Monday 30 September 2019

Gadgets ... Gadgets ... Gadgets ...

It's amazing how many electronic gadgets we have around us these days which didn't exist only a few years ago. Like cellular phones for instance, musical recording devices like MP3 players and similar instruments, tablets, electronic readers instead of books and so on.

A friend of mine is really mad about gadgets. He has a device which opens his garage door just as he approaches his house. Somehow, the garage door detects his car approaching and opens automatically and switches the garage lights on. Very impressive.

He is in the entertainment industry. So proud of himself that his telephone does not ring - it applauds him whenever someone calls.

And the applause does not stop there. When he's at home all he needs to do is tap his hands and the lights come on. One tap lights on. Two taps the curtains are drawn shut. Three taps they are open. Four taps the fire is on in the fire place. It's great fun when there's applause on TV and someone calls him on the phone at the same time.

I'll admit to something though ... years ago someone gave us a bedside lamp that lights up to sound. It did not have an ON/OFF switch. You tap and it lights up! You tap again and it switches off. I threw it away after a week. It kept switching on and off all night when I broke wind.

My friend also has a small device always stuck in his ear. I asked him what it was and he said it's his cellular phone. He says "Call Vic" and the device somehow dials my number and he talks to me without using his phone. He is often seen walking in the street talking to himself; or to someone else on the other end of this contraption in his ear.

The other day we went to the zoo as a family. His family and mine. It was a pleasant day throughout until we approached the ostrich enclosure. The ostriches are in an open area with a barrier separating us from them.

I don't know whether it was a floating ostrich feather or high pollen count but suddenly my friend started sneezing violently. He shook his head forward and the device flew out of his ear and into the enclosure.

Immediately ... an ostrich arrived from nowhere and swallowed the device.

There was nothing else to do but go home.

For the next few days, every time someone phoned my friend they heard a loud SQUAWK in their ear. They thought his secretary had just sat on a cactus, or had some other misfortune whilst answering the phone.

Sunday 29 September 2019

Sunday Sermon

Have you noticed how Sunday sermons these days are full of niceties and platitudes and sentiments that everyone would generally agree with. At least round where I am, the sermons are always like that.

The priests talk about a loving and forgiving God, full of kindness and mercy, and the fact that He loves us all and welcomes us to Heaven.

Of course, all this is true, and is indeed Biblical. We read that "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Jesus did indeed come to this earth to reach out to humanity. He came so that we may see Him, hear and listen to Him, and witness His love for us. He died so that we may be redeemed once more.

It is of course right that sermons should proclaim this message. That God loves and welcomes us all into His Kingdom.

But this is only half of the reality that is God. Priests do God no favours by preaching half of the truth for fear of "frightening the horses". 

There are many people who turn down God's invitation to love and to join Him in His Kingdom. People who constantly, and willingly, defy God. People who stand up against Him, daring not to believe in His existence, (which is indeed a privilege afforded them by God), and also proclaiming their defiance and belief for others to emulate and to follow. 

Whilst God is ever loving, merciful and forgiving, He is also just.

Surely the time will come that these people who willingly and intentionally oppose God will be judged and found wanting.

The ever merciful God will say to them, "OK ... you've made your decision, let your will be done!"

And they will have excluded themselves from God's love and from His Kingdom.

But you don't hear this message from the pulpit on Sunday, do you? At least I don't in the churches I attend.

I can't remember when a priest last talked about hell, about Satan, about the results and effects of our disobedience and turning our backs on God. 

The Church needs the people. They are the clients and customers of this big business called Religion. No successful business turns its customers away.

The Church will not talk about the devil and hell in case customers stop going to church altogether. Already regular church attendances are at an all time low. About 5% of the population in the UK according to latest statistics.  

Besides, if you were to ask people if they believe in hell, or the devil, or the final judgement by God, I would guess the numbers would be just as low. Although most would also claim and believe they'll go to Heaven, whatever they perceive it to be.

Surely, the Church, and its priests, bear a responsibility for the current state of affairs. Their job, which they took on freely and willingly, is to shepherd the herds of sheep back into the arms of a loving God who welcomes all to His eternal Kingdom.

I believe when a priest gets to meet God face to face, he will be asked, "How many of the people I put in your care did you lead into Heaven?"

Meanwhile, I fear many of us are sleep-walking our way into hell. Willingly so.

Saturday 28 September 2019

To a higher place

We recently went to visit the mother-in-law up North. She lives in one of those northern towns that haven't changed much over the years and still have Victorian houses with high ceilings inside in every room. The reason I mention this will become apparent in a moment.

She rang us and invited us over for the weekend. She said we will not recognise the house when we get there. That's because she'd just moved to this Victorian house which is nearer the railway station. This was of no help to us since we drove there by car.

Anyway, change of subject and digression. One of my hobbies is to learn magic tricks. I have always been interested in entertainment ever since in my youth when I compered variety shows on stage and was a radio disc jockey and program presenter. It was mostly music and comedy shows, although I also presented a Christian program called "Time for Reflections".

So, as I was saying. I am interested in entertainment and have been learning magic tricks to entertain friends and family at usual gatherings like birthdays, Christmas and so on. Even at funerals. I find a magic trick or two soon lightens the mood in what is usually a very sombre gathering. You can see one of my magic card tricks HERE.

One evening whilst we were at mom-in-law I decided to do some magic tricks to keep the family entertained. I suggested the levitation trick. You must have seen it on TV. The magician has his assistant, usually a young pretty lady, lie flat on a table and he manages to make her float up in the air totally un-aided by any device or machinery.

I suggested I levitate mom-in-law. At first she did not want to take part. She's always been suspicious of me for some reason. Eventually she agreed to lie on her back on the dining table. I dimmed the lights a little. Said my magic words to impress the audience; and after a minute or so she started to rise slowly off the table. She nearly panicked. I told her to relax which she did. She floated about six inches off the table, stopped for a few seconds, floated a few more inches higher ever so slowly, then a bit more, and more and ... eventually she reached the high ceiling in the room we were in.

She was still lying on her back as if on a bed. But she was in mid air with her nose almost touching the ceiling. The family and her friends who were invited that evening were impressed and applauded. She too said, from up there, that it was very clever and enjoyed floating "as if on a cloud" - her words.

The problem came when I tried to bring her down again. I asked her to float slowly down but nothing happened. She remained up there, nose to ceiling.

This has never happened to me before. The trick had gone wrong.

I asked her once again to float down to the table; but she remained up there.

She began to panic. I told her to relax and keep still. The last thing I wanted was her to fall down from such a great height and break the table.

We switched the lights full on. She remained up there.

I stood on the table and tried to get hold of her legs to get her down. I could not reach her.

We searched for a ladder. It was too short to reach her up there.

Someone suggested that I carry her friend, Matilda, on my shoulders and I get on the table so Matilda could pull her down. Matilda, who is in her late sixties, agreed readily and tucked her dress into her underpants, ready to be lifted by me.

I hesitated.

I was called a wimp by mom-in-law up there.

I tried lifting Matilda as she put her legs round my neck. She was too heavy for me. I nearly had a hernia lifting her up. We gave up the attempt as a bad job.

Someone suggested we call the fire-brigade. They have long ladders.

Mom-in-law refused. She was too embarrassed to float up there in the presence of strangers.

After thirty minutes or more of various discussions and suggestions, including mom-in-law from up there, we noticed that she had floated down a few inches from the ceiling.

Ten minutes later she floated down some more. And a bit more again. It was like a party balloon slowly losing the air within and floating down. Ever so slowly until, all by herself because we did not dare touch her, she came down to lie on the table as before.

She gave me a hug and everyone applauded.

I'll never perform this trick again.

My wife still does not speak to me even though we've returned home and this happened a few days ago.

Friday 27 September 2019

Musical Me

(That's me trying to play the guitar)
I’ve always wanted to be able to play a musical instrument.

I started with something simple – the harmonica. All you have to do is suck and blow and suck and blow as you move the instrument left and right in your mouth. It was fun and easy. Sadly, it made the cat climb up the curtains and the dog howl whilst the rest of the family screamed at me all at once.

So I tried taking lessons at playing the guitar. We started with tuning exercises. I had to hold the strings tightly against the neck of the guitar with the left hand and pick at the strings with the right hand!

The problem was that my left hand did its job all right. But the right hand kept moving up and down frantically a few millimetres away from the strings. When the instructor suggested I move my hand a little closer somehow my fingers got all tangled up in the strings with a horrendous sound.

I just could not co-ordinate both hands to do what they were supposed to. Sometimes my left hand moved up and down on the guitar neck, whilst the other hand pushed the fingers into that hole you have in the main body of the instrument.

My patient instructor suggested I use a plectrum or pick. That’s a small triangular piece of plastic which you hold between your fingers to pick at the guitar strings.

As I tried to hit the strings with the plastic bit it flew out of my hand and hit the instructor straight in the eye. Would you believe it? It could have gone anywhere … but NOOOOO !!! In my case it went straight in his eye.
(I drew the cartoon. Honest truth!)

He was taken to hospital and the rest of the class blamed me for a ruined guitar lesson. I mean … why not blame the stupid plastic triangle?

I gave up the guitar and decided to self-teach myself the violin instead. No plectrums or picks … just a long stick which you move up and down over the strings and sound comes out.

I bought myself an expensive violin and decided to learn at home using a book and a CD I got from the library.

It made some good sounds I tell you. The cat still climbed at the top of the curtain and the dog hid in his kennel. The rest of the family chose to go out shopping instead!

It was then that I noticed that whilst playing the violin I had a tendency to walk up and down the room instead of standing still. At first I did not know why I was doing this; then I realized that the music I was playing had been written for the bagpipes.

So I sold my old Stradivarius at a garage sale and used the proceeds to buy a set of bagpipes and drums.
I practised for hours in our garden sometimes marching up and down with the bagpipes, and at other times using the big drum whilst playing back a recording of my bagpipes practice sessions.
I became really good at the pipes and drums and could soon play Chopin’s piano concertos as well as a number of other famous tunes written by all the well known composers. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Michelangelo … I could play them all.

However I noticed that our neighbours had become a little unfriendly and somewhat uncharitable.

One suggested that I play far away but I could not find the sheet music to that tune.

I tried practising indoors but there was not enough room to march up and down. So I walked on the treadmill whilst playing the bagpipes and watching TV at the same time. As an extra incentive I put a glass of whisky at the front of the treadmill to keep me walking towards it whilst playing the pipes.

I sometimes practiced in the garden at night so as not to wake up the rest of the family.

A jovial neighbour always opened his window and shouted “Stop banging that **** drum at three in the morning!” What a laugh that was!

I could even play “Silent Night” on the big drum, you know. For some strange reason our priest refused to let me play it on the drum at the Christmas Carol Concert.

I eventually gave up on the bagpipes due to several letters received from various solicitors. They were all written in the same threatening tone of voice … including the one sent on behalf of my wife.

The thing is … I love music. Putting a piece of paper over a comb and humming quietly doesn’t sound quite the same. Does it?

Thursday 26 September 2019

Barbie and Me

When I was a little boy I used to play with a Barbie doll.

OK ... that didn't sound very good, did it? Let's try again.

When I was a little boy I used to play with my sister's Barbie doll. I used to take it from her without her knowledge and play with it in my room.

That still did not sound right.

Let me explain. I preferred the Barbie doll to any other doll because it was a grown up doll with all the right bumps and curves. I used to sit her on a chair and play board games with her. I also had a Teddy Bear called Carrot which also sat with Barbie and I and played board games.

We used to play Ludo, Snakes and Ladders (Chutes and Ladders), Monopoly and other such games.

Of course, Barbie could not move the counters on the board so I did it for her. She used to get excited and say in my squeaky voice "Do I get to throw the dice again now I got a six?"

She wasn't very good at grammar because the singular for dice is die, not dice. I was clever that way. Carrot used to look on silently with disdain at a child playing board games with an inanimate object such as a doll.

Sometimes Barbie won the game because she got better numbers when the die was cast, and she bargained well when we played Monopoly. But I always beat her at Chess. She often made silly moves and lost valuable pieces that way. Carrot did not participate because he did not like chess.

My father caught me once playing with Barbie in my room. He said, "What are you doing with your sister's doll? Play with your own toys!"

But it was not easy playing board games with my tank or military vehicles. I could wind-up my tank with a little key and then it would move across the Monopoly board and destroy all the lovely properties I had there.

So when I gave Barbie back to my sister I made my own toy out of the cardboard tube you get inside a toilet paper roll. I drew a head, a body with arms and legs on the tube and sat it where Barbie used to sit. I called this new friend Ferret because he reminded me of my Maths teacher at school who looked like a ferret. Carrot thought it was funny but kept a straight face.

Of course, I never told my teacher that I had a toilet roll named after him.

The Ferret in my room was totally witless and without a brain. Being a cardboard tube I could see right through him. And he was easily replaceable by another cardboard tube any time.

A sad reflection of modern society, I think. A lesson learnt at an early age.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

In Praise of Experts

TV Presenter: Good evening and welcome to Science Today. With us this evening is Professor Bella Moon, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Inter-Planetary Exploration ...

Bella: Good evening.

TV Presenter: And Victor Moubarak a self-confessed writer, reader and collector of dust.

Vic M: Hi.

TV Presenter: Our subject this evening is whether there are extra terrestial life out there and whether such living creatures have visited us here on earth. Professor, what do you think?

Bella: There is no scientific independently adjudicated and proved evidence of life in outer-space or anywhere else apart from here on earth.

Vic M: Yes there is.

TV Presenter: That's very emphatic. How do you prove that?

Vic M: They sent me an e-mail.

TV Presenter: Really? What did it say?

Vic M: Take me to your reader.

TV Presenter: Do you mean take me to your leader?

Vic M: No ... reader ... they can't spell. They're from outer space and their English is not as good as ours. But then we can't speak their language at all, can we?

TV Presenter: What is their language?

Vic M: I don't know. I didn't ask them.

TV Presenter: What happened next when you received this e-mail?

Bella: Oh really ... you don't believe this nonsense do you?

TV Presenter: Of course not. But it is more interesting than what you have to say. Besides, the viewers at home like this sort of thing. Carry on, Vic.

Vic M: Thanks. I replied to their e-mail that we have many leaders on earth. Each country has a leader, and also other influential people like leaders of other parties not in power at the time. And there are various world organisations with their own leaders too.

TV Presenter: Interesting. What else did they say?

Vic M: They said that on their planet they only have one leader and he is chosen by playing Rock Paper Scissors with his competitors. The winner is the leader.

TV Presenter: Fascinating.

Vic M: They also said they've been studying us and we produce globally 50,000 gigatons of carbon emissions per year and this is bad for the whole universe. They said all this carbon is not absorbed by trees because we keep destroying our forests. We also produce several megatons of gaseous substances harmful to the atmosphere every time we break wind, and that we should eat less beans. And that global warming is the result of us having too many candles on our birthday cakes, and candles elsewhere like in restaurants and scented candles in the bathroom when we are lying there in the bath doing nothing productive. They also said ...

Bella: Now that is interesting. So they agree that we are responsible for global warming!

Vic M: Aha ... now you believe in outer-space creatures because they agree with your theories. They also said that we should encourage people to grow plants all over their bodies instead of clothes. This will cut down on the production of unnecessary clothing and help the planet by growing plants to compensate for the ones cut down through de-forestation. They suggested we carry potted plants in our pants and boots, or strapped to our legs. Preferably climbing plants like ivy, or vines or even roses. This will create a new habitat for birds and insects who have been displaced by de-forestation and modern agricultural techniques.

Bella: This is outrageous.

TV Presenter: Why?

Bella: I am not growing ivy all over my body! It will attract spiders. I hate spiders and creepy crawlies.

TV Presenter: Not even if it depended on the survival of the planet? Every bird and insect that we save is part of the eco-system and the whole earth depends on them. If they needed you to have plants growing all over you in which to build their nests, would you not help?

Bella: Ehm ...

TV Presenter: What do you say to that, Vic?

Vic M: Well ... I've already got a beard. I'd be happy to have a robin or two living there. But not a swan. A swan is too big to hang on to my beard. Also, I've started growing hair out of my ears. I'll let it grow and join it to my beard. And I'll plant ivy in my boots and wait until it grows up my legs. It won't be long until it surprises me when it reaches my ...

TV Presenter: OK ... thank you. Thank you Bella and Vic. Plenty of food for thought there from tonight's experts on the program. See you next week and goodbye.

NOTE: Since that interview Victor Moubarak has become a certified expert on Inter-Planetary Life. He printed his own certificate on the latest model of laser printer. He is much acclaimed in his new field of study and has given many interviews on TV and radio. And published several books too.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Thank God For Experts

What fortunate times we live in these days. In Olden Tymes life was black and white. Something either was or it wasn't. There was no 57 varieties of grey, (or is it 50?). Life was not so multi-coloured as it is now.

Today, there are many aspects to every situation; and more besides you have not even thought of.

If there is a political story breaking on the news, we are fortunate enough to have an expert on the subject on TV to explain it all and tell us how it could be resolved.

If there's a medical epidemic somewhere or other that spells gloom and doom for us all, there's an expert to explain how it could be controlled or averted. And why it happened in the first place.

If there's an economic crisis with banks in difficulties and businesses closing down, there's an expert explaining the whys and wherefores and the whos to blame for it.

If the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry, an expert will explain that it is all your fault for not re-cycling that plastic bottle or plastic bag which you should have eaten instead of throwing away.

There are experts everywhere on every subject these days. One can't break wind without an expert explaining how it contributes to climate change.

Did you know that according to Chaos Theory, (created by an expert no doubt), the butterfly effect is an assumption that if a butterfly somewhere far away flutters its wings then the air turbulence it creates, no matter how small, will move a little more air, and that little air will in turn move more air, and more and more that eventually, several weeks later, a hurricane will develop somewhere else far away. Can you imagine that? A flap of a butterfly’s wings creates a hurricane weeks later?

Armed with this information from an expert on TV, I know kill every butterfly in sight. Imagine how many hurricanes and tsunamis I have prevented single-handedly.

Experts are everywhere on every subject you can think of. Especially with the Internet so easily at hand. You can now self-diagnose, probably wrongly, on every ailment you may or may not have.

If you have a pimple on your backside just Google it and an expert on the subject will tell you all about it.

The other day I read an article by an expert on how to weld metal plates together to make a ship. It was quite riveting I tell you.

I read another article by another expert explaining that at the time of Jane Austen all the ladies wore those wide and long flowing dresses to cover their bow legs. I did not know that. Did you? Well, now you know! In fact, Shakespeare wrote about it when he said, "What manner of a man is this, who walks in parenthesis?" 

So there you have it. There are experts everywhere on every subject you can think of.

Which leads me to ask, "With all these experts why is the world in such a terrible state?"

Maybe I need an expert to explain it to me.

Monday 23 September 2019

Makes New Sense

Did you know that we have more than the five senses we were taught about in school? We were taught that the five senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But that's not all. We have other senses like vestibular sense which helps you keep your balance and not topple over. 

Or the sense of proprioception which makes you aware of the position and movement of the body.

Let me explain. If you close your eyes and stretch your arms right out, then move your arms in various directions, in front, at your side and so on. The brain knows where your arms are even though your eyes are shut.

Try it. It's good fun.

I tried this experiment at home to prove that it works and I accidentally knocked off the mantle piece a vase which my mother-in-law gave us as a wedding present.

My wife heard the crash and came in. She cried as she picked the broken pieces and said that I never liked that vase.

I tried to explain that it was an accident and she did not believe me. 

I said I was conducting a scientific experiment, and to prove it, I closed my eyes again and moved my arms about, telling her at all times where my arms are.

This time I knocked and broke another piece of porcelain her mother gave her for her birthday.

She cried louder and said that I never liked her mother.

I did not know whether to deny it and risk committing the sin of lying, or agree and risk a bigger argument. I chose to say nothing.

She took my silence to mean that I really did not like her mother. Which is in fact true.

She cried even more and at this point I did not know whether she was crying because of the broken gifts her mom gave us, or whether she was crying because I did not like her mother. Or perhaps she was crying about both but in varying degrees of unhappiness.

I can never understand women. 

In order to redress matters I offered to break a present my mother gave us. That framed photo of us at our wedding just outside the church for instance. My mother had sent the photo to some artist to paint it on canvass. It's an original painting. I could take it in the garden and burn it.

My wife cried even more and called me an idiot and a jerk.

I did not know whether this was because she liked the painting, or she liked my mother. Or both but again in varying degrees of likeness; if there is such a word to describe liking something.

As I said, I'll never understand women.

And I hate science. It doesn't make sense.

What do you think?

Sunday 22 September 2019

Three Bells To Paradise

The Parish House is a very large and old building situated right next to St Vincent Church at the top of the hill overlooking the whole town. Upstairs there’s enough living accommodation to house five priests, and downstairs there’s a very large kitchen and dining room as well as other space used for administrative purposes and as meeting rooms.

Of course, now there’s only Father Ignatius and Father Donald living there; and their housekeeper who works there by daytime but lives in her cottage on the church grounds.

Many years ago a pre-school mother and toddlers group used to meet regularly in the large rooms downstairs. It was like a daily school really and at times it had as many as thirty children and enough adults to care for them.

The priest at the time, Father Ferdinand, of French origin, had three electric push-bell buttons installed by the front door, each ringing in a different tone. He labeled each button “Priests”, “School” and “Kitchen” so that he is no longer disturbed having to open the door for someone who really did not want to see him.

Very efficient Father Ferdinand was … albeit somewhat aloof from his parishioners at times. Unlike Father Ignatius of course!

As soon as Father Ignatius took over at St Vincent he removed the three labels but kept the bells which are still in working order.

On Friday, our friendly priest was at the local Catholic school as a visiting speaker at the Catechism class for the 15 year-olds.

After he gave his short talk, Father Ignatius invited questions from his young audience.

One of the pupils asked, “Why have you got three buttons to press the bell on the front door at Parish House?”

The priest was astonished at this somewhat unrelated question. In order to gain more thinking time, he turned the question back onto his audience. “Good question,” he said with a smile, “does anybody know why we have three bell buttons on our door at Parish House?”

“Variety is the spice of life!” said a young boy as the whole class erupted into laughter.

This encouraged another boy to say, “One bell is for tall people, one for normal people, and the other one is for the short ones who can’t reach the other two bells!”

Father Ignatius said nothing as the pupils continued to laugh.

This went on for a few minutes and eventually the children exhausted their reservoir of wit as one said, “It depends how in a hurry the visitor is. One bell is for urgent, another is for normal and the other is for people who can wait a bit!”

Father Ignatius replied, “If only it were so … I find that most people want to see me in a hurry.

“Those three bell buttons were there when I first came to St Vincent. All three still work. I’ve kept them as a reminder of the three bell buttons on the gates of Heaven.

“There are three buttons there just by the Pearly Gates … and depending on which one you press you go to Heaven, hell or Purgatory!”

“Wow …” said a young girl, “does one know which bell sends you to which place?”

“No!” replied Father Ignatius emphatically.

“That’s hardly fair …” cried out a boy, “what if you press the wrong button and go to hell by mistake?”

“No one goes to hell by mistake!” said the priest as he stopped for a few moments. Then he repeated again gently in a softer voice …

“No one goes to hell by mistake!

“The Good Lord knows precisely who believes in Him. Who has loved and obeyed Him in this life, and who has come to Him through His only Son Jesus Christ.

“He also knows too well who has continuously defied Him. Who has continuously snubbed Him, and who has continuously ignored Him in this world. Not through ignorance, carelessness or stupidity even, but through willful insolence and outright unwillingness to believe.

“The choice between Heaven and hell does not depend on which bell button you push. It depends on your state of sinfulness at the time you die.

“That is what really determines your eventual destination.

“And I repeat … no one goes to hell by mistake. People willingly choose to go there.”

Saturday 21 September 2019

I Confess

Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

It's been quite a while since my last confession ... I don't know how long ... I don't keep a diary of my Confessions. Let's say it was about six months or so since I confessed last.

Father ... is forgetting a sin? You know ... I half forgot deliberately. Partly I forgot but I was glad I forgot.

Let me explain. My mother-in-law phoned the other day and invited us to a concert at the old peoples' home where she was going to sing. And I almost deliberately forgot to tell my wife. Yes OK ... it was deliberate.

The thing is Father, I am sure you never heard my mother-in-law sing. She sounds like a constipated coyote. When she howls all of nature takes fright and cowers into submission.

I am not being un-charitable Father. In fact I was being charitable to my ear-drums.

Well ... yes of course my wife was very upset at my deliberate forgotteness. But as it happens there was another concert the day after and we had to go.

I put some cotton wool in my ears whilst mom-in-law sang ... I hope this is not also a sin? She then played the violin ... very badly I might add. It sounded as if that coyote was really in agony. She played the violin whilst walking up and down the stage. She said later that the piece of music she played was written for the bagpipes.

I also want to confess another sin, Father. Whilst the football game was on TV I took the batteries off the remote control so no one could change the channel to Downton Abbey. I told them the remote was broken.

Well, it was not such a selfish thing to do, Father because I was sparing them the agony of a whole hour of Downton Abbey. I mean ... have you seen that program? You have? And you like it? Oh boy ... I hope this will not affect my penance Father?

Yes ... I have one more sin to confess. It's the sin of vanity. No not me ... my neighbour. He is so vain and proud of his fish in his pond in his front garden. That's two sins Father, vanity and pride.

Yes I know I should be confessing my sins, not that of others. Well, to play a trick on my neighbour I kept buying other similar fishes from the pet shop and at night I put them in his pond. He got totally confused that his fishes were breeding so fast. I told him maybe they are Catholic. He was not amused, him being Church of England.

I know it's not funny Father ... well, it was at the time. No ... I have nothing more I can remember to confess. No ... I am not deliberately forgetting other sins ...

My penance ... what? A whole Rosary? That's too much Father. Can I share it with other people since it is they who led me to sin? I can't? Oh Father !!!

OK ... OK ... I'm going ... you don't need to add another penance for arguing with you.

Friday 20 September 2019

Psychiatrists Conference ...

Paul: Hello Henry ... haven't seen you since last year's Psychiatrists Conference in London ...

Henry: You mean the Looney Tunes Show as we used to call it?

Paul: Yes quite ... how are you getting on old boy?

Henry: Actually Paul ... I don't think I am really a psychiatrist?

Paul: Hein? What do you mean?

Henry: I don't feel I am cut out to be a psychiatrist.

Paul: What are you talking about? You went to college didn't you?

Henry: Yes ...

Paul: And you read about Freud and Jung and Oedipus Rex?

Henry: Is that the one about the dog?

Paul: No ... that's a different Rex.

Henry: I see ...

Paul: Never mind ... you can do joined-up writing that no one can read can't you?

Henry: Yes ...

Paul: And you are rude to your patients ... condescending and insulting?

Henry: I suppose ...

Paul: There you are then ... you're a psychiatrist, and a good one at that.

Henry: But ... I don't feel I am helping people ...

Paul: What's that got to do with it? The important thing is to earn good money. Keep the bank account full. You like top of the range big cars, a big house and a yacht don't you?

Henry: Yes ...

Paul: What's the problem then?

Henry: I really don't know how to help people with problems ...

Paul: It's easy ... everything has a basis on sex. If a woman says she is eating too much, you tell her she is afraid that she is no longer attractive and sexy. If a man is afraid of losing his job, tell him he is really afraid that he will no longer be seen as handsome and appealing to women.

Henry: But it isn't as simple as that ...

Paul: Of course it is ... The problem these days is that no one wants to accept responsibility for their failings. They all want a crutch to lean on and use as an excuse for failure. So you help them along by keeping them talking until their time is up and then charge them for it.

Henry: But what if they need help?

Paul: Get them to talk about their childhood ... that always helps. Were they happy as a child? Did their parents love them or not care? Were their parents over-protective or over-bearing? There's always something in everyone's background that would make them feel better if they face up to it and blame it for their real failure in life.

Henry: I see ... I think ...

Paul: Then once they have found an excuse for their problems you encourage them to get up, face the world, and do better. Simple ...

Henry: Thanks Paul ... I am glad we've had this little chat.

Paul: Don't mention it ... that will be £79 plus tax. I'll send you the bill.

Thursday 19 September 2019

A serious discussion with you

Hi friends,

A number of you have written often enough in the comments box that you enjoy my humourous articles and stories here. And this pleases me a lot because if I manage to make you smile for while then it is a good thing, is it not? Smiling and laughing is good. And I'm happy when you laugh. I remember years ago when I did a bit of amateur theatre, I presented variety acts and told jokes, it was very pleasing when people laughed at what I said.

Some of you have even e-mailed me to say you enjoy my articles. The address is at the tab at the top of this Blog. On the right.

Why only yesterday, someone phoned me and asked, "Is Sandra there?"

I replied, "There's no one called Sandra here. Perhaps you got the wrong number!"

They said, "That's not possible. Sandra does not have a phone!"

This set me wondering. Why does Sandra not have a phone? Is it because she cannot afford one or is it because she is afraid of heights?

You see, in today's world people are not willing to take responsibility and they take offence easily. I think instead of taking offence they should paint them instead. And paint the garden gate too. My wife has been asking me to do it for ages and I refuse on the grounds that the paint will peel off in time anyway and I'll have to do it all over again. Perhaps it's better if people take offence.

It's the same with politics. The other day someone stopped me in the street and asked me if I believe in free speech. I replied, "Yes!" He said, "OK ... can I use your cellphone please?"

And then there's those people who want to swim with dolphins. Well I don't. I want to cycle with dolphins. If I can bother to learn to swim why can't they learn to cycle and come out with me in the park?

Animals are selfish. They want to behave their own sweet way and we have to adapt to their habits and their habitats. If pandas can't be bothered to have sex why should we bother if they become extinct?

How about the koala bears. For a start they are not bears. They are not placental or 'eutherian' mammals, but marsupials, which means that their young are born immature & they develop further in the safety of a pouch. They only eat leaves from the eucalyptus tree and because the leaves of these trees have limited nutritional and caloric value the koalas sleep up to 20 hours a day. I think they are very lazy and should be put to work cleaning chimneys. Their furry and round body would soon clean the soot off that chimney.

When I was young our family was very poor. We could not afford many things and we put animals to good use working for us. We used to tie a hedgehog to a wooden stick and use it as a toilet brush. Baby ones were used as toothbrushes.

Giraffes too. Giraffes are the most useless creatures on earth. They have very long necks and legs out of proportion with the rest of their tiny bodies. It's as if they have been designed by a 3 years old child. Children often draw limbs out of proportion.

Like all mammals, giraffes give birth whilst standing up. Which means the baby giraffe falls from a great height on its head as it is born. No wonder all giraffes are stupid.

It reminds me of when I was born as a baby. I was born in hospital in Ward A, B and C. I was a big baby. The nurse slapped me on my bottom even though I had done nothing wrong yet. Then she punched my dad in the face.

 And another thing ... officialdom. That really gets to me. People who are placed in authority who suddenly become real dictators and tyrants. Like our librarian at the local library for instance. The other day I was waiting to take a book out. The guy in front of me wanted to take out a book called, "How to commit the perfect suicide". She did not want to lend him the book because she feared he would not return it.

The priest in our church is just the same. He put a sign in the car park saying "Place Reserved for the priest". People parked there all the same.

He then put another sign, "Do not park here". People ignored him again.

He thought he'd be clever and use one of the Ten Commandments. He wrote, "Thou Shalt Not Park Here". That too was ignored.

So he wrote, "Whoever parks here will wash my car". We all parked elsewhere.

He could have asked nicely don't you think?

And the choir leader, she's a dictator too! I volunteered to sing in the church choir. I turned up at all the rehearsals except one when I had to go for a hospital check-up. That's when everyone in the choir thought they'd tuned the church organ. When I returned the following week she asked me to stand in the back and mime instead. How can you mime "Silent Night" when beating the big drum?

Nurses in hospitals can be officious too. I had to go and give some blood so they can test if I still have a sense of humour. I don't like needles, so what I do is give my doctor's card to a friend. He goes instead of me and pretends to be me and give blood instead. The nurse does not know any better and I avoid giving blood. Last month my friend could not go and he sent his wife instead. When I went to the doctor's for the results he told me I was pregnant! I was shocked. My wife had assured me the condoms we bought were Catholic approved. 

Anyway, just to assure you that I can sing, here's a recording for you to enjoy.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Family Branches

My grandfather finally achieved his life-long ambition to be a lion-whisperer; just moments before he died.

My other grandfather was very lazy and worked on a farm. He was fired for killing a snail which followed him all day long.

My other grandfather invented a compass which always pointed in the opposite direction he was travelling. He did not know whether he was coming or going. He also invented a luminous sundial so he could tell the time at night. His sundial watch did not catch on though ... except on his sleeves as he put his shirts on.

My other grandfather was abandoned by his family so he joined ours. He could not keep his nose out of peoples' private business. He was on security duty in a nudist camp; where people go to air their differences. He was a boxer. The rest of his family were Dalmatians.

My other grandfather ... or was it my uncle? My uncle went for three weeks on a dog food diet. It eventually landed him in hospital. He stepped off a curb to sniff a poodle's butt and was hit by a car.

My other uncle did not have a peaceful death lying quietly in his bed. Instead he was surrounded by shouting and screaming people as he drove the bus over a cliff.

My auntie ... my auntie told her parents that she was pregnant. They told her to deny that the baby was hers.

My other uncle ... we were a big family. My other uncle used to work as an elevator attendant in a department store. His life had its ups and downs. He also suffered a lot from flatulence. I think farting in an elevator is wrong on so many levels.

My other uncle ... he died at work in a warehouse suddenly without saying goodbye. He was hit on the head by a falling crate of Cheerios.

My cousins ... all of them my distant cousins. They all moved to Australia to be as far away from me as possible.

One of my cousins ... well, he still lives next door. He inherited my grandfather's compass. We call him Boomerang. Every time we send him to Australia he comes back. Whenever he goes out shopping we move house. But he still manages to find us.

He is such a miser that he would not spend any money at all if he could possibly help it. He is always coming round to borrow the mother-in-law's false teeth.
The mother-in-law ... well she came as part of the deal. When I married it was a buy one get one free offer at her family. 

I can always tell when she's home because she leaves her broomstick in the porch. I've tried putting it in the trash can but it keeps flying out and resting out of reach on the chimney. 

I thought of putting the broomstick in the trash can and then placing something heavy on the lid to stop it getting out; but my mother-in-law refuses to sit there until collection day on Wednesday.

My other grandfather ... I'd forgotten about him. He doesn't believe in modern technology and all that. He is on Twitter but does not tweet. It is his way of playing truant. 

He is on Facebook too but has no followers whatsoever. So he's taken to walking down the street and making inane statements about himself of no more than 180 characters or so; as they do on Twitter and Facebook. Every so often he says: "My shoes hurt!" "I need a haircut." "My trousers itch in unusual places." 

At first these occasional utterances astounded those around him. But now he has three followers - all wearing white coats.

My grandmother ... forgot about her. My grandmother swallowed a fly. Then she swallowed a spider. Eventually she got prosecuted by the Animal Welfare People for cruelty to animals.

My other grandmother used to live in a tree. She said she liked to imitate birds. She ate worms.

My other grandmother had tattoos on her fingers just by the knuckles. On one hand she had tattooed the letters L - O - V - E and on the other hand she had tattooed the letters H - A - T. 

She ran out of money before finishing the tattoos. If only ... we too ran out of money every time we started to hate!

She was so thin and bonney she had liposuction to put some fat in. It was done at the sausage factory.

Another of my cousins, however, had lost a lot of weight and as a result he had a lot of loose skin; especially in the chest and tummy area. He went for surgery and they pulled up his skin upwards, ever so upwards, and stretched it tightly until all his loose skin was tied into a knot and hidden behind his neck. He looked perfectly well except that his belly button (navel) was now on his forehead. He also had a very unusual tie.

My other cousin always plays tennis whilst wearing a motorcyclist's helmet in case he gets hit in the face by the ball. He got hit in the groin instead. Now he wears two motorcyclist's helmets.

My other cousin is a scientist. He was fired from his job in the Research Lab for inventing instant laxative. He was not flushed with success. 

My other other cousin is a lawyer. I won't say a thing about him!

My other distant cousin three times removed ... keeps coming back! He performs keyhole surgery at the local locksmith. His patients refuse to have a door placed on them as they lay on the operating table.

My other other cousin always wears dresses in public, especially whilst shopping and when attending church. She's a woman, so what do you expect? Are you suggesting there's something weird about my family? I'll have you know we're all perfectly normal; for around here.

As for me ... well, I am perfect as you all already know.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Mother Nature

Isn't nature wonderful? I love natural science programs on TV and learn a lot from them. I sit there pizza in hand gathering all sorts of facts to inform, educate and entertain you.

Here are some nature's facts for your edification.

Did you know that if a centipede is attacked it detaches some of its legs and throws them at his attacker? That way the attacker stops to eat the leg and the centipede runs away and hides. It's true, I tell you. The sad thing is that when the centipede returns to retrieve his lost shoes and socks he gets eaten anyway.

Also, did you know that silverfish can live for two to eight years unless you hit them hard with your shoe.

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. In the third phase, the silverfish do what they want in the privacy of their own home; unless you turn on the lights and hit them with your shoe.

The thorny devil lizard can absorb water through its skin like a blotting paper. Then it drinks the water by opening and closing their mouth - they drink through their scales like sipping through a series of straws. They do not use plastic straws like we do because they have their own straws under their skin. So remember, never let one of these lizards stand in your glass of wine or else he'll get drunk and start singing, "I did it my way!"

The cricket chirps at night depending on the temperature. If it is very hot it could chirp 30 or 40 times a minute. If it is a little cooler it would chirp perhaps 15 to 20 times a minute. In very cold conditions it does not chirp at all because it is frozen out of its tiny mind.

The coldest temperature ever recorded is known as Absolute Zero. At Absolute Zero nothing happens. The buses will not run and don't even think of licking a lamp post because you'll be stuck there with no one to release you.

Talking of Zero ... scientists have built a chamber where you can simulate Zero Gravity. They put an elephant and a mouse in the chamber to find out whether, when there's no gravity, they would float at the same rate, rising at the same time. Surprisingly, they did float up at the same rate despite their different size. However, when they switched the gravity machine off the elephant fell with a bump on the mouse and killed it.

The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise. He was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle which do feed on tortoises by dropping them on hard objects. The eagle had mistaken his bald head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile; he was acquitted in Court later and the verdict was recorded as an accident. Ironically, Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avoid a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object.

Did you know that Madagascar hissing cockroaches eat fresh vegetables and dry dog food pellets? The hiss is produced when they forcefully expel air through the specially-adapted respiratory openings under their wings. They normally hiss because they don't like what someone is saying or singing - that's why you should never take them to the theatre or a concert in case they disturb the audience by their disapproval.

Whilst staying at a cheap hotel once I killed a cockroach in my room. Within minutes the place was infested by cockroaches who had come for the funeral.

Snails are amongst the slowest and most boring creatures on earth apart from lawyers and accountants. Of course, they were not always as small as they are now. In Olden Days they were as big as pigs. They were still very slow and left a trail of slime behind them which people would slip on and get injured. Because of their slowness and the fact that they taste nice with garlic they were all caught and eaten in a delicate sauce. Only baby snails survived and they decided, on a unanimous vote, to remain small to avoid detection. Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would be at least two days before you said  "OOOH !!! What a nice surprise!"

Did you know that flamingoes stand on one leg because if they were to lift it up they would fall?

Also, did you know that in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Polonius hides himself behind Gertrude's arras?

What's that to do with natural science? I hear you ask. Well ... I just thought that she must have had a big arras to hide a man behind!

During the summer I decided to go to college for evening classes. I had a choice of a place either at a martial arts class, (karate, judo and the like), or at a do-it-yourself class, (being a handyman, doing carpentry, plumbing, a bit of electric work, car maintenance, that sort of thing). I did not wish to be hurt at martial arts so I chose the do-it-yourself class.

Yesterday I was mugged on my way home from college. I offered to build the mugger a set of shelves!

It's true I tell you. I am not pulling your leg. All these facts have been well researched in a scientific book which I am writing. So they must be true.

Monday 16 September 2019

Receiving Jesus

Father Ignatius finished reading from Matthew Chapter 8 Verse 5 then waited for the congregation to sit down.

“Imagine,” he said, “that I asked you to share your lunch with me today …

“If I said that Mrs Davenport, our housekeeper, has gone away suddenly and has not prepared Sunday lunch. So instead of staying at home alone with a piece of bread and ginger marmalade, I’d come home with you after Mass and share your meal with you.

“What would you think?”

He waited patiently for a few seconds.

“Would you think … Oh no … I haven’t had time to clean the house. It’s in a right state and I don’t want him to see it this way!

“Or … Not today, without prior notice … All we have at home is a few eggs and some bread …

“What other reasons would cross your mind, I wonder, to stop me from visiting you unannounced?”

After a few seconds’ pause he continued.

“In today’s Gospel we read about a Roman Centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. And when Jesus agrees and makes his way towards the house the soldier says, ‘I am not worthy that you come into my house …’

“He doesn’t stop Jesus because the house is not clean, or because he has nothing to offer Him by way of refreshments … He says that he is not worthy to have Jesus visit him.

“He is a Roman Officer, a member of an occupying army with many soldiers under his command. He has power over many men and territory. Yet, he does not feel worthy enough to have such an eminent person as Jesus visit his home.

“He goes on to say ‘Just say the word and my servant will be healed!’

“What Faith, from someone who supposedly should have no Faith at all in Jesus! After all, Jesus was considered by the Romans as just another Jew in this occupied land ... nothing special.

“He says to Jesus, ‘I trust you enough and in your power, that you only have to say it, and my servant will be well.’

“And of course Jesus heals the servant without visiting the house.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a few moments once again.

“I wonder if we have similar Faith!” he asked.

“Do we trust Jesus enough to believe that He will listen to our prayers? Or do we harbor some doubts in our minds?

“Are we worthy to have Him visit us in our homes? Or will He be shocked by the cobwebs in every corner of our soul?

“And when we come forward for Holy Communion, and repeat the Centurion’s words, do we really mean them? I am not worthy to receive You ... ... ...

“Or do we hide the cobwebs of sin in our very souls? For make no mistake about it. This is what Communion is … Jesus abiding within your very soul.

“And if there’s sin hidden in our hearts … then we are not worthy indeed to receive Him.”


Sunday 15 September 2019

The Journey

Let me take you on a journey which you will surely make. One day. You don't know when, but for certain you will make that journey. We may not know the day or the hour, and we may hope it is a long way off, but for certainty, one day, we will all make that journey.

The day we get to meet God. Face to face.

You ... and the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. Including you.

How will you feel that day?

Will you be filled with trepidation, your heart pounding, at a loss for words, not knowing what to say? Will you wonder and fear what He will say to you? And how you will react to His voice and to what He says?

Or will you be joyful? At last you're in Heaven. Are you so presumptuous and certain of your fate and destination? Will you give yourself a mental thumbs up that all is going to be well for you?

How will this feeling, justified as it may well be, affect your attitude, your demeanour and behaviour as you get to meet your Maker?

Would you still meet Him with trepidation or act as if meeting a long lost friend from school or the golf club?

How will your thankful heart proclaim your feelings? In silence? In song? In words? What would you say?

Will you say "thank you Lord" or will your mouth and tongue dry up in the presence of such Majesty of your Creator God?

Will your mind and your very being be able to comprehend the awesomeness of the situation and the beginning of a new journey into eternity?

For one certainty there is. We will all make that journey.

Are you ready for yours?

Saturday 14 September 2019

My Phone Conversation With The Priest

Hello ... is this St Vincent Church?

I would like to speak to Father Donald please ...

... Not Father Mark ... he is a little frightening at times ... I find him intimida ...

... Oh it's you Father Mark !!! Hello ...

... Ehm ... I'm sorry about what I said just then ...

... Will I need to confess it as a sin? No ... oh good ...

Well ... what I wondered is ... you know your housekeeper ...

Yes ... Mrs Nightingale ... yes ... well ... do you think she has my sausages?

My sausages ... You see, I am at home cooking breakfast ... fried eggs and bacon with baked beans and no sausages ...

Yes ... I have no sausages ... and I wondered if Mrs Nightingale had them and cooked them for you and Father Donald for breakfast ...

I was at the butcher this morning ... you see ... Ivor Bull and Harry Lamb ... do you know them?

... They are in the High Street next to the pub The Drunken Bishop ...

Yes ... I'm about to get to the point ... don't intimidate me please ... it makes me worried when you shout ... Ok ... yes ... I have calmed down ...

... Well ... the butcher ... he makes lovely pork sausages ... chipolatas ...

... That's the name of the sausages ... Have you ever tried them?

Yes ... I'm getting there ... Well ... I got half a pound of chipolatas and then on my way home I came in the Church.

I sat at the back ... and it was about the end of the Mass ... is it a sin to come at the end of the Mass rather than the beginning?

No? Well ... I stayed there and said a prayer whilst the two or three people there went home ... then I left too ...

When I got home I did not have my chipolatas ... I may have left them on the pew ... the last one at the back on the left ...

Well ... I thought perhaps Mrs Nightingale may have found them when she was cleaning the church and fed them to you and Father Donald?

Why are you angry with me, Father? I was only asking ...

Ok ... after I have had my breakfast ... without the chipolatas ... I'll come over to church and ask Mrs Nightingale if she found them ...

Will you be there? No? You'll be out? For how long? I thought I'd say "hello" whilst I'm there ... You'll be out for a month?

Ok ... I'll say "hello" now then ... and "goodbye!"

I hope you are not angry with me, Father ... Father ... He's hung up!

Friday 13 September 2019

I lost my banana

Something very odd has happened in our household. We have had a burglar in the house and he stole nothing else but a banana. I kid you not. Not one thing in our house was taken, not one bar of chocolates which I hide somewhere secret, not one of the many books I have authored, nothing taken except for one banana.

It was there in a bowl of fruit. The last item to be eaten before we purchase some more. One lonely banana in all its glory. Not even worth posing for a painting by Caravaggio, Picasso or Cezanne.

And now it's gone.

Everyone in our family claims that they did not take it. And I believe them.

So it leaves two options. Either the dog jumped on the table whilst we were out and ate it. Or a burglar came in and took it.

It can't be the dog, I think. Because the fruit bowl has not been disturbed and there is no sign of banana skin anywhere, unless the dog ate that too.

So it must have been a burglar. And the dog let him in no doubt. He is not much of a guard dog.

I remember we had a similar burglary some years back. It was just after we got married. A burglar entered our house and stole absolutely nothing except for my pictures. I had twenty or so pictures around the house, hanging on the wall, on the mantelpiece, side board and so on, of me in various poses, all taken by professional photographers. All these photos of me were taken and nothing else.

I wanted to call the police but my wife discouraged me. She said they'd never believe a thief would just steal only my photos; unless he was a great fan of mine that is.

So I did nothing.

Many years later I found all these photos, still in their frames, up in the loft covered in dust.

What kind of burglar is it that steals photos and then hides the loot up in the loft?

So I went up there and looked for my banana. I did not find it. But I found a number of other items I had lost over the years. Like the collection of antique door handles which I had started as a hobby before I got married. And the book about gaining friends and influencing people. A lot of good that did me in my youth; everyone avoided me as soon as they saw me. And that T shirt with the sexy slogan I used to wear. These and many other things were up in the attic. But no banana.

I think something strange is happening around here. How could the dog manage to take all these things and hide them in the loft. You'd think his instincts would be to bury them in the garden.

Maybe that's where he buried the banana!

Any ideas?

Thursday 12 September 2019

Worry and Doubt. Peace and Certainty.

It was a lovely Spring evening, quite bright and warm for this time of year, when Steven Milliner, the Youth Club leader, decided to take the children to the park opposite St Vincent Catholic Church for some fresh air and exercise.

Most of the boys had gathered with two Club Leaders at the far end of the park to play football. The rest of the children stayed in the playground area and played on the swings, the slides, round-abouts and seesaws; supervised by a couple of Leaders and Father Ignatius who’d turned up to help.

The priest sat on a bench and kept a watchful eye when he was joined by Tony a young volunteer who helped at the Youth Club every now and then.

“Could I ask you something Father?” he said hesitantly as he sat down.

“Fire away …” replied the priest.

“How is it that you priests can be so strong and steadfast in your Faith. You and Father Donald are so saintly and you preach on Sunday so well … I mean, do you ever have doubts?”

Father Ignatius smiled. “If only you knew …” he thought silently.

After a moment or two Father Ignatius spoke gently.

“Well … Father Donald may well be saintly I suppose … as for me … hmmm … what makes you think I’m saintly?”

“You’re always so calm Father. Nothing seems to rattle you. And your Faith is so strong …”

“Well Tony …” Father Ignatius said after a short pause, “priests are human beings just like everyone else. Just because we wear a white collar, or have been ordained as priests, does not make us Saints. Of course we have doubts every now and then … perhaps not as much or as often as other people, but we are no less immune to the attacks and temptations of the devil.

“A person’s Faith depends on a lot of factors. We all have different levels of Faith … if I can put it this way. Some people have a strong Faith in the Good Lord and can withstand no end of suffering and hardship … others fold at the first stumble …”

“So, if you do have moments of doubts Father, how do you fight it?” asked Tony.

“Prayer … constant prayer,” the priest answered, “one of my favorite prayers is what the man in the Bible said to Jesus. ‘I believe Lord; help my unbelief’. Look it up in Mark 9:24.”

“Yes Father … I remember reading that …” Tony replied.

“Priests are no different to anyone else,” continued Father Ignatius, “some have strong Faith indeed, living Saints as you call them … whilst others do struggle sometime, just like anyone else.

“Anyway … why do you ask? Having any problems?”

Tony hesitated a little before replying.

“Well … sometimes I have doubts …” he said, “… and yet at other times I feel totally certain about my Faith. I believe and totally trust in God, especially when all is going well in my life.

“I suppose the problem is that I don’t trust myself to believe enough. It’s as if I should believe and trust more … yet it does not seem or feel enough. I doubt myself in what I believe. Do you understand what I mean?”

Father Ignatius said nothing for a while as he cleaned his glasses.

“Look at that seesaw over there …” he said finally, “Do you see how one child at one end is up in the air one moment and then down again the next, whilst the other child in turn is up in the air? And then the first child is up again … and down again …

“Life is a bit like that sometimes. You have at one end of the seesaw Worry and Doubt; and at the other end Peace and Certainty.

“Sometimes Worry and Doubt are in the ascendant and together what powerful adversaries they make! We start questioning our Faith. We ask ourselves ‘What if I got it all wrong? What if there is no God at all!’. We worry about our family, our friends, our finances and worldly goods. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like.”

Tony nodded silently.

“But at other times, especially after prayers or Bible readings, the seesaw tips the other way and Peace and Certainty are up in the air. We remember the many times God was there for us when we needed Him. And the many situations He saved us from and helped us through.

“It’s at these times that we know for certain that He exists alright, despite what others might lead us to believe.”

“That’s a good analogy,” said Tony quietly.

“I suppose we can’t control the up and down movement of the seesaw,” continued Father Ignatius in his calm voice, “that’s what it was designed to do. But with constant prayers we can ensure that Peace and Certainty are there high up for all to see in our lives for as long as possible.”

Wednesday 11 September 2019

London Back Then

I went to London and stood in the street.

Right there.
That’s where the building was.
The office block where it all started.

Up there in the air.
About that high.
That’s where my office was.

The building is now no longer there.
But I can see it in my mind.
Right up there, that’s where I sat at my desk.

That high from the ground.
And that deep in from the edge of the sidewalk.
Right up there in the sky.

I walked down a corridor up there
To all the other rooms.
That’s where we all were. Right up there.

There were others too.
On the many floors below us.
But we were right up the top overlooking London.

The building is gone now all those years hence.
Replaced by this grey block
Which they call modern living.

Ours was an imposing building.
Fit for the world it represented.
It stood right there by the corner of the street.

That’s where I took my first young faltering steps
Towards a managerial career
Full of struggles, pain and some success.

Up there. Right up in the sky.
On top of the world.
Where the boy made good.