Friday, 31 January 2020

Elenora and Frederic

These are Elenora and Frederic Hill when they were married many years ago. I don't have a more recent photo, so this one will do. It's a sad story indeed about these two nice people.

Their love remained strong all the years they were together. They were devoted to each other. They were an example to all of us, especially when things go wrong in our lives. Elenora and Frederic Hill had a difficult life together. She was often ill and in and out of hospital, he lost his job because he looked after his beloved wife and his employer could no longer tolerate his many absences.

They struggled through the years. They loved dancing and often went to the local dance hall on Saturday evenings, when they could afford it. They were poor but dancing was their only joy, and it was a joy to see them dance together; although as Elenora got more poorly they did not dance as often.

One day, some friends went to visit them but no one answered the door. Fortunately one of them had a key in case of emergency, so they let themselves in.

Sadly, they found Elenera and Frederic Hill sitting on the sofa motionless ... they could not wake them up. They checked for a pulse ... there was none. They shook them ... no response.

Someone phoned for an ambulance. Someone else phoned for the police. Someone else noticed the record player was on. The needle had reached the end of the song but the record kept going round and round. Maybe they were listening to their favourite dance music before ... ... ...


So he picked up the handle and placed the needle at the beginning of the record again. The sound of their favourite band music blared loudly.

How sad ... everyone stood there their eyes welling with tears.

But then, Elenora flickered her eyelids ... so did Frederic Hill. They opened their eyes slowly and saw their friends gathered there around them.

They were all so happy as they sang joyfully, "The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"

Thursday, 30 January 2020

How to get to Heaven


A man dies and arrives at the Gates of Heaven where he meets St Peter.

“Hello there …” says the Saint, “welcome to your final destination. You’ll like it here … it’s all about love. Can you spell love?”

“L … O … V … E …” says the man.

“That’s great,” replies St Peter with a smile, “you can come in!”

At this point the telephone rings and St Peter answers it. After a while he says to the new arrival:

“You’ll have to excuse me a minute … there’s something I have to attend to … it’s those Catholics … they’ve lit all the incense and set off the fire alarms … and they keep arguing amongst themselves … I have to go and sort them out!

“Can you stay here at the Gates for a while until I return?”

Moments later a woman arrives at the Gates and the man recognizes his wife.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, “you’re quick to follow me … I haven’t even had time to Rest In Peace and here you are following me.”

“Well … yes …” she mumbles, “after your funeral … the hearse was speeding to the pub and it got off the road … and here I am!”

“Oh …” he replies, remembering a lifetime of nagging.

“What’s it like here?” she asks her husband, “does it need re-decorating? I've seen some lovely wallpaper ..."

He raises his eyebrows and says nothing.

"Don't be like that ..." she goes on, "is it easy to get in Heaven?”

“Very easy …” he replies, “this fellow, Peter, is very easy going … all you have to do is spell a word and you’re in.”

“That’s great …” she smiles enthusiastically.

“Can you spell Rachmaninoff?”

Ha … That’s a good one. I’ve never heard this joke before!!!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: If God had not meant us to laugh He would not have created the "dolphins" within us which are released when we laugh, and they tickle us from the inside, and make us laugh more! Dolphins are good for our health. They are released when we laugh.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Carpe Lingua

As most of you probably know, I write books. Both Christian ones and humourous ones. However, I have just come up with an idea for my next literary project which is somewhat off at a tangent ... a completely new venture, as it were.

I am planning to write a Modern Latin Phrase Book. Something that is lacking right now.

We all know the usual Latin phrases like Veni Vidi Vici, (the names of three ancient Roman musketeers), and Semper Ubi Sub Ubi, (which is on my family crest shown on the right), or Et Tu Brutus, (which is what you say to your dog Brutus when you want him to join you for a walk); and all the other Latin phrases we learnt at school like etcetera and carpe diem and all that.

All these are ancient Latin phrases not much used today except when one wants to show off and pretend that they know more than they really do.

What is missing today, I think, is a Modern Latin Phrase Book which you can use in your day-to-day encounters with a passing centurion or Roman senator or the like.

My book will have phrases like:

Can you direct me to the railway station please?

Would you recommend a nice Greek restaurant in the vicinity of my hotel?

I am sorry, Sir, but you cannot park your chariot here, this is a NO PARKING area.

Do you know where I can buy an electric toothbrushes please?

I have broken my umbrella. Where can I purchase a new one please?

None of these and similar phrases have ever been included in traditional Latin phrase books. I wonder why.

You see, most Latin books I have found in libraries and bookshops contain all the old phrases like Carpe Diem, Ad hoc, Bona Fide and the like. Phrases only used these days on rare occasions when people want to flaunt their education. There is no Latin book I have found with practical modern phrases like the ones I mentioned above and more.

I am sure you can all think of day-to-day phrases or words which you use in conversation in English all the time yet you do not have an equivalent translation for in Latin. Like, "have you eaten my muffin you greedy pig?" How would you translate that in Latin if you needed to?

Let's imagine you went to your local supermarket and came face to face with a Roman wearing a toga and you wanted to ask him where he bought it from because you wish to purchase a similar one; but in pink, with yellow flowers?

You would not know how to say it Latin, would you? You'd be stuck for words and not able to even start a conversation. You would perhaps utter an old saying you remember like Carpe Diem and he'd think you said he is wearing a carpet. Such insults, albeit lost in translation, can cause you difficulties with the visiting Roman.

But with my new Modern Latin Phrase Book you'd be able to converse with him like a native ancient Roman and you'd even be able to ask him what he wears under the toga; because underwear were not invented until much later, you know! See ... you're learning something new already!

Also, with my book you'll know how to count in Latin. A useful skill should you ever go to one of those Bingo sessions run by Catholic clubs. Those wily Catholics always call out the Bingo numbers in Latin so that only they win.

So there you have it. My next venture in the world of literature. Let me know what you think, and tell me of any phrase you wish to include in the Modern Latin Phrase Book.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

A view from the bridge

OK folks ... I need you to use your imagination here.

Imagine that the boat on the left of the photo is not there. And neither are the boats in the background at the back of the photo. All there is are a couple of boats parked, or moored, on the right of the picture. Not these two boats exactly but boats that look very much like them.

This photo, (taken whilst standing on a bridge crossing a canal), is for illustrative purposes only.

I want you to imagine a canal with a couple of boats on the right and a footpath, like this one, on the left.

OK ... have you got the image on your mind? A canal. Boats on the right. A footpath on the left. And me on the bridge. Similar scene to the one above.

Now the events as they happened. And me watching from the bridge.

There was a man walking on the footpath on the left with his dog on a lead. Suddenly, the dog tugs hard at the lead having seen something in the bushes.

The man falls flat on his face. And I mean flat ... totally face down. He must have injured his face because he has a nose bleed from what I can gather. He seems otherwise OK because he shouts at the dog, still tugging at the lead, but he does not let go for fear of losing the dog. He holds tight to the lead and tries to stop the nose bleed with a handkerchief as he attempts to get up again.

I stay still on the bridge and do nothing. At this point a woman on one of the boats on the right, (not these boats precisely but others looking like them), on hearing the commotion throws an inflatable ring across the canal at the man still on the ground on the footpath.

You know the kind? A buoy or inflatable ring with a rope attached to it. Most boats have them in case someone falls into the water.

The heavy buoy and a lot of rope land on the man like a ton of spaghetti and hit him on the head sending him flat on his face once again.

Still for some unknown reason, the stupid woman on the boat, tries to retrieve the buoy she threw by pulling hard on the end of the rope. The sudden pull somehow entangles the rope round the man's neck and he starts choking. To avoid this he slowly drags himself closer to the edge of the bank towards the water. He lets go of the dog's lead and the animal runs into the bushes. The woman is still pulling at the rope. The man is holding tight at the rope round his neck whilst edging towards the water. He tugs back at the rope sharply and the sudden jolt unbalances the stupid woman and she falls into the canal. She splashes and shouts, "I can't swim!" In order to help her, the man throws the buoy at her whilst trying to untangle the rope round his neck. She gets hold of the buoy and whilst still splashing about tugs at the rope sending the man almost over the edge. He is still lying flat on his stomach. His top end is being dragged into the water whilst the lower end of his body is still on dry land. He will either choke to death or be drowned.

I make an attempt to go to his help. The bridge on which I am standing is some distance from him. Suddenly, another woman on the footpath sees what happens and rushes to the man's aid. She gets hold of his trousers. Unfortunately he is wearing those sports jogging trousers with elasticated waist. As she tugs sharply, the trousers slide off the man revealing all he has to reveal to the world at large.  Eventually she pulls him by his T shirt and gets him back on shore. As she untangles the rope off his neck the other woman manages to get off the water. 

I wait a while on the bridge whilst the man stands up pulling up his trousers, thanks his rescuer, and goes searching for the dog.

Meanwhile the woman from the boat walks towards me to cross the bridge and go back to her boat on the right of the canal. Her dress is totally soaked and sticking to her skin. She smells of canal water as she holds tightly to the buoy dragging the rope behind her. As she approaches me she says sheepishly, "I thought he was going to fall in the water!"

Monday, 27 January 2020

In The Stillness Of The Night

Oh Lord
Sometimes
In the stillness of the night
I feel Your presence Lord
I feel Your love
I feel Your peace
And Your nearness to me.
And I am at rest
In perfect peace
Hopeful knowledge
And thankful trust.



©Copyright Victor S E Moubarak 2012


Sunday, 26 January 2020

Let It Be




When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Holy Family

  The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities” by Bartolom√© Esteban Murillo.
"Murillo, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, about 1675-1682 Photo © The National Gallery, London”.

The painting above is called the Heavenly and Earthly Trinities; and it has been painted in the sign of the Cross.

Looking vertically from the top downwards we see God, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and Jesus looking up to His Father in Heaven. That is the Heavenly Trinity.

Looking horizontaly from left to right we see the Virgin Mary, Jesus and His earthly father Joseph. The Earthly Trinity.

Four things of importance to note in this painting by Murillo. God in Heaven is looking down and blessing the Holy Family. Jesus responds to His Father by looking up to Heaven. Mary is looking at Jesus and perhaps thinking about the Son of God saving the world; whilst Joseph is looking at us, significant this, inviting us to join in the Holy Family. That is because we are part of the Holy Family through our own Faith and trust in the Lord.

Not much is known about Jesus’ childhood. The Bible records the story of His birth in Bethlehem, His presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem a few days later, and then the Holy Family went to live in Nazareth. Their home town. We don't know much more about Jesus' early days of His life; apart from when His parents found Him teaching in the Temple at the age of twelve or so.

We are left to wonder what He was like as a baby. Crawling on the ground and then taking His first hesitant steps. I wonder what His first words were when He spoke.

One thing for sure though. He was much loved by His earthly parents, who devoted themselves to His up-bringing, until He was ready to start His work on earth as His Father willed.

Like most parents, they must have wished many good things for Him as He grew up, even though they knew who He really was and what His mission in this world was to be.

Mary, however, carried an additional burden in her heart. She knew from those early days what was to happen. Simeon in the temple had told her: “… sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart”. Luke 2:35. Joseph was there to witness it all.

Can you imagine what they went through as parents? Knowing of the torture and Crucifixion which Christ would suffer.

And Mary, endured that pain even more as she followed her Son on the way to Calvary.

Yet … despite all that. Despite knowing well ahead what was to happen, despite witnessing the Crucifixion for herself, one thing must have sustained Mary and encouraged her throughout her ordeal: the sure knowledge that Jesus was/is the Son of God and that He will rise again from the dead.

That thought alone should help us when we too go through difficult times. No matter how difficult our situation we should hold on to the fact that our Lord, the one we profess to love and follow, is the Son of God. By His death and Resurrection He has conquered evil once and for all.

And no matter what our situation may be, we can assuredly turn to Mary, and seek her help in bearing the difficulties we go through.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Avoiding People

I am sure this has happened to you. If you're honest you'd admit to it. You're busy, rushing from shop to shop, you need to get home before you have to go out again and do umpteen other jobs in a busy life which you lead. And then, just as you'd wish it the least, you see someone you know.

You do not want to stop and have a chat. You know this person will hold you up, talking about this and that, and sharing their problem at a time when you can least afford it. And you are too polite to say, "Why don't you go away and pester someone else and leave me in peace!"

So what do you do? You pretend not to have seen them. You turn the other way. Pretend to be looking at some goods in the shop. Or better still, leave the shop in a hurry to avoid them all together!

Well ... that happened to me the other day. Just before Christmas it was. I was in this huge department store and I was wandering about in the men's section looking for a new shirt when I suddenly saw up ahead our priest, Father Mirth.

That's not his real name actually. I call him Father Mirth on account that he is the most miserable priest I have ever met. I always thought that priests should have an air of hopefulness, inner peace and joy which they share with all they meet. Not him. He is so miserable he would not raise a smile at a funeral.

I reckon when they recruited him as a priest, miserableness must have been the top quality in the job description. He fitted the job perfectly since he was the only one to apply in that year.

Anyway, I had been avoiding Father Mirth recently. Certainly since my Christmas confession on account of me being honest. He was telling me about his sermons on Sundays and I let it be known that I found them sleep-inducing. I got caught in a trap, you see. Had I said I liked his sermons very much I would be telling a lie - and in a confessional too! Had I told him the truth, which I did, this led to him avoiding me and me avoiding him ever since.

And another thing ... I had confessed that when the washing machine broke down, and I forgot to ring the man to come and fix it, I then put my socks and other clothing in the dishwasher instead. I mean ... it is all water and soap is it not? My wife did not see it this way and got very upset. We had a row. Why can't women be more reasonable? To make things worse Father Mirth sided with my wife when I confessed and said I should apologise to her, and as a penance I had to buy her something nice.

And now there he was. In a department store only a few feet away from me. How could I avoid him without making it appear too obvious that I was avoiding him?

I tried to get out the store, but the exit was right where he was standing. So I quickly picked up a hat from a shelf, put it low on my head. And stood very still pretending to be a store mannequin. That way, hopefully, he would pass by and not notice me.

That didn't happen, did it? He walked towards me and said, "Hello there. That hat suits you and matches your bow tie perfectly!"

I smiled and mumbled confessing, "I was joking ... I thought you'd think I am a mannequin!"

"They don't make mannequins as ugly as you!" was his quick reply.

See what I mean? He is totally miserable and has a way of showing it.

And for the record, I am not ugly at all. Someone once described me as a sex symbol for women who do not care.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Strangers in the night


Something very strange has been happening round our neighbourhood recently. It is most disconcerting and it has baffled both the local population and the police.

There has been a spate of window robbing in clear daylight. And night-light. The robbers have been so quick that no one has seen them and they cannot therefore be identified.

One moment you have a window in your house, and the next someone has stolen it.

The way it happens, apparently, because no one saw it happen; is that the robbers arrive quickly on your premises and whilst you're not looking they brick up your window. They are super fast; or so it seems. They get a load of bricks and cement and they quickly brick up your window blocking all light, and indeed your vision to the outside world.

That's how they have never been identified. One moment you have a window in your house, and the next, you haven't. Sometimes they rob or block more than one window without you noticing. So far they have not stolen any doors, or chimneys.

The Neighbourhood Watch people asked us all to be on the look-out; but this is very difficult if you have no window to look out of.

I sat at my window watching the three houses opposite in case anyone comes along and tries to steal, or brick up, their windows. I must have dozed off a little, because one moment I was watching the three houses and the next my own window was blocked. I was staring at a brick wall.

It was terrible. I switched on the TV and the screen was totally blocked too. All I could see on the screen was a load of bricks filling the whole screen.

A voice from the TV said "You are watching the 6 o'clock news!"

How did she know? Could she see me through the bricks? Or was it her who bricked the TV screen? Maybe she is the window robber having moved on to something else to steal.

I am typing this Blog post very quickly in case this news reporter woman decides to steal computer monitors too and then all I can see is brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ...

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Statistics and Grammar

I find it irritating how we tend to glorify ignorance on TV. Frequently, on British TV, we see so called comedians pretending, or possibly not, that they do not know maths, or even their native English grammar. And everybody laughs.

What example is that setting the younger generation who believe that education is not important, especially maths. Or expressing themselves in text speak on modern gadgets.

Mathematics is important to life. Especially statistics.

How else are people to know how many "friends" they have on social media and what percentage of these friends are personally known to them compared to those who have just clicked the friends icon on the website?

I like statistics. I use them to check how many readers I have on this blog and my other website. And how many readers are new or returning loyal readers like you just now. Thank you, by the way. I am very grateful.

Statistics can teach us a lot in life.

Did you know for example that 9 out of 5 people cannot do fractions?

And that one out of seven dwarfs is Grumpy?

Or that six out of seven dwarfs are not Happy?

Or that 50% of people do not understand percentages - that's almost half.

Or there is a 90% probability my wife would get angry if I put a red item in the washing machine - that's a 50/50 chance I guess, so let's try it and see!

You see ... statistics is or are important.

And so is grammar.

I remember when one day my English teacher said to me "Your grammar stinks!"

I was upset since my grandma always smelled of lavender.

I told my father what the teacher had said and he asked "Which grand-mother?"

He wrote a letter of complaint.

My teacher replied that she had never commented on, nor would she ever presume to comment on, my family's body odour!

On reading her letter my father gave me a clip round the ears and then wrote again to the teacher apologising for the misunderstanding.

On reading my father's letter the teacher gave me detention after school.

On the Saturday I went to Confession. Our church had an old fashioned confessional which was a wooden booth where the priest sat and the penitents would kneel on either side and confess through a small window.

I told the priest all that had happened. He said "Don't speak so loud I can smell your grandmother kneeling on my other side!" Although he did not specify which grandma he could smell.

Then he gave me an extra penance for speaking loudly and for drawing attention to old peoples' body odour. Which technically I had not done because it was not me who started all this; it was my English teacher who said "Your grammar stinks!"

I think the church got this whole question of confession and absolution wrong somehow. I got a penance for my teacher's sin!

Moral: So did Jesus.

 

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Even more letters

Whilst tidying up I found even more letters from times gone by. Why I kept these I do not know. They are not signed by me but signed by a friend named Ivor Penn.

Let me explain.

Ivor was a car mechanic and good at his job. But he was not very talented at writing letters. He also had a devoted wife who doted on their two young children, Mary and Joseph. If ever anything went wrong at school she pestered her husband to write to the headmaster. And Ivor came to me to write the letters which he would sign and send. I kept copies in my files for future reference.

One day the headmaster wrote to the Penn's about their daughter Mary. He said that she had been lying in class and that she said that she had a lamb. The teacher did not believe this is possible in a modern lifestyle and asked the headmaster to complain to the parents about their daughter lying.

I replied, (Ivor signed), as follows:

Dear Headmaster,

My daughter Mary does not lie because my wife and I taught her not to. In fact I have never ever lied in my life. Mary is correct in saying that she had a lamb. In fact she has two.

One is a lamb called Cutlet which resides at the local zoo and we sponsored it on her behalf. This is to teach her to care for all animals and to ensure that they come to no harm. It is through the love of animals that young children grow up to love and respect life and to be kind to everyone.

The second lamb Mary has is like in the famous poem. It's fleece was white as snow, and everywhere our Mary goes the lamb is sure to go. He even follows her to school every day between two slices of bread!

Needless to say, the headmaster did not respond.

The second letter is also from the same headmaster and it is about the Penn's son, Joseph.

Apparently the religious instructions teacher, having read from the Bible, asked, "who broke down the wall of Jericho?"

Little Joseph replied, "It was not me, Miss!"

The teacher was so appalled at the level of ignorance that she reported the incident to the Headmaster and he in turn wrote to the Penn's.

I replied, (for Ivor to sign), as follows:

Dear Headmaster,

Here I am writing to you again about the accusation of my children lying. I repeat, they do not lie, as neither do I nor my wonderful wife Mrs Penn.

If Joseph said that he did not break down the wall of Jericho then I can vouch that he is telling the truth. May I ask if there were any witnesses to the accusation against my son?

In any case, no doubt the wall was very old and in need of reparation, as is most of the school. May I suggest that repairs are carried out and that we start a fund amongst parents to pay for said repairs? I would be willing to donate £10 without prejudice or admittance of guilt on my son's behalf.

Surprisingly, the headmaster did reply to this letter.

He said that a fund had been started and £95 already collected. However, they could not locate the wall of Jericho to carry out the repairs. He also confided that the religious instructions teacher had suddenly resigned.

On another occasion the headmaster wrote to Ivor complaining that his daughter, Mary, had said that her father ate her homework. To be honest, this was true. Mary's housekeeping homework was to bake a cake at home under the supervision of her mom. She baked a small cake before going to bed. Later that evening Ivor got home from work and ate the cake with a cup of tea.

I had to write a letter for Ivor to sign confessing that he had done the bad deed and promising not to eat the Maths or Geography homework as they would give him indigestion.

The headmaster did not reply. No sense of humour some teachers!

Monday, 20 January 2020

More letters,

Looking through some old papers with a view to tidying up I found some more old letters from times gone by. These were letters I had written to people in authority in response to their stupid letters in the first place.

Let me explain.

I lived in London at the time; in a fairly well to do area. The Local Authorities in that place had decided that no one should have bonfires in their gardens in order to protect the environment and save the planet. They did not explain who they were saving the planet from? Are Martians or outer space aliens attracted by garden bonfires like moths are attracted by light per chance? Or are we to be invaded by extra-terrestrial moths?

The Local Authorities wanted people to gather all the twigs and branches from cutting and pruning their trees, and put them in plastic bags and take them to the re-cycling centre some five miles away. They obviously omitted to think that all these plastic bags and the driving 10 miles there and back was more harmful to the environment than burning the twigs.

Anyway, this ruling did not bother me much since I had a small garden with no trees. Any dead leaves from the few bushes were gathered up and thrown over the fence for the neighbours to deal with.

I was young at the time with many friends and we gathered at weekends in summer and have barbecues and garden parties.

Now barbecues make smoke, and smoke is banned apparently. Any smoke. So a neighbour complained to the Authorities and I got a letter advising me to stop burning garden refuse since it is against the local laws and by-laws as outlined in Section 73, Paragraph 24, sub-paragraph G2, of the Local Authorities Rules, Laws and By-Laws Manual, which can be consulted in any library or by calling at the Local Authorities Offices between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:30 pm Mondays to Fridays.

I wrote back explaining that I had no intention of checking the by-laws afore-mentioned since I am sure they are as stated in the letter signed by someone who obviously cannot write since his signature looks more like a drunken chicken scratching the paper rather than a proper name of someone with a modicum of intelligence that allowed him to express themselves in joined-up writing. However, be that as it may, I explained that I was not burning garden refuse but burning various meats which is a ritual performed by religious people dating back to the Old Testament which can be consulted in any church or good bookshop.

They wrote back threatening to take me to Court. So from then on, whenever I had a party, I erected a large canvass tent in my garden and put the barbecue therein. The nosey neighbours with nothing better to do could not phone the Authorities since they could not actually see me burning anything or causing smoke to pollute Britain and the world.

On another occasion, still in the same London house, we had the mother-in-law visiting for a few days which lasted some five weeks. She had the habit of washing her under garments and hang them on a line outside her window to dry. Unfortunately my mother-in-law was somewhat rotund and her underpants were so enormous that they covered up the sun.
 You've guessed it. There was a by-law in that particular part of London which stipulated that no residents will hang their clothes to dry in a place that is easily visible from the street. My mother-in-law stayed in our guest room which was at the front. I certainly was not going to give up our bedroom at the back for her. And our garden was too small for her to hang her underpants there.

We received a letter from the Local Authorities pointing out our offence under Paragraph blah blah blah of their By-Laws manual.

I replied that this was not underwear drying on a washing line but it was in fact the flag of my country.

They wrote back asking what country.

I wrote back it's "Pantsland"!

They wrote saying there is no such country.

I wrote back saying there is and I gave them my address as the location of such country.

They wrote back saying it is not a recognised country.

I wrote back saying it will be when it is recognised by the United Nations to which I have just applied for recognition.

They wrote back saying if my address is a country what is the Capital of such country.

I wrote back saying "the toilet" because that is where my throne is and they can visit me on my throne by private audition only.

They ignored my facetious remark and asked what is the population of my country Pantsland.

I replied that currently it was three, my wife, my mother-in-law and I; but the population is likely to rise when my mother-in-law leaves since her bedroom is next door to ours and is not conducive to the business of increasing the nation's population.

They ignored my comments again and threatened to take me to Court if I did not desist from hanging women's underpants and bras from my front window. Presumably they did not mind if I hung my own pants and bras.

Anyway, by this time my mother-in-law had left us to go to her home up North and we got busy increasing Pantsland's population.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Happiness

It has been said that past generations who did not have all the technological advancements and gadgets that we have today, were happier than us. This is pure conjecture. We have no way of knowing for certain. In their case, the slightest illness or injury could prove either life-changing or fatal. Whereas today with medical advancements we manage to be saved and live longer.

But are we happier?

In fact, let us ask, what is happiness?
 
Are you happy? On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being mildly happy and 10 being ecstatic with excitement and joy; where are you right now?

Humour me and just right down a number on a piece of paper.

You see, happiness is not a binary YES/NO switch whereby we are happy or not. It is relative to a point in time, and a situation in time.

Right now when you write down your number you may be at ease in your mind and body. No great worries or physical pains. On the other hand, you may be concerned about your job, your financial situation or your health or that of a loved one. These factors will affect your happiness score.

If I asked you for your score tomorrow or the day after your score may well be different.

When we are in a bad place in life, and our happiness scale is sliding down perhaps into the minus figures, what do we do then? Where is our God on Whom we profess we rely?

Personally, I believe He is still there, caring and loving us as He has ever done. The fact that we are in negative figures does not mean that He has turned away or is busy with someone else's problems.

As best we can, through gritted teeth even, we should turn to Him in prayer and ask for His help; and be patient in awaiting His response.

The fact that we are still praying, despite perhaps our diminishing faith, proves that we believe that there is Someone out there somewhere listening to us. Our faith is strengthened in such situations rather than diminished.

So, let me ask you again. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you right now? Is the figure different from the one you wrote earlier? Why? 

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Love Letters


Say it with flowers
And chocolates too
Say it with jewellery
Or a good meal for two
Say it from the heart
Say what you think
But never be careless
And say it with ink

I was tidying up some old papers the other day and I came across this poem which I had written many years ago. I wish I had taken my own advice, because in the same box I also found some love letters which I had penned when I was young and foolish.

Here is one such letter:

My dear darling beautiful Sonia,

I know we have only known each other for five days, twenty hours and 43 minutes, but ever since I laid eyes on you, standing there in your dirty overalls as you left the gas works, I knew you were the one for me. As the dust settled as they demolished the old buildings to make room for the new sewerage farm I saw in you an apparition of splendour as my heart missed a beat or more.

I immediately fell in love with you.

Do you believe in love at first sight, despite the dust and dirt of demolished buildings and people spluttering and coughing to clear their lungs?

Well, that was me my darling. I fell head over heels for you because I missed a step as I walked towards you.

I'll never forget you beside me at the hospital as they bandaged my leg and injected several shots of medicine in my backside. 

That was a vision neither of us will ever forget. I had planned to have your name tattooed  just where they injected me as a memento of my ever lasting love for you.

Butt now ...
   
Not that I am complaining my sweet, but it has not escaped my notice that in the last three days you have ignored 43 phone calls from me. I called at your work and all I found there was a wrecking ball tearing into my heart. I called at your home and found that it is a closed down tanning salon. So in desperation I am writing you this letter, yet I do not know where to post it so it reaches you my dear. 

Unlike Elvis, it cannot be returned to sender since it has not yet been sent.

I wish I knew why you are avoiding me. 

You always said, "the best things in life are free". So is it because I gave you some flowers I picked up from a grave in the cemetery? Is that it? Is that why you left me?

Needless to say, she did not reply because I did not send the letter since I did not know where to send it.

Here's another letter written to another girl-friend:

Dear Darling Murgatroyd,

Why oh why do you keep me waiting so? As agreed, last Friday night I waited for you at the pet cemetery, just by the grave of the Alsatian shepherd as we discussed, and you did not turn up. It was cold and damp, yet I waited for you as the rain soaked me to the skin. Because inside of me my heart was crying and yearning for you. But you did not turn up.

At about half-past-midnight some people dressed in odd looking costumes turned up at the cemetery. I think they were preparing for some ritual of sorts. I hid behind a large tombstone and in my panic I thought I heard your voice. Were you with them my beloved?

Then fear turned to terror as I heard them chanting. I cried a little as tears trickled down my legs. Then as I ran away I fell into an open grave. 

I awoke the next morning almost chocking as the grave filled with water from the continuous rain.

I really am truly sorry for running over your beloved cat with my motorcycle. In my defence, it was lying there in the middle of the road and I thought it was already dead. I did offer to have it stuffed by a taxidermist friend I met at college; despite the tread marks from the wheels all over its body. But you refused. By way of reparation, my dear, and so that you may have a pet to remember me by, I enclose in this box a baby rat which another friend of mine captured in the restaurant where he works as cook and waiter. It will also remind you of the times we spent there together sharing lentil soup and other vegetarian delicacies.

Please tell me you love me and I'll be at your feet in no time at all. 

Yours now and for eternity.

This letter was returned by Murgatroyd accompanied by a threatening letter from her solicitors telling me that as far as she and they are concerned there is no eternity. If I contacted her again they would take action against me. They also threatened to report me to the Animal Protection people for sending her a rat which, by the time she received the letter and package, was already dead.

Finally, here is another letter I found in my box of souvenirs:

Dear Mr Sorebottom,

Please excuse my bad handwriting since this letter is written left-handed. My right hand being bandaged heavily as a result of my fall from your bedroom window. 

I say your bedroom window, although in all truthfulness it is the window to your daughter's bedroom, as you well know when you chased me down the street with a spade in hand, followed by your wife, Mrs Sorebottom, in her negligent and carrying a gardening fork threateningly.

I would like to explain the reason why I was in your daughter's bedroom, having entered and left by the said window ...

This letter continues on another sheet of paper. The first page was returned to me by the Sorebottoms' solicitors also threatening all sorts of bad things if I contacted their daughter ever again. As I recall, at the time I worked for a pizza restaurant specialising in delivering "surprise pizzas" to people at any time and at any place.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Advice Wanted Please

I need your advice please.

Genuine advice. I'd rather you were honest with me and don't worry about upsetting me.

I have recently been going through some old magnetic tapes of Christian radio programs I used to present years ago. Old tapes deteriorate with time and I have been re-mastering those I could salvage from the ravages of time.

I posted one of these programs in my previous post here. You may have listened to it.

The original programs were half-an-hour long; but I do know that you are all busy and don't have the time to listen to me prattling on about Christianity for such a long time. So I have edited the programs into chunks of 10 to 12 minutes or so.

What I need your advice on is:

1   Is it worth me re-mastering these tapes and posting them here? Is this pure vanity and should I better throw the whole lot in a trash bin?

2   If you think there's something in my tapes worth preserving, is this Blog the best avenue for it? Is there anywhere else you think I should post these segments of old programs?

Please be honest in your comments below. Or if you prefer, you can write to me privately at enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk Your e-mails will reach my desk and no one else will read them.

Thank you for your attention. God bless.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

On The Radio

Many years ago I used to present a Christian radio program called Time For Reflections. Sadly, not many tapes have survived the passage of time. Here is a short 11 minutes recording which has been re-mastered and preserved.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Another Phone Call

I got another weird phone call yesterday ...

"Hello ... could I speak to Sandra please?"

"Sorry, there is no one called Sandra here!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. I have lived here for some years and there is no Sandra living with me."

"Only ... she gave me this phone number."

"I can assure you there is no Sandra here. I shall move my phone from room to room so you can see I have no Sandra here. Not even in the bedroom!"

"What do you mean the bedroom? Is this not the fishmonger's in Aquatic Avenue?"

"No it is not. But it often smells like it on account that our old dog suffers from flatulence. Last week he embarrassed me when the priest was visiting and his look at me was most accusing I tell you. It was the dog ... not me ..."

"So this is not the shop called A Fish Called Sandra?"

"No it is not ... It is a private house called We Smell Like A Fish Called Sandra!"

"I think she has dumped me. Broke up with me. I got this text saying 'It's over!' That's all it said."

"That's a song by Roy Orbison. Maybe she was wanting to listen to the song on one of those song listening channels and she miss-dialled and sent the message to you instead!"

"Do you think so?"

"Yes sure ... I remember when I was young my girl-friend bought me a record called 'I can get no satisfaction!' by the Rolling Stones."

"What happened then?"

"She left me ..."

The guy at the other end put the phone down. I wonder what happened to him. Was it something I said? Is it because I mentioned my old dog? Maybe he doesn't like dogs. Maybe he is a cat person. What do you think?

Monday, 13 January 2020

Are You Left-Handed?


"Yes Madam ... how may I help you?"

"Can you direct me to the Left Handed Peoples Society please?"

"Down the corridor. First door on your right!"

"On the right? I would have thought it would be on the left."

"Only if you are coming down the stairs, Madam."

"Down the stairs? This building has only one floor."

"In winter Madam. Only in winter."

"Hein?"

"In winter the building has one floor. A lot of things shrink when it's cold. They get smaller. Ask your husband."

"Ah ... yeees ..."

"First door down the right Madam!"

                                                                       ***

"Hello ... is this the Left Handed Peoples Society?"

"Are you left handed Madam?"

"No ... but I would like to be!"

"Why do you want to be left handed? Life is difficult for left handed people. Everyone thinks we are peculiar."

"Oh dear ... I am sorry to hear it."

"Everything is made for right handed people. Scissors for instance. They cut all right if you are right handed. Try using them if you are left handed. Difficult. Screws and screw drivers. They are made for right handed people. Have you seen a left handed screw driver? Does not exist. Everyone turns the screw clockwise to get it in and anti-clockwise to get it out. You can't do that with a normal screw driver if you are left handed. Computer mice ... made for right handed people. Guitars ... the same. Knives and fork ... the same. They always place them on the table the wrong way round for us left handers. Spoons. The same. Try eating soup if you are left handed. It all ends up in your ear rather than your mouth. Try spooning someone in bed ... sorry ... my mind wandered a little there ... it happens if you are left handed ..."

"Oh my ... I did not know it was that difficult ..."

"It is ... did you know that per capita, as a percentage that is ... there are more left handed people in Britain than any where else in the world ... they are peculiar that way ... well ... they are peculiar generally in Britain. Not like us."

"Oh?"

"Yes Madam. That is why they drive on the left hand side of the road. Peculiar. And when they reach a round-about on the road they go round it clockwise. When they start marching it is always left foot first. The same when dancing ... You know ... Put your left foot in ... Your left foot out ... Your left foot in ... And shake it all about. I'm not sure what it is they are shaking all about, but I bet they shake it to the left. Peculiar those Brits."

"How peculiar!"

"It certainly is. So I would not recommend you become left handed Madam. Not unless you intend to move to Britain!"

"Will I have to wear a pinned-striped suit, and a bowler hat and carry an umbrella?"

"Most certainly Madam. Also you must wear a tie with your pyjamas in bed! Very formal, those Brits."

"But I don't wear pyjamas in bed ..."

"Too much information!"

NOTE: Over to you readers. Do you wear a tie in bed? I do.

DISCLAIMER: No left-handed people have been harmed in the writing of this article. As authenticated by the Left Handed Peoples Society. An organisation limited by guarantee from all liabilities by the Ambidextrous Anonymous Association. Any similarities between characters or situations in this article and people alive or dead are purely coincidental and do not refer to anyone in particular whether left or right handed or ambidextrous. The writers would like to stress that buildings do not in fact shrink in winter, unlike other things and materials, and that readers should not try this at home for personal safety reason. For example, do NOT attempt to go upstairs if you live in a one-level building, or for that matter, do NOT attempt to go downstairs if you live in a similar one-level building. No liability will be admitted or accepted for injuries sustained in such eventualities, or any other eventualities, by the writers of this article. Readers who are susceptible to be easily influenced, or with a tendency to try things out for themselves, should not read this article in the first place. Similarly, readers with a nervous disposition, or lacking in humour, should not read this article either. The writers sympathise with left-handed people and treat them in similar treatment as right-handed people or indeed ambidextrous ones. The writers stress that they are totally devoid of any prejudice whatsoever since they dislike everyone equally. This article has been written for entertainment and amusement only and should not be taken seriously, or with water, or any other hot, cold, or variable temperature liquids in order to avoid accidents and potential injuries. If you have been affected in any way by reading this article then seek help from a professional rather than seek compensation from the writers. Take responsibility for your actions rather than blame your behaviour on someone else. No one in his right sense, or left sense for that matter, would attempt to go up, or down, in a one-level building and then blame someone else for injuries incurred. It is similarly stressed that the wearing of ties, or any other article of clothing, or indeed no article of clothing at all, in bed is purely optional and the writers do not recommend, or advise, nor indeed encourage any particular choice the individual would wish to make. Whether you are left or right handed, or indeed ambidextrous, then good luck to you. The same applies regardless of what you wear or do not wear in bed at night, or at any other time of the day. Live life as happily as you can. Take care. Look after each other. Be kind to everyone, and GO AWAY!

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Love ... Love ???



I was reading a letter the other day from a man named Paul to some friends of his in Corinth. Here’s what he says:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

Wow !!! That’s powerful stuff I thought. If we have Faith to move mountains yet have not love it counts for nothing. Even if we give all we own to the poor? I’m not so sure about the burning body bit; but this man is over the top I tell you.

Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.

What?

Love my neighbour? You mean the man who lives a few houses down the road? How far should a man live before he ceases to be my neighbour? 3 Houses? 5? 10? More? This man down the road allows his dog to foul in front of my house, even in my front garden. And I have to love him? I bet Jesus did not have neighbours like him.

Love the guy driving that big van this morning and keeping a distance of just three inches from the back of my car? And hooting his horn time and again even though I was driving within the speed limit. Perhaps he was in a hurry to go to the toilet !

Love that obnoxious pompous boss at work who seems to delight in making everyone suffer? Love him even though he has a hairy pimple on his nose?

Love that woman in church who always looks down on people as if she has a permanent bad smell under her nose? Maybe she should stop eating beans. She looks at people from on top of her glasses so as not to wear out the lenses.

Jesus wants me to love all those people? Including all the boring ones?

I always thought God created boring people so that we may appreciate normal ones ... not to love them.

Is this what Jesus says? Love everyone? And He goes on:

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:27-31.

And there I was thinking that going to Heaven is a matter of ticking the right boxes:

Baptism? Done that. Tick.

Go to church on Sundays? Done that. Tick.

A few more ticks here and there and my passport and visa are ready for me to enter Heaven !!!

On reflection, being a Christian is much more difficult than it seems at first.

"Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do." Matthew 7:21.

In other words – There are no parrots in Heaven.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Dark Dungeon Of Destiny



Have you ever visited an old castle?

Have you been deep down in its dungeons?

And seen the torture chambers of years gone by?




This is a true story which happened to me in Scotland.




NOTE
As mentioned above, this is a TRUE story. The video is about 7 minutes. Please do not reveal the ending in your comments below.