The Fall Guy

by Peter Wyton

I.M. Norman Wisdom

As sure as eggs are eggs, he lost his way
en route to heaven, ended up in hell.
The devil bellowed, “It’s my lucky day!
A comic genius. Get on stage and tell
me the one about the bishop, the whore…”
“I don’t do smut!” squealed Norman, his jolly
smile fading, as the hot coals on the floor
caused him to trip over Nick’s tea-trolley,
impelling, with one wildly waving boot,
Beelzebub, caterwauling in pain,
down the diabolical laundry chute
and out of the iniquitous domain.
From upstairs came the most Almighty cheer,
“For God’s sake, Wisdom—get yourself up here!”

“Coming, Mr. Grimsdale,” called the bloke
in the ill-fitting suit and skew-whiff hat
who spent his life as a national joke
and in death, charged across the welcome mat
of Paradise just like a primary school-
kid released from a monotonous class,
ruffling angels’ wings, playing the fool
with harps, walking on celestial grass
because the sign said “DON’T”, elbowing
seraphim and cherubim in the ribs,
hiding behind God’s throne, then tiptoeing
out to shout “Boo!” — until His Holy Nibs
growled, “Peter, if anybody wants me,
I'll be down the pub in Purgatory.”

They’re both still at the bar, on neutral ground,
Jehovah and Lucifer in dispute
about who’s going to get the next round
in and where they might conceivably put
the patron saint of slapstick, who is now
causing chaos throughout the Afterlife.
On the one hand there’s the infernal row
he’s making, in addition to the strife
currently bedevilling both their spheres.
“Dead souls today aren’t what they used to be,”
both parties are now mumbling in their beers.
“Old Churchill’s telephone operator, he
was,” the Deity sobs. Satan says, “Cor!
How did the British ever win the war?”

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