For those with no faith, with no belief in a higher power, there is always one quandary that they feel disproves the existence of God: “How can a benign, benevolent God, a being that purports to be our loving father, allow there to be pain and suffering in the world?” And it is a good question, one that I have to admit that I was pondering myself as I suffered from what was a hangover of Biblical proportions.
The plagues of Egypt, Roman-era saints fed to lions, even the psychological torment of Abraham commanded to slay his own son in sacrifice, none of these could compare to the agony that wracked my body following my night of excesses in my, shitty little Leo Palace apartment.
I had been awoken at first by a jolt of pain from my jaw that had a golf ball-sized swelling under my left ear, but then even worse was the shudder of painful embarrassment as I recalled my proclamation to Jun of my divinity. Oh, as someone who suffers from frequent spasms of nervous anxiety I have been used to that pain of shame brought about by the alcoholic loosening of inhibitions and the following desperation to crawl back up inside oneself. But in the past those moments had been perhaps arguments over innocuous issues – politics, football teams, the relative attractiveness of friends’ mothers. But all of those situations, as painful as they were at the time, paled into significance, dear reader, when compared to the toe-curling, arse-clenching remembrance of telling someone whom you had just met, someone who had just rescued you from a beating outside a – oh god, oh god, the embarrassment – knocking shop, that you are the second coming of Christ.
Wanting to clear all such thoughts from my mind I flipped open my laptop on the floor next to my futon with the idea of finding distraction in either mind-numbing sit-coms or perhaps some of the less salubrious websites saved in my favourites folder, but instead I noticed notifications on Skype showing that my mother had tried calling not once, not twice, but twelve times. After a quick calculation I thanked the lord for the time difference meaning that it was inappropriate to call her back, particularly fortuitous seeing as one look at my battered and bruised face would leave me having to insist that she not leap on the first plane out of Heathrow.
Now, I had no intention of bringing my mother into my story, for the poor woman has suffered enough in her lifetime, but my faithful scribe is insisting that I tell her tale and, belligerent as she is, I don’t wish to upset her for it is she that I love perhaps more than any other, and I find it tough not to bend to her will. So here goes.
My mother, born Sally Mary Godly (and yes I realise that the coincidental nature of her name is perhaps too much for some of you who doubt the veracity of my story, and I wish that I could tell you that it was something that bore less of a resemblance the Madonna, but as I have told you, I am a truthful man, perhaps to a fault, and as such I am compelled to tell you the facts as they are) was by all accounts something of a beauty. She grew up in a loving family with my grandparents who ran a local pub by the name of The Star, and her childhood was a happy one spent playing in the beer garden and being doted upon by her parents and the pub’s locals alike. It was there, at the age of eighteen, when working behind the bar, that she fell in love with a young soldier of Italian descent by the name of Anthony DiNatale (yes, yes, I know!) She had known him since her teenage years as he was well known in the area, being the star footballer of the school team in a neighbouring village.
So Anthony would visit The Star every time he returned home on leave from his training and their courtship became frequent. After a year of dating, perhaps concerned by the dangerous nature of his career choice, he at the age of twenty-one asked my grandfather if he could take Mary’s hand in marriage, a request that my was accepted despite the old man’s initial concerns over the couple’s youth and Anthony’s career path.
They were married six months later on a bright and sunny spring day in 1990, the service held in the nearby St Martins Church, and the reception in The Star, for which almost the entirety of the two neighbouring villages were in attendance. The couple had not yet found a home in which to live, and so moved into the rooms above the wing of the pub that had once served as a stables for the passing postal service in many years gone by. Initial married life was, as they say, bliss and the pair became something of a local celebrity couple – he a handsome soldier and athlete, she a beautiful bride and the heir to the most popular hostelry in the area, and they were genuinely happy.
Whether or not they would have continued in that vein is open to conjecture, but a story does not find within it interest without adversity and in the story of my parents, the story of my birth, adversity raises its head in one of the greatest adversaries of modern times: one Saddam Hussein al-Majid al-Tikriti, the then President of Iraq.