Greta Garbo was hiding in my cup of tea

Greta Garbo was hiding in my cup of tea. Elvis was curled up in the cutlery drawer. Most of The Beatles were scattered around the cupboards.

This was the canteen of the afterlife. Here, things were different. Former celebrities were reduced to mute doll sized figures who were kept as living ornaments and trinkets alongside housewares.

The normal everyday deceased, like me, were not unusual in any way, but we had voices in this place; the famous did not.

Photo by Zen Chung on

On Tuesday, the canteen had mashed potatoes on special. I took a large portion, since it was always my favourite as a child. I chewed on it and stopped when a miniature King Alfred got stuck between my incisors.

My dead relatives sat together, moaning about this. It simply wasn’t good enough to have such irritation in the midst of eternal bliss. But there was no formal complaints procedure.

“Is there a problem?” a booming voice came down at us. God had appeared at our table. I looked up at him.

My great grandfather sighed. “Now you’re in trouble,” he muttered.

“I have a concern about food hygiene,” I said boldly.

“I know you do,” said God. “I know everything that concerns you.”


God bent down and looked me square in the eye. “Everything.”

“Heaven is nice, don’t get me wrong, Lord. But these mini celebs, are they absolutely necessary? Whitney Houston was swimming circles in my coffee last week. Today, Garbo in my tea.”

Great grandfather added, “With me it’s Robert Plant hiding in my plants.”

“So,” said God, “You are in Heaven, you are eternally protected and forever free of troubles, and fame is nothing here, celebrity is nothing, you are very much at peace.”

“Yes, but….”

“And nothing can ever hurt you.”


“And you are worried about hygiene why?”

I could not answer that. God was right. I felt ridiculous.

A tiny Michael Jackson burst from my mashed potato and moondanced off the table.

“Should we just… eat them?” I asked.

“Why not?”, he said. “In so many ways, you consumed them metaphorically in your life, so now in the afterlife you can consume them literally. It will do you no harm, as I said. You can’t die or be hurt.”

“But won’t it hurt them?”

God laughed heartily before whispering, “No. They are just toys. Always were. Play things, chew toys, for you – my pets.”

“Fair enough,” said my great grandfather, who fished a mini Steve Jobs from his cup and tossed him across the room. I couldn’t help myself; I ran after him, picked him up, chewed him and shook him until he squeaked.

“Good boy,” said God. “Now, beg.”

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