Sue Doku – Goddess of Boring Journeys

Some say it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. That the journey is the reward. Followers of Sue Doku see the journey as a trial to be ameliorated with amusements and snacks. She is said to have originated during the long sea voyages of ancient history, but her appearance has changed and developed as much as our transportation habits have over the millennia. Sue Doku’s divine consort is Traffique D’Lay – God of Roadworks and Adverse Weather. Her best friend is the water nymph Sheewee. Her sacred animal is a spaniel who likes to ride along with its head out of the window and its tongue and ears flapping in the slipstream.

Her temples are housed in motorway rest stops (which is why they are called Motorway Services) and airports. (Attempts to also move into bus and rail stations were abandoned after they were vigorously resisted by the church of Cancelle, the Goddess of Public Transport). If you have travelled, you will almost certainly have unwittingly visited one. The outer compounds of the temples house exciting and convenient dining and shopping opportunities. The restaurants are exclusively staffed by chefs of short stature. The proceeds of these businesses fund the church. This is why their prices tend to be somewhere between “HOW MUCH!?” and “Quick! Get the defibrillator!” The “public service” work of this faith seems to be limited to providing free public conveniences.

Amongst the unique products you can purchase at a Temple of Sue Doku are the Consecrated Chewable Toothbrushes, perfect if you have the triple curse of halitosis, hunger and heresy. They are available in vending machines in the toilets, so you can hide your shame as you make your discrete purchase. Some temples sell Black Toblerones (considered to be the food of the Gods). They are doubly rare, as the Airport Temples are the only places where one can buy these delicious plane chocolates. One can also purchase CDs of Sue Doku’s sacred music, such as the famous compilation “Now That’s What I Call Songs That Will Get On Your Nerves”. This includes the ever popular “As I Wonder Through the Valley of the Shadows of Death, I Wonder Whether We Are Nearly There Yet?”, the uplifting sing-along track “Halt This Conveyance. I Need a Wee Wee”, the haunting “Ego Sentio Vomitum Satiata”, and the breakaway hit “Don’t Let Jesus Take the Wheel, He Lived in the 1st Century CE, Never Passed His Test and I’m Not Sure Whether the Fluid in His Sports Bottle is Still Water”.

The last notable products I will mention, which can be purchased from Sue Doku’s temples, are her sacred texts. If you wish to search for the word, this is where you would do well to look. These texts are always in paperback form, and come with a free pencil and the chance to win an Italian family holiday in Depressa. They contain collections of philosophical conundrums to stimulate a person’s spiritual side, and help maintain cognitive function during times when one fears one’s brain might atrophy from sheer ennui.

In the inner sanctum where “Services” are held, the seating provided for the congregation is in the form of 81 box pews in a 9×9 formation, subdivided into 9 squares of 9 boxes with narrow aisles running between them. Exactly 405 worshippers must attend each service. Before the service can start, they must seat themselves so that in each sub square of 9 box pews, one box contains one worshipper, another contains two, another contains three, and so on up to the last box which seats 9. Not only that, but they believe that if, in the full grid of the seating, any line contains more than one box with the same number of people in it, the world will end. In the early days of the faith, it would take hours of shuffling and seat switching before a service could commence. Nowadays, a few of the priesthood will already be seated when the congregation start to arrive, to give them some clues. This reduces the time taken to seat the congregation to roughly the duration of the average coffee break. Once they are seated, the officiating priest will don holy orange lifejacket and oxygen mask, point out the emergency exits here, here and here, and demonstrate how to use the ceremonial emergency whistle. During the service, each congregation member will be given a complimentary boiled sweet. Although in more health conscious modern times, these Barley Sugars are being replaced with Barely Sugars. Each service traditionally ends with dancing, when the priest finally belts up, and the worshippers take their partners by the hand for the “Inertia Reel”.

It is not all work for the Priesthood. They also practice an unusual and unique martial art for discipline, entertainment and sport. This is a form of wrestling where the winner is the one who makes their opponent hit themselves the most times. The wrestling ring is modelled on the back seat of a family car. The most infamous bouts in the history have always been fought between siblings. Perhaps the most notoriously bloody of these was the 1987 “Pagga in the Peugeot”, which was fought between 9 year old twins just outside Newport Pagnell. It began with the singing of the national anthem, and ended with a trip to A&E and suspension of pocket money.

If you wish to be initiated into the priesthood of Sue Doku, you will first be thoroughly interviewed to ensure your suitability. First they will demand to know whether you identify as an animal, vegetable or mineral. Then you will be asked a series of 20 probing questions, to which you can only answer yes or no. If the interviewing priest can correctly divine your true nature from this process, then you are accepted into the clergy. You may find the church leadership to be quite argumentative and confrontational, they are always having cross words. The current head of Sue Doku’s church is The Very Tedious Ian Spye. He is chauffer driven around the country to perform his duties in a yellow car. Have fun looking out for his distinctive vehicle when you are on the roads yourself. If you see him, be sure to shout out “Yellow Car!”

You will never hear a priest of Sue Doku on BBC Radio’s “Thought for the Day”. This is because they get their own slot for a couple of minutes, twice an hour. This broadcast does its best to warn Sue Dokuites of potential perils in the day’s journey ahead of them. The church also evangelises through inspirational religious slogans, like “Melior quam foris interius”, printed on those complimentary aeroplane sick bags you find in your seat pocket.

I will leave you with a few lines from one of Sue Doku’s well known prayers for air travellers.

“May the runway fall away beneath you,
May the wind always be at your back,
May the person in the seat next to you be pleasant,
And may you be upgraded to first class,
May your pilot be sober,
And may your baggage arrive at your destination,
May the volcanic ash clouds not ground your flight,
And may security not pull you aside for a full cavity search,
And until we meet again,
May the Goddess hold you in the palm of her hand,
And not squeeze too tight during air turbulence.”

(Author’s note: If you zoom in on the picture, both the Sudoku puzzle and the word search are proper puzzles. Have fun.)

Thank you to Adam Broadhurst for suggesting Sue Doku. He has just come back from a holiday in the Scottish Isles, so I can’t think where he got the idea from.

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