The invitation to submit a conversation between St Peter and a well-known figure who is demanding admission to heaven.
Although the brief asked for a dialogue, Janice Harayda’s Donald Trump made the cut despite St Peter not getting a word in edgeways. Given that Trump doesn’t come across as the greatest listener — when asked who he consults on foreign policy he replied that his primary consultant was himself — this struck me as an altogether plausible scenario.
It was a strong performance all round: your supplicants, who ranged from John Bunyan to Hitler, deployed wit, guile and barefaced cheek in trying to wiggle their way past the keeper of the pearly gates. Sid Field’s wisecracking Groucho Marx and Martyn Hurst’s silver-tongued Tony Blair deserve honourable mentions. The winning entries, printed below, earn their authors £30 apiece.
Donald Trump: ‘We will make heaven great again when you admit me. We have no choice, Pete. When earth sends us its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing crime. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing copies of their obituaries in the Washington Post. The Washington Post! I revoked the press credentials of that paper. That’s how bad it’s gotten. We’re gonna deport heaven’s undesirables. You know those Brits who signed a petition trying to bar me from their country? We’re gonna build a wall to keep ’em out. And we’re gonna make ’em pay for it. How? It’s simple. They can use the money they were giving to the European Union. I would also get along very well with people who get past the gates, like Vladimir Putin. Did you know he called me “bright and talented”? No? Well, you should, Pete. We have to put start putting heaven first.’
Boris Johnson: ‘You will discern, Your Saintliness, that I stand before you not wholly redolent of the odour of sanctity.’
St Peter: ‘I don’t judge by smell, Sir Boris.’
BJ: ‘Indeed not. I only meant to indicate that I came late to true belief.’
SP: ‘I’m aware of your deathbed conversion. We rejoice in a final repentance but can have little proof of its sincerity.’
BJ: ‘But I had it promulgated worldwide. Is there no kudos in spreading the word? And you must admit that Carpe Deum was a slogan to die for.’
SP: ‘Your soul is under examination, not your promotional skills. And your sins are considerable.’
BJ: ‘Oh, absolutely. Peccavi like billy-o — but on the venial scale, I think.’
SP: ‘You think. I discriminate.’
BJ: ‘Ah, the goats and sheep thing. I’m never sure which is the green channel. I incline to the goatish, but I can do sheepish if required.’
SP: ‘Thank you, Sir Boris. My angel will let you know.’
Is this a saint I see before me? Come,
Let me approach unhallowed and unshrieved.
Have my pentameters gained me a place
In heaven’s halls? Am I to be received?
To be or not to be? Ah, that’s the question
A million souls have daily put to me.
But Master Shakespeare let me say at once
That God has read your works most carefully.
Did he approve and overlook the flaws?
Did I neglect to place his holy truths
Among my humble scenes? What thought the
Of all my yesterdays creating myths?
He did the same Himself and much amused
He saw your sonnets rivalling His own.
But step inside, for cherubs as we speak
Are keen to play for you Love’s Labours Won.
Ian Paisley: ‘Do you know who you’re talking to, sir?’
St Peter: ‘I believe you are Mr Paisley, formerly of Northern Ireland.’
IP: ‘And who might you be?’
SP: ‘I am called St Peter, may it please you, also known as the first Pope.’
IP: ‘The first Pope? Have I come to the wrong place? Am I at the gates of Hell? Why, sir, is the mother of harlots addressing a respectable Protestant gentleman?’
SP: ‘I am required to tell you that heaven’s gates are closed to you. You are not eligible for entry here, I am sorry to say. You must go elsewhere.’
IP: ‘I have never surrendered in my life and I don’t intend to start now. Take me to the Lord, you imposter.’
SP: ‘I am sorry. You are not to be admitted.’
IP: ‘Then I will fight, do you hear? Paisley will fight and Paisley will be right.’
Jimmy Savile: ‘Now then, now then, Pete, how’s about you letting your friend Jimmy through them Pearly Gates of yours. Eh?’
St Peter: ‘You are not listed here.’
JS: ‘As it ’appens, Pete, I’ve worked the doors of some proper speakeasys in my time. Lists like what you’ve got there, they’re for riff-raff. Jim, however, is very much part of the Management hereabouts. Ask anyone.’
SP: ‘Your name is unknown to the Lord.’
JS: ‘Nonsense, Pete. When you’ve had every accolade from BBC primetime to a papal knighthood, the guys’n’gals of the great and good queue up to speak for you; popes, priests, pop stars, prime ministers — see?’
SP: ‘Such souls reside elsewhere.’
JS: ‘You and me, Pete, we’re mates. And if not? Well, just remember, Jim can fix absolutely anything.’
SP: ‘My position here is eternally fixed. As is yours, henceforth, in Satan’s fiery pit. Begone!’
Your next challenge is to submit limericks (up to three each) that might have been written by Boris Johnson in an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers on the international stage. Please email (wherever possible) entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 10 August.