Monday, 21 October 2019

Je ne comprends pas!

The other day I attended a business conference in another town. The meeting was open to people from various organisations from many different countries, so there were plenty of people I had never met before.

I was standing in this large area with my briefcase at my feet enjoying a cup of coffee when this very attractive brunette lady wearing a very low cut black décolleté dress a few sizes too short approached me and started talking in Greek.

I couldn't understand a word she said. It was all Greek to me, as they say. I knew she spoke in Greek because a distant aunt of mine (she lives 300 miles away) is Greek and I could make out the language even though I could not understand what this young lady was saying.

I regretted not having my dictionary with me at the time. Not that it would have helped. It's an Italian dictionary. I like to carry it with me to impress the waiters in restaurants when I order a meal. I once ordered a whole meal in Italian and the waiter did not understand a word. It was a Chinese restaurant. But I digress.

Anyway, this young lady was enthusiastic about something or other and she talked fast in her native Greek and smiled a lot.

My mind went back to the many times I visited my aunt and I tried to remember some of the Greek words I had heard in her household. Words like youvarlakia, avgolemono, dolmades and baklava.

But I could hardly spout them out incoherently just because they were in Greek. Besides, they mean meat balls, chicken and lemon soup, stuffed vine leaves and a pastry sweet with syrup. Can you imagine a woman speaking to me in Greek and I reply "meatballs!" She'd think I was insulting her and not believing a word she is saying.

Try as I might to look blankly at her and saying politely, "Yo no hablo español !!!" she still continued smiling and speaking in Greek without as much as taking a breath.

I then remembered the famous Voltaire quote and said, "I may not understand a word you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to confuse me!"

She stopped for a while, perhaps wondering why I replied in English, then continued speaking to me in Greek as if nothing had happened.

It was then I remembered another phrase which my dear aunt used to say, time and again, to her daughter. I repeated it silently in my head once or twice to get the intonation and the pronunciation right and then, taking a deep breath, I said, "I foústa sas eínai polý mikrí ..."

The woman stopped abruptly and then slapped me in the face. She then turned round and walked away and vanished in the crowd of people in the conference room.

I just about managed to hold on to my cup of coffee and save it from crashing to the floor. I tried to compose myself and look as if nothing had happened, hoping that no one noticed me.

It was then that a man approached me and asked me, "Why did you tell her 'Your skirt is too short?' "  


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Closed For Candles

It was just before 10 o’clock in the morning, early Mass had long been over and everyone had left. The church was empty, or so Father Ignatius thought. He came out of the Sacristy to spend a few minutes with the Virgin Mary, sitting on the front pew reciting his Rosary as usual, when he noticed a young man sitting in his place. He was wearing a very smart dark suit and had a small business case with him lying beside him on the pew.

Father Ignatius nodded a greeting and sat on the other side of the church, by St Joseph’s statue, for a change. He thought it prudent to give the young man some privacy to pray or meditate. He’d never seen him before, “not one of our regulars,” thought the priest as he started his prayers.

A few minutes later the young man got up and made his way towards the priest.

“Do you work here?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes … I am the priest here, they call me Ignatius. At least to my face, that is,” joked the priest standing up.

“I saw a book at the back about Catholic Saints. May I purchase it please?”

“Oh, you’re welcome to it … it’s free. Please help yourself to any leaflets or pamphlets on the table at the back,” replied Father Ignatius.

“I am not from this side of town,” continued the young man, “I’m here for a job interview at the factory down the road. I was surprised to find the church open at this hour. Where I live they are always closed.”

“It’s the devil’s finest hour when we lock our churches,” replied Father Ignatius, “we try to leave the door open as much as we can around here .”

“It’s a shame that so many churches are closed during the middle of the day … I like to go from time to time and just sit there … it helps me to think … and pray perhaps … you know, before my interview. I really need this job.”

“I wish you well … and I shall pray for you too.”

  “All these statues of Jesus and the Saints have candles lit besides them. I’m not Catholic and I never understood the purpose of candles … do you believe they help get your intentions attended to … you know, if I lit a candle for this job I need?” asked the young man hesitantly.

The priest sat down and so did the young man. “Ah … I’ve been asked this so many times … the statues are of course inanimate objects just to help us envisage what Jesus or the Saints looked like. Just like having a photo of a loved one in your wallet. A helpful reminder every time you look at it …

“Some people consider it wrong to pray or light candles to statues. I understand that sentiment. But it’s important to understand also that we’re of course praying to Jesus or a Saint and certainly not to the statue we see there.

“It’s also important to understand that Jesus or the Saints do not require anything material from us … they don’t need candles lit … flowers put in vases or any such things …

“Lighting a candle is for many people a sign of love and respect. Their way of veneration … an expression of their Faith.

“So the answer is no … a candle will not help get you a job at the factory or anything else for that matter.

“I’ve lit many a candle in my time. I don’t see any harm in it, as long as it is understood that it will not buy you any favours in any way.

“God does answer prayers, I’ve seen it often, but He does so according to His will and not based on candles, flowers or such like.”

“Thank you …” said the young man, “I’ll light one all the same … but no promise or guarantee intended.” he smiled.

“Should you get the job around here … I hope to see you visit us from time to time,” said Father Ignatius as he shook the young man’s hand.

It seems that this time God was willing, and the young man did get his job, because Father Ignatius saw him sitting at the back of the church at midday Mass on several occasions since.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Sapristi Alors!

Our church has one of those huge baptismal fonts made of stone or concrete or such like material. Why it’s so big beats me. It’s an old church and I reckon babies in olden times must have been born really big which must have been an ordeal for their poor mothers. Either that or perhaps in olden times they put the whole baby in the font rather than just wet his head.

Anyway, that aside, it has become a habit in our church to baptize babies during Sunday Mass rather than at a private service at some other time. Just after reading the Gospel, the priest moves to one side near the font and baptises the child whilst the whole congregation witnesses and joins in the event. It’s rather nice I think.

This week Father Gaston celebrated Mass. He is a temporary priest whilst our priest is away. He is French, severe looking with a gaze that would turn you into stone before you even thought of sinning, and a monosyllabic conversation only used on rare occasions when he has something to say.

He also uses reading spectacles which he balances precariously on the end of his long aquiline nose; and looks at you from above them whilst speaking to you. I believe he looks at people from above the glasses so as not to wear out the lenses.

He stood by the font reading from his book whilst the proud parents and god-parents waited patiently as they handed the baby to each other. He was a lively little mite; the baby that is … about eight or nine months old. You could hear him gurgling and laughing throughout the church.

At the appropriate moment the mother held him on top of the font and as Father Gaston poured water on the child’s head he raised his hand out and hit the priest in the face knocking the spectacles in the font.

The priest stopped and said something in French which is not in my Missal. He then reached into the font for his glasses forgetting that his vestments had long and wide sleeves.

He withdrew his hand and put the wet glasses on. As water dripped on his face he realized his sleeve was soaking wet. He tried as best as he could, with as little dignity as remained in the situation, to squeeze the water from his sleeve back into the font. He then dried his face and glasses; and continued with the Baptism.

I felt sorry for the poor parents.

But not so much for Father Gaston.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Not swimming with dolphins

Many people like swimming with dolphins. I don't. I like to go cycling with dolphins. If we humans can learn to swim, I don't see why they can't learn to ride a bicycle.

Years ago I wanted to go on holiday and swim with dolphins; but I could not afford it. So instead I went to a foreign seaside resort and swam with sardines. As soon as they saw me they swam away thinking I was too weird to swim with them. The only thing I attracted was a jellyfish which attached itself amorously to the outside of my leg; just below the knee.

I got out of the water screaming in agony. A fat woman sitting on the sand sunbathing said, "You have to pee on it. It takes the sting away! It's the same if you are ever bitten by a shark."

How could I possibly pee on it attached to the outside of my leg? It's not as if I had an extension hose with me. Anyway, I couldn't just do it in public.

Since there was no queue volunteering to pee on me I kept on screaming instead.

A man came to my aid and suggested he buys a bottle of vinegar from the nearby fish and chips shop. He asked me for some money.

As I was only wearing my sports swimming trunks at the time, I of course had no money on me. He asked me for a credit card. I shouted in pain, "and where do you expect me to swipe it?"

He ran to the shop and brought a bottle of vinegar. As soon as he poured some on the creature it let go off my leg and shrivelled to the ground. But the leg was still stinging.

There was another man nearby selling ice cream from the back of a van. Every so often the van would play nursery rhyme tunes on the loudspeaker to attract young customers. The ice cream salesman volunteered to drive me to the hospital about a mile away. He rushed as slowly as he could playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" along the way.

At the Emergency Room the Head Nurse, who served years ago with Florence Nightmare during the Crimean War, would not let me in. "You can't come in dressed like that!" she said, pointing at my minute swimming trunks.

It's amazing isn't it, that you can be on the beach with tiniest bikini or swimming trunks and it's OK; but in a different environment it is not acceptable.

"Would you like me to take them off?" I asked, still in severe pain.

She looked me up and down once or twice and said, "No, that would be worse!"

At the reception desk the receptionist asked me for some identification to prove who I was. I told her I did not have any on me. I was on holiday and all my papers and passport were at the hotel. She insisted on some identification she could put on her computer; and she asked me how I would pay if all I had on me was my swimming trunks. I assured her I did not have my name and address tattooed on some private place to prove my identity. She still insisted.

I asked her what would happen if a patient is unconscious. She said that would be different.

So I lay on the floor, closed my eyes, and pretended to be unconscious.

Another young nurse came out of her office, took me to the treatment room and treated my leg.

I then had to take a taxi back to the beach to go to the changing room and get dressed and pay the taxi driver. It cost me a fortune.

I don't like dolphins, or sardines. The only fish I like is the one served with potato chips and tomato ketchup.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

A Load Of Old Bones


I had reason to visit our local suburban museum the other day. As I have been accused by some to being somewhat uncultured I decided to spend an hour or so looking around and educating myself in matters which will stand me in good stead in future cultured surroundings.

Here’s what I learnt:

In a large room at the museum there was a collection of various dinosaurs’ skeletons big and small with unpronounceable names such as leptospirosis and tri-cycle-steps; and they all had small labels with the dates of their various ages. One skeleton had no label so I asked the attendant in that room how old it was.

He replied with confidence, “It is 230 million years and 9 months and 3 weeks old, Sir.”

“That’s very precise,” I said in amazement.

“Yes Sir,” he said, “I have been working here for 9 months and 3 weeks and it was 230 million years old when I started.”

Now that’s something I didn’t know.

I then moved on to another room which had a lot of human skeletons and different bone parts collected from various places in the world. On a table there were two skulls – a small one and a larger one. The labels both read “Skull of Ivan Eyefull - Marco Polo’s bodyguard”.

I asked the attendant to explain and he told me that one skull belonged to the bodyguard when he was a child and the other when he was a grown man.

It was fortunate that both were found by the same archaeologist in the same excavations in the desert where Marco Polo had a picnic and his bodyguard choked on a fishbone stuck in his throat.

I was amazed at what archaeologists can learn from just a pile of bones. They must be really clever with all their knowledge and research.

The museum attendant, who had knowledge written all over him, (some jokers had done it with permanent ink), told me a story I'll never forget ... You'll probably never forget it too.

He said that an archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After opening it carefully he recognised it straight away and he phoned the curator of a prestigious natural history museum. "We've just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!" 
The curator of the museum quickly sent a team to collect the mummy for thorough examination.

A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. "You were right about the mummy's age and cause of death. How in the world did you know it was heart failure?"

"Simple ... there was a piece of paper in his hand that said - 'put me down for 10,000 Shekels on Goliath'."

I also discovered something else when visiting our local museum:

Statistics of marriages and divorces over the years show that archaeologists make the best spouses. The older you get the more interested they are in you.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Mah Na Mah Na

Do you remember the Muppets' song Mah Na Mah Na? Great song which you can hear here.

Well, today's post has nothing to do with the Muppets or Mah Na Mah Na; but more to do with Manet Manet. Or, to be precise Édouard Manet.

Let us study Manet's painting "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe", also known as "The Luncheon on the Grass".

The first thing I noticed when I studied this wonderful oil on canvas, (this is arty talk), is that it can't have been much of a luncheon, (or déjeuner), since there's no sight of any French Fries or chocolate milkshake anywhere. What kind of picnic is this without French Fries? You would have thought that  Manet, being French, would have had some French fries, or escargots, or frogs legs in his luncheon. But no ... all I can see is a loaf of bread on the ground and I don't know what else in the basket. I think Manet missed a trick there, but never mind.

The second thing I noticed in this painting is the subtle use of colours and the masterful brush strokes. (That's more arty talk to show you that I am learned in these things).

And finally ... I noticed that we have here a naked lady having a picnic with two fully dressed men, whilst another half naked woman is having a wash in the river in the background.

That's an odd mise en scène I said to myself. (This means scenery in French). 

I asked myself. Why do we have a naked woman sitting nonchalantly totally naked next to two men  not so nonchalantly beside her?

At first I thought that it must have been very hot that day and she needed to cool down, but then, on reflection, I started to worry about any ants or insects that may be in the "herbe" in the vicinity. What if she got bitten in all the familiar places? By the look on her face she doesn't seem to mind.

I also noticed that the two men are happily talking to each other and totally ignoring the naked lady beside them; very uncharacteristic of most men I know. I doubt I would have behaved like that if I was posing for this painting for hours on end. Unless of course I was discussing last night's game of football on TV; then I would perhaps have ignored the naked lady ... NOT!

Intrigued by all this I researched the painting a little more.

I was surprised to discover that Manet' wife Suzanne Leenhoff posed as the naked woman, although the face on the painting is that of another model. Strange this. She did not mind sitting naked next to the two men for hours on end, as long as her husband does not paint her face in the painting.

Stranger still, the men sitting beside her are Manet's brother Gustave, and his brother-in-law Ferdinand Leenhoff - that is Suzanne's brother.

Talk about dysfunctional families. Would you pose naked with your close relatives sitting there fully clothed?

You can imagine the conversation as they prepared to sit for the painting.

"Hello sister, you've put on some weight lately. Never mind, Édouard will make you look good in the painting, I'm sure!"

"Why don't you two take off your clothes as well? Why just me?"

"It's a precaution, my dear ... a precaution just in case ..."

"Where are the French fries?" 

"Édouard ate them. The milkshake too!"

And there you have it friends. An expose of Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe".

Perhaps you'd like to add below snippets of conversation as you would imagine them whilst these people are posing to have their picture painted.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

I said Rubens, not Robins

You need to pay attention if you are to learn anything from my writings. This is about Rubens, and not Robins as my gardener friend thought, when he read it and was disappointed it did not mention birds.

Peter Paul Rubens lived between 1577 and 1640 and was a very famous Flemish painter of the period.

He was a prolific artist and his works were mostly religious subjects, as well as a lot of mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He also painted portraits of friends, as well as several landscapes.

Basically, you name it, and he painted it. Except of course the garden gate and fence which remained unpainted despite being told and nagged many times by his wife. Believe me, I know the feeling; I have still to paint the garage door although in my opinion it looks fine. You know how some women are? Always going on and on about the same thing. I mean, I painted the wretched garage door three years ago. Why does it need re-painting? The other day we were lying in bed, (X rated content). I leant upon her for an amourous hug. She looked up at me and said, "the ceiling needs painting again!" 

Anyway, back to Rubens. He painted on canvas, slate as well as wood it seems. In fact he painted on anything except of course the wooden gate and fence which I've already mentioned. (I can hear voices in my head saying, "Paint the garage door ... and the ceiling." - how can you switch your conscience off?)

Now one thing you'll notice about most of Rubens' paintings, (except landscapes), is that he had a special penchant, (fondness), for painting fully-rounded and plump women; hence the term "Rubensian" or "Rubenesque" to describe women of a certain size. His penchant was mainly due to the fact that he had one leg shorter than the other. Either that or he had lost one shoe.

Anyway, as I was saying until you focussed on his penchant ... none of these skinny models you see in modern magazines, for Rubens. They had to be fairly big and rotund to feature in his paintings. This is because he had a lot of flesh coloured paint to get rid off, and since no one paints gates and fences this colour he painted nudes instead.

In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, at the age of 53, Rubens married his 16 years old niece, Hélène Fourment.

You can see her in the painting above, known as "Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap", getting out of the bath. Most people would use a towel I suppose, but there were none available that day - so a fur wrap it was. As you can see, she is no skinny lady is she?

I will refrain from mentioning her two good points; but you'll have to admit she did have dainty feet.

Can you imagine, at 16 being married to her uncle aged 53? What did she call him? Darling? Husband? Uncle? Or lunatic?

The young niece and wife inspired the voluptuous figures in Rubens paintings from 1630 onwards. The most famous of which is "The Three Graces",

I'm not sure which one is Ruben's niece, but judging from the colour of her hair I'd guess it's the woman on the left.

I can't help marvelling at how that piece of delicate cloth is wrapped round the two women and held in place by their voluptuousness.

Now I can understand a painter wishing to paint nudes, nothing wrong with that I suppose, especially if you have bought a lot of paint which you want to use up before its "sell-by" date. So, asking a few people to model for you is in this case acceptable, I guess. But to actually paint your own wife naked, and then display the painting for all to see ... Well, that's another matter.

Can you imagine him saying, as she steps out of the bath, "Hold it there, darling! Just wrap this piece of fur delicately around you, showing off your interesting bits ... Don't worry about the fur moulting. It was a mangy old dog anyway; and you can have another bath later to get rid of any fur still stuck on you. Now let me get my paint brush!"

And then displaying the finished painting is like a modern day man taking a photo of his wife naked and posting it on social media for all to see. How would you react to that if it happened to you, I wonder?

Can you imagine the conversation in the supermarket when Rubens' young wife met her friends?

"Oh ... you have put on some weight dear, judging from the painting I saw? Especially on the derrière!"

Or ...

"I liked the painting with your two good friends. At first I thought it was called "The Three Greases". It's a good painting really. You should be proud of your healthy features. Do you think your husband would paint me naked too? I have a lovely tattoo on my bottom that needs airing!"

You can add your own imagined discussions below.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Mean what you pray

I often wonder how many of us mean what we say when we recite the Lord's Prayer and say, "Thy will be done!"

Do we really mean it? Or do we mean, "Thy will be done as long as it is what I want"?

Let me explain.

I will not name Helen Lowry in order to protect her identity. She has a singing voice which sounds like a pregnant hyena giving birth on a bed of nails. But this has not stopped her from joining the church choir and leading it solo on many occasions.

In my view, it is plain to see that it is not God's will that she should scream and screech every Sunday to the detriment of the congregation's ear drums, and the total discomfort of our Lord in Heaven and His host of angels and saints.

Yet this has not deterred Helen one iota. She continues to sing solo from the Psalms every Sunday before we read from the Gospel.

She is not accompanied by either the organ or any musical instrument. She squawks through the psalms for a good ten minutes. I never cease to wonder how she knows what tune to sing to. Was there a musical score discovered in old parchments at the time they found the psalms?

When she sings you can hear the birds outside leaving the trees and fleeing to a safe distance miles away. The leaves on the trees dry out and curl as they fall one by one to the ground accompanied by all kinds of flying insects as they crash in their final death throes.

I sit there in church clenching my teeth wondering whether this is what it will be like at the end of times when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come to end it all and take us to another life ... except of course for Helen Lowry who will be spared and will continue to shriek into eternity.

Let Helen be a lesson to you. Before you do something in life, ask: Is it really God's will that I do this?

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Ancient People

Father Ignatius was on his way back from a school trip to the museum in the big city with the young children from St Andrew’s School.

The young seven-year olds were a little boisterous and excited after their first school outing; and the six adults on the bus had their work cut out keeping them in their seats. When everyone was seated, Mr Foster, the Headmaster, took a roll-call to ensure that no one was missing.

As the bus made its way slowly through the busy traffic the children discussed amongst themselves their museum visit and the souvenirs they had bought from the museum shop.

A few of them sitting next to Father Ignatius discussed the various ancient exhibits they had seen from years gone by and asked him which were his favourite.

“I wouldn’t say I had a favourite as such,” replied Father Ignatius, “but I suppose it is impressive how many of these exhibits have survived all these centuries and how much we have to learn from ancient civilizations.”

“Are you ancient?” asked a seven year old.

“I suppose I am …” replied the priest with a smile.

Mr Foster smiled too, but said nothing.

“Will they put ancient people like you in the museum? And people will come to see you?” asked another youngster.

“Now that’s a good idea …” replied the priest, “do you think anyone would be interested?”

“No …” replied another promptly, “old people are not interesting … my grand dad is old … he is 58 and he does not like burgers and milk-shake.”

“Ah … that’s the ultimate test of antiquity,” declared Father Ignatius, “being 58 and having a dislike for burgers and milk-shake!”

The children continued discussing amongst themselves and the priest started reading a book about Ancient Civilisation which he had bought from the museum.

About half-an-hour later he closed the book and looked up.

“Learn anything interesting Father?” asked Mr Foster.

“I suppose so … whilst reading this book I’ve been thinking about our attitude to age and ageing …”

“What do you mean?”

“We seem to be in awe at something ancient …” continued the priest, “we wonder at the pyramids, and ancient monuments and relics. We marvel at old paintings by the great masters … and in this country we even have some buildings listed so that they cannot be altered or pulled down because of their historical architectural significance …”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked the headmaster.

“Oh … nothing wrong as such … but I can’t help wondering how many old people here in Britain live alone. Their families having grown up and moved on, these old folk are rarely visited by friends or neighbours. Perhaps Social Security visits them every now and again …

“There are quite a few in our Parish you know …”

“Yes … it’s modern society I’m afraid …” said the headmaster glumly, “people are too busy living life to care about each other … or their old folks. Some are too eager to put their parents in an old-folks home … too busy to look after them I suppose … I can understand that …”

“Can you? Some countries do in fact honor and respect their old people. Sending them to an old-peoples’ home is unheard of in those countries. They all live together in large families and the grand-parents have a lot to contribute to the family and the children’s up-bringing …

“But as you say … it’s different here in Britain … our modern lifestyles make us more interested in an ancient vase or similar relic than in human beings … it's such a pity we don't value our old people as much as we value an old building ...”

“Perhaps the Government should have old-folks listed, just like buildings!” joked Mr Foster.

Father Ignatius smiled. “There’s one thing I’ve learnt from this book,” he said with a glint in his eyes, “you’d better make friends with an archaeologist … because the older you get the more interested they are in you!”

The headmaster laughed and then added “Perhaps we can do something about it Father … in a small way … in our Parish that is …”

“What … have our old people listed by the Government or get them to meet up with archaeologists?”

“Can we not organize a group of volunteers from the church to visit lonely parishioners in our midst? Help them with the shopping perhaps, or with small jobs in the home or garden? I could get some of our older pupils to accompany the adult volunteers. It would help our youngsters no end … teach them to respect and help their elders … we could also involve the other Catholic school in town …”

And the enthusiasm of Mr Foster, which started from a conversation on a bus, soon turned into reality in a matter of weeks. And it's still going strong in that small Parish community.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

And that's life round the hood ...

My neighbour Jeremy has had 38 concussions in a matter of a week or so. He only lives a stone's throw away.

He is normally a well balanced man. He has a chip on each shoulder.

He often complains that his bad luck in life is due to his continuous bad health. He is such a hypochondriac that he has bought his burial plot next to a doctor's.

He used to work for the police force. His job was to trace in chalk on the ground around a body when it is found in unexplained circumstances. He was fired from the job when one day he traced round a body 25 times. He did not realise the victim was still alive and moving!

He used to jog daily to keep fit. He ran at least four miles a day. By the end of the week he'd reach the next town.

His wife on the other hand is ... very tall with long black hair going down her back. None on her head, just down her back.

She is so frightening that every time my cat sees her he loses one of his nine lives. So frightening in fact that she looks like a scarecrow. The birds have returned all the seeds they took the previous year.

The poor woman had botox surgery on her face. When they told her how much it cost she was not at all surprised.

Her husband, Jeremy, on the other hand lost a lot of weight through exercise. He had a lot of loose skin in his chest and belly area. Extra skin hanging out where he lost weight. She suggested he visits her beautician. They have this new method where they stretch the loose skin on his front ever upwards. They stretch it very tight upwards and then tie in all the loose skin in a knot behind his shoulders, under the neck. Totally invisible and his new tight skin makes him look very young.

Unfortunately this means that his belly button, (navel), has now gone all the way up to his forehead. He also has a very unusual tie. 

She used to work as a typist and met a lot of interesting characters. For lunch she used to have alphabet soup. When she was young her parents thought she was dyslexic. So instead of alphabet soup they gave her ordinary spaghetti.

Her great uncle died suddenly and they did not have time to say goodbye. He collapsed onto a bowl of Cheerios.

Jeremy and his wife had a young son who at 18 left home to become a mime artist. They haven't heard from him since.

When their daughter announced that she was pregnant they asked her, "Are you sure it's yours?"

The other night my neighbour Jeremy phoned me at three in the morning. Can you imagine that? At three in the morning! Luckily I was up practicing on my bagpipes.

In conversation, he complained that our dog is out in the garden barking. The following night I rang him at three in the morning and told him it was not our dog!

A few months back Jeremy complained that he was allergic to his cat's fur. So he gave him away to a friend and got himself another cat.

Sadly, one day the second cat died suddenly. They were both distraught. To be a good neighbour I went out and bought them an identical cat. Now they have two dead cats. 

Jeremy went to the doctor to check on his allergy. As soon as he got in the doctor's office he asked him to lie down on the couch. Jeremy asked why and the doctor said he wanted to vacuum clean just where he was standing.

To test for allergy the doctor put various liquids on Jeremy's arm and wrote next to them what they were derived from - like house dust, animal fur and so on, to see which liquid would cause a reaction with the skin. Turned out Jeremy was allergic to the ink in the pen the doctor used.

When they discovered what he was allergic of, Jeremy had relief written all over him. His kids did it with the same pen the doctor used.

To celebrate he bought a dog, which appears to be just as stupid as you can get. To relieve himself he lifts his front leg and wonders why he is getting wet.

It's a breed I'd never heard of before. He is a pointer. He stands there and points, "This is a house. A car. A bicycle ..." and so on.

And that's life in our hood.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Olden Englande History

I'm not sure how many of my readers have studied the history of Olde Englande, at the times of Knights, and round tables, and chivalry. Here are a few things you may not have known.

The Knights of the Round Table were characters in the leg end of King Arthur in England. It is not quite clear which leg end it was, the right or left; but it doesn't seem to matter anyway.

Of course, originally, King Arthur did not have many Knights. He had just three and they sat round a triangular table. They argued as to whether they should sit at the pointy end of the table or the flat surface of the triangle. This is because one of them, Sir Tiny Bottom, was so short that when he sat forwards at the pointy end the table leg would strike his privates. It struck his other soldiers too as a matter of fact. Anyway, eventually as the number of Knights increased the King decided to have a round table; having tried a square one, a hexagonal one and every other shape depending on the number of Knights he had at the time.

In those days of Olde Englande they had many restless Knights. This is because people used to eat cheese and drink mead just before going to bed, and the Knights' wives and girl-friends were too busy watching Downton Abbey instead. (Instead of what?).

Also, it was very difficult to get to sleep with all that metal armour on. It was like asking a sardine to go to sleep inside its tin can. It must have been somewhat cumbersome when having to get up in the night to go to the toilet. Especially since in those days of Merry Olde Englande toilets were outside in the garden and not part of the house. By the time they reached the toilet most Knights had water on the knee. A common ailment at the time.

They had many restless days too when the womenfolks the next morning told off their husbands for staying up all night drinking and wassailing.

"What time did you get up to bed?" they would ask, "I heard you get up the stairs making quite a racket with your rusty armour. Why don't you put some oil on the joints? And whilst you're at it put some oil on your other creaky parts as well!"

No body seems to know what wassailing is but it seems to be something to do with saying "cheers" before drinking, or it may refer to the festival itself of drinking alcoholic beverages. Anyway, they did a lot of it in the times of King Arthur and his restless Knights ... or is it nights?

King Arthur had a lot of restless Knights each thinking he was more important than the other. They had names like Lancelot and Runalot, and Laughalot and so on, depending on what they did the most. There was a knight who ate a lot of beans ... can't remember his name!

In order to prove that none of them was more important than the other King Arthur asked a carpenter to make him a large Round Table. It had to be large enough to enable twelve knights as well as the King himself to sit around it. And it had to be made of one piece of wood so that none of them would complain they sat  where two pieces were joined together and thus mean he was less important than the other knights.

Some records say that King Arthur had as many as twenty-five knights, others say fifty or perhaps even more; as many as 150!!! Which leads one to wonder how big the Round Table must have been.

Also, how difficult it must have been to call a meeting and have all of them attending on the same day. Believe me, I've tried at work to set up a meeting of just six people and there's always one person who can't attend when the others can.

Eventually a very large round table was made by a carpenter named Ivor Woodenheade. The problem was, having made the Round Table, how do we get it into the big Round Room which is at the top of the Castle in Camelot? (Presumably they had a lot of camels there!).

Remember those were the days after the wheel had been invented many years previously; so making a round table was in itself easy. Some historians believe that the wheel is the greatest invention of mankind after laxative. Being an eminent historian myself; I disagree. I think the second wheel was the greatest invention of mankind because then we had the bicycle.

So the carpenter and his crew decided to stand the Round Table upright and roll it up the hill like a wheel all the way to the castle, into the big hall, up the stairs and into the Round Room which was right at the top of the castle. Problem !!!

Once they reached the Round Room at the top of the castle they found that the door is too low for the table to get through.

The carpenter was fired and another carpenter hired to build a new Round Table INSIDE the Round Room. Clever, don't you think?

So the second carpenter, Ivan Idea, brought all the wood he needed and his tools and made the table inside the Round Room to save having to roll it up the hill and through the small door. Another problem !!!

Once the table was built there was not enough room in the Round Room for 150 chairs to be put around the Round Table in the Round Room. The second carpenter was fired.

A third carpenter, known as Aye Fearalot, was very reluctant to take on the job and be fired like his predecessors. In order to avoid such dire fate he convinced King Arthur to build a smaller Round Table, inside the Round Room, around which he put enough chairs for just thirteen people. The other Knights could stay outside the castle and listen to the proceeding on the loudspeakers - reasoned the carpenter. King Arthur agreed.

Contrary to popular opinion, all these Knights did not speak in different accents depending on which part of Olde Englande they came from. They all spoke in perfect English as you can see in the various films which have been made over the years about King Arthur and Camelot. Not in any of these films do you find a Knight speaking in a London cockney accent or a Liverpudlian tone.

Once Knighted a Knight had to promise not to commit murder, treason or be cruel. He had to be nice to ladies, "gentlewomen", (presumably he could be nasty to those not gentle), and widows, (not windows), and to help them cross the road whether they wanted to or not.

In those days many women spent time crossing the road for no apparent reason.

Just for the record, and to prove I do research my History Lessons, here are some names of the Knights of the Round Table:

King Arthur, Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot du Lac, Sir Gawain, Sir Percivale, Sir Lionell, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Kay, Sir Tristram de Lyones, Sir Gareth, Sir Bedivere, Sir Bleoberis, La Cote Male Taile, Sir Lucan, Sir Palomedes, Sir Lamorak, Sir Safer, Sir Pelleas, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Dagonet, Sir Degore, Sir Brunor le Noir, Le Bel Desconneu, Sir Alymere, and Sir Mordred.

There was also one called Sir Ywain the Bastard. I bet he wasn't very happy about that !!!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

A Portrait of the Victor as a Young Man

There are times in life when, for no apparent reason, one's thoughts go back to the past and we reminisce from one story to another, from one person to another and so on go our thoughts almost with no control. This happened to me the other day as I sat by the fish pond in our back garden sipping a beer, and I saw a frog jump out of the bushes.

For some reason, that small creature reminded me of my first girl-friend all those years ago. Her name was Melba. I can't imagine what possessed her parents to give her that name; especially since her surname was Pye.

Anyway, Melba came to mind and I remember our first date when I took her to a French restaurant. She had frogs' legs; but the rest of her body was OK I suppose. Albeit a bit plump. She had more flesh than bones on her.

I had an open topped car at the time. A sporty looking little number. And I recalled how her hair used to blow in the wind as I sped up the highway. Then I had to stop and collect it for her.

She had a pleasant personality, rather quiet, and a little shy. I suppose it's because she was a little rotund and she considered herself overweight - a bit like her mother. I remember well the first day I met Melba's mom. There was a solar eclipse that day.

I recall once when out driving in my car with her mom I discovered a flat tyre in the back of the car; behind the driver's seat. I had no spare tyre that day. So I sat her mom in the opposite corner of the car to counter-weigh the whole vehicle until we got to a garage to fix it.

They say if you want to know how your wife will turn out in years to come, just look at her mother. Well, Melba and her mom were very large, to say the truth; but I wondered whether Melba will have a moustache too when she gets older. I guess I hoped beyond hope, I was so much in love. A bit like asking the tide not to come in.

In fact I remember one day I asked Melba's father to marry her. He was not the brightest person in town. I tried to be poetic and asked him for his daughter's hand. He said, what do you want her hand for? I continued to be subtle and said I want her to have my name. He said, "to be honest I prefer to call her Melba rather than Victor!"

So I tried the direct approach. I said, "I want to marry your daughter".

He answered, "Have you seen her mother?"

I said, "Yes, but I still prefer to marry your daughter!"

He replied, "Are you rich? Can you keep me in the manner I am accustomed to?"

I said, "I want to marry your daughter, not you!"

He retorted, "Her mom and I come as a package. Marry one get two free!"

Melba's father was often unemployed; although some would say he was unemployable. He sat at home watching TV and expected his wife to do all the work and feed him. He was so lazy that if he ever fainted he'd need someone to help him fall to the ground.

He once worked digging trenches on the road as part of a team so that engineers could lay in pipes, cables and so on. One day the team arrived and realised they had no tools with them. Melba's father phoned the depot and said they had forgotten to bring their shovels with them. The manager replied, "Never mind. Lean on each other in the meantime!"

Melba's parents lived in a small house on the poor side of town. I recall the house was so small that the mice were hunch-backed. And it was a cold and damp house too. So damp there was a permanent rainbow in the kitchen.

Melba's brother, Ivor was a right eighteen years old ruffian who hung out with the wrong crowd. He was always up to trouble and to be fair to him, until his late teens, he never knew what it felt like to be wanted. Until one day he saw his picture on the Police Notice Board.

He was arrested with another hooligan friend and taken to Court for riding a bicycle without any lights on at night. In his defence, he said the bicycle had no lights on when he stole it.

When the two lads appeared in Court the Judge looked at them knowingly, almost recognising them. He asked: "Have you two ever been up before me?"

"I don't know," answered Ivor, "what time do you get up?"

The Judge banged his gavel and asked Ivor's friend, "What's your address?"

The lad answered, "I've no fixed abode."

He then asked Ivor, "And what's your address?"

Ivor responded, "In the apartment above him!"

The Judge asked the boys whether they wanted to be tried by him; or by a jury. They did not know the difference. So the Judge explained: "A jury is a group of twelve people made up of your own peers. They are people like you!"

"No way mate," cried Ivor, "we don't want to be tried by a dozen thieves!"
The two boys had a good solicitor who managed to convince the Court, despite all evidence to the contrary,  that they had not stolen the bicycle.

As they were leaving Court Ivor asked the Judge, "Does this mean we can keep the bicycle we stole?"

As I sat there reminiscing about the past I wondered whatever happened to Melba. Our relationship did not last long; especially when she decided to become a wrestler and changed her name to Ten Ton Pye.

My last memory of her was seeing her wrestle at the local Arena wearing a green leotard suit which clung tightly to her every contour. She hopped from one end of the ring to another like a demented acrobat.

At that point, the frog jumped forward into the fish pond and awoke me from my reverie.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Much Ado About Nothing

I have an Australian friend called Mel who told me once “We humans always over-complicate things. Life is made for Fosters and surfing! Simple as that.”

I agreed with the former sentiment as I sipped my amber nectar but I doubt you’ll ever find me out at sea standing on an old wooden board that came from a kitchen door.

I asked him on one occasion whether he was named after the Australian city of Melbourne.

“Nah mate,” he replied, “… Sydney. My name is Sydney. But there was another fella in my class at school named Sydney. There was also one called Ade … we called him Adelaide for short. Then they called me Mel.”

“After the city?” I repeated, raising an eyebrow.

“Nah … just Mel. Pure and simple. Just Mel.”

It makes sense I suppose; which by some circuitous route brings us to Shakespeare.

I had to attend a Shakespeare recital the other evening. Not a play as such, but some tedious professor of sorts standing on a stage and spouting for ages about the old bard. The audience consisted mainly of female Shakespeare enthusiasts accompanied by their bored husbands who had been dragged there under duress or some other enticement – like watching the football on TV!

Anyway, this tedious man went on explaining how and why Shakespeare started writing and became famous.

Personally, I don’t hold with the theory that Shakespeare wrote all these plays and sonnets. I think it was Francis Bacon. And I base my theory on the fact that I fancied a bacon sandwich at the time instead of listening to this tedious professor.

He went on to explain what Shakespeare meant when he said certain things in his plays, and what do various characters represent.

I mean … what does it matter? Why not just enjoy the plays instead of guessing what the author had in mind when he wrote it? He was probably just writing to earn a living, very much as authors, playwrights and film-makers do these days.

At one point the tedious professor asked his audience why Cleopatra in the play of that name put an asp to her bosoms.

I leant sideways and whispered “I didn’t know she put a donkey to her breast. Why did she do this?”
I got one of those stares that meant “I’ll sort you out later!”

The evening went on thus without even a break for a pint or three. I tried my best not to nod off and was rewarded at the end with tea and biscuits.

What a let down … not a Fosters in sight!

Which brings me back again to Mel. He was right … we humans tend to over-complicate things instead of making life pure and simple.

Love one another. As I have loved you.” John 13:34

Monday, 7 October 2019

Confessions to my Diary

Dear Diary,

Here I am once again sharing a few minutes with you.

The other day I went out to the pizza shop to get myself something to eat. In front of me in the queue was another customer. The pizza man put the customer's pizza in a card box and asked him: "Do you want it sliced in 6 or 8 pieces?"

The man replied: "Six pieces please, I'm not that hungry to eat eight pieces".

God must really love stupid people considering He created so many.

I was thinking about my friend Fred yesterday. I haven’t heard from him since he became a mime artist.

He told me he'd been visiting a hypnotist to cure him of the compulsion to visit hypnotists. He'd gone to a hypnotist to cure him of his fear of heights. He got hypnotised and when he woke up he was on top of the cupboard. Anyway, enough about my friend Fred.

On Tuesday I went to the doctor with fluid on the knee and he said: “You’re not aiming straight!” What did he mean?

I then got this new deodorant stick. The instructions said, "Remove cap and push up bottom." I can barely walk with it, but when I fart I smell real nice.

I went to the cemetery on Wednesday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed four grave diggers walking about with a coffin. An hour later and they're still walking about with it. I thought to myself, they've lost the plot!!

On the way back I remembered that my daughter had asked me for a pet spider for her birthday. So I went to our local pet shop and they were £15 each. Blow this, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.

I then went next door to the baker's and asked him for a wasp. "We don't sell wasps!" he said. "You've got one in the shop window!" I replied.

On Wednesday night Thursday morning my neighbour knocked on my door at 2:30 in the morning. Can you believe that, 2:30am?! Luckily for him I was still up playing my bagpipes.

At lunchtime on Thursday I went to a Department Store with a colleague from work. She picked up a pink negligee from the display unit, put it accross her and with a smile she said expectantly: "Do you like this?" I gulped and replied: "I don't look good in a negligee!" She frowned and said nothing. Pink isn't even my favorite color!

On Thursday night I had a terrible dream. I dreamt that the ghost of Gloria Gaynor was standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid ... then I was petrified.

I went to the library on Friday. I stood by the "Geography" shelves and looked at a few books. A few moments later a man approached me and said "Do you realise that all the time you've been standing here a hundred square miles of rainforest have been destroyed?" So I moved somewhere else. I don't want to be responsible for the destruction of any forest.

As I left the library, there were a few people in the street handing out leaflets about Freedom of Speech. One asked me "Do you believe in free speech, Sir?" I nodded and said yes. "Good," he continued, "can I use your cell-phone please?"

On Saturday I went to Confession. The priest said "Do you realise you've confessed the same sins and in exactly the same order for the past five weeks?" I replied "I am a regular sinner. Not a haphazard one who sins informally whenever temptation strikes!"

Some time ago this same priest said to me "You know there are two priests in this Parish. It would be beneficial to you if you confessed to Father Bruno Crusher every now and then!" I replied, "That's funny. It's exactly what Father Bruno said to me when I used to confess to him." 

My priest, undeterred, continued, "Why don't you try St Vincent Church in town for a while?"

Actually I had tried that church some time ago. After a few weeks their priest asked me during Confession "Are you from this Parish?" I said I wasn't. He then said "Go confess in your own Parish. We have enough sinners over here without us having others from somewhere else!"

I think I'll have to be innovative with my sins during Confession. Perhaps I could alter the order in which I say them, and leave a sin out every now and then. See if the priest notices!

On Sunday a friend and I went mountain climbing. Well ... not mountains as such, but very high hills near us. As we almost reached the summit it started raining. My friend slipped and hurt his ankle. He didn't break any bones but he hurt badly. We sheltered behind some rocks and got more and more wet as it continued to rain. It was getting very cold and the evening was drawing in. I was concerned we'd have to spend the night in the open. Then I heard from a distance someone call my name. After a while ... there it was again. Someone with a loud speaker was calling my name and also shouted "We are The Mountain Rescue! We are looking for you!"

I shouted back: "I gave at the office!"

Honestly ... here I was hoping someone would come out and save us, and these people were out for a collection. In this weather too!

Eventually they found us and helped my friend and I down the mountain.

Ha ... ha ... they forgot to pass their collection tin round. So I paid them nothing.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Moving Mountains

Father Ignatius waited for a few seconds after reading the Gospel in church on Sunday.

“Let us remind ourselves of what Mary read in the second reading today,” he said, “To have Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

“There are times in life when events hit us from nowhere and our Faith takes a real knock. Bad health maybe, or loss of a job or something else and we say … why is this happening to me? I’m a good person. I go to church regularly and love God. Why does He do that to me?

“But St Paul, who is said to have written this letter to the Hebrews, is quite clear in what he says … to have Faith is to be sure and certain of what we hope for and what we cannot see.

“And he had good reason to lose Faith … he was not in good health, he’d been arrested, beaten and imprisoned many times for preaching about Jesus, he was shipwrecked and bitten by a snake. He could have said at any time … enough of this … I might as well give up and go back to making tents … which was of course his trade.

“But he didn’t give up. His Faith remained strong. He continued preaching despite all adversities.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a while then continued.

“Jesus said that if we have Faith as small as a mustard seed we can say to a mountain move and it will move … or to a mulberry tree uproot yourself and plant yourself in the sea and it will do it.

“Can you imagine that? We don’t have any mountains near us … but there’s Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mount Snowden in Wales. Can you imagine standing there at the foot of Ben Nevis and saying … hey you Ben … I command you to move over there!

“And to have so much Faith in what you have said that you know for certain it will happen? You wouldn’t be frightened of making a fool of yourself in front of everyone else! You’d shout your command out loud to the mountain knowing full well that it will obey you.”

He paused again for a while and took something out of his pocket.

“I have here a mustard seed …” he said raising his hand, “can you see it?

“Of course not … it’s so small that I can hardly see it myself …

“Suddenly, this tiny mustard seed has never seemed so big … when it comes to asking a mountain to move.”

He stopped again and put the seed back in his pocket.

“But Jesus was not exaggerating when He taught us to have Faith.

“On His way to Capernaum Christ met a Roman Centurion whose servant was very ill. He asked Our Lord to help the servant, and when Jesus made His way towards the house the Centurion said ‘Lord, I do not deserve that you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed’

“Can you imagine the Faith of that Centurion? A Roman officer who was no doubt tasked to keep the peace and had probably persecuted Christ’s followers in his time and kept them under control … Yet, this very man had so much Faith in Jesus that he knew that one word from Him and the servant would be healed.

“Can you do that I wonder? Can you have so much Faith in God that you know for certain that He will see you through whatever crisis you are facing? Or does your Faith crumble when adversity strikes?”

He stopped yet again to punctuate his sermon and to gauge the discomfort of the congregation.

“My dear friends …” he continued, “I am no Saint …

“There are times when my Faith falters too … I am as weak as any of you and at times that mustard seed I carry is as large as Ben Nevis itself.

“God knows that … He knows the amount of Faith we have in Him and how it varies in the good and the bad times …

“And yet He loves us all the same.

“A man came to Jesus once and asked Him to heal his son ‘if you possibly can …’

“Note the hesitancy in the man’s request. He was not as certain as the Centurion … he said ‘help us if you possibly can …’

“Jesus replied, ‘If you can? Everything is possible for he who has Faith.’

“To which the man replied, ‘I do have Faith, but not enough. Help me to have more!’

“Jesus took pity on him yet admired his honesty and healed his son.

“We too dear friends … should never be afraid or ashamed when our Faith is weak to say to God in all honesty.

“I believe, Lord; help my unbelief”. (Mark 9:24).

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Food Etiquette

I got it wrong once again.

I don't know what the custom is where you are, but over here, when you are invited to someone's house for a meal it is customary to take with you a bottle of wine or some other alcoholic drink.

We had a new boss at work. She had a posh voice, upper-class like, and a double-barrelled name; also a sign of being from a distinguished posh background. Rumours were that her husband too was a well-to-do individual.

She invited a small group of us to her house one evening for a meal and so that we might get to know each other; or more precisely so that she would get to know us.

She gave us her address. It was obvious when I checked that she lived in a mansion at the edge of town. (See the photo I took when no one was in the room).

My colleagues and I discussed what we would take as a present when we got to her house. It was obvious from conversations that she and her husband did not drink. So a bottle of wine or similar was out of the question.

Most of my colleagues decided to take flowers with them. Some decided to take a box of chocolates. This limited my options tremendously. What else could I take for the woman who has everything?

I remembered that we had in the fridge a packet wrapped in nondescript paper containing a small box of the best caviar ever, (apparently). It was given to me a day earlier by a friend as a gift in return for a favour I'd done to him. He showed me the caviar box and then wrapped it in some paper. When I got home I just put it in the fridge to keep it fresh. (Is that what you're supposed to do with caviar? I don't really know. Never even tried caviar!)

Anyway, I rang home. My wife was not there. I told the baby-sitter, (this happened years ago), who was not good at English; "There's a packet in the fridge, second shelf, please wrap it in the gift paper I have in my desk. I'll collect it on my way to my boss' home!"

I got home. The packet was beautifully wrapped with a wonderful pink ribbon tied around it in a bow and a paper rose, (where did she get it from?) stuck on the top. It looked fantastic.

I got the packet. Thanked the baby-sitter and drove at speed to my boss' home.

It was a lovely evening.

When I got home and opened the fridge to get some milk I found the caviar box my friend gave me still there!

What ... what happened? What did I give my boss as a present? I asked the family but no one could fathom out what happened.

The next day, my boss said nothing but looked at me with one of those stares that would turn Lot's wife into a pillar of salt ... only faster. I did not dare raise the subject.

That evening I asked the baby-sitter what had she wrapped so beautifully the day before.

She replied, "Zee packet of zee saucisses ... sausages ... like you say to me on zee phone ... I do wrap zem in zee gift paper and I put zee ribbon on eet to make look beautiful!"

To make matters worse, I found out later that my boss and her husband are vegetarians.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Bon Appetit

I don't deny that eating a nice steak, or a lamb casserole, roast chicken and freshly cooked fish and chips are a delight at any time. I can smell the delicious aroma of these and many other favourites of mine right now as I am typing these words.

But yet ... there's another delicacy which most of us have probably not partaken in, which goes unnoticed by our culinary experts and is indeed far cheaper than anything you can buy at your supermarket, delicatessen or top of the range boucherie!


Can you imagine how much meat is left lying there on the road every day to rot away in the sun instead of resting nicely on your plate next to your favourite vegetables? And it's FREE folks. You don't have to pay for it.

Just stop the car and pick up the remains of that squashed squirrel. You may need a spade for this, but on the positive side the meat has already been tenderised by the weight of the vehicle which run him over.

If this makes you squeamish, don't worry. 

Drive on a few more miles and you'll most likely find a dead rabbit, or a dead fox which will serve you as a neck scarf as well as a meal.

Or if you're lucky you may find a dead pheasant, (I said pheasant, not peasant - pay attention). Or indeed some other bird like a crow or a sparrow even, or maybe you could enjoy the delicacy of dead frogs and toads attempting to cross the road and not quite making it to the other side. They may be a bit squashy on the road, but a few minutes in a blender with some spices will make you a delicious soup, or gravy.

The possibilities are endless. And the beauty of it all is that the cuisine varies depending on which country you're in. 

Can you imagine kangaroo steaks from Australia? Sheep from New Zealand or Wales? Reindeer or moose or buffalo? Geese and turkeys? Prickly hedgehogs or even wild haggis in Scotland's Highlands?

The roads are full of food for you to enjoy. Even scraping the dead insects from the front of your car can provide an appetising meal if you put your mind to it.

So help the environment and keep our roads clean. Take a roadkill to your kitchen today. Nothing looks better when viewed on your plate with some vegetables.

Except that bicycle you ran over the other day!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Special Offer to all our readers

I have been appointed as Sales and Marketing Manager of a new venture business here in the UK, and have been authorised to offer a reduction of as much as 99% off the cost of our holidays to the first 100 readers who apply.

This new company, Safari Holiday Adventure Tours, will give you the experience of your life in Northern England and Scotland.

Your holiday break will start with our guides welcoming you in our fully equipped Jeep to take you on your adventure of a lifetime, (subject to availability - terms and conditions apply). If a Jeep or similar vehicle is not available you will be transported by cart pulled by a donkey.

You will be taken to the wilds of England or Scotland, (subject to Local Authority permissions), where you will come face to face with the wildlife that Britain has to offer. See and enjoy mosquitoes in their natural habitat, (or midges if in Scotland - a small flying insect). Sit in the open amongst ants, centipedes, woodlice, silverfish and earwigs. Enjoy a picnic with wasps, yellow jackets, and flies of all type and size. Get close to nature by sleeping under the stars, (in fully reconditioned tents), and experience the bite of vampire bats or hear the cry of owls with Irritable Owl Syndrome warning you of impending doom. (Disclaimer - if vampire bats are not available our little dog Flossy will at times give clients a little bite in the backside - not guaranteed).
If in Scotland enjoy the exhilarating thrill of the chase as you go out hunting for haggis accompanied by the sound of bagpipes and drums, (subject to availability if we have a portable CD player at the time. Music liable to change depending on whether Ivor Carbuncle brings the right CD - alternatives include Frank Sinatra or similar artists singing the latest popular culture entertainment. Ivor is also available for romantic cheek-to-cheek dancing at no extra cost. He has been described as Britain's sex symbol for women who do not care).

Get at one with nature by catching a cold or possibly pneumonia if it is raining and freezing at the time, (subject to local weather conditions. If it is not raining our tour guides would be willing to pour buckets of water on you at little extra cost).

Enjoy open air meals at night around the camp fire singing communal songs of your choice, (song sheets available at no extra cost). Have stale cheese from a tube and cucumber sandwiches with the crust left on served by a genuine upper-class butler who will insult you in a condescending and rude tone of voice and an accent of your choice, (All British dialects catered for. Foreign accents not available. French accent optional in June to August when Madame Leggert is visiting us from Marseilles. She will dress up as a butler and wear a beard to hide her true sex - albeit not necessary! She looks like a medieval gargoyle with teeth like the Ten Commandments - all broken).

This will be the holiday of a lifetime which you will never forget. Especially when you see the scars left by various insects bites will will serve as a souvenir for life of your enjoyable stay with us.

Safari Holiday Adventure Tours is guaranteed to make your visit to Britain most memorable.

Limited Offer - first 100 applicants will receive a reduction of up to 99% of our usual costs. No further charges or gratuities, (tips), required.

Book now and dream of the holiday of a lifetime.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

My Kind Of Town

It was a crisp and cold winter morning when I left home to go and buy a newspaper. I walked down the hill past the Dutch florist, Two Lips from Amsterdam, past Larry Lamb the butcher, John Doe the baker, and Bee Wax the candlestick maker; then I turned into the industrial estate past Ivor Flood the plumber, Woody Stack the carpenter and Walter Sparks the electrician.

At this point I crossed the road just where Doug M Deep the funeral director is, and I walked further down the hill towards I Pullem the dentist, and Peeping Tom the optician.

It was there that I saw Doctor Penny Cellin speaking to her assistant Beddy Pan. I said "hello" to both of them and walked on towards the flea market where Ivan Itch and Dina Scratchit were selling anti-mosquito ointment. Next to their market stall was Nick O'teen the tobaconnist selling some cigars to Vladineer Burnitoff the fire eater from the circus who had just arrived in town.

I like the circus, don't you? I'd been there the previous day and saw Vladineer and all the other acts. There was a trapeze artist called Alfred F Vertigo, and a couple of twins with their equestrian act called Neigh Neigh Nannette, and a French woman dancing on a pogo stick called Madame Leggert.

Best of all I enjoyed the two clowns called Crackle and Pops. They had a third partner called Snap but he died suddenly without saying goodbye by collapsing into a bowl of Cheerios.

There was also an escapologist act trying to escape from an oven called Harry Poudini, and a Yoga expert named Gett Knotted.

As you'd expect I suppose there was Plato the plate spinning man with Crashit his assistant picking up the broken plates; and the lion tamer Claudia Headoff who for some reason had her head in bandages.

People really applauded wildly when Andy Gestion the sword-swallower came on. It was particularly amusing when he sat down to swallow a long sword and somehow got pinned to the chair.

Anyway, I digress. At the market where I was I saw Ava Carrott setting up her vegetable stall and Rosy Pear at her fruit stall. They said "hi" as I passed by and I waved at them. Next to them was Mad Era setting up her cake stall too.

A little further down the road I saw the owner of the new Pasta House Restaurant, a Scotsman called Mc Aroni. He was talking to the tattoo artist, the very diminutive Too Loose Le Trick from Montmartre in Paris. He is so short that he can only tattoo up to peoples' knees. He left Paris because people said he could not keep his nose out of peoples' private business.

At the crossroads I met Rusty Nail the acupuncturist. He always gives me the pins and needles. I hear he also now does ear-piercings whilst you wait. No longer do you now have to go back the next day to collect your ears. He also puts studs, rings and such like decorations all over peoples' bodies. He told me some people have rings pierced in the most intimate of places. I guess it brings a new meaning to leading people by the nose!

I walked past the town's solicitors, Law Law Land, and I eventually arrived at the newsagent, whereupon I told the owner, Thadeus Phat Rowbottom, "you've got an unusual name, haven't you?"

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

What's the point ...

I was painting the house the other day. I've started with the living room and then I'll move on from one room to another. Then it occurred to me ... what's the point?

What's the point of painting these walls and ceilings when in a couple of years' time I'll do it all over again?

A painter expert told me that first I should scrape the old paint off, clean the walls properly, paint an under-coat, and then when it's dry paint another coat.

What nonsense. I just paint one cover over the other. Much quicker. Just splosh the new paint on to the old one. Over the years the walls have become thicker and thicker with one layer of paint over the other. I bet our house all round is now six inches smaller because of the many layers of paints on the walls and ceilings. Pretty soon the house will be so small that even the mice will have hunchbacks.

And that's what led me to think ... what's the point of it all?

What's the point of doing something over and again? Like painting the house. Mowing the lawn. Vacuum cleaning. Dusting. Washing plates and cups and cutlery. Washing clothes. It's all repetitive and leads to nowhere. And it uses scarce resources which in turn harm the planet.

Some people buy clothes several times a year to keep in with changing fashions. Spring collection. Summer Collection. Autumn and Winter too. And on and on the fashion industry gets us to buy too many clothes we don't need. Can you imagine all the materials and resources used to make new clothes that are out of fashion in a very short time? That can't be good for the planet surely.

Come to think of it. What's the point of wearing clothes anyway? If we are to save the planet why not start by not wasting materials making clothes? What a different world it would be if we wore no clothes at all.

Come to think of it. Why is it that Donald Duck wears a jacket and is naked on his lower half, yet when he comes out of the shower he has a towel on his lower half? What's the point ... as I keep saying?

Do you realise how less pompous people would be if they all wore no clothes? These days people use their clothes to influence one another. Power dressing, that's what it is. A man would have the latest fashionable suit on; a woman would have padded shoulders to make her look bigger and more impressive; or the latest shoes or jewellery or fancy hat.

With no clothes on we'd all be equal. What would matter is what sort of person we are - kind, gentle, knowledgeable, helpful and so on.

Without clothes on my boss at work would be much kinder if we could all see her naughty bits. And I suppose we'd all be much nicer too if she could see ours. And we'd help save the planet.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that there are many things in life with no point at all.

For example, what's the point of me writing books or blogs if I'm going to be ignored anyway? After all, there's only you and me reading this right now. And not everyone seems to comment in support or in disagreement anyway.

As my old school friend Willy Shakespeare put it:
To Blog or not to Blog
That is the question.
Whether it is nobler in the mind
To keep one’s thoughts to oneself
Than reveal them to all
On screens large and small.
And by doing such
Suffer the slings and arrows
Of outrageous readers
Who’d rather Block you
Than read your feeble Tweeters.
Or to bravely face your qualms
And courageously Blog on
Regardless of your audience
Be it great or be it small;
Just Blog on into eternity
And have yourself a ball!

So there you have it. Stop painting the house and wearing clothes. But keep Blogging.
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