Shazia Mirza’s Weekend Column

Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door the other morning. I opened the door by mistake, thinking it was the FedEx man with my Spiderman DVDs. They didn’t look like the good old-fashioned Jehovah’s, who used to knock in pairs at 8am on a Saturday morning wearing smart suits. I could spot them coming, and hide under the bed – I’m not a morning person. I prefer to wait until after lunch to be shown the light.

There was a woman with a teenage boy in a white tracksuit and trainers. They’ve obviously changed their tactics; they must be using the same PR person as the BNP. You’d never think they were churchgoers. I suppose they are dressing down to broaden their appeal. Maybe next I’ll have an Islamist knocking on my door wearing hot pants.

The woman said to me, “Can I talk to you about how to cope with the end of the world?” I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. At the moment I can’t cope with my overgrown garden. I said, “The end of the world? When’s that happening? I’ll put it in my diary.”

“Sooner than you think,” she replied. I do admire these people. They dress up on a Saturday and sell faith. I couldn’t sell double-glazing, never mind God.

These days God is like a C90 cassette tape – a bit behind the times. It’s so fashionable to be an atheist. Everyone claims to be one. Like in the 90s, everyone was a Buddhist, then doing Kabbalah. Then a load of yoga, Indian spiritual retreats, acupuncture, and Pilates. Then suddenly everyone was bulimic orwheat intolerant. People pulledme aside at parties, saying, “Oh yeah, I’m so intolerant to wheat, lactose, sugar, air.” I always wanted to say, “I’m intolerant to you, now fuck off!”

The older generation wasn’t like this. My parents were never intolerant to anything – except single mothers and Val Doonican.

Richard Dawkins has even set up a children’s atheist summer camp, where my friend is sending her kids. Infidel. Apparently, they go canoeing, play games and then spend two hours a day discussing if God is real. These kids are aged eight to 15. When I was eight we had enough trouble discussing whether King Kong was real.

What happened to Butlins, and catching fleas off a donkey in Blackpool? Where’s the fun in spending your summer talking about atheism? It must be really crap when you go back to school in September with your new pencil case and all your mates are talking about Disneyland Paris and Alton Towers, and all you can do is say, “I spent 42 hours discussing the existence or non existence of an abstract belief.”

At least Islamic fundamentalists are upfront about their brainwashing. These atheists are cunning – they lure them in with canoeing and cake. There must be a part of Richard Dawkins that is petrified: I wonder if in his deepest, darkest times, when things are going really badly, a part of him worries there may be a God. Because if there is, this is the man who will get punished the worst. This is the Nick Griffin of atheism. As for agnostics, they’re just bland. They are the Liberal Democrats of the God world.

Atheism is not the only trendy self-diagnosis. Now suddenly everyone’s saying they’re bipolar. Stephen Fry reveals he is, and everyone’s turning up to dinner parties saying, “I’m so bipolar, I’m really happy one minute then I’m just a total serial killer.” I wonder if they understand the significance of casually claiming to have aserious medical condition. What next? “Oh yeah, I’ve been really run down, I’ve got a bit of rabies.” “I’m so tired these days – I think I’m borderline dysentery.”

Let’s just scrap the medical profession and all start self-diagnosing on Twitter. It would be no worse than my doctor. Every time I go to her with a problem, she looks up mysymptoms in a book, then Googles it. “I’ve got terrible ­ headaches, blocked nose, sinus problems.” Her diagnosis is always the same: “You need a smear test.”