Magazine article The Spectator

The End Is Nigh

Magazine article The Spectator

The End Is Nigh

Article excerpt

Have a very happy Christmas, friends, for according to my mum and her Christian mates this one might be our last. They are like those wise virgins in the parable, my mum and her mates - they keep their wicks trimmed and look daily for the Second Coming. Homosexuals in the Cabinet were an early sign that Satan was making his allout bid for power. After 11 September, and now with Israel coming nicely to the boil, they are already starting to sing whatever the evangelical Christian equivalent of `Here we go, here we go, here we go' is.

I grew up being told that the world was about to end. When I was very small, mum used to hoard tins of food at the bottom of the larder. These tins, I understood, were to feed the family during the Time of Tribulation, which would precede the more in-your-face Armageddon. The Bible is confusing about the End times, but at the time an influential American paperback called The Late Great Planet Earth, which gave a clear interpretation of the Book of Revelation and set out an unequivocal timetable of events, was doing the rounds. There were stacks of them for sale on my mum's church's bookstall. According to this book, the beginning of the End will be signalled by seven 'fat' years followed by seven 'lean' years. From then on it'll be downhill all the way: tamine, plagues, peso fence and, for anyone with any strength left after that lot, abhorrent sexual practices. The Beast, whose number is 666, was already born and the world was already in countdown to the final cataclysm.

It was thoughtful of mum to go to the trouble of stockpiling all those tins, as she herself wasn't going to be around for any Time of Tribulation or Armageddon. At the first sign of trouble she and her mates were going to be taken up into the air and whisked off to be with the Lord in an event known to them as The Rapture, which would be a sort of gold-membership-card event laid on for loyal punters. Chuffed to bits about this piece of good news, one of my mum's mates displayed a sticker in the back of her car that said `In the event of Rapture, this car will be driverless'. Which sums up the devil-may-care attitude of many evangelical Christians towards the rest of us.

Perhaps fearing that hoarding food might be a criminal offence, mum removed the labels from these tins. …

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