Saturday 29 February 2020

Leonardo Da Vinci

If you lived between 1452 and 1519, (and I don't mean between 8 minutes to 3 and 19 minutes past 3), I meant the years 1452 and 1519 - now listen up and pay attention.

If you lived between those two years and you met Leonardo da Vinci and called him a buzzard; then you would be right; because he was born out of wedlock. And I don't mean Wedlock a village in rural England. You know exactly what I mean. So let me get on with today's lesson.

Leonardo was born on 14/15 April 1452. I am also reliably informed he was born in hospital Ward A, B and C. He was a large baby who took two days to be born. His mother needed a shot of vino after all that. The nurse looked at the baby and punched his father in the face.

Leonardo had no surname ... ... ...

Do you remember the song by America

"I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can't remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain ..."

They don't write them like that any more.

Anyway, Leonardo had no surname as such. Da Vinci simply meaning "of Vinci"; his full birth name was Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci, meaning "Leonardo, (son) of ser Piero from Vinci."

Also, contrary to popular belief, he was not a Ninja Turtle. He was human like you and I and me even.

Now, far be it of me to speak ill of the dead, but Leonardo was a bit of a procrastinator. Not only did he take two days to be born but he also took a long time to actually finish any painting or commission he was offered. He was probably like the modern day plumber or builder who takes far too long to finish a job they started and always in excess of the agreed budget.

I remember once calling a plumber to come and fix an emergency leak in my house and he said he could not come before 17 July 2023 - in the afternoon, because he was taking belly dancing lessons in the morning.

Anyway, as I was saying before my mind wandered sideways, at a tangent as it were. Thankfully it did not wander in full circle otherwise it would have come back and hit me.

Leonardo was a procrastinator. In fact he did not decide to be a procrastinator until the following day.

For example, it took him about 14 years to paint the Mona Lisa.

This famous painting known as the Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda in Italian, or La Joconde in French, or the Mona Lisa in English, (I don't know what it's called in other languages), is an oil painting on poplar by Leonardo da Vinci.

Basically, it is a painting on a piece of wood which Leonardo found one day in the garage having finished painting the garden fence and gate. Apparently he had some paint left over, and so as not to waste it, he decided to paint the young lady next door whilst her husband, Francesco del Giocondo, was on a business trip to Rome and the trains were running late that day.

Art experts and historians believe that the painting was painted between 1503 and 1506, although some claim that Leonardo may have still been working on it as late as 1517; which you must admit is a very long time for Mrs Gioconda to sit still to be painted. Can you imagine her husband being on a train journey for 14 years?

Trains are often late these days too. Our railway people said they will fix the problem by changing all time-tables and replacing them with calendars instead. "The train on Platform 1 will arrive in London on Wednesday".

The other day they said all trains will be late due to shortage of staff. Why can't they employ taller ones?

As I was saying, the Mona Lisa painting is the best known and most visited painting in the world. It has been talked about more than any other painting and it was also sung about by Nat King Cole and others. The reason for this is the enigmatic smile on the lady's face.

"Why is she smiling?" experts have asked. "Is it because she's having her picture taken?" or "Is it because Leonardo, painting her, has forgotten that his trouser zipper is undone?" Can you imagine that for 14 years?

After extensive research, and through many conversations with art experts in London, and a friend living in the house next door to where my aunt lives, I can reveal for the first time why the Mona Lisa is smiling so. The reason is so obvious and so simple that I'm astounded it escaped so many art experts over the years.

If the lady in question had to sit still from 1503 to 1506, or possibly 1517, she was quite simply grimacing because she wanted to go to the toilet.

It's as simple as that.

Friday 28 February 2020

Romans Friends and Countrymen Listen Up

We can learn a lot from ancient history. Some years ago I was talking to my friend in class at school and the teacher threw a piece of chalk at me. He said, "That'll teach you to talk in class. The exams are next week, if you don't pay attention you'll go down in History!"

He was right. I have gone down in History, and Geography, and Maths and ...

This all happened many years ago. So it is now history. Which proves that we learn a lot from ancient history; so pay attention to today's lecture.

Not many people use Roman numerals these days. We write numbers as 1, 2 3 and so on as opposed to the old fashioned numerals on a grand-father clock.

They were invented by the Romans, you know. Hence Roman Numerals. In ancient times, even before when Romans ruled the world, people used to count in a very basic way. They would point at an item; say an apple, and say "an apple". They would write that as an I or just a vertical straight line. Pure and simple.

If they wanted to count more they would say "Another apple", and write II, (two vertical lines) and another apple, III ... and another apple, and another apple ... you get the idea.

This basic system of writing vertical lines every time you added something went on for years and years up to the Roman Empire. But it soon became too cumbersome when people started counting 10 apples as IIIIIIIIII. Can you imagine having more than 10 apples? Pretty soon people started confusing big numbers such as eleven: IIIIIIIIIII and twelve: IIIIIIIIIIII and so on.

A centurion in charge of a 100 men would stand them all in a long line and write down a lot of Is and on and on and on ... until he ran out of paper; or his pencil lead would wear out and he'd have to start all over again. Counting became intolerable throughout the Roman Empire.

Number plates for chariots became so wide to accommodate the big Registration Numbers that the number plate itself had to be wider than the chariot. The chariot got stuck in narrow streets or knocked pedestrians on the side-walks.

Road signs advising speed limits like 30 miles an hour were also so wide with IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII vertical lines that the road sign itself blocked the whole road.

This all changed when someone suggested that when we reach the number 4 it be written as IV, 5 as V, 6 as VI and so on until 7. Then he changed his mind and decided that IX would represent nine, X for ten, XI for eleven and so on. Then he added new letters for good measure. For example L for fifty, C for one hundred, D for five hundred and M for one thousand.

For a while all was well and the Romans were happy counting their apples and pears in this new way. Then one day, the Emperor Claudius, received a text saying – I LV CLAVDIVS – and he didn’t know whether it was an amorous message from his girlfriend or his wife’s new telephone number.

So Emperor Claudius banned the use of all cell-phones in the Roman Empire rather than just change the numerical system to the 1, 2, 3 ... which we now use.

There are of course a lot of Romans that have been remembered in History apart from the Emperor Claudius. There's Nero who was good at computer programming, Julius Caesar and a lot of other Caesars who invented Caesar salads and many many others. One in particular which has a connection with Britain is Hadrian.

Hadrian was a Roman Emperor (76 AD - 138 AD) at the time the Romans conquered most of Britain up to the Northern borders with Scotland. There he built a great wall dividing the country from coast to coast.

The wall was 117 kilometres long and several portions still exist and are a great tourist attraction. It is so big that you can see the moon from there.

A few years back some archaeologists digging near the wall found a few spent match sticks and cigarette ends, proving that the Romans did smoke the same brands as we do now. They also found a cell-phone which was sent to a lab in London to find out whether it contains photos of the Romans all those years ago. Sadly it did not work because the memory chip in the phone was damaged.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Stop Rambling On Your Blog

Anyway, as I was saying before I lost my train of thoughts. There I was years ago on holiday in France. In Nice I think it was, or was it the Côte d'Azur, anyway ... wherever. I was there with a mathematician friend called Theo Thereafter. Odd name for a mathematician, I thought. His other friend was called Norman Nevertheless. Not that their names matter one jot.

We were there in France and we hired a boat from a Greek called Zorba. You should have seen him dance.

Unfortunately the boat ran out of fuel somewhere off-shore and we passed the time with my friend the mathematician explaining the difference between the mean, the median, the mode, the average and the range. Not that I cared about any of them.

Then he mentioned the medium. I must admit the only medium I met who could speak to the "other side" as it were was not a medium at all. She was in fact extra large. She was so big you had to take a bus to go round her. But that's another story.

I remember she was a clairvoyant as well as a medium. Once she had a seance postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. She was particularly good at communicating with dead animals and pets. Which is a feat in itself seeing I can't even communicate with our dog who is very much alive. When I point to his bed and say, "Go to bed!" he looks at my finger instead and asks, "Who's Fred?"

People think my dog is clever. A friend called on me once and was amazed to find me playing chess with my dog. He watched the game in astonishment for a while. "I can hardly believe my eyes!" he exclaimed. "That's the smartest dog I've ever seen."

"Nah, he's not so smart," I replied. "I've beaten him three games out of five."

This extra large medium lady once talked to a dead parrot that someone in the audience had as a pet. She said the message she received from the other side was a little garbled because it kept repeating it self.

She hypnotised a man in the audience and tried to get him to communicate with his dead horse. Whilst asleep the man kicked her in the backside. Apparently he'd had a nightmare.

That's a long way from the holiday in France you might say; and it's true. Do you know that once in Scotland I was thrown out of a zoo because I frightened the snakes. I was told I looked like a raccoon. The snake is one of the most intelligent creature in the animal kingdom. Especially adders which are good at mathematics.

I was with that mathematician I mentioned before on a train once; hence me following my train of thoughts from the beginning of this story. The train travelled by a field full of sheep and my friend said "there's 101 sheep there!"

I asked him how did he count them so fast. He replied, "Easy, I counted their legs and divided by four!"

To impress him, in the next field there were some cows. I quickly counted 239 legs. Which means either one cow had lost a leg; or there was a cow with three legs.

So as I said, I was with him and his friend on the boat in France and we were fishing. We caught 27 fishes. None had legs. I said, "This is a good spot to fish. We need to mark this spot and return here to fish tomorrow."

Norman, his friend, said, "I'm ahead of you there. I have marked the side of the boat with an X to mark the spot!"

Theo replied, "You idiot! How can you be so sure tomorrow we'll get the same boat?"

Which reminds me; why is it you can't buy a fishing net with no holes?

Generally fishing is boring. I'd rather be fishing for fish sticks; it's more convenient.

Anyway, eventually we called on another boat to pull us in to shore because we'd run out of fuel. Ashore, Zorba the Greek was still waiting and very angry that we took so long hiring his boat. So we lowered it because it was so high.

Can't remember what I wanted to say when I started this post. Perhaps you'd remind me!

Wednesday 26 February 2020

The Ancient Greeks

Today's history lesson is about the Ancient Greeks. A people who have brought civilisation many things we love and cherish today, like baklava, avgolemono, youvarlakia, stuffed vine leaves, ouzo, the Olympic Games, as well as Nana Mouscouri and Demis Roussos.

How many of these do you recognise?

Of course the Olympics Games have changed a lot since they were first held in Ancient Greece. In those days the games consisted mostly of running round the track and throwing the discus or javelin. To be fair, they did try to throw the boomerang, a sport introduced by Australian competitors, but it did not catch on because the boomerang kept coming back and hitting the contestants on the head.

One little known fact about the Olympics is that only men competed at the games when held in Athens. And they did so totally naked which must have been somewhat disconcerting during the relay race in case the runner behind you did not catch the stick in your hand.

Another little known fact about the Olympics is that in Athens, apart from the men, only virgins and unmarried women were allowed in as spectators. Married women were forbidden to watch the Games under penalty of death; in case they got attracted to the naked athletes and put them off their stride.

By contrast in Sparta, which compared to Athens was more liberal in outlook, they allowed both men and women to compete in the Games in the nude. (I bet there was a lot of socialising afterwards).

The history of the relay race is quite interesting. Apparently, the god Pormetheus stole fire from the other gods and brought it down to earth for humans to use. The other gods got very angry, and presumably somewhat cold without a burning fire to keep them warm. So they chased the humans to get their fire back. The humans ran away with burning torches. 

The relay race in the original Olympics was run with burning torches in honour of the god Pormetheus. Also, running naked with someone behind you with a burning torch gave the athletes extra incentive to run faster!

A famous Greek was a man called Pythagoras. He was a mathematician, philosopher and founder of a movement known as Pythagoreanism.

He believed that the square on the hippopotamus is equal to the two other squares on the other side of the triangle. The triangle of course being an early musical instrument which was easy to tune since it only has one note. Apparently, he also invented cheese triangles much loved by people to this day; and are not to be confused with wedgies which are an entirely different thing.

His well known Pythagoras Theorem was taught to children at an early age and is still taught today for no apparent reason, since it has very little to do with getting a job as a celebrity, politician or even a cashier at the supermarket. It is still useful though if you work in a zoo and have to draw a square on the side of a hippopotamus.

Pythagoras, take my word for it, was believed to have a golden thigh. Which must have constricted his speed when he took part in the relay race. On the positive side though, he did not need to win a gold medal since he already had enough gold to weigh him down.

He believed in a strict diet and in particular had an aversion to beans. Hitherto, he noticed that his followers stood upwind from him at meetings; so he stopped eating beans and advised his followers to do the same. His hatred of flava beans stems from the belief that every time one farts they lose a bit of their soul. Which explains perhaps where he kept his soul.

This caused his eventual death when one day his enemies chased after him. He ran as quickly as he could and eventually reached a field where beans were being grown. Rather than enter the field and escape his enemies, he stood his ground and was killed.

Proving the point that it is not always wise to stand on your principles. And so it came to pass that within seconds of standing still by a field of beans, Pythagoras himself became a has-bean.

Pythagoras also believed in re-incarnation. This has nothing to do about people coming back to life as a tin of condensed milk made from contented cows. He believed that when we die we come back in the body of someone or something else, like a dog, a cat or even a tree.

If you have been naughty in this life you would come back as the worst thing of all ... a woman!

This is just a short history lesson about the Ancient Greeks. You can check the accuracy thereof in a book which I am writing on the subject. I'm hardly going to lie to myself, am I?

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Threat Of Outer Space Invasion

I don't want to worry you ... but I will. I feel it is important to warn you so you can be on the look out and take care.

Apparently, according to a scientist friend of mine whom I have not met for some fifteen years or so, and who has now got a secret job in a secret observatory, somewhere secret, where he and his colleagues secretly look out for aliens from outer space; according to this man, whom we shall call Fred Rotherhide to protect his true identity, which is in fact Fred Rotherhide; according to him, who has just sent me a secret e-mail telling me not to share its content with anyone except family and friends, and I count you as my friends, all of you reading my blog; anyway, according to Fred Rotherhide's secret e-mail the world has been invaded by aliens from outer-space.

These aliens, who are amongst us right now, are small in stature and they hide in the plughole in your bathroom or shower because they like a wet and moist atmosphere. They lie dormant in your plughole pipes most of the time awaiting the call from the mother-ship within which they arrived and landed in the sea somewhere secret; when they landed in the sea they swam ashore and entered our water systems through sewage pipes and other water pipes emptying in the rivers and sea; anyway, they wait in the plug holes and are awakened when you have a shower or bath and they pop their heads up and have a good look at you, (and me), and study us and send information via their own secret social media back to the mother-ship which is hovering somewhere out at sea about six inches or so from the surface.

According to Fred Rotherhide these outer-space creatures are studying our habits in preparation for a full scale invasion of the world just like in that film War Of The Worlds based on the book by H G Wells. The film starred Tom Cruise; if you have not seen it then you should. In the film we see tripod type machines invading earth. But Fred Rotherhide said the aliens in our plug holes are not machines but tiny people-like creatures that can grow into full size people-like creatures. They could be walking around in our streets, or at work, or in our shops and we don't know it. If any of them smile at you knowingly it is probably because they saw you having a shower when they hid in your plug hole.

He added that the aliens take human form to mingle with the rest of the population; and the only way to recognise them is because they have no belly buttons, (navels), because they do not pro-create and get born like us. He did not explain in his e-mail how they do it.

He said, that's Fred Rotherhide, that for the time being we should not panic but be on the look-out for anything suspicious coming out of the bath or sink plug holes in the bathroom or kitchen. If we see any movement from there, the chances are it is a spider who fell in the bath and not an alien at all. However, a few drops of vinegar carefully placed in the plug hole will soon get rid of the Peeping Tom type of creature whether it is from outer-space or not.

Please let us know if you saw someone peeking at you when showering and I'll pass the information on to Fred Rotherhide. Also, beware of strangers smiling at you in the street or on trains, in shops or whatever.

Monday 24 February 2020

Help Me In My Unbelief

You know how it's like. When all is well in life and you feel at peace and confident. It's easy then to wave your hands in the air, sing "Halleluiah" or such like Praise Song, and tell everyone how good and great is Our Lord.

But what happens when things aren't so good? When they are bad? In fact when they're very bad? Very bad indeed?

Do we still jump up and down praising God? We should ... but do we do it? Always?

Or does a tiny little bit of doubt creep into our mind, and it slowly grows as big as the devil's smile?

Our human nature dictates that at times we do doubt and worry. It's how we're made. It's how God created us. And He knows too well that it's our human failings that come to the fore when the pressure is on.

We may pray and pray, and then pray some more. But then ... nothing. No response from God or from Anyone else out there. It's like talking to a phone that has been cut off.

We ask others to pray for us and our situation. They promise to do so. But still nothing. No One seems to be listening on the other end of the phone.

Our doubts grow and the devil smiles some more.

We ask whether God is really there. Does He exist? Is it all an imagination? Are we alone to our fate and our destiny as the world goes round and the years pile on to our shoulders?

When we're at our wit's end with doubts, fears and worries. When we feel that we're losing our Faith and the very beliefs we've held on to over periods of time; that's when in effect our Faith is being strengthened.

The very fact that we're still praying, or we're asking someone else to pray for us because we're too tired and disheartened; this fact alone is itself proof that we believe in something or Someone.

We wouldn't pray if there was no One there to listen. The very fact that prayers are still being said proves that deep within our souls there's still a very tiny flame still burning ... still hoping ... still daring to believe. Despite all our doubts and troubles there's still a teeny weeny little bit of belief. It may be smaller than half a mustard seed. But it's still there.    

All our pains, our worries and our troubles serve to strengthen our Faith, however small it is right now.

As the man said to Jesus: "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief". (Mark 9:24).

The man believed in something or Someone, however vague and confused his belief was, but that was enough for Jesus to take pity on him and to respond.

We've all got different amounts of Faith and Beliefs ... assuming they can be measured as such. Some of us can undergo great difficulties and pains and their Faith remains steadfast and an example to many. Others crumble and tumble at the first hurdle and break down to almost nothing.

God knows that. He knows us all and He knows our capabilities and our propensity to be tested. Read this bit from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians a couple of times.

“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out”. (1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse 13).

God will not allows us to be tested beyond our capabilities. He is not in the business of losing souls ... least of all His own followers. He'd leave ninety-nine safely praying and go out looking for the one wandering away in a daze.

When we ask God to give us Faith ... to "help our unbelief"; He doesn't give us a magic pill to increase our Faith, or wave a magic wand to make it happen.

He allows a situation to develop to give us an opportunity to trust Him more and so increase our Faith in Him.

Wow ... that's complicated.

He allows a situation to happen which makes us trust Him more ... to increase our unbelief ... to increase our Faith.

I once asked someone how come he had such great Faith. He replied that in life he'd been through so many bad situations where he knew that God was there every time helping him.

That made me feel smaller than half a mustard seed.

Saturday 22 February 2020

Christ's Temptations

Why was Jesus human? Why was He tempted by the devil?

When Jesus came to earth He came as a human to share humanity with us so that we can accept Him and learn from Him. He was born a human baby, vulnerable, and tiny as all babies are. He grew up a human and shared every emotion we share as human beings.

His very humanity is a very important factor in understanding Jesus; the Son of God.

Let's consider a different scenario of this Son of God coming to visit us here on earth.

Imagine for a minute if He had arrived as a God (which He was/is). Imagine if He suddenly appeared out of nowhere in a flash of lightning and thunder. Imagine if He came on earth like a superman or such other fictional hero. With obvious powers like flying, super strength, X ray vision and so on like we see in the movies.

How do you think we humans would have reacted?

The people of the time would have been in total awe of Him and would have obeyed and followed Him out of fear or wonderment.

Hardly free choice - is it?

So God decided that His Son would come to us as a human. He humbled Himself as a baby born in poverty in a stable. Grew up with the poor and the down and outs - not as a king.

As a human He felt every emotion that we feel. Sadness at the death of Lazarus, pity for the ill and poor ... etc.

As a human He also experienced temptations.

In the desert satan tempted Him: If you are God's Son jump from this temple, turn these stones into bread. Why don't you worship me?

How often does satan tempt us too?

Are there not times when, perhaps like a bright light in our head, we suddenly stop and ask ourselves: "Is this all real? Is there really a God out there? Jesus? Life after death? Can all this be true and do I really believe it?"

I hope these temptations don’t cross our minds too often. Because satan is always there; ready to put these and other thoughts in our minds to lead us astray.

The closer we come to God the harder the devil works to lead us away from Him. No point in tempting those who do not believe is there? Satan is too clever to waste his time on them. Instead he lurks in the shadowy corners of our minds ready to pounce at our moments of weakness. When we're ill perhaps, tired, overworked, confused, sorrowful, doubtful and lacking hope. That's when satan moves in and furtively plants the seeds of doubts and confusion in our minds.

And that’s why Christ had to be tried and tested by satan. In order to share our experiences, but, most important, to be an example to us all on how to fight back these temptations.

Through prayer.

Every time He was tempted Jesus prayed to His Father.

He was tempted again before He was arrested. He asked: "Can all this pass me by?"

Then, in prayer, He obeyed His Father and said: "Not my will, but Yours."

What an example for us all to emulate.

Friday 21 February 2020

Insects and all that ...

Once upon a time there was a moth which flew in through a chiropodist's open window and said, "Doctor, please help me out!"

"Of course," said the chiropodist, "which window did you come in?"

"No ... no ..." said the moth, "I meant I need your medical help ... I am depressed ... always sad and depressed ..."

"Sorry I can't help you," said the medic, "I am a chiropodist. Not a psychiatrist, or psychologist, or hypnotist or any similar medic that can help you with depression".

"Yes, I know," said the depressed moth.

"Why did you come in and see me then?" asked the medic.

"Because the light was on ..." replied the moth.

Oh well ... it made me laugh anyway.

Reminds me of another story. One day as I was going to work I noticed a snail on my doorstep. I nearly trod on it and killed it. To save it from a mishap I picked it up and threw it in a bush some three feet away out of harm's way.

A week later the doorbell rang. I opened the door and the snail said, "What was all that about, throwing me in the bush?"

I hope this one made you smile. How about ...

The following day the doorbell rang again and there on my doorstep was a hammerhead shark. I invited him in to watch the football on TV. He said, "can't get in ... your door is not wide enough!"

I think you're a tough crowd today, but I'll continue ... I can go on all day until I get a smile from at least one of you.

The following day the doorbell rang continuously ... non-stop ... ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ... shall I go on? Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ...

I opened the door and there was this huge gorilla standing there. I said, "all right mate ... you can stop now!"

He said, "I can't ... my finger is stuck on your doorbell!"

Gorilla ... stuck ... come on now folks ... give me a break!

Did you know if you are having a picnic and you're bothered by wasps the best way to get rid of them is to hang a paper bag from a nearby tree? They'll think it is another wasps nest and they'll go away from its territory.

Make sure the paper bag does not have the shop's name on it. This will not fool the wasps.

The best place to have a picnic apparently is in a cemetery ... no body there to bother you.

I love animals ... don't you? I have spent a fortune on sick animals ... mainly sick horses and dogs. Mind you, I did not know they were sick when I placed a bet on them to win.

My parents used to make me walk the plank ... we did not have a dog.

We were very poor in them days. Did not even have the bare essentials. We used to tie a hedgehog to a stick and use it as a toilet brush.

Have you ever been swimming with dolphins? I never did. I'd like to go cycling with dolphins. If we humans can learn to swim I can't see why the lazy so and sos can't learn to cycle.

As a child I loved to observe ants on a sunny day with a magnifying glass. It's odd how they burst into flames. Instant combustion … it's more common than you think amongst ants!

I killed a cockroach whilst staying at a cheap hotel once. Within minutes my room was infested by cockroaches. They'd come for the funeral.

And finally ... a skunk running through the forest suddenly stops as the wind changes direction. He says, "Ah ... it's all coming back to me now!"

And really finally ... a hyena in the forest meets some monkeys and asks for their help. Apparently, every so often a lion attacks it and beat it black and blue. The monkeys agree to help. A little later the lion attacks the hyena in a ferocious fight. The monkeys all climb up a tree and watch.

Eventually, the lion has had enough fun and walks away, leaving the hyena torn to pieces.

"Why did you not help me?" the hyena asks the monkeys.

They replied, "You were laughing so much we thought you were enjoying it!"

Thursday 20 February 2020

The dangers of hypnosis in a sophisticated self-assured modern society

Ah ... I knew the title to this article would spark your interest. But let me explain that this is a serious issue which affects many people in this modern society of ours. You may think that hypnotism and hypnosis are to do with the mind; and you'd be right. But I thought it's all to do with the hips really. Especially if you go to the wrong doctor. As I did.

I went to this man whom I thought dealt with hips because I'd had a minor accident which made it difficult to walk properly. I had accidentally taken the cat for a walk instead of the dog and I fell off a tree. I landed on my backside and may have hurt my hip. So off to the hypnotist I went.

He sent me to the hospital for some X rays. The photo showed me full of bones which I confess I do not recall ever eating.

I went back to the hypnotist, who apparently was in fact a psychiatrist, rather than a hypnotist as such. He used hypnosis as part of his treatment for certain conditions. Anyway, he said he'd discussed the X- rays with the hospital and there was nothing wrong with me except some bruising which will heal in time. He added that if I was a bit more "weighty" my bigger backside would have cushioned me from any pain.

I discussed with him how I am very careful with what I eat, and how I fear putting on weight. He asked me to lie on his couch. I asked him why, fearing this was serious. He replied: "Our cleaner did not turn up today, and I'd like to vacuum clean where you're standing whilst you're talking!"

When he finished cleaning the room he suggested he hypnotises me to discover my fear of eating. I laid back on the couch and pretty soon I was fast asleep.

I don't know what he told me, but he must have been very persuasive, because when he woke me up I had eaten half his couch.

He wanted to charge me for the damaged couch; but I complained that it was his fault. He may have persuaded me to find an appetite; but did he need a leather couch knowing I was a vegetarian? I said I'd sue him for feeding me a wrong diet.

We agreed that if I paid for half the damage to the couch he'd give me another psychiatric session for free.

I told him I have this terrible fear of heights. Even putting my socks on makes me dizzy with vertigo. He suggested I wash my socks more often.

Anyway, he got me to lay down on now half a couch and hypnotised me again. When I woke up I was on top of the wardrobe.

He told me to get down. But I wouldn't because I now enjoyed seeing things from higher up.

He shook the wardrobe and brought me down to earth. I paid him and left.

Let this be a warning to all of you - a hypnotist has nothing to do with hips; unless yours is afraid of heights!

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Important Scientific Facts You Should Know

I was reading a science book the other day and I was fascinated by the number of facts which I did not know. In fact the more I read the more I realised how much I did not know and how ignorant I really am.

Did you know for example that DNA was discovered when they realised that people were eating too many alphabet soups and alphabet pasta with tomato sauce. Scientists found the letters DNA within our bodies and they tend to stick together like a spiral. In Australia, the DNA spiral of people living there goes round the opposite way than people in the Northern hemisphere; and it is spelled AND.

When I was at school a friend of mine was dyslexic. His parents did not give him alphabet pasta in sauce but spaghetti instead.

Also; did you know that the majority of men with beards (about 68%) sleep with their beards tucked under the bed covers rather than over the bed covers?

And that beards grow faster and longer than hair on men's heads?

And that human ears grow bigger in proportion to the rest of our bodies as we grow older? As a result, older people can hear round corners. It's called eavesdropping. Not leaves dropping. That's an entirely different thing that happens in Autumn. Remember, if you're ever eavesdropping be careful you don't catch your ear on the hinges side of the door if someone closes the door abruptly. This could seriously damage the door as it comes off its hinges.

Did you know that if you had a meal in a restaurant that is totally dark you would not be able to tell the difference between steak and a beefburger?

Did you also know that if you're in a vacuum and you shout loud no one would hear you? And it would make no difference whether the vacuum cleaner is switched on or off, or whether the bag is full of dirt and dust or whether it is empty?

And also, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it, it will remain standing.

Do you realise that if you had a small bird in a cage, and as you happen to weigh the cage, if the bird jumped up from its perch then its weight would not register on the scale? Also, if you were to weigh the cage under water the small bird would drown?

Did you know that a farmer in England cross-bred chicken and turkeys with race horses to create birds with four legs so that at Christmas more people could have a leg to eat? Unfortunately the birds ran so fast no one could catch them.

By the way, years ago my hobby was pigeon racing. I gave up when I lost every race.

Some people prefer to race snails. It's much slower though. Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would take a week before you're surprised?

They say that dinosaurs were all killed when an asteroid or meteor hit the earth a long time ago. Do you realise that this would not have happened if they were not all standing in the same place. Apparently they were all together at a conference to discuss changes in climate. It was a period known as the ice age when the world had a plentiful supply of ice cream and prices of the product tumbled.

It was during this period that they discovered the ice caps, known as the North and South Poles. But I bet you did not know that an ancestor of mine discovered the West Pole. It was there near the Equator but it kept moving as the earth went round. It eventually melted because of the heat on the Equator. 

Did you know that in order to peel and cut an onion without tears you have to do it under water; that is if you can hold your breath for that long?

Did you also know that yawning is contagious? If you yawn, other people are likely to yawn too. And that babies yawn in the womb before they are born because they do not have a cell phone and social media. And women yawn because the headache excuse has worn thin. And that when fish yawn they can drown because water gets in their mouth.

Yawning can be a prelude to going to sleep. Especially when you're at the opera or ballet. Did you know that if you parachute jump the adrenaline rush you get can make you yawn and fall asleep. That's why you should parachute in a bed.

Talking of which, did you know that in the UK 13% of babies are conceived in an IKEA bed? Which is surprising since those shops are usually well lit.

Finally, did you know that the manager of our local IKEA shop died last week. The funeral was delayed because no one could assemble the coffin. 

Tuesday 18 February 2020

A Walk In The Park

A few days ago we visited a park in a town we happened to be staying at for a few days. It was one of those beautiful well-maintained parks with a variety of plants and flowers and trees which you could admire and enjoy, if you are that way inclined.

The park had a very interesting feature new to me. Every so often along the path there was a bench for you to sit on and admire a special plant positioned right opposite.

Nothing unusual about that, you may say. But wait. As you sit on the bench a voice emanates from your trousers and it tells you all about the plant or bush you are sitting in front. It tells you what the plant is called in English and Latin, where it originates from, and various other facts you probably did not care to know about anyway. The voice emanating from the seat also told of the wildlife in this park, what kind of birds have been spotted and such other interesting facts which you may, or may not, wish to know. Let's face it ... I go to the park, unwillingly I might add, just to be with the family on a day out. Not to be lectured by talking benches.

It was uncanny, every time you sat on a bench this voice told you all it had been programmed to say and then after ten minutes it would start again; unless you happened to stand up and walk away.

It set me thinking, hitherto, the only sound that came out of people's trousers, or dresses for that matter, bore no resemblance whatsoever to a human voice. But all this changed with these new style benches.

Whose idea, I thought, was it to hide little speakers on these seats which are somehow triggered into speech as you sit on them. And what happens when it rains, for instance? Do they gargle their message or just shout, "I'm drowning here!"

I sat on one of these benches opposite a red leaved bush and the voice kept on repeating ad nausea, "Hello. You are looking at the photinia red robin bush ...." and on and on it went  about this plant I'd never heard of before nor wished to hear of again.

As soon as the voice stopped talking it repeated again, "You are looking at the photinia red robin bush ...." which was not strictly true because at  that moment I was looking at some strawberry jelly which fell from the doughnut I was eating and onto my lap. I must say I never heard it called a photinia red robin before! 
But believe it or not, these benches were very popular. People kept rushing from one bench to another and plonking their backsides hurriedly to hear the voice speak to them.

In order to participate in the fun, and to prove that I too can be light-hearted at times, I did try a few benches myself. I moved nonchalantly along the path looking left and right as if I were a plant expert and then, as soon as I reached the next bench, I sat hurriedly to hear what it had to say to me.

All went well until at one bench I sat down quickly without looking and instead of the familiar dulcet tones through my trousers I heard a female voice shout at me, "You idiot. You sat on my prize cactus!"

I'll admit that I got up faster than the sound of her voice could travel. The stupid woman had placed on the bench a cactus plant that she'd just bought from the souvenir shop. The plant had come out of its plastic pot and was totally entrenched in my trousers. The pain was out of this world!

I suggested we retrieve the plant and put it back in the pot; but the woman walked away saying some unrepeatable things which I will not repeat here.

Monday 17 February 2020


Thank you Lord
For Happiness

There are times
I feel happy

However fleeting
However short

I feel happy

Knowing all is well
All will be well

No fears or worries

At these times
When I am happy

I know then
You've touched my soul

Sunday 16 February 2020

The Good Shepherd

This painting, known as the Good Shepherd, is by Bernhard Plockhorst, (1825-1907), a German painter and graphic artist. In Germany, Plockhorst is mainly known to experts today, whereas his pictures are still very popular in the United States and their reproductions can be found in many American homes and churches.

In this painting we see Jesus caring for His sheep and carrying a lamb in his arm, perhaps it is too weak or tired to keep up with the flock.

Jesus often described Himself as the shepherd,  caring for His sheep. On some occasions He also uses a sheep-herding reference by describing Himself as "the gate". Read more about the significance of this HERE.

Let us consider why Christ often mentioned sheep and shepherds when teaching the people.

Unlike most other animals sheep have difficulty foraging for themselves. For instance, foxes don’t need anyone to look after them. Sheep do.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Jesus likened us humans to sheep and saw Himself as our shepherd.

Another feature of sheep is that, unlike mules, they are easily led. This can lead to disaster if there is a bad leader around. But it is truly a great advantage when a good leader comes on the scene.

Fortunately for us, the Good Shepherd has appeared among us. He wants us to follow Him into eternal happiness. The choice is ours.

Jesus cared for us and He still does. He has compassion, meaning "suffering with" from the Latin "com patio". When things go wrong in our lives, He suffers with us. He feels our pains. We are never alone in our trials; even though at our moments of hurt we tend to forget Him. Or even in some cases rebel against Him for allowing our pains.

This is OK ... he can take our anger. After all, He took our anger when hanging there on the Cross.

 Jesus is always with us ... to the end of time. (Matthew 28:20).

He is the Good Shepherd. He loves and cares for His sheep. Even though at times some may go astray. He would leave the whole flock to go searching for the one that is lost.

Saturday 15 February 2020

Life's Jigsaw Puzzle

A friend I was visiting in another town took me to his place of work which is a large factory that makes jigsaw puzzles. What a fascinating tour that was. I learnt a lot about jigsaw puzzles which I did not know.

The first step in making a jigsaw puzzle is to choose an interesting picture. It could be a countryside scene, an old masterpiece painting, anything really that would fascinate the user and have many varied colours. Have you ever been fascinated? I was ... when very young ... a nurse did it with a needle in my arm.

Anyway, having chosen an appropriate picture the next step is to print it in a pre-set size - the bigger the photo the more jigsaw pieces in the puzzle.

The next stage is cutting the picture into the 500 or so pieces that will make the puzzle. I was taken into a large room where hundreds of people were cutting these pictures with scissors. I was fascinated ... again ... not by a nurse this time. I thought the pictures were cut into shapes by a jigsaw - hence the name. But no ... it was people with scissors cutting all the shapes you find in the box.

Also, did you know that all the shapes in a puzzle are exactly the same? For example, you can buy two puzzles; one with a picture of a seaside scene, and another of a mountain scene. The pieces are exactly the same. So technically, you can finish a puzzle with pieces from either box. It will look a bit like Picasso painted it, but it will be a complete puzzle ... or two puzzles if you use all the pieces from both boxes.

Next stage was packing the puzzles into boxes for you to buy.

This was another large room with lots of people round a huge table. The first man has in front of him a pile of pieces all exactly the same - e.g. the top left corner of the picture. He'd pick up a box and put in it one piece of the puzzle - the top left corner.

He'd hand the box to the next man who would put the second piece of the puzzle in the box - say the top right corner. He'd then pass the box to the next man, (or woman), and so on until all 500 employees have put one piece of their respective bits of the puzzle in the box, which is then sealed and sold to you.

Larger puzzles are packed in bigger rooms with 1000, or more, employees depending on the number of pieces the jigsaw puzzle is made of.

That's why you sometimes finish a puzzle and find a piece missing. That particular employee has failed to put his piece in your box. Either that or he dropped it on the floor.

If you write to the puzzle maker they can identify exactly who the employee is and withold part of his salary as a punishment. Fortunately, not many people complain about a missing piece.

I have just finished a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Guess what?

I have discovered an extra piece in my box. If it is one of yours that you find missing write to me and I'll send it to you. Tell me precisely where in the picture is your missing piece, its shape, and colour or bit of the scenery. I would not want to send you a piece that may well fit your puzzle but be from an entirely different picture. That would certainly spoil your puzzle, and cost me a fortune in postage for no good purpose at all.


You'll soon be ... again.

Life can be a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, you know. Full of doubts, fears, frustrations and confusions … as well as good times too.

If we were to put God right in the middle of our life our jigsaw puzzle would be complete. And what a wonderful picture it would make!

Friday 14 February 2020

Love is ...


Helping your wife change the tires and the oil in the car ...


Putting on the subtitles on TV whilst she's talking ...


Not forgetting to pick up some flowers from a grave on the way home from work ...


Saying sorry when you don't even know what you're apologising for ...


Pretending to like her mom and not hide her broomstick when she lands unexpectedly ...


Reminding her not to vacuum clean the house when football is on TV ...


Laminating a card with the words "I love you" so she can read it when in need of reassurance ...


Eating that last piece of pizza to save her from getting fat ...


Knowing left from right when she gives you directions when driving ...


When she looks at a dress or coat in a catalogue and says, "I like that!" to cut the photo and give it to her ...


Not saying her backside looks big no matter what dress she's wearing ...


If it's a choice between a new pair of shoes or a box of chocolates, buy her a pair of shoes made of chocolate ...


Let her borrow your dentures when you're both old and in a restaurant ...


Oh ... I give up ... we men never get it right it seems. We just can't understand women. I mean ... the other day she started shouting about me playing golf all the time. I really did not expect her to show up at the golf club at half-past midnight!


I hope my readers have a sense of humour and are a little forgiving. I did not mean a word of this ... honest!

Thursday 13 February 2020

Survey Research - Your views matter

I am conducting a major research survey that will revolutionise the way we live for many generations to come. I need your honest opinions and views. What you say matters as long as it is honest; albeit somewhat personal in nature. Please don't be shy. Please take part in this survey and either answer in the comments box below or write to me privately at

The more people who take part in the survey the better and more accurate our analytical data will be. No personal information will be kept on file. Just your anonymous response for statistical data and for further scientific developments.

You are all no doubt aware of the Chcolate Digestive Biscuit:
This is my favourite brand but no doubt there are many other brands available for your enjoyment, delectation, pleasure and delight.

What I need to know:

Do you eat the biscuit with the chocolate layer uppermost (like in the photo)?

Or with the chocolate layer under the biscuit?

Or does it not matter to you?

Give reasons for your choices. Does eating the biscuit with the chocolate underneath enhance the flavour as the chocolate layer touches your tongue and stimulates your taste buds? Or do you prefer the crumbliness of the biscuit tickling your tongue and awakening your desires?

This information is essential to identify peoples' preferences and tastes. Statistics show that people in Australia for instance prefer to have the chocolate layer underneath the biscuit. Whereas this does not seem to be the case, generally, (within a +/- 62% margin of error), in the Northern Hemisphere. In the UK for example, we have discovered that 79% of 17 respondents did not care a crumb which side the chocolate was on as long as you gave them the whole packet.

So there you have it. What is your preference of the three choices above? Please be honest in your replies as we may, depending on general views, develop a biscuit with chocolate coating on both sides, and another with no chocolate coating on it whatsoever.

Wait a minute ... the second version already exists. 

Wednesday 12 February 2020

It's all about the ears.

When I was young I had sticking out ears. I had a thin narrow head and two sticking out ears. I looked like a cup with two handles. Or a car with its doors open.

Whenever I went out shopping with my parents and got too tired walking they would walk each side of me and pick me up from my ears. This did not help reduce their size at all. My parents were still the same size and my ears got stretched even more.

It was just as embarrassing when we went to the cinema. People behind me used to complain that they could not see the screen because of my ears. So my parents eventually had my ears pierced so that people could see the screen through them.

In really hot summers my family used to picnic in the garden and I used to stand there turning my head left and right to create a cooling fresh breeze.

At school the children used to tie a rope round my waist and run ahead to see if I would fly like Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

When we went to the zoo an elephant tried to adopt me by pulling me through the bars with its trunk. Luckily my big ears got stuck and saved me.

At Christmas my uncle gave me a roll of double-sided sticky tape as a gift to pull back my sticking out ears.

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

So for a while I had an ear looking normal and the other still sticking out. At the slightest breeze I used to spin round like a hotel revolving door.

My parents could not afford a sailing boat. So they set off to sea in a bath tub with me sitting at the back catching the wind with my big ear. Alternatively, they would put my head under water and use my big ear as a rudder.

At school playing hide and seek I could never find the other kids hiding behind my ear.

No one loved me as a teenager. Out of sympathy my dad wrote to one of those Dating Agencies to see if they could find me a girl-friend. He wrote: Man with large right ear seeks woman with large left ear. Object - stereo!

Eventually I found a girl friend. I thought she really loved me. I was wrong. Apparently her umbrella broke and all she wanted was somewhere to shelter from the rain.

I was even an inspiration to William Shakespeare when he wrote: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your big ear.

Ehm ... I seem to have run out of material about ears. Any suggestions? About any part of the body which is big ... nose ... mouth ... teeth ... tummy ... hand ... feet ... anything else???

Monday 10 February 2020

An Impromptu Conversation With A Slug

The other day I came face to face with a slug.

I was sitting in the garden. I had pre-planned that on Tuesday I would have at least half-an-hour rest sitting in my deck chair in the garden.

I always put all my events and tasks in my diary and I like to keep to schedule in order to live an orderly life with the minimum of fuss and rush or panic.

Even though it was raining at the time and the sky was a little grey, I decided to take my 30 minutes pre-planned break in the garden.

As I sat there I saw on the ground on my right ... or was it on my left? No ... it was definitely on my right because I had the tea tray on a table on my left. Because of the rain it took me ages to drink the tea. The cup kept filling up somehow.

Anyhow ... here on my right was this slug on the grass. It looked at me and said, "Hello ...."

I could have fallen off my chair had I not tied myself in with a seat belt. It's not everyday you get to meet a talking slug. This sort of thing never happened before. At least not since the naked Adam and Eve met a talking snake in Paradise.

Well, luckily I was not naked at the time. Had I been naked and met a snake I would have protected my dangly bits in case he took a bite; not engage in a conversation with him.

But as I said, I was not naked and this was a slug, not a snake. It looked at me with its tentacles ... is that what you call those two things above its head? I have to be careful with my choice of words in case I use one that is too rude and upset some of my readers.

To continue ... I wish you would stop interrupting my thoughts ... as I was saying; the slug looked at me with its two bits above its head and said, "Hello!"

"Ehm ... hello," I replied hesitantly. "Where do you come from?"

"From over there ..." he, or she, said. I am not sure because I understand that slugs are hermaphrodites - which has something to do with Aphrodite the ancient Greek goddess associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation.

But to continue ... without your interruptions this time ... the slug said, "I came from over there. A few yards away. I have been meaning to talk to you for ages but by the time I walked, or slid to your chair you'd always be gone!"

"Oh sorry ..." I said, "I did not know you wanted to talk to me. What is it you want?"

"Just a chat about this and that," he said, "it's lonely being a slug you know!"

"That's sad," I replied, "but now you're here, I've always meant to ask you but was too embarrassed to ask ... what is the difference between a slug and a snail?"

"Oh ... they carry their houses on their back wherever they go. But we don't," he said, "we're minimalists. If we don't need it we don't have it. Not like many people these days who buy many things they don't need!"

"Oh ..." I said, hiding away my cell-phone, my MP3 player, ear-phones and sunglasses. Why did I have sunglasses in the rain? Because I needed them as I lay backwards to stop the raindrops dropping into my eyes. I'm not stupid you know!

"So the only difference is that you do not carry a home on your back and snails do!" I said.

"Yes ... that's mainly it," replied the slug, "it's an evolutionary process dating back from my great great great grand-father. It started with him."

"How so?" I asked.

"Well," he said thoughtfully, "in them days back then, we all had a home on our backs. But he was claustrophobic. He was afraid to get into his shell. So he threw it away. That's the main difference between us slugs and snails."

"Anything else?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "snails taste nice with garlic. That's why the French eat them. But they leave us slugs alone!"

And with that he smiled and waved goodbye as he started his long journey back some three yards away.