Yesterday evening, as shadows lengthened while solar rays ventured ever westward, I posed sedentary at casa Strachan’s patio table

To counter the consequential diminishing temperatures I ignited a chiminea wood fire. A pyre which burned fervently a foot, or so, from my uncovered legs, providing a comforting warmth to previously chilled lower limbs.

Fleetingly, yours truly mulled over why someone as inherently hirsute as me was utterly incapable of growing hairs on my shins or calves. Although, as those areas of my anatomy were inches from roaring flames, I concluded it was probably a blessing there weren’t hair follicles on my lower legs. Such a presence introducing risk of them becoming tinder for GJ Strachan’s later combustion.

While randomly pondering all things hair and brimstone, I was treated to an aural backdrop of lumber snap, crackle and popping; sounds akin to those emanating from breakfast cereal Rice Crispies when enveloped with milk. These pyre spits courtesy of cellulose within the enkindled timber succumbing to its fiery foe.

Intrigued at why blazing wood bore such an appealing redolence, I searched online for answers to the conundrum. in a forum raising the very same enquiry as mine, I stumbled across the following interesting theory:-

“Simple, evolution….. Fire is what separated us from other primates, it helped us unlock nutritional value from food that would have otherwise been impossible. If it wasn’t for fire to power our brains by cooking food we wouldn’t be human. We need it for heating to survive in the winter. If we disliked the smell, like most other animals do, we wouldn’t survive….. So evolution dictates those who like the smell of fire and therefore start fires are the ones who survived, therefore humans like the smell of fire”

An interesting psychological theory. One appearing a darned sight more informed than a fellow contributor to the same forum who claimed those enamoured by burning wood are being subliminally prepared for a later appointment at Beelzebub’s fiery gaff.

At least, I’m hoping the latter isn’t the case. I don’t fancy an eternity transporting weighty chains and money boxes around my frame like a latter day Jacob Marley. Although, as I’d like to think I’m a fairly benevolent man, hopefully my eternal shackles won’t contain petty cash boxes like the miser Marley.

I guess GJ Strachan’s chains may be weighted by the patchy whimsy bestowed in Jimmy Krankie ‘joke’ books….. Or, perhaps, my metaphorical millstone maybe the 40+ tomes I’ve penned containing prose of mischievousness, insubordination and a cynicism borne from middle age.

iu

Being a flawed character, but one whose undertaken numerous voluntary roles for cancer charities, I’m unsure whether my behaviour while venturing this valley of tears will, on Judgement Day, see me redeemed for my existential sins.

Consequently, there’s uncertainty in my mind as to whether the kinder actions I’ve undertaken outweigh the life episodes I’m less proud of. Leading to ambiguity whether I’ll be granted a subsequent onward journey to join cherubs in the utopian environs where social distancing edicts don’t apply, and you feast on marmite cheesecake.

Or, will yours truly’s soul be damned into purgatory, awaiting my onward allocation to a fiery place, where selflessness is frowned upon and Sky Sports subscription fees are even more prohibitive than on Earth.

If only there was some sort of objective guide into entry criteria parameters for both after-life destinations. Guidelines akin to the clearing system adopted by UK universities to allocate places for their particular alma maters.

For example, to join the holy trinity you need the following minimum grades manifesting from your lifetime behaviour:-

Religious Education ‘C’;   Divinity ‘C’;   Righteousness ‘B’;   Selflessness ‘B’;   Humanity ‘A’

If for some reason you wanted to go to the hot place, maybe borne from aspirations of topping up your tan or being unfazed at paying top dollar for sporting coverage, the following minimum access grades are required by Hell’s clearing house:-

Spite ‘B‘;   Gluttony ‘C’;   Covet neighbours ass ‘B’;  Bearing false witness ‘B’;  Murder ‘C’

As I’m pretty sure I’d not reach the aspirational grades for either destination, meaning a longer tarry in purgatory, I conclude it’s a blessing your ultimate destination remains a subjective decision.