People react in different ways when you tell them that you have cancer. Most people react in a tactful manner, sending a nice message of support and sympathy. Some people - mostly idiots - become upset. Then there are the people who react by laughing, due to my oft-controversial humour in the past leading them to think that I’m joking, but this is often followed by a certain degree of guilt.
However, the worst people by far are those who think that the single thing that I need most at this troubling time is the power of prayer. It’s true to say that there are few graver dangers that cancer patients face than the prospect of becoming some born-again religious type. Evangelists always try to get people when they’re down. If they’re not hassling cancer patients like myself, they’re after the homeless, people just released from prison, or recovering alcoholics.
This is why the Vatican is in direct competition with the makers of The Jeremy Kyle Show. Viewers of the show will be familiar with Kyle’s catchphrase ‘wear a condom!‘ which he frequently screams at teenage parents. This is not, however, the sage family planning advice that it appears to be - it is an involuntary outburst of defiance against his main rival, the Catholic Church. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that everyone should have the right to believe in and practice whatever religion they choose to follow.
However, a few people have told me that they’ve been praying specifically for me in church. I don‘t quite know what to make of this. While I really do appreciate any form of well-wishing, this created visions of a giant picture of my smiling face at the front of a church being doused with holy water, whilst a bearded man in a colourful jumper sings songs about me, accompanied by his acoustic guitar, which would most likely be plastered with ‘Jesus Rocks!’ stickers. My second name rhymes with cross; the song pretty much writes itself. In my eyes, there appears to be only one beneficiary of these acts - namely God himself.
I’m either going to make a full recovery or, by a reassuringly unlikely stroke of spectacularly bad luck, not. In one of these cases people will believe that God has graciously come to my aid and celebrate his amazing healing ability and, in the other, that He has ignored the prayers and let me perish, meaning everyone will sing loads of hymns about what an ace guy he is. Is it just me, or is skullduggery afoot? It appears that this sly God character has placed himself in a win-win situation, and I shan’t stand for it.