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Really, is that all you've got, God?

IT'S the exact moment I realise, with some relief it has to be said, that I am not, after all, God.

Because this is when I find myself chasing a chicken around someone's front garden in the middle of a storm, as Snoop Dogg booms 'mutha-f*****' at me from the shiny red leather interior of the tinted-window pimpmobile I suddenly find myself driving for the weekend.

It's all down to what Dylan calls A Simple Twist of Fate – and until now, I had rather worried that perhaps, like in the film Bruce Almighty, I was a sort of Jim Carrey character with whom the heavens were conspiring to make life suddenly as surreal as possible.

In fact, I lament between lurches, if anything, I'm a sort of Sisyphus – the bloke in Greek legend doomed to push a boulder uphill forever – the boulder in this case being the loop track of life's irritations that stalks me (though it does look a little as if Sisyphus is being played by a rather out-of-shape Jim Carrey).


The chicken belongs to friends who have taken our daughter on holiday. The pimpmobile, which makes me feel like a giant balloon full of lard on collapsible stilts every time I cram myself behind the wheel, belongs to another friend, who is helping me out with a 'loaner' after our family minivan broke down, which is wonderful of him, except that I can't figure out how to turn off the rap music.

Finally flinging the chicken back over the garden fence then jimmying myself behind the wheel – a process, I can't help thinking, not unlike a fat astronaut trying to manoeuvre into a tube aboard the International Space Station – I go back over some of the events that led me here today.

It begins that morning, as the wind and rain howl outside in a way that can only be described as biblical, with a phone call. It's the secondary school and our 14-year-old son.

"I need a lamb's heart," he mumbles without so much as a hello, "for biology. I forgot."

"Thank heavens," I tell him, "I thought something 'offal' had happened."

Silence. "I'll leave it in to the school office," I say and he hangs up.

"Can you pick up some snacks for Jessica while you're out?" asks my wife, wrinkling her nose about the heart. "For the bus," she explains. "She's going away for the weekend. Remember?"

"Of course," I lie. "Oh, by the way," I tell her, "the car's acting funny."

"Funnier than you, I hope," she says into her coffee cup. "Should we bring it to the garage?"

"Let's just see what happens," I say. Five simple words, you'd think, but with the power, evidently, to open fate's floodgates or, depending on how Pythonesque your beliefs are, to make a Terry Gilliam-style God snap his giant fingers and summon up a little madness.

At the supermarket, I'm annoyed that you can only get lamb hearts in packs of three. "Triplets," I tell a rather wan-looking checkout girl, who clutches her mouth with one hand and bobs her eyeballs as though she might need a bucket.

I drop the biology lesson in to the school office without a bag. "My son forgot his lunch," I say, making the secretary recoil.

The car shudders as I pull in for petrol and the snacks I've been ordered to pick up, but it's only when I'm turning in to the tiny road to her school that it conks – and just as the heavens open again.

"Really?" I sneer at the clouds. "Is this the best you can do?" And if there really was a bearded man up there somewhere, this would probably be where he booms, "No, I can make things weirder if you like."

And out of nowhere, as if I'd wished it, the car is suddenly being pushed silently along by invisible hands into a waiting parking space and I look to see it's a helpful crew of bin men.

I call a friend. "You can have my other car," he says. "Keep it for the weekend."

"The coupe?" I gulp. "Really?" Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket today, too.

I don't know how many times in my life I am destined to wait for three hours in a storm for a tow truck, but it's all made more bearable by the growl of what is possibly the least practical substitute for our family minivan imaginable. Which is why I wonder for a moment if I am, in fact, making all this happen.

Daughter duly delivered to our friends, I find out we're looking after their dog, which seems a fair exchange – I've just to leave some keys under their mat for a workman who's coming later.


Which is how I arrive at their house to find their chicken has got out and next thing I know I'm skidding around their front lawn as Doggystyle blares from the idling car.

"There is no God," I think to myself as I dive through a flurry of feathers – and I cannot accept that this is fate because it's too degrading. No, I decide, there is only chaos, which, despite our best attempts to organise it, more often takes us down some twisted turn into the downrightly bizarre.

I arrive home muddied, ears ringing with rap. "What's for dinner?" asks Sammy.

"Chicken," I mutter, brushing off a feather, then adding: "I'm joking. It's lamb. Come on, cough up." And as I snap my fingers, his frozen mask of abject horror and disgust is so comical that it almost makes the whole day seem worthwhile.