Thursday, 21 November 2019

Of Church Mice And Church Men


I visited an old church in the countryside the other evening.

There was this historian giving a talk entitled “The influence of the Church in England from Chaucer to Henry the Eighth and Beyond”.

Given a choice between listening to that lecture and watching an important football match on TV I would choose the lecture every time. You know me, always willing to oblige and to please … Why is it that old fashioned marriage vows included the words “to love and obey”? Was there not a clause about football games in those vows? There should have been!

Anyway, the old historian did not disappoint. He lived up to my every expectation and went on and on giving us every minute detail about this most fascinating subject. He reminded me of one of the priests who visited our church recently; Father Ontoo Long!

He too went on ad infinitum reading his sermon from notes he must have typed on an old type-writer and stopping at every punctuation mark to add boredom to everlasting tedium.

I wondered as I sat there on those hard wooden pews which very soon numb the lower parts of your body … I wondered, if this historian stood side by side with Father Ontoo Long and they talked in unison would they put us to sleep in stereo?

My boredom was soon to be relieved by an unexpected distraction.

I noticed a few feet away just by the radiator standing against the wall a mouse crawling slowly towards me. He’d probably been disturbed by the historian’s monotonous voice, I thought.

The mouse stopped suddenly then ran back towards the wall. No one noticed him except me.

He then walked ever so slowly close to the wall towards the left of the radiator. Then he stopped again. Moments later he was joined by another mouse following a few feet behind. He too stopped and then the first mouse turned round facing the second mouse. They faced each other for a few seconds then the second mouse ran back towards the radiator followed by the first!

I bet those mice are married, I thought. Probably having an argument I shouldn’t wonder. Something like this:

Mr Mouse: Oh … why do we have to go to church every Sunday? That priest is so boring!

Mrs Mouse: We don’t go to church to see the priest. We go to meet God and to pray.

Mr Mouse: But God is everywhere. Why can’t we meet Him at home? I bet He’d love to watch the football match on TV!

At that point a sharp elbow dug deeply into my side and a harsh voice whispered “Stop snoring!”

Oh well … back to Chaucer and Henry the Eighth I suppose. Did they have church mice then?

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Celebrity and Talents

Someone once said something clever about being famous and a celebrity. I can't remember who it was ... perhaps it was me. Or maybe it was someone else ...

Anyway, as I was about to say before I interrupted my train of thoughts ...

Funny things trains ... they're always late I find. Why is that? I read the other day that the train people will rectify their lateness by replacing timetables with calendars. That way they'll be more accurate.

"The train on platform 3 will arrive in London tomorrow!" Now that's more accurate I think.

The other day they said on the loud speaker at the station that the train was late due to shortage of staff. Why can't they recruit taller people?

Now then ... where was I? Oh yes ... someone once said "I could have been very famous if I had a voice like Sinatra's!"

A lot of truth in that. If I could sing like Sinatra or some other great singer I could be famous too.

Personally, I sing well in the shower. But no one appreciates my singing. I am not appreciated in my own time it seems ... or ever. Some neighbours seem to appreciate my singing though. They have broken our windows to hear me better. They even invited the police to my impromptu shower concerts.

Anyway ... about celebrities ... if I could run fast as an Olympic athlete, or play football well, or if I were a great writer, or musician, or an actor, or whatever else passes as worthy of adulation these days, I too could be a famous celebrity recognised and welcome everywhere.

And that's the problem in this modern world of ours. Everyone wants to be famous and a celebrity instantly. Without any hard work, or patience ... instant fame is the name of the game.

Talking of instant ... I read the other day that the scientist who invented an instant laxative has been fired from his job. But I digress.

Whenever you turn on the TV you see youngsters, and not so young people, all hoping to win a talent show and become famous celebrities. Some can't sing, dance, or do anything else to save their lives ... but they all want to be famous.

Does anyone ever stop and think, I wonder, where all the talent comes from?

If someone can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, be great at athletics, play sports well, or be a great businessman, doctor, lawyer, or whatever else ... have they ever wondered where all this talent comes from?

Did they do the slightest thing all by themselves to achieve such greatness?

Didn't God give them all the talents and the ability to do whatever they are good at?

You may have a great voice perhaps. Or the ability to dance, or be good at sports, business, medicine or whatever.

Didn't God give you the brains to be able to study, concentrate, and work wonders in medicine, science or whatever else people are good at? Didn't God give people the good health and good fortune to become in life what they have become today?

Yet ... when you watch famous celebrities on TV ... or aspiring celebrities ... have you notice how many of them are full of themselves and proud of what they have achieved; rather than acknowledging where their talents and abilities come from and thank God for their good fortune.

In the parable of the talents, (Luke 19:11-28), Jesus tells the story of the nobleman who gives his three slaves one coin each. When he returns from his travels he calls the three slaves. One of them has managed to invest his coin and he made ten more coins, the second slave managed to make five more coins, whilst the third has hidden the coin away and returned it with no interest or profit.

The nobleman rewards the two slaves and punishes the one who made nothing.

What Jesus is teaching here is that it is good and worthy to work and become rich. It is good to use our talents, whatever they are, to the full, and for the benefit of us and others. 

But we should not forget where our talents come from.

God gave us all talents to use in order to glorify Him. And it is right that we use our talents to their full extent.

As Jesus said: "No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bowl or puts it under a bed. ... " (Luke 8:16). 

It should be made to shine to honour and glorify God.

Although, personally, I would never put a lamp under a bed as it might start a fire throughout the house. Where's the talent in that?

But I digress once again.

So ... as I was saying ... let's not be shy about our God-given talents; but let's use them wisely for God.

Even if your talent is ... (like mine) ... writing Blogs that nobody reads.

At least Jesus is reading them and chuckling to Himself.

God bless.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

And another thing ...

"And another thing, son ... I know you mean well and all that, but you should stop buying us all these techno gadgets as presents!"

"I'm trying to get you to be modern, dad ..."

"I don't know about modern ... that compooter you got us. Your mom has hardly used it, she thinks it will blow up if she presses the wrong keys. It takes too much space too ..."

"It's called a computer, not compooter ... actually it is a laptop!"

"Laptop? ... ... Laptop? When I was your age boy the only thing I had on my lap was your young mother. Lovely she was. Admittedly she has put on a bit of weight since then but I'd rather have her on my lap than your confounded machine."



"That machine is your gateway to the world, dad ..."

"Gateway my foot ... I don't understand why people should need the tinternit or whatever it's called."

"Internet ... imagine it as a link to every computer in the world. You type about something and you immediately get linked to a computer somewhere with an article about what you asked for. It is also great for sending letters instantly to anyone anywhere in the world."

"And what's wrong with sending letters like old times? If God wanted us to communicate with each other instantly He would have given us a better Postal service. Instead, in olden times, He gave us epistles written on parchments. St Paul, may he rest in peace, and all of them writers, may they also rest in peace, left us words of wisdom on parchment papers for us to read. In perfect English they were too ... They did not write their Gospels on compooters ... that's because they had no electricity then, you see. So they wrote with ink on parchment paper as God intended. Admittedly, He wrote His Commandments on stone tablets. That's because He wanted them to last longer, you understand. Unfortunately, modern people of today have re-interpreted the Commandments to suit their selfish needs."

"Very philosophical, dad!"


"Don't give me none of your lip, boy. And by the way, that telephone machine you got us don't work."

"What do you mean?"

"When I answered the phone the other day, a woman's voice on the machine kept saying we are sorry we cannot take your call please leave a message. Fred who rang us thought he got the wrong number. I told him it was me and he asked me why I had a woman's voice. He thought I sat on something sharp. I tried to explain but the woman's voice kept talking over me. So I pulled the electric plug off the wall to shut her up."

"That woman's voice was your Out-Going Message. It is what people will hear when they phone you and the machine answers the phone. You must have picked up the phone at the same time as the Out-going Message was playing. Let me show you how the machine works, dad ..."

"When I was a young boy my dad used to deliver coal. He was a coal merchant, he was. People phoned him and he delivered coal to warm their house; he used a horse and cart. He had no answering machine. My mom, your gran, used to answer the phone and take the orders for coal. She did not say, your call is important to us, please wait until my husband gets out of the toilet. She took the orders straight away."

"Anything else you'd like to complain about?"

"Look lad, you're a good kid, I know. And you like to make us happy with all your technical gizmos. But we're old fashioned, you see. Take that bedside lamp you bought us ..."

"What's wrong with it?"

"It's supposed to come on and off every time you snap your fingers or clap your hands. It is sound activated you said. Well ... every time I break wind in bed the lights come on. It's like a lighthouse here some nights. And ... it is not very conducive when your mom and I are being friendly ... if you know what I mean!"

"All right dad ... no more ... I can't wipe out the image from my mind. From now on, no more technical gifts. By the way, for Christmas I have signed you up to the yearly World Foods Club."

"What's that?"

"In December you'll get a box of foods from a country. For example it could be Italy, and the box will contain pastas, tomato sauces, raviolis, salamis and so on ..." 

"Oh yeh?"

"And in January you'll get another box delivered with items from France probably. It will contain frogs legs, snails, French cheeses, that sort of thing."

"How long will this go on for?"

"A whole year. Every month you'll get a different box with foods from a different country. Pies from England, stuffed vine leaves from Greece, bratwurst from Germany and so on ..."

"You're mad, son ... a whole year of foreign foods. What's wrong with our own wholesome food?  Better cancel it quick. It's bad enough me having to put up with your mother's cooking without her experimenting with something different each month."

Monday, 18 November 2019

Modern Technology


"You know son, as your father, it is incumbent upon me to warn you when you do things wrong and all that ..."

"What do you mean?"

"Take your portable telephone gizmo that you have. I've read it is dangerous. A man at work the other day had one just like yours and he was watching something on the screen and fell off the ladder he did ... Kept going up and did not realise he had run out of ladder ..."

"Very funny, dad!"

"It's true boy. Also these contraptions emit bad things like microphone waves or something. They'll fry whatever little brain you got left. Like this thing you have always stuck to your ear."

"Dad, I have Bluetooth!"

"There you are then. It started already. You must see a dentist before it gets worse."

"Dad, it is called Bluetooth."

"I don't care what it's called boy. We didn't have it when we were young. Just the odd bit of tartar on our teeth, or a cavity every now and then. Not electro what's it illnesses like now. Also they let off magnets these gadgets. Magnetism gets out of them on your fingers when you touch the screen. It's even worse ... the magnet thingies fly off the screen and into you. Pretty soon when you get in the kitchen all the metal utensils will stick to you."

"Dad, you really don't understand about technology. It doesn't work like that. There are no little magnets and ..."

"Don't patronise me boy. I know more about technology than you'll ever know. Those table mats things, like the one you have, are just as bad!"

"They are called tablets! Mine is an Apple."

"An apple? When we were young that was a fruit, that was. You'll be telling me you have a blackberry next. Your grand-mother, may she rest in peace, used to make lovely apple and blackberry pies, she did. I'll tell you something else boy. There's no mention of technology in the Bible. When God told Moses to come up the mountain He gave him the ten commandments on real tablets of stone, He did. Not plastic tablets. They were well carved by a top class sculptor, I shouldn't wonder. God would have used the best of craftsmen to make His commandments; so they would last for ever. Mind you ... that careless Moses broke the first set didn't he, the clumsy oaf! But God had another set as a spare copy ..."

"Made on a photocopier, no doubt!"

"Don't be insulting, boy. Which reminds me ... that stupid microphone oven you got your mom in the kitchen. It's trash. It does not work. I put a few slices of bread the other day to make toast and they went round and round and were all soggy. Not toasty at all; like in the toaster."

"You did what? It's not meant to make toast. Why did you not use the toaster?"

"It was broke as well. The bread got stuck and I tried to get it out with a fork and got an electric shock! When we were young we used to make toast by holding the bread in front of the open fire."

"Are you against all form of modern technology dad? Shall I take away the washing machine too?"

"You might as well ... for all the good it's done. The other day I put my red shirt amongst the washing your mom put in and everything turned pink. She was furious you know. She blamed me instead of the machine, and withdrew her favors for at least a week ..."

"Poor dad ..."

"Don't mock me, boy. I know you're not listening and I might as well be talking to myself. I'll just go and watch the football on TV."

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Finding Jesus

 
A man is stumbling by the riverside totally drunk pulling his horse behind him. He is just too drunk to even be able to ride the horse, having tried several times and fallen off within minutes.

As he walks by the river with his horse he comes upon a preacher baptising people in the river and shouting in a loud voice "Repent you sinners. Repent and find Jesus!"

He staggers to the river’s edge and subsequently he falls in dragging his horse behind him. 

The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol. He asks the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?”

The drunk answers, “Yes I am”.

So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, “Brother, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk replies, “No, I haven’t”.

The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again for a little longer this time. He again pulls him out of the water and asks, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?”

The drunk answers again, “No, I haven’t”.

By this time the preacher is at his wits end and he dunks the drunk in the water again, but this time he holds him down for about 30 seconds, and when he begins kicking his arms and legs, he pulls him up. 

The preacher again asks the drunk, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, “Are you sure this is where He fell in?”

There’s a message in this joke for us Christians. How often, whilst well-meaning, we try to tell others about our beliefs and end up confusing them and perhaps, un-wittingly, driving them away from God rather than towards Him.

It is worth remembering that not everyone is at the same stage of knowing God as perhaps we are. You wouldn’t feed a new-born baby pizza or French fries; would you? So let’s go easy with new Christians or people who have yet to know the Lord as we do.

The best way to teach Christianity is by living it as Jesus would want us to.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” St Francis of Assisi.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

What if ...

What I am about to say may sound a little complicated, but please have patience with me, and tell me what you think.

When we look at a globe, or a map, we are accustomed to seeing the USA, Britain and Europe in the Northern hemisphere, and Australia and New Zealand and other countries in the Southern hemisphere. We recognise the North and South poles.

But what if the world, in real life, is upside down and we do not know it?

Let me explain.

Imagine the world is a big ball hanging there in mid-air in a big expanse we call space. Imagine space as a huge large box. A massive box filled with earth, moons and other planets. All hanging in mid-air and spinning round.

The earth is spinning from left to right, giving us the impression that the sun rises from the right if we are facing North. But in effect the sun does not rise at all. It is in one stationary point and it is our spinning that makes us think it rises from the East.

East is just a word we invented. We could have called it something else. We could have called North, Norma, and South, Suzanne for all it matters.

By the way, and just as an aside, my uncle Ernest discovered the East Pole. It was somewhere on the equator but because the earth kept spinning he could not quite locate it.

Anyway, as I was saying ... imagine the big box we call space is itself upside down and all its content is upside down. The earth would look like this.




And we would not know it. We would still be living on earth like normal. It would probably spin from right to left, but because we don't know it, we would still see the sun rise from what we call East.

I know some people would say that when we send rockets into outer space the astronauts see the earth with North at the top. But for all we know, the spaceship could be travelling upside down and the people inside it don't realise it. For in outer space there is no up or down. It is one big huge box and regardless of how people are travelling in the box there is no real up or real down.

It is just space. And we and the whole earth is in it. And all the planets. All, upside down.

Which explains why some people get headaches.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Animals in Heaven


You know what it's like. People start a conversation at work, or at a party. At first you listen and say nothing, and then you get drawn in even if you don't want to, someone says, "what do you think about this?" and you mumble and offer an opinion, and before you know it you are in the debate you did not want to partake in in the first place.

A few friends were discussing religion and the conversation turned to Heaven. What it is like. Who will and who will not be there. What if someone we don't like is there. And so on.

Then someone asked whether animals go to Heaven.

Some thought this unlikely since animals have no souls; others believed they’ll meet their pets in Heaven. Their pet cat or dog will be there waiting for them.

This set me thinking.

Which animals in particular would go to Heaven? The good ones? Whilst the bad ones are destined for hell.

Are there bad animals? Do they think, plot and plan like humans, or are they slaves to their own instincts? Can they possibly sin? When a dog is bad and bites people is it because he is inherently evil, or is it a defence mechanism? Just instinct?

Would all animals go to Heaven? Including the cows, pigs, sheep and chickens we kill to eat?

I would hate to come face to face with my Sunday roast admonishing me for what I have done.

What about the mosquito I killed in the garden this morning? Will it haunt me for eternity? Buzzing around me and biting my bottom. For I heard somewhere that they wear gowns open at the back in Heaven, just like the ones you get in hospital. This is to allow your angel wings to grow on your shoulders apparently.

And all those fishes caught by Peter and the disciples when asked to cast their nets in the lake by Jesus. Will they be there too?

The point I’m trying to make here is that religion relies on Faith. When Christians engage in debate such as this not only do they risk confusing themselves, but they also risk confusing those who are new in their walk with the Lord.

I really don’t know whether my beloved Max will greet me in Heaven wagging his tail. In the meantime, I try to steer clear from such hypothetical discussions.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Otto Bare

Otto Bare was a nice old man. So was his wife Hilda. She made delicious cakes.

Otto was a little peculiar in that he had wonderful eyesight when seeing things far away. I remember once we were out playing golf and I remarked about a herd of cows in the field beyond the course and he said they were being bothered by flies. He could even tell the sex of the flies from that distance. I doubt I could do that if the fly was inches away from me.

But seeing things very close was difficult for Otto. He needed thick glasses for that. He lifted the glasses on top of his forehead to see far away, and brought them down for reading and seeing close. A bit of a Mr Magoo in reverse.

I don't play golf. I am bad at it. But Otto insisted we go out to his club. I followed him sheepishly whilst he played rather well.

At one point we were near the river. There were some ducks with their young. Some were very young; still covered in their yellow fluff rather than feathers.

With his glasses above his head Otto looked for his yellow golf ball. Some of the ducks moved away, but a little baby duckling, all lovely and yellow, sat there on the grass unperturbed by his approach.

He lifted his golf club in the air, swung it down at great speed and sent the baby duckling hurtling through the air in a rainbow trajectory. Up it went in a big arc only to land what seemed miles away.

Because he did not have his glasses on, Otto looked in the distance and said, "Hole in one!"

I was flabbergasted to see that poor duckling one minute sunning itself quietly on the grass and the next being whacked so hard as a golf ball to land a million miles away.

Otto put his golf club in the bag and walked towards the green.

I mumbled, "Otto ... that was ... that was ... a little birdie!"

"No it wasn't ..." he declared, "it was a hole in one. Known as an ace in America I believe. Unlike your attempt at golf ... a hole in about 300 hits!"

I said nothing until we approached the hole. He put his hand in and pulled out a totally dead baby duckling.

"Ha ha ha ..." he laughed, "now that IS a birdie! Has been dead for a while judging by it being half-eaten by maggots. Now ... where in damnation is my golf ball?"

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Neighbours from Up North

We have new neighbours. They moved in yesterday.

This morning the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there they were. Husband, wife and two children.

"Hello," they said, "we're your new neighbours. I am Alan, my wife is Helen and these are Jack and Jill. We moved in yesterday. We came from up North, near the border with Scotland."

I was slightly taken aback by the direct approach. I don't usually like people I do not know. They say a stranger is a friend you have yet to meet. I say a stranger is a person who should keep away from me!

"Hello," I mumbled, "I saw the moving-in van yesterday!"

"We've come for a cup of tea and biscuits. So we can get to know one another!"

I was further taken aback into my own house. What a cheek, I thought. Complete strangers wanting to get to know me. How do you say "Go away!" politely. I did not know how to respond.

Our dog was barking furiously behind me having been disturbed by the doorbell. At least he was making his true feelings known. That's what I like about dogs. If they don't like you they bite you.

"Oh, you have a dog!" said Helen. "We don't like dogs. We're cat people. We have two cats, a hamster, a goldfish, two rabbits and a macaw. You'll hear the macaw singing every now and then. He never stops actually!"

"Oh really?" I said unenthusiastically. My mind had already made up a list of insults but I chose to keep quiet.

"Aren't you going to invite us in?" asked Alan.

"Well, it's not convenient really ..." I mumbled almost apologetically; wondering why I should be feeling guilty at all. It was them who disturbed me in the first place. Coming all the way from "up North" ringing my doorbell.

And then, I don't know why I said that really, I added, "I am washing the crocodile right now. He gets a bit dirty when lying on the wet grass and mud!"

"I told you people down South are different," said Helen to her husband, "they are not as friendly as up North!"

Alan nodded and said, "Up where we come from people are always calling on their neighbours for a chat and a cup of tea. Or borrowing things from each other, like a cup of sugar, or some eggs, or the lawnmower or such like. Do you have a lawn mower? Is it electric or petrol driven? I prefer electric myself, much neater!"

"Actually I have a goat," I replied, "I let it eat the grass. Much neater than an electric lawnmower because it eats right up to the edge of the fence, which you can't do with a lawn mower."

"Oh ... you don't have to be sarcastic!" said Helen, "is it because we're from up North? Is that why you're being unfriendly?"

At this point the two children started cutting the roses from my prized bush. I kept my cool and said nothing about it.

"No ..." I replied getting a little irritated, "it is not because you're from up North. Let me tell you that I am devoid of all forms of prejudice. I dislike all people equally! And for your information, my wife is from Scotland; that's as far North as you can get without falling into the sea!"

"Well, she made a mistake marrying you then," retorted Helen.

Before I could say anything, albeit my mind was blank, her husband said, "Calm down dear. It's not worth it. He can't help the way he is. You know how some people are when they get to a certain age!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked angrily. "I'm younger than you by all accounts!"

"Well ... thank you for the flowers," added Alan soothingly, "we'd better go and put them in some water. They don't look as if they'd last long anyway!"

Once again I was at a loss for words. If I had a dictionary at hand I would have responded more appropriately ... perhaps by hitting him over the head with it.

As they were leaving he asked, "Does that mean we can't borrow the lawn mower?"

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Imagine

FATHER FRANCIS MAPLE

Monday, 11 November 2019

The windmills of my mind


Sometimes, when I am alone, I sit there and think. I could also sit over here; but it is usually there. Next to the window. Looking out into our back garden.

Sometimes, I sit there, or here, and think silently. At other times I think loudly. Speaking to myself as it were.

Thoughts cross my mind. Going round and round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending nor beginning, on an ever-spinning reel. Like the circles that you find, in the windmills of your mind.

I do hate plagiarism.

It is so cheap and so bad. I wish people would stop doing it.

Would it not be wonderful if everyone was original and there was no plagiarism? You, may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you will join us. And the world will be as one.

Free from plagiarism.

I think to myself. And then I say whispering to myself, "I think, therefore I am".

RenĂ© Descartes the philosopher said that. He was making the point that if you are able to think therefore you exist. 

I may use this saying some day in discussion to prove I am educated. That's not plagiarism. It is research. If you repeat something someone considered to be important said, then you are learned. It is not plagiarism. Everyone considers you to be clever for even knowing who Descarte is, never mind quoting him. That's the subtle difference between plagiarism and straight cheating and stealing someone else's clever sayings.

So I repeated to myself, "I think, therefore I am".

"I am"... I said. To no one there. And no one heard at all. Not even the chair.

Then I realised I was speaking to myself.

So I decided to phone Neil Diamond to find out why the chair did not listen to him either. Was he being boring perhaps?

But I could not phone him because I did not have his number.

For a while there, or here, can't remember where, I just sat thinking.

For once in my life I was lost for words.

That's because I did not have my dictionary with me. Not that it would have helped because it is an Italian dictionary and I always think in English.

That's a point, I thought.

Do foreign people think in their own languages? The Italians, French and so on? Or do they think in images, pictures cross their mind rather than words. 

How do I think, I thought. In words or images? 

Or is it in images which my mind simultaneously interprets into words faster than the speed of light?

And is there anything faster than the speed of light? What if light itself was in a fast car? Would it be faster than itself. 

But no one heard me. The chair stood there as dumb as ever.

So I phoned my friend, Ivor Rowbottom. That's not his real name. His original name was Ivor Sorebottom but he changed it by Deed Poll which you can do in the UK.

Anyway, I asked Ivor, "why did the chair not hear me?"

"Because it is an inanimate object, you idiot!" he replied.

"But what about Neil Diamond and his chair?" I asked again to prove my point.

"I don't know," he said, "maybe his chair is deaf. You know how these artists are. They write lyrics that originate round and round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending nor beginning, in an ever-spinning reel. Like the circles that you find, in the windmills of their mind."

At this point my family came in from shopping and interrupted my train of thoughts.

Why are trains so late these days? The other day at my railway station they said it was because of shortage of staff. Why can't they employ taller ones?

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Saturday, 9 November 2019

My Dog Is On Twitter


My dog has joined Twitter.

He has just tweeted the following:

"Went for a walk. Did a poo. Victor picked it up. LOL!"

Friday, 8 November 2019

The Pope will not visit

I have not been well lately. Hence my absence from this Blog and from visiting yours.

Whilst lying in bed in real pain several negative thoughts crossed my mind.

I learnt that it is easy to wave one's hands in the air and sing, "Halleluiah Praise the Lord", when all is going well in our lives. But it is when you are really down that you get to know yourself and the extent of your Faith.

As the days passed, and the pain subsided from time to time, I looked around me.

So what if everything is not perfect. So what if the grass has not been cut because of all the rain we've had. And the trees and bushes need pruning. So what if the car needs washing and the house is full of ugly ornaments that friends with no taste have given us. So what if the dust on the TV screen needs re-arranging again.

What is important are our families, our friends, (including Blogging friends), our values and attitudes to life and so on. They may not be perfect, but it is our little bit of Heaven here on earth.

Some people go through life ensuring everything is perfect and pristine in case the Pope or some other famous personality may visit them.
 
I know for a fact the Pope is too busy to visit us. And if he were to visit he would probably comment that the colour of the curtains does not match that of the armchairs.

I think he should stick to religion and not interior design.

I am slowly getting better and hope to visit your Blogs soon.

Meanwhile, here is something serious for you to ponder:

What do you call a sleep-walking Pope?

A roaming Catholic.

Boo  ... boom tshhhhh ... every one's a winner!

Sometimes I'm so funny it makes me laugh ... but right now it hurts.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Pets in beds

Did you know that in Britain about 36% of people take their pets with them in bed at night?

Not me ... ... ...

The last time I had my pet with me in bed the next morning the bed was totally soaking wet and my goldfish had died.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A Ghostly Experience

Not many people believe in ghosts. I didn't either. Until one day I saw one. Yes, I saw a ghost and he spoke to me. I'll never forget the experience.

It happened years ago on a dark and wintry night in the depth of a mountainous region of Scotland.

I was driving late at night after visiting some business customers up North and somehow I lost my way. It was the days before satellite navigation systems and cell-phones to help you communicate and get from one place to another.

It was raining heavily with thunder and lightning brightening the skies for brief intervals and piercing the darkness of the road ahead. As usually happens in ghost stories and movies, my car eventually stopped having run out of gas.

But this was for real.

Not a movie script which I could put down and return to my reality sitting next to a warm fire with a hot chocolate drink in my hands. This was for real. My car stopped in the middle of nowhere on a cold rainy night with thunder and lightning for companionship. I swear I heard the howling of some wild creature in the distance.

What was I to do? I couldn't stay in the car all night and possibly freeze to death. Or be tinned food for whatever hungry creature is out there. It could have been a giant man-eating haggis for all I know. I had no blanket in the car and I'd forgotten my overcoat at the office.

So there I was. All alone in a car with no means of communication. Cold. Hungry. Afraid. And I wanted to go to the toilet too. I should not have had that second cup of coffee they offered me. Coffee is quite diuretic, you know.

Stupidly perhaps, I decided to get out of the car and water a nearby tree. I could hold it no longer it was so freezing. Moments later I was back in the car totally wet and even colder than before because of the driving rain; but greatly relieved. After all, I had to do what I had to do and I could not do it from inside the car.

Now back in the car I was shivering and my teeth were chattering in tune with my racing heartbeat. My wet clothes stuck to the leather seat. My shoes and socks were soaking wet throughout. Because of the rain ... the rain ... are you paying attention? Please don't make up your own jokes at my misfortune.

Stupidly again, I decided to get out of the car and walk in any direction trying to find shelter. I locked the car and walked ahead in total darkness and driving rain, (or should I now say walking rain?)

Every so often my solitude was broken by the occasional clap of thunder followed by a flash of lightning.Or was it the other way round?

Anyway, after walking for about half an hour there it was. Not a castle, as you'd expect in the Highlands. But a house. Admittedly a large house; again just like you'd expect in horror movies. Big and dark with overhanging trees and climbing ivy everywhere. But not a castle.

I knocked at the door ... no bell. And eventually, after what seemed an eternity an old man opened the door.

He was wearing an eye patch. What I mean, he was wearing clothes, very old clothes, and he had an eye patch on. Did you really think he was wearing nothing else but an eye patch? Where would he put the eye-patch in that case? I wish you'd pay more attention.

"Och aye ... It’s a dreich day! Aye right." he said in his native tongue. I didn't understand a word he said, so I asked him whether I could seek shelter for the night.

"Yer're drookit!" he said, "Aye ... come in ... come in ..."

I entered a dark room lit by a couple of candles. He beckoned me to sit by a small log fire to keep warm.

As I sat there still shivering he walked away towards the wall and vanished through it.

My blood ran cold. A shiver, ran down my spine ... that's a new shiver, not the one I was shivering with previously. I could have said a frisson, but I was in Scotland not France. So a shiver it was ... och aye!

I could not believe my eyes. The man had actually walked through a wall.

Admittedly, it was dark, I was cold and freezing wet and quite hungry, but I assure you I was not hallucinating. I did not imagine it.

The man just walked towards the wall and vanished through it. The experience made me want to go to the toilet once again; but this time it had nothing to do with the coffee. I must have cried in fear a little because I felt tears running down my leg.

Moments later he returned through the wall just as he had vanished. He stood there looking at me with one eye. The other eye was covered by an eye patch, remember.

My knees were knocking together in rhythm with my heart and chattering teeth. I had butterflies in my stomach and their knees were knocking too. Even my goose bumps had goose bumps of their own.

"Are you ... are you  ... a spirit?" I heard myself mumble.

"Yer mean ... be I a drop of whisky?" he muttered, "Of course not ... I be a ghost ... A ghost, laddie. I been here fer' years. Och aye! Trapped in this house of doom fer ever, laddie."

I gulped and asked "Are you the ghost of a pirate? I mean ... the eye patch ..." I continued pointing at his face.

"Och no ... laddie," he said, "this be no pirate's doing! I got this one day as I was sliding through a keyhole and someone put a key in it. Occupational hazard for us ghosts!

"On another occasion I slid under a door. There was an old lassie on the other side vacuum cleaning and I got sucked in the vacuum cleaner."

I smiled and said nothing.

"Now I just walk right through walls and solid objects," he said in perfect English, "much safer don't you know old boy ... what?"

I picked up a bottle of vintage whisky nearby and took a gulp to keep me warm.

They found me the next morning fast asleep with an empty bottle beside me.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The Importance of being considerate



To be quite earnest, it’s quite important to be considerate too. It helps oil the wheels as it were and makes life run smoothly for you and everyone else don’t you think?

Earnestly speaking, I consider myself quite a considerate type of person. But unfortunately this doesn’t always work out as intended.

The other day for instance I saw an elderly lady in the street; she must have been about seventy or so, hobbling from foot to foot on the edge of the sidewalk. I waited until the lights indicated it was safe to cross then I held her gently by the arm and said, “Don’t worry madam; we’ll soon cross over safely to the other side!”

She tottered alongside me looking behind her all the time until we reached safely the other side as the traffic lights changed again. I took off my hat as a sign of respect and smiled politely.

She then hit me on the head with her umbrella.

I was about to say something when she cried, “You made me miss my bus, you idiot!”

“I’m sorry madam,” I said, replacing my hat, “I saw you hopping from foot to foot hesitantly …”

“That’s because I want to go to the toilet,” she hollered, “I’ve a good mind to pee in your stupid hat!”

I ran away before she did.

This however did not stop me being considerate by nature.

One night I noticed that one of the floorboards in our bedroom, under the carpet, was a bit loose. It made a distinct sound when you stepped on it.

Being very considerate I hammered it in the dark so as not to wake up my wife.

Unfortunately, in the darkness I hammered nails through my shoes lying there by the bed and I pinned them to the floor board.

Next morning when I put my shoes on I couldn’t move one inch. I fell flat on my face.

I thought I had put on weight in my sleep during the night and the extra calories all fell down to my feet!

That very night I had dreamt I was in a marshmallow factory. I woke up eating the pillow.

I remember another occasion where my considerate nature conspired to work against me. We were on holiday and we went out on an organized boat trip to swim with dolphins. It’s something which, for some reason, most people love to do.

The organizers of the trip suggested we go in the sea in teams of six for safety reasons. They wanted to keep an eye on us with the dolphins and we took turns in little groups to swim for a while, and then come out to allow others to go in the sea.

Being considerate as you know, I decided to be one of the last to go in. I stood by the side of the small boat watching everyone else enjoy themselves with the cackling dolphins and caressing them as they got nearer. It was really fun watching those lovely creatures swim around and every so often jump out of the sea.

When it was my turn I went to the communal changing room and put on my tartan swimming shorts.

The other swimmers in my group were already changed in their costumes in seconds and in the water. Unlike me who neatly folded my clothes in an orderly fashion.

When it was my turn to enter the water the other people had had enough and got back into the boat.

Just as I entered the water, immediately, the dolphins saw me and they all just swam away!

The head dolphin in the pack must have said to the others, “We’re not swimming with him. He looks weird!” And the others followed him deep into the sea leaving me splashing about by miself.

To make matters worse one of the dolphins came back, probably excited by the tartan colour of my shorts, and tore them right off. It swam away cackling with my shorts on its head.

It didn’t do my self-esteem any good. I got out of the sea and into the boat as best I could under the circumstances.

I hate these new cell-phones with cameras in them, don't you?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Not Blue Suede Shoes

Hello ... is this Customer Services?

Hi ... I am calling about Order Number 7354 which I placed on-line a few days ago.

Yes, that's me. You got the right name and address.

Yes ... the packet arrived today. Only there's been a mistake at your despatch department. I ordered a pair of Elegant Gents shoes ... no ... ELEGANT Gents not eggplant. Yes ... Order Number 7354.

Well ... instead of two shoes I received three. No ... no ... not three pairs but actually three shoes. Yes, I'm sure. I have them here in front of me. Let me count them out loud for you ... one ... two ... three. I have three shoes.

Let me explain what is wrong with them.

I have one left shoe. It is an Elegant Gents model. It is size 10. It is black. I love it. The despatch department at your end met all the requirements of my Order Number 7354 as far as the left shoe is concerned. If your firm gave awards for meeting the customer's order requirements then your despatch people deserve an award as far as the left shoe is concerned.

Not so for the right shoe I'm afraid. This shoe is a totally different model the name of which I do not know nor do I care. It is size 8. Thus being the wrong size and too small to wear. Also it is brown and not black as ordered. So it fails on all counts as ordered by me on-line; and your despatch department deserves to loose the award they would have received for the left shoe.

The third shoe? Well ... the third shoe fails on more counts one would wish to consider, had one the time to do so and not having lost the will to live.

For a start ... it is surplus to requirements. I do not need a third shoe. Not unless I had a third leg in-between my existing legs instead of my dangling bits.

Secondly, the third shoe, which is surplus to requirements is a left shoe ... not that it matters since I already have a perfect left shoe as ordered.

It is size 7 and it is white. It also has a high heel, it being a lady's shoe and not a man's shoe remotely resembling the Elegant Gents model as shown on your website.

So all in all your despatch department has only got half the order correct as compared to what I requested. Or 33.3% correct if you account for the additional shoe which, as I said, is surplus to requirements and will not be hanging between my legs.

Hello ... hello ... are you still there? You went silent for a moment and I heard a stifled sound as if you were not taking me seriously.

I see ... Let me see if I understand what you are saying. You will cancel Order Number 7354 altogether and you will refund my credit card for the full amount paid so I am not out of pocket. That's very decent of you. Is that you laughing, again?

So ... What do I do with the shoes you sent me? What ... you don't want them back? You mean I can keep them and no need to return them?

Well ... thanks ... I'll use the two men's shoes as plant pots for my geraniums. I've still to decide what to do with the lady's shoe!

Monday, 28 October 2019

In a pickle



I just love pickles. They are juicy, crunchy, sour, salty, tasty and all other good things besides. If you happen to like them, as I do.

I had a large glass jar of pickles and every day I took some out to enjoy with my meal until eventually there was only a tiny little bit of pickle right at the bottom of the jar. It would be a shame to waste it.

So I put my right hand into the jar and tried to dislodge the bit of pickle at the bottom. It was quite a squeeze to get my hand in and … ehm … how shall I say this … my hand got stuck inside the glass jar.

No matter how much I tried to pull it out my hand was stuck inside the jar at the wrist. No twisting or turning would release it.

I remembered from science classes at school that heat expands things and makes them bigger … so a little heat would enlarge the neck of the jar and release my hand.

Wrong.

I poured boiling water inside the jar and nearly cooked my hand trapped in there. I raised my arm up in the air to empty the jar quickly and got hot water splashing all over me.

There must be a logical solution to this. I don’t want to break the jar in case the glass cuts my hand to shreds.

I decided to phone Aunt Philomena. She’s an expert at everything and is sure to have an answer.

It’s difficult picking up the phone and dialing the number with one hand. I picked the phone with my left hand and balanced it gingerly on my left shoulder. Then I started to dial Auntie’s number. As the phone was ringing I got an itch just above my right eye. I raised my right hand to scratch it and hit my head hard with the glass jar knocking myself to the ground.

I must have passed out for a few seconds.

I could hear a distant voice saying “Hello … hello … stop breathing heavily down the phone or I’ll call the police …”

I said incoherently “Is that you Aunt Philomena?”

I explained that I was not a phantom obscene phone call maker and told her my predicament. The poor lady must have been in shock because all she muttered was “Butter … plenty of butter …”

She was obviously thinking about making cakes or something delicious which is quite her forte.

All the talk of butter made me hungry. I went back to the kitchen and with my free hand I put two slices of bread in the toaster.

I got a packet of butter from the fridge but it was too cold and almost solid. To soften it a bit I put the packet in the microwave oven for a minute or so.

When I got it out of the oven it was too hot and I dropped the packet of almost melted butter on the floor.

I bent down to wipe it with a towel and I slipped backwards on the melted butter and the water I had previously splashed all over the place.

As I landed on my back my hand must have struck the ground hard and broke the glass jar into million pieces.

I was found later when my family returned from the shops lying unconscious in a pool of water, congealed butter and broken glass … but no blood.

I blame Aunt Philomena for this!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Bishop Phoning



The phone rang one evening as Father Ignatius was watching football on TV. It was Father Frederick from Bishop’s House.

“Hello Ignatius are you well?”

The preliminary greetings over, Father Ignatius was keen to find out the reason for the call. After all, it isn’t everyday that the Bishop rings a lowly priest such as he.

“I’m sorry to tell you that Monsignor Thomas is not well … he’s in hospital right now …”

Father Ignatius knew the Monsignor from way back as they trained together for the priesthood in Rome. He hadn’t seen him for a while and the news of his illness came as quite a shock.

“Oh don’t worry it’s nothing serious. He sprained an ankle as he fell down the stairs,” declared Father Frederick nonchalantly. “Anyway … are you doing anything on Tuesday? Thomas was due to go to a Conference and deliver a Keynote Speech on behalf of the Bishop … now he can’t make it he suggested you go instead!”

“Keynote speech … well … I’ve never given a speech … and it’s only three days away …” hesitated Father Ignatius.

“Oh I’m sure you’ll do well, the Bishop has every confidence in you … we’ll send you your itinerary and your speech and everything else you’ll need in the morning … Oh it’s in Washington,” interrupted the priest at the other end of the line in his usual casual manner.

“Washington up North?” asked Father Ignatius still in a daze by the sudden turn of events.

“Not Washington in Tyne and Wear … the real Washington old boy … in America …it’s only for a few days … nothing to it … we’ll send you all the details first thing tomorrow.”

Father Ignatius put the phone down and tried to recall the phone conversation. Had he dreamt what just happened? One minute he was happily watching football on TV the next he’d received his marching orders to go to the other end of the world.

The following morning a special courier delivered a large pouch confirming that it was not all a dream after all. There for him to read were his speech, the programme of the Conference, his air tickets and everything else he needed to complete his mission.

Apparently the Monsignor was due to attend an International Youth Conference to discuss and evaluate various ways of encouraging young men into the priesthood in order to overcome a projected shortfall in vocations.

“Have they thought of praying about it?” mumbled Father Ignatius as he fumbled through the reams of papers on his desk.

Three days later and Father Ignatius was in the States once again. He recalled that the last time he visited America was also, as now, a totally unscheduled and unexpected visit.

His hotel was full of priests mainly from America and Canada and a few from Europe. He was the only one from England and soon discovered that he spoke “with a funny accent”, or so his fellow conference delegates thought.

The itinerary included several trips to tourist venues scheduled by the conference organizers and he was paired with a young priest in his twenties from Houston Texas. The idea was to allow exchange of views and ideas on the way different churches tackled vocations in the priesthood.

Father Ignatius got on very well with this young priest and they discussed quite a lot during the various organized trips and free time they had together.

Father Ignatius learnt how this young farmer’s son, decided to become a priest. Being almost half his own age, the young Texan provided quite an insight into his motivation, outlook, hopes and fears. His Christian up-bringing had played a very important part in his decision to become a priest. So much so that the night before he was to deliver his speech Father Ignatius had an important decision to make.

“Do I deliver the Monsignor’s speech as it has been given to me, or do I tell them also my very own views on vocations and the priesthood?” he asked himself.

He felt that the speech written for him, whilst full of facts and statistics, projections and strategies for the future, lacked the very essence and soul which the young lad from Houston had engendered in his conversations with him.

Here we have a young Catholic boy, one of a family of six, all girls except for him. Brought up on a farm by loving Catholic parents who had endured poverty and hardship over the years, yet they managed to keep the family together, all of whom grew up to be exemplary treasures for their parents to be proud of. One of the young man’s sisters was a nun back in Texas. The others were happily married and raising their children as taught by their parents.

In particular, one phrase from that young priest stuck in Father Ignatius’ mind, “The way my parents brought me up, it was inevitable I’d become a priest!” he had said in his Texan accent.

“That alone is worthy of a speech,” Father Ignatius thought to himself, “Even though I might deliver it in my funny British accent.”

And that’s exactly what he did.

He said to his listeners that it isn’t the church which selects people to be priests; but it is God Himself.

By the grace of God we all have a mission on this earth. Some parents are given the gift of children by God. Their gift back to God is the way they bring these children up.

They can create the conditions within the family where it becomes inevitable that their sons may become priests, and their daughters nuns. And those children who go on to have their own families may in their turn emulate their parents’ good example.

Nothing should give parents more pride than to see their sons and daughters join the church. And when they get to meet the Good Lord they can look up humbly and say: “I did my best Lord with the children you gifted me.”

He explained to his audience that priests have an important role in this cycle of events by being an example which others might wish to follow.

Priesthood was not a matter of statistics, projections, strategies and plans. Whether or not there were enough vocations in the future was a matter for God and not for planners and strategists.

“We should have enough Faith in God to ensure that His Word is spread on this earth by people chosen by Him. And in so doing, our role is to pray constantly that many will follow in our footsteps as we priests lead by good example,” concluded Father Ignatius.

Before he left for the airport Father Ignatius met up again with the young Texan and gave him a small Crucifix as a souvenir. He thanked him warmly for inspiring him to deliver a speech from the heart which was no doubt remembered by all delegates at the conference.

EXCERPT FROM MY LATEST BOOK 

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KINDLE VERSION CLICK HERE

CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS
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KINDLE VERSION CLICK HERE
 
I hope that you enjoy all books which I’ve authored and that perhaps they bring someone somewhere to experience God’s love.



I pray that God blesses each one of you dear readers, old and new, and may He be with you and your families always.

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