Question Time Christmas Special
Venue: A Hall Near You
An hour of existential debate between divinities and personified human characteristics introduced by Fiona Bruce.
The first question concerned important and significant observation. It should be asked of all Question Time panels, at the beginning of every episode, especially ones including the likes of Richard Burgon and Rebecca Long-Bailey. Can you prove that you exist?
Reason (Liberal) stated that this was just a question for God (Ultra Conservative) and the Devil (Anarchist) as Reason knew he existed because, without Reason being, the question could neither have been asked nor answered.
‘I think therefore I am’, said Reason, quoting Descartes then, referring to himself by his own name as if a self-important football manager, continued, ‘and being Reason, I do a lot of thinking.’
God appeared to get quite cross. In a loudish voice, He responded by asking Reason, who he thought had created the things around him and made the planets and stars to start to move?
Reason said that he didn’t want to boast, but Reason himself could explain all of that without reference to God.
‘There are four forces’, he began, ‘electromagnetism, gravity, the small…..’
But before he could complete the sentence, Reason was interrupted by an angry God. Wary of thunderbolts, great floods and pillars of salt, the audience (particularly representatives of the LGBTQ+ community), cowered as God poked Reason in the eye with a finger.
A noticeably shocked Reason, rubbing his sore eye, countered that that could have been done by an invisible unicorn (which looked like God) and Reason could prove it, as he could neither prove it, nor not prove it, and neither could anybody else.
God rolled His eyes and then looked towards Faith (Conservative).
Faith agreed with God.
The Devil said that he didn’t particularly want to prove that he existed and it suited his purpose rather well if people thought he didn’t.
‘You might even say it’s my greatest achievement,’ the Devil gloated.
He went on to explain that if he didn’t exist then, perhaps, there was no such thing as evil. This might reduce the resistance to not doing it. He quoted Reason’s obsession with the material world (with all being no more than the interaction between particles and forces) as diminishing a sense of deontological wrong.
The devil then became over-excited and began to rant about an amoral, atheistic, mechanistic Darwinism.
At this point, Fiona Bruce (Chair) stood up to the Devil and asked for the next question from the audience.
At first glance, this second question was a simple point of observable fact, requiring a one-word answer. However, the panellists, especially Reason, made it a bit more complicated than it needed to be. Who had come first Faith or Reason?
Easy for God, as He claimed that He could see everything that happens on every single episode of Question Time, both in the past and in the future. It didn’t matter that He didn’t appear to be present in the hall or watching on TV. He knew anyway. He claimed that there was no cause why Faith and Reason hadn’t arrived in the same place at the same time, simultaneously, as if by helping each other. In fact, they really should try to do that more often. When pressed by Bruce, God conceded that Faith might have come first, as when God had arrived at the hall, he had stood at the door and knocked. He was pretty sure that it was Faith who was likely to have heard His voice and opened the door.
God went on to bemoan the fact that, on just about every political TV programme, apart from this excellent Christmas Special, Reason didn’t get much of a chance to speak and Faith appeared to have been banned. The Devil Smirked.
Reason was absolutely certain that he’d come before Faith and could prove it. He took out his railway tickets and spread them out on the tabletop along with his railway timetables. He pointed at lots of columns of figures and little maps and proved conclusively, from written evidence, that he’d arrived first.
The Devil shook his head, resignedly, while saying, ‘Leaves on line. Strikes. The wrong type of snow. Signalling shortages. Staff breakdowns. Problems caused by old trains. Come to think of it, problems caused by new trains. The railways belong to the Devil, pitched against which, Reason doesn’t have a chance.’
Faith was absolutely adamant that she’d had to be there before Reason but couldn’t prove it. She didn’t really understand the full meaning of the timetables and tickets. She’d thrown herself onto a train and when in doubt, had simply asked the advice of those in authority, who were always right. She couldn’t prove that she’d arrived before Reason but she was certain of it anyway and didn’t care if no one believed her.
The third question was, ‘What are you doing for Christmas?’
God said he would be spending some time with His very large extended family, particularly as it was also his son’s birthday. At this point, both Faith, Reason and the audience shuffled uncomfortably on their seats aware of a terrible and well-known family tragedy involving God’s son.
‘Though to be blunt’, God continued, ‘Easter’s a more important time of the year for us.’
The silence in the auditorium became unbearable and was punctuated by some nervous coughing.
‘Not so much the Friday, more the Sunday,’ God continued pensively, to gasps of relief from the hall.
Faith and Reason disagreed with each other. Faith would be going to church and would prefer Christmas to be more religious. Reason could understand why people went to church but didn’t feel an obligation to go himself. To be blunt, Reason was determined to be a bit of a grinch and gave the impression of not liking Christmas at all. Even the word seemed difficult to say, as Reason dropped ‘Holidays’ and ‘Winterval’ into the conversation in order to avoid offending non-Christians.
To boos from the children present, the Devil said he was very offended by Christmas but sort of half looked forward to anyway. He expressed his disappointment that, in this modern, secular day and age, lots of people still went to church over the festival. He went on to say that the overwhelming consumerist greed and squabbling families compensated somewhat. As for what he was actually going to do, he was going to gloat over ‘[All] those unwanted puppies on Boxing day. Makes it all worthwhile.’
The final question was one of those demanding a very brief, or even a one-word, answer. Would you like to be on Question Time every week?
Reason bemoaned the fact that he’d been trying for years but never got much of a look in. Faith reminded us that, apart from tonight, she seemed to have been banned.
‘Don’t tell anybody’, whispered the Devil, ‘but since I’m also known as The Great Deceiver, I’m already a regular.’
‘Absolutely, I’d love to send someone along,’ said God enthusiastically, ‘about time. We need other graces besides Faith. I shall clear the diary in happy anticipation?’. Was he hinting about Hope who (along with Charity) had disappeared from the programme a very, very long time ago? Yes, I know, apologies dear reader, your humble reviewer has tried a bit too hard to set this one up. As the audience left the hall, they could be overheard muttering to each other, regarding the only thing that all can agree on, God knows Question Time has been hopeless for years.
© Always Worth Saying 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file