The surprise guest-speaker at the Brighton conference of the Conservative Party in 2004 was none other than the Archangel Gabriel, our Southern Reporter can reveal.
After a stirring speech in which Gabriel castigated past and present leaders of the Tory movement for their mistakes, he urged the present generation of the party to repent of all their previous sins so as to pave their way to Heaven. "I have come to prepare a way for you" was his sound-bite.
Then, following a "rapturous" applause with no less than three standing ovations he took questions from the floor. Here are a selection:
"Archangel Gabriel, Sir", (for no-one was exactly sure how to properly address an archangel, and frantic enquiries by the party chairman to the Vatican found that the Pope was on holiday in Bangkok and not to be disturbed), "How did you get here?"
"I descended in a pillar of fire and smoke. Next?"
"Gabriel, is the end of the World nigh?"
"Only if the Lib Dems get in at the next election. Next?"
"Sir, Why did you choose a run-down seedy resort like Brighton to make your first appearance on Earth for 6000 years?"
"Because, my child, all human beings are equal in Heaven, and I wished to point out that the beggars on the streets of Brighton, or Bexhill-on-Sea, or anywhere else for that matter, are no less worthy than the billionaire party sponsors."
"Gabe, if I may call you that, where do you hang out?"
"I hang out, as you put it, at the Left Hand of God".
"Sh-sh-shouldn't that be the R-r-right Hand?" stuttered one of the party faithful.
"No indeed, that is reserved for someone much more important than I"
"Me!" interjected Michael Howard, the party leader, beaming.
"Alas, no! Someone even more important than you!"
"Finally Sir, you bear an uncanny resemblance to John Redwood".
"Don't be so ridiculous!"
Gabriel exits stage left with his tail between his legs.