Thursday, 30 April 2020

Time Dilation

Time Dilation has nothing to do with when you are at home for long periods with nothing to do.

It is a very complicated theory invented, or discovered, or worked out by Einstein. It is so complicated that few people understand it.

But you WILL.

Yes. I will explain it very simply and you'll be astounded by your new found knowledge. So astounded that you will probably sit down and be very pleased with yourself for a moment or two.

In fact you'll influence people and win friends when you explain it to them at parties and show off how clever you are.

First the technical bit.

Time Dilation is explained as: Time dilation is a difference in the elapsed time measured by two clocks, either due to them having a velocity relative to each other, or by there being a gravitational potential difference between their locations.

But forget all that for now. My lesson will make it simpler. 

Let us first consider how we see things. 

A clock for instance. Imagine a clock on a clock tower in a building like a church or town hall in town.

The light travels from the sun, (or from a lamp), at the speed of light, (let's ignore what the speed of light is for now).

Then the light hits the object, (the clock), and bounces back into your eyes and you see the clock. 

It's as simple as that. Light hits object. Bounces back into your eyes. You see the object. 

Which explains why you can't see the object in the dark and you hit your toe against something and you utter some expletive that we cannot mention here. Feel free to mention them in the comments box below.

OK, now that we've grasped the principle, let us imagine your are in the back seat of a car. You look from the window behind you and you see a clock in a clock tower behind the car. 

Concentrate now. Imagine that you are in a car with a back window, and not in a van or lorry with no back window.

Just help me get through this lesson, will you. Car ... you in back seat ... looking out of back window ... SIMPLE!

You look out of the back window and you see the clock. The light from the sun hits the clock, bounces into your eyes, and you see the clock; you even see the big hand move every minute.

Now imagine that the light is travelling from the sun at the speed of light. Also imagine that the car starts travelling fast forwards also at the speed of light. Can you imagine that? 

The car is travelling at gazillion miles per hour. 

The car's speed is the same as the speed of light.

The light is travelling from the sun to the clock at the speed of light. It is then travelling from the clock to your eyes also at the speed of light. 

But the car, with you in it, is also travelling at the speed of light. So the light bouncing back from the clock to your eyes will never catch up with you because you are travelling at the same speed of light.

So what happens ... ... ... ???

You will never be able to see the big hand on the clock move every minute. In fact you will not see the clock at all because the light bouncing from the clock never reaches you in time for you to see it.

It's as simple as that. Read the definition above again and it will make sense. 

Time dilation is a difference in the elapsed time measured by two clocks, either due to them having a velocity relative to each other, or by there being a gravitational potential difference between their locations.

The elapsed time between the two objects - sun and clock ... and clock and car - is the same. Or more if your car can drive faster than the speed of light. 

Now you can astound your friends at parties with this information.

I did. They listened carefully and all moved away and started talking about me. I think they were impressed by my knowledge.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

To dream ... the impossible cream ...


Please do not mock me, or laugh at me. But I've been having some weird dreams lately. I don't know why.

I've been having this recurring dream that I am chased by a big cheese. More often than not it is one of those round cheeses that you cut into wedges. Sometimes it is a French Roquefort, or and Italian Gorgonzola, a Dutch Edam cheese with the red wax around it or even at times a good old English Stilton.

Usually it is the same dream. I am in bed asleep. I hear a big rumble outside, a big roll of cheese comes up the stairs.

I run out of the house wrapped in the bed sheet like a Roman toga.

The sheet is like a Roman toga, not me. Please pay attention.

The type of cheese chasing me is different. I can't explain how I know. It's not as if the cheese is talking in French "Zut alors! Dépêchez-vous!" Or in any other language for that matter. The cheese is always silent but I hear it rumbling as it rolls behind me.

The cheese rolls after me the faster I run. It never seems to catch up with me and then I find I am on a beach somewhere and there's this young lady in a bikini sunbathing. She distracts me for a while.

I stop, oblivious that the cheese is catching up on me.

I am oblivious, not the girl! The girl is Olivia. Are you paying attention or what?

Anyway, I start running again and I am in a castle somewhere. I slam the door shut and I press hard on a button on the wall. Suddenly, a panel in the wall opens and I enter it and I am in an open-air restaurant. Al Fresco ... that's the name of the owner; not the fact that the restaurant is open-air.

So I sit at a table on the side walk like they do in some restaurants in Europe.
The waiter brings me some soup. French onion soup as I recall. As I start eating it starts to rain. It takes me ages to finish the soup. It's a race between me eating the soup and the rain re-filling my plate.

I ask for some cheese and biscuits. They say, "No cheese ... No cheese ... Just soup!"

They bring more soup. More rain. More soup. More rain.

I need to go to the bathroom. I wake up!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Love Thy Neighbour ... He said.

I have yet to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "Love Thy Neighbour".

I mean, does the man who lives a few streets down the road, just round the corner by the shops, about a quarter of a mile from my house, my neighbour or not?

I see him every now and then, and he makes an inane comment like, "turned out nice today",  or "it's raining cats and dogs again", and I nod politely in agreement with a smile. Personally, I find him boring. But should I really love him? He lives too far to be my neighbour; so can I ignore him? I don't like boring people. Although I guess God loves them seeing He created so many. Perhaps He created boring people so that we may appreciate the interesting ones.

How about you? Do you have good neighbours? Or are they nosey ones? Or noisy ones for that matter.

Are you a good neighbour?

I think I am. Last Christmas we had a party in our house. Many friends and relatives turned up. I remembered an old lady living a few houses down the road. She lives alone. You could call her my neighbour because she does not live far. With the party in full swing I went out to her house and asked to borrow some chairs. She refused. What a selfish neighbour she was. And at Christmas too!

When I lived in London we had nosey neighbours. They were always looking at us from their house which overlooked ours. Whenever we were in the garden they were at their window looking at us. It was unnerving.

I did not want to hang our clothes out to dry because I did not want them to see my underwear. I think underwear are private, don't you? They should not be seen whether you are in them or not. And if you are not in them then it is more rude because you're standing there with no underwear.

Also, I did not want our clothes hanging out on the line in case they crapped all over them. I mean the birds ... not the neighbours! How could the neighbours crap on our washing from their window? That would have been an all powerful mighty flying crap!

In the part of London where we lived it was prohibited to hang your washing on a line if it was visible from the street. I checked the local by-laws. It said nothing about the neighbours watching our washing from their window and seeing what kind of underwear I wear. Or crapping on them, for that matter.

The whole situation got embarrassing because I did not want to tell them to stop looking at my underpants in case they got the wrong idea. Also, I did not want them to know that I saw them looking out of their window at my underpants.

So I said nothing and they continued looking at my underpants. Until one day we stopped hanging our washing out on the line.

My wife suggested we hang our clothes as normal but not my underpants.

I refused, because then the neighbours would think that I wear no underpants.

What is worse do you think? Them seeing my underpants on the washing line, or them thinking I wear no underpants?

And it wasn't just the washing line I was concerned about. In that house in London we had a small swimming pool in the back garden. A heated pool no less.

I got so self-conscious going out in the pool or to sunbathe in case they saw what swimming trunks I was wearing. I shan't ask you what is worse, them seeing me in my swimming trunks or with no trunks at all.

What do you think?

Monday, 27 April 2020

That Emmaus Thing

Luke 24:13-35

We all know the story. Two of Christ's followers were on their way to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them. He walked beside them and talked with them, and they did not recognise Him.

Why did they not recognise Him?

Well, for a start they were too pre-occupied with their own problems. Their leader Whom they had known for a while, and Whom they believed would redeem Israel is now dead. What are they to do now? And what is more, there's all this talk about His body has gone missing. Some even claim to have seen Him alive.

They were considering the whole episode of the last few days intellectually. They were discussing facts as they knew them, or believed they knew them, and as they understood them. However wrong those facts might be.

Imagine their conversation. What do you think happened to His body? Did the Romans or the Jewish elders like the Pharisees take it away so that the grave does not become a place of pilgrimage? What about what some apostles are saying? They found the tomb empty. Some women even claim to have seen Him? Is it possible He is alive again? We saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead; but who raised Him I wonder?

Isn't that conversation a bit like ours today when we intellectualise our knowledge of God and what we believe we know and understand?

It is a human trait it seems to consider everything intellectually. Scientifically. Mathematically. Logically. With proof even. None of this nonsense of believing something without proof.

At some stage in our lives, perhaps in our childhood, we came to know about God and in true human form we have conceptualised His existence.

We imagine Him as an old man with a beard. Perhaps because it says in the Bible He made us in His own image; so He must be human like. Because He has always existed; then He must be old with a beard. After all, that's how the old paintings we have seen depict Him.

In the film Oh God, John Denver sees God in the form of George Burns. Old perhaps, but no beard. Wearing ordinary clothes and not an old style Roman type toga.

Each one of us has a different version of how we see God. Some like to give Him a human shape. Others see Him as a Spirit - whatever that is. Whilst some people imagine Him as a Presence. Again, whatever that is.

Because people some 2000 years ago saw Jesus as a human, and He said that He is the Son of God; it is understandable that many of us imagine God as a human.

But is that really important? Is it not a manifestation of our human intellect trying to conceptualise something we do not understand. To analyse it scientifically and logically.

But God never asked us to understand Him. Only to believe in Him and trust Him.

Nowhere in the Bible has Jesus tried to explain Himself. He may have tried to explain His parables to those who did not understand them. But He never explained His teachings.

In John 6  when Jesus says He is "the Bread of life" and later when He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life. A number of His followers decided they could not believe this and left Him.

Jesus let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said.

And I guess the same applies to us today. There is a lot we do not understand about God and about what Jesus taught. Just like thjose two on their way to Emmaus. We are most probably confused.

But then, we are not Christians because we understand it all. Because we are more knowledgeable than those others who require intellectual proof before they believe.

We are Christians because we accept things without proof. On Faith alone. Even all the mysteries of our Faith which we are taught to believe yet we do not understand.

That's what it means to be a Christian. To believe without understanding. To have Faith. To trust in God.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Thy Will Be Done


God's will, and God's power on earth is often wilfully restricted by man's insistence on being in control of his own destiny, and to live his own way.

God's will is for our good. I believe His desire is that  one day we are welcomed by Him in Heaven. He loves us and has given us a set of rules by which to live if we are to fulfil His desired wish to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

The rules, whether as set out in the Ten Commandments, or whether we follow Christ's teaching are simple.

Love your God and love one another.

Yet more often than not we decide to go our own way. We aim to control our life and do things our way rather than let God take the lead in our lives.

Our self-will stands in His way and for a moment obscures any trust we may have had in Him. And that's when the devil moves in. He uses our momentary lapse in our trust, in our faith even, to build in us the false confidence of being in control. Of being masters of our destiny.

Gone is "thy will be done" and it is replaced by "my will is being done right now. My life. My way".

And God, being the gentleman that He is, steps back and let's us have our own way.

So much time and effort is wasted when we take control and wander away from His path, from His teaching, and from His love even.

Never rely on what you think you know.

God has brought you to where you are right now, and He will see you through it. He has seen the future and will guide you to safety.

That is, unless you want to do it your way!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

I didn't mean to ... feline!


Last August we attended a Garden Fair at our church hall. They had a few dancers and musicians to entertain the people and various stalls selling teas and cakes and books and toys and ... and ...

It was enjoyable I suppose, if you like that sort of thing, and all the proceeds were for a good cause, (I never bothered to ask what), so why not go as a family and enjoy ourselves. Better than watching the football on TV with a few cans of Guinness, I should say!

I was getting rather tired, so as we were walking around, I noticed a young lady setting up her stall with a big notice saying, "I can paint you!"

Well, I've always fancied a portrait painting of myself, rather dashing and distinguished as I am. It could hang in pride of place at our house and generations thereafter will admire what a great ancestor they had in me.

So I sat on the chair and said to the lady I'll wait until she has finished setting up her stall. I must have been more tired than I thought because I fell asleep rather quickly. About twenty or so minutes later I was awakened by the family around me laughing and cheering. I eagerly looked for my portrait  ... but alas ... there was none.

The stupid woman had painted my face instead. She was a children's face painter and had assumed that I wanted my face painted.

She painted a black nose, yellowish face, and whiskers all over my face. She said it was a tiger and the family liked it so much they also wanted their faces painted. Not to spoil their fun, I agreed to keep my face paint and not wipe it off.

I soon forgot that I looked ridiculous as the only adult with a painted face. And it was quite embarrassing when our priest smiled benignly and said nothing.

A couple of hours later it was time to go home. As we passed the newsagent I stopped to pick up my favourite magazine and the children's comic "Feline Weekly". As I approached the owner of the shop and asked her for my magazine and comic she cried: "Oh you're such a nasty man ..." and, to my complete surprise, she hit me on the head with a rolled up newspaper.

I stepped back totally confused and was about to speak when an old lady standing behind me hit me with her umbrella and said: "You should be ashamed of yourself. A grown up man like you behaving so badly!"

"What have I done?" I asked totally bewildered. 

"How could you ..." cried the lady shopkeeper, "on the very day my cat Felix died to come here and mock me with your face painted like that!"

I had totally forgotten that my face was painted like a cat. I mean ... how was I to know that her Felix had just died? It was not in the obituary columns of the local newspapers and it certainly wasn't on the six o'clock news!

I was about to explain about the church Autumn Fair and the painting lady when my two children came in the shop with their faces painted as a lion and a cheetah.

The shopkeeper cried even louder and said: "You've even encouraged your children to mock me ... how awful and nasty can you get?"

We got out of the shop hurriedly and made our way home.

I didn't mean to mock her ... honest.

I blame it all on the painting lady ... don't you?

Friday, 24 April 2020

The existence (or not) of ghosts

Yesterday's humourous article about ghosts has raised a number of very serious comments on the subject. That's what I love about you, my readers. You are so unpredictable and often you make me think.

So I thought, let's look at this subject seriously.

Do ghosts exist?

Christians, (and other religions), believe that we have a soul which does not die when we do, but lives on into eternity in a spiritual world - in a spiritual form. Some people believe that we will be resurrected body AND soul. But let us not complicate matters further right now. Let us settle with the fact that we have a soul that lives on after our bodily death.

In fact, according to C S Lewis, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body".

So, we have a soul that lives on after our death and is either in Heaven or hell. Let us presume here that the decision is made immediately at our death. Hence the commonly held belief that our loved ones are in Heaven now, and not in some waiting-room somewhere reading out of date magazines that have been re-cycled from the dentist or doctor.

In fact, in the Bible, in Jesus' parable about the rich man and poor Lazarus at his gate, we learn that they are both in their final destination now; and not in a holding place somewhere.

So I thought I'd check what my (Catholic) church says on the matter. Surprisingly, they do not have an official policy or teaching on the existence, or otherwise of ghosts. But they do have a strict policy and ruling that thou shalt not communicate with the other side. So any séance, Luigi boards, or mediums trying to talk to the dead is strictly prohibited.

So the church believes, like all Christians do, that we have an ever living soul but you should not attempt to communicate with it.

Let us therefore look at evidence in the Bible. When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, (Matthew 17:1-9), the disciples saw Moses and Elijah (who had not yet resurrected) with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. So, presumably they had seen the spirits/souls of Moses and Elijah. Can we call them their ghosts?

In Matthew 14:26, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the lake towards their boat they thought Jesus himself was a ghost; indicating that they at least had an idea of ghosts. Jesus did not correct them by saying ghosts don't exist.

Appearing after His resurrection to the disciples, rather than correct the very idea of ghosts, Jesus simply says He isn’t one, "Look, I have a body. Ghosts don't. Look at my hands and side". (Luke 24:37-39).

Having said all this, the Catholic Church believes in apparitions of many Saints over the years. So presumably, these apparitions are the souls/spirits/ghosts of these people who at one time were alive and they are now dead. 

What the Catholic Church does affirm, however, is that God has from time to time permitted departed souls to commune with people on earth for their betterment — but the exact nature of that communication, (whether by an intellectual sharing or a physical manifestation), has not been defined theologically.

Some time ago I communicated by e-mail with one of my readers here on this blog. 

The reader asked: If God wanted to, can He allow a certain dead person to go back to earth to serve God's purpose? In my view, the answer is YES - God can do anything. 

The next question then is: Does God do that? Does He send people (souls) back to earth to serve His purpose? We don't know the answer, but I see no reason why He does not do so.

God sent Angels many times on earth to announce to Mary about Christ's birth, to announce to the shepherds the same thing, and to warn Joseph to go to Egypt. 

So why can He not send souls from Heaven to visit earth to serve His purpose - perhaps to protect us? 

In fact, this raises the question: Are Angels souls of those who have died and gone to Heaven? Do souls in Heaven somehow become Angels?

Whilst we have no answer to those questions, and they are not raised in the Bible, apart from the fact that Angels exist, we can assume that if God wanted to He could make souls in Heaven Angels, and He could send them to various missions on earth.

I once discussed this matter with a priest I know well. He said that every day he talks to his dead parents. He says, "Mum and dad, I love you. Please pray to God to look after me".

On a different, but related, matter. Catholics do NOT pray TO the dead or TO the Saints. They ask their dead relatives and the Saints to pray to God FOR them. To intercede on their behalf. To put in a good word for them. A bit like you giving me a good reference when I apply for a job, or writing a good review about my books.

This thing about praying to the dead and the Saints is often confused by many Catholics. But then, in my experience, a lot of Catholics are a confused lot.

So in summary, there you have it. Souls exist. They appear to (some) of us. They communicate with us when God allows them. We should not communicate with them.

Are they ghosts? Your guess is as good as mine.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

A Ghostly Experience

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever met or seen one? Did it speak to you? What did you do?

My very first experience of a ghost was many years ago when I was a teenager. I was walking home late one dark evening and there on the ground, floating away from me as if frightened, was a baby ghost. On second thoughts, it could have been a white paper tissue. Now that's a story not to be sneezed at!

My second encounter with a ghost was in an old castle in Scotland. He was wearing the full traditional Scottish costume. It was on a dark and stormy night when suddenly a gust of wind blew his kilt right up in the air.

At first I was afraid, I was petrified. He must have been just as frightened as me because he broke wind. I think he was putrefied.

I discovered later he was known as the Farting Ghost. His name was I Ken McWind.

Another more recent encounter with a ghost was at the home of an old lady I used to visit every now and then. In this case there were real manifestations like movements from one place to another. I used to visit her and find that she was sitting at a different place from where I'd left her the previous week. Never in the same place. Sometimes on the armchair, or on the sofa or in one case she was sitting on top of the fridge.

There were also sounds involved in that ghostly house of hers. I remember once we were in the kitchen and she was making me a cup of nettles tea.

Why do people drink this stuff? It tastes like the product of a skunk on diuretic!

Anyway, we were in the kitchen and we heard voices in the living room. Like someone talking. I asked her whether she had kept the radio on. She said No. I asked her to stay in the kitchen, I put her on top of the fridge, and I went to the living room. The radio was not on, but the TV was. Strange or what? I switched the TV off and the voices stopped.

Do ghosts speak in different languages depending where they are from? For example in France do ghosts speak in French? Or would they know you would not understand and they would speak to you in English but with a French accent?

Are ghosts always indoors in houses, castles and the like? Or can they be outdoors? If outdoors would the ghost be Al Fresco?

Do ghosts predict your future and tell you what is to happen to you? Like the three ghosts from the past, present and future in that ghostly story whose name I can't remember. It was something to do with Christmas as I recall. What the Dickens was it called?

And if they tell the future, are they truthful or do they lie? Can you see right through them? I wonder.

Are ghosts more frightened of you than you are of them? I mean; it can be quite an experience for a ghost to be alone in a house and suddenly humans come in and turn the lights on and behave as humans normally do. The ghost must hanker to the good old days when he too was human. Imagine a ghostly lifetime without chocolate? Maybe that's why they're always miserable.

Do ghosts age? Or do they stay the same age as the person who died? Could it be possible that the paper tissue I saw was indeed a baby ghost? Are a collection of ghosts a roll of toilet paper? You don't see many of them these days.

Are ghosts always humans, or could animals become ghosts? Can you imagine a whale of a ghost? That would be very big to even enter your house. Our home is so small we would have sardine ghosts.

How about inanimate objects? Can they be ghosts too? Can you imagine a chair being a ghost? As you come to sit on it it moves away and you fall to the ground as all the other chairs and the table laugh.

How about the bed being a ghost? What stories it could tell!

I think my mind is all over the place right now thinking about ghosts.

How about you telling us your experiences or beliefs about ghosts. Is it true they can walk through walls? Or through a key hole?

What happens if you put a key in the keyhole just as a ghost is passing through? Do you get a ghost with an eye patch on one eye?

And finally ... do ghosts go to the toilet? If not, why are there sometimes droplets on the floor?

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Scientific Discoveries

I was thinking the other day. I remember it well because it was a Tuesday, and I often think on a Tuesday. Not as much as in other days but my thoughts are a bit more focussed on Tuesdays. I don't know why.

Anyway, it was raining outside. Just as well. I would hate it if it rained inside. We'd be wet everywhere. Reminded me of when I was young. My parents' home was so damp we had a permanent rainbow in the kitchen.

As I was saying, it was raining outside and there was the sound of thunder. Thus proving that where I live sound travels faster than light, because a little later there was a flash of lightning.

Did you know, that in June 1752, Benjamin Franklin conducted an experiment from on top of the spire of Christ Church in Philadelphia. Apparently he flew a kite into a thunderstorm and the lightning hit the kite and conducted electricity to the ground.

Presumably that is how fire was discovered, I thought. Lightning hit something combustible, like a newspaper or a gas canister and whoosh ... primitive man discovered fire. And that's how pre-historic man invented the cigarette lighter; which is in effect creating a spark to ignite the fuel.

I wonder if that is how they discovered electricity too! Can you imagine what life must have been like before electricity?

People used to put sliced bread in a toaster and it would remain as sliced bread. No electricity - no toast.

Milk used to go sour in the fridge. Other foodstuffs too would rot. Ice cream would melt. And worse of all, when you opened the fridge the little light bulb would not come on.

Life must have been terrible before they discovered electricity. People used to build wind-turbines everywhere for no purpose at all. The big propellers of the turbines used to go round and round for no reason at all. A bit like windmills. Only windmills were more attractive and provided targets for Don Quixote to attack. You know ... the man who sang "To dream ... the impossible dream ..." from La Mancha!  

Before electricity people did not have electric lights in their homes. They used battery operated torches instead.

Electric appliances like washing machines, televisions, dishwashers, electric shavers and toothbrushes and the like were totally useless. People went to the shops and asked, "what does this machine do?" And the salesman used to say, "Nothing! You just buy it and wait until someone discovers electricity to make it work!"

People used to buy a TV set for the living room, then put a piano in front of it and play it for entertainment.

Houses were totally dark at night with no electricity. The only light was when a bus or a car drove by outside with its headlights on. But the glimmer of light lasted seconds until the vehicle drove away.

Then one day someone put a nail in an electric socket in the wall and got an electric shock.

That's how electricity was discovered and the rest is history.

The first contraption that worked was the TV set. The first program broadcast on TV was totally awful; but people liked it all the same. A trend which has continued to this day.

It is often argued that the discovery of electricity is the greatest discovery of mankind.

Personally I disagree. I think the discovery of the spoon rest is the greatest discovery of all. Before then people had to rest their spoons on the table when cooking in the kitchen. Either that, or they stuck the spoon in their ears whilst doing something else, like peeling the vegetables.

I said stuck the spoon in their ears ... not their rears. Are you paying attention?

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

What do you do in bed?


We cannot go long without sleeping. If you deprive yourself of sleep for up to 18 hours the body would react as if you're drunk. So for a short cut just have yourself a drink or more and then go to sleep.

Scientists have yet to discover why we sleep. Some believe that the body re-generates whilst we're asleep, but this is not proven conclusively. Some people in fact have been known to degenerate whilst in bed but the least said about this the better.

Scientists have proved however that we actually use up energy whilst we're asleep. We in fact use up enough calories equivalent to a small bar of chocolate. So you can have a bar of chocolate for breakfast every morning and you've made up your weight loss.

Also, it is estimated that up to 70% of us have actually eaten at least one spider in our lifetime whilst asleep in bed. Yes ... we sleep with our mouths open and that attracts spiders apparently who attempt to build a web on the mouth opening and fall in. I read this on the web; so it must be true.

Usually when we're asleep we have to wake up in the night to go to the bathroom. No one knows why we do this; because more often than not we do not have a full tank to be emptied anyway. It seems to be just an annoyance to wake us up so that we can annoy our partners by making a noise whilst we go to the bathroom and flush the toilet.

Speaking of which, it is not clear what is the etiquette when you are a visitor in someone's house. Do you flush the toilet in the middle of the night or not? Risking waking up the entire family?

What if it is a Number 2? Do you flush the toilet then or not?

What if your hosts wake up and go to the bathroom and find your deposit there un-flushed? You can hardly deny it is yours? Normally you do not put a tag on it with your name on - or do you? What is the normal thing to do in these circumstances?

Animals and birds need sleep too, you know. Some of them wake up in the night to go to the bathroom too. The bat is so lazy it does it whilst hanging upside down from a tree and then wonders what's in its eye!

Fish go to sleep with their eyes open because they have no eyelids. That's why they get water in their eyes and can't blink it out. Despite having their eyes open all the time they still get caught and put in tins of sardines or made into fish sticks. How stupid can they get?

It is also a well known fact that some people walk in their sleep. Yep ... they get up in the night and walk in their sleep. This can be particularly frightening to your pets if you sleep naked.
A friend of mine even swims in his sleep. He gets up at night and goes out in the garden for a swim. Unfortunately he does not have a swimming pool so he lies on the ground and flaps his arms and legs like a fish out of water. In the morning he wonders why he has mud all over his pyjamas.

When I was young I used to walk the plank. We did not have a dog at the time!

I even know someone who walks in his sleep and goes downstairs and writes himself threatening letters which he then goes out to post in the post box nearby. The next morning he gets upset at receiving the threatening letters.

He went to the police with the letters. They all said the same thing: "If you don't stop sleeping with my wife I'll sort you out good and proper!"

The police told him to stop sleeping with the man's wife. He said, "Can't you see? None of the letters are signed!"

Most of us dream whilst we're asleep. Good dreams ... bad dreams ... not so good dreams.

I remember when in London my neighbour rang me in the middle of the night complaining that my horse was in her garden. I was half-asleep so I apologised.

The next morning I realised that I had no horse. So I went round and told her so. She said it was a nightmare!

As a side line ... I always take my wife morning tea in my pyjamas. Is she grateful? No! She says she'd rather have it in a cup.

I don't always remember my dreams. But once I dreamt I was in a marshmallows factory. The next morning I discovered I had eaten half the pillow.

Some people take their pets with them in bed to sleep. I once took our rabbits to bed with me. By the morning I had a litter of about two dozen hopping all over the place.

It is often suggested that if you can't sleep you should count sheep. I used to do that. But now with all the importance given to Health and Safety I just lie there in bed considering safety risk assessments. Are the sheep safely tucked away in their pens? Has the gate been left open? Are they safe from predators? Have they had their health checks by the vet?

I saw an advert the other day that a memory mattress is the best modern invention to help you sleep well. I bought a memory mattress and now it is trying to blackmail me.

I talked to my psychiatrist about my lack of sleep. He reminded me that he was a psychiatrist, and that his wife was a psychiatrist too. He suggested a group therapy session with him and his wife, with me and mine.

I thought about it. To be honest, I am rather uncomfortable having him and his wife in bed with me and my wife. What kind of therapy is that? And will the bed be big enough?

That will give the memory mattress something to talk about!

Monday, 20 April 2020

This, that and nothing in particular ...

I found this photo amongst some papers that were in a box in the loft. I don't know who this dog is. But it made me wonder. Was the dog named after me; or was I named after a dog?

I was walking through the market place late at night a month ago and I was mugged. This young man pointed a plastic knife at me; you know the one. The plastic cutlery you get when you're on a picnic. Anyway, he pointed this plastic knife at me and said, "Your money or your life!"

I had to think about this for a few minutes. I thought he said, "Your money or your wife!" and as my wife was not with me I did not know how I could seal the deal.

So he repeated his threat, which I understood clearly. I gave him the only two coins I had on me; having spent everything I had in the pub. I gave him a 50 pence coin and a 10 pence coin.

He looked at them in disgust and ran away.

So I went and told the police. They asked me for a description. I told them the 50 pence coin was dated 2019 and the 10 pence coin was dated 2018. They said they wanted a description of the mugger not the coins. I told them I wanted my money back not the mugger.

They asked me where I was going. I told them I was going to a lecture on the evils of drink. They said who would give such a lecture so late at night. I told them my wife would when I got home.

They showed me the door and I've still not got my money back. I did get a lecture though. I think I remember hearing it again a few times before.

Which reminds me of another lecture ... actually it was a sermon ... it was our priest in church a while back. He was talking about prayers and he asked, "What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night?"

I replied, "I check that I am alone in the park. I would hate it if there's someone else sleeping on a nearby bench in case they steal my shoes whilst I'm asleep."

Sometimes going home at night after the pub I can't find my home. All houses look the same in the dark. Especially if I take the wrong turning and I'm in the wrong street altogether. Usually a couple of friends and I walk home together. We walk to whoever's house is first that we manage to find, then we walk until we find another house that belongs to either of us, and then we leave the last one to fend for himself ... usually in the park.

One night the three of us were walking down this road we'd never been to before. It was mostly bungalows ... one storey houses. As we walked by there was a house with its front room lights on and the curtains drawn wide open. It was a bedroom and a couple were doing their exercises on the bed. Obviously in their excitement they forgot to draw the windows shut.

One of my friends wanted to ring their doorbell and warn them that they might be seen from the street. My other friend suggested we just leave them to it and not disturb the moment. I suggested we phone them and tell them they can be seen from the street. Unfortunately, none of us knew their phone number.

When I eventually got home I sat down and wrote them a letter. But by the morning I could not remember which house we'd seen them in. I rang my friends. They could not even remember seeing them.

Cheers!

Sunday, 19 April 2020

On His Knee



Father Ignatius approached the pulpit and in his clear crisp voice he started his Sunday sermon:

“Although Heaven is mentioned often in the Bible there’s one instance where we have a glimpse of a description. In today’s reading from John 14:2 Jesus says: ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.’

“Let’s think about this for a moment. Is Heaven a building somewhere in the sky, or wherever you perceive it to be, with many rooms as Jesus said? Or is it something or some place totally different?

“I suspect that Jesus used the description of a house because He wanted an example that his listeners could relate to. The people of His time were used to seeing palaces and mansions; so describing Heaven as a building is quite an apt description which they can come to terms with in their minds.

“Better than saying Heaven is a state of being where our souls float freely in the presence of God and His angels. Would Christ’s contemporaries understand that I wonder?

“So a large building it is; with many rooms of course.

“Presumably the multiplicity of rooms is to ensure that our Lord keeps all the denominations separately to avoid their incessant arguments and so give Him some peace and quiet in His Heavenly domain.” said Father Ignatius jokingly.

“Why is it” he asked, “that we seem to spend so much time as Christians arguing about the details that separate us rather than rejoice in the Divine facts which unite us?

“One God, one Son of God, the Lord Jesus, and one Holy Spirit sent to help us and to guide us back to our Creator.

“That’s our fundamental message of Christianity,” Father Ignatius declared clearly.

After a short pause, he continued:

“People today have different interpretations of what Heaven must be like. Some believe it is a physical place with buildings and a big Pearly Gate. Others see it as a state of consciousness where our souls enjoy God’s presence. In reality, we really don’t know what it’s like but we believe it exists because our Lord told us so.

“Think about it for a moment or two. What do you think Heaven is like?”

He paused again to give his parishioners time to reflect.

“You know … … Someone asked me the other day whether there are animals in Heaven. She wanted to know whether her loved pet dog will be with her there.

“Well, I don’t know about that … Imagine animals in Heaven … I’d hate to come face to face with the Sunday roast admonishing me for what I had done to it !!!”

Father Ignatius waited for the laughter to die down then went on:

“Some time ago, I came across another description of Heaven.

“Imagine for a moment that when we die and meet God, He will sit us on His lap like a loving Father sits his little child.

“And then He will show us our life all over again, exactly as we have lived it. Just like a movie.

“There, sitting on God’s knee, we will see all the good and the bad we have done. We will be reminded of all the opportunities we missed when we could have helped others less fortunate than ourselves. We will re-live all the hurt we have caused to others by what we have done or said, whether intentionally or not.

“All our sins will be there on a big screen for us to see and remember once again. Even those secret sins which we kept hidden to ourselves; never confessed, and never forgiven and absolved.

“And as we see our life once again, there, on His lap, will be our own Heaven or our own hell.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a moment to allow the message to sink in. He then went on in a more soothing voice:

“Now imagine if it were really so … Imagine that one day you will be seeing your whole life once again as a movie …

“Imagine also that you are a famous Film Director … what a marvellous opportunity you have right now, within your grasp, to make sure your own personal movie will have a happy ending !!!”

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The days after.


As we read and meditate on the true story of the Resurrection, there are some facts which perhaps escape us in the readings we are so familiar with.

Let us consider a few of these.

John Chapter 20 Verses 6-7 "Simon Peter arrived just after him. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. The face cloth that had been around Jesus' head was rolled up, lying separate from the linen cloths".

This phrase only appears in John's Gospel. It is not in the other Gospels. Why did John consider it so significant to point it out?

In ancient Hebrew tradition the folded napkin was symbolic between the master of the house and his servant.

When the servant set the dinner table he made sure that everything was perfectly set out as the master wished and then he would wait out of sight until the master finished eating.

The servant would not clear the table until the master had finished.

When the master finished his meal he would wipe his fingers and mouth with the napkin and then toss the napkin on the table.

The servant would then clear the table, because in those days a tossed napkin meant “I’ve finished.”

However, if the master left the table but neatly folded the napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table.

Because the folded napkin meant “I’m coming back!”

Jesus is coming back.

Luke 24: 13-35 Just after Christ’s Resurrection, two of His followers were going to Emmaus. They were totally distraught about Jesus’ death, and even though there was now news that His tomb is empty and that Christ is alive, they were still down-hearted and confused.

Jesus appeared to them on the way. They did not recognize Him. They spoke with Him and told Him their news. They said that their Lord and leader had been crucified, and there were rumours going around that He was alive again.

Jesus did not tell them who He was but explained to them the prophets’ predictions about Him. He walked with them all the way to Emmaus, but still they did not recognize Him. It wasn’t until He broke and blessed the bread that they recognized Him. Why?

Why did they not recognize Him? Could it be that their minds were more pre-occupied with their problems and their dilemma rather than listening to Him?

They were more focussed on their problem. Their leader is dead. What are they to do now? Is it all over? Every thing He said and taught comes to nothing? And what of the future? What are His followers to do now?

But aren’t we just the same. How often do events touch our lives and turn it upside down. Events perhaps of our making, or events that we did not contribute to but they affect us all the same.

And we panic. We fear the future, we fear matters getting out of our control and we turn our attention to our problems and our dilemma. Just like those two on the way to Emmaus.

Yet, all the time we are panicking Jesus is there. Walking beside us. Quite literally. Waiting for us to recognize Him, hold His hand in the full knowledge and trust that He will see us through our darkest hour.

It is our doubts, our fears and our worries which prevent us from seeing Him.

John 21: 1-2 "After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples."

Note the details in this short passage. It mentions who was there. Just as you would do if you were telling a story about what happened at a party, or a restaurant. You'd relate who was there at the time before starting your story. Does that not prove to you how real, how true, these events are/were?

Luke 24:50 "Then He led them out of the city as far as Bethany, where He raised His hands and blessed them. As He was blessing them, He departed from them and was taken up into Heaven.

Acts 1:9 After saying this, He was taken up to Heaven as they watched Him, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as He went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw Him go to Heaven.”

A few days after the Resurrection Jesus was raised to Heaven in full sight of His disciples.

Can you imagine how they must have felt?

They’d been with Him for three years or so. Saw Him preach and heal the sick. Witnessed His arrest, death and Resurrection. And now … He was gone.

They must have missed Him very badly as they walked back to their homes. Confusion, fear and doubts must have crossed their minds several times.

He is gone … and He is missed.

Missing somebody is a sign that their presence had an influence on your life, your well-being and your happiness.

Their absence now has created a void in your life. An emptiness, and a longing to be with them once again.

We’ve all missed someone at one time or another in our lives. It is usually someone who has been kind to us.

Are we ever missed when we are no longer there? Have we done something nice to someone who will remember us and miss our presence in their lives?

Friday, 17 April 2020

Time for a clear out ...

As I may have mentioned, I have been doing a bit of clearing out lately. Looked through many old papers which have been accumulating over the years and decided which will go through the shredder and which will be filed again for another day when they'll go through the shredder too.

To break up the monotony I also did a bit of tidying up in the loft and in the basement. Surprising what does accumulate over the years. We keep things for Justin Case.

You know him? Just in case I need it some day ... better keep it.

I also tried to clean the fridge and freezer in the hope that I'd find something tasty there. Too late. Someone else got there first!

We have at the end of the garden a little granny-apartment. That's where we keep the mother-in-law when she lands unexpectedly on her broomstick.

I thought I'd go and clean that too and I found an elderly lady living there.

I'll admit I'd seen her before in the street and in our garden and I thought she was my wife's aunt who lives nearby and had come to visit. I never realised she lived in our apartment.

She was pleasant. Invited me in the apartment which actually belongs to me, and offered to make me a cup of tea and hot crumpets with butter.

I politely declined and ran home to tell my wife.

She said that the old lady had been living there for a couple of months or so. She said nothing because she thought she was my aunt come to visit from Australia. I said I've seen the old lady and thought she was my wife's aunt who'd come to visit. To be fair, all my wife's relatives look the same ... better looking when far away!

I was called a jerk ... still trying to work out why!

I went to the apartment to ask the woman who she was. Another woman opened the door.
I asked her, "Who are you?"

She told me she was the other woman's sister.

So I asked, "But who is the other woman?"

She replied, "She's my sister!"

So we've established that they are sisters. What I do not know is how they got in the apartment. Where they got the key from. How long they intend to stay. And who in **###*** are they?

They both smiled and offered me some tea and crumpets.

Then they gave me their photos which they wanted to autograph!!! Can you believe that? I don't.

I mean ... they are not even celebrities or anyone important. Just two old ladies living not far from me. And I'm supposed to notice them? And care a hoot or even a fig about them? Likely story!

Do you recognise these nice ladies? Are they friends or relatives of yours?

If not, would you like to have them living near you? For you to care about them?

I'll pay the postage!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Moutarde alors!

 

"Hello Moutarde, you took your time arriving. Thanks all the same. Who's this with you?"

"Allo Inspector Jeep. Sorree I deed not come ze sooner. I could not find my ... comment dit-on? My troozer ... Zis wiz me iz my good friend Captain Halifax."

"OK everyone ... pay attention. This is Monsieur Moutarde, the famous world-renowned detective. He is here to pretend to assit us with this investigation and to interfere whenever he can."

"You are veree kind Inspector Jeep".

"Right then ... this is a murder enquiry. We have a body here and I need to know who was first on the scene. Do you know Sergeant?"

"Yes Inspector. First on the scene was the body of the deceased."

"What do you mean?"

"Well Sir, without the body we would not have a crime scene. So he must have been here first!"

"Zat iz correct, Inspector. I 'ave seen zis in manee detective films in ze cinema. One must always start with ze bodee before we have a crime scene!"

"I see ..."

"If I may add something else Inspector ... I notice 'ere and 'ere plentee of chalk marks on zee floor. Why iz zat?"

"Sergeant?"

"Well Sir, as soon as we arrived we had to draw with chalk around the body so we can record the position it was found to help us with our investigations!"

"I see ... but why iz zere so many ze chalk marks on ze floor?"

"Because the body was moving about and we could not get a good impression of where he was. So we had to beat him senseless so we could draw around him!"

"Sounds sensible to me Moutarde! Any more questions?"

"Non merci ... please to continue."

"Right Sergeant ... did the victim ... the body ... say anything before you beat him senseless?"

"Yes Sir. He said stop beating me you ... and then he said some very rude words which I have written down in my notebook. You may wish to read them, Sir."

"Strewth ... here Moutarde, read this. I've never seen such bad language written in a police notebook. Heard it often mind!"

"Merci Inspector ... s'il vous plait ... what does zis sentence it means?"

"Ehm ... it is something that you do to yourself which is anatomically impossible to do!"

"Je comprends!"

"Right Sergeant ... do we know how the victim ... body ... came to be on the ground?"

"Yes Sir, he was hit from behind with a sponge cake!"

"What iz zat? Zee sponge cake?"

"It's a very soft cake. An English delicacy!"

"I see ... and what iz zat red at ze back of ze head of ze man on ze floor?"

"It's strawberry jam ... jelly ... often used as a filling between two layers of sponge cake! Very delicious. Here taste some. I'm sure the man won't mind. He's been beaten senseless anyway."

"Ooooh ... my head ... you f*****g b******s ... why did you beat me up?"

"That's enough of that my man. Mind your language. We have with us here a foreign gentleman and we will have to translate your foul language to him. Besides, you are interfering with a murder enquiry!"

"Who's been murdered?"

"You of course ... that's why we've found you on the floor with a sponge cake injury on the back of the head and strawberry jam all over the place. Someone must have hit you from behind."

"You got it wrong Inspector. That's not what happened. No one hit me. I was trying to get the cake from the cupboard up there and it slipped off the plate and hit me on the head!"

"So ... you've not been murdered? You're not dead?"

"Of course not!"

"Right Sergeant ... book him for wasting police time!"

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts you may be interested in. 
Hence the title of this post
INTERESTING FACTS.

Did you know that the chair was invented by an ancient Roman called Kevin Sedes? His mother was English from Birmingham UK and insisted he is called Kevin.

In ancient Rome people used to lie down on couches to eat their meals. Apparently this is not good for the digestion and it was also somewhat untidy with food being picked up by hand and falling everywhere on the couch.

Then one day Kevin invented the chair and sold the idea, as well as the chair, to the emperor Gluteus Maximus.

For years thereafter, all well to do families in ancient Rome sat on chairs to eat their dinner. Unfortunately, the table had not yet been invented so they had to put the food on the floor and bend down from their chairs to pick it up. Many Romans fell off their chairs whilst eating and drinking wine.
Prior to the invention of the chair, Roman chariots of course had no chairs in them. Roman soldiers used to stand on the chariot instead. Which explains why chariots had no roofs either. Unfortunately, the standing driver used to hit his head against low branches as the chariots raced along. That is why in the 1959 film Ben-Hur, (as opposed to Ben-Him), in the chariot race we see Charlton Heston going round and round the arena and there are no trees.

And now for something completely different. From ancient Rome we move to modern day Britain.

Moving on swiftly to the UK. Do you know that we still have a class system of sorts? Although most people would deny it they most probably consider themselves as either upper class, middle class or working class. Except me ... I am in a class of my own. At school it was called detention.

I remember when at school some years ago I was talking to my friend in class and the teacher threw a piece of chalk at me. He said, "That'll teach you to talk in class. The exams are next week, if you don't pay attention you'll go down in History!"

He was right. I have gone down in History, and Geography, and Maths and ... anyway; back to the British class system.

A distinguishing feature of the upper-class people in Britain is the way they speak. Upper-class people tend to speak in a posh accent, don't you know, by Jove, what? Old boy and all that.

In the school I went to we had quite a few upper-class kids. In fact it was a school of mixed backgrounds with sons and daughters of stock-brokers, bankers and doctors as well as accountants and plumbers and electricians.

Funny how my memory takes me back to those days of childhood. As a child I had sticking out ears. I looked like a car with its doors open. I was always called "Big Ears" like the character in the Enid Blyton books about Noddy. I was also called Dumbo after the flying elephant with big ears. It's sad how one's parents can be cruel, isn't it?

But as I grew up my ears got into proportion with the rest of my body ... my head!

In fact I became quite handsome. I even got a girl-friend. She was called Stella. She was blonde and very sexy. I remember once for her birthday I asked her what she wanted as a special present. She looked at me with a glint in her eyes and said she wanted a sexy thong!

So I sang, "Strangers in the night ..."

Nope ... didn't happen ... must have been her accent.

Back to the class system.

Upper class people tend to be born in that class, and are not necessarily elevated to it through wealth.

The middle-classes tend to be people who aspire to be better than the rest and look down on others because they themselves have a better education, better professional jobs, they live in large houses with more than one car and make it obvious by their behaviour that although they are not not upper class they are definitely not lower class, also known as working class.

For example, if they cut their finger they would claim that it was done whilst opening an oyster and not a can of baked beans.

I suppose you can also tell what "class" people belong to by the newspapers they read. Either a tabloid easy to handle paper; or a broad-sheet with plenty of financial and economic facts rather than pictures and cartoons. I tend to read comics because they are more serious and truthful than newspapers.

Speaking of reading, did you know that once I spent the whole day looking for my book about chameleons. It was so well camouflaged I could not find it.

We have a lot of books at home. Mostly scientific and history books. We're a well educated family. We all learnt to read at an early age by identifying the letters in our alphabet pasta shapes as we ate. Except a cousin of mine who was dyslexic; so his parents gave him spaghetti instead.

My family descends from a scientific line you know. My uncle Rufus discovered the East Pole I'll have you know. Surprisingly enough, it was not in the East as you would imagine but in fact in the opposite direction in the West. But he thought it was the East Pole because he had lost his compass that day and did not know whether he was coming or going.

Another uncle of mine, uncle Baltazar, he discovered Nocturnal Reversal. It is a condition that occurs every now and then to people. He was staying overnight at a hotel and went to bed as usual. The next morning he felt very hot. And I mean very hot. He almost had a fever that hot he was. It was that temperature between being very hot and actually having a fever.

He woke up and found he was under the mattress. He was still in bed but the mattress was on top of him. Took him ages to get out of bed.

And that's what's known as Nocturnal Reversal. What did you think it was?

Uncle Baltazar says it is a more common condition than people think. He suggests you tie one leg to the bed post in case it happens to you and then people will be able to find you in the morning. Just one leg will do. No need to overdo it!

Speaking of bed activities ... ehm ... sorry, my mind wondered for a second or more. To get back to the subject ... did you know that apparently a lot of people take their pets with them in bed at night? What do you think about that?

I once took my pet with me to bed. The next morning my bed was totally soaking wet, and my goldfish had died.

Anyway, back to books. We have at home many Self-Help books.

My favourite is "How To Alienate Friends and Annoy People". Since reading it I have got rid of many friends in my life. People who used to bother me and always come round uninvited to eat my biscuits, drink my tea and borrow my lawnmower.

Another good book I'd recommend is "The Power Of Negative Thinking". It teaches you what life is all about. One long and hard struggle and a series of failures punctuated by bouts of disappointments. There's no point in complaining and bothering people with your bad luck stories. Just suck it up and get on with it you wimp!

One good thing about being negative in life is that if things turn out OK you'd be pleasantly surprised. And if they don't you can say to everyone, "I told you so!"

Also worth reading is "The Encyclopaedia of Insults". This has proved useful many times in life when people got on my nerves.

I would say things like, "Were you born that boring or did you train for it?" or "And from whose nose were you picked?"

Other examples of good insults are, "What you don't know would make a good book", "If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they sure can make something out of you", "What you lack in intelligence, you make up for it in stupidity", or "I never liked you and I always will".

So there you have it. Some interesting facts and book recommendations too. What else do you expect from an excellent Blog? I think I'll start reading it. Why don't you recommend your friends to join us here for some good company and edification?

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Looking through old photos

I was tidying up some papers the other day and I found an old envelope from when I worked some years ago. It contained a number of photos of work colleagues. These were taken on one occasion and pinned to a big board with everyone's name and job title for a major exhibition we were having. After the exhibition was over, someone collected all the photos from the board and gave them to me in an envelope. It was obviously never thrown away.

Anyway, in that old envelope there was a photo of Gerald Nocknee. That was not his real name. His surname was rather longer but we called him Gerry Nocknee for short. Although to be fair, short he was not. He was very tall. So tall that he had to stand on a ladder to shave every morning. People said he had his head in the clouds. But that was not true. He was a solid man with his feet firmly planted in the ground. Very well educated in Cambridge and also a spell in Oxford, I believe.

Before he joined us he said he worked at a firm of undertakers called Doug M Deep. People were dying to meet him. He told us once that a friend of his was moving house so she came to see him at work and she asked him if he had any empty boxes.

He was a little weird Gerald Nocknee. He was fired from his job at the Funeral Directors because once during a funeral he approached old people and encouraged them to pay for their funeral now and get another one free. Apparently, he intended to dig them up and re-bury them again for free!

I'm not quite sure how true this story is; although he had a glint in his eye when he told it at a Christmas party.

He once said that marriages should have an annual appraisal every year. He suggested that at the wedding the couple should agree general "things" between them; like where they will live, if or when to have children, how they will be educated, (school/home-schooling), that sort of thing. Then every year the couple should re-visit their annual plan and discuss how they have lived towards achieving it and whether there were any "improvement opportunities" to make their marriage stronger. At this annual appraisal they would also plan ahead and discuss openly any difficulties that have arisen in their marriage.

I'm not sure whether this novel idea is good and will work or not. What do you think? 
This is a joke photo taken of another colleague. He was so short we called him Tim Legless. An unfortunate name because he was a teetotaller and never ever drank alcohol. In England, the expression to be legless means to be really really drunk. Something which Tim never ever was. 

He was indeed very very short. People often wondered whether he was actually small or far away. He was so short that his feet did not touch the ground. He just floated a few inches above ground. He was generally small all over. So small he was a waste of skin.

I remember once in a restaurant the waitress had to lift him up into a baby chair so he could reach the table with the rest of us.

At University he trained to be a brain surgeon, as you can see from his student days photo. But he was so short that his professor suggested he became a knee surgeon instead.

Apparently he was thrown out from a nudist camp because he could not keep his nose out of peoples' private business.

He had a favourite saying which he used at every occasion when he wanted to make a point.

"You've got to find yourself!" he used to say. Which is unfortunate since he went out for a walk one dark and rainy night and got lost. He was eventually found standing on top of a wedding cake. We never discovered who was standing beside him.

He told me once that he had a third nipple. Although, I hasten to add, I never asked to see it. How unfortunate, I thought, being so short and having a third nipple. I wondered where it was. Can a nipple be anywhere on the body?
Anyway, talking of a third nipple reminded me of something I had read when I studied ancient Greek and Roman history at school.

Did you know that the Roman goddess Artemis, (also known as Diana of Ephesus), was purported to have several breasts? This is because Diana was the goddess of fertility, and the multi-breasts were denoting fertility, nourishing the living.

Funny how the mind works. One thought leads to another.

I remember another Diana I once knew and was very fond of. The love of my life she was. Coincidentally, she too had several breasts. I kid you not.
She also won several awards at the dog show.
Looking through that old envelope I found another photo.

This young man was a computer programmer in those days when computers had floppy discs and you had to load the programs on them and wait a bit before starting work. Also, as I recall, in those days the internet was new and sometimes it slowed down and the picture froze until the whole thing arrived on your computer. I think they called it buffering.

The reason I mention this is because this young man, Jim, had a habit of buffering in real life. When you asked him something, like, "will the report you're working on be ready by tomorrow?"; he would hold on to his chin, wait for ten seconds or so, then answer. You may not think this is long, but ten seconds can be a long time. Try it. Ask yourself, "Do you want a coffee?"; now wait for ten seconds before answering. See? You could become just as annoying as Jim was.

Looking at his photo reminded me of an incident regarding Jim. He and I had to go from our HQ to a regional office some fifty miles away. We hired a car and loaded it with computer equipments and whatever else we needed. He decided to let me drive.

It was a long and winding country road with sharp bends, blind corners, narrow lanes with rising inclines or steep drops down hills. It was also raining at the time, as I recall.

I noticed throughout the journey which lasted just over an hour that Jim was very silent. I thought he was thinking about some computer program or other which he was writing.

When we arrived at our destination he jumped out of the car and slammed the door shouting, "I'll never get in a car with you again!" then he stormed into the building.

I heard from colleagues afterwards that he believed I could not drive and warned them never to get in a car with me.
Now this guy was a real know-it-all. He always knew everything about everything there is to know in the whole universe. There is nothing he did not know. Having a conversation with him, which I always avoided, was like having a conversation with an encyclopaedia. There was not a subject he knew nothing about. The problem was, you could not tell whether what he was saying was true or he was just making it up.

He also had another bad habit which annoyed me. I don't know why. He used to take his shoes off and walk in the office in his socks. His socks did not smell bad. It was just the fact that he took his shoes off that annoyed me. Perhaps I saw it as a sign of superiority on his part.

There were six of us sharing this large office, and others had commented to him about it. But not me. I was a professional coward at the time.

But one day I saw my opportunity. The other people had gone home. He walked to the cupboard at the far end to find a file. I approached his desk, hid his shoes in a nearby cupboard, and went home.

I never found out whether he went home bare-feet, or whether he spent hours looking for his shoes. But from that day on he never took his shoes off. He never mentioned the lost shoes either. I wonder if he suspected me or someone else.

I used to play tricks on him. In those days the telephones could be unscrewed at the ear-piece end and the microphone end where you speak. I used to unscrew the ear-piece on his phone and stick a piece of sellotape on the little holes from which the voice came. I then screwed the ear-piece back properly again.

I then went to my desk and rang him. I could see him at the end of the large office saying, "Hello ... I can't hear you ... speak up!" It was so funny, especially since the colleague next to me also knew what I had done.

I also used to use double-sided sticky tape and stick his ruler to the desk; and watch him try to pick it up. Or stick the telephone receiver to the whole phone apparatus and watch him answer the phone when it rang.

On another occasion I played another trick. You know all the small pieces of round paper you get when you empty the hole-punch? You use the hole-punch every day and small pieces of paper collect in the machine's reservoir.

Well, I emptied the contents of the machine in his umbrella which stood in the umbrella stand. That evening as he went home it started raining. He opened the umbrella and was showered in the street with paper confetti.

The next day he growled at us not knowing who did the evil act. We did not dare look at him in case we burst out laughing.
This young lady was our office secretary and general assistant. She had an office by herself next to the boss. For some reason, she often did not wear a bra. You could tell when she sat at her desk and you were standing up beside her pretending to ask some question or other about work. I always had a lot of questions to ask about work. She was very efficient. You could count on her. Up to two anyway.
This beautiful blonde was our company accountant. She was my age and I must admit I liked her ... a lot. I never had the courage to ask her out, however. As I mentioned before, at the time I was a professional coward. Just as well I never asked her out. I found out later that she was due to get married that very summer.

Her office, (she had her own office because of her position in the company), was across the corridor from our open-plan office where we all were.

One evening, about 5:30pm when everyone else had gone home, she rang my office and asked me to go to her office. But not tell anyone.

I was intrigued. I went to her office and found her standing on her swivel chair with the phone still in her hand. This was rather dangerous as she could have easily fallen and injured herself. Apparently she had seen a mouse in her room and quickly got off her chair, which was pushed away from her desk as she stood up, and then jumped on it.

What is it with you ladies jumping on furniture when you see a mouse?

Anyway, I took the phone from her and placed it back on the receiver on her desk. I tried to get her off the chair but she would not get down. She asked me to get her chair close to her desk so she could step on her desk. I could hardly do that in case she fell. But she commanded me.

I held on to her legs and slowly wheeled her to her desk upon which she stepped safely. She then asked me to empty her handbag which was on the floor in case the mouse got there. I emptied it at her feet on her desk. Amazing what women carry in their handbags!

Tell us what's in yours!

Eventually, convinced that the mouse was not in her bag, or in her room any more, she got off her desk and asked me not to tell anyone about this episode.

I never did - until now.
This young lady was my boss. I may have mentioned her before in my posts here. Here's a story about her.

When I was young a group of us from work were at a Conference in a City up North. After the evening meal, my boss, this pretty woman in her early thirties, went up to her hotel room and asked me discretely to follow her a few minutes later. She gave me a duplicate plastic card to use in that contraption which opens the hotel room door. She said she wanted to discuss my annual appraisal report.

A few minutes later I entered her room and it was empty. I said loudly "Hello ... anyone here?"

Her voice replied from the bathroom, "I'm in the shower. Come in!"

I was astounded and frightened at this request which sounded more like a command. My boss had a reputation but I never quite believed it. I did not know what to do, especially since my future career at this firm depended so much on my boss and her appraisal of me. I hesitated for a while.

"Get a move on," she cried impatiently from the bathroom, "I'm not going to wait all night!" Those were her exact words; I still remember them clearly. She obviously meant business and my annual appraisal was at stake.

I was totally confused. I sought guidance from my Catechism but I could not find an answer in a hurry. They really should have a better index in those books.

I took off my jacket and put it on the back of the chair. Then I took off my shoes. I had a big hole in one of my socks!

Before I could go on any further she came out of the bathroom fully clothed and speaking on her cell-phone. Apparently you get a better reception in the shower than anywhere else in her hotel room.

"Why have you taken your shoes off?" she asked.

"I did not want to dirty the carpet!" I replied unconvincingly.

I wonder if she believed me.