ON the long walk back from a funeral, I was offered both God and heroin. Each time I politely declined. Then I began to ponder the link.
It was a sad day to begin with. Funeral blues for a lonely Bog Merchant, marching through the brightly lit streets after dark.
First up was the heroin. Under the shadow of the giant needle – five minutes after horsing down chicken nuggets in Supermacs. But further north of the Liffey came a second, more interesting offer ...
A very enthusiastic man in his early 40s stopped me on Phibsboro Road, frantically waving a leaflet. I always collect such leaflets; whether it be for the rights of transgender Peruvians, the banning of straight bananas, or the implementation of Sharia law in Bray. When it comes to roadside causes, I'm game ball. It's very important to allow yourself time for life's little pleasures. And if there's a leaflet involved, the cause is worth a few minutes in my book.
Better still if they have a petition. I'll sign up to ban or re-instate the importation of any number of species on any given day. I'll back the odd dictator; take a punt on a disaster, campaign against insects – whatever you're having yourself. Sign and recline and everyone's a winner.
It's not as if anybody ever reads these lists of random names, is it?
So naturally when this excited man waved his leaflet at me on the Phibsboro Road I nearly took the hand and all from him. Even though I was wrecked, I was especially keen for a look at his leaflet. Whatever it was this man was peddling, it was certainly working for him.
In his broad northside Dub accent, he told me how he was an alcoholic and a solvent abuser for 20 years, right up until 12 months ago. When he found 'The Church' ...
But this wasn't our Jesus he was on about. This wasn't that Scandinavian fella with the six-pack they nailed to a cross and painted pictures of – to mass produce and sell in Clara market – helpfully providing both fine art and pain-relief for rural housewives over many a dark lonely decade. No, this was an altogether different flavoured church.
After he imparted his condensed biography of suffering and solvents, the excited man asked me if I wanted to come in for a quick meeting that was starting in 10 minutes. He was a genuinely nice guy – salt of the earth type, regardless of all the pints and glue. If I wasn't as tired I would have gone into the meeting for a gawk. But I made my apologies and took his leaflet instead. When I got home and examined the leaflet I immediately regretted not attending.
On the front page, in big letters, was the question: "Do you think you are under a curse?" Inside the leaflet were stories of people whose lives were changed by this church, otherwise known as the UCKG Help Centre on the Phibsboro Road.
One woman on the leaflet told of how she had an incurable blood disorder, and her face would swell up for no reason. Naturally this condition led her right to the drink and the witchdoctors. Truly terrible stuff, but thankfully all cured when her son and his "then girlfriend" introduced her to the UCKG.
I found it interesting that she felt compelled to specify her son's relationship was definitely now over.
She went on to tell how she made her "Chain of Prayer on Fridays", and claims that today her life is "completely free from pain, sickness and suicidal thoughts". The apparently incurable blood disorder is now all better, which she attributes solely to the UCKG – and that wagon of an ex-girlfriend. I wonder what she's done to anger this cured woman, who went around with a swollen face for 31 years. Until that bloody girlfriend started meddling.
Another woman told how she'd been through four broken engagements in the space of six years. But now she's 10 years happily married, and claims that whatever was "blocking her happiness" was lifted through the "deliverance prayers" she received from the UCKG. And they definitely worked, those prayers, because 18 months later she was married. This was surely a statistical inevitability though, given her record of hasty engagements?
Saving the best for last, on the back page they advertised the "Friday of Breaking Curses" where they promised to free you from Juju, black magic, witchcraft and ancestral curses!
So stall that digger with your miraculous medals and all those paintings of Jesus. No amount of Novenas will find you a lovely man, keep you free from bad Juju, and sort out incurable blood disorders all in one go. Even the lads flogging paintings in Clara market will tell you that, and they're in on the whole operation.
I can't see a downside; they weren't even looking for money, and seemed capable of curing diseases and finding men. However, nowhere on the leaflet was there any explanation of what the letters UCKG actually stood for.
So for the moment I'll stick with the yoga. It's somewhere in between heroin and Jesus, and the safest of all three.