Are you just being silly?' she asked, having listened to my story.

'No,' I insisted, 'I was being serious.'

'Well then, this would suggest that you are in serious need of significant medication. Are you sure you are being serious?'

'Do all the people who believe the stories in the bible about God visiting people need medication too?' I asked. 'That's a huge new population needing drugged up isn't it?'

'Which makes me think you are just trying to make some silly point,' she continued. 'Do you realise how serious this could be for you, if you are really being serious?'

'What? Are you going to lock me up?'

She hesitated, and sighed. She seemed exasperated.

'Are you prepared to consider this is all some delusion or dream or hallucination?' she asked.

I thought about this long and hard, while she seemed prepared to wait patiently.

'I am prepared to admit it all might be some delusion or hallucination,' I conceded, 'although unlike any that I have ever heard of in the past… I wonder if the bar still has its CCTV footage…'

'And what would be the significance of that?' she demanded, sounding exasperated again, 'If it shows you having a few beers with a man in jeans and a t-shirt, do you think that will be significant?'

'It would be very significant to me,' I said firmly, 'because I don't know such a man. No such real man, anyway.'

'Hmm…' she said.

Things progressed slowly, but steadily, with that consultation, then another the next day, and then my agreement to accept a course of medication, a course of treatment which I am still on, although now at a steadily reducing dose.

God has stopped talking to me, or visiting me. And if he returns when the medication stops they will, of course, just put me back onto it, won't they?

I've been reading the bible again, bit by bit. It's got a lot of stories like mine in it, and many people believe them. So why does nobody believe me?

Of course my God was very different from the one in the bible, I suppose, although mine was a bit more believable, I'd say.

But then I'm mad.