Wednesday 30 September 2015

Agony Uncle Vic

I was half-listening to the radio the other day. A gift I've developed over the years; half-listening. Especially when my wife talks; but let's not go there.

Anyway, this Agony Aunt type person was answering and suggesting solutions to problems which radio listeners had phoned in. I can't remember what the listener was on about, (half-listening, remember), but the Agony Aunt suggested that "you should get out of your comfort zone!"

I thought: WHY?

Why should anyone who is perhaps happy where they are in life need to get out of their comfort zone? Perhaps their comfort zone is where they should be at. Maybe that is the limit of their capabilities. Maybe anything beyond their comfort zone would create greater problems than what they have now.

Would you push an old person off a cliff to get them out of their comfort zone? Or drop them in the sea to widen their experience and capabilities?

When I worked in London our firm had another inane slogan: UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL. Whatever that means.

Maybe I like my potential to be well locked and away from prying eyes. Some things should remain private, you know.

Anyway, I thought. Who are these Agony Aunts on the radio or in the newspapers dispensing advice to all and sundry without knowing the details and intricacies of every situation? Are they doctors? Psychiatrists? Or what? In some cases they are no more than just celebrities given guest spots on radio shows and newspapers; and pretty soon they are experts at what they do.

So I decided to become an Agony Uncle. Here are a few examples of problems I've tackled:

Dear Agony Uncle Vic,

As a newly married man, I get embarrassed when I go to the rest room and break wind noisily. My wife could hear me. What do you suggest I do?

Dear Thunderblast,

Such foods like beans, sprouts and cabbage, nice as they are, tend to create gaseous substances therein which need to come thereout, sometimes accompanied with heightened decibels. Short of avoiding such foods, I suggest you do like me and take a radio with you to the rest room and play it loudly to cover up other unwanted sounds. I suggest playing "Blowing in the wind" by Bob Dylan is very effective in this respect.

Dear Agony Uncle Vic,

Whenever I drink something hot like tea or coffee I get a sharp pain in my eye. Should I visit an optician for this?

Dear Ivor Pain,

I suggest you take the spoon out of the cup before drinking.

Dear Agony Uncle Vic,

I am a politician and I've noticed lately that newspapers and news media tend to ignore all speeches I make and do not report anything about me at all. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence against me. What should I do?

Dear Politician,

Join it!

Dear Agony Uncle,

I keep getting lots of bills and invoices from the electricity company, the telephone company and many others, and I can't pay them. Some have threatened to take me to Court for non-payment. What shall I do?

Dear Profligate,

Do like me. Put all the invoices in a hat and once a week draw one out and pay it. If someone threatens to take you to Court don't put their invoice in the hat as a punishment.


If any of you dear readers have a problem you wish resolved or want any advice at all, please leave me a message in the comments box below. No one else will read it except visitors to this Blog - which means just you and me!

Sunday 27 September 2015

What are your secret habits?

What are your secret habits?

Before you switch off, or go away, let me quickly explain that I am not asking you what you do in the privacy of your home, (unless you WANT to tell me).

No ... I am asking you something completely different, and I would like your honest answers.

Look at the cartoon above. The wife wants something whereas the husband is busy with something else entirely different.

I'm sure many of you have had such occasions in your lives.

If I am to be a good host of this Blog I need to know what you enjoy reading here and what you do not. It is pointless me offering you tea and biscuits if you want a burger and beer. We drink beer warm in the UK, but for you I'll put some in the fridge.

So please answer these questions as honestly as you can.

1     Do you always comment when you visit here?

2     I reply to each comment made, and pray for that person too. Do you return to check on my replies?

3     Do you ever click on the suggested "You might also like" links at the bottom of the post?

4     Do you ever click the tabs at the top of the page to see what you might be missing?

5     Do you click on the links on the right hand side of this column?

That's it !!! I think that's all for now. Thank you for your answers.

Oh one more thing ... in case we should meet, do you prefer beer or wine?

Friday 25 September 2015

Choice? If only ...

A discussion the other day: What if you could eliminate one characteristic out of human nature, which one would it be?

Someone suggested anger. Someone else said envy … jealousy, hatred, prejudice, fear … and so on.

What if this were possible; what would you get as a result?

A robot. Someone pre-programmed by you with whatever emotions you feel should stay in and which ones taken out.

But God decided differently.

He gave us all these emotions, both positive and negative ones, and with them He gave us a responsibility.

The responsibility to keep them under control and to use them properly.

Even some negative emotions have a purpose if controlled properly and used in the right circumstances. If we didn’t have anger we would not be so disposed to stand up against evil. Fear keeps us from being foolhardy and reckless at times.

So there you have it: negative and positive emotions and a responsibility to control them.

Phew … I’m suddenly tired with all these responsibilities!

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Visiting my Ancestor

In Britain we have many castles. Not just up North and in Scotland, but also in every part of the country whether East and West or North and South. Some are still standing as in the photo above, whilst others are either just the outer shell of what was once a castle, or just a pile of bricks and stones beaten down by years of history.

Lately I visited a castle where purportedly my ancestor, the medieval King and Knight, Baron Sir Richard the Lion Liver, once lived. Click the crest on the right to learn more about him.

As soon as I entered the castle I was greeted by this armour which I understand he once wore when in battle, and also at the many jousting tournaments which he always won.

Note the lovely colourful plumage at the top of the helmet. Which explains why I always wear a cowboy hat with a feather on the side.
In one of the castle rooms we entered there was a table with two skulls side by side in a glass case. One skull was small and the other one much larger. They belonged to my ancestor, Sir Richard the Lion Liver.

       Sir Richard as a young child.     Sir Richard as an adult years later.

In another room we saw where the Knights of Sir Richard's triangular table used to hang their coat of arms.
In yet another room there was this intriguing painting with a story about Sir Richard written below it.
 Apparently, years ago Sir Richard fell down the stairs after a night's drinking with his knights and hurt his back. For ages he was bent with pain and walked with a stick as in the painting above. Eventually, he was persuaded to go to Gherkin the Wizard for a cure. After about five minutes with Gherkin, he came out walking straight and proud as if nothing had ever gone wrong.
Everyone cheered and danced with joy believing it to be a miracle. Sir Richard explained it was no miracle at all. Gherkin the Wizard had given him a longer stick.

The following photo best explains a famous story about my ancestor Sir Richard the Lion Liver.
Look at the windows on the left how narrow they are and shaped like a cross. This is deliberate so that the soldiers inside the castle could shoot arrows with their acurate crossbows without being seen by the attacking army outside, or shot back by the enemies' bowmen.

One night Sir Richard came back after a night's drinking with his knights at the local pub. He found the front door, (on the right of the picture where the visitors are), locked shut and his wife had gone to bed in a huff ... or was it a minute and a huff? I can't remember.

Anyway, Sir Richard did not want to ring the door bell and wake up the dragon inside ... or his wife for that matter. So he asked one of his servants to enter the castle from the back door. Now Sir Richard was a very accurate shot with the crossbow, even after a lot of drinking. So he said to his servant that he would shoot an arrow from outside through the second narrow window you see on the left. The servant inside the room would pull the arrow to which was attached a string, which was in turn attached to a rope. He would pull the rope inside the window and tie it to the furniture securely so that Sir Richard could climb into the castle.

All worked relatively well. Sir Richard shot the arrow through the window and it hit the servant waiting inside the room in the leg. The servant stifled a painful cry so as not to wake up the dragon. He didn't much care for his master's wife anyway.

He then tied the rope to the furniture so that Sir Richard could climb up. Once up Sir Richard discovered that the window was too narrow for anyone to get in.

So he got down again and asked his servant to let him in through the back door.

If you've enjoyed this tale about my visit to the castle half as much as I have enjoyed telling it; then I have enjoyed it twice as much as you.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Here I am Lord

I have known Father Francis Maple for a number of years. He is a Capuchin Franciscan monk who joined the priesthood more than 50 years ago.

Father Francis has sung in public over the years (and still does) in malls, shopping centres and at his own concerts and has raised over £1m for charity. He has also written several books (sermons, cooking recipes, jokes), and has contributed (and still does) to many newspaper columns and Catholic newspapers and magazines. He spends a lot of time travelling throughout the UK leading Missions in various Catholic churches. Father Francis contributes articles and sermons from time to time to my Blog here as well as to the Community of Catholic Bloggers website.

He also publishes a Daily Homily HERE.

I have chosen today a song by Father Francis which reminds us all of our vocation to spread God's Word to everyone.

Wednesday 16 September 2015


"You know son, as your father, it is incumbent upon me to warn you when you do things wrong and all that ..."

"What do you mean?"

"Take your portable telephone gizmo that you have. I've read it is dangerous. A man at work the other day had one just like yours and he was watching something on the screen and fell off the ladder he did ... Kept going up and did not realise he had run out of ladder ..."

"Very funny, dad!"

"It's true boy. Also these contraptions emit bad things like microphone waves or something. They'll fry whatever little brain you got left. Like this thing you have always stuck to your ear."

"Dad, I have Bluetooth!"

"There you are then. It started already. You must see a dentist before it gets worse."

"Dad, it is called Bluetooth."

"I don't care what it's called boy. We didn't have it when we were young. Just the odd bit of tartar on our teeth, or a cavity every now and then. Not electro what's it illnesses like now. Also they let off magnets these gadgets. Magnetism gets out of them on your fingers when you touch the screen. It's even worse ... the magnet thingies fly off the screen and into you. Pretty soon when you get in the kitchen all the metal utensils will stick to you."

"Dad, you really don't understand about technology. It doesn't work like that. There are no little magnets and ..."

"Don't patronise me boy. I know more about technology than you'll ever know. Those table mats things, like the one you have, are just as bad!"

"They are called tablets! Mine is an Apple."

"An apple? When we were young that was a fruit, that was. You'll be telling me you have a blackberry next. Your grand-mother, may she rest in peace, used to make lovely apple and blackberry pies, she did. I'll tell you something else boy. There's no mention of technology in the Bible. When God told Moses to come up the mountain He gave him the ten commandments on real tablets of stone, He did. Not plastic tablets. They were well carved by a top class sculptor, I shouldn't wonder. God would have used the best of craftsmen to make His commandments; so they would last for ever. Mind you ... that careless Moses broke the first set didn't he, the clumsy oaf! But God had another set as a spare copy ..."

"Made on a photocopier, no doubt!"

"Don't be insulting, boy. Which reminds me ... that stupid microphone oven you got your mom in the kitchen. It's trash. It does not work. I put a few slices of bread the other day to make toast and they went round and round and were all soggy. Not toasty at all; like in the toaster."

"You did what? It's not meant to make toast. Why did you not use the toaster?"

"It was broke as well. The bread got stuck and I tried to get it out with a fork and got an electric shock! When we were young we used to make toast by holding the bread in front of the open fire."

"Are you against all form of modern technology dad? Shall I take away the washing machine too?"

"You might as well ... for all the good it's done. The other day I put my red shirt amongst the washing your mom put in and everything turned pink. She was furious you know. She blamed me instead of the machine, and withdrew her favors for at least a week ..."

"Poor dad ..."

"Don't mock me, boy. I know you're not listening and I might as well be talking to myself. I'll just go and watch the football on TV."

Monday 14 September 2015

Dreaming ...

Once upon a time there was a man who always slept lying on his back and, whenever possible, wearing his spectacles on.

He wore his spectacles, or sometimes he kept his contact lenses on, because he claimed that by doing so he could see his dreams nice and clearly. Without his glasses the dreams were rather fuzy and out of focus.

He always tried to lay sleeping on his back and not move at all. Because if he turned to his side, left or right, his dreams would fall out of his ears and leave altogether.

He'd be sleeping on his back dreaming that he was on the beach with a beautiful lady wearing the smallest of bikinis and just as he smiled and lay down beside her comfortably on his side she would escape from his ear and he would lose the whole dream.

He tried a few times putting pieces of cotton wool in his ears to stop the dreams escaping. But this did not work, because now his dreams were totally silent. People in his dreams would move their lips but he could not hear what they were saying. It was very annoying especially when the lady in a bikini spoke alluringly to him and he could not make out what she was saying.

OK ... now that I got your attention, and you are possibly sitting there day-dreaming yourself, with or without your glasses on, let's get to the point ...

We often go through life with pre-conceived ideas and notions in our heads based on no fact or evidence whatsoever. We may have views about ourselves, the way we look, our background, our education, status in life or whatever. And this vision of us blurs the whole of our lives.

We feel we are not attractive enough. We are getting a little old perhaps and certain parts of our bodies are moving South where we'd rather they were not. We don't like the way we talk, our accent perhaps, our standard of education or the job we are doing.

Whatever our pre-conceived notion may be, often without reality, turns into a nightmare which blights our lives.

Let us now focus for a moment or two on this scenario I have painted, all too prevalent in many lives.

What do you imagine God thinks about us when we waste valuable time focussing on our imagined imperfections rather than delight in how wonderful we are?

Sunday 13 September 2015

Calling all readers !!! Calling all readers !!!

Something really strange happened to me the other day as I came back home from the shops. I parked my car in front of our house as usual and noticed that sitting there on an easy chair in my front garden was a man eating doughnuts.

I'm not sure what you would do in this situation, dear readers. Would you ignore him and get in the house? Would you ask him to leave? Reason with him perhaps; or ask him what's going on. He is after all tresspassing on your property. Would you call the police perhaps?

I approached him calmly and asked: "Why are you eating doughnuts in my front garden?"

He replied: "Because the shop ran out of cookies. I would have preferred cookies really. Do you have any?"

Of course I did not have any cookies, and neither would I have offered him any if I had them. I did not reply and entered the house to cool off and think about what to do next. I shut the door behind me and soon realised that the house was empty. Everyone had gone out. A quick check all round comfirmed that no one had entered the house, and there had been no break-in. It was just a man sitting on a chair in my front garden eating doughnuts.

I looked surreptitiously through the curtains and I saw the man get up from his folding chair; pick it up, go out from my front gate and leave down the street towards the left.

I don't know why, habit I suppose, or human nature, but I quickly got out of the house. Looked at the spot where he was sitting to make sure he was not there; and then went to the gate and looked down the street to make sure he was walking away with his chair in his hand.

I got back in the house and for the next half hour or so I kept checking through the curtains to see if he was back. I have not seen him since.

Which is why I am now asking you for some advice.

This Blog has been going on since 2009; and for the last six years or so I have included posts about various Christian issues, short stories about Father Ignatius, a character from my first book "VISIONS", (sorry couldn't resist the temptation to advertise - you can read more about my books on the right-hand column of this post and in the tabs at the top).

As I was saying ... this Blog has featured various Christian posts and Father Ignatius stories as well as humourous articles every  now and then to entertain you and keep you returning here. For which I am very grateful, by the way. Without you, I'd be writing to myself wouldn't I?

So I now need your advice please.

What would you like to see and read on this Blog? More Christian posts debating various issues? More Father Ignatius or humourous stories? Guest spots perhaps where I invite someone or other to write here. Famous people like ... oh ... I don't know!

Would you like more book promotions and give-aways?

How about videos? More generic You Tube videos with meaningful songs, or do you prefer videos made by myself like the ones in the tab above? Or none at all perhaps?

Would you be interested in deep philosophical or theological debates like "Why did God who created the whole universe and all that's in it needed a spare rib from Adam to create Eve?" "How did Noah manage to get two of each species in a boat without them fighting each other? How did he manage to clean all the deposits left by the animals after such a long period afloat? And why did he bother to save the wasps, and other annoying insects like mosquitoes?"

These and many other deep questions can be discussed here if you wish. Like, "Why is it that Donald Duck is always seen wearing just a jacket; yet when he comes out of the bath or shower he has a towel wrapped round his lower regions?"

Perhaps there are new features you'd like to see in this Blog? Or something old you'd like to see brought back - like my History series or my Art critiques? If so, tell me about it.

I look forward to your suggestions so that together we can make this Blog really worth reading.

Thank you and God bless.

Friday 4 September 2015

As I Quote Myself

AS I QUOTE MYSELF is not a biography of a famous celebrity, or other well known personality telling you how they made it good from extreme poverty to being as successful as they are today. Instead, these are the memoirs of someone you’ve probably never heard of, (unless you’re related to him), but yet with a story to tell.

Follow his misadventures and mishaps as he stumbles through life from one crazy story to another.

Imagine him sitting on a rocking chair, a mug of hot chocolate in one hand and a biscuit in the other, relating what he can still remember in a haphazard and non-chronological order. Just like any other conversation really. One thought triggers another and each competing for a modicum of veracity and a pinch of authenticity. A series of calamities and misfortunes with humourous outcomes which are sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. At least that’s what he hopes!

AS I QUOTE MYSELF are the memoirs of no one in particular except the one from whose memories they originate.


Not suitable for reading in the dark or in the rain.

Flammable - Made of paper. Keep away from naked flame. Both you and the book.

Not water-proof. Can be read in the bath or shower with Care. As long as Care doesn't mind being with you. 

Not edible.

May contain nuts if read whilst eating a peanut butter sandwich or similar nut products.

This book is for people with a sense of humour who love to laugh!

Modestly priced to spread the smiles further and encourage you to buy.


This is what other readers have said about this book:

"It's a great book you should read" - Vic's family.

Yes ... that's him all right!" - Vic's neighbour.

"I recognise him from what he says in this book" - Vic's cat and dog.

"Just bought the book. Excellent value. Just the right size to put under a wobbly table's leg" - A local carpenter.

"The right size book for swatting flies." - A local pest control firm.

"No comment." - The fish in Vic's pond.

"From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx speaking about another book.

****** *** **** ****** ****  ***** *** ****  *******
****** *** **** ****** ****  ***** *** ****  *******

At least one signed copy of this book will be given as a prize.

All you have to do is leave a comment below. And also encourage someone else to leave a comment here below and say that you sent them. For each comment made, your name and the name of that person, will be put in a hat to draw the winner. So the more people you tell to visit here, the more times your name is in the hat.

Just imagine. You tell your Blog readers to leave a comment here. If 10 do so and say you sent them, their names will go in the hat, and yours will go 10 times. Giving you more chances to win a signed copy of the book.

I've really enjoyed writing this book. If you enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed writing it; then I will have enjoyed it twice as much as you.

Competition open for 10 days. 


Thursday 3 September 2015


It is said that Moses took 40 years to travel from Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land. Considering the distance involved this must have been incompetence to the highest degree … perhaps he was going round in circles.

I reckon that unbeknown to him, Mrs Moses was asking for directions secretly and, when appropriate, she pointed him in the right way to go.

Being a woman, she allowed him to take all the credit for getting there at last.

Moral of the story:

Never rely on what you think you know. Always consider the possibility that you may be wrong. (Especially if your wife tells you so).

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Modern Samaritan

Once upon a time an elderly man was making his way home through the park after a long day at work. Some youths set upon him. They were carrying knives. They mugged him, injured him badly and left him lying in a pool of blood.

A while later a city gent happened to pass by. He looked at the bleeding man on the ground and thought: This may be a trap. If I stop to help him someone might come out from the bushes and attack me. I'd better hurry home.

And so he did.

A while more later another man happened to come along. He saw the elderly man on the ground and thought: I'd better pretend not to have seen him. If I stop and call the police and ambulance they will ask me a lot of questions. They will want a lot of information. I'll be a witness and I'll probably have to go to Court eventually to say what I saw. I really can't be bothered with all this. I'd better rush home.

And so he did.

A few minutes later a learned man came by. He had studied sociology, philosophy, and many other important subjects and he was now a famous professor at the local University whose opinion and views were often sought on matters of importance. He looked at the injured man on the ground and thought: Whoever did this needs help. They must be from an under-priviledged background and up-bringing. Poor souls!

And he hurried home thinking about modern society and decided to write a paper on crime and poverty.

Two thousand years after Jesus told a similar story, (Luke 10:25), life hasn’t changed so much in this world.