I am sitting on a bench in St Anne’s Park, near Kennington, a can of Kestrel Superstrength in my hand. The wind is blowing cold and my jacket is full of holes. Next to me sits the decrepit figure of an old weather-beaten wino. He gestures at the can in my hand:


“The doctrine of the Jiji-Muge tells us” he whispers to me with a sly smile, “that what you hold in your hand is not just a can of lager. It is at the same time a glass of fine old port, a mug of hot chocolate, a cup of tea. It is at the same time, in absolute verity, a chicken-tikka-masala sandwich, an armalite rifle, the crown jewels….”


“And you! You are simultaneously the Queen of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Elvis Presley! You are the Pope, the President of the United States, Jack the Ripper….”


“And who are you?” I ask.


“Folk call me Maitreya, Lord of Light,” he smiles as he rises unsteadily to his feet. Silently, I watch him depart, swaying and stumbling as he goes.








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