Friday, 6 December 2019

A Christmas Tale


It was a very cold week in early December. Some parishioners asked Father Ignatius if it was all right to build a Christmas crib in the car park as well as the one usually set up in church by the Altar.

The intention was to build a small wooden hut made of old wood they could pick up cheaply from the local saw mill; and then decorate it, and use the Nativity scene statues which they discovered in the store room deep in the basement under the church whilst they were cleaning it in summer.

Father Ignatius agreed, “as long as you don’t ask me to lift those heavy statues from the basement … they’re quite heavy you know. So be careful!” he said.

A few youngsters helped by the leaders of the Youth Club got together and built the wooden hut. At first it looked quite bare and unwelcoming, a little like the original manger in Bethlehem I suppose. But eventually, with loving tender care, mostly by the women involved whilst the men gave instructions or went to the pub for a drink, it looked really magnificent.

The statues were then brought up, with great difficulty, from the basement and placed in position. A local electrician volunteered his services and placed hidden lights at strategic places to make the crib glow warmly at night.

As it snowed and got bitterly cold, even for Northern England, the little wooden hut glowing in the church’s car park made a beautiful heart-warming sight for all passers-by and gave them a little hope for the New Year ahead.

Just beside St Vincent church, by the car park gate, there’s a little narrow lane leading deep into fields at the back of the church. From the street you cannot see the fields. There’s the church’s car park entrance, then the narrow lane entrance, then the entrance to the Convent nearby.

This long lane leads to a small field used by a local farmer to store his farm machinery. He leaves his tractors there, as well as several harvesting equipment and ploughs in a large shed. The field is well enclosed by a high fence and, for extra security; the farmer keeps a dog loose in the field with a small opening in the shed for it to shelter in his doghouse when it is cold and raining.

The dog is not always there; only on rare occasions when the farmer needs additional security on the site.

One morning, a few days before Christmas, the farmer called on Father Ignatius.

“You haven’t seen my dog by any chance Father?” he asked, “it’s a large shepherd dog. I keep him in the yard behind you every now and then, in his dog house in the shed.

“The area is well fenced-off so he shouldn’t have got away. But maybe he found a hole in the fence somewhere and ran off!”

The priest hadn’t seen the dog, but it could be possible that he found a way through the fence and got into the church’s gardens and car park. So he put on his coat and went out with the farmer to search the church’s back gardens first.

It had snowed all night and the snow was very thick and even everywhere since no one had been out to walk on it.

“I hope he’s OK …” said the farmer despondently, “it was very cold last night … well below zero Father. He should have stayed in his dog-house for any chance of warmth. I keep an electric fire on the wall nearby to heat the place … he would have been as warm as toast in the shed. It’s like a sauna in there even in winter!”

“Well … he’s not in the back gardens,” said the priest, “we’d better look in the church car park. Although if he went there he would have escaped in the street by now …”

The two men searched the car park and, eventually, there in the crib, sleeping in the manger just beside the statue of baby Jesus was the large shepherd dog.

As soon as he heard the men approaching he jumped in delight welcoming his master.

“At least he had the sense to find some warmth in the lap of Jesus,” said Father Ignatius, “pity some people do not have as much sense!”

OTHER FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Positive Thinking Can Be Bad For you


As we near the end of the year and prepare for Christmas celebrations with family and friends, there always follows the New Year and traditionally people make new resolutions for the year ahead.

Often, these are positive resolutions. People promise themselves or others to turn a new page and to be better at something or other.

It's what some people call Positive Thinking.

Some believe that our fortune and success in life is dependent on our attitude and our outlook. I heard it said that if you write a list of all the things you want to achieve in life and concentrate on them you will achieve them.

What nonsense.

Positive Thinking alone will not help you achieve anything. All it will do is set you up for great disappointment when you do not achieve what you hoped you will achieve.

Our achievements in life require other different and varied factors apart from the positiveness of our thought processes.

Let me explain.

I may wish to be a cat. But I will never be a cat no matter how positively I wish it and think it. That's because I am too fat and would probably get stuck in the cat flap at the bottom of the kitchen door. All that my positive thinking would achieve is a dead body of a human with a cat fetish of some sort. Now that would make a good newspaper headline.

Put another way ... people may wish to be an astronaut, or a brain surgeon, or a world celebrity or leader. Thinking about it, no matter how positively, will not achieve it. Most probably the individuals concerned have the ability of a dead cockroach and the brain power of a stuffed dodo in a museum. So let them put all the positive thinking in their pipe and smoke it, as we used to say when I was young.

My advice to one and all, especially as you enjoy Christmas and look forward to the New Year, is to cherish and nurture Negative Thinking.

Be a pessimist. Look on the dark side of things. Expect them to go wrong.

It's logical.

Look at it this way. If you are a pessimist, and things turn out right, you would be pleasantly surprised and happy that all's well. If things turn out bad as you expected, you'll have the pleasure of saying to people, "I told you so!"

Keep smiling ... I told you so!

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Something for me to eat ...



It was five days before Christmas, Father Ignatius drove into the car park and was about to enter the Parish house when he noticed a man standing by the Church door. He walked up to him and the man asked: “Have you got something for me to eat?”

He was in his fifties perhaps, although he looked much older. Unshaven, wearing dirty clothes with tears down the pockets, an open shirt revealing skin that had not been washed since who knows when, and shoes with no socks.

“I’m not from around here …” said the man, “just got off the train … I hid amongst the cattle and no one saw me …” he continued with a grin revealing missing teeth.

The smell of his clothes certainly testified to the fact that he slept amongst cattle, thought the priest.

“I think you’re in need of a good warm bath …” he said without thinking, “follow me …”

He took the man into the Parish house, led him to the bathroom and filled the bath with hot water. He then brought a large plastic bag and asked him to put all his clothes inside it. “I’ll try and find you something new to wear. We’ll have to throw your old clothes away …” said the priest as he left him to it.

He then looked through his own wardrobe and found a few bits and pieces which he no longer needed; and complemented these with other items of clothing donated by parishioners for the monthly jumble/rummage sale.

Half an hour later the man was clean and dressed, minus his shoes. The priest noticed that his toe-nails had not been cut for ages. So he sat him down, went down on his hands and knees and cut his nails for him; for it was obvious the man could not even bend down and do this for himself.

He then took him to the kitchen and prepared a lovely meal of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding and fried bread. Followed with coffee and toast and marmalade.

It was getting rather dark by mid-afternoon when the man finished eating; so Father Ignatius got him in his car and drove him to the St Bernard Shelter for the Homeless at the other side of town.

On his way back Father Ignatius could not get the man out of his mind. “What a miserable place this town is …” he thought to himself, “high levels of unemployment … businesses shutting down … people losing their jobs and their homes even … I wonder how many are sleeping rough this Christmas …”

His thoughts then turned to his parishioners. “This is definitely the poorest Parish I’ve been assigned to,” he thought as he drove home, “I wonder how many of our old folk will have a miserable Christmas … sitting at home with little if anything to eat … Miss Fletcher for instance … seventy years old and all alone … and the Palmers … both in their eighties … and Mr Sanders …” and the names kept coming to mind as he drove mile after mile.

When he reached the Parish house he was determined to do something about the old folk in his congregation. He decided to invite those whom he knew to be alone and with little money to a Christmas dinner at the Church hall.

He rushed to his office and started by writing a list of people he’d invite. A few minutes later and the list ran to twenty-seven people, all elderly, all poor, all of them he knew very well would spend Christmas day alone in their homes with little to celebrate.

He then started another list of what would be needed to prepare a lovely Christmas meal and to his dismay it totaled over £100.

And his dream was shattered in an instant. Where was he to find such a large sum of money? The Sunday collections hardly amounted to twenty pounds or so a week and every penny was needed for the up-keep of the church, the Parish house, the car and sundry other expenses.

He decided to stop thinking about this project. Doomed before it even started. Thankfully he had not shared his thoughts with anybody. Not his fellow priest, nor the housekeeper.

He looked at the clock and went to church to celebrate evening Mass.

The next morning there was a large brown envelope in the letter box with Father Ignatius’ name written on it in large letters. It had been hand-delivered as it did not have a stamp or postmark. Just his name in bold capitals.

He took it to his office and on opening it he found it contained £150 in bank notes.

There was nothing to signify who had sent it; but it was obviously for him as the envelope had his name clearly written on it.



He did hold his Christmas party for the old folk that year; but he never found out who sent him the money.



This happened many years ago when Father Ignatius first arrived at St Vincent Church. Since then he has held a Christmas party for the old people every year; with money donated by various rich and not so rich parishioners.
NOTE: This story is based on true facts. I have known a priest to go down on his knees to cut the toe nails of a poor person who called on his house for something to eat. And I've known another priest who got a donation of money anonimously just as he needed it to feed some poor folks in his parish.

More Father Ignatius stories can be downloaded FREE from HERE.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY READERS

GOD BLESS

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Christmas Haircut

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go ...

And what I dread the most at this time of year is the obligatory visit to the barber's/hairdresser's to have my haircut. 

Why is it that I have to look smart at Christmas? Is it a written rule or law somewhere that we should dress nicely to go to church or to parties at Christmas, and that we should look particularly presentable?

I reckon I look smart and wonderful all of the time and need not to take particular attention to my appearance at Christmas or at any other time. As my aunt used to tell me, "I am a sex symbol for women who do not care!" ... whatever she meant by that.

There are many reasons why I do not like to go to the hairdresser. At Christmas or at any other time.

I usually cut my own hair. I stand in front of a mirror and with a pair of scissors ... snip ... snip ... all done. Front ... back ... sides ... and I'm OK ready to go once again.

Admittedly this has caused many an argument at home  but then ... well ... I'm sure you understand my dislike of barbers.

For a start I hate people touching me. Same when I go to the doctor's or see a nurse. But at least then it is out of some necessity or other. At the barber's it's different.

He sits you there and leans you back in the chair. Puts an over sized napkin round your neck as if you're a baby. Touches your hair and makes inane and insulting comments; like "who cut your hair the last time?"

I make some mumbling comment that I went to the barber's when travelling on business.

He then asks, "How would you like your hair cut?"

I remember once I was in a hurry to leave, so I looked at the barber and said, "cut my hair like yours!"

He took his electric machine and cut my hair totally off ... almost bald I was ... I protested and asked him what he was doing. This looks nothing like his haircut. He replied, "Yes it is ... but my hair has grown since I last cut it!"

On another occasion I needed my beard shaved. I remember staying very still and very afraid as the sharp blade reached my throat. Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw an ear on the floor amongst all the cut hairs.

"Look here," I said, "look here, there's an ear over here. On the ground ... whose ear is it?"

He replied, "touch it ... if it is still warm it is yours!"

I asked my hairdresser once whether there are courses you have to attend to be a hairdresser. He said he was self-taught. It's easy he said, also being a gardener beforehand and cutting hedges gave him all the practice he needed.

Another thing I hate about hairdressers is their need to talk whilst cutting your hair. Why can't they just get on with their job so I can leave quickly?

They like to criticise your hair ... it makes them feel in control ... "oh ... you have split ends dear ... what shampoo do you use? It dries your hair no end ... Do you ever dye your hair? You're beginning to show a bit of grey on the temples you know ..."

I feel like giving him a piece of my mind, but at the time, sitting there, I feel vulnerable and with no mind at all.

What business is it of his what shampoo I use? I'll have you know it's very expensive at three bottles for $1. And no ... I never dye my hair ... well ... sometimes I use a bit of that black liquid my wife uses for her hair and I touch the sides of my head with an old paint brush.

And I wish he'd stop calling me dear ... or my darling. Why does he have to be so familiar? I am here purely on a business transaction. He cuts my hair. I pay and leave. I have no desire to meet strangers and make friends.

And another thing ... why do hairdressers feel the need to ask about your holidays?

I remember once a hairdresser asked me, "have you been on holiday?"

I knew he was Catholic because I had seen him in church a few times although I did not know what job he did. I had gone to a new hairdresser's shop in town and to my surprise there he was. So I frequented his establishment a few times to send some business his way.

"Oh yes ..." I replied, "I have been to Rome. I went to the Vatican and met the Pope. I had an audience with the Pope and met him in his Pope Room!"

As a good Catholic, he was most impressed. He wanted to learn more.

"Really?" he asked, "you met His Popiness the Pope? What did he say to you?"

I hesitated and then said, "he said, tell me who cut your hair so badly and I'll get your money back!"

My hairdresser stopped sharpening his razor for a moment and then asked, "And did you tell him?"

I never went there again.

Oh ... one more thing I hate about going to the hairdresser's is when they offer to wash your hair. You lie on your back in your chair and they put your head in this urinal ... (NOTE: any ladies who do not know what a urinal looks like ask the man in your life to describe it!)

As you're lying there on your back feeling really vulnerable they wash and shampoo your hair and dry it with an industrial strength air flow machine connected to a jet engine.

I really hate it ... I hate it when they touch me ... when they cut my hair ... when they make inane insulting comments criticising me and my appearance. I hate it all.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Calling all friends!


WELL DONE AND THANK YOU

FOR COMMENTING ON THE PREVIOUS POST

AND HELPING THE SALVATION ARMY

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS

Sunday, 1 December 2019

How to support a charity without paying a penny


IT'S ADVENT ...

Here is a clever way on how YOU can support a charity, The Salvation Army, without costing you a penny.

This scheme is so clever I'm surprised I did not think of it before. It's true. You can support The Salvation Army without paying one cent, or a dime, or a penny at all.

All you have to do is leave a comment below.

For every comment below I will give £1 (that's $1.29) to The Salvation Army.

Up to a maximum of £25 (offer likely to change upwards at my Bank Manager's discretion. He thinks I am a fool).

No anonymous comments please.

Invite family and friends to comment here.

Hurry ... offer likely to close at Bank Manager's discretion. 

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Floating Memories In My Mind

It will soon be Christmas. Time for preparations. Spiritual as well as more mundane preparations like decorating the house, buying presents, food, drinks and so on. Sending Christmas cards. Meeting friends and relatives, going to parties, and so on and on.

Every so often in life we all find ourselves sitting back and remembering times gone by and perhaps weighing up past events against what is likely to happen in the future.

Certain occasions seem to trigger such reveries from the many dark corners of our minds. It could be at the time around Christmas or the New Year when we look back wistfully at the year just ended and wonder what the next twelve months will bring. Or it could be at the time of one's birthday, or other anniversary like a wedding anniversary, or 25 or so years in marriage, that these memories come floating by to the front of  your head and keeps you pondering.

Imagine for instance you're lying there in your bath, relaxing amongst the soap bubbles and warm water, perhaps reading one of my books, when suddenly a thought strikes you from nowhere ...

Which is in fact precisely what happened to me the other day ... ... ...
There I was, enjoying a warm bath and a good read, when somehow my thoughts turned to death. I don't know why such thoughts crossed my mind but I wondered what happens after death.

I know what we are taught about eternal life and the here-after; but somehow I wondered what if there actually was re-incarnation? Can you imagine? Returning back as a tin of evaporated milk?

It was made from contented cows, you know!
How did the cows know to stop when the tin of milk was full? Did they stop in mid flow, I wondered.

Also, how do chickens know the precise size of the egg cup when we have soft-boiled eggs?

And why is it when I am sitting there in the bath, or you are sitting there in the bath ... another bath of course, not the one I am in ... why is it that the soap bubbles gather in groups here, there and elsewhere? Why can't they all gather together in one big group? What if you add more liquid soap? Would there be more bubbles than water in your bath?

What comes first? Do you put the liquid soap in the bath first and then add the water? Or do you run the water in the bath and add the soap afterwards?

It's like the chicken and egg situation, although I would advise you don't have a chicken with you in the bath. Or an egg for that matter.

Anyway, about animals in Heaven ...

Can you imagine meeting that wasp, or yellowjacket, you killed last summer when you're in Heaven? It might well sting you in the backside in revenge; because they don't wear anything under those long robes they give you in Heaven, you know!
I imagined Saint Peter warning me about the yellowjackets and me holding my legs tightly together to protect my manhood.

That made the bubbles in my bath move to one side.

By the way, did you hear about the hypochondriac mosquito? She died of malaria!

Somehow, the thought made me smile and then laugh out loud.

What is laughter? I asked myself, but did not reply.

I thought about it for a while. It is a build up of energy that starts somewhere deep within one's diagram, (just above the belly button), and rushes up your asparagus, and comes out as a loud noise out of your mouth.

From anywhere else and you're in trouble!

Anyway, this train of thoughts somehow took a turning back to death and family members now long gone.

I remembered my dear old grandad. He always used to say to me "take every thing with a pinch of salt!" Mind you, he made a terrible cup of tea.

He told me once that when I was born in hospital I was very ugly indeed. Apparently the nurse slapped me on the backside and hit my dad in the mouth.

But as I grew up, like the ugly duckling, I became really good looking. I recall when I worked in London I was stopped in the street by a very beautiful woman who said, "Hello handsome. Can you direct me to the optician please?"

In my reverie, sitting there in the bath, I recalled my dear old uncle. He was a very well educated man and a professor at the local University where he taught graffiti and hooliganism.

He used to tell his students: "Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never hurt me!" Then one day a printing press fell on him.

He went to the hardware store once and said to the shop-assistant, "I want a ladder." The assistant asked, "How long do you want it?" My uncle replied, "I want to keep it for ever!"

He was quite a character my uncle. Once he put a cake and custard in his wife's nylon tights and then declared, "Never trifle with a woman's affection!"

My aunt was quite a figure to look at and wonder. A real hour-glass figure, she had. She said she had been on a peanut and melon diet. The peanuts didn't do much good but the melons ...

One night whilst in bed with her husband she said to my uncle, "Set the alarm clock for six!" He replied, "Why? There's only two of us!"

My other uncle was a glazier. You know, a person whose trade is fitting glass into windows and doors. Once, working at this multi-storey block of offices, he spent all day changing the glass in over 100 windows. Then he realised he had a crack in his spectacles.

By this time the water in the bath was getting a little cold and it was time I got out and practised my body-building poses in front of the full length mirror. It reminded me of the time when I went to see the doctor. He asked me, "Do you have trouble passing water?"

I replied, "I get a little dizzy when travelling over a bridge!"

He was a great Shakespearean actor, my doctor. Toured the USA and other countries for years. His favourite role was in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Have you seen his Bottom? Or perhaps caught a glimpse of his Malvolio on the Twelfth Night?

Anyway, enough of me and my bathing memories.

At least they are better than those of yet another uncle of mine. His doctor told him to keep away from all dampness because of his rheumatism. So he sat in an empty bath and vacuum cleaned himself!

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