Friday, 22 January 2021

Readers - We have a problem


This post may not be suitable for readers with a nervous disposition. 
Please have someone else read this for you. 
Or read it with your eyes closed!
And please keep an open mind ...

Some people snore in their sleep. Others talk in their sleep. Whilst others indeed walk in their sleep. I knew someone who used to eat in his sleep. He'd wake up in the morning and find he'd eaten half a pillow. He also often dreamt he was at a marshmallow factory. But that's another story.

What I want to tell you is about myself ... rather embarrassing, but ... here goes ...

I ... it seems ... so I am told ... apparently ... sing and tell jokes in my sleep.

The other night, I understand, I was singing songs from the musical Oklahoma. A few days ago it was "Old McDonald had a farm"! I was practicing my vowels ... I said vowels ... "E ... I ... E ... I ... O"

I then tend to lean forwards as if receiving tumultuous applause and recognition from an appreciative audience - a standing ovation no less.

What is worse, it seems, is that I also tell jokes. Original ones.

Now years ago, I used to compare variety shows to raise money for charity and I often did stand-ups telling jokes and introducing the next act. So I can see how such distant memories can now trigger and  replay from my sub-conscious into my dreams. What I find interesting is that my brain seems to make up new jokes which I enjoy and then include in my Blog posts.

However, what I find somewhat disconcerting is that my dreams also seem to involve you ... yes you ... my loyal and very welcome readers.

It seems that when I sing or tell jokes I also name you in my repertoire. I say something like, "I hope you have enjoyed this song (name)." Or "Now I am sure that (name) will enjoy this joke ..." and I proceed to tell the joke.

As you can imagine, naming people in one's dreams is somewhat embarrassing and it has been difficult explaining who all these real people from my virtual Internet world are. Obviously, I've never met you, and do not really know you. So how come you are featuring in my private dreams?

And it's not just you. The other day I dedicated a song to Eleanor, who happens to be our neighbour's dog; and also to Christina his pet parrot.

So my real world and my virtual Internet world are combining with songs and jokes in my dream world with embarrassing results.

I went to see my doctor about this intriguing phenomenon. She asked me whether I ever mention her in my sleep. I said, "No."

She was very upset and asked, "Why? Am I not as attractive or as interesting as all those other people?"

She got very jealous that my dreams seem to prefer you and a dog and parrot but not her. After a bit of a heated discussion where I tried to re-assure her that she was just as important as all of my friends and animals, she calmed down a little and gave me some horse pills which a vet friend of hers gave her for nightmares.

The problem is that the pills are the size of golf balls. OK I suppose for a horse; but too large for me to swallow. So I grind the pills using a pestle and mortar and dilute them in plenty of water.

As you can imagine. Taking those horse pills with gallons of water has had side effect.

Being up in the bathroom all night has stopped my vivid dreams.

OK ... better stop here. Have you heard the one about ... ... ...

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Chat? I don't like to chat!


I do hate it when organisations I have to deal with, like electricity, gas, water, TV or cellphone providers, insurance people or whatever, insist on you having a "chat" with them. 

I go to their website and discover that the only two ways to communicate with them is by phoning them, and waiting for three lifetimes before some idiot deems to reply, or via on-line chat. There is not option of sending them an e-mail. I could write by snail mail but by the time my letter reaches them they would probably be out of business because of their poor customer care. Good job too!

I do not want to chat. On-line or otherwise. I want to express my problem and hopefully get you to solve it, you faceless corporation intent on just making profits and raising my blood pressure.

Here's a record of a recent chat:

- Hello, my name is Elenora. Please type your username.

- Irate Troll.

- Please type the first letter of you password.

- X

- Please type the last letter of your password. 

- X

- That's two Xs

- Yes my password is Xylophonemix.

- You should not have said that.

- What?

- Xylophonemix.

- Why not?

- Because now I know you password.

- Of course you do. It is on your computer for you to check I typed the correct first and last letter.

- You will have to change it.

- What?

- Your password.

- Now?

- No ... not now.

- If not now, when?

- After we have finished this chat. How may I help you?

- For a start by not having a chat. If I want a chat I can talk to my cat. His name is Julien Antoine. He is a French cat - or chat!

- How may I help you?

- The cellphone I bought from you is not working properly.

- Have you checked it is the cellphone which is faulty and not your telephone line service provider?

- How do I know? When I try to phone someone it is always engaged.

- Let me check for you. Please wait a moment.

(A million moments later, plus another two million moments more ...)

- Hello ... are you still there?

- Yes I am still here. I was checking with our technical department.

- Sorry. I thought it was dead.

- I am very much alive, Sir.

- I meant I thought the line was dead. Not you. I said "IT"

- There appears to be a problem with the line. We will e-mail you shortly. Is there anything else I can help you with?    

- Yes. Why can I not e-mail your company rather than this online chat?

- It is more convenient for our customers and more efficient for us this way.

- It is neither convenient nor efficient. I have wasted half-an-hour chatting with you about everything except the weather and you still have not solved my problem. It would have been quicker if I e-mailed you and then you can check with technical department to your heart's content and reply when you have solved the problem.

- Is there anything else I can help you with, Sir?

- No!

- Thank you for your call.

- Thanx.

- Would you please complete a customer satisfaction survey of your experience with us?

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Hotel Reservation


Can I book a room for me and my swan please?

I beg your pardon, Sir?

A room ... for me and my swan. She is waiting in the car.

A swan, Sir? That's very unusual.

Yes ... a swan. What's so unusual about that? It says on the notice at your door, "Pets Allowed".

You have a swan as a pet, Sir? By pet we mean a cat, or dog, we'll accept them ... not a swan.

Now look here ... it does not specify at the door what kind of pet you mean. Mine happens to be a swan. I am here in town for the falconry exhibition and contest. I am here to enter my swan at the contest.

You're entering a swan in a falconry contest? How does that work?

What do you mean how does it work? I hold my arm outstretched like so. I hold a small piece of meat in my hand ... fish actually ... swans don't eat meat ... they are vegetarian. The swan flies from on top of a tree and lands on my arm!

The swan is a big bird, Sir. It must be very heavy for it to land on your arm.

Of course it is. I once broke my arm in three places.

What did you do?

I stopped going to these three places.

Why not practice falconry with a small bird ... like a falcon? Or a hawk? Or owl?

When I started I used a chicken.

A chicken, Sir? But a chicken does not fly.

Oh, we sorted that minor problem. A friend of mine used to throw the chicken at me from a distance and get it to land on my arm.

Did it work?

Not really ... one of the falcons ate the chicken.

Have you tried frozen chickens from the supermarket, Sir?

Good thought ... good thought ... Now have you got a room for me and my swan?

We have a double room. Would you mind sharing with a man and his crocodile?

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

A serious encounter with ...


This is a serious post. I know a number of my readers say they enjoy my humourous posts and have a good chuckle or a smile at what I write here. Well, this is not such an occasion. What I am going to tell you here is very serious. In fact, if it had been told to me I would not have believed it. But this actually happened to me a few years back. What is more, I had a witness with me to confirm that what I am saying is true.

It happened an evening about three or four years ago. It was either a Friday or a Saturday evening. Not sure which. I'm certain it was one of these two days because that's when we usually go to the pub; my friends and I.

It was about a quarter to midnight. Ken, my friend, and I were on our way home from the pub. The King's Arms it was. That's the name of the pub. I remember it well.

We took the short cut through the woods as we always did. It was a moonless night. Rather darker than usual and cloudy.

As we were in the woods by some trees, Ken remarked that we had not heard the usual sound of owls as we normally hear as we cross the wood at night. This was near a nature reserve, so nocturnal sounds like owls, or even foxes, were usual at this time of night.

As Ken was talking I noticed a light in the sky. Not a very bright light or anything like that. It was a slow moving dim sort of light. It was like there was someone cycling in the sky. The light looked like the front light of a bicycle. I know it sounds absurd. It does seem incredible to me as I say it now. But that's what happened.

I pointed the light to Ken. He nodded and said nothing. I thought it was either someone cycling in the sky, which is improbable, or an owl had stolen the front light of a bicycle and was flying with it in its talons; just as improbable. 

The light moved ever so slowly from left to right in an arc shape, like a rainbow trajectory, and as it got lower to the ground it went out.

Ken and I kept our sights focussed on the area where it landed, or where it went out, and walked slowly towards it. When we got there, there was nothing at all. We looked round, and searched, but there was nothing. Thinking back, it was a stupid thing to do. We should have just run home. But we didn't.

We continued walking down the path in the woods towards the edge of the woods and the road to home.

Ten minutes further on we met a man standing by a bus stop on the road. I said, "Good evening", but he didn't answer. Ken stopped to tie his shoe laces which had come undone.

I had a bag of licorice sweets in my pocket. I took it out, put a sweet in my mouth, and offered one to the man at the bus stop. He was short. Tall he certainly wasn't. He was bout five feet tall, no more. Not that his size mattered to the story.

Ken got up suddenly from his crouching position tying his shoe laces and tugged at my shirt moving me away a little. 

He whispered, "Do not give licorice to extra terrestrial aliens. It gives them diarrhoea!"

I had not heard of that. Have you? Apparently, licorice affects their digestive system and can give them the runs. Ken said he had read it in a book somewhere. He said he could not remember the details. It was either not giving licorice to aliens from outer space, or not giving chocolates to dogs. He was not sure which it was. As we did not have a dog or chocolates with us at the time, we decided it must be the licorice thing that is a possibility of being true. 

So very quickly Ken and I ate all the licorice sweets and threw the bag away in a nearby trash bin just in case the short man asked us for a sweet.

I then casually commented, swallowing the remnants of the last sweet, "a bit cold tonight, don't you think?"

The short man looked at us both and said nothing.

I said, "good night," and we hurriedly made our way home down the road leading to town.

When I got home, I could not find my cell phone. I looked everywhere for it. I was convinced that the short man from outer space had stolen it. I told Ken about it, and he believed the same. He said they might be interested in our technology.

Three days later, I found my cell phone in my car under the driver's seat. The alien must have found out where I live and returned it, having got all technical information that they need.

I'll never forget that experience. I reminded Ken the other day when I phoned him. He's now moved to Wales. He is convinced we had met an extra terrestrial that night. Because of his short height and the fact that he did not talk. Also, how he stole my phone and knew where to return it. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Happenings in my life

Every now and then I think back at things that happened in my life and ask: Why me?

No one ever answers. Perhaps you will.

Years ago, when I lived in London, a neighbour phoned in the middle of the night, about 3:00am, and said, "Your dog barking is disturbing my sleep."

I said, "Sorry", meaning what are you talking about? Rather than being apologetic. I was half-asleep at the time.

The next morning, I remembered what happened and was upset, especially since I don't even have a dog. So at 3:00am the next night I phoned my neighbour and said, "I don't have a dog!"

When I moved to another house in London, the same thing, only different, happened again. A woman neighbour phoned me at night and said, "Your horse is in my garden!"

Rather stupidly, I replied, "Sorry!", like I did before.

The next morning I went to see her and I told her I have no horse. She said, "that's OK, it was only a  nightmare!" 

Horse ... nightmare ... get it? It comes to something when I have to explain my jokes.

When I moved up North I had a neighbour who imitated birds. I did not mind that she ate worms; but I got really annoyed when she pooped on my car!

Oh come on ... that was a good joke! You're a tough audience.

I was in my early twenties and lived in London. I got involved in politics and could have run for office locally. I used to spend a lot of time during elections knocking on doors and asking people if we could rely on their support; or answering any questions or problems they had in mind. 

I remember once I was with another colleague. We knocked on a door and a young 15 year old opened. I asked, "Are your dad or mom in?"

He shouted upstairs and said, "Daaad ... there's a man to see you!"

A voice from upstairs replied, "Bring him up!"

My colleague decided to stay at the door. I followed the lad upstairs and he took me to a bedroom where a man and a woman were in bed.

He said, "Yeh ... what do you want?"

You can imagine a 22 year old talking politics with a couple who had other things on their minds. 

On another occasion I was knocking at doors in an apartment block. As I was talking to a man at his door, I noticed a woman in her early thirties I would guess, walk up the stairs and say, "Hello Mr Farthing!" to the old gentleman I was talking to. He greeted her back, and she walked up the stairs to the level above. 

After ten minutes or so talking to him; I walked up the stairs to the higher level. We had been taught always to be honest with the voters and give a true answer to questions asked; even though it would not be what the voter wants to hear. They respect an honest politician even if their views differ from our Party.

When I rang the door bell at the apartment above, the woman I saw before opened the door totally naked. She was wearing nothing but a smile. She had obviously seen me knocking at doors and had been waiting for me.

She said, "Yes ... what do you want?"

I was honest. I said, "I forgot ..." and ran away.

Politics taught me a lot!!!!!!

God is getting old


Father Ignatius’s car had broken down just on the day he had to drive to the City miles away. Somehow he was glad this had happened because in all honesty he hated to drive long distances, especially when it involved negotiating busy traffic in the City.

He phoned his local garage for help and just as luck would have it, or was it a God-incidence, one of the managers was due to travel to the City that very day and he was happy to take Father Ignatius to his Conference and drive him back the same evening.

Oh what a God send Gerald was as he and the priest set off on the long journey. For once Father Ignatius could relax and not worry about the driving.

A few minutes into the journey Gerald started the conversation.

“I was thinking Father,” he said, “do you reckon that God has mellowed with age?”

“What do you mean?” enquired the priest.

“Well …” continued Gerald, “in the Old Testament we see Him full of wrath and anger sending floods everywhere and pestilence on the Egyptians and all sorts of bad things to those who did not tow the line. He behaved like a right monster at times, thumping people on the head if they did not obey Him.

“And now we’re told He’s a loving, caring, forgiving Father who has our best interests at heart. Why do you think He changed strategy? Did His first plans not work?”

Father Ignatius laughed.

“I’m amused that you think I know all about God’s plans,” he said, “the Almighty does not confide in me you know …”

“Maybe not Father! But you must admit it is a total change of tactics from anger and wrath … and you must admit the Bible says in the Old Testament things like vengeance is mine … and I am a jealous God … and all that. And now it’s all gentleness and sweet love … at least that’s what you priests lead us to believe.

“Why doesn’t God thump people on the head and into line these days? The world is going to ruin and His sweet love will get us nowhere …”

The priest laughed again at Gerald’s direct and forthright way of putting things.

“OK … let’s analyze what you’ve been saying …” said Father Ignatius, “on the face of it … it does appear that there’s a great contrast between the description of God in the Old Testament and the description in the New Testament.

“Now what I’m saying here is purely my opinion, you understand. I don’t have a hotline to God and I’m not privy to His strategies and plans …”

Gerald smiled and nodded.

“We tend to see God from our human perspective,” continued the priest, “we see Him with human understanding and we attribute to Him human qualities, plans, strategies, emotions and so on.

“But God is God. And man is man. We cannot possibly understand Him from our viewpoint, nor should we attempt to do so.

“Now it could well be … and this is me guessing here you understand Gerald … it could well be that the people at the time of the Old Testament were accustomed to being led … being guided … and told what to do.

“Can you imagine for instance one man … Moses … guiding a multitude of people out of Egypt, promising them a better life elsewhere, and going round in circles in the desert for forty years?

"This wouldn't happen today.

“In modern times people would have set up committees to discuss the project, appointed several managers to chair sub-committees and devised multiple budgetary plans and operational strategies … all before their poor overworked wives had time to pack the luggage and prepare the kids to leave Cairo.

“Yet in the Old Testament one man said let’s go … and they all went.

“True … they argued and rebelled along the way … and Moses dealt with it in a forthright manner as you advocate …”

Gerald laughed.

“So it could well be that God treated people in the Old Testament days the way they expected to be lead and the way they understood,” said Father Ignatius, “With firmness where necessary … yet at all times with fairness and compassion.

“This is only my opinion … as I said.

“And it could be that in His own time, according to His will, God decided to send Jesus to us in human form to teach us … to show us God’s infinite love, and to forgive and redeem us through His death and Resurrection.

“Jesus in human form had to be kind, and gentle and compassionate to portray God’s infinite love. And He taught us in the Lord’s Prayer about a loving Father caring for His children and always ready to provide for them.

"It would have been pointless to have a ruthless commanding Jesus forcing people to obey Him. This does not depict God's love for us, which is so infinite, that He gave up His own Son to die for us.

“Hence the contrast between the Old and New Testaments …”

At this point a huge truck overtook their car and moved back into lane so close that Gerald had to swerve sharply in order to avoid a collision.

“Stupid idiot …” shouted Gerald, and then muttered something else unrepeatable under his breath.

After a moment or two as the two men calmed down a little Gerald continued, “There are times Father, when I wish God would deal with people the old fashioned Old Testament way!”

Father Ignatius said nothing but prayed silently that God may forgive Gerald for his immediate reaction under pressure.


Saturday, 16 January 2021

Honour your Father and Mother


It is a fact that some of us, if we're fortunate, will grow old. And as we grow old, some of us may well become ill, some will live alone, some will struggle with day to day tasks, and many will have their families living far away.

Our children will grow up and move to other places to find jobs and to start a family. Other children will probably fall out with their parents, perhaps as a result of a family argument, and cease to contact their parents. Whilst some other children will just be too busy with the day-to-day stresses of life to maintain contact with their parents.

It is also a fact that some of us, as we grow older, will become cantankerous, argumentative pains in the neck working our way down South. Not everyone can be as pleasant and nice to be with as I am. And so it follows, that such old people will make it difficult for their families to visit them as often as they should. In some cases, perhaps for safety's sake, it will be necessary for children and parents to meet no longer.

Then there is another fact. Many years ago, God commanded on a tablet of stone, "Honour your father and mother."

Now I ask myself, how much of a duty is that on every son and daughter, and how serious a sin is it if we ignore it?

Many amongst us can claim that our lives are too busy with the responsibilities of work, raising a family, looking after our own children, and so on and so forth, to be able to visit our parents frequently. Especially if they live too far away.

Others can claim that they fell out with their parents because of a serious family dispute, and indeed it is for their own safety, and that of their children, that they don't visit their parents any more.

Others will claim that their parents have become the proverbial in-laws; and whenever they visit them, their parents are always criticising and creating a dividing wedge between husband and wife; especially if they never approved of their choice of partners in the first place.

These, and many other supposedly valid reasons have resulted in parents and children no longer seeing each other.

I have known several lonely elderly people in my time. One old lady was so lonely seeing no one from day to day that every week she took the bus to town and back just to be with other people on the journey.

Another left the TV or radio on all day and night just to hear the voice of someone speaking; and she left the lights on all night for fear of being alone in the dark.

Another old lady living alone just talked to her dog just to exercise her vocal chords. She said her throat dries up if she does not speak to anyone all day.

And yet another old man died alone at home and was not discovered until days later when the postman wondered why his mail was piling up behind his door.

Loneliness, especially in old age, is the scourge of a modern society awash with electronic communications devices.

What is the point of having hundreds of "friends and followers" on social media if none visit you when you're old?

So, my message to every son and daughter is: "What will you say to God when you meet Him about the way you honoured your parents"?

And for every parent, old and not so old, "What will you say to God about the way you helped your children obey that commandment?"

I wonder what God would respond.