Tuesday 31 December 2019

Ten New Year Resolutions For you to try

Happy New Year to all our readers.

Wishing you
Happiness and Joy
Hope and Good Health

Here are 10 New Year Resolutions you might wish to try

If you want to lose weight stop weighing yourself. The scales are always wrong anyway.

Stop throwing dead squirrels and frogs into your neighbour's garden. It is not friendly.

Do not take too many selfie-photos. You may crash the car whilst driving at the same time.

Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has already happened in Australia.

Do not judge someone else unless you have walked a mile or more in his shoes; then you'll be accused of stealing his shoes.

Do not help old ladies to cross the road. Usually, old ladies hopping from foot to foot at the edge of the sidewalk want to go home to the bathroom, not cross the road.

Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do the day after that or never. Delegate it to someone else to do.

Do not buy perfume or after-shave lotion that smells worse than your body odour.

Do not waste time worrying whether the glass is half-full or half-empty; as long as it does not leave a wet stain on your table. A coaster on the bottom will avoid such a problem. That's the glass bottom; not your bottom. Unless you want to start a new fashion in these crazy times.

Try to smile and laugh more often. A feather duster in your underpants will increase your chances of doing so.



If you enjoy visiting here and smile at the humourous articles, or reflect at the Christian ones which I publish from time to time; why not do someone else a favour as part of your New Year's resolution? Please invite someone else to visit us here and share or contribute to our conversation. 

All of you, my loyal readers, are precious to me. Whether you comment in my posts or whether you visit and leave without saying a word. Whoever you are, I am praying for you.

Thank you. God bless.

Monday 30 December 2019

World's Most Disgusting Joke




Once upon a time there was a very old man living alone. He got a daily visit from the nurse who came in to check he is OK and generally check on his health.

As she left, the old man gave her a paper bag filled with Brazil nuts. They were nicely shelled, white and clean, and ready to enjoy. She took them gracefully and thanked him.

The next day the same thing happened. As she left, the old man gave the nurse another paper bag filled with Brazil nuts. 

This continued for about a week or so, to the point that the nurse shared the Brazil nuts with other nurses at the hospital. They all enjoyed them.

One day, as she was leaving the old man with yet another bag of Brazil nuts she said, "You must love these nuts a lot seeing that you buy so many!"

He replied, "No, actually I don't. My son buys them for me every day and I don't want to hurt his feelings. The nuts are too hard for me to eat. I just suck the chocolates from them and put them back in the bag!"


Saturday 28 December 2019

Peter Paterson

Peter Paterson lives in a small cottage behind our house. His garden backs onto our garden. He is about 80 years old and lives alone in that cottage behind us. We don't usually speak although we see him sometimes pottering in his garden. He doesn't do any heavy work, but walks around slowly with his stick looking at this and that and then goes into his house again.

He does not have any visitors. His wife died some years back and his two children have left home. No one seems to call on him. I heard him once say to another neighbour that he was all alone and lonely. Especially at Christmas and special occasions like his wedding anniversary, or his children's birthdays. He sits at home and cries.

It is sad how many elderly people are alone these days. Especially at this time of year.

I think he got himself a dog. He probably got it for company. All day yesterday I heard him calling it in the garden.

"Help ... Help ... Help ..."

Funny name to give a dog, I thought.

Anyway ... he must have eventually found the dog because he stopped calling it.

For some reason, as I passed his house today there was an ambulance outside. I wonder if his dog is not well!


Sunday 22 December 2019

A Blessed Christmas to you

It is Christmas

The time most of us spend with family and friends
The time to give each other presents
And enjoy each other’s company

Making happy memories to sustain us in difficult times

At this Blessed Season
Let us not forget to give Jesus Christ a present too
For it is His Birthday we are celebrating after all

The gift He would like the most
Is that we love one another a little more
That we care for one another a little more
And forgive each other too as we would wish done to us

Let us pray for Peace throughout the world
And let Peace start in our hearts towards one and all

God bless you

Victor S E Moubarak

Father Francis Maple

Father Francis Maple

Saturday 21 December 2019

A Christmas Song


Friday 20 December 2019

My Childhood Christmas Gifts

It's at this time of year when one's memories drift back to our childhood and the many Christmases we had with our family and siblings. The lovely memories (hopefully for most of us) come rushing back and we smile with nostalgia and a sigh or two.

Personally, I don't like Nostalgia, whoever she is. Never met her but old people around me always seem to mention her in conversation. The other day an old aunt of mine, sitting by the fire, said "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be!" So I took the bottle of whisky from her, and the blanket that covered her, and went to another room to watch TV. That'll give her something to remember!

Anyway, back to my memories ... this is my Blog after all. Let my aunt get her own Blog and nostalge on it as much as she wants.

I remember as a child I used to love playing hide-and-seek with my siblings and parents too who used to join in. We used to go out in the garden, I would lean against a tree and close my eyes and count to 100; and then I would look for my parents and siblings. I would search for them in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and even London. They were very good at hiding from me.

Sometimes I would get home from school and find out my parents had sold it. What fun that was. When I eventually found them I could see from the grin on their faces that my family loved seeing me again. They often suggested widening the area of search to the whole of Europe and beyond.

As a child, I was not a demanding kid at all. Apart from the odd piece of bread, I sometimes asked for presents to mark the occasion of Christmas or my birthday. As a joke my parents used to say that I was not born as such; but dropped from the clutches of a tired stork which had picked me up thinking I was a bundle of old clothing. 
Because of their love for me my parents often bought me books for my birthdays and at Christmas. Books like how to maintain and fix a car, how to unblock the drains, clean the chimney and so on. Dad used to say that they were practical and would be useful should they need me to do these jobs around the house.

In my innocence I liked such educational books and knew that they could be very useful in life. For instance, the Encyclopaedia Britannica set I was given one year proved very valuable for many years. I soon discovered that by putting two volumes on top of each other I could easily reach the cookies jar. I then put the books back on their shelf and my parents never worked out how the jar of cookies got a little emptier day by day. 

I also used to read the books given to my siblings on their birthdays and Christmas. The thing is, I took the books I read quite seriously and quite literally. Take Jack and the Beanstalk for instance. I always worried what would have happened if Jack ate the beans and they grew big inside him. Would they grow so big that the beanstalk would come out of his bottom and raise him up to the sky like an elevator? And where did the giant live exactly? Up in the sky? Was it another world up there?

And how did the goose come to lay golden eggs? Did it happen all of a sudden or did she always lay golden eggs? What if you fed her chocolates? Would she lay chocolate eggs all year round or just at Easter?

And why did the three little pigs have to build a house of straw, and sticks and bricks? Could they not afford a good mortgage from the bank? And why did the surveyor and architect not warn them that a straw and a sticks house would not withstand the huffing and puffing of the wolf? They were probably badly advised by their accountants.

And was it the same wolf that ate Little Red Riding Hood's Grandma? Riding Hood must have been very short-sighted not to recognise the wolf in Grandma's clothing. Perhaps she should have visited an optician. 

As for Goldilocks! She should have been arrested for entering a house that does not belong to her.

So, as you can tell, I took all these stories seriously and believed what I read. I used to ask my parents all these questions that crossed my mind. They used to smile and suggest we go outside and play hide-and-seek.
One year I asked my parents for a real live unicorn for a birthday present. I'd read about it in a book, and now I wanted one. They tried to convince me that there are no such things as a real unicorn. I argued that if that was the case, then the writer of the book would not have written about them. Perhaps he should be prosecuted for misrepresentation of the facts. Anyway, I still insisted on having a unicorn.

To satisfy my young desires, a friend of my parents brought in a horse on which he had stuck a large carrot on his head. To me, this was a real unicorn. Oh, I was so happy to be the only one in the world with a real unicorn.

My parents had nowhere to keep him. So he was kept at a nearby farm and I visited him every day for a week.

Sadly, one day the other horses he was with ate the carrot off his head. 

When I saw this I was distraught to find my unicorn had lost his horn. I was beside myself with grief. Which is quite an act considering there was only one of me. Have you ever been beside yourself? If so, who else was beside you at the time?

My parents had no explanation to offer about the lack of horn on the unicorn - lack of imagination I suppose. The friend who had brought the horse in the first place explained that in modern times unicorns have edible horns. So it was quite normal for the other horses to eat my unicorn's horn. 

I think I almost quite believed this. But I'm not sure though. What do you think? Are unicorn's horns edible or not?

Thursday 19 December 2019

Christmas Presents

Hello everyone. It will soon be Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your family and enjoy every minute of it. Christmas is such a wonderful time, isn't it? And it has so many treasured memories which we can draw on in years to come when we feel a little run down, or if we've sat on a hedgehog by mistake.

I felt a bit run down lately. The police said they'll soon catch the driver who did it. 

I think the best thing about Christmas is receiving presents. It's always the same each year. We all agree beforehand not to give each other presents, and every year, we all break the pact and give each other presents anyway.

Last year, whilst making the usual pact with family members, I told them that, if they have to break the pact, at least get me edible presents. My motto in life is: If it is not edible it is not worth having.

So in response someone got me three potatoes, and someone else got me some broccoli. Funny thing the broccoli. Is it a small tree or is it a cauliflower without the leaves all around it?

I have never understood why God created broccoli. That, and wasps. Why did He create broccoli and wasps? And sneezing? Broccoli, wasps and sneezing. Why did God create them?

Do you know? If God instead of telling Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit, He had told them not to eat broccoli; they would not have been tempted and there would have been no sin at all.

Can you imagine the snake telling them to eat broccoli? They would probably respond with something rude I dare not repeat here.

And that's another thing. The story about the snake. What is that all about?

If I was naked in Paradise and suddenly met a snake I would immediately cover my tender parts in case he had a bite. And if the snake spoke to me I would most probably poop in my non-existing pants, rather than engage in conversation with him.

And one more thing. How did Adam and Eve know which bits to cover after they had sinned? Why did they not cover their elbows? Or feet or their heads?

Can you imagine if they had covered their nose, today we would all be going around naked with our underpants on our nose. Ha ... what a sight that would have been!

And another thought ... Adam and Eve are often depicted with fig leaves attached to their appropriate places. How did they attach the leaves I wonder? Elastic bands? Double-sided sticky tape? Velcro?

I wonder ... what present did Adam and Eve give each other on their Christmas? Wait a minute ... they did not have Christmas then did they? It came much later. They did not have Easter or Thanksgiving either, did they? Or birthdays ... did they know when they were born? Did God tell them the date of their birthdays? With no celebrations whatsoever they must have been a miserable lot. No wonder they sinned.

One day Eve felt a little miserable and asked Adam, "Do you love me?"

He replied, "Is there anyone else to love?" And that started another row between them. 

Another thing Adam and Eve did not have was navels. Yes ... no belly buttons for either of them. I wonder where they kept their belly button lint!

Wait a minute ... if they were naked they would have no accumulation of lint would they?

Let's get back to Christmas presents ... Last year, for some unknown reason, someone gave me this book as a present:

 A book on how to keep silverfish as pets. Why did he gift me this book I shall never know.

Did you know that silverfish eat sugar and starch? Do you think I can feed them potatoes? I got some for Christmas you know.

Also, did you know that silverfish can be taught to walk in a single file if you play military music to them?

They live for two to eight years unless you hit them hard with a book you've received for Christmas.

Before silverfish reproduce, they carry out a complicated ritual which may last over half an hour without the need of a relaxing drink beforehand or soft music and lights in the background. First the male and female stand face to face, then repeatedly back off and return to this position.

In the second phase, the male runs away and the female chases him. Well that makes a change, I suppose.

In the third phase, the silverfish have some privacy together searching for navel lint.

It's all true, I tell you. I have it all in triplicate in the books I received as Christmas presents. They are also heavy enough to drop on a silverfish from a height!

So there you have it. My Christmas gifts from my so called friends and family.

Tell us ... what Christmas presents did you get last year? Or what do you wish for this year?

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Theodore Panics

Theodore Luxton-Joyce as eccentric as ever jumped into his car, despite the heavy Christmas snow making most roads impassable, and sped towards St Vincent Church.

Half an hour later he was in Father Ignatius’ office, having barged through Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper who opened the front door, mumbling about some emergency or other.

“Padre … we have a problem …” he exclaimed to the astounded priest sitting behind the desk, “I tried to phone you this morning but you were permanently engaged … I thought you were probably hearing some late Confessions from sinners who couldn’t make it to church because of the snow … anyway … here I am. Got in the car and came over as quick as I could!”

“Sit down … take a deep breath … What is the problem?” asked Father Ignatius fearing the worst.

“I was in the library this morning … You know, the room annexed to the dining room where we had the old folk’s Christmas Dinner last night?”

The priest nodded.

“Well … just by the section where we have the books of Sir Walter Scott. You must have read him Padre! Scottish novelist, playwright and poet … you know … Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian and so on …

“Anyway … just by those books I found this beautiful gold necklace on the floor … what?

“Looks pretty expensive to me … must belong to one of the old ladies you invited to our Christmas party … must have dropped it when they all went to the library for a spot of Darjeeling. The poor lady, whoever she is, must be beside herself having lost such a valuable piece … I’d say!”

Father Ignatius took the necklace from Theodore and said, “I’ll keep it in case someone phones and asks for it!”

“I’ll hear none of it …” interrupted Theodore, “the poor lady who lost it must be looking everywhere for it … under her bed … or behind the piano … or wherever old ladies hide their jewelry … We must get in touch with them all and ask them if they’ve lost this necklace!”

Father Ignatius looked up in disbelief. “There were about fifty old people there … most of them women … you’re not suggesting …”

Theodore was suggesting just that! And for the next hour or so they phoned most of the old ladies to find the owner of the necklace; with no success.

“Well that’s all of them … except these six who are not on the phone,” remarked the priest, “I’ll ask them when I next see them at Mass on Sunday!”

But Theodore’s concern would have none of it.

“I have the car out there …” he said, “why don’t we visit them right now? I also have a bottle of brandy in the car to keep us warm … always prepared what?”

Father Ignatius said a silent prayer in his mind seeking forgiveness for what he thought about Theodore right now. Then as a self-imposed penance he decided to accompany the eccentric millionaire on what would no doubt turn out to be a wild goose chase.

And a waste of time it certainly was. At every house Theodore insisted on accepting the invitation for tea and biscuits, or mince pies, or home made cake or whatever other delicacy the old ladies had prepared for Christmas. And at every house he regaled them all with stories about Sir Walter Scott and other Scottish writers and famous people, not forgetting to mention time and again his Highlands lineage and the fact that he could play Chopin’s piano concerto on the bagpipes!

“Where does he put all this tea?” thought the weary priest to himself, “and he hasn’t been to the toilet once!”

Eventually they returned to Father Ignatius’ office at the Parish House both very cold, dejected and exhausted. 

“You don’t think we can have a drop of tea to keep us warm?” asked Theodore to Mrs Davenport as she came in to collect the empty cups from this morning.

Father Ignatius held the gold necklace in his hand and admired it pensively.

“You don’t think it belongs to one of the nuns who came to the party?” asked Theodore rather stupidly, “do nuns wear necklaces under their habits Padre?”

The priest smiled and shook his head. “It’s a beautiful necklace with a lovely little rose here in the middle …” he said, “You don’t suppose it belongs to your wife … Rose?”

“Dash it all …” cried out Theodore standing up from his seat, “I forgot all about Rose!

“That little flower on the necklace should have reminded me …

“I bought that necklace six months ago for Rose’s birthday in January … I hid it in Sir Walter Scott’s book Rob Roy, which I was reading at the time … I thought no one would find it there … no one ever reads the books in that library … what? The necklace must have fallen out yesterday when someone picked up the books.

“I’d forgotten all about it … and for the past three weeks I’ve been wondering what to buy Rose for her birthday next month … I got her a bracelet … I know that for sure … the thing is I don’t know where I’ve hidden it …old boy!”

Father Ignatius sought forgiveness from the Lord once again for what was going through his mind.

He gave the necklace back to Theodore and followed his enthusiastic rush to the car and waived him goodbye as he sped back to his mansion on the hill.

Monday 16 December 2019

Theodore's Boxing Day

It had been a busy year for Theodore Luxton-Joyce the eccentric millionaire businessman and he hadn’t been in touch with Father Ignatius for some time. So it was a surprise for the priest when the phone rang early on Boxing Day, the day just after Christmas, and he heard the familiar voice.

“Is that yourself Padre?” asked Theodore.

“Yes … it is. Merry Christmas Theodore to you and Rose …”

“Yes quite … jolly good …” interrupted Theodore, “I was somewhat concerned at getting that other French priest on the phone. You know the one … you’ve had him visiting lately …”

“Yes … Father Gaston. He has gone back to Paris”.

“Jolly good I say … what? Never liked the French … Father Gaston being an exception of course … he was rather quiet and said very little … just as I like the French to be … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing whilst Theodore continued totally unaware of what he was saying.

“Right … now that I’ve got you on the phone rather than that French fellow, I need you urgently to help me out! Terrible spot of bother … old boy … terrible I say!”

The priest frowned fearing the worst. “What’s happened?” he asked.

“Well … Rose and I had arranged a quiet after Christmas get-together for this evening and we’d invited the Mortimers … you know them? He’s a businessman working from the US most of the time. No … Of course you don’t know the Mortimers. Have you ever been to America Padre? I’m sure the Vatican has opened a few Branches over there …

“Anyway … back to the Mortimers. They’re over here right now for a few days … visiting family … that sort of thing … Rose and I thought we’d invite them for a spot of dinner this evening … Disaster old boy! Disaster I tell you!”

Father Ignatius smiled again.

“Well, as it happens …” continued Theodore never stopping to pause for breath, “the Mortimers can’t make it tonight. Jolly bad show don’t you think? We’ve got most of the food prepared and all … well Mrs Frosdick the cook and her staff have everything prepared anyway … And the Mortimers can’t make it for dinner. They’re stuck up North because of the terrible snow storms we’ve been having over Christmas. Totally snowed in and cut off from civilization and a drop of whisky I shouldn’t wonder!

 “So I thought of inviting the Hendersons … now I’m sure you know them Padre. They live about a mile or so from us, just up the hill. I thought I’d introduced them to you some time ago. Not Catholics you know … but decent people all the same. Better than many Catholics I know, I should say! Anyway … dash it all … they’ve decided to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws. Now what kind of nonsense is that? I tell you … Who’d wish to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws? It’s just like being in Purgatory I imagine … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled once more at Theodore’s continuous rant and wondered what all this was leading to … and then it came.

“Well Padre … as neither of them can make it tonight, I thought of you. Would you care to join us for a quiet spot of dinner this evening? We’re having a goose and Brussels sprouts you know … traditional fare for this time of year sprouts … and I’ll be playing the latest musical instrument I’ve mastered … the harmonica … much less stressful than the bagpipes. I can now play Chopin’s piano concerto on the harmonica as well as the pipes!”

The priest was amused at being the third choice as guest at the millionaire’s luxurious mansion in the country, but he knew that Theodore meant no malice by it.

“It’s so nice of you to think of me …” he said quietly, “but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline too. The problem is that this evening St Vincent’s Church hosts the annual Christmas Dinner and get-together for the old folks of the Parish. We bring them to the Church Center and Father Donald and I and a few of the nuns from the Convent prepare a Christmas meal …”

“Bring them along too …” interrupted Theodore with no hesitation, “we’ll make a party of it … we’ve plenty of room over here …”

Father Ignatius knew that there was little point resisting Theodore’s generosity and enthusiasm; so plans were hurriedly changed to reschedule the venue of the Parish Christmas Dinner to the mansion on the hill.

And so it was that about fifty people including the nuns from the Convent went to the millionaire’s house to enjoy Theodore’s and his wife’s genuine kindness. They all gathered in the grand dining room which had been festively decorated at short notice where they enjoyed the best food and drinks sumptuously prepared by the catering staff.

Theodore dressed up like Father Christmas to give each guest a gift and then he entertained them with a sing-along which featured him playing his repertoire of the classics re-arranged for the harmonica!



Sunday 15 December 2019

Why Did Jesus Have To Come To Earth?

Another week, another Friday. Father Ignatius set out from St Vincent Church to St Joseph Catholic School to take on the Catechism class with the 15 years old.

It was always a challenge facing those youngsters, especially since he allowed a few minutes at the end of class for free discussion. They could ask anything they wanted and he promised to give them an honest answer – even if he didn’t have an answer, he promised them to say so.

A young pupil put up her hand and asked:

“Why did Jesus have to come to earth? Why didn’t God continue to speak through the prophets like Moses and all the others? And send His Commandments and messages that way? Did Jesus really have to come and die for us to be forgiven? Couldn't God just forgive us?”

“That’s an intelligent question Catherine,” replied the priest, “in fact it’s more than one question; all intelligent at that!”

The young pupil smiled proudly.

“I am not God,” said Father Ignatius, “and I cannot possibly explain what went through His mind when He sent us Jesus; or His motivation for Christ’s Virgin birth, sinless life, death and Resurrection. I know and believe that God decided to send us His Son Jesus to die for us. Yes, He could have just forgiven us, as you say. Being God, He could have done what He wishes, and still can. But I believe that He sent us Jesus, His Son ... and when Jesus was raised to Heaven He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is still with us today ... ”

He stopped for a while to clean his glasses which gained him some thinking time; then putting them back on he continued:

“Let me tell you a story I heard years ago …”

The whole class was now focused on his every word. He knew how to captivate their attention and he firmly believed that honesty, combined with his modern-day parables, would make them remember what he had to say and hopefully mold them into a lifetime founded on the Word of God.

“Once upon a time there was a farmer living in Canada where, as you know, the winters can be very cold and miserable.

“One such cold winter evening in the midst of a very violent snow storm, the farmer was in his home keeping warm by the fireside when he heard banging on the side of his house.

“What could it possibly be? He thought as he heard the continuous thump, thump, thump coming from outside?

“He ignored it at first, but as his dog was getting a little fractious by the sound the farmer put on his heavy overcoat and woolly hat and went outside to investigate.

“He struggled in the blinding snow and nearly slipped once or twice.

“As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness he discovered that a flock of wild geese had lost their way in the snow storm and landed in the field near his house.

“There were literally hundreds of them. Disorientated, cold and wandering everywhere.

“They were landing heavily like an airplane with failed engines, and many of them crashed against the side of the barn.

“The farmer realized that left out in the cold they would soon perish without any shelter.

“So he opened the doors of one of his barns and hoped that they would go in for the night.

“But no ... they remained out in the cold cackling and walking around in circles rather than seek shelter in the barn.

“He tried to shoo them in by walking behind them with his arms spread out ... but to no avail ... the geese ran everywhere except into the barn.

“He tried to persuade his sheepdog to herd them into the barn. But the dog had better ideas in mind. He raised his back leg to answer a call of nature then ran back into the house.”

The class of students laughed in unison.

“The farmer thought to himself ‘If only I could talk to these birds in their own language and explain to them that the barn will shelter them from the snow ... It’s their only way to salvation from this freezing cold …’

“Then an idea struck him.

“He opened another barn and let out his own geese in the yard. The yard was now full of his flock as well as these Canadian wild geese. All cackling away in the freezing snow.

“After a minute or so he shooed his own geese into the open barns again and to his relief the wild geese followed them to safety.”

The priest stopped to allow the story to sink into their young minds.

“You see … I think God had the same problem with us humans on earth.

“For years He spoke to us through the prophets as Catherine said when she asked her question. But did we listen … of course not. We continued in our sinful way.

“So God sent His only Son to us, as a human, so that we may see Him, hear Him and hopefully listen to Him speaking to us in our own language.

“Some of us have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and have heeded the Word of God, as spoken through Christ our Lord.

“But years later, even now, there are many who are not listening still.

“And that’s what we must remember at Christmas time. It isn’t just about the baby Jesus being born in a stable. It is more important than that. It is about the reality that God Himself visited us here on earth all those years ago.”

Saturday 14 December 2019

Chocolate Christmas

In our town there’s a specialist chocolatier. The shop window is always full of the most exquisite and delicious looking chocolates of all sorts and sizes. If Heaven were made of chocolate then this shop would surely be it.

The chocolates are hand-made by the shop owner and his wife and three employees on the premises behind the shop. I remember once visiting their little workshop with a friend of mine, the shop-owner’s niece, and it was a marvelous experience seeing them make all these chocolates with so much care and passion.

Every so often they make different seasonal chocolates like rabbits and chocolate eggs at Easter, special selections on Mothers’ Day, or Christmas specialties.

One Christmas Eve we were in town late, just before going to Midnight Mass, and I decided to visit the shop to get something nice. I left the rest of the family to do some window-shopping and went there alone as a special surprise.

I’d intended to buy a chocolate Father Christmas just as they had in the picture in the shop window. Sadly all Fathers Christmas had been sold. Reindeers too! As well as Christmas tress or any Christmas decorations made of chocolate. In fact it is fair to say that the shop had sold out of any chocolate model relating to Christmas.

The shop assistant looked at me forlornly and suggested a selection from their wild animals’ series would make a good present. “They’ll look good in the Nativity scene beside the Christmas tree …” she said hopefully.

“Hardly …” I said somewhat dejected, “no one would believe that the three Wise Men came from the East on a turtle! It would have taken them ages to arrive. Or that shepherds watched their giraffes at night when the Angel appeared with Good News!”

“They are beautiful though …” she continued encouragingly.

“Yes … they are. But it’s not the same … a chocolate crocodile near the crib would frighten all the sheep away …”

I hesitated for a while. The animal models looked good enough to eat … in fact any chocolate is good enough to eat as far as I’m concerned, regardless of its shape. But this was not for me. This was a present and ideally I would have wanted a Father Christmas, or an Angel … a Christmas tree … it’s the festive shape of the chocolate that matters on this particular occasion. And a rhinoceros or a kangaroo is just not the right shape; even though it might taste just as good when you eat it.

After a lot of soul searching I decided to buy the giraffe. It was big and with such a long neck it meant there was even more chocolate for everyone to share.

“Could you gift wrap it please?” I asked.

As the shop assistant was wrapping my purchase I heard a little girl beside me say: “I want the giraffe … just like in the picture over there!”

“I’m sorry … the last giraffe has just been sold” replied the shop assistant to the girl’s mother.

I looked at their sad faces and knew how they felt.

Now … the right thing to do in such cases is to take my purchase and get out of the shop quickly before my conscience has had a chance to wake up.

But I’m stupid that way and somewhat slow … in my slowness I asked the assistant to sell the giraffe to the girl’s mother instead.

“We have some left-overs from our Halloween series” said the assistant to me after the other customers had gone, “I can let you have two for the price of one!”

That Christmas our Nativity scene was visited by Frankenstein’s monster and a zombie. And the sheep were not frightened at all.

Tasted good too!

Friday 13 December 2019

Reminiscences Of Christmases Past

There I was sitting in the back garden the other day watching the sun setting down, when my mind drifted back to my childhood all those years ago, and the many presents I had wished for at Christmas and how I had to make do with their well-meaning substitutes.

I remembered that one year I had my heart set on a train set. You know the one I mean? A beautiful steam locomotive all shining in black, pulling an open container full of coal, and this pulling a carriage with people clearly visible through the windows. The set included a number of rails which when linked together would make a large circle; and you could also buy various accessories like a railway station, ticket office, more rails, carriages and so on.

I'd imagined buying all the additional accessories with my pocket money and building a rail network that would be the envy of any transport system you could think of.

I wrote several letters to Father Christmas explaining precisely which train set I was after and pointing out that I had been a good boy all year round; just in case he didn't know.

On Christmas day I did not get that train set at all. Instead, my auntie had knitted me a pullover and a little train locomotive. I mean ... is she mad or what? A knitted train locomotive? I ask you ... how can you get a train locomotive made of wool and stuffed with pieces of cotton to go round and round? She didn't even knit me a set of rails!

I always wondered about the sanity of that woman. She must have been light-brained and a few tomatoes short of a salad, as they say. She was always knitting something. Tea cosies to keep the teapot warm, hats or bonnets to keep our heads warm, scarves to keep our neck warm, gloves and mittens, socks and booties to keep our hands and feet warm.

On another Christmas she knitted us all pencils and pens pullovers. Let me explain. She knitted long thin tubes the length of a pencil with different color wool. A bit like the sleeve of your jumper or jersey but much smaller. The idea is that you push your pencil or pen through the tubes to keep them warm.

Is she mental or what? Do pencils feel the cold perchance?

And when we did as she suggested, every time we tried to write the pens would slide into the tube as we pressed on the paper.

Eventually the silly woollen sleeves were thrown away in a drawer. Can you suggest another use for woollen tubes six inches long?

Another year I asked my Father for a computer for my Birthday. He gave me a packet of crayons instead. He said he couldn't buy me a computer because it hadn't been invented yet!

To be fair, he was right. Computers hadn't been invented until years later. But a packet of crayons is hardly a substitute is it? He could have bought me a laptop or a tablet!

I asked my Mom for a helmet or hard hat for when I go out on my bicycle. I didn't have a bicycle at the time, but I was always forward thinking ... you know, just in case one day I got a bike. Instead she bought me a set of non-stick frying pans.

When I got married, we decided that we did not want any gifts or presents at all. We wrote in the invitation letters that we'd like everyone to come along and enjoy a nice toast to Love and Happy Life ever after. On the day in question everyone turned up with a toaster as a gift. We had at least 150 of the kitchen appliances.

I suppose the most useful present I was ever given was from my uncle when he gifted me a roll of double-sided sticky tape. I asked him why and he explained I could use the tape to pull back my sticking out ears. I had terrible sticking out ears as a child. I looked like a car with its doors open.

Eventually my parents sold our dog and the lawnmower to pay for my ears to be operated on. I had the operation on one ear. Unfortunately the doctor died shortly afterwards.

So now I have an ear looking normal and the other still sticking out. At the slightest breeze I spin round like a hotel revolving door.

As I was sitting there in the garden reminiscing I suddenly had to get up and go indoors. The wind unexpectedly picked up and I started rotating fast like a spinning top.

Have you ever had a well-meaning gift which did not quite fit with what you had in mind?


Thursday 12 December 2019

Imagine It's You

About two thousands years ago an Angel appeared to a young virgin woman ... I think you know the rest of the story.

Now, if an Angel appeared to me right now I would probably fall off my swivel armchair, and I would drop the computer keyboard to the floor.

But imagine it happened to you.

Perhaps not a vision or an appearance as happened to Mary, but imagine that God spoke to you and asked you to do something for Him. Would you be able to say "Yes" like Mary did?

God has spoken to many people over the years and has asked them to serve Him in a special way.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta left her native land and spent her life helping the poor. She must have heard and obeyed God's wishes for her.

Father Damien De Veuster left his native country and went to work amongst the lepers in Molokai.

I am sure you can name other people who have heard the Word of God and obeyed it.

I know of a Deacon who left his job and went to work in a foreign country amongst the poor. He felt that God was calling him to do such work. He discussed it with his wife and they both had the courage to leave their careers behind, leave their family and friends, and travel to another country on a mission of mercy. They had grown up children at University who also agreed their decision and visited them during their break from studies.

As we prepare for Christmas, and remember the story of Mary and Joseph and their courage and faith in saying "Yes" to God, let us ask ourselves if our faith is strong enough, (as much as a mustard seed's worth), to say "Yes" to God if we were sure that He was asking us to do His will.

Personally, I don't think I ever could leave my family, friends and commitments and go to such lengths as moving to another country and help their poor.

Perhaps my faith is not as strong as I would like to believe, or as much as I pretend it is. Perhaps I am lacking in many ways.

Or perhaps God would not ask us to do something He knows we are not able to fulfil.

Meanwhile, let us thank Mary and Joseph, and all the other people since then, (and before), who have had the courage and faith to answer God's call.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Christian Books


Monday 9 December 2019

How's Your Brain Wired?

Now I know it's Christmas and we should be nice to each other; but I have always suspected that women were ... different in their thinking! It said on TV that women's brains are wired differently.

I didn't know there were wires as such in one's brains; perhaps they meant nerve endings or connectors as a friend of mine used to explain brain actions and reactions.

Anyway, what they were saying on TV is that men's brains are wired from back to front on one's head, whereas women's brains are wired from side to side on their heads - they didn't explain whether it was from left to right, or right to left, or whether it matters. I hate it when TV programs are not precise in what they purport to teach you.

Basically the point they were making is that because of this different wiring men and women often misunderstand each other. Now I happen to know from personal experience that this is true; but I shall refrain from giving you details just in case this Blog post is read by someone I'd rather they didn't.

The program also said that women can have difficulty with spatial awareness. As an example, they mentioned an unhappy marriage where the wife constantly threw things at her husband when they were having an argument. Eventually, after many years, the husband went to a lawyer to seek a divorce. The lawyer asked him why it took him so long to decide to leave his wife. The man replied, "Her aim is getting better!"

Men on the other hand are different in that they can sometimes fail to see something that is obvious in front of them. Like the fact that it is her birthday or the wedding anniversary or some other date which for some reason or other should be celebrated in a special way. (Only a few more shopping days to Christmas and I forgot to buy some more Guinness).

Women can remember things that happened a million years ago and tell you in every details how you behaved at the time; and also make you apologise for something you don't even remember happened or why you are apologising at all.

Incidentally, can any of you reading this, seeing it is Christmas, name the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh without looking it up on Google or anywhere else? I bet women can.

Apparently, men are also not able to use the eggs from the fridge from left to right, oldest first, rather than from right to left in reverse freshness order; even though they have been told to do so several times.

Personally, I'll admit of never having had this problem. I take the eggs from anywhere haphazard; from middle, left or right. It doesn't matter to me. Anyway, did the hens lay the eggs in order when they put them in the supermarket boxes that we buy?

Oh, one more thing about men. They put the toilet paper wrong on the roll. Just like in the picture above. Apparently, the paper should unfold towards you not from the back of the roll. To be fair to men though, there are no instructions on the packet telling them about this.

So there you have it. Differences between men's and women's brains can lead to several domestic difficulties and we should learn to live happily with one another.

How about you? Do you know of any other differences between men and women in their thinking or behaviour?

Now why are my cans of beer in the pantry next to the dog food when I remember well putting them in the fridge instead of the milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products?