MB Reed

Author and mathematician


Heaven Sent

Way of the World was a satirical column which ran in The Daily Telegraph in the 1970s, written under the name of Peter Simple. It has recently been revived but is a bit bland by comparison. I will try to write in the original vein, starting with this WotW exclusive report on The World Beyond, which begins below. Use the button to read the full story. Heaven Sent: full story A Way of the World investigation has uncovered a spate of reports in local newspapers, all with a similar strange story. The protagonist has been lost in tragic or violent circumstances, presumed dead; but a few days later he reappears, unharmed, yet he refuses to explain what happened to him. But now, in a WotW exclusive, one man has agreed to tell his story, asking only for anonymity and a five-figure fee. He had disappeared in a snowstorm while climbing in the Cairngorms, but a week later he descended again. This is what he said.

Hours after my fatal fall, I had the near-death experience you hear about: the agonising pain and hypothermia faded, and I floated upward, away from my body. Then I felt myself sucked through a dark tunnel, faster and faster, towards a point of bright light, which grew and grew until I emerged into a vast park: green lawns and flowerbeds, dotted with gleaming glasshouses lit from within by an ethereal glow. At first glance it looked familiar.

Am I in Kew? I asked an old man with a long grey beard who was standing by the entrance.

A queue? No, there is no queue. Come straight in! Enter unto the Garden of Eden, my son.

He scanned my National Trust card and gave me a leaflet detailing the Gardens historic links to slavery, ophidiophilia, fratricide and female stereotypical victim-shaming. As I walked down the stairway and into the park I soon realised that this was not Kew Gardens. The streams were flowing with full-fat milk and Manuka honey, and I passed a giant chocolate fountain. A small orchard was cordoned off by a barbed-wire fence. Chillout tracks played through loudspeakers hidden in the greenery, which was all in soft focus. And there was no litter (apart from the discarded leaflets).

Signposts indicated different paths leading to the crystal pavilions. The most impressive were written in Arabic and Hebrew, but I eventually found a small faded sign saying Heaven (C of E) with a flag of St George in the bottom right corner. The weed-strewn path led me to a rather scruffy glasshouse, its panes dirty and one of them broken, but I knew that this was the Anglican heaven because of the pearly gates at the entrance. Though, coming closer, I saw they were actually of pearl-effect melamine. The sound of a choir practice came through the broken pane. There was no-one around. I rattled the gates but they were locked. Then I noticed an answerphone on the wall; I pressed the button and it crackled into life. After giving my full name and dates of birth and death, and answering a series of security questions, there was a recorded announcement:

Welcome to the Gates of Heaven (Church of England). Your visit is important to us. However we are currently experiencing higher than usual call volumes; please wait and a member of St Peter Reception Team will be with you shortly.

To read on, click the button below.

Heaven Sent: full story