John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

John Cale and Tom Jones at the Pearly Gates

This piece originally appeared as an 'Earbuzz' music column in the North Wales edition of the Daily Post.

St Peter is having a bad day. Some nuns and a greasy bunch of hells angels got muddled up in the sorting office, singeing the former beyond redemption and allowing the latter to rampage through the hallowed vaults, swigging nectar and piddling in the fountains. To make matters worse, St Peter has got the kind of boss who can truly make your life hell!

On this particular day in the distant future a temporary shortage of beds in heaven has meant that St Peter and his fellow bouncers are having to be particularly stringent as to who they let in. You wouldn't believe the amount of people who die and then forget to bring their ID with them.

There's a knock at the door... it used to be a gate, but that was in the good old days when anyone could leave their gate unlocked. St Peter draws himself up to his full ten feet, puffs out his wings and opens it. Outside there are two strange looking gentlemen. One has borrowed Christopher Lee's cheekbones, the other resembles a bull in very tight trousers designed for someone a quarter of his age.

"Ah, Jones and Cale... you're both late. I'm afraid we can only let one of you in." St Peter intones gravely. Jones and Cale look at each other nervously.

"Seeing as you are both musicians, the boss and I thought that we would discount any moral misdemeanours, like that sixteen year old and her five sisters in Vegas Mr Jones..." Jones blushes crimson, "and make our judgement instead on the basis of your musical contributions to humanity."

At this point Jones starts to look a little more confident. After all, HE has had hits spanning four decades, and he doubts whether the man standing next to him has ever had a hit at all. Jones puts a patronizing arm of consolation around Cale.

"Lets weigh up the evidence. You, Mr Jones, have given an inordinate amount of pleasure to older women worldwide with your manly chest and booming voice. You, Mr Cale, made music that appealed to art students who didn't shave their armpits and you also, erm... played the cello." Jones couldn't look cockier, Cale stares steadfastly at the horizon.

"Jones, you sold a trillion records worldwide, formerly as a sex crazed Cliff Richard wannabe, latterly as a rather ironic parody of yourself... Cale you have sold 8412 copies of all of your records, but with integrity and kudos." Jones still looks confident, although he has never heard of the groups 'In Too Gritty' and 'Coo Doss'.

"Jones you have filled a hole in many lonely women's lives, lifting them out of despair with your arthritic dancing and sweaty brow. Cale, you once filled a hole in your back garden with frozen peas, and then got Brian Eno to stamp on it just to see what sound it would make." Jones is wondering which shade of gold to get his halo in.

"Finally, Cale, you were a member of the one of the most influential bands ever; produced seminal records by The Stooges, Happy Mondays and Patti Smith; composed beautiful and elegiac instrumentals; have just completed the filming of Beautiful Mistakes, a collaborative affair joining you in artistic union with the finest new Welsh musicians... Super Furry Animals, Big Leaves, Gorkys and the Manics... no desperate bandwagon jumping to 'Reload' your career there!; and you don't wear silly leather pants either."

"On the other hand you, Mr Jones, do! And although you have given us a number of karaoke classics, it still isn't enough to save you from an eternity in the burning lake. I believe your taxi has just arrived... good day."

Jones turns forlornly to see a sulphurous Ford Granada pull up with a bad exhaust. Sitting in the driving seat is Elvis.

"Now, Mr Cale, tell me... will you be wanting Mr Reed as a neighbour, or shall I accidentally 'lose' his name off the guest-list too?"

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© 1999- Hans Werksman