Saturday, 30 April 2016

TRUST

In every situation of Trust there is always the risk of betrayal. Whether it is a friendship, a business partnership, a marriage or whatever; in every circumstance where two or more people trust each other there is always the risk that someone will betray that trust.

We all know about the greatest betrayal ever – Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.

So what are we to do? Not trust anyone ever and go through life suspecting everyone. This would be impossible and would jeopardize our every relationship.

We have to accept that with trust we become a little more vulnerable and susceptible to abuse of that trust. It’s a risk we take as we journey through life.

With one important exception:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 NIV.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

To Memoir Or Not To Memoir

There's no denying that sadly the world has become more materialistic; and people put much importance to what they have, like a big house, good job, fancy car and so on, rather than who they are and what good they do in life.

Be that as it may, it set me thinking the other day to simpler times when perhaps we were more innocent and life was a little different. Sure, in them days people worked just as hard, if not harder, and they faced great difficulties and hardships; yet, somehow, or so it seems, they were a little happier than they are now. At least they did not have to wait a whole three minutes for the microwave oven to go "ping" to announce that their ready-meal, which was produced some weeks back and kept frozen since, is now ready for consumption.

I remember as a child things were different. For example, we did not have air-conditioning or central heating at home. To keep warm we just sat in a circle and sucked extra strong mints. That's central heating. To cool-off we just sat on blocks of ice. Do you remember when ice was delivered to your door and you put it in a metal lined container to cool your foods and drinks? No? Perhaps you're too young to remember. I don't remember either; I was told about it by a friend who used to deliver the ice. He said he had a special pick to grasp the ice with.

As I recall, we didn't have many luxuries when I was young. As a child I used to be made to walk the plank every day. We didn't have a dog at the time.

I used to like eating Alphabetti Spaghetti. But I was a slow learner and could not read. So my parents gave me ordinary spaghetti instead.

We also had a parrot in a cage. If you pulled his left leg he would hum the Offenbach Can Can music. If you pulled his right leg he sang "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas". If you pulled both legs together he would fall off his perch.

In fact we had two parrots. A male and female. We could not tell them apart. So someone told my parents to creep up on them at night and check who was doing what to whom; and the one that was doing is the male.

So my dad checked on the birds at night and when he saw them enjoying themselves he put a white collar on the male so we could tell the birds apart.

A week later the vicar visited us. The male parrot said to him: "So they caught you at it too?"

Talking of singing birds and music. Do you remember those old record players which you had to wind-up with a handle and you had to be very careful in case the needle scratched the record? As I recall they had a big trumpet shaped contraption to increase the sound.
My parents had an old one which they had inherited as a family heirloom. It was never played. It was used as a decorative piece in the living room. It was also good for us kids to play basket ball with it. We used to roll up pieces of paper as a small ball and throw them into the big cone. Sadly, my parents had no sense of humour at all.

Why is it that grown-ups have no sense of humour?

I remember as a child my parents used to play with me hide and seek. I used to lean against a tree and count to 100 and they would hide. Then I had to find them in London ... Edinburgh ... Glasgow ... Cardiff ... Birmingham ... They spared no effort to hide from me and make the game real fun.

I used to come home from school and find that they had moved. The new owners of the house used to shoo me away. This happened several times. I did not know how it felt like being wanted until the day I saw my photo on a police notice board.

Anyway ... what is all this leading to, you may well ask.

Well, it's my way of introducing this video which I have just made. Hope you like it.




Monday, 25 April 2016

Don't Maths With Me

Mathematics is the very first type of education in the world. It all started when God said to His people to go forth and multiply. Of course, He meant go and learn the multiplication tables because they will serve you well in life. But the Catholics took Him too literally and had plenty of children.
 
Oh ... Oh ... I foresee a reprimand from my priest. He reads this Blog, you know; and often tells me off at Confession.
 
Anyway ... God told all creation to go forth and multiply. A year later He came back to check, and sure enough, every one had had a good time and there were plenty of baby everything everywhere. Baby people, baby animals, baby fish, birds and so on. And God was pleased. 
 
However, He noticed that there were only two snakes. So He asked them: "Did you not have a good time? Why did you not multiply as I said?"
 
 They replied: "We are adders. We need logs to multiply!"

Get it ... ??? No???

It's a mathematical joke. Logs means logarithms. And you need logarithms to multiply ... Forget it. It comes to something when I have to explain my own jokes. It made me laugh anyway.
 
Let's go on. Pay attention now.
 
Mathematics is all about numbers and the relationships of numbers to one another. For example, do you know that there are more stars and planets in the universe than all the grains of sands in all the beaches and deserts in the world?
 
Without telling you the number of stars the mere image I have depicted has conjured in your mind how many stars exist.
 
There are indeed many grains of sands in the desert. I should know.
 
I was once a member of a research team in the desert and my task was to count the number of grains of sands. I counted up to 23 and got tired. So I can categorically claim that there are more than 23 grains of sand in the world and more stars than that in the universe. Just look up to the sky at night to prove it.
 
The Ancient Greeks were great mathematicians. Pythagoras for instance used mathematics to work out the measurements of shapes, especially triangles. He found out that the square on a hippopotamus is bigger than two other squares in the bush. He also had great respect for flava beans as he thought they were the source of life itself. One day he was chased by his enemies and he came across a field of beans. He stopped and refused to go through it and was killed by his enemies. It's true, I tell you. Check it out for yourself.
 
Archimedes was another mathematician of sorts. He was having a bath one day and the water in his bath overflowed. He ran in the street naked shouting “Eureka” and was arrested for indecent exposure. That's true too. Who are you going to believe? Me or what you have been taught at school?
 
One day I was traveling on a train with my college professor of mathematics. The train was going fast and we passed a field full of sheep. He remarked: “Look over there, 134 sheep!”
 
I was impressed and asked him how he counted them so quick with the train traveling so fast. He replied: “Easy … I counted their legs and divided by four!”
 
A bit later we passed another field full of sheep and I tried the same trick. I counted the legs and divided by four; but I had a remainder of three. Which means there was either one sheep with three legs, or three sheep with one leg each!
 
The Ancient Romans, unlike the Greeks, used letters instead of numbers. The letter I meant one, II meant two, III meant three … they then got tired and tried something different. IV was four, V was five, X was ten … and they also had L, C and M as numbers.
 
All this suddenly stopped when the Emperor Claudius received a text saying – I LV CLAVDIVS – and he didn’t know whether it was an amorous message from his girl-friend or his wife’s new telephone number.
 
Einstein too was a great mathematician who devised Einstein’s Theory of Relativity without the use of a calculator. According to him, the richer you are the more relatives will attend your funeral.
 
Also, according to Einstein, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it then it will remain upright.
 
He was once asked, is it true that sound does not travel in a vacuum, and if a man shouts in a vacuum then his screams will not be heard?
 
He replied: “It depends whether the vacuum is switched on at the time and how much dust is in the dust bag.”
 
Which all reminds me of the skunk running through the forest as the wind suddenly turns direction. He stops and says: “AAHH … it all comes back to me now!”

Saturday, 23 April 2016

A HAPPY BLOG

 The other day was a beautiful sunny day. Not too hot with a slight fresh breeze every now and then.

Once again I was away from home with time on my hands. I decided to sit at an open air bar and read a newspaper. Having looked at the various headlines on offer I felt it was too nice a day to be spoilt with negative storylines and bad news.

So I sat at a table nursing a long cool drink and looked inside my attaché-case for something to read. There I found an old copy of “Prison to Praise” by Merlin R Carothers. I must have read it several times. So I took it out for a quick read.

It’s one of a series of Praise books by the same author, in which he teaches we should praise God at all times, even when times are bad and things go wrong. Worth a read!

I was still reading when the waitress came to take my lunch order.

So I sat there with nothing much to do – and I was good at doing it too.

The restaurant was busy and the service very slow – but no matter, I had time on my hands and it helped me contemplate about the past, the present, and what may happen to me in the future too. Hopefully with God at my side.

Eventually, the waitress asked me: Have you had your dessert sir?

Actually, no.

What was it you ordered?

Well … it was so long ago I really can’t remember.

She smiled and said she’ll check and bring it to me straightaway.

Moments later she brought me something which I’m certain I didn’t order.

I looked at the menu and it was described as: A freshly baked waffle covered in maple syrup and fruits of the wood and garnished with a raspberry coulis.

I’m sure I never ordered that! I’m far too unsophisticated to know what a coulis is.

I checked my pocket dictionary and it said: A thick sauce made of puréed fruit or vegetables.

Oh well, I thought. This isn’t the safe vanilla ice-cream I normally settle for. Let’s try it anyway. After all, the waitress has hurried away to serve someone else.

It was delicious I tell you. Exceeded expectations.

Which brings me to another thought.

Sometimes, like this waitress, God answers our prayers by serving us something we never expected and far better than what we asked for.

So there you have it. A Happy Blog with a book recommendation; and a reminder that sometimes God’s answers to prayers exceed expectations.

P.S.

You will note I am far too polite to suggest you read my own book "VISIONS". If you want to know more about it check it out HERE along my other books.

I’ve read it several times. I’m sure you’ll like it!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Vic on stage


Years ago I was a member of a group of entertainers. I presented the variety acts on stage and did a bit of stand-up comedy and chat with the audience. The shows consisted of pop music and songs, a bit of classic music and opera, old tyme “Victorian” songs, a bit of dancing and comedy sketches mainly written by me.

We rehearsed for ages beforehand and did our shows in church halls, old peoples’ homes, Women’s Institute Meetings and so on; to raise money for charity and to entertain the old folks.

A particular sketch came to mind out of the blue the other day.

Imagine if you will, on stage a number of men dressed as nuns, led by a tone-deaf tenor with a strong pronounced accent, singing this beautiful song from the Sound of Music.
 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Eccentric? Moi?


In the kitchen we have a large wardrobe, (cupboard), containing mostly pots and pans and other kitchen utensils; which explains its location in our house. A few weeks ago, when everyone was out of the house, I made a big hole in the back of the wardrobe and another in the wall so that I could go into the wardrobe and out into our garden. I put all the pots and pans back in the wardrobe/cupboard and concealed the large hole to the outside. It was like the wardrobe in the book by C S Lewis, "The witch, the lion and the wardrobe". Once you enter the wardrobe you could go into my own garden Narnia.

When the family got home, they complained that it was a bit draughty in the kitchen. There was a distinct wind coming from outside which rattled the cupboard's doors.

My wife ... oh, I never told you did I? My wife and I met on the net. We were both bad trapeze artists. But that's another story.

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted my train of thoughts. We used to train for ages high up on the trapeze jumping from one swing to another. We often missed each other because she arrived ten minutes late. So we both fell and met on the net ... as I was saying.

My wife discovered the hole at the back of the wardrobe and let's say she has no sense of humour whatsoever. No sense of adventure either. I explained that by going through the wardrobe she would travel out into a new Narnia world in the garden; walking through sunshine, or mist or rain or whatever the weather outside might be. Her reply will not be posted here to protect readers with a nervous disposition. She could not see why we can't walk through the back door if we wanted to visit the garden in all weathers. But she didn't say it quite this way!!!

She didn't like my next adventure either. I installed at the very end of our garden a chocolate dispensing machine. I bought the machine from a shop that was closing down and they had it on the sidewalk outside. I got it home and installed it just by the pond at the end of the garden and filled it with all kinds of chocolates.

My wife, unhumourous as ever, does not understand my actions. I explained that it gives my walk in my private Narnia a real purpose. What is the point of going out in the garden in all weathers for no reason at all? Now I can enter the wardrobe, go through the hole at the back, and walk gently all the way to the pond and reward myself with a bar of chocolate from the machine. What's wrong with that?

I intend to invite friends and relatives and conduct tours of our garden through the wardrobe. They would all file into the kitchen and one by one enter the wardrobe and walk all the way to the chocolate machine. What fun that would be! I may even have little scenes from Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" re-enacted in various places in the garden.

Sadly, my wife has brought in re-inforcement in the shape of her mother. She landed on her broom early this morning.

I suggested we also give broom-flying lessons or play quidditch like in the Harry Potter films.

No sense of adventure whatsoever, my family.

Do you think I'm eccentric?

Monday, 18 April 2016

At the mercy of technology

I don't know about you, but I seem to be at the mercy of technology. No sooner do I get used to a new machine which has been invented, and I hasten to say that I did not ask anyone to invent it, that the scientific boffins invent something else more complicated.

Take the telephone for instance. For years I have been happy with a phone at home which rings when people want to speak to me; and I dial their number when I want to speak to them. Simple.

Now they have invented phones with answering machines, caller display so you can screen who you don't want to talk to, memory of numbers you want to talk to and so on.

Then they invented a mobile cell-phone you carry with you everywhere. So the family bought me one because apparently I had to have it. It also takes photos. "Why?" I ask myself.

For ages when the phone rang I pressed the wrong button and took a picture of my ear!

The other day I had a right problem with my phone. The home telephone rang late at night as I was getting undressed to go to bed. Why do things happen at the most inopportune time?

Just imagine the scene ... not in too much detail.

There I was, taking my trousers off when the phone in the bedroom rang. I did not want to answer it in the bedroom and wake up my wife. So I rushed downstairs, trouser-less, to pick up the extension telephone.

I wake up the dog who, never having seen me trouser-less, gets confused and starts growling and threatening to attack me where I don't want to. The cat for once loses his courage and climbs up the curtain.

I reach the phone as it is still ringing. There's no one on the line. Just heavy breathing. Heavy breathing ... and nothing else.

I wait and say nothing ... still heavy breathing on the phone ... I wait a bit more to see whether the pervert at the other end will say anything ... nothing. After about fifteen minutes or so I put the phone down on the receiver and go up to the bedroom.

I then remember that our home phone has a system whereby I can check who last phoned me. I press a button and it displays who has just rung me.

"Aha ..." I think, "I got you you little ****!"

Now all I have to do is press call-back and I can tell you what I think of you.

I press call-back and the cell-phone in my trouser pocket rings.

Apparently, when I bent down to take off my trousers I accidentally phoned my home number on "quick-dial" and phoned myself. I'd just spent a quarter of an hour downstairs listening to my wife snoring in bed upstairs. And it cost me a fortune for the priviledge.

And there's more ... as they say.

Now I have been given some contraption I have to fit in my ear and apparently it has "voice recognition". I ask the phone to connect me with an individual and it does so automatically.

Here's how a recent conversation with my voice recognition cell-phone went:

"Call Rob ... Call Rob ... Rob ... Call Rob ... ... ...

"Rob ... Rob ... R ... O ... B ... ROB you deaf beggar!

"Hello? Hi ... is that Rob? Oh sorry Rod ... I did not mean to phone you. It's this new phone ... miss-dialled you by mistake. Bye!

"CALL ROB ... CALL ROB ... No ... ROB not RON. Wait ... wait ... don't dial ... WAIT.

"Hi Ron! Are you well? I thought I'd phone and say hello. Long time no speak ... yes ... I know we spoke this morning ... I just thought I'd keep in touch ... yes ... bye for now!

"OK ... let's try again this stupid contraption.

"CALL ROB ... Dial it correctly you stupid dumb **** ... damn you ... I said ROB  ... Is that clear enough ... ROB.

"Hello Steve ... do me a favour will you ... ring Rob and ask him to phone me!"

I suppose it's my fault for having friends with similar sounding names.

Cars are no better either. I hired a car the other day to go on a business trip. It had a voice controlled advisory service, instead of lights on the dashboard, to tell you what is going on.

I got in the car and switched the engine on. The voice said: "Back door still open!"

I got out of the car and checked the back door. It was shut OK. I checked the door on the other side. It was also shut.

Got in the car again and switched the engine on. It repeated "Back door still open!"

I said: "No it isn't ..."

The voice said again "Back door still open!"

I then realised I was having a conversation with an inanimate object. So I ignored it and started driving. The voice stopped, obviously no longer concerned about the open door which was not open at all.

But then, a few minutes later, it said "Drifting ... drifting ... drifting ..." every few seconds.

It took me a few minutes to realise that the car had cameras fitted near the wheels "looking" at the white lines painted on the road, and whenever I moved too much from the lane I was in and neared the white line the car thought I was losing control and warned me to get back in lane.

This triggered a game between me and the car. Every so often I deliberately moved a little too much to the left, or right, to see whether the car was paying attention and will warn me with "drifting ..."

I then noticed in my rear view mirror a police car behind me and stopped my game in case they thought I was too drunk to drive.

Later on in my journey the car sensors warned me "Too close to car in front!"

It was like having my wife sitting beside me throughout the trip.

Other household appliances are no better. We have a washing machine that requires a University Degree in Engineering to make it work; although I'll admit that my wife and the children find it easy to use. Perhaps it is a deliberate attempt by the manufacturers to give me an excuse to watch TV instead of doing the laundry. If so, that's an invention I approve of.

Our TV also has a system that when you watch a program and say the phone rings, you press a button and it freezes the screen until you finish your call, and then you carry on watching the program. It's like watching a DVD which you pause when you want; but this happens with live TV.

The other day nan was visiting us to watch Downton Abbey, a rather boring program which is broadcast at the same time as football on another channel.

Halfway through the program the phone rang, so we froze the screen. Nan asked what had happened and we explained.

She said, "How about the other people?"

"What other people?" I asked.

"All the other people watching Downton Abbey. Do they all have to wait until we have finished our phone call?"

Can you imagine that? The whole of Britain with frozen screens on their TVs becasue we have stopped the program to answer the phone, or go to the toilet?

Technology has gone too far, I tell you.

We also have a vacuum cleaner that informs you when it is too full by bursting its bag and blowing a huge cloud of dust all over the house. My wife, who lacks a sense of humour, did not find that funny the last time I vacuum cleaned the dining room minutes before we had guests arriving for a meal.

And we have a TV remote control that when I point it towards my wife and press a button it does not lower her voice at all; but instead gets me into serious trouble and the "silent treatment" for a very long time.

All in all, modern technology and me don't mix.
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