The Columnist
  The Gods I
The Gods II
  The Gods III
The Gods IV
  The Gods V
  The Gods VI
  The Gods VII
  The Gods VIII

It’s about time we made a return visit to the United Deities, that gathering of gods past and present, where they keep a divine eye and a running commentary on what we humans are up to.
Here are some minutes from the latest celestial get-together.


1. The chairgod said that the next item on the agenda was a vote of sympathy for Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld, because the planet named after him had just been demoted.
2. Pluto, Roman god of the underworld, said he did not know about this. He had been on a small summer break to the old Roman underworld for a little time and had not been in touch.
3. Poseidon, Greek God of the sea, said that going to the underworld was not his idea of a summer break.
4. Pluto said that getting his feet wet and causing shipwrecks was not his idea of a picnic either, and that it was in fact very cool and relaxed in the underworld. Like a sort of vaulted dive bar, if you knew the right people.
5. However that might be, said the chairgod, he hoped that Pluto would accept their condolences on the fact that the planet named after him had been demoted to a pluton.
6. Pluto asked what a pluton was.
7. The chairgod said it was the official name for a new class of minor sub-planet, a bit like small hand luggage compared to proper baggage.
8. Pluto said that he was well satisfied with this. Instead of being a rather doubtful outer planet, always in danger of relegation, he was now remembered by the name of a whole family of heavenly bodies.
9. It was certainly better than being remembered as the name of a stupid dog invented by Walt Disney.
10. The chairgod said it was a shame that the gods had no control over how their names were remembered on Earth.
11. Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, said he had been happy with having the American space project named after him until things had started to go wrong.
12. Mercury said he was still unhappy about having a phone system named after him, which had gone down the tubes.
13. Poseidon said that his name was only ever used by Hollywood for disaster movies. He felt aggrieved by this.
14. Pluto said he could not see why. Both Poseidon and his Roman colleague Neptune were famous in olden days for causing wanton destruction by earthquake and tsunami.
15. Yes, said Poseidon, that might be true but at least Neptune had had a planet named after him. Why was there no planet called Poseidon?
16. Mars, the Roman god of war, wanted to know what was so great about having a planet named after you. He was not ungrateful for the planet called Mars, but if he had the chance he would willingly throttle the man who had created the Mars Bar. He, the Roman god of war – remembered as a small chocolate bar! It would be laughable if it were not so demeaning.
17. In his capacity as the god of music, Apollo said he had a small question to ask. There was a famous musical suite by the modern British composer Gustav Holst called “The Planets”. Now that the planet named after Pluto had been demoted, he wondered if this meant that the movement of the suite named after Pluto would be dropped from future performances.
18. Pluto said that, as Apollo very well knew, Mr Holst had written the suite long before anyone had discovered the planet in 1930. So there was no movement for Pluto. It was the story of his eternal life, said Pluto, always being undiscovered and demoted and having cartoon dogs named after him.
20. Apollo said that at least he was not associated with grumpiness and bad temper, as Saturn was, what with words like “saturnine” being in common use.
21. Saturn said he had been waiting for someone to say that. At least he had a day of the week named after him in English and no other Roman or Greek god could claim as much, as all the other weekdays were from the Norse stable…
22. The chairgod said that this was getting nowhere, and perhaps they could move on to the next item, which was a renewed application from Lucifer for guest membership.

 More of this soon!

Aug 18 06