This was the second of my three Antitheist books. If you are offended by writing opposed to religion or writing of extremely explicit sex then this is probably not a good book for you to read. However if you are open-minded, liberal and enjoy bashing the absurdities of religion along with gratuitous sex then you might enjoy this novel. I don’t mind causing offence as long as it is not threatening, aggressive or violent. It is always good to open up a passionate argument. I do not find sex offensive; I reserve that for war, greed, exploitation, slavery, violence, rape, sexism, racism and evangelism.
Ginny is a young London girl of Jamaican descent. She has a tight group of like-minded professional friends from a variety of races and backgrounds who enjoy partying and having a good time. This involved dancing, drugs and sex.
This all changed one night when Ginny was awoken by a strange light and a voice. She was instructed to take down the word of god and save the world.
Somehow she convinced her friends to assist and they pooled their resources and skills to set up a highly successful new world-wide religion. That’s when it all started going wrong.
Here is a safe extract. I stopped before the gratuitous sex.
The Book of Ginny
‘Virginia Leslie Westbrooke,’ the Magistrate intoned sternly in his deepest resonating voice. ‘I have listened to the evidence against you and weighed up your explanation.’ There was a long pause while he peered at her across the near empty magistrate’s court room with his steely eyes and stern superior judicial gaze. Ginny’s parents sat there stony faced with features composed and impossible to read. Time froze as everyone held their breath waiting for his verdict. Ginny fixed her eyes on the judge willing the verdict to miraculously come right. She knew her explanation had sounded lame. She gripped the rail tightly and willed it with all her might.
‘I find you guilty as charged.’
Ginny subsided into a slump and her face registered her dismay – Guilty. She did not dare look across at her parents, and wished for the floor of the dock to descend into the ground and whisk her away from this nightmare. It refused.
‘I have taken into account your previously unblemished character,’ the Judge continued in his cold deep voice. ‘You have behaved poorly. You have let yourself down and brought disgrace upon yourself and your family. This court needs to make an example of people who take things which are not theirs. There is no excuse. You are not poor and in need. It was pure greed. I trust you are suitably ashamed.’
Ginny watched his mouth move and allowed the words to wash over her. The punishment was immaterial. She was divorced from her body. None of this was really happening. They could lock her up. It made no difference. He had not believed her. She had been found guilty. Nothing else mattered.
‘You will pay £100 in compensation to the supermarket concerned and meet the costs of this court,’ he continued, his eyebrows waving their disapproval. ‘If you ever come back before me I shall not be as lenient.’ He turned his attention back to the sheets in front of him and the next case. She was dismissed.
The police officer led her out of the dock.
‘I am completely gutted,’ Ginny murmured, clasping her untouched coffee in both hands and staring vacuously into the distance. ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me.
She was sitting on an armchair in her sitting room surrounded by her friends. She looked to be in shock.
‘Well I’m seriously considering buying you a suit with arrows on it,’ Bali said, leaning forward on the settee, with his most serious expression. ‘I’ve considered the stripes but knowing your thoughts on the size of your bum I can’t see you going for it. Unless of course,’ he mused, as if struck by an idea for the first time. ‘You can get vertical stripes. That might work. Kind of depends on the colour scheme.’
Ginny didn’t seem to be listening. She stared down at the steam rising from her cup.
‘Come on Ginny,’ Josie insisted, flicking her long fair hair back from her face and leaning back in the other arm-chair. ‘It’s not the end of the world. It was just a hundred quid. It’s no big deal.’
‘Yeah,’ Pete agreed, sprawling back on the settee with his big arms trawling along the back of the settee behind both Bali and Angie, taking up all the room with one of his great tree trunk legs crossing the other in an exaggerated manner. ‘A hundred quid’s nothing. ‘If we all chip in it’s less than twenty quid each.’
‘It’s not the money,’ Ginny said indignantly, looking up from her cup for the first time and frowning around at them. ‘It’s nothing to do with the bloody money.’
‘It was a mistake,’ Angie agreed, peering across at Ginny over the top of Pete’s leg. ‘We all know that. It was an accident. It was no great deal.’
‘Yeah, cheer up Ginny,’ Roger said, grinning up at her from where he was sitting on the floor by Josie’s armchair. ‘I’ll cook you a nice meal, we’ll crack a couple of bottles and forget all about it.’
‘Yeah,’ Bali added. ‘It’s not like you’re a teacher or anything. You’re not likely to lose your job. At least as long as our boss can get along with those arrows. They don’t make you wear one of those electronic ankle bracelets, do they?’
They all studiously ignored him.
‘I only thought it might play up with the computers,’ Bali said, looking round in fake shook, aghast as if he could not see what the problem was with what he was saying.
‘I just put it in my pocket and forgot about it,’ Ginny repeated for the tenth time. ‘I don’t know what I was thinking. I only went in for a bottle of wine. I put it in my pocket. When I got to the check-out I paid for the wine and forgot all about the bloody beans. How could I do that?’
‘Anybody could do that,’ Roger insisted. ‘I bet we’ve all done it. It’s just one of those things.’
‘I can’t believe they prosecuted you,’ Josie muttered incredulously. ‘One bloody tin of beans; what’s that about? You’d think they’d have better things to do with themselves.’
‘Just your luck,’ Pete observed. ‘You happen to do it at precisely the time they’re running a drive on shop-lifting.’
‘I can’t believe I did it,’ Ginny remarked gravely for the umpteenth time. ‘How could I forget?’
‘I’ve never been friends with a jailbird,’ Bali volunteered. ‘I never dreamt you were some sort of Al Capone.’
They all gave him a dirty look. Ginny was upset. Bali’s light-heatedness was not helping.
After the court hearing her parents had simply led her away. It was as if she was in a dream and she had little memory of it. They had taken her out to the car and straight back to their house in Finsbury Park. It was not a long ride but she spent the whole journey all in her head oblivious to everything. Fortunately neither of her parents had been inclined to talk.
Her father put the kettle on and they sat at the table in the kitchen while he made the tea.
‘It will be in the papers,’ Ginny’s mother said coldly. ‘You know that?’
‘I know,’ Ginny murmured quietly.
‘It won’t go any further than the local press,’ her mother continued a bit more reasonably. ‘And I doubt that it will feature greatly in there.’
‘That photographer took your picture when we went in,’ her father reminded her in admonishing tone. ‘Don’t be surprised if there isn’t a photo in the paper.’
‘Depends on what sort of news day it is,’ her mother noted resignedly. She knew how it worked being a journalist on the Evening Standard. ‘Hopefully you’ll get away with it.’
‘You’re lucky you’re not in my profession,’ he father said, pouring the water into the teapot. He was a Biology teacher in the local secondary school. ‘It could have been your job.’
There was nothing Ginny could say.
‘What on Earth was going on in your head?’ her mother asked incredulously, obviously not accepting a single word of Ginny’s explanation.
Ginny shook her head in sad exasperation. ‘I told you mum, I just put it in my pocket and forgot about it.’
‘The magistrate certainly didn’t go for that,’ her father observed sternly with a cool voice, making it clear he did not go for it either.
‘We’ve brought you up better than that,’ her mother intoned firmly, not accepting her explanation for a minute. ‘There was no need.’
‘It was an accident mum,’ she protested, beginning to raise herself out of her stupor. ‘I didn’t mean to do it!’
‘Thou shalt not steal,’ her mother stated, ignoring her protest. ‘That is fundamental. That is what we have brought you up to believe. All those hours we spent in church. This is what happens when you turn your back on God.’
Her parents had brought her up as a church going, God fearing Christian. It was a source of great hurt that she had stopped going to church. They blamed everything on it. This was just the tip of the ice-berg she had erected from her rejection of religion.
There was nothing she could say. They did not believe her either.
They sipped their tea in silence.
Later that night, when her friends had gone, Ginny sat in her flat and ruminated on all that had passed. She loved her little flat but now the place felt very empty.
She turned on the telly and watched some Horizon programme about the expanding universe. Seemingly there wasn’t enough Dark Matter to stop the expansion so it was doomed to expand forever and slowly die. One by one the stars would all blink out until there was total darkness. Somehow it did not cheer her up.
The programme flowed over her like warm water. Her eyes watched it and part of her mind engaged with it but the rest of her mind churned away going over the same old thoughts:
‘How could she have been so stupid and forgotten about the beans?’
‘Why had she put them in her pocket in the first place?’
‘Why had she gone in for a bottle of wine?’
‘What would have happened if she hadn’t gone in for the wine?’
‘How could the supermarket have prosecuted over a stupid tin of beans?’
‘Forty eight bloody pence!’
‘Forty eight bloody pence had altered her whole life.’
‘Why were her parents so cold and horrible? Why couldn’t they accept it was an accident?’
‘How could the police have agreed to prosecute?’
‘The police were surely meant to be on your side?’
‘Why couldn’t the Crown Prosecution have seen how stupid it was and chucked it out?’
‘Why didn’t the supermarket just take the money when she’d offered it? Why did they go and prosecute?’
‘Why couldn’t her mum have given her a hug?’
‘Did the magistrate have to be so very nasty?’
‘She’d offered compensation.’
‘They’d sat her in that office and given her a grilling. She’d offered to pay compensation. Surely that was enough?’
‘Why hadn’t her father understood? – Her own father for God’s sake? How could he have rejected her like that?’
‘What did her friends really think of her?’
The thoughts churned away inside her head, Each chasing the last one’s tail in the spin drier that was her mind. Her eyes watched the screen. Her ears picked up the voices but nothing was registering.
It simply was not fair. It was not fair! She wanted time to go back and put it right.
She was angry. She was angry with herself. She was furious with the supermarket. The system was rubbish. The police and Crown Prosecution – what were they thinking? How could her parents be so mean? They were religious. Was there no such thing as forgiveness – it was only a bloody tin of beans!
Ginny could not control her thoughts. Her emotions rose up into her head like huge up draughts into a cumulus storm-cloud.
She angrily flicked off the telly and sat there on the settee frowning and staring angrily at the blank screen. It wasn’t the £100 fine. It wasn’t even the criminal record. It really wasn’t even the stupidity of the whole justice system which seemed more concerned with the letter of the law than any idea of fairness and justice, a justice system that seemed to be set up to put money into the pockets of solicitors and barristers rather than handing out justice. She’d got a bill for £700 from one hour’s talk with the solicitor. Seven hundred quid for one sodding hour; how was that possible? He’d been sure she’d get off with a caution. Trust her luck to get caught when they were imposing a purge on shoplifting. How unlucky was that?
She was a well paid computer programmer. The money did not mean a good deal. It would not affect her job. It would not really affect her life. Her friends all thought it was stupid. Her parents would soon come round. There was nothing that was going to affect her. It would soon all be forgotten.
Yet she felt bad. It was unfair. She had not intended to steal anything. It was a genuine error. Why wouldn’t anyone believe her? She thought that even her friends thought that she’d actually stolen that bloody tin. They thought it was stupid that she’d been taken to court but they didn’t really believe her either. It was a stain on her character. She felt sullied. That was what was disturbing her. Like a scab that she could not stop picking at her mind worried away at it.
Pete fished his phone out from his jeans and flicked it open with his thumb. He glanced at the screen and his face slipped into a smile. He punched the button.
‘I’m lonely,’ she said plaintively. ‘I’m feeling upset. I need a cuddle.’
‘Well I’m disappointed,’ Pete replied in a jokey manner. ‘I was hoping for something more.’
‘I’ve still got that bloody bottle of wine,’ she suggested.
‘Not quite what I had in mind,’ he chuckled.
‘Oh Pete, I’m feeling really down. I can’t believe how much this is upsetting me. I keep churning it over in my mind. I never thought I was so delicate. I need a cuddle.’
‘Well I’m your man,’ he replied chirpily. ‘’Cuddles on demand’ – ‘Door to door delivery’. I’ll be right there!’
‘Wow that was quick,’ Ginny exclaimed, opening her door and ushering Pete in and feeling better already.
‘Two flights of stairs is not all that far,’ Pete chortled. ‘We’re almost next door neighbours.’
‘You must have run!’
‘Yeah, well you drop everything when you get a damsel in distress,’ Pete explained, flopping on to the settee. ‘No distance too far. Besides I’m very professional.’ He patted the seat next to him. ‘We have to get to our clients before the cuddles get cold. That’s our professional motto: no cold cuddles. If we take too long and your cuddle is too cool we guarantee to provide the client with ten warm ones. How’s that?’
Ginny set the bottle on the coffee table with two glasses and then glumly sat next to Pete on the settee.
‘Come on you,’ Pete said smiling broadly, leaning forward and putting his arm round her shoulder and snuggling up to her. He pulled her close to him. ‘There’s no need to get so upset over a bloody tin of beans.’
She smiled wanly at him and leaned forward, breaking free of his arm, which drifted back to the top of the settee cushion.
The wine had a screw top. She always bought screw-tops. She was never any good at using those fancy bottle openers. She had three different ones in her drawers and couldn’t use a single one of them. She always ended up either chipping the bottle neck or breaking the cork up. She was so useless.
She unscrewed the top and poured two glasses of the deep red shiraz. She handed one to him and slumped back into his big strong chest. He engulfed her with his strength and she relaxed into his protective warmth. She felt the heat of his body and the heavy male aroma and felt better for the first time that day. She nuzzled into his neck and he encompassed her with his muscular arm pulling her into him, resting his cheek on the top of her head. She felt safe.
They stayed like that for some time, relaxing into his gentleness, as the tension of the day seeped out of her. He rubbed her shoulder with his hand and smiled to himself as he felt her body melt; he could feel the stress slip away from her. There was no need to talk. They sipped their wine and refilled their glasses.
The two of them cuddled together as time ticked by and all too soon it was midnight.
Pete checked his watch. ‘You know,’ he murmured into her ear. ‘I’ve got to be up early. I’ve got a big meeting tomorrow; major client. I’m doing the spiel. This is a big pitch. I can’t afford to mess it up. Do you want me to go?’
She snuggled into him like a dormouse settling into her nest. ‘No Pete. Don’t go. Please stay.’ She looked up into his face with big eyes. ‘Can’t you stay? I want those ten special cuddles. That first one had gone cold. You guaranteed it.’