“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will also live.” John 14: 18-19
Such was the bible verse that Kieran, an affable and pleasant 27 year old child of the Lord, recited as I waited for Greg at Blackhorse Road station. Kieran had approached to ask for directions to the nearest church and struck up conversation about my religious leanings.
“The Lord is telling me he wants you to come back”, Kieran revealed, obviously having some sort of direct line to the Almighty, after I told him I once was, but am no longer, a man of faith. “There are special places in him you have not yet experienced”.
Greg arrived and the two of us trudged out into the night, Kieran’s affirmations still ringing through our ears. We stood under the Welcome to Blackhorse Road mural outside the station and realised the suburbs mantra, “The home of people who make and create”, was a heavenly sign and Kieran a humble messenger. We had to find, somewhere on these rain drenched streets, and experience the special place of the one true Maker and Creator.
“We’re on a mission from God”, I proclaimed and we set off in search of enlightenment and refreshment.
Hymns in mind and bibles in hand, we stopped in the Lord Palmerston, Zig Zag and The Bell – where for the first time on our adventures a barmaid asked if Greg and I were twins (taking the running score to Brothers 4, Lovers 2. Much to Greg’s and the Lord’s satisfaction). Still unilluminated, Romulus and I paid the £2 membership fee to join the Hurricane snooker club for five minutes so not to break our own second commandment, “thou must entereth every licensed dwelling on thy mighty crawls”.
We indulged in a swift alcoholic confessional in The Olde Rose and Crown before heading into The Victoria which was hosting a hugely popular karaoke night. Men and women of all shapes and sizes ascended to the Victoria’s stage and were accompanied, regardless of whether they wanted to be or not, by Eglon King of Mohab who perched on a table and acted as backing singer and percussionist – enthusiastically tapping two tambourines on his swollen thighs. I put in a request to perform my favoured karaoke track (Touch Myself by the DiVinyls) hoping that trumpeting my self-love for the Lord and his special place would bring him forth. Alas, by the time our beers were drained my name had not been called and we had to leave – having not been touched by either the Holy Spirit or by ourselves.
Our spirituality was looking increasingly dire – our blood was flowing with booze and heathenism and our search for salvation still held no end. In The Goose, Greg and I, desperate for a conversion and inspired by the two lone girls on the dance floor, decided some uncoordinated but rhythmic flailing may evoke a divine intervention. Even this proved fruitless. We shook and lurched all over the dance floor and received only angry glares from the leering men as we invaded the eye line between them and the duet of Virginal Marys. A group of friends, recognising our gentile plight, offered to teach us the shuffle dance step as “it’s so easy!”. But Greg and I fell into every white male stereotype and were useless, useless, pathetic dancers. Useless, useless, pathetic dancers who were no closer to heaven.
By this time we had marched all the way to Walthamstow and were still stubborn atheists. Even Greg’s in-depth chats with locals in The Chequers and Cock Tavern provided nothing in the way of spiritual guidance towards God’s special place.
And so, with the final tube fast approaching, we headed back towards the station only stopping en route for a last supper of fried chicken (which would promote a sit-down exodus of biblical proportions the next morning).
On the tube towards our final destination we initiated a Thumb War tournament to pass the subterranean purgatory endured by all last tube sinners. Soon a rowdy and competitive rabble were eagerly lining up in a winner-stays-on battle of digits. Greg proved a formidable and unbeatable opponent until Dave, a stoic and silent Londoner who spoke only once to offer his name and sat patiently observing Greg’s extremity command, was invited to step up to the plate.
He was an omnipotent and omniscient master of the thumb. An Archangel. A God among men. His control and power was not of this world. Was his thumb the special place Kieran had spoken of? Had we been looking in all the wrong places and finally found an all-powerful entity on the end of Dave’s quicksilver hand?
We had to leave Dave at Waterloo, genuflecting as we exited the carriage. He didn’t speak again. He only offered a single, modest nod and, of course, a thumbs-up.
Next stop: BOND STREET