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ST IMULUS is Quizzical

St Imulus —

Heavens, it’s already the first Turei, or Rātū – different word, same meaning – of the month.

(When St Tahupōtiki – also known as St Ratana – arrived here eighty-odd years ago, he proposed a certain amount of multilingualism. He’s patron of our Babel Society, where of course, nowadays, everyone understands everyone.)

Anyhow, it’s quiz night at the King Zarm’s pub. Various of the regulars are gathering to pit their brains against some of eternity’s finest.

Nearest to the quizmaster’s podium is the Numbers team, headed by St Moses. St Noah (a specialist on any fauna question to which the answer is “two”) challenges Joshua. “You are not eligible for our Numbers team. Being the son of none doesn’t count.” St Noah’s protest is declined, for the eternityeth time. St Elijah similarly is similarly disbarred on the grounds that he describes the volume of a typical oil cruse as infinite – which of course, is not a finite Number. Meantime, Martha, being one of three of a particularly favoured clan, has her usual excuse: “Wist ye not that I must be about the Father’s business?” as she moves across to the bar to prepare the drinks and snacks. (Father is the proprietor of this particular establishment. And most other things around here).

Team ‘Postles is here. While they have fourteen members, only six can be in the team at a time. St Paul is, of course, a member, when he first applied, he explained his credentials ad nauseamly. St Barabbas wasn’t allowed to join the team because, when the eleven had drawn lots way back, he’d missed the cut. Word has come that St Brian of Destiny, not a saint, not yet even dead, has advised that he’ll be a shoe-in on his arrival. “Oh, for the Life of Brian!” expostulates St Matthias (who?).

“Is St Thomas coming tonight?” asks St Matthew. “I doubt it,” replies St Bart (Bartholomew back in the day, not to be confused with St Bartimaeus the Optometrist – he was never an apostle anyhow).

Sts Adam and Anna head the A team, with Aaron, Abraham, Adah, Amos, and Abednego as regulars. Lounging somnolently opposite the As, as you might expect, are the Zzzzzs, comprising Zechariah, Zoe, Zephaniah, Zacchaeus, old man Zebedee, and Zadok.

The St Marys – wow there are a lot of them – tonight form seven separate teams. They all wear blue, so as to distinguish themselves from one another. Angelic looking St Alice of Dibley leads the Laughing Saints’ team, and it includes St Bean (two of them, for real!), St Python, St Basil, St Sybil, St Manuel, and the recently arrived, St McPhail. The Laughing Saints are seated about as far as they can get from St Paul whom they describe (caringly of course) as a bit heavy duty.

St Micah and the Miner Profits (all dressed in their blackened working outfits) have just five present tonight, but they still won’t allow Isaiah or Jeremiah to sub in. “You guys relegated us for a time, you can be relegated for eternity,” they told Isaiah and Jeremiah – but in a kindly way, which is of course how we say things around here.

St Lazarus has formed a team with a variety of participants with various specialities. Laz’s own best topic is dead people (and boy, there’s a growing number thereof). St Hansie knows a lot about fixing various things, including cricket, but not aircraft. St John of Liverpool imagines that tonight there’ll not be questions on heaven, hell, countries or possessions, none of which he is enamoured with anyhow.

St Abel has given it a miss this time. Last month he was stumped by the question, “Who was the product of the third begetting?”

“You may recall I wasn't there at the time, thanks to me big bro Cain,” complained Abel. “Yes, but you’ve been here a very very long time, in fact, you were the first earthling to arrive, and had the run of the outfit for a fair while,” the quizmaster told him, “I would have thought that by this time you had sussed that Seth was the third begatee.”

As St John the B (head waiter) walks around with his platter of delectables, the sound techie guy cranks it up with St Eric’s "Tears In Heaven," followed by the less welcoming “Get Off Of My Cloud.” "Stairway To Heaven" has been removed from the playlist on account of the recently installed high- speed elevators, while St Bob’s "Knocking On Heaven's Door" is considered unnecessary – the direct-through-wall personal transmission system was imported here after its trial on Earth two thousand years back.

The quizmaster taps a glass and clears her throat. Her first question is of an administrative nature: “Where the hell is the Lucifer team? They emailed to say they planned to join our quiz.” There is a stunned silence. You could have cut the air with, well an angel wing feather.

Then somebody calls out, “Hey, why do we have a quiz? We all know everything.” After what seemed like an eternity, the penny had finally dropped.