Tuesday 30 January 2018


Non, rien de rien. Non. Je ne regrette rien.

Do you remember this famous song by the French singer Edith Piaf? Or the more familiar lyrics of Frank Sinatra singing:

Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

To have no regrets could be a sign of arrogance. We all have some regrets of things we have done, or not done. The wise thing to do is to learn from one’s regrets.

The one thing I regret in life is kissing a hedgehog. It happened a long time ago when I was in Scotland. I was waiting in the countryside for some friends we planned to go camping together when out of the bushes came this little hedgehog. He was small and tiny and cute and a baby hedgehog. I remembered the story that if you kiss a hedgehog it would turn into a prince, or in this case, hopefully a princess. So I picked him up and as I was about to kiss him/her he/she curled into a ball and one of its needles broke and cut my lip.

I quickly ran to the nearest vet and he gave me various injections in case the cut got infected. He then put a cone-shaped collar round my neck to stop me scratching the cut.

I deeply regret that episode in my life.

I learnt later that it is a frog you are supposed to kiss to turn it into a prince or princess; and not a hedgehog. So I regretted that incident even more.

What do you regret in your life?

Monday 29 January 2018

The Universe and all that

This article may well make you want to scratch your mind, but please stick with it, be patient and read on. You may well wonder, just like me, and ask yourself the same questions I am asking.

Also I would appreciate your contribution to this article, as I'll explain later.

There I was the other day nursing a pint of Guinness when I started thinking about the universe. The universe is a word used to describe the whole of space which includes all of the planets, moons, stars, galaxies and the whole of everything that exists everywhere - including the dust behind the cupboard which you have not vacuum cleaned for a while; that is in the universe too!

So basically, the universe includes everything. Its size is still unknown because scientists do not have a measuring tape long enough to measure the size of the whole universe. But they do tell us that the universe is still expanding. In fact some theorists say that it is expanding at the speed of light.

Now then, we do know that light travels very fast. Certainly faster than any athlete at the Olympics and if it took part at the Games it would win all the gold medals. So the universe is expanding faster than an athlete could run as we speak right now.

What I don't understand is: Where is it expanding to? (Or into).

If the universe is everything, all the planets and so on, how is everything expanding into a bigger everything?

Let's imagine the universe is a big square box with six sides, like a dice, (what is the singular of dice?)

Anyway, if the universe is a square box getting ever bigger, where is this box in the first place? Is it hanging into space? If so, why is this space not itself in the universe if we have agreed that the universe is everything?

And does this box or universe contain the sun? Of course it does.

Now we know that the sun is an ever burning ball of fire that burns 24/7 for years and years ever since it was first lit by a discarded cigarette thrown by a careless smoker.

We also know that to have a fire we need oxygen and something to burn - wood, paper, fuel etc ...

We also know that out there, far away in outer space, there is no oxygen. That is why spacemen use space suits, and get really sick when they break wind therein. But that's another story.

So if there is no oxygen, how is the sun actually burning? And what is it actually burning? Where is it getting its constant supply of fuel?

Are you confused by all this? You should be. And I haven't even mentioned black holes, gravitational pull, and all the other mind-boggling things included in the universe.

And this is where your contribution comes in. I hope you will indulge me and take part in this important scientific experiment.

I am asking you please to direct your friends to this Blog so they can be confused too. Why should I be the only one wondering about these universal matters?

Write about it on your Blogs. Link to my Blog. And let us all get confused together.

Because this Blog is the only one in the universe, and we know how big that is, which confuses what should be as clear as anything.

You don't expect to go to a railway station, and ask the man in the ticket office what time a certain train is leaving for somewhere, only to be given the recipe for rice pudding? Would you?

The chances are that the man will tell you the departure time, even though the train may not leave on time.

But here on this Blog we are different. We guarantee that whatever you ask we will attempt to confuse you and give you the wrong information. Just try it. Ask any question and see.

No other Blog does that. Leave a comment below asking anything that's been on your mind all your life but were too embarrassed to ask.

And don't forget to tell all your friends throughout the universe to visit here and ask their questions too.

Now let me get back to my pint of Guinness. Who has drank it all whilst I was typing this? Has anyone seen my Guinness?

Saturday 27 January 2018

Stars and Celery

It was a beautiful warm summer evening. The youngsters from the Youth Club had gathered in the gardens behind St Vincent Church and enjoyed a lovely prayer service led by Father Ignatius and Father Donald, followed by a barbecue and singing by the fire.

As night drew in they had left one by one as their parents came to collect them and take them home. Even the Youth Club Leaders had gone. Only the two priests and Mrs Davenport, their housekeeper, remained in the gardens. She got up from her chair and started collecting the plates and cutlery to take them in the house.

“Oh … do sit down Theresa …” said Father Ignatius, “you’ve been working all evening. Just sit down and relax.”

“But there’s all this washing up to do Father …” she replied, “it won’t get done by itself …”

“Don’t worry about the washing up …” said Father Donald picking up his guitar and playing a tune, “Ignatius and I will do all the washing up later … I promise. Now sit down and let’s enjoy a few moments by the fire as it dies down …”

After a few moments of silence, listening to Father Donald playing his guitar, she could keep quiet no longer.

“What are you looking at up in the sky?” she asked Father Ignatius.

“All those stars … shining brightly in a clear dark sky. There must be hundreds and thousands of them. And they’re so far away …” said Father Ignatius pensively.

She looked up and said nothing for a moment or two.

“How are they held up there in the sky?” she asked.

Father Donald stopped playing the guitar.

“They are not held … they are just there …” he mumbled in his broad Glaswegian accent.

“But why don’t they fall?” she continued, “something must be holding them in the sky …”

“There’s no thing as a sky as such …” Father Donald began to explain, “there are stars, and planets and solar systems which make up the universe and …”

“Of course there’s a sky,” she interrupted, “it’s up there and I can see it. It is black at night and it changes color in the morning to blue and sometimes it is red in the evenings …”

“Dear Lord …” mumbled the priest as he picked up his guitar once again.

“What do you think Father Ignatius?” she asked, “isn’t God wonderful to have made all these stars … and in seven days too! He must have been working real fast.”

“I suppose so …” replied Father Ignatius gently.

“And then He made us humans and He put us on this earth …” she interrupted yet again.

“That’s right … He created the universe and all that is in it … including us,” continued Father Ignatius.

She gazed at the stars silently for a few moments. You could almost see the cogs turning in her head as she thought her next question.

“Do you think He created other living beings on those stars Father?” she asked.

Father Donald stopped playing the guitar and waited in anticipation for his fellow priest to reply.

“That’s a difficult question to answer …” said Father Ignatius eventually.

“Why should we be His only creations?” she enquired again.

“We really don’t know if this is the case,” said Father Donald, “there’s nothing in Scripture to suggest that God created other beings apart from us …”

“What do they look like? I wonder …” she interrupted again, “do they look like us? Or are they green with antennas on their heads like you see in the films …

“It says in the Bible that God made us in His image … so He must look human. Or does He look green with antennas so the people up there can recognize Him?

“And did He send them Jesus like He did to us … only He looked green too?”

“I think you’re running ahead of yourself Theresa …” said Father Ignatius gently, “we really have no way of knowing whether God created other living beings on other planets or other solar systems. Nor indeed what they look like.

“But in reality … that is not important.

“What is important is to focus on Him here and now. To accept Him as our God and Creator; and to love Him just as He loves us.

“There are enough mysteries in our Faith which we are asked to believe without us inventing new ones such as green creatures living in outer space …”

“One day as I was in the kitchen,” she said, “Father Donald waved a few sticks of celery through the open window and shouted the ‘Triffids have landed … the Triffids have landed …’ he has a wicked sense of humor, Father, don’t you think?”

“Sometimes humor helps to lighten the mood …” replied Father Ignatius defending his fellow priest.

“He also told me that there are no animals or pets in Heaven … what do you think Father Ignatius? Are there animals in Heaven?”

“I hope not …” replied Father Ignatius, “I would hate to come face to face with the Sunday roast reprimanding me for what I had done to it!”

“Aye indeed …” said Father Donald, “humor does help to lighten the mood … I hope it helps lighten the washing up which we’ve promised to do. Let’s get started!”


Friday 26 January 2018

Allo ... c'est moi, ici.

Have you ever wished you could take a holiday from being yourself? You know, being someone else but not you. Act totally differently from the same old same old you? Perhaps take a day off work and go to a town or city where no one knows you and pretend to be someone else. Perhaps speak in a different accent. Or dress as a down-and-out and mix for a while with the homeless to get to experience better how they feel. Or maybe be an angel and buy them food and coffee. Have you really never wished you were someone else for the day; anyone but you?

I like the French; and one day I decided to be French from there on. I got up in the morning, and after having a croissant for breakfast, (which I had deliberately purchased the day before), drank a black café and nearly choked myself on a Gitanes cigarette, I went out to the newsagent for my morning papers.

"Allo ..." I said to the newsagent, "Bonjour monsieur. Do you 'ave Le Monde and Paris Match pleeze?"

"Are you alright mate?" asked the newsagent having recognised me despite my beret and striped T shirt.

"Comment?" I continued in my best French accent, " 'ave you not zese publications?"

"What's the matter with you this morning?" asked the newsagent getting a little irritable, "why are you speaking in this terrible French accent?"

"Why iz it terrible?" I asked, making sure to pronounce terrible in French rather than in English, "do you not like ze French?"

"I like the French very much," he replied getting angry at my insinuation, "in fact I have a holiday home in France and we go there at least three times a year. It's you coming here this morning with your stupid hat and striped shirt pretending to be French. What's the matter with you?"

Now of course, if I am to have a holiday from being myself I had to remain in character and not go back to type as being me. So I asked him, "Do you 'ave Gitanes cigarettes?"

"No!" he growled.

"Do you 'ave Gauloises?" I continued.

"No!" he emphasised looking me straight in the eye.

"Wat cigarettes de France do you 'ave?" I asked.

"Look, I know you don't even smoke," he said. "So you either get your usual morning papers or you leave the shop right now. I'll set the dog on you!"

"Iz it a French poodle or a Papillon?" I asked. But I did not wait for a reply as he waved a baguette at me and threw a brioche which hit me at the back of the head as I left hurriedly.

This being someone else is not all it is cracked up to be. What is worse, when I got back home the dog did not recognise me and jumped at me biting me somewhere which changed my tone of voice, if not my accent, for the rest of the day.

Anyway ... to change the subject ... slightly. Some years ago someone suggested that the best way to keep a marriage "alive" is to have an affair with one's own wife. So my friend decided to try it.

The intention was that he and his wife would book a romantic weekend at a nice hotel by the seaside under the assumed name of Mr and Mrs Smith; a common enough name in hotel bookings. When he got to the hotel he discovered that his wife had already arrived about an hour before him and had booked in as Mrs Smith. Rather absent-mindedly, he signed the register with his real name instead of the agreed "Smith"; so they obviously gave him another room. 

His wife got very upset at his stupidity forgetting to say he was Smith. So to pacify her and rescue the weekend he suggested that the real him could per-chance meet up with her as Mrs Smith and they could still have a romantic weekend affair. She got very angry at the thought that he would cheat on her with a complete stranger in a hotel.

I'll never understand women!

How about you? Have you ever wished to have a holiday from being yourself and being someone else, real or imagined? Tell us who is your Walter Mitty fantasy.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Hope Lost Hope Regained

Perhaps one of the most tragic and damaging thing that can befall man is the loss of hope. Whatever our situation may be, if we lose hope, if we cannot see the prospect of our situation changing for the better, we are in danger of shutting down completely and accepting the inevitable outcome.

We live in difficult times. Financial crises are affecting many people. Millions are losing their jobs, their homes and their livelihood.

Those aged fifty or more would find it very difficult to find a comparable job again, if indeed they can find any job at all. More tragically, the thousands of youngsters leaving colleges and universities with good qualifications, and little prospects of employment. They feel cheated. They did what they were advised to do. They stayed in education, they worked hard, they probably amassed large debts and loans to help sustain them whilst they studied – and now there are no jobs to go to.

There are of course other circumstances which can lead us to lose hope, besides illness, or lack of work and so on. Broken relationships with no prospect of reconciliation, addictions, failures etc … all can lead us to the temptation to just give up.

Where’s all this leading to? – I hear you ask.

I’d like you for a moment to consider some facts.

Whatever happens in life one thing is for certain: God is still in control. He is not hiding away behind the settee crying: “Woe woe … look at what is happening out there!”

He is in total control of the situation which He has allowed to happen, and which, in most circumstances, we have created for ourselves.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews knew what he was saying when he wrote: To have Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for … (Hebrews 11).

And the important thing, whatever our circumstances, is to hold on to that Faith and to believe, in all certainty, that God is in control. And to thank Him and praise Him for being in control. To re-affirm and acknowledge our belief that He is in control.

By doing so, somehow, we open a channel for God to turn our situation to the good. I’ve seen this happen several times.

Think of the alternative. By turning our back on God, by ignoring Him, blaming Him even for our situation – He will hardly feel inclined to help us. Will He? Of course, He’ll remain in control, waiting for us, with Fatherly patience, love and understanding, for the moment we return to Him like the prodigal son and be welcomed in His arms.

But what do you do if someone else has lost hope – even though you may not have yourself?

Preaching will not help. It may drive them further away.

Love, sympathy, compassion, whatever practical help you can offer may well help a little.

But most important is prayer. Silent prayer even. Without them knowing about it.

Let your Faith and your hope work for them. Even though they may have little or no Faith at all, your Faith is enough.

The best listened to and answered prayers are those we pray for other people. They show God our generosity of spirit, our love, our compassion, and most of all, our Faith in Him.

Don’t suggest solutions to God; like “Please help Him find a job”, but earnestly and in all Faith hand the situation over to Him. He knows what to do, in His time and in His own way.

Just say: “Thy will be done” and mean it.

And watch His miracles at work.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Ben never visited me!

"Now we're in Scotland, shall we visit Ben Nevis?"

"Why? Ben Nevis never visited me ... why should I visit him?"

"Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is a tourist attraction. Now we're here we should visit it."

"And Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. Should we visit that too?"

And therein lies the problem of my life. Having to do things that others think I should do. Why am I, (and countless others), compelled by society, peer pressure perhaps, to do things I don't really care about or wish to do?

If we are in a certain country we should visit the appropriate tourist attraction because everyone else does so. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the Parthenon in Athens, and other famous places like museums, art galleries, opera houses, famous buildings where certain people lived. If I am in a certain country on holiday why can I not rest in the sun with a large pint of Guinness without having to feel guilty that I have not visited a certain place that other tourists have supposedly visited before me and gawped at inanely?

You know the feeling? "What? You went all the way to America and did not visit the Niagara Falls?" "You were in Switzerland and did not see the Matterhorn?"

It's all peer pressure you see. Silent peer pressure from a sheep-like society that cannot enjoy itself without following in the footsteps of its predecessors. If you are in London you must visit Westminster Abbey, or the London Eye, or Trafalgar Square or ... Why? Because everyone else has done so when visiting London. And if you are in Stratford-upon-Avon you should visit Shakespeare's childhood home, or Anne Hathaway's home, (his wife), or where his daughter lived, or where he is buried. What's the point in that? Will seeing where the man lived enhance my life in any way? Will it make me appreciate the man any more? You might as well send me a photo of his home and save me the expense of going all the way there!

In Britain almost every town and city has some tourist place of interest which somehow you "have" to visit. Be it a museum, a stately home, an arboretum, a zoo or a house where someone famous once lived. In fact we have special blue plaques put up by the authorities to show where such people lived or worked. And of course, as a tourist you must visit these places in order to tell others, (or bore them out of their minds), about all you have learnt when you visited there.

And another thing that gets to me! Why did I, as a child, have to endure learning the works of Shakespeare? And why are countless of other pupils world-wide having to do the same ad infinitum? He never read any of my books, why should I have to read his? And it's not just Shakespeare, but many other writers have been chosen by society as worthy to be read if we are to be considered intellectually superior to a bacteria.

War and Peace by Tolstoy for instance - a must-read book. Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Dante's Inferno. Hugo's Les Miserables. James Joyce, Moliere, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Wordsworth and countless other works of literature guaranteed to make me more and more miserable as I live. Actually, I once saw the film Les Miserables with subtitles on, so presumably I can claim to have read it. Do you realise that there are more books in this world than it would take you several lifetimes to have read them all? So why bother? There will always be some books which you have missed any way!

And it's not just literature. Society somehow makes you feel inferior if you have not been to the Opera and marvelled at Rossini's Barber of Seville, (he shaved oranges, you know), or Verdi's Aida. Why can't Verdi keep his Aida private like everyone else?

And don't forget the ballet. Or the arts and the grand master-pieces by famous painters which you just must see; and all the wonderful sculptures by famous people who make sculptures!

And that's how society shepherds us into one analogous mass all following the same path whether it be the places we visit on holiday, the books we read, or what we do for entertainment or even the food we eat.

And that's another one of my rants. Why should restaurants be segregated according to their cuisine? French restaurants, Italian restaurants, Greek, Indian and so on? Why can't I eat what I want where I want?

I once went to a French restaurant and ordered a pizza. The waiter would not serve me. I asked him, "Have you got frogs' legs?" He replied, "Oui, monsieur!" So I said, "Hop over into the kitchen and get me a plate of spaghetti!"

So there you have it. You can visit the Sydney Opera House if you like, whilst reading Sophocles Oedipus Rex, (its' all about a cat anyway). Just leave me in peace with a pint of Guinness.

Sunday 14 January 2018

A Vision Of Hell

The first thing I noticed as I entered hell is the total and absolute darkness of the place. Not the faintest glimmer of light shone in that bottomless abyss of intense void.

I tried hard to peer into the pitch-black darkness to make out something, but it was totally in vain. I could see nothing. Totally and completely nothing.

It was then that I noticed the full and utter silence which accompanied the extreme blackness of this place. Not a sound whatsoever. It was as if I had gone suddenly deaf. I rubbed my fingers in my ears and concentrated hard but silence reigned supreme. I clapped my hands together but heard nothing. I spoke to myself and could not hear my own voice.

Darkness and silence had partnered together and negated all the senses as I knew them. I could not smell anything whatsoever. No burning fires and brimstone, or the acrid smell of sulphur and burnt flesh I’d expected in this place. I could feel no burning sensation and pain. No cries of help or gnashing of teeth.

In other words; hell was nothing.

Hell was a total void of everything physical as I’d experienced in my previous life.

Yet in this pure nothingness I felt a very powerful and intense feeling of extreme sadness. An overwhelming grief leading to desolation and desperation tormented my very soul.

A continuous sensation of sorrow and anguish filled the emptiness which was hell.

I sensed another soul there too. I could not make out who or where it was but it was there, somehow, sharing the void with me.

I felt a telepathic communication with this spirit in similar torment. Not in words, not in images, but in a mutual empathic sensation, as if the two of us were one.

I shared that soul’s torment which had lasted for … … … an eternity.

There seemed to be no beginning as to when that soul arrived in this eternal void, nor any prospect of when its terrible, terrible, suffering would end. The total and perfect hopelessness of this state of nothingness, this state of wretched emptiness, engulfed the forgotten soul consumed by its everlasting regrets.

For this lost soul constantly and interminably viewed and reviewed over and again its past life on earth; filled with memories best forgotten yet brought to mind with no respite. The inner pain from such memories tortured this forgotten soul left here all alone.

I shared with this soul the deep desire to weep bitterly for its past mistakes and its present solitary ordeal. But this was not possible, for there are no tears in hell. No matter how strong the desire to cry in profound regret, and so gain some temporary relief, this was not possible in a state of total void. So the pain, sorrow and sadness built up within one’s soul and consumed it eternally from within; with no respite or relief whatsoever.

And what was worse, is that the soul’s constant feelings of regret were persistently underlined by another sensation.

For it knew with unshakable certainty of the existence of God.

This tormented soul had been given, on entering hell, undoubted and unquestionable proof that God indeed exists. And somehow, it had witnessed His immeasurable and overwhelming love for His creations.

Yet this soul also knew, without a doubt, that for an interminable eternity, it would be totally excluded from that Fatherly, Divine love.

I realized that hell consisted of complete isolation with ones thoughts and regrets, and the sure knowledge that there will never be an end in sight. No light at the end of the tunnel. For there is no tunnel.

A permanent state of inner pain and sorrow and regrets, coupled with the knowledge that God’s love is for ever out of reach.

“What a terrible state of despair and hopelessness” I thought, “to know for certain that God exists; and to know of His love for us; yet to be excluded from that perfect love for ever. To remain here, in a state of total void, filled with past memories and regrets for deeds long past. Alone, in permanent thoughts of total and infinite exclusion!”

I woke up suddenly from his turbulent dream.

It was then that I heard in my head, clear as a bell, the words: “Go and warn all you get to meet not to come to this place!”


This is an excerpt from the book 
A selection of readings to help you reflect and meditate when praying or when in need of inspiration.

Saturday 6 January 2018

The Missing Logic

There’s some logic which sometimes escapes us Christians.

We say we believe in God. We also believe in Jesus His only Son. And … hesitantly perhaps … we also believe in the Holy Spirit.

I say hesitantly because most people believe even though they might not know what to believe. And that’s not always their fault.

Sure, they’ve heard what happened at Pentecost, and how the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. They’ve heard of the Annunciation and the Virgin Birth, and the Holy Spirit appearing at Christ’s baptism.

But apart from these and other stories about the Holy Spirit, people are left with a void, a mystery, something or someone to believe in without question. To them, the Holy Spirit is confined to the pages of the Bible, to be believed in and not dwelt upon for too long.

The important questions are rarely asked:

Is the Holy Spirit relevant to them today? Is the Holy Spirit here now?

Of course He is. And what is more, He is here to guide us throughout our lives, through difficult times and good ones, showing us the way, and teaching us what to say and do.

Yet many people, Christians in every other respect, are unaware of this fact.

Perhaps because they don’t understand, they have not been told, they have not been taught. Perhaps too because of their confusion in accepting and comprehending the Holy Spirit in-dwelling within ourselves.

Why is the church sometimes so reticent in proclaiming this – the greatest news and central message of our Christianity?

God, Christ, is/are with us right now. Through the Holy Spirit.