Metro column 41

Richard Herring: Divine inspiration comes in unlikely forms
Richard Herring discovers some unexpected - and unlikely - divine inspiration while writing this week's Metro column.

I was sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a skinny latte, failing to write my Metro column. This is how I spend most of my work time. It takes an awful lot of over-priced coffee and a tremendous amount of doing sod all before inspiration strikes. But, luckily, sometimes life throws me a bone.

I gazed out of the window and was surprised to see a bedraggled, bearded figure standing stock-still and glaring back at me, a half-smile dancing on his lips. He resembled John the Baptist but not as wet and with one more head. For one unsettling moment, I wondered if only I could see him. Or what if he was me? Had I travelled back in time from some dystopian future to warn me/him about the coming Apocalypse? Or to give me/him an idea for this week’s Metro column?

He (or me) was holding up a piece of cardboard that had been ripped off the bottom of a box. It had something writing on it. ‘God raised crucified son Jshua from the dead. Pure almighty Jshua reigns.’

Phew, it wasn’t me from the future at all, just some deluded person with no sense of reality.

He held up the sign long enough for people to read, his eyes flashing slightly and then moved on. In the next hour, he came back four times. He was clearly working his way up and down the street on a loop.

As a promotional exercise this was much less in your face than that infuriating Christian preacher with the megaphone who used to stand outside Oxford Circus Tube station shouting: ‘Be a winner, not a sinner!’ Just because something rhymes doesn’t make it true. Because if it does then: ‘Be a sinner and a winner’ is equally good.

Today, we weren’t being badgered or cajoled or told what to think. This man just wanted us to know about Jshua and how pure and reigning he was and then we could make up our own mind. It was polite. It was informative. But was it effective?
Richard Herring column tram prophet The 'tramp prophet' passed by the same spot four times (Picture: Metro)

Was the bottom of a cardboard box held up by one man enough to really introduce this new Messianic figure, Jshua, to a not particularly interested coffee-drinking public. Especially when his life story seemed so similar to Jesus, with the crucifixion and the same dad.

Had the strange prophet accidentally misspelled Jesus? Or did he have his own name for the same person? Surely no one would cloud the issue by trying to popularise an alternate identity now that the Jesus brand is so successful. It took a lot of effort to turn Opal Fruits into Starburst and even after all the money spent on promotion and packaging I still call them Opal Fruits. And I always will.

Jshua’s underdog status appealed to me. Jesus gets a bloke with a megaphone (and, let’s face it, quite a formidable army of vicars and churches and Songs Of Praise) but plucky Jshua just gets this silent man with a cardboard box. Wouldn’t the true Messiah have a humble advertising agency?

The spooky thing is that now I’ve written about him, that simple scribbled message has been communicated to millions of potential worshippers. For free. And for that miracle alone, I am converting to Jshuaism (which has the additional benefit of sounding like a kick-ass martial art). Pure Almighty Jshua reigns. Spread it. And if you don’t spread it the… nothing bad will happen. That’s what makes Jshuaism so cool. It’s take it or leave it. No hard sell. If only other religions were as secure, undemonstrative and Jshua-like.

See Richard Herring’s reworking of his smash-hit 2002 show, Talking Cock: The Second Coming, on his nationwide tour. Visit for tickets.

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