Monday 24 October 2016

Visiting A Health Club


Years ago when I was a reporter for a radio station I was sent to a new Health Club which had just opened in an old country manor out in the countryside.

I took with me a young reporter trainee who had just started at the station.

We were met by the owner of the club who was most eager for the free publicity. After the obligatory talk about the importance of being healthy and eating well we were invited to participate in a session which had just started in the Grand Hall of this ancient and prestigious manor.

We left our tape recorders and other gear and entered the Hall to discover that I was the only male there. My trainee looked at me and the smirk on her face said it all.

We were asked to join the group of “Club Members” right at the back so as not to disturb the session. There were about 30 or so women standing on tiptoe with arms stretched above their heads and listening intently to their instructor up front.

My colleague and I stood at the back and copied the same position as best as I could. I was never good at standing on tiptoe because of my big feet. Whenever I stand on my toes my head hits the ceiling!

Our instructor then said “Relax … arms by your side for a minute or so … now assume the plough position!”

I was suddenly faced with a dozen female bottoms pointing upwards as everyone in front of me lay down on the floor lifting their legs forward and over their heads whilst arching their back as best they could.
This was more than a hot-blooded young male could handle! I was really uncomfortable; I tell you.

Why is it that women who go to these gym classes have to wear those skimpy leotards made of almost transparent material?

I tried unsuccessfully to copy the plough position much to the amusement of my colleague beside me. She bent forward and collapsed in a heap on the floor in a fit of stifled laughter.

The instructor then asked us all to sit on the ground cross-legged with our hands resting gently by our sides.

This is easy to do if you are slim and svelte like all the ladies in that room, including my colleague. But it is impossible in my case.

My legs just would not get crossed with each other or remain crossed. The more I tried the more I failed as I wobbled from side to side. My failed attempts were yet another source of hilarity to my colleague as I could see from her shaking breasts that she was stifling an uncontrollable fit of the giggles. The more she looked at me the more she shook like a jelly trying not to disrupt the class.

Our leader asked us to close our eyes and hum “Ommmmmm” continuously.

Apparently this helps you relax better, or in my case forget the pain in my abdomen as a result of sitting in this unnatural position. Why not let us hum whilst lying down on an easy chair?

As I hummed quietly I noticed an echo from somewhere. My stomach was gurgling in tune to my uncomfortableness. As I wobbled from left to right the echo from within accompanied my every movement which led to my friend giggling a little louder.

“That’s right …” said the instructor, hearing the noise from the back, “breathe in deeply as you hum!”

My friend giggled even more to the rhythmic rumblings of my insides. I have never been pregnant, my friends, but I assure you I could feel the movements of my little baby within as I wobbled to and fro.

Our next instruction, for reasons far beyond my understanding, was to lie flat facing downwards on the ground with our legs wide open – a sort of Y shape if you could imagine that.

As I lay facing down I could see from the corner of my eye that my friend’s giggles had turned into uncontrolled laughter.

“Stop it!” I whispered sideways.

“I can’t,” she said, “your nose pointing down looks like a woodpecker trying to drill a hole into the parquet floor!”

Now that’s not a nice thing to say is it? So personal too.

A few more exercises later and the ordeal was finally over. I can assure you I’ve never been to a Health Club since.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Angry Vengeful God

Imagine you've died and gone to Heaven.

Joy of joys !!! At last, you've made it. God has seen it fit for you to deserve Heaven. An eternity with Him. You are so glad, more than you've ever been your entire life.

You look around and meet old friends and relatives who have made it here too. You greet them with a tear in your eye - a tear of joy as well as a little sadness when you remember how you missed them and cried when they were gone!

You renew old acquaintances as well as make new ones as you meet the Saints you've read so much about but had never met.

Then you realise someone is missing. 

A relative, or friend, whom you'd expected to see here is missing. You ask St Peter and he confirms your suspicion. That person is not here.

Is he in transit? In the Purification Center we call Purgatory, perhaps?

No ... he is ... in the other place.

Your joy turns to sadness, confusion, despair even. How can it be? You so expected to be with that person in Heaven for eternity.

What do you do?

Seek an explanation from God? Perhaps there's been a mistake! Ask Him to re-consider. Plead with Him even? Beg that this person is brought up to Heaven?

Has that person's absence tarnished your joy of being in Heaven? Changed your view of God's justice and mercy?

How can you possibly be here in Heaven for ever, knowing full well that a dear loved one is in the other place and will never join you?
On the Cross Jesus forgave those who dared to inflict so much suffering and death to the Son of God. What more heinous sin could your relative or friend have committed to deserve an eternity in hell? If God forgave those who killed His Son; and they probably didn't ask for forgiveness, why can't He forgive your relative or friend missing right now?

Your human sense of justice; and your understanding and perspective of forgiveness and mercy would like things to be different and, no matter what that person has done in life, you wish him here with you in Heaven.

But God does not work like that. His perspective is not a human perspective. He decided otherwise.

In Luke 16:19-31 we read that the rich man in "the other place" pleaded that his brothers may not join him there. But his pleadings were met with the response that each person makes his or her own decisions in life, and by their actions they choose whether to go to Heaven or not.
No one goes to hell by mistake. We choose to go there. And many, by their actions, are sleep-walking their way to hell.

The time for action and prayers is now.

And yet ... what if we're one day in Heaven and our loved one is not there? What then?

Friday 21 October 2016

The Computer Manager - Answer

Thank you to all who commented and entered the competition about the Computer Manager. Let's remind ourselves of the problem we had to solve:

A Computer Manager is very security minded. Before going home each evening he locks all the doors in the Center and takes the keys home. Starting FROM his office, he passes through each door ONCE before locking it. He NEVER unlocks a door once he has locked it.
He does not climb in or out of any windows. He goes through doors only, which he locks after him. He then goes home.
Which room is his office?
(Can you trace his path as he moves from room to room?)
Remember - he starts FROM his office. Leaves the room and locks that door behind him. He goes through EVERY door which he locks behind him.   

This means the ONLY possible room to be his office is room B. He leaves room B to go to room A and locks that door behind him. Then ... well, you can follow his trail in the diagram below:

The computer manager's office is Room B.
There are, of course, other routes he could take; but he always has to START from his office which is Room B.

The names that went into the hat for the draw were: Linda, Manny, Uglemor, SpicingUpIdaho and Zach.


When the independent adjudicator put his big fat large enormous huge hand in the hat he inadvertently pulled out two names instead of one. Because of his big, fat etc ... mistake; this means that I have to declare two winners to this competition - each to receive one copy of one of my paperback books as shown below.








Monday 17 October 2016

The Computer Manager

A Computer Manager is very security minded. Before going home each evening he locks all the doors in the Center and takes the keys home. Starting FROM his office, he passes through each door ONCE before locking it. He NEVER unlocks a door once he has locked it.

He does not climb in or out of any windows. He goes through doors only, which he locks after him. He then goes home.

Which room is his office?
(Can you trace his path as he moves from room to room?)

Correct answers will be put in a hat and a draw made.

The winner gets a copy of any of my paperback books:

You can learn more about the books HERE

 Competition open for 7 days.

Friday 14 October 2016

I am not worthy

 Let us read bits from John Chapter 15, especially the bits I have marked in bold:

5   I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.

7   If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.

10   If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love.

16   You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in my name.

When I was young, many years ago, and lived in London, I made many acquaintances with well-to-do people. They were not friends as such, just acquaintances. People I knew and met with often. I wonder where they all are now !!!

One day, one such acquaintance said: "Let's go to my club."

"My club?" I thought, "I wonder what he means."

Moments later we arrived at this very classy building with a man at the door wearing a posh uniform. He saluted my friend by touching his cap, eyed me suspiciously, and opened the door to let us in.

It was a gentleman's club.

As we entered my feet sank into such luxurious carpets so thick that it was like walking through a cloud of feathers. Above me were chandeliers so big and so magnificent that they probably needed their own power stations to keep them lit. Around me on the walls hung the most beautiful oil paintings I'd ever seen, all originals, mostly portraits of old people in ancient type clothings. No doubt patrons of this place from years gone by. There were also a variety of full size marble statues; the kind you would find in a Roman or Greek temple or palace. I didn't know who they were, but they looked as if they belonged to these sumptuous surroundings.

We entered a very large room with similar thickness of carpets and wall-to-wall luxury. It was full of huge leather chairs placed in twos or threes around tables scattered here and there. There were already some men there, sitting quietly and reading their papers.

My friend and I sat at a table. He asked me if I wanted a drink. "No point in asking for a beer," I thought, "this place is far too posh to have something as common as beer. Or indeed, someone as common as me. I do not belong in this place!"

I asked my friend what he'd suggest and he rattled a list of wines all with fancy titles like "Chateaux Very Expensive" or "Chateaux Even More Extravagantly Expensive". He suggested that if I'd prefer a brandy they have a selection of Cognacs dating back several centuries and favourites of princes and emperors from years gone by.

I can't remember what I eventually had to drink; but I knew that I did not belong there. Had I turned up to this place on my own, no doubt the doorkeeper, or maître d’hôtel as my friend called him, would have stopped me getting in and threw me in front of a passing taxi or bus. The only reason I was there, and enjoying a luxurious drink at his expense, I might add, was because I was with him. He had the golden ticket to enter this oasis in a busy London, and he had the right to bring in whoever he wants, including riff-raff like me.

When I think about it; it's the same about Heaven I suppose. We don't have a right to be there. We're not really worthy. God has invited us all to His place if we come with Jesus. "No one goes to the Father, except by me." John 14:6

And as Jesus says in the quotations above, if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit. We will be one with Him, His followers, His friends, under His protection, and loved by Him.

And twice He promises that if we remain in/with Him, we can ask anything in His name and His Father will let us have it.

When we pray, "God, in the name of Jesus, I ask for ..." God will listen. He will respond. And in His own time, and in His own way, our prayers will be answered.

And if we stay side by side with Jesus, hand-in-hand throughout our life, no matter how difficult it is sometimes; then one day we too will be welcome in Paradise. Just because we are with Jesus.

Tuesday 11 October 2016


Allo mes amis,

Zis storee appened in ze late 19 century in Paris in la belle France. It was in Autumn as ze leaves leave ze trees and cover ze ground all around and you crunch zem wiz your feet as you walk on zem. Ze air is misty and grey and you can smell ze chestnuts on hot coal fires on ze little carts of ze chestnuts sellers at every corner of ze street. Zey are hot in your hand as zey warm you and you enjoy eating zem.

Walking by the river side was a short man called Too Lose Le Trick eating ze chestnuts in his hands. Suddenly a man runs towards him and jumps in ze river. He was in Seine, obviouslee.

Anyway ... let me tell you about Too Lose Le Trick. E was a very short man. E was a painter by profession. Not a painter of houses, or furniture or such things. Oh no ... To Lose Le Trick was a painter of pictures you hung on your wall and admire lovinglee. Zat iz if you could afford to buy zem! Zey cost at least one dozen francs each.

E, To Lose Le Trick, e waz known as a post impressionist painter. Zat iz e stopped doing impressions of ozer people, like hiz friends Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin. 

Az I waz zaying ... To Lose waz very short. So short in fact zat e could only paint portraits of ze peoples' knees, becauze zis was as far as e could see. E could not see much higher zan people's knees becoze eet gave him a stiff neck to lok up, and also eet waz veree rude. So e settled to become a veree famous painter of ze knees. Ere is a famous painting of his.
Ze model e used for zis knee portrait was too embarrassed to show er knees totally. She was a demure English woman called Enid Brown. Zis painting gave rise to ze English song "Knees up mother Brown" which you may ave heard singing sometime in ze pub.

Too Lose Le Trick e had a small dog with a detachable tail. Ze dog, when a young pupee, e run round and round chasing iz tail and zen e caught it and bit it off. So Too Lose Le Trick, being a resourceful and inventive man, e made a new tail which e clipped on ze dog. Ze tail would wag back and forth with ze power of electrique batteries. For exercise, Too Lose would take off ze tail, throw it far away, and ze dog would run and fetch it back.

Anyway, back to ze storee ... To Lose was walking by ze river Seine and e went to see an old friend of hiz which used to model for him. Her name was Madame Leggert. Her leg did hurt because of her standing still all ze time while e painted her knees. So for compensation for hurting her, Too Lose agreed to do a painting of her which she could sell and make ze monee. E was too short to see above ze knees so she laid down on ze canape instead. Zis is ze painting of Madame Leggert by Too Lose Le Trick.
To Lose Le Trick also liked to visit Ze Moulin Rouge and see ze Can Can dancers so e could paint zeir knees. Ere iz a painting of hiz Can Can dancers.
I ave also a veree old video of To Lose Le Trick visiting ze Moulin Rouge and seeing ze Can Can dancers doing ze Can Can. It is not suitable for ze people wiz a nervous dispositions. Ere it iz:

Monday 10 October 2016

On Reflection - I confess

Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

It's been quite a while since my last confession ... I don't know how long ... I don't keep a diary of my Confessions. Let's say it was about six months or so since I confessed last.

Father ... is forgetting a sin? You know ... I half forgot deliberately. Partly I forgot but I was glad I forgot.

Let me explain. My mother-in-law phoned the other day and invited us to a concert at the old peoples' home where she was going to sing. And I almost deliberately forgot to tell my wife. Yes OK ... it was deliberate.

The thing is Father, I am sure you never heard my mother-in-law sing. She sounds like a constipated coyote. When she howls all of nature takes fright and cowers into submission.

I am not being un-charitable Father. In fact I was being charitable to my ear-drums.

Well ... yes of course my wife was very upset at my deliberate forgotteness. But as it happens there was another concert the day after and we had to go.

I put some cotton wool in my ears whilst mom-in-law sang ... I hope this is not also a sin? She then played the violin ... very badly I might add. It sounded as if that coyote was really in agony. She played the violin whilst walking up and down the stage. She said later that the piece of music she played was written for the bagpipes.

I also want to confess another sin, Father. Whilst the football game was on TV I took the batteries off the remote control so no one could change the channel to Downton Abbey. I told them the remote was broken.

Well, it was not such a selfish thing to do, Father because I was sparing them the agony of a whole hour of Downton Abbey. I mean ... have you seen that program? You have? And you like it? Oh boy ... I hope this will not affect my penance Father?

Yes ... I have one more sin to confess. It's the sin of vanity. No not me ... my neighbour. He is so vain and proud of his fish in his pond in his front garden. That's two sins Father, vanity and pride.

Yes I know I should be confessing my sins, not that of others. Well, to play a trick on my neighbour I kept buying other similar fishes from the pet shop and at night I put them in his pond. He got totally confused that his fishes were breeding so fast. I told him maybe they are Catholic. He was not amused, him being Church of England.

I know it's not funny Father ... well, it was at the time. No ... I have nothing more I can remember to confess. No ... I am not deliberately forgetting other sins ...

My penance ... what? A whole Rosary? That's too much Father. Can I share it with other people since it is they who led me to sin? I can't? Oh Father !!!

OK ... OK ... I'm going ... you don't need to add another penance for arguing with you.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

On Reflection - Getting It Wrong.

I don't know about you; in fact, how could I know about you; I hardly know you and I've never met you. So let's start again.

I'll tell you about me; and then perhaps you'll tell me about you. That seems fair, isn't it?

I find that often in life I seem to get it wrong. I have a decision to make; do this or do that, go this way or that way, say something or keep quiet, and more often than not I seem to get it wrong. Perhaps this isn't the case with you. Maybe you get it right the first time. But I don't.

Let me give you an example where I got it totally wrong. And oh boy; did I get it wrong. Big time wrong.

And that's the day I said : "I Do."

Two simple words, meant in total honesty, and yet they led to an eternity of un-happiness and regrets.

She asked me: "Do you think this dress makes my backside look big?"
I replied: "I Do."

I mean ... what is it with you ladies? Why do you ask such difficult questions? And do you want an honest answer or just a pack of lies?

What was I meant to say? "No darling ... you look fine." Knowing very well it is a lie which no doubt I'll have to confess later to the priest. What do I tell him in the Confessional? "My wife's backside is huge?" What imagery will that convey to his subconscious? And will I lead him to sin next time he sees her and checks the size of her rear?

Another occasion where I got it wrong is when I was travelling on business and I used to stay in hotels. One evening it took me ages trying to get out of my hotel room because I had mistakenly put the "DO NOT DISTURB" notice on the wrong side of the door. I kept seeing the notice and was not able to get out. Eventually the maid opened the door to clean the room and she let me out.
On another occasion I was driving to a far off place and listening to the lady on the Satellite Navigation System giving me instructions. She told me to turn left at the next junction. The lady sitting next to me in the car, however, looking at the map, told me to turn right.
What was I to do? Obey the Satellite lady and risk yet another eternity of silent treatment from the real lady sitting next to me?

Needless to say ... I got it wrong again!

And then there was the day it was my Birthday. As a present my wife got me two silk ties.
A green one ...

... and a yellow one.

As we were going out to celebrate I decided to wear one of the ties she bought me to show my appreciations. As soon as she saw me she said: "What's wrong with the other tie?"

So I got it wrong ... again!

Last month, to celebrate our wedding anniversary she suggested we go out somewhere expensive. "Don't worry about the cost," she said, "let's go somewhere really expensive for a change!"

So I took her out to the gas filling station to fill up the car with petrol.
And there's more, as they say. I remember the day when we had the mother-in-law visiting. Her middle name is Lucifer!

Anyway ... for dessert we had a choice between apple pie and chocolate gateau. I did not want to seem greedy and have both. I love chocolate gateau but I thought let's pretend to be health conscious and have the apple pie instead. After all, apple is a fruit; and it's healthy.

Little did I know that the mother-in-law had made the apple pie, and my wife made the gateau. I made the wrong choice again, and the silent treatment followed.

You know ... I think men were put on this earth to get all the decisions wrong. And women are here to correct them and show them the way.

It is said that Moses took 40 years to travel from Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land. Considering the short distance involved this must have been incompetence to the highest degree … but then, he did not have a Satellite Navigation System.

I reckon that unbeknown to him, Mrs Moses was asking for directions secretly and, when appropriate, she pointed him in the right direction at night when they were in bed.

Being a woman, she allowed him to take all the credit for getting there at last.
So there you have it ... in every successful marriage I don't think it is a question of compatibility. It is more a matter that one partner in the marriage should be slightly deaf ... preferably the husband.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

On Reflection ... What's The Point?

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

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

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

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

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

What's the point of doing something over and again. Like painting the house. Mowing the lawn. Vacuum cleaning. Dusting. Washing plates and cups and cutlery. Washing clothes. It's all repetitive and leads to nowhere.

Come to think of it. What's the point of wearing clothes anyway? Some people I know have to buy clothes several times a year to keep in with changing fashions. Spring collection. Summer Collection. Autumn and Winter too. And on and on the fashion industry gets us to buy too many clothes we don't need.

What a different world it would be if we wore no clothes at all? Angels are often depicted with no clothes on. They don't seem to mind.
Do you realise how less pompous people would be if they all wore no clothes? These days people use their clothes to influence one another. Power dressing, that's what it is. A man would have the latest fashionable suit on; a woman would have padded shoulders to make her look bigger and more impressive; or the latest shoes or jewellery or fancy hat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 3 October 2016

Love ... Love?

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

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

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

Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this. Better go to the expert, I always say.

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


Love my neighbour? Even though he continuously parks his car opposite my drive and blocks me going in and out?

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

Love that obnoxious pompous boss at work who seems to delight in making everyone suffer?

Is this what Jesus says? And He goes on:

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

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

Baptism? Done that. Tick.

Go to church on Sundays? Done that. Tick.

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

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

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

In other words – There are no parrots in Heaven.