The story so far. Some anxious truth-seekers have made contact with a restless spirit called Nil who has promised to answer their questions about the meaning of life, the universe and Haile Selassie's socks.
So what do you want to know? Or shall I give you my usual spiel about the higher planes and the journey through the levels of consciousness? For some reason that always seems to go down well...
If we’ve had to pass a test to prove our intellectual ability why should you get away with your ‘usual spiel’?
Fair enough. So what’s it to be?
Start with the big one. What is the purpose of life?
Now you’ve got chutzpah, I’ll say that for you. You think you can just roll up, tickle my engine, ask a couple of questions and be immediately rewarded with what you call The Big One. Gautama Buddha had to wander around for years with barely a blanket on his back working his way slowly and painfully towards enlightenment. St Francis had to do the same and charm the birds off the trees to boot. Even Dan Quayle had to work hard to strip everything away and reach his current levels of simplicity. But you just pull out a bottle of South Australian chardonnay and think ‘shall we turn on the news or shall we clean the kitchen floor? Oh no, let’s just get Nil to tell us the meaning of it all.’
We thought you already offered us a trailer for this wisdom of the ages you were going to be peddling.
And so I did. But have a bit of patience. All will in the end be revealed. In the mean time, set your sights a little lower. You could ask me about Clark Gable, for example.
Why would we want to do that?
You might want to know how he’s getting on out here. Or Marilyn Monroe. Or Gina Lollobrigida.
She’s still alive.
And has designed a fountain pen in honour of UNICEF – you can’t beat me on Hollywood trivia. These are just examples.
These are just religious icons produced by the dream department of global capitalism to keep the Western masses’ minds off their misery.
Ah, we could have done with you in the Bolsheviks back in July 1917 when we still seemed a long way from power.
You took part in the Russian Revolution?
Of course. Lenin took the credit for a lot of my best ideas. I don’t begrudge it him, mind – he was, after all, before his time in so many ways. He’s been a blueprint for socialist leaders throughout the century – he turned his back on socialist economics and embraced capitalism with his New Economics Programme in 1921. You might say he had class.
Nil isn’t a scrambled version of Leon, by any chance?
No, unfortunately you won’t find me in any of the official textbooks: Trotsky may have been exiled and bumped off but I was the first person to be written out of history and airbrushed out of photos with a totalitarian sweep of the pen.
What about Stalin – did you know him?
Sure – boring guy with big eyebrows who never said anything, just did the shit work for us while we wittered on about changing the world. Next thing we knew, of course, the big eyebrows were staring down from every hoarding in town. There’s no personality cult worse than the cult of someone with no personality at all. Stalin just didn’t like my jokes – and that was the end of that life.
Next month: the ethereal tour takes you from ancient Hindu scripture to Bill Clinton’s murky insides in one fell swoop.