Wednesday, 20 June 2018
In order to impress everyone I had to learn how to talk to squirrels in secret. So my colleague and I decided that she would visit our home when the rest of the family is away shopping, or whatever, then we'd go out in the garden and try to communicate with the many squirrels we have visiting us.
The first thing my instructor said is that to talk to squirrels I must "be" a squirrel.
She taught me to crouch down on the ground as if I were a little ball, and to balance my whole body on my feet without falling over. I had to put my hands close to my mouth as if I was feeding myself nuts, and try to walk, not hop, in that crouching position; just like a squirrel.
In order to imitate the squirrel perfectly, she brought a big false squirrel tail made out of fur of some kind and stuffed it into my trousers at the back. I must admit that I found that personal intrusion somewhat disturbing. When I was crouching on the ground she pulled out the back of my trousers and stuffed this false tail right in. I mean ... that was a bit too close and personal, don't you think? But I said nothing because I was so eager to learn to communicate with these animals.
She asked me to walk fast in that crouching position and by wiggling my bottom left and right it would accentuate the movement of my tail upright behind me. I must admit I found this rather difficult and fell over a number of times. Walking fast in a crouching position is difficult enough without having to wiggle your bottom at the same time. Have you ever tried it?
Anyway ... having half-mastered the walking whilst crouching bit, her next lesson was to get me to stuff as many peanuts in my mouth as possible so that my cheeks would puff out like a squirrel's. I had to run whilst crouching, and not falling over, stop, pick up some peanuts in my hands from the ground, (in a plate), and quickly put them all in my mouth. Easier said than done. A lot of the peanuts missed my mouth altogether. At one point I coughed and the peanuts shot out of my mouth spraying in front of me like a machine gun. Then the exercise was stopped when a peanut went the wrong way and nearly choked me to death. She slapped my back several times and then resorted to the Heimlich manoeuvre to save me from becoming a dead squirrel.
Not to give up too easily, I decided to continue with the next lesson the following week. This entailed running fast in a crouching position, whilst wiggling my bottom left and right, and climbing a tree as fast as a real squirrel would do. I must say at this point that she seemed to enjoy placing my false tail at the back of my trousers. She kept stopping the exercise to "re-arrange" my tail properly. But I said nothing, so eager I was to learn to communicate with squirrels.
In order to climb up the tree she placed a ladder against a big oak tree in our garden, well hidden behind the thick trunk, and taught me to climb the ladder quickly pretending to be a squirrel. I tell you, this is not easily done in a crouching position but I practised and practised as if my life depended on it.
Last Saturday, whilst the family was away visiting a relative, and I was alone at home, I decided to practise climbing up the tree.
I placed the ladder against the oak tree and ran up it as fast as I could right up to the top of the ladder. Unfortunately, as I reached the top I felt the ladder wobble underneath me. I quickly grabbed a nearby branch and just about managed to hop on another branch thick enough to carry my weight; whilst the ladder crashed to the ground with a heavy thud.
So there I was. Right up the oak tree. All alone with no one to help me down again.
At this point I need to say that this oak tree is right by the fence between our house and our neighbour next door. Our neighbour is a young lady solicitor living alone. From where I was standing I could see her showering in her bathroom.
Anyway ... ... ... the police did not believe my version of events and had an entirely different point of view as to what I was doing up that tree.
My family, sadly, chose to believe the police's side of the story.
I called my colleague on the phone to put in a good word on my behalf. She said that squirrels are very shy and somewhat stupid creatures and that it is not possible to communicate with them. She denied ever teaching me or anyone else at being an animal whisperer.
Monday, 18 June 2018
When a heavy storm and subsequent flooding cut off Status Manor from the rest of the world the hosts of a weekend gathering and their guests are trapped in what turns out to be a murder mystery situation like they’ve never experienced before.
This tale has all the ingredients you’d expect – believable characters including a beautiful vulnerable young woman, a hapless hero, danger at every corner, a missing backgammon disc, an unexpected attack, visit to the dead, a shower scene, a bloody knife, a body, a threatening note and nocturnal goings-on. Oh … and a good serving of humour too.
What else do you want from a good read?
Yes folks ... the story which you may have already seen serialised on this Blog in 12 daily posts, written in as many days, is now available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Get your copy today ... CLICK HERE
Sunday, 17 June 2018
I mean ... can you imagine me going to my usual church, where we only have one priest, so there's no chance of spreading my sins around, and telling the same guy every time what I have done ... again!
Let's face it; how can I actually tell him that I fall asleep during his sermons?
(I don't really ... just an example to demonstrate a Catholic dilemma. Although I'll admit to noticing other people asleep, or pretending to be thinking, whilst the sermon is on. In my case, falling asleep is quickly followed by a sharp elbow in the ribs).
No ... my sin is somewhat worse than falling asleep during a sermon. I just could not bring myself to tell our priest about it. He would not see me in the same light ever again.
In order to get round this technical difficulty I decided to do something else. Now I am not sure whether this is allowed in the Catechism or not. I haven't checked.
When I was in London recently on a business trip I decided to go to a church and confess there. The priest doesn't know me ... simple. Tell him my secret sin and go away.
I told the priest in Confession that I find it difficult to be a Christian because I simply do not like people. I am not prejudiced you see. I don't like people in general.
Now before you take offence at this, let me quickly explain.
I don't like certain people mostly ... most of the time ... most of them. I like some people, of course, but not all of them.
I don't like my boss for instance because he is always in a bad mood and thinks of nothing else other than of profits and productivity.
I don't like most of my colleagues because I have nothing or little in common with them. I don't talk football with them, cricket, rugby or any other sport because I don't like sport. I don't talk politics because I know I am right and they are always wrong. I don't talk about anything else with them because none of them likes the arts, opera, ballet, the theatre or can discuss Édouard Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe".
I don't like the newsagent where I get my papers because he is pompous and pretends to know everything. But I have to go there because he is near where I live.
I don't like the barman in our pub because ... I don't know ... I just don't like him.
I don't like the mother-in-law because of ... many reasons. In fact I like her from afar. The further away she lives, and stays there, the more I like her.
So you see why I could not confess this sin to my priest. He'd think I don't like him either.
Anyway, I told this in Confession to an unknown priest in London. He told me I should try harder to like everybody because God commanded us to love one another. Jesus loved everyone He met. He loved them so much that He forgave them when hanging on the Cross.
I told the priest that Jesus loved everyone because He was God. God is love. Jesus was Divine. There is no way we can love as Jesus does because we are not gods. We are humans with human failings.
He thought I was making excuses and told me to try harder to like everyone.
I told him, surely there are some people he most probably does not like. The Bishop for instance. Or a fellow priest. Or some parishioners. Especially the pompous snooty ones that most churches seem to have.
He thought about this and confessed, perhaps unwisely, he did not like it when the Bishop addressed him by his surname. Or when one of his fellow priests has too short sermons. Or the parishioner who believes she is an expert at flower arranging. Or the choir leader who thinks she is a prima donna at the opera.
It was a long Confession. And we agreed we cannot be like Jesus, but we should try.
I wonder who he will confess his sins to? Maybe he'll visit my church and confess to my priest.
Saturday, 16 June 2018
Every now and then you hear conversation about peoples' bucket list. Your know what they are. A wish list of things individuals would like to do before they die. Go on a great adventure. Visit some far off country. Or whatever else one would like to do before dying.
Personally, I would like to cycle with dolphins. Most peoples' bucket list includes swimming with dolphins; but let's face it, what is so clever about that? The dolphins are in their environment and they swim, and you swim with them.
I would like to do something more challenging. I like to get the dolphins out of their comfort zone. I can cycle. Let's see how clever they are! I challenge them to a cycle race round the park in my town; or a leisurely cycle trip in the countryside.
Seriously though, people have all these grand ideas of things they would like to do before they die. I wonder how many have on their list the wish to:
Prepare to die.
What? What do I mean to prepare to die?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.
Thursday, 14 June 2018
It was very strange. It was about 11:30 last night when suddenly my wife shouted, "Golf ... Golf ... Golf ... That's all you speak about. That's all you do. Golf ... Always golf!"
I tell you. It was out of the blue, and I was startled out of my life. I never expected to see her on the golf course at that time of night. I was practising quietly and there she was. Shouting at the top of her voice.
I will never understand women.
What do you think?
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
I would like you to think about your name for a moment or two. It was given to you at birth by your parents. Most probably, you have more than one name. You may possibly like your name, or you may have chosen to be called by your other names, or by a nickname. Whatever the case, you have a name.
It identifies you. It is part of you. In some cases a name affects one's personality and some people try to live up to the name they have been given.
Your name is very important to you. It makes you pay attention when someone mentions it in conversation, or calls you, or writes to you. It is personal. Friendly. Cosy. It is you.
Now I want you to look at your foot.
You have a Big Toe, a Small or Little Toe, and three other toes in the middle.
They have no name. No one has given them an individual identity. There is no name for them on their passport. The other two are called Big Toe and Little Toe. The three in the middle ... nothing!
How would you like it if you were one of the three middle toes?
You would have felt insignificant. Unidentified. Unnamed. Unloved even. How does that feel?
That's why it is important to name all your toes. I have named my three Jeremiah, Jethro and Fred. Same on the other foot.
Come to think of it, it is important also to name all your other body parts so they don't feel unloved.
What have you called your body parts?
Sunday, 10 June 2018
There they were, Adam and Eve going around happily in the Garden of Eden totally naked and not worrying about anything, except perhaps getting too close to the cactus, or standing near a hot radiator or oven.
They were enjoying their nakedness when one day they met a snake!
Now I don't know about you, but if I were naked and met a snake I'd quickly cover up my bits in case he took a bite.
If the snake actually talked to me ... well ... I'd probably poop in my non-existing pants rather than engage in conversation with him.
Anyway ... what I don't understand is, after they ate the forbidden fruit, how did Adam and Eve know which are the naughty bits they should cover?
Why not cover their knees for instance? Or their elbows?
Can you imagine? If they'd covered their noses instead; today we'd all be going around naked wearing our underpants on our noses!
Anyway ... having distracted myself with these nude thoughts, let us get back to today's reading about Adam and Eve and their sin (which was not staring at each others rude bits).
I noticed, not for the first time I might add, that they did not in fact eat from an apple tree. No where in the story does it say what tree it was. It could have been my favourite mango fruit, or pineapples perhaps, or a variety of other fruits. All it says is that it was a fruit tree.
Which led me to think: would they have been tempted if it was a broccoli tree?
Yes I know broccoli is not a tree. Don't side track me. I was only thinking and I don't claim to always think logically.
As I was saying before you interrupted me.
Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree and committed their first sin.
Now a lot of us consider this to be the sin of disobedience; which in fact it was. But this is not the most serious sin which they committed.
Their major sin was that they wanted to be like God. That's what the snake (devil) had fooled them into believing. They will be like God. They will know good from bad.
To some extent that's what happened. They got to know good from bad, right from wrong, and suffered the consequences.
I suspect that these days there are many who do not really know right from wrong; or choose not to care. But that's another story.
What is important about the Adam and Eve story is how it affects us in our lives.
How often do we also try to act like gods? And want things our way?
If only I could get that job, or that promotion at work, or get so and so to love me, or ...
Why can't other people see it my way? And do as I say? I know I'm right and people should obey me.
Dear God, Thy will be done as long as it is what I want. Please do this, or let me have that or ...
There are too many people wishing to serve God in an advisory capacity. It is almost as if they want to be God.
We say we believe in Him and yet we tell Him, often, what to do. Rather than trust Him to know better the difference between our wants and our needs.
This does not mean that we should not pray to God and ask Him for things. Christ encouraged us to do so in the Lord's Prayer. And as a loving Father, God likes to hear our prayers and respond, sometimes, to our requests.
But let our requests be for our needs, not wants. And let us have the humility to understand that sometimes He may say "No" or "Not now ... I have something better for you!"
Let God be God. And let us be His trusting children.
He did not ask us to understand Him. Only to love and trust Him.