Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Honesty not always best policy

 

Let this post be a warning to all MEN before they utter those two simple words "I do ..."

Those two words can sometimes lead to a lot of unhappiness and regrets - believe me.

I'll never forget that day when I uttered the words "I do". They were the beginning of a long period of sadness, anguish and remorse in my life, which seemed to last an eternity.

Those two innocuous words uttered unthinkingly so often with a heart full of hope, happiness, trust and joy, can lead many a desolate soul to a sorry state of affairs from which there seems to be no come-back.

I really loved that woman. In fact, I still do and will do for ever. Yet ... I regret, as I have done many times since, having uttered those two words "I do".

I always believed that true love is based on mutual respect, genuine caring and good communication; but most of all honesty between two people committed to each other for life.

But I learnt, to my anguish and deep shame that this is not so. Certainly not honesty! Honesty can lead you down a path you never meant to take, from which there is no U-turn or coming back to where you started.

There are many times in married life when it is better to lie.

Yes ... I remember it as if it was yesterday, that day I said "I do".

She stood there looking radiant and full of pride and asked me "Do you think this dress makes my backside look big?"
I replied ... "I do".

I'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND WOMEN!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Regrets

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!”

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE

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.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Einstein Explained


I’ve always considered education to be very important; especially scientific education. You know … physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering. The kind of education that makes the world a better place.

Full of enthusiasm, I went to the library the other day and I started reading scientific books. I found one that particularly interested me entitled “Einstein’s Theories Explained Easily For Those People Who Knew He Was On To Something Good But Never Quite Understood What This Great Genius Was Trying To Teach The World!”

I must admit they could have done with a shorter title. The title was so long it carried on to the back cover.

Anyway … I started reading this book “Einstein’s Theories etc …” and noticed that sitting at the table next to mine was a man reading a book about World Statistics. It was a much shorter title although it had the same number of pages as my book. Every so often he muttered to himself “Oh dear …” “Dear oh dear …” and such like expressions spreading doom and despondency on my re-awakened enthusiasm for the wonders of science.

Eventually he lent over towards me and said “Do you know that every time I take a breath in and out someone somewhere in the world dies!”

I suggested he uses a better mouthwash.

But I digress. Back to my book. Which is much more interesting, I tell you.

Einstein was quite a clever person you know. It’s really amazing what that man knew. It’s so wonderful that every so often the world produces great geniuses like him who discover or invent new ways to improve our lives and makes us all better for it.

Folks like Einstein and Penicillin didn’t get to where they are by just kicking a ball in the park, you know. I bet they spent many an hour in the library reading books and doing their homework instead of watching TV.

Here are a few interesting facts I learnt from the book about Einstein.

The furthest away you are from the earth’s gravity the faster time goes. Say you’re on earth with nothing better to do than looking at your watch. And out there very far away in space there’s another person also looking at his watch. He’d be in a spaceship of course; otherwise he won’t be able to breathe in space. Anyway … according to Einstein the other fellow’s watch will go faster than yours.

To prove this, scientists have placed a very accurate clock, measuring the smallest nth of a second, at the top of a very tall skyscraper, and an exactly similar clock on the ground floor.

After a period of time the clock at the top of the building was a few minutes ahead of its counterpart at the bottom. It had gained time because at the top of the building time was faster than at the bottom. Because it was further away from the earth’s gravity.

Not convinced, I tried this experiment at home.

I put a clock upstairs in the bedroom and another one downstairs in the hall.

The following day the clock at the top was ONE HOUR ahead of the one downstairs.

The battery in the clock downstairs had run out.

Einstein also claimed that because time is faster in outer space, away from the earth’s gravity, then someone in outer space, say a twin, would age faster than his brother on earth.

The book therefore recommended that people should not live in high-rise apartment blocks because they’ll age faster than people living at ground floor level. Especially if the elevator is not working and they have to walk up and down all those stairs to their apartments.

Enlightened with this knowledge I have moved our bedroom downstairs and the kitchen, (where we don’t go that often thanks to fast-foods delivered to our door), has been moved where the bedroom was.

The bathroom moved downstairs by itself when I overfilled the bath with water and it came down through the roof.

Einstein also said that in outer space, at the very edge, space is curved. This is because, apparently, gravity (I don’t know whose gravity if gravity is in effect on earth); but stay with me for a while on this … in outer space the very edge of space is curved because gravity makes it so.

I could not understand how this related to bananas being bent; maybe they come from outer space. Or perhaps I was distracted by another book about fruits which someone else in the library was reading.

Einstein also taught about light. Did you know that nothing can go faster than light?

If you could arrange a race between say light, sound and someone in the fastest car ever made; light would always win. That’s because it has moved off the starting line before the sound of the starting pistol has reached your ears.

And if the fastest car was driving with its lights on, then its light would reach the finishing line at the same time as the other light running on foot. Because light travels at a constant speed regardless of its mode of transport.

The light from the sun reaches the earth at the speed of light. The distance it has to travel however is so long that by the time it reaches the earth it’s night time down here and we’ve all gone to sleep.

I’ve tried to measure the speed of light in my home experiments. I think I’ve actually proved that some of Einstein’s Theory about light may well be wrong.

If nothing goes faster than light then how come with these new energy efficient light-bulbs I can get downstairs faster than the light at the top illuminates the staircase?

But then these light-bulbs were not invented when Einstein was around. So we can’t blame him for getting this one wrong.

Finally, a word about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

This one is simple: The richer you are the more relatives will turn up at your funeral.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Charles Darwin and the future You.


Charles Darwin was a controversial Englishman, naturalist and geologist who lived between 1809 and 1882. He came up with the idea of evolution. That is to say that humans have evolved over many many years from another species of animal - basically monkeys.

A lot of people at the time, and ever since, have disagreed with this theory. However, others believe that it is a possibility that humans, and other species for that matter, can evolve in time to adapt with its new environment and to protect itself. That is not to say that the species has evolved into something else, but it has changed into a new version of itself.

Let me explain. In Northern England there was a particular species of moth which was white. As Northern England was industrialised in Victorian times and factories and homes burnt coal more and more buildings became darker in appearance as the coal dust from the smoke settled on brickworks and generally everywhere. In time, that particular kind of moth bred a new offspring which was darker in colour to enable it to camouflage from its prey. So a different species evolved; but in essence it was the same moth which changed colour through the generations. When eventually Britain stopped burning coal as a fuel and new buildings were put up, (or the old ones cleaned), through various generations that moth changed back to its original colour.

The same argument can be made for the human species. As time goes by we "evolve" or adapt to survive our various environments. There is evidence for instance that in the Middle Ages people were much smaller and shorter than they are now. This is seen from the size of doorways in castles, and from bones found in graves. But as time went by and diets improved, as well as health standards, today's people are much bigger and stronger compared to their Middle Ages counterpart.

All this was explained by Darwin in his book On the Origin of the Spices where he explains where different spices come from and how they can improve different types of foods and cuisines.

Charles Darwin also spent some time in the Galapolos Islands where large tortoises live. He observed that on islands with humid conditions the tortoises are larger with domed shells and short necks. On dry islands however the tortoises are smaller with longer necks. He also discovered the very first claustrophobic tortoises which would not go into their shells because they were afraid of the dark. Conversely, in another island he discovered other tortoises which would not come out of their shells because they were afraid of open spaces, (agoraphobic), and also because they were dead!

Following Darwin's theory of evolution to its inevitable conclusion, some scientists today believe that humans will continue to evolve in order to adapt to our ever changing environment and living conditions. For example, modern man has no use whatsoever for toe nails, (except for those who collect them as a hobby), and it is feasible that future generations will grow without toe nails.

As we get busier and busier in an ever faster world a second mouth would come in handy. We could use one mouth for talking, or answering the phone, and another for eating our lunch. This way we don't need to have a lunch break and we would work for longer and be more productive.

Personally, I'd like a mouth on top of my head. This way I could put a sandwich under my hat and eat it whilst going to work.

It would also be a good idea to have an extra eye. Say at the end of your index finger. This way you could clean your ear and see what's inside at the same time.

You know how you sometimes wish you had an extra pair of hands? Scientists believe that this may well happen in future with humans having two pairs of hands both coming from the side like now. This way I could drive the car and scratch my bottom at the same time.

Being very attentive and able to listen to all messages that the world throws at us simultaneously would mean that in future we would grow an extra ear growing out of our forehead. This would be known as the Final Frontier.

Evolution would not of course just be limited to humans. Scientists could grow a turkey with 12 legs so we can have one each on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Problem is ... he'd run too fast and we won't be able to catch it. Scrap that idea!

Can you think of any evolutionary ideas which would benefit us in the future? Don't be shy now ... let your imagination run wild and share your thoughts with us.

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.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Death Wish


Dear friends,

I have some sad news to relate as well as being in need of some advice.

An acquaintance of mine has recently died. To call him a friend would be a bit of an exaggeration. He was in his late eighties and lived a few houses down the road. We used to be nodding acquaintances. That is, whenever we met in the street, we nodded at each other and said, "Good morning, Good evening, Hello, Good bye," and such like nonsense more out of politeness, on my part, rather than really wishing him or anyone else a good anything.

You see, normally I am a shy person and I do not partake in pointless conversation with complete strangers, even though they might live a few metres away from my house. If they see fit to nod and greet me in the street, I reciprocate and hope it never happens again.

Anyway, this fellow of whom I speak, died a few weeks ago and I did not know anything about it. I'll admit I had not seen him for some time and had assumed that he moved to another town where he was nodding greetings to someone else.

The first I heard of his demise was when I received a letter from a local firm of solicitors.  

I went to their offices as invited and sat there solemnly whilst an elderly dust covered lawyer read this deceased acquaintance's last will and testament.

To get straight to the point, this deceased octogenarian, with no doubt a pickled brain, did not have much to his name whilst alive, but what he had, he left it all to me.

Namely: His prized collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

At first, I did not know what a Madagascar hissing cockroach was. The aged solicitor explained and said that the collection consisted of some thirty or so wonderful specimens.

In my naivety, I thought that I could take possession of these carcasses and then donate them to the local science museum, or some other entomological association. But when they arrived in their glass tank I became the proud owner of thirty-seven live hissing revolting creatures all running around their glass enclosure wondering who I am.

I will not describe the scene in our household when these uninvited guests arrived. Suffice it to say that relationships have been strained to breaking point. The delivery man was not interested in my dilemma. All he wanted was my signature and then he fled never to be seen again.

The tank was deposited in our entrance hall, on a table, where it still rests to this day. With their arrival was a note on how and when to feed them. Apparently, they eat fresh vegetables and dry dog food pellets.

And that's where I need your advice my friends. How can I get rid of thirty-seven live, uninvited, unwanted, unwelcome, bequeathed Madagascar hissing cockroaches?

Do you want any?

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!”

NOTE

This is an excerpt from the book 
"MORE REFLECTIONS FOR THE SOUL". 
A selection of readings to help you reflect and meditate when praying or when in need of inspiration.
 PLEASE CLICK HERE
   

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Robin Hood


I would like to tell you about a character in English folklore called Robin Hood and his band of Merrymen.

Robin Hood is believed to have lived in the late-12th-century; at the time of King Richard the Lionheart of England. Now some people believe this is all a tall-tale and he never actually existed. But he really did, because I have seen a statue of him in Nottingham, England. So he must have modelled for the statue, don't you think?

Also, there have been many films made about him - so there! he must have existed all those years ago.

Robin and his Merrymen lived in Sherwood Forest and they robbed the rich to help the poor. His companions were called Will Scarlet, Much the Miller's son, Little John and a monk called Friar Tuck. His girlfriend was Maid Marion. And his enemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin and his men always wore green. Some believe it was to camouflage themselves in the forest from the Sheriff's soldiers; but truth be known it was because washing machines had not yet been invented, and clothes do get dirty when you spend your life climbing trees like a monkey.

There have been many adventures written about Robin Hood and his Merrymen and all of them seem to have a similar theme. They lived in the forest, they stopped bad rich men travelling through the forest, took their money and gave it to the poor. Every so often the Sheriff of Nottingham works out a plot on how to capture Robin and the plot always seems to fail at the end and they all live happily ever after.

But reality was far different from what we are led to believe in the cinema or in books. The reality is that they lived in a damp and wet forest which froze them to death in winter and gave most of them rheumatism and aches and pains. One day Robin was in such back pain that Friar Tuck, who was a part-time doctor as well as a monk, suggested he stays away from all dampness. He couldn't even take a bath in the nearby river. So for weeks Robin sat in an empty tub and vacuum cleaned himself.

Many ballads and songs have been written about Robin and his Merrymen being ace swordsmen and great archers able to shoot an arrow through a castle window from a great distance. But again that's an exaggeration.

On one occasion Maid Marion was imprisoned by the Sheriff of Nottingham in a room high up in a tower with her lady-in-waiting Matilda Woodenleg. (They all had rather peculiar names in those days).

Robin Hood and his Merrymen gathered outside plotting on how to release them. The idea was that Robin would shoot an arrow with a string attached to it through the narrow window up in the castle where Maid Marion and her lady-in-waiting were there waiting. The lady-in-waiting was waiting on Maid Marion and Maid Marion was waiting for the arrow to fly in through the narrow window.

I hope you're paying attention to all this; because I'm getting rather confused.

Anyway, in those days windows were narrow vertical apertures in the big thick stone walls with no glass as we have now. The always-open windows allowed air to circulate throughout the castle and enabled soldiers to shoot arrows from the windows down on anyone attacking the castle; without themselves being seen or risking being hit by arrows aimed up at them by the attacking armies.
 
Robin's plan was to shoot an arrow through the window. Maid Marion would pull the string attached to it, which in turn was attached to a rope, which Maid Marion would tie one end to the bed tightly. Robin Hood would then climb up the rope to the window and rescue Maid Marion and her lady-in-waiting, Matilda Woodenleg, who would both be still waiting in their prison cell.

After he explained his plan one of the Merrymen, Little John, said "You'll never make it mate! The window is too narrow and too high up. No one could shoot an arrow through that from this distance!"

"Except Robin Hood !!!" exclaimed Friar Tuck with a smile.

Robin replied "I bet you a squirrel's leg I could do it blindfolded".

He was blindfolded and he shot an arrow which hit one of his Merrymen in the backside giving him a scar to be proud of many years later when he related the story and showed his scar to anyone interested in hearing about it.

Robin took off his blindfold and shot a second arrow high up, which entered the window and hit the lady-in-waiting, Matilda Woodenleg, in her good leg making her cry out in agony and bite hard on her wooden leg to stifle her screams.

With no more waiting Maid Marion got the arrow out of Matilda's leg, and pulled up the string and the rope attached to it. She then tied the rope to the bed for Robin Hood to climb up to the window.

When he reached the top Robin discovered that the window was too narrow for him to get in or for Maid Marion to get out of; which proves that being a big shot does not stop you from being stupid too.

It is believed that this experience was the precursor of modern slimming diets which we now follow even today to no avail to help us in and out of tight corners. However, since there are no more narrow vertical windows in modern houses and apartments most people prefer eating delicious fast-foods instead which were not invented at the time of Robin Hood.  

And so over the years many more ballads and stories got written about the various adventures of Robin Hood and his prowess as a swordsman and archer. But these were all for the benefit of the book and film industries and their authenticity is often disputed. For example, there is no truth in the legend that Robin once shot an arrow with an apple on his head.

There is some truth however about his burial place; which authenticates the fact that he actually lived.

When Robin Hood got very old, (18 November 1247, about 87 years of age), he lay on his death bed breathing lightly and reminiscing about "olde tymes" when he could climb trees without the aid of an elevator.

His Merrymen surrounded the bed and regaled in "olde tales" about how they got the better of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Maid Marion was there too making endless cups of coffee to keep everyone awake until Robin went finally to sleep.

Anyway, the Merrymen whispered to themselves about where they would bury Robin when he died.

Little John suggested a nice spot in Sherwood Forest.

Friar Tuck preferred a burial in Nottingham itself, to make a political point so to speak.

Others suggested a burial at sea would be more fitting ... there's no record as to why they wanted this, but then we can't assume that those people were either intelligent or logical.

Much the Miller's son suggested cryonics preservation but this was dismissed since the fridge was broken at the time.

Robin Hood tapped his hearing aid gently to hear them better and then said: "I know what you're talking about ..."

They all looked innocently at the ceiling and whistled or hummed silently.

The ceiling needs repainting, thought Maid Marion.

Robin continued: "Give me my bow and arrow. I shall shoot an arrow high in the sky. Where it lands that's where I wish to be buried!"

They gave him his bow and arrow. He put on his spectacles and weakly pulled back the string on the bow with his shaking hand. They all looked silently in anticipation. He raised his arm high, still shaking, and released the arrow.

And that's how Robin Hood came to be buried on top of the wardrobe.

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.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Autumn Leaves

And now ... let us have a moment or two of soothing, calming music ...

AUTUMN LEAVES


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

How was y'er Hogmanay?


I hope you all had a good New Year's eve with families and friends waiting there until the clock struck midnight to say farewell to the old year and welcoming 2018 with Hope, Faith and maybe Charity. We also had other people in our midnight gathering apart from Hope, Faith and Charity but they said they wished to remain nameless for now; in case their families found out.

This year, for a change, instead of playing Scrabble or Monopoly, to waste/pass away the hours until midnight when everyone pretends to be happy for a few minutes before clearing off to their homes; we decided to do something different.

Someone suggested we put on our swimming costumes and go out in the garden and play cricket in the snow. This idea was soon voted down since no one knew the rules on how to play cricket. Apart from that, there were a few who relished the thought of seeing in the New Year in swimming costumes.

Then we had to prepare for first footing. For those of you who do not know what this is; let me explain. It is a Scottish tradition that after midnight on New Year’s Eve the first person to enter a house would bring good fortune for the coming year. The "first footer" is often a stranger (neighbour or friend) who would bring with him some gifts like a coin which represents financial stability, some bread for food throughout the year, salt to represent flavour, a piece coal for warmth and a drink, usually whisky, for good cheer.

Sometimes a member of the household, usually a male, would leave the house just before midnight, and then knock at the door and enter after midnight bearing the said gifts. This year, grandpa decided he would be the first footer in our house to bring us all good fortune in the coming year. It was very cold outside and still snowing, so we tried to discourage him; but he insisted that he would do it if it is the last thing he'd ever do. So to humour him, and because he was beginning to look rather upset that anyone would doubt his physical ability at this late stage in life, we allowed him to "first-foot" and we agreed secretly to keep an eye on him lest he froze in the cold.

Just before midnight he took with him a whole bottle of Twelve Years old single malt whisky, and the other so-called essentials, and went out the front door waiting for the clock to strike twelve. Unfortunately, just at that time, some relatives phoned from Australia to wish us a good year. I took the call. Someone in the house started playing the bagpipes rather loudly and they all started singing Auld Lang Syne amongst other Scottish songs.

Sadly, amongst all this jollity, and drinking, and lack of sobriety we all forgot about first-footing and grandpa. We found him the next morning lying in the pond with an empty bottle of whisky in his hand. He asked us why the carrots we left in the pond for Rudolph the Reindeer tasted rather fishy!

Anyway, all this took me away from what I meant to tell you when I first started. This year, instead of playing board games, someone suggested that each one of us would say what he or she thought is the world's best ever invention, and why? The one voted as best having put his or her case would be the winner.

There were all sorts of inventions debated, from technology and smart phones, to medicine, the arts, science, music and so on.

I am sorry to say, that my suggestion for best ever world invention did not win. It is the Whoopee Cushion.

What a great invention that is. A small little cushion you put on someone's seat and the hilarity and laughter it generates. It is good for all ages and all occasions; especially funerals.

Before the Whoopee Cushion people had to rely on baked beans or Brussels sprouts or cabbage for the same effect. The Whoopee Cushion is practical, portable, re-usable and gives hours of pleasure to one and all without having to cook smelly vegetables for dinner.

Sadly, the whole suggestion that it is a great invention was left blowing in the wind.

What do you think? What is the world's best ever invention?
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