Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Much Ado About Laughter

Groucho Marx said, outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend, and inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER is a book of short humourous stories and anecdotes, some heard here and there over the years, others originating from the deep recesses of my mind. Already published on this Blog, they have been selected by me and my loyal readers as amongst our favourites to hopefully make you smile when life is dark and miserable, or even when a bright light shines inside your dog.

My English teacher always said never split an infinitive. So he will not be happy with “to hopefully make you smile”; but then, he never smiled either, and he did not write a book like this did he?

He also told me once “Your grammar stinks!” Which was very hurtful I think, especially since my grandma always smelled of lavender perfume and eau de cologne.

At last MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER is available from HERE

Sit down, relax and get ready to smile. With some stories selected by you, our loyal readers, this book is so funny that even the author bought a copy – someone has to!

This is what the critics say, (what do they know anyway):

A book that even Shakespeare could not have written.

A book that's talked about in all the good talking circles.

A book with as many pages as there are between its covers.

A book that did not have to be written - but it has!

A book with a beginning and an end.

And now, for your amusement and delectation, here are 2 minutes of superlative musical composition to delight your auditory faculties as well as your visionary senses whilst simultaneously providing informatory material about the now printed manuscript in question.

A 2 minute trailer advertising MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER


From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it. (Groucho Marx).


Monday, 20 March 2017

Saint Joseph

On the left side of St Vincent church, right in front by the Altar, just by the Sacristy door, there’s a large statue of Our Lady. On the right side of the altar, hanging on the wall, there’s a picture of St Vincent, the Patron Saint of the church.

Mother Superior found in the Convent, in an old storeroom, a large statue of St Joseph and the baby Jesus. It was exactly the same size as the statue of Our Lady.

She suggested to Father Ignatius that the statue be restored and put on the right of the Altar, and for the picture of St Vincent to be moved elsewhere in the Church.

On the appointed day the beautifully restored statue of St Joseph was put in its rightful place on the right side of the church and Father Ignatius led a short prayer meeting for all involved. A few nuns from the convent were there, as well as the restorer and a few helpers, and Mrs Davenport the priests’ housekeeper.

After leading the prayers Father Ignatius said a few words.

“I’m so glad that Mother Superior suggested we put this statue here to honor St Joseph; and I thank her for her kindness and generosity in donating the statue which was found in the convent.

“I’d like us to think for a while about St Joseph as an individual.

“Here we have a man, often depicted in pictures and statues as being a little advanced in age, we don’t know really how old he was when he met Mary … but she always looks much younger doesn’t she?

“Anyway … here we have a man intending to marry the young lady he loves and no doubt start a family which he will look after by way of his job as a humble carpenter.

“When one day he finds out she is pregnant. I don’t know about you … but I’d feel really hurt and cheated if it happened to me. How could she? And I trusted her so?

“Aren’t these the thoughts that would cross your minds … Peter, Ken and Mark?”

He looked at the three young men in the little prayer group and they smiled coyly.

“And I’d bet if it happened to you you’d run a mile in the opposite direction … wouldn’t you?” he asked them.

They did not reply.

“Oh … but there’s more …” said the priest, “not only did Joseph’s girlfriend promise him that she did not cheat on him … no, wait for it. She tells him that she is carrying the Son of God. Yes … she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and she’s carrying the Son of God.

“Now in those days it would have been a great scandal to have a baby if you’re not married. You would have been ostracized by your family for a start for bringing shame upon them.

“Chances are you would have been stoned to death too …

“But to say that you’re carrying the Son of God from a Virgin pregnancy would have been blasphemy of the highest order. Either that, or people would have thought you’d lost your mind … simply gone mad and left to suffer the consequences.

“Yet, despite all these risks to her good name and indeed to her safety Mary had the courage and the Faith to trust in God and say ‘Yes’ when the Angel visited her. We should always be grateful for her saying ‘Yes’.

“Can you imagine? An Angel appeared to her … if it was me I’d probably fall off my chair with fright at the sight of such a visitation.”

They all laughed.

“And can you imagine poor old Joseph? His head must have been really spinning in a daze … and without the benefit of a Guinness or two!

“First she tells him she’s pregnant, then she says it’s a Virgin birth and the baby is the Son of God.

“Over to you three young men … what would you do in such circumstances?”

He paused for a second or two and did not give them time to reply.

“But the Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream … we don’t know if it was the same Angel Gabriel, but never mind. And like Mary, Joseph too has great Faith and he believes what he is told. He stays with Mary and raises the young infant as any good father would. And for this too we should be always grateful.

“I am very pleased to have the statue of St Joseph and the baby Jesus here and that of Our Lady on the other side of the Altar over there. The Holy Family on either side of the Altar reminding us of Faith in God and parental responsibility.

“I would like now to read you a short prayer to St Joseph. This prayer is said to be over 1900 years old. It was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the 1500's it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. It is a novena to be prayed for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail.

“O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.”

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rich Man Poor Man - How about you?

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ Luke 16:19-31.

I am sure you all know this parable by Jesus. The story continues that the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to go and warn the rich man's family to mend their ways. And this request too is denied.

So ... what have we to learn from this parable in today's modern times?

These days we have people so rich that they treat their pets better than many poor people are treated. Years ago I knew a couple who had a little dog. You know the kind ... a little bijou type dog like a small poodle or such like. They liked that dog very much. So much so that they put a plate full of best cuts of ham, or other meats, on the table and then they would lift the dog on a high chair and he would eat at table with them.

The first time this happened I was astounded. I said nothing of course; but somehow I felt bad that the dog was fed the best meat one could buy when there are so many folks going hungry.

For all I know, maybe this couple were very generous in life. Maybe they gave a lot of money to charity, or looked after the down-and-outs in the local homeless shelter. But somehow, seeing that dog eating expensive meats that I could not afford made me feel bad.

What do we learn from the Lazarus story?

How much should we give to charity? What is enough? Or not enough?

In another parable Jesus tells us of the poor widow who gave her last pennies in the collection plate. He says that her gift was worth more than that of rich people, because she gave until it hurt.

What does give until it hurts mean for us these days? Is it OK to give to charities so much that it begins to affect our family and our loved ones? Is it acceptable that our children should go without something because we have been generous towards the poor? Where do you draw the line between your family not having something at the expense of a poor man having a good meal for the first time in ages.

I once was having a meal with a priest. There were many of us round the table. I was young and perhaps foolish in what I thought or said. I asked him, "Father, is it OK for us to be having such a feast here; when there are so many people starving in the world?"

He was a wise man. He smiled and said, "There will always be starving people in the world. I know the temptation is to give all you have to the poor to the point of you going without. But if you did that, then you too will be poor and relying on others for charity. What you should do is give to the poor as much as you can afford, and thank God that you have plenty for yourself, and trust Him that He will look after the poor. You are God's instrument in life to give to those less well off than yourself."

I suppose the lesson to be learnt here is that we should not deny things for ourselves and our families. There's nothing wrong in working hard and being well-off. Indeed, Christ encourages people to work hard in the parable of the servants given talents which they increase in time.

But in our riches, we need to remember those less well-off than us; and to give them "enough" as much as we can.

What is enough? Or not enough?

This is something you will have to discuss with God when you get to meet Him.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Baked Beans Dilemma

Every so often I like to have a full English breakfast. Beans on toast, fried eggs and tomatoes, sausages and bacon as well as mushrooms.

So there I was last Saturday preparing breakfast for the family. The eggs were frying happily in the pan whilst the sausages and bacon were under the grill. The mushrooms and tomatoes warming gently and the toast just popped out of the toaster.

I opened a can of beans, poured it in the pan and ... to my surprise, it was all tomato sauce. I looked deep in the pan ... just tomato sauce. I stirred in a spoon and  ... success ... I found one bean. Just one bean. The whole can was filled with tomato sauce and just one bean.

I looked under the lid in case the other beans were hiding there. But no ... none were to be seen.

I read the label in case this was a new economy brand of beans with fewer beans to cut costs. But no ... it seemed a normal can. The ingredients said "65% beans, 20% tomato juice, 10% water." It did not say what the remaining 5% was made of.

I read the instructions again, in case they expected me to plant the bean and grow more beans like in the story Jack and the Beanstalk. But no ... all it said was heat gently in a pan for a few minutes. Do not let boil.

So ... what do I do next? Breakfast is almost ready. The family is gathering round the table. I search the cupboard for another tin. There was none. This was the last one.

I hear singing from the other room, "Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?"
What do I do in this situation? I can hardly serve beans on toast with no beans? Or cut the one bean into tiny portions to serve everyone?

What would you do?

I quickly picked a packet of frozen peas from the freezer and poured a generous portion into the beans sauce and turned the heat on.

Et voila ... baked peas on toast.

The family complained that these were not beans. I told them they were a new kind of green beans especially imported from Greenland where everything is green.

They did not believe me. They said these were peas in a tomato sauce.

I think education is a bad thing. People should believe what I tell them not what they have learnt.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Forgive Forget Reconcile - NONSENSE

Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus said to the disciples, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven ..."

A more modern interpretation of the passage above is that we should forgive, forget, and reconcile with (love) our enemies.

Easier said than done.

God knows that, and He understands when, often, we cannot achieve this commandment to the letter.

Let us analyse it a little further.

Forgiveness is an act, a positive act, not a feeling. We cannot say I feel I have forgiven him, therefore I have. We must decide to forgive, whether or not the other person has sought forgiveness or even cares whether we have forgiven him or not. We decide, deep in our hearts, that we no longer bear any ill-will towards that person. No longer do we want revenge, punishment or retribution of any kind. We have totally forgiven them once and for all - and ... here is the difficult bit: WE CAN PROVE IT TO GOD SHOULD HE ASK US TO.

So ... we have dealt with the first bit of the equation. We have truly forgiven.

The second bit is forgetting. This is almost impossible. God created us with a memory and short of hypnotism or some accident or action that leads to loss of memory, we will remember.

The deeper the hurt done to us, the more we will remember. The slightest thing will trigger that memory. A song perhaps, a picture, visiting a place, something someone says ... and we will remember once again the hurt done to us. We may resent the hurt done to us. We may become bitter and perhaps angry. This is natural and we should not reproach ourselves about it. God knows about these feelings because He created us this way - with a memory that brings back to life the bad times in our lives.

Let us use these bad memories to forgive once again. Let them be a trigger to decide once more to forgive the one who hurt us. Let them be an opportunity to pray for that person and hand them over to God. To ask Him to take care of them and to get them to know Him better.

The final bit of the equation is to "love" or reconcile with our enemy. The one who hurt us.

As an ideal state, this is worth pursuing. But let us not fool ourselves. There are times when this is impossible, or indeed it is imperative that we do not reconcile with the one who has hurt us.

Let me explain.

As human beings one of our basic instincts is to protect ourselves, and our loved ones, from danger and from evil. Again ... God created us this way.

There are times when to reconcile with the one who hurt us puts us, or our loved ones, back into a situation of danger.

Let's look at an example scenario:

Imagine a case of divorce. Is it really possible that the couple reconcile again to the extent that they live together again as husband and wife as before ... as if nothing had happened? To live together without the slightest doubt, suspicion, fear or feelings that led to the divorce in the first place?

Let us raise the stakes a little.

What if the actions of one of the spouses had created havoc in their life as well as yours? What if that action repeated itself over and over again with not the slightest intent or effort to improve the situation. Is it still possible for you to reconcile totally knowing full well that the chances are there will be a repeat of that action, putting you and yours in danger? Would it be the prudent thing for you to do? To reconcile totally and keep your fingers crossed and hope against hope?

Let us raise the stakes some more.

What if the actions of your spouse had hurt badly someone you love? Your parents for instance, or your offspring? What if to reconcile and return back to your spouse would mean hurting these people once again; or indeed put them in some danger? Would you still reconcile totally?

I think I made my point.

To forgive that individual who hurt us is a decision that we can make; and we can forgive them again and again every time the memories come back to haunt us. God asks no more than that.

But to reconcile totally and go back to a situation as it was before is not always possible.

God does not ask for that. He does not ask us to put ourselves and others in danger for the sake of "loving our enemies".

We can easily love them from a distance. We love them in our hearts in as much as we pray for them and re-affirm again and again in our hearts that we have forgiven them.

Christ did say to His disciples that at times they should leave certain places and shake the dust from their sandals.

He did not say return there again and put yourself in danger of being attacked, arrested or killed.

When some of His followers could no longer accept His teachings when He said, "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him"; they got up and left Him. He did not call them back and attempt to explain. He just let them go. He forgave them and let them go.

That is what we are asked to do ... some times ... to those who have hurt us. To forgive them ... again and again ... and let them go.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Richard The Lion Liver

This is the crest of Sir Richard the Lion Liver; one of my ancestors several times removed. The more often he was removed the more he returned. He dates back from medieval times and his crest was recently discovered at a garage sale. So they kept the crest and sold the garage.

Anyway, for those of you interested in learning about this great knight, (and you'd better do so because I'll be asking test questions later), please click HERE. I said HERE, not anywhere. Just click on the word HERE. Honestly, some people have to be told more than once where to click.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The dangers of hypnosis in a sophisticated self-assured society

Ah ... I knew the title to this article would spark your interest. But let me explain that this is a serious issue which affects many people in this modern society of ours. You may think that hypnotism and hypnosis are to do with the mind; and you'd be right. But I thought it's all to do with the hips really. Especially if you go to the wrong doctor. As I did.

I went to this man whom I thought dealt with hips because I'd had a minor accident which made it difficult to walk properly. I had accidentally taken the cat for a walk instead of the dog and I fell off a tree. I landed on my backside and may have hurt my hip. So off to the hypnotist I went.

He sent me to the hospital for some X rays. The photo showed me full of bones which I confess I do not recall ever eating.

I went back to the hypnotist, who apparently was in fact a psychiatrist, rather than a hypnotist as such. He used hypnosis as part of his treatment for certain conditions. Anyway, he said he'd discussed the X- rays with the hospital and there was nothing wrong with me except some bruising which will heal in time. He added that if I was a bit more "weighty" my bigger backside would have cushioned me from any pain.

I discussed with him how I am very careful with what I eat, and how I fear putting on weight. He asked me to lie on his couch. I asked him why, fearing this was serious. He replied: "Our cleaner did not turn up today, and I'd like to vacuum clean where you're standing whilst you're talking!"

When he finished cleaning the room he suggested he hypnotises me to discover my fear of eating. I laid back on the couch and pretty soon I was fast asleep.

I don't know what he told me, but he must have been very persuasive, because when he woke me up I had eaten half his couch.

He wanted to charge me for the damaged couch; but I complained that it was his fault. He may have persuaded me to find an appetite; but did he need a leather couch knowing I was a vegetarian? I said I'd sue him for feeding me a wrong diet.

We agreed that if I paid for half the damage to the couch he'd give me another psychiatric session for free.

I told him I have this terrible fear of heights. Even putting my socks on makes me dizzy with vertigo. He suggested I wash my socks more often.

Anyway, he got me to lay down on now half a couch and hypnotised me again. When I woke up I was on top of the wardrobe.

He told me to get down. But I wouldn't because I now enjoyed seeing things from higher up.

He shook the wardrobe and brought me down to earth. I paid him and left.

Let this be a warning to all of you - a hypnotist has nothing to do with hips; unless yours is afraid of heights!
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