Thursday, 29 December 2016

Grand Theft Harmonica

Och aye ... it's yon time again, ye ken, my friends. Cheerio the noo!

I have to report a very sad event in our town, or in the hood, as they say in some quarters.

We have the one and only factory in the world which makes one of the best harmonicas ever. They are all made by hand and their output is about one harmonica every two to three weeks. The harmonicas sell, mostly locally, for a fortune, or a pint of the best drink Scotland produces.

Unfortunately, a few days ago there was a break-in at the local factory and all harmonicas produced there were stolen. A whole year's production, at least.

This is very unfortunate for the Harmonica Philarmonic Orchestra, a local orchestra consisting of 100 musicians playing no other instruments than harmonicas.

It was planned that the Harmonica Philarmonic Orchestra would see the New Year in this year by playing Auld Lang Syne on the harmonica, instead of the traditional bagpipes. With this theft, there seems to be no prospect of this event happening.

There is a suspicion that the theft was carried out by another group of musicians consisting of bagpipes and drums who wanted to see the New Year in with traditional musical instruments.

The Harmonica Philarmonica Orchestra have practiced instead with the comb and paper; but to be honest it does not sound the same.

Fortunately, I have at home the one and only harmonica produced by this factory last year. So, I have been asked, and I am very proud, to step in and do what the Harmonica Philarmonic Orchestra cannot do.

Happy New Year to one and all.
GOD BLESS YOU 

Friday, 16 December 2016

A Christmas Tale


It was a very cold week in early December. Some parishioners asked Father Ignatius if it was all right to build a Christmas crib in the car park as well as the one usually set up in church by the Altar.

The intention was to build a small wooden hut made of old wood they could pick up cheaply from the local saw mill; and then decorate it, and use the Nativity scene statues which they discovered in the store room deep in the basement under the church whilst they were cleaning it in summer.

Father Ignatius agreed, “as long as you don’t ask me to lift those heavy statues from the basement … they’re quite heavy you know. So be careful!” he said.

A few youngsters helped by the leaders of the Youth Club got together and built the wooden hut. At first it looked quite bare and unwelcoming, a little like the original manger in Bethlehem I suppose. But eventually, with loving tender care, mostly by the women involved whilst the men gave instructions or went to the pub for a drink, it looked really magnificent.

The statues were then brought up, with great difficulty, from the basement and placed in position. A local electrician volunteered his services and placed hidden lights at strategic places to make the crib glow warmly at night.

As it snowed and got bitterly cold, even for Northern England, the little wooden hut glowing in the church’s car park made a beautiful heart-warming sight for all passers-by and gave them a little hope for the New Year ahead.

Just beside St Vincent church, by the car park gate, there’s a little narrow lane leading deep into fields at the back of the church. From the street you cannot see the fields. There’s the church’s car park entrance, then the narrow lane entrance, then the entrance to the Convent nearby.

This long lane leads to a small field used by a local farmer to store his farm machinery. He leaves his tractors there, as well as several harvesting equipment and ploughs in a large shed. The field is well enclosed by a high fence and, for extra security; the farmer keeps a dog loose in the field with a small opening in the shed for it to shelter in his doghouse when it is cold and raining.

The dog is not always there; only on rare occasions when the farmer needs additional security on the site.

One morning, a few days before Christmas, the farmer called on Father Ignatius.

“You haven’t seen my dog by any chance Father?” he asked, “it’s a large shepherd dog. I keep him in the yard behind you every now and then, in his dog house in the shed.

“The area is well fenced-off so he shouldn’t have got away. But maybe he found a hole in the fence somewhere and ran off!”

The priest hadn’t seen the dog, but it could be possible that he found a way through the fence and got into the church’s gardens and car park. So he put on his coat and went out with the farmer to search the church’s back gardens first.

It had snowed all night and the snow was very thick and even everywhere since no one had been out to walk on it.

“I hope he’s OK …” said the farmer despondently, “it was very cold last night … well below zero Father. He should have stayed in his dog-house for any chance of warmth. I keep an electric fire on the wall nearby to heat the place … he would have been as warm as toast in the shed. It’s like a sauna in there even in winter!”

“Well … he’s not in the back gardens,” said the priest, “we’d better look in the church car park. Although if he went there he would have escaped in the street by now …”

The two men searched the car park and, eventually, there in the crib, sleeping in the manger just beside the statue of baby Jesus was the large shepherd dog.

As soon as he heard the men approaching he jumped in delight welcoming his master.

“At least he had the sense to find some warmth in the lap of Jesus,” said Father Ignatius, “pity some people do not have as much sense!”

OTHER FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A Guinea Christmas

A couple of days ago I was invited at my boss's house out in the country for "a little bite to eat and a festive drink", as he called it.

He lives in one of those big mansions that posh people have, you know, just like the one where Theodore Luxton-Joyce lives.

He had invited a number of people from work as well as a few of his friends and golf-playing pals and a number of people from his gentleman's club. It was mainly a stand-up affair where everyone stands in this large room mingling and talking whilst a multitude of waitresses come round offering you hors d'oeuvres, canapes and small little bites you would not give your dog; and a number of waiters offer you various drinks, mainly alcoholic rather than a good pint of lemonade, or a cup of tea.

Anyway, I had been invited and it was not the kind of invitation you would turn down. More a three-line whip as they say in political circles. 

As it happens, just before I set off from my office I got a phone call: "Could you pick up Bertie the guinea pig from the vet please? ... Please ... Pretty please ... We'll be ever so grateful for the rest of the year ... All twenty or so days that are left ... Please!!!"

Why can't they pick up their own stupid pets? Anyway, at the vets the nurse said that Bertie was still a little sleepy from the anaesthetic and will be so for the rest of the day. Have I got his little carrying cage?

Have I heck? I said yes and took the little creature and put him in my brief case to keep him warm.

At the party, whilst everyone was mingling and being ever so polite and upper-class, don't you know, what? Jolly good old chap. And all that. Someone noticed my sleeping Bertie walk along the wall. He must have woken up and got out of my case when I went to fetch the Marketing Report for my boss and forgot to close the case again. 

Now normally, any sane person would have said there's a guinea pig about.

Just point at the creature and say: "By Jove, there's a most magnificent specimen of the guinea pig variety, don't you know ... what?" Now isn't that something you have often said at parties?

But NOOOO. On this occasion some idiot from the golf club said: "There's a rat here, a damn big rat!"

"A rat?"

"Yes ... a rat!"

"Where?"

"Over there!"

"Where over there?"

"It was there. He's now gone over there I think ..."

"A big fat ugly rat ..."

"It's now ran over there ... look out ... he might bite!"

"Rats carry the platonic plague, you know ..."

"Yes, it's in their teeth. One bite and you're a gonna!"

"I don't want it to tear my 15 Denier nylon stockings ..."

"Don't be silly, man. Why are you wearing nylon stockings anyway?"

"Because I couldn't buy nylon tights to fit me!"

"Over there ... I've seen the rat over there ... it's big and furry ..."

Pretty soon there was pandemonium in that room. My boss's wife was mortified as well as mummified at the thought of having rodents in her house. 

"We don't have rats in this house, have we Luis?" she asked her husband.

"No ... there's quite a few at work though ..." he replied referring to his employees.

Everyone was running here there and everywhere in no particular direction trying to avoid and escape a non-existent rat who happened to be my sleeping Bertie taking a walk. 

Women, including the waitresses in their mini skirts, suddenly jumped on top of chairs, sofas, armchairs or whatever furniture of height, like the table at the end of the room, and held their skirts and dresses up high showing off their un-mentionables.

What is it with you ladies? What is the point of standing on a chair with your skirt held up high? Do you think the rat, or any other creature, would climb up your legs? The very sight of you screaming would most probably send him to apoplexy. 

I noticed there was even a wimp of a man standing on a chair and holding tight to a young waitress. On second thoughts, maybe he was taking advantage of the situation.

The butler came in with an assistant and tried to find the rat and kill it with a heavy shovel in his hand.

Luckily, I noticed Bertie cowering in the corner just by the grand-father clock. I quickly bent down, picked him up and put him in my trouser pocket. The stupid animal thanked me for saving him from certain death by biting my finger. He then proceeded to tumble and somersault in my pocket in a most embarrassing display which I wouldn't want you to imagine right now!!!

Luckily, no one saw him or his acrobatics in my trouser pocket. And the rat was not found or seen ever again.

The party continued in a most subdued manner, and I noticed no one was eating the hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Small Talk

You know what it's like. You get invited to a party, especially at this time of year with Christmas and the New Year celebrations, and you meet a lot of people, some you know already, and some you've never met before, and you wish you'd never met them anyway, and you all stand there with something to eat in your plate, and a glass of wine in the other hand, and you don't know whether to eat or drink because you do not have a third hand with which to do either, and you pretend to be interested in the other person as you make small talk with people who approach you and encroach your private space and ... I hate it.

I just do not like small talk. Whether it is to break the ice when I meet someone for the first time, or just to be pleasant and pretend to have something to say when in fact I have nothing to say at all, or when you approach me and what you have to say may be of interest to you but only succeeds in sending me to sleep which would be unfortunate since I am now holding a plate of food in one hand and a drink in the other which I would like to enjoy and if I fell asleep suddenly I would drop both to the floor and attract even more unwanted attention than the one I am having with you right now.

The other day at a party I was happily minding my own business and being totally unsociable as is my nature when I was approached by a man I had not met for some time and to be honest I could not remember his name, nor where I first met him, nor the circumstances through which we knew each other. Immediately my brain started working fast to remember his name or where I knew him from. Was he a business connection, I wonder? An old client perhaps? Or did I know him from church? Did I meet him at the golf club maybe, or does he work at the library perhaps? Where did I ever get to know him and what is his name?

He, however, seemed to know me well and started with "Hello ... long time no see ..."

"Lucky me!" I thought, "just go away!"

Fortunately, he could not hear my unwelcoming thoughts, so he went on: "How are you keeping these days?" he continued and then proceeded in discussing various members of my family, "how is ... these days? and is ... still at school? ... and how is your mom-in-law doing? ... and do you still work in London?"

"Who is this tediously boring man?" I thought, who seems to know so much about me, and I can't mention or remember anything about him or his family, if he has got one. Where have I ever had the misfortune of meeting him before?

Then came the small talk.

"Where do you work in London? Regent Park? ... oh yes ... I have a friend there called Marjorie Smith ... do you know her? Or is it Regent Street? Can't remember. Either of the two! She has three children; a boy and two girls. Although I'd imagine they're grown up now. She used to work near London Zoo. Do you know it? Of course you do ... everyone knows London Zoo. I went there last when they had the baby gorilla ... do you remember the baby gorilla?"

Now London happens to have more people living there than the whole of Scotland; and Smith happens to be one of the most common names in the UK; and Regent Street and Regent Park are two completely different places, how am I supposed to know this Marjorie Smith when I don't even know who you are? And I do wish I was in the company of a baby gorilla right now. He would certainly be more entertaining than you prattling on. And I can't be bothered listening to this man and his boring small-talk conversation any longer, and isn't life better when you are miserable and totally without prejudice since you dislike everyone equally?

At another party I was approached by a wonderfully beautiful woman I know well, wearing the most tight fitting dress a hundred sizes too small. The pretty black dress was as short as I can still remember, and it had a décolleté so low she might as well not have been wearing one!!! For some reason, she immediately caught my attention, and kept it caught for as long as she stood there beside me. She was the kind of woman whom every man would want to be talking to; and yet, there she was talking just to me.

She was holding a plate of chocolate cake which she teasingly played with with her fork and every so often she placed the tiniest morsel on her lips whilst making small-talk which certainly concentrated my attention at the time; although I can't now remember one word she said. My mind and eyes were elsewhere as I recall.

Anyway, as she was placing a piece of cake on her lips, she accidentally dropped a crumb on her breast and did not notice it. As she continued talking that tiny crumb seemed to come to life and slowly made its way one little step at a time down her breast.
 
Now what is the party etiquette in such circumstances of small-talk? Does one point at her breast and say there's a piece of cake there? Or does one pick it up with one's fingers? Or with a spoon perhaps, to avoid touching her? Or does one ignore it altogether and watch it make its way down and hide inside her dress?

I tried to make small talk and look her in the eye, but somehow this proved too difficult as my gaze kept going South. She eventually noticed my distraction and looking down her breast she picked up the tiny crumb before it disappeared out of sight. She laughed heartily and asked me what I would have done if it had gone down her dress. "I would have warmed the spoon first," was my quick reply.

So as you can gather, I hate small-talk and mingling at parties. I think when we meet someone we should go immediately to straight talking like "What do you think of this country's Gross Domestic Product compared to that of other European countries?" or "What would you do if reincarnation actually exists and you came back as yourself? Or a mosquito perhaps?" or "Do you ever re-cycle old jokes to entertain people or do you re-cycle yourself and send everyone to sleep?"

Those kind of straight questions, totally devoid of small-talk, would soon get any party going.

Personally, when I meet a woman at a party I often say, "That's a lovely pair of shoes you are wearing!" Especially if I am lying flat on the floor drunk at the time.

What sort of small talk do you use at parties?

Friday, 2 December 2016

More Reflections for the soul


MORE REFLECTIONS FOR THE SOUL
Victor S E Moubarak 
ISBN 978 1540 661630
Paperback and Kindle formats
A selection of readings to help you reflect and meditate when praying or when in need of inspiration.

This book asks pertinent questions such as:
What does God look like?
Why was Christ tempted in the desert?
What is the connection between Peter, Thomas and Paul?
Are you going to Heaven?
Why do Catholics pray for the dead?
Does God listen to such prayers anyway? 
Is your fate not sealed once you die?
Will God be influenced by pleas and Masses for the dead?

These and many other questions are explored and explained in easy to read short chapters. You can read the reflections in chronological order or just open the book at any page and read what is there. Hopefully, it will help you in your prayers.
AMAZON LINK HERE

The previous book in the series
REFLECTIONS FOR THE SOUL
Victor S E Moubarak 
ISBN-13: 978-1514851210
Paperback and Kindle formats
 
IS AVAILABLE HERE

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