return of the dead guy

A long time ago in a parallel Universe far, far away (known as my brain) I came up with an idea. What if Lazarus had met a publicist after he had been brought back from the dead by Jesus? The following sketch was the result… (I have changed the name of the publicist since the original version):

clapper boardReturn of the Dead Guy by Nick Lear

Pierre Gourou is sat at his desk (he could have a slightly cheesy French accent, but not so strong we can’t understand him). We join him in the middle of a telephone conversation. He talks animatedly. As he talks, Lazarus enters and Pierre indicates for him to sit down while he continues with his conversation.

Pierre:      I know, I know. You’ve told me all that before. But how difficult can it be to get hold of this guy? (Listens.) Well Bethany is a small place, he’s a minor celebrity. Someone must know where he is. (Listens.) Don’t give me any excuses, sonny James, I want that man signed up on my books immediately. Just think of the commercial possibilities. We can make a fortune! (Listens.) Don’t give me that ‘He’s disappeared’ rubbish, just get me Lazarus Bond now! (Angrily slams down phone.)

Pierre:     (To Lazarus, still angrily.) Who are you and what do you want?

Lazarus:   (Hesitantly) Well, my name is Lazarus Bond, and I’d like you to publicise my story because…

Pierre:      (Interrupting and suddenly extremely pleasant.) Lazarus Bond, my good man. How splendid to meet you. I’m Pierre Gourou, Publicist to the stars. You can call me Pierre. (Stands up and enthusiastically shakes Lazarus’ hand. Then pauses to think, remembers Lazarus was dead recently and wipes his hand on his trousers as he sits down again.)

Pierre:     Lazarus, can I call you Lazarus? Lazarus, I’ve got some great ideas for you. You’re going to love these. Shalom magazine have been on to me, they want to do a photo shoot of the whole thing. They pay sizeable shekels for exclusives like this. I mean, it’s not every day someone is raised back to life is it? Would you be prepared to do a re-enactment for them? (Lazarus looks doubtful. Pierre continues enthusiastically.)

Pierre:      Okay, have a think about that one. I’ve had some other ideas. How about Action Lazarus? It’s a small doll who comes with detachable bandages and there are all sorts of accessories we could sell with him – a tomb for example. I can see big profit margins there.  (Lazarus still doubtful. Pierre is on a roll.)

Pierre:      How about Lazarus boomerangs – they always come back. Or a new soft drink: “Lazarade” – refreshes the parts other drinks cannot reach. Or how about Lazarus bandages? You could make a fortune. These bandages will do more than make you feel better! We could do Lottery Scratch and Sniff Cards. Three bad odours and you win. (Lazarus starts to speak but Pierre won’t be interrupted.)

Pierre:      The Lazarus range of men’s toiletries. We could call it ‘Old Spices’. It may be a bit pungent, but if we market it correctly no one will care what it smells like. Or how about a Lazarus in a Box? You have a little box with a handle, which you wind for what seems like four days until…(Mimes action and hums ‘pop goes the weasel’! He continues, totally absorbed in his schemes, ignoring Lazarus completely.)

Pierre:     What about this… Lazarus – The Movie! Of course, we’d have to give it a catchier title and liven it up a bit. We’ll call it ‘You Only Live Twice’, and make you a super spy. I can hear your catchphrase, “My name is Bond, Lazarus Bond.” We’ll get Roger Moriah to be you. I can see the finale now. Just when the bad guys think you’re dead and gone, back you come! Of course, we’ll have to do something about the bandages – they might restrict old Roger’s eyebrow movements a bit and they’re his best feature… (Lazarus sees Pierre pause for breath and dives in.)

Lazarus:   Actually, Mr Gourou, I only want to tell my story. You see it’s not about me… Pierre cuts in again.

Pierre:      Lazarus, my boy. Cut the formality, just call me Pierre. I can see that you will need time to get used to the idea of the movie. It’s a shame; we could have had all sorts of merchandising tie-ins. You know, T-shirts, mugs, key rings, computer games with unlimited lives: it would be worth a fortune. Never mind. I’ve got one more idea. This will make your spine tingle; it’s so good.

Pierre:      Get hold of this idea. (Stands up and dramatically spreads his arms and speaks with awe:) Lazarus World! (Lazarus is stunned with disbelief. Pierre takes it as approval so he continues.)

Pierre:      We could have all sorts of chariot rides and exciting sideshows, but the centrepiece of the whole thing would be the Resurrection Ride. It’s a bit like a ghost train, but instead of leaving people scared witless at the end, they see you coming out of the tomb alive. We could really go for it – lasers, pyrotechnics. It would be a proper gold mine.

Lazarus:   Listen, Mr Gourou. I don’t think you understand. I’m not interested in the money; I only want to tell people… (Again Pierre cuts in.)

Pierre:      (Confused.) What do you mean, ‘not interested in the money’? Why ever not? (Then has flash of inspiration.) Oh I get it. You’ve already cashed in your life insurance. They’re going to have to introduce Resurrection Exemptions if this keeps happening.

Lazarus:   (Getting irate) It’s got nothing to do with Life Insurance – at least not the sort you’re thinking about. I want to you to publicise my story so that people will… (Pierre butts in again.)

Pierre:     Be impressed by you? Make you Mayor of Bethany? Never mind that, you could run for Chief Priest with your story and the right publicist behind you…

Lazarus:   (Grabs Pierre by the shoulders and shakes him.) No, no, no! Why can’t you understand? My story is not about me; it’s about Jesus!


Be blessed, be a blessing

The morning after the concert the night before

Last night’s gig (see yesterday’s bloggage) was an enlightening experience. I was (to my immense surprise) not the oldest person in the mosh pit. My ears are not still ringing. And I did laugh out loud. And I am blogging under the influence of sleep deprivation.

But the most enlightening thing was seeing how Sally responded once Paul Weller had come on stage. (You really do need to read yesterday’s bloggage in order to understand the context). I had forgotten just how enthusiastic a fan she is, and I think those around us were a bit surprised too. She threw off a couple of decades and danced, jumped, waved her hands, sang, screamed and generally threw herself into being a fan at a concert by her favourite singer. You can see some dodgy pictures of the concert taken on my dodgy phone in the slideshow.

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The journey home was interesting too. We came home on a train that left London at about midnight, full of people who had been to Christmas parties and were a bit the worse for wear for drink. A group of lads decided to serenade the whole carriage with a range of out of tune and very loud songs. Those who remained breathed a collective sigh of relief when they got off at Shenfield. And there were a few people around us who got into deep conversations with one another. These were people who were complete strangers to each other, but ended up sharing some deeply personal things.

Reflecting on all of these events I have a few thoughts:

1. Why aren’t we all as overtly exuberantly enthusiastic about Jesus as Sally was about Paul Weller? David was criticised by his wife for dancing in an undignified way in his underwear (the text may be a euphemism for dancing so everyone could see that he was a true scotsman, if you get my meaning). His response: “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6)  I am not suggesting we shed our clothes in church, or even necessarily dance, but perhaps we can shed some of our reserve and concern about what others may think of us and just… worship!

2. How come complete strangers can share deep things with one another and many of God’s people interact superficially with one another – and perhaps too with God? Is it about trust, freedom, or that we don’t love each other as much as we could?

3. Do we annoy our neighbours with the good news of Jesus? I know that sometimes our church events outside can disturb the local shopkeepers. I know that sometimes street preachers and evangelists in the town can upset passers-by. But how about those whom Jesus calls our neighbours – are we too caught up in ourselves to wonder about the impact we are making on them?

Be blessed, be a blessing.



standing up

2011 Crisis at Christams Stand up & Rock flyer

Tonight the lovely Mrs Lear and I are going to a gig. (see picture) It’s a blend of comedy and rock music to support Crisis, but the main reason we are going is the headline act. Sally has been obsessed by Mr Weller since she first heard The Jam in the late 1970s. The first time I saw her bedroom I was intimidated by the number of large posters of Paul Weller and The Jam that covered the walls from floor to ceiling. At that moment I realised that I would always be competing for her affections.

The gig is at the Hammersmith Apollo (of ‘Live at the Apollo’ fame). However they seem to have taken out the front rows of seats in order to create some sort of ‘mosh pit’ for the keen, young, enthusiastic giggers. Guess where we will be…

I suspect I may be the oldest person in the mosh pit. I will certainly be the least able to dance (I have always danced like a dad at a wedding). I am hoping that I won’t stand out too obviously, although being bald with a slot in the back of my head and standing 6’2″ tall may make me a little bit obvious. I intend to make up for it by laughing raucously at the comedians.

Now the thing is that this gig was meant to be a surprise for Sally. A friend had emailed me about it before the box office opened and I intended to give her the tickets as a Christmas present. But I made a mistake. I left my computer monitor on, with my email account showing, and Mrs Lear came into the study for some (still) unexplained reason and her eyes were instantly drawn to the subject of the email: “Paul Weller Concert”. She then accidentally opened the email and saw what it was about, and from that moment the surprise was blown wide open.

Christmas is a time of surprises. There are the unexpected presents (“Socks? Thank you, just what I always wanted.”). The unexpected Christmas cards that always arrive after the last day of posting (did we really forget to send them a card?). There are surprises on the TV Christmas specials (with EastEnders usually trying to be more depressing than the previous years). And there are surprises in church when unexpected guests arrive and bless us with their presence.

I’m not going to segue neatly into another homily about the surprises in the stable. Been there, done that, got the t-towel (for your head, Shepherd-style). Instead I want to pray that this year the surprises are of the pleasant variety, the joy is of the deep variety and the love is of the everlasting variety. (Tomorrow’s bloggage may be of the exhausted variety!)

Be blessed, be a blessing.