Wednesday 30 September 2020

I don't want to go ...

I hate it ... I hate high school reunions. I don't want to go and meet people I didn't care much about then; and I care even less about them now. But I was forced/encouraged/convinced it is a good idea to go.

There they were all the high school pupils and their teachers. Only older and uglier than I remembered them.

There was Joseph Nosebleed. We called him that because for some reason he often got nose bleeds. In those days we were told to hold our head back with a nose bleed, and pinch the nose. And you couldn't breathe and opened your mouth and nearly choked on your own blood. I wonder what he's doing now he's grown up. I bet he gives lectures on nose bleeding. That's all he was good at.

And there was also Mini Apparitions. We called her that on account of her short skirts and open buttons in her blouse. We were cruel at the time with our name calling.

All the boys liked to sit next to her in class. She was good at Maths. A genius even. She became an accountant. The Maths teacher mixed the class sitting arrangements so that good pupils sat with those less able. I was terrible at Maths that year. Suddenly I did not know how to count my lucky stars!!!

John Beans was there too. He was good at sports he was. He was the fastest at the 100 metres, 500 metres and the marathon. We called him runner beans. He was bald now, probably to make him more aero-dynamic so he could run faster. He was as boring as I remembered him then. He became a dentist and continued to bore people who came to his practice.
I recall he was good at cricket. Him and Jim Melbourne. We called him Mel. There was another kid in class called Sydney; so we called Jim Mel for short. I was bad at cricket. It's an English game played with a hard ball like baseball. One man throws the ball, another hits it with a bat, it flies in the air and you have to catch it. But the sun was in my eyes. I did not see the ball, then it came out of the sky like a meteor and hit me in the face throwing my glasses in the air. There I was on all fours searching for my glasses on the ground. Stupid game. Seeing those people brought it all back to mind.

Oh, the teachers were at the reunion as well. They were as old as they were then when I was at school. How is that possible? They were old then and more old now. Maybe they'd been pickled in vinegar and let out for the reunion.

There was Sister Sinister. I went to a Catholic high school. There were some nuns there teaching us how to misbehave. I mean ... kind and gentle they were not. One day I was walking in the playground and unthinking I pulled a leaf from a bush. Suddenly, Sister Sinister appeared from nowhere, got hold of my hand, and hit it hard several times until I dropped the leaf. "You must not damage the plants!" she said, "Jesus would not do that would He?" 

"There were probably no bushes in the desert where He lived," I replied. That did not help me much. She wrote to my parents about me being impertinent.

In those days nuns used to glide rather than walk. They had these long habits that came down to the ground and you could not see their feet. They just glided from one place to another. Maybe they were on roller skates. How did they get up the stairs? We had one of them old staircases at school with gaps in between the rungs or risers. You know, the bit you step on. So I hid under the staircase to see Sister Misery go up to the classroom. Oh, she was a miserable nun she was. Never smiling. Gave Christianity a bad name I thought. What's the point being good and spending eternity with her in Heaven? 

There was also Mr Big Horn. We called him that because he had a big nose. One day, whilst we were waiting outside the classroom in the corridor, we heard him blow his nose in class. When we got in we noticed one of the windows was broken. Rumours spread fast that his blowing his nose was so loud that he cracked the glass. We called him Big Horn Soprano.

He taught English Literature. He was vicious he was. In those days we had blackboards and chalk in class. None of this modern technology with monitors and electronic gadgets in class. I often wonder, we spent millions modernising the schools with electronics and technology and computers and the kids are just as thick as they always were.

We had blackboards and chalk. Mr Big Horn used to throw the blackboard rubber at you in class if you were talking. He always missed you deliberately, and then shouted, "Pick it up!"

"Why should I? I'm not your dog!" I thought, but still picked it up and gave it to him.

He had amnesia he did. Once he shouted at me and said, "Who do you think you are, talking in class?" So I told him my name. He reported me to the headmaster for being impertinent. If there is one word I learnt at school is impertinent. They used it often when speaking to me.

One day another kid answered a Shakespeare question wrongly. Mr Big Horn said, "that is more lame than Stephen Hawking". No political correctness in those days.

On another occasion he told a boy who was misbehaving, "you are a good reason for contraception". Which is ironic considering we were in a Catholic school.

I remember when I was younger I did not know what contraception was. I asked my father. He said, "it is a discussion on when to have sex". A Catholic joke, I suppose!

Also at the reunion was Mr Wooden Head. We called him that because he was our wood works teacher. He was cross-eyed. When he spoke you did not know if he was speaking to you or the kid next to you. I once answered him and he said, "Stop talking when I'm not talking to you!" How was I to know who he was talking to? On another occasion I thought he was talking to the kid next to me, and he hit me for not paying attention to him. You never win with Mr Wooden Head. Can you imagine? Him teaching wood work with all those dangerous machines and sharp instruments and he could not see properly. Maybe he could, I don't know.

I nearly killed him once. I was working on the lathe. You know, that machine that turns a piece of wood round and round electrically and you use a sharp chisel knife to shave bits of wood off. Anyway, somehow the chisel knife got caught in the spinning piece of wood, flew out of my head and landed on the teacher's desk like you get in knife throwing acts. He jumped out of his cross-eyed life and shouted "Who is the ******* who threw that?"

I failed woodwork that year ... and all the years thereafter.

So, all in all, I did not enjoy the school reunion. Apart from meeting Mini Aparitions again. You could always count on her. Up to two, anyway.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Peter Paul and ... Me


The other day I noticed that the shower was dripping, even though I had turned it right off. I turned it on again and got totally wet. Luckily I was in the shower at the time, so it didn't matter. I turned the shower off and it continued dripping.

I decided to phone Peter the Plumber. That's what it said in the advert in the local newspaper. "Phone Peter the Plumber - No job is too small or too big!" 

"Great," I thought, "whilst he's here he can also change a light bulb in the garage which has just died. That's a small job, isn't it?"

So I got dressed first, before phoning Peter. I'd read somewhere that some people use the phone whilst naked. Can you imagine? You phone your friends and they answer the phone without any clothes on?  

After I got dressed, I tried testing the shower one more time to make sure, and I got wet all over again. So I changed once more and phoned Peter the Plumber. He said he'd be round in thirty minutes. He did not say what shape he'd be after that.

Well ... it took over forty-five minutes before a white van arrived outside our house. The man that came out of the van was round all right. So I assumed he was Peter who had retained his shape from a few minutes beforehand.

"Are you Peter the Plumber?" I asked.

"No ... I am Paul the Painter!" he replied.

"Where is Peter the Plumber?" I asked.

"He is at my home painting the ceiling," he replied.

"Why did he not turn up here?" I asked.

"He didn't want to stop half-way through a job, so he sent me instead," he replied.

"But ... can you fix the shower," I asked, "and change the light bulb in the garage?"

"I can try," he said, "Peter said he'll talk me through it on the phone. A bit like landing a plane when the man on the ground talks you through it ... you know, like in the movies!"

He looked at the shower. Turned it on and got his clothes wet. I did not offer him a change of clothing. He was round ... and I am not.

Talking on his cell phone he used a wrench and undid a nut somewhere. There was water bursting everywhere. He asked me to turn off the stop-cock. That is a mains handle type thing that turns off the water in the whole house when repairs are to be done. I knew the mains cut off handle is in the garage; just where the main water pipe enters the house.

I rushed to the garage but could not get the lights on. The bulb had died previously the day before this one, but I did not change it myself preferring to get an electrician who also had a no job is too small policy. Instead we got Paul the Painter to replace Peter the Plumber.

I tripped in the dark. Stubbed my toe against something or other. The pain shot right up my leg. I took off my shoe to rub my foot. Walked a few more paces and stepped on a Lego brick that the children must have dropped and started dancing in pain and curses on all plumbers, painters and electricians too for good measure.

Eventually, with the water turned off, and Paul on the phone to Peter he tried fixing the dripping shower.

He made small conversation with me whilst talking to Peter. Why do workmen insist on making small talk? Plumbers, painters, electricians, taxi drivers, hairdressers ... they all make small talk whilst working.

"Have you been on holiday yet?" they ask. 

"What's it to you? You nosey so and so ... just get on with your work. I have hired you to fix the shower not start a conversation whilst flooding my house like happened at the time of Noah!"

In this particular case, I was making small talk conversation with Paul the Painter in my bathroom, and Peter the Plumber on the cell phone in Paul's house painting his ceiling. A three-way conversation with two tradesmen doing one job ... for me that is. I hope they don't charge me for painting Paul's ceiling as well!

Anyway, Paul the Painter told me that he was a Christian. He told me his conversion story.

He used to be a cheat and a scoundrel. He used to thin the paint with turpentine to make it go further, and he charged his customers full price for the paint.

One day he was painting the outside of a church. As he was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, there was suddenly a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the church walls, and knocking him clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by tell-tale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

He realised that this was a judgement from above …

He got on his knees and cried:

“Oh God … oh God … help me … what should I do?”

And just then a thunderous voice replied:

“Repaint !!! Repaint !!! And thin no more !!!”

Monday 28 September 2020

He taught me how to pray


I was feeling a little despondent and down-hearted thinking about this and that and everything else. I decided to pray. Did not know how to start and what to pray for. So many things on my mind.

Then as if a voice in my mind said, "Thank me!"

Hein ??? Who said that? Where do I start?

"Think as far back as you can remember ..." said the thought in my mind.

You know, it is a good idea every now and then if we spend some time thinking back on our lives. Recalling events far gone and yet somehow they influenced our lives. Times when we needed help, and never realised then that God was by our side all the time. Helping us without our asking.

Try thinking back as far as you can remember. When you were seven or eight perhaps. Try to remember difficult times then. At home perhaps. Unhappy childhood. At school. Bullying. Unable to keep up with school work. Severe teachers. Exams and so on.

Try to recall growing up. Teenage years with teenage problems. Friendships hurt and broken. Family events and troubles perhaps.

Think of other milestones in your life. Difficulties and dark moments for you or those close to you. Parents disagreeing perhaps. Loss of work. Money problems. Illness or even death of loved ones.

How about when you grew up and left home to start on your own. Hesitation. Fear. Worry. First faltering steps. New job. New people. New relationships. Heartbreaks. Love. Marriage. Starting a family. Worry about children. Marital difficulties. Divorce. Start again all alone.

Perhaps our lives have been marred with health issues. Frightening diagnosis. Fear. Pain. Confusion. Why me? Medical procedures and operations perhaps. Success or otherwise of these.

You know ... when we thing back over our lives, there are many instances and periods when we needed help. We may or may not have prayed. But God was there for us. Somehow we got through those dark periods in our lives. God got us through them. Otherwise we would not be here right now.

And when we look at our situation today. Right now. As we consider our current situation. We may be despondent. Concerned. Fearful perhaps. But then, is not our situation right now similar to what happened to us before? Many times in our lives? It may be more severe and serious perhaps. But it is still a situation we have to face and live through ... not alone.

We are never alone. He is with us always. To the end of time.

Ready to help. Only a prayer away.

Let us be thankful for that.

Sunday 27 September 2020

"Love One Another As I Have Loved You" IMPOSSIBLE


When Christ hung dying on the Cross, despite His earlier betrayal, arrest, humiliation, beatings and torture; despite suffering the most painful of death and being taunted and tormented by His enemies, He still had love in His heart and asked for forgiveness on behalf of these people.

We are asked to do the same. We are asked to forgive others just as He forgave us. When we recite the Prayer He taught us we seek His forgiveness and promise to forgive others.

He also taught us to "Love one another as I have loved you". A Commandment no less.

Yet, when we consider both of these teachings from our Lord, to love one another and to forgive whatever hurt is done to us, we cannot help but wander whether it is at all possible.

When Christ forgave on the Cross, and loved as He has loved, it was a Divine God who forgave and loved. Not a mere human like us. Can we, humans, possibly love and forgive as He?

Christ knows full well that what He asks us is impossible for us to achieve. Yet He asks all the same.

Being human we are subject to all human failings. When we are hurt we often feel resentment, ill-will and perhaps vengeance; and forgiveness might be very difficult an emotion for us when the pain is still fresh and raw. And in time, as the memories of the hurt and pains come back we may still find it hard to forgive. Or, if we find it in our hearts to forgive, as many indeed do, the memories bring back that pain once again and, at the very least, we feel hard done by.

To forgive totally, as Christ did, is not within our grasp because we are not as Divine as He.

And to love unequivocally, all those within our circle of acquaintance, never mind our enemies, and to turn the other cheek is certainly not within our powers. No matter how much we try, there will always be one person whom we do not like, who rubs us the wrong way, whom we'd rather avoid. Yet we're asked to love one another as He has loved us.


So ... what are we to do? Are we doomed to failure? Unable to forgive totally and to love without reservation?

Our response to Christ's Commandment is to try as best as we can to obey it. Through gritted teeth perhaps, we should try again and again to forgive and to love. The memories of the hurts done to us will return, but these should not stop us from forgiving again and again.

We will probably fail ... often. But this should not stop us from trying. We will never achieve the same level of forgiveness and love as Christ, but His example should urge us on to try harder.

Saints did not become Saints because they were necessarily good at all times. They were often sinners who kept on trying.

God knows our human nature. He knows our failings and weaknesses. He knows we cannot achieve the impossible.

But in His Divine love and mercy He will welcome us with open arms for eternity with Him ... just because we kept trying and never gave up.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Quentin Ravioli


SPECIAL NOTICE: My heart gladdens when you, my kind and loyal readers, comment below that you have enjoyed and laughed at my posts. It is your support and encouragement that keeps me writing every day; (except on days when I do not write on account of that I have nothing in my head to write about).

Anyway ... if you enjoy what you read here, why not tell others too so that they might visit here and laugh or giggle too. Do you realise that if each one of you encouraged just one person to visit here regularly we would have ... more persons visiting here regularly. 

Thank you. God bless. 
Years ago, Quentin generously paid for my dog to be put down, and then he helped me bury him.

He was an Alsatian. The dog, not Quentin. I believe that Quentin was from Scotland. 

He was seventeen at the time. The dog, not Quentin. Quentin was about twenty five, I believe.

He used to follow me everywhere. The dog that is, not Quentin. He used to follow me to the fishmongers were I used to buy crabs and lobsters.

He was very intelligent and quick witted. Quentin, not the dog. The dog has been long dead. One day I asked Quentin "Why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?" To which he promptly replied, "They have to go backwards. If they fell forwards, they'd still be in the boat."

Quentin was good at languages. One year he went to France on holiday and saw an old lady in  Montmartre in Paris sitting on the sidewalk knitting. He asked her, “Voulez vous crochet avec moi?”

On another occasion he impressed his friends at a restaurant by ordering the whole meal in Italian. The waiter did not understand a word though. It was a Greek restaurant.

He once bought a book on-line entitled  “How to get your own back on your neighbour”. Unfortunately he was out when it was delivered and the postman left the book next door.

His next door neighbours never got out of the house. They were agoraphobic anorexics. Bet they had some skeletons in the cupboard.

Quentin was a keen gardener. Always in his garden planting something or other. He was a bit OCD and he told me once that he always plants his herbs in alphabetical order. I asked him "where do you find the time?" He replied, "It’s there next to the sage."

A kind hearted person, Quentin was. Once at a pub he noticed a guy had passed out at a table nearby. The bartender told him the man is Mr. Peters, and asked Quentin if he could drive him home. Quentin agreed and the bartender wrote down the address and gave it to him.

Quentin tried to wake Peters, but Peters was groggy and quite drunk. Quentin helped him to his feet, but Peters fell to the floor in a crashing heap.

He took him by the arm and practically dragged him out to the car. Once there, he leant him against the side of his car while he looked for his keys. The man slid down to the ground again.

Eventually Quentin drove the man to the address the bartender gave him. He opened the passenger door and helped Peters out and he fell to the ground again!

He got him to his door and said to Peters' wife, "Hi, your husband had a little too much to drink tonight so I gave him a ride home."

"That was nice of you," she replied looking around ... "But where's his wheelchair?"

And that's Quentin Ravioli for you. A man of many parts ... none of which worked properly. We shall miss him sorely. Because he keeps moving!

Friday 25 September 2020

Star Trick


As I woke up I discovered I was in bed in what appeared to be a hospital room or theatre. Standing next to me was a tall man with a thick moustache smoking a cigarette. 

I was about to rise when he said, "Don't get up ... the human skin adhesive needs a few seconds to set ..."

"Where am I?" I asked, noting other people around me dressed in some sort of uniform.

"You are on the inter-galactic space ship Aurora from the planet Zorzo!" replied the man with the moustache, dropping his cigarette on the floor and standing on it. He then immediately lit another one!

My mind was all a blur. "What?" I asked, "what am I doing here?"

"Do not be concerned," he said with a grin pretending to be a smile. He took a long drag on his cigarette and continued, "you are on our spaceship, as I said. We borrowed you for a short while from earth to study you. We have dissected every bit of you under the microscope and have stuck you together again!"

I looked under the bed covers to check all was still there. 

"What do you want from me?" I asked.

"Nothing else now ..." he replied, "care for a cigarette?" he motioned offering me his packet.

"No ... I don't smoke ..." I heard myself say.

"Pity you don't smoke. I must say, you earthlings make very nice cigarettes," he continued, "I prefer the American ones. Gorgo over there likes the French Gauloises and Gitanes!"

"Is this a joke?" I asked getting a little irritable.

"What? The fact that he likes French cigarettes?" he asked putting the packet in his pocket.

"No ..." I cut in, " the fact that I'm on a spaceship ..."

"Get up," he said, "the adhesive has set by now. Your innards will not fall all over the floor. Here ... come to the window ... can you see all the planets out there? Far away ... on the left ... that's earth. We'll return you there soon!"

I looked out of the window. It was very dark out there with many spherical objects floating in mid air.

"This could be a trick," I said, "this could be a film out there being run on a screen or monitor ..."

"This is one thing we have noticed," he said, "you earthlings are very sceptical about everything. You think you know everything yet you know nothing. You have the intelligence of the average fish on our planet Zorzo. Although I'll admit you make great cigarettes. 

"If you don't believe me you're in space, poke your head out of the window. See how long you'll last. No atmosphere out there. A bit like Mars. Not like Zorzo ... plenty of atmosphere there with nightclubs, bars, pubs, dancing halls and restaurants. Just like your decadence on Earth but we do it much better. Pleasure yes ... violence and evil no. That's our only rule and those who break it regret it instantly! On your planet earth, however, you still resolve your differences with violence. And it gets you nowhere except heartbreak."

"What do you intend to do with me?" I asked.

"The original intention was to populate a planet near us we've called Earth.2 with people from your world. We know you lot will soon ruin your world to oblivion and nothingness with your violence, pollution, and your selfishness. So we thought if we select a number of the best brains from your world we could populate a new planet when yours has gone, and so save the human race.

"But on reflection, we've discovered that most of your people have no intellect or brain power worth talking about. Yours is equivalent to our fish, as I said."

"You said most of us," I interrupted, "that means some of us are worth saving, don't you think? What if you were to find one hundred or so people worth saving. Or fifty maybe. Is that not worth saving the human race in another planet?

"Even if we found as few as twenty, or even ten, good people on earth with the right intelligence and outlook, then maybe ... maybe ... we would consider saving your race. But your people are so full of evil and negativity that ... anyway ...

"Look, we'll put you back where you came from and you won't remember a thing about all this! Maybe one day you earthlings will learn to live in peace."  


Hi everyone. I can't remember a thing right now. Sorry I did not publish a post here today.


Thursday 24 September 2020

Am I Sexist?


I've been wondering ... Am I sexist, do you think?
I said sexist, not sexy. I already know I am sexy. An Adonis no less. Women are always looking at me with wistful eyes and giggling with each other. I heard one of them say I am a sex idol for women who do not care.
Why only yesterday a blonde woman stopped me in the street and said, "Hello handsome ... could you direct me to an optician please? I've lost my contact lens!"
And last week, whilst in London, another woman stopped me and said, "Hi hunk ... would you like a good time?"
Looking at my watch I said, "It's half-past three ..."
I probably misunderstood her because she walked away rather disappointed and did not say a word. I wonder what all that was about! But she did call me hunk ... which proves I'm attractive.
Anyway ... back to my original question. Do you think I am sexist?
There I was on the bus the other day, sitting there minding my own business, I took out of my pocket a glass jar of pickled onions and started eating them quietly. I stabbed the onions with a pencil which I sharpened the point very thin like a pin. Better than carrying a fork. Sometimes I have with me pickled gherkins, or cucumber slices; this time it was pickled onions. Have you tried Piccalilli? I usually need a spoon when I'm eating that on the bus. Can't eat Piccalilli with a pencil. Doesn't taste right!
I noticed that some people moved a few seats away from me and said nothing. Others were eyeing me suspiciously. I could feel their gaze digging into me.
But it is not me they should have been looking at. It's the man sitting opposite me. He had a long beard coming down to his navel. He had a bag on his lap out of which came two threads of cotton wool, red and blue, and he was there knitting. In plain sight of everyone, he sat there quietly knitting with knitting needles.
And no one was looking at him or being bothered by him. They were looking at me eating quietly pickled onions.
Then it occurred to me. Maybe there is something wrong with me. Perhaps I was sexist.
Maybe I had judged the man sitting opposite because he was knitting. Something which I usually associate with women to do. Like smoking a pipe ... I mean ... women don't do it but men sometimes do ... although fewer and fewer men smoke a pipe these days. Perhaps they are taking up knitting instead. 
There must be something wrong with my brain because I could not understand this man knitting. He noticed me looking at him. So I offered him a pickled onion at the tip of my pencil. He smiled and shook his head without saying a word.
It was an uncomfortable journey until I reached my destination and finished the jar of  pickled onions. Great coincidence.
I wonder ... if it had been a woman sitting opposite me eating from a jar of pickled onions, would I have been that bothered?
Have you ever eaten pickled onions on a bus? Especially you ladies reading this? Has it ever bothered anyone when you did?

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Return To Sender ...


We have received a letter from aunt Elma. She writes from time to time, as well as phone. Maybe I should send the letter back with the inscription: Return to sender.  

Anyway ... here is the letter:

Dear Nephew and Niece and little ones.

I tried to phone you the other day but then I thought twice about it. In fact I thought more than twice. I just could not face that woman’s voice on your answer thing you have on your phone. She sounds so pompous and full of herself. I know it is only a voice, as Vic explained, but I imagine her with big bosoms full of herself in her posh accent.

I spoke to Jim about it, and he said I should write instead. I keep thinking she will open the letter and read it first before you do. It reminds me when our Quentin was young and still living at home. He often said he hates it when I invade his privacy. I’d read it in his diary.

Our Jim had quite a week lately. This week like. On Wednesday he was stopped by the police at 10 at night as he was coming home from the pub. A bit early for him I must say. The Police Officer asked him, "Where were you between 4 and 6?" Jim replied, "Kindergarten."

He was nearly arrested for being drunk in charge of stupidity. But they let him go.

It was sunny yesterday and they said on the TV it would be a lovely day for this time of year in Glasgow. When I went out I took my umbrella. I am an optimist. But I'm an optimist who takes her raincoat as well. But when I got to the shop I discovered I forgot my purse. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded.

I remember when I was young. I started out with nothing ... I still have most of it. That’s life, isn’t it? It was all so different before everything changed. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. It's hard to make a comeback in life when you haven't been anywhere.

Our Jim took up a new hobby at his old age. He and Fred from down the road have taken up bird watching. I mean the feathered ones; not women. After pub the other night they went through the park on the way home and heard an owl cry. They decided to find where it was so they separated. Fred went by the cemetery whilst my Jim went by the water fountain and hid behind the bushes. He hooted once or twice to see what would happen. The owl hooted back. Jim hooted again. This went on for some twenty minutes until both of them realised they were hooting at each other.

When Jim told me about it and he came home all his clothes dirty from him lying behind the bushes I could have hit him with the frying pan, but I did not want to damage it. It cost £4 ten years ago when I bought it. 

Instead I went to my room and prayed to God. I said:  Lead me not into temptation - I can find the way myself.

Good bye for now. I was going to send you a photo of me and Jim but I have already sealed the envelope.


Elma and Jim

Tuesday 22 September 2020

A Micro Call


Phone rings. Telephone-answering machine. Female voice.
Your call cannot be taken at the moment. Please leave your name and number after the tone. BEEEP ...
Damn ... it's that stupid female machine again ... hello ... hello ... hello Vic ... this is aunt Elma here ... I am phoning you from Glasgow ... I am leaving my name on your female answering-machine as you told me to ... it is ... E ... L ... M ... A ... aunt Elma.
I am ringing to thank you all for the lovely gift you sent us. It arrived a few days ago but we did not ring to thank you then for reasons which you will understand later on in this telephone call ...
The package came in a big box delivered by a man in a van ... it was white I think ... the van ... He said he worked for an Internet Shopping Website ... whatever that is ... and that you sent us this package ...
Inside there was another box with a micro something oven written on it ... wait ... I'll ask Jim ...
Jim said it was a microwave oven. There was also a note saying it was a gift from you ...
There was also a big booklet with instructions to make the oven work ... it was written in many languages ... French ... Italian ... German ... Dutch I think ... and lots of other languages ... It was a waste of time, Jim said, seeing we only speak English.

He sat down and read the book ... and soon fell asleep in front of the TV ...

Why did you send us a micro something oven Vic? Our oven here works OK ... we've had it twenty years if not a day less. 

Anyways ... thank you ... we put the oven on top of the TV ... there's a shelf there as you recall ... we moved away all the pictures on the shelf ... good time too ... I hated so much that photo of Uncle Ebeneezer ... with his stupid moustache ... so your oven was a good reason to get rid of the photos and put the oven on the shelf ...

We tried something simple on the oven for a start ... we thought we would warm a cup of milk before going to bed ... we put the cup on that round thing that goes round and round and your uncle Jim punched the password on the panel on the oven with all them numbers ...

We could not find the password in the booklet ... in any language ... but Jim must have got it right because the light came on and the plate inside started going round and round.

It was fun watching it ... better than the TV which had a boring program on at the time ...

Anyways ... the micro thing kept going round and round ... for quite some time and inside we saw the milk in the cup boiling over and pouring all over the place ... we did not know how to make it stop ...

Then the milk started coming out of the oven door ... all over the shelf it was ... and it started dripping on the TV below ... 

Luckily I managed to get Jim out of the armchair ... he suffers badly with his back and is not as fast as he used to be ... Oh ... he used to be so agile and supple when young ... but now he's as stiff as a dead body ...
So he pulled the electric plug out of the socket and we spent the evening cleaning up the burnt milk everywhere ...
But that's not the end of it ... Vic. I told Jim not to use the microbe oven ... told him to put it in the garage. Did he listen? Did he heck?
I was out the other day shopping at the shops ... the ones down the road. Jim tried to be helpful and did some washing. You know ... vests and underwear and other unmentionables. My pink satin underpants where not totally dry ... a bit damp he said ... so to dry them he thought he'd warm them up in the microbe oven .
He put in a password ... he said he can't remember what it was ... and kept a look out in case something went wrong. Well, it did again ... He said my satin undergarments suddenly lit up on fire inside the microbe oven and the flames got out and started spreading on the shelf above the TV. 
Jim was standing at the time, rather than sitting in the armchair ... good job too ... he quickly threw the cup of tea on the microbe oven and there were sparks everywhere ... so he said ... nearly got the house on fire ...
I came in just then thankfully ... I saw the smoke everywhere and I beat the oven and the shelf with my coat which I took off quickly. The fire went out ... could have burnt the house down if I did not come in on time ...
Anyways ... I'm ringing to thank you for your gift Vic. 

Monday 21 September 2020

Hello ... I just called to say ...

Hello aunt Elma ... this is Vic. How are you?

I noticed you phoned me yesterday ... Yes I know ... you did not leave a message but the machine here recorded your telephone number so I knew it was you.

Yes it is clever ... ... ... look auntie, you need not be afraid to leave a message. When you hear the voice on the answering machine, just wait till you hear the tone ... you know ... a long BEEEEP ... then just leave you name. Just say it's aunt Elma and I'll know it's you and I'll phone you back when I get home.

I'm glad you're all OK now about the misunderstanding about the phone machine and the female voice that spoke to you.

Yes we're all OK here ... I've been asked to phone you to see if mom-in-law got to you all right. We knew she was coming over to see you in Glasgow and Mary asked me to phone you. She's taking the kids to school. She'll ring you later ...

It must be great to see your sister again ... yes ... Sonia ... I don't call her Sonia because she prefers me to call her mom ... or mom-in-law ...

Well ... to be honest ... I just called to say that your sister ... Sonia ... well ... she forgot her false teeth behind.

Yes ... her false teeth ... we found the dentures on the dressing table in the dining room. The children were traumatised by it all ... they'd never seen teeth without a mouth around them!

I told them the Tooth Fairy must have dropped them when she came round to collect Eric's tooth which he put under his pillow.  

Yes ... I left him some money under the pillow. I left him £2. He thought the Tooth Fairy would leave him £5 but I said it would probably be £2. He was surprised how I had guessed it correctly.

Yes they believe anything at that age ... He hopes that Father Christmas will get him the latest computer game machine for Christmas. And Helen hopes to get a doll with all the assorted dresses in her wardrobe ...

I know ... toys cost a fortune these days ... not like in our days. We were lucky to get an orange for Christmas or a clip round the ears.

I'll have to tell them that Father Christmas was mugged and their toys were stolen from him. Either that or that he has been arrested for flying well over the speed limit. Anything to avoid me buying those presents ...

No ... no ... aunt Elma ... don't buy them the presents yourself ... no please don't ... well, if you must. Thanks ... how kind of you.

Now about these teeth ... shall I send them to you by post? Mom-in-law must be feeding through a straw I guess ... Difficult to suck lentil broth through straw ... too thick ... the broth of course ...

Yes I'll wait till you speak to her ... ... ...


Hello ... I'm still here ... she doesn't want them? She has another pair?

She has a pair of false teeth for indoors and another pair for outdoors? That's novel.

You mean like sunglasses? A pair of ordinary bifocals for everyday seeing and a pair for seeing outside when sunny!

So she has two pairs of dentures? One for ordinary days and one for meeting important people? Well you should consider yourself honoured aunt Elma you have the good set of teeth. Or are the ones we have here the good ones? Don't ask her ...

I'll be honest auntie ... your sister sometimes makes me wonder. Once when I went to see her at her house she was looking a bit puzzled and could not hear me well ... I noticed she had a suppository in her ear. It was stuck there.

When I pointed it out she wondered where she'd put her hearing aid.

We searched everywhere and I was the one who found it ... it was on the small table next to the TV ... where did you think it was?

No ... not there ... ... ...

Anyway ... goodbye aunt Elma ... Mary will phone you as soon as she's home.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Stark Reality


John and Fiona were very distraught parents. They stayed behind in church after Mass and asked to see Father Ignatius.

He suggested they wait until everyone had gone, and eventually he came back in the church from the car park, having seen the last of the parishioners leave.

The couple were sitting up front next to the statue of Our Lord. Father Ignatius joined them and said jovially, “how are you both? And where is Lea today?”

“It’s about Lea that we want to talk about Father,” said Fiona.

“She doesn’t want to come to church any more,” added John, “she’s met some new friends and they’re leading her astray. She says church is boring … and she wants to do her own thing.”

“And you feel there’s nothing you can do about it …” continued the priest.

“That’s right Father, the more we argue with her the more she becomes stubborn.”

“That’s understandable,” said Father Ignatius gently, “parenting is not that easy despite what many people might think; and despite what the experts would tell you to do.

“In reality, there’s nothing you can do about it. Your daughter is old enough to do what she wants.

“As they grow up, children want their independence. Lea may get in with bad company, as you say; she may go totally off the rails, get into real trouble, and there’s very little a parent can do.

“I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I sympathize with you and what you must feel; but in reality we can only live our lives and not the lives of others.

“We may try to control other peoples’ behavior, through persuasion, pleading or downright force. But success depends on a number of factors and to a large extent the other person should be willing to alter their behavior to what you wish it to be.

“This isn’t helping much is it?” asked the priest quietly as he prepared them to understand the situation.

“Do you mean we do nothing?” asked Fiona holding back her tears.

“I didn’t say that …” continued Father Ignatius.

“I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when they lost Jesus when He was twelve. They looked everywhere and were concerned about their young teenager.

“But in reality, they had no need to worry did they? Perhaps they should have trusted God a little more. Maybe they did, and I’m judging them too harshly …”

“What exactly are you saying Father?” asked John.

“Do you trust God?” was the direct reply from the gentle priest.

“Eh … yes, of course …” mumbled John.

“OK … let’s consider the facts … you say she met some new friends.”

“Yes … she’s left school now and she is at college. She’s made new friends there … they’re OK I suppose. But they’re not Christian and she feels she’s becoming independent by not going to church.”

“And does God know about this?” asked Father Ignatius.

The couple were stumped and said nothing. The priest continued.

“I suggest you let her be. If she doesn’t want to go to church, don’t make an issue of it!”

“But … it’s a mortal sin!” exclaimed Fiona.

“It’s her mortal sin … not yours,” said the priest, “Besides, let’s assume you can force her to get to church every Sunday, and she does attend against her wishes, and sits there fuming and cursing under her breath. Would that make you feel better? Would it be a bigger sin do you think, than not attending church at all?”

“So you’re advocating we do nothing? I’m surprised at you Father” said John getting a little angry.

Father Ignatius smiled.

“That’s the second time I’ve been asked whether I’m suggesting you do nothing; and I repeat, I did not say that.

“I suggest first of all that you trust God, and I mean really trust Him that He has a hold on this situation and He is in full control. Can you do that?”

They nodded silently.

“Good, then I suggest you don’t force her to come to church on Sunday. Or even mention it. Just come by yourselves as you always do.

“If you do so already, continue with your family prayers. Before meals, evening prayers or whatever prayers you say together as a family.

“She may or may not join you; leave it to her to decide.

“Lead by example. If you really trust in God you will hand over your daughter to His care. If you stumble and wobble and if your Faith falters you will set her a bad example; and you’ll give her proof that your own Faith is only skin deep.

“She is free to decide what she wants in her life. It’s a gift given to all of us by God. Not to be restricted or controlled by any one else; this is what you’d be doing, albeit with good intentions, if you force her to go to church.

“Pray for her, like you’ve never prayed before. Ask God to protect her, to guide her and to bless her.

“Praying is not doing nothing; it is the most positive action we can take.

“She may well return to God in due course, or she may never do so. It’s a risk we all have to take with our loved ones. But it is their choice to make, no matter how hard or how painful it is for us to watch and to accept.

“We can only live our lives, not that of others. Let us be a living example to others rather than pay lip service to it.

“I’ll visit your home perhaps a little more often than I usually do, and let us pray that God will one day soon welcome her back as He does any prodigal child.”

Saturday 19 September 2020

I called her back ... what a back!


Hello aunt Elma ... this is Vic ... I just got your two calls yesterday and the day before ... I've been very busy at work and got home very late to phone you back ... ... ...

No auntie ... it was not a woman who answered the phone ... it was a machine ... 

Yes a machine ... no ... not a female doll ... ... ... an answering machine with a woman's voice ... Have you never seen a telephone-answering machine?

No auntie ... I did not insinuate you are backwards or old fashioned ... I know you don't like gadgets and modern things at home ... auntie ... auntie ... just listen ... you were speaking to a machine ... you know ... like that CD player I bought you for Christmas to listen to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra ... 
It is a bit like the old wound-up record player you used to have. Remember? You wound it with a handle and it had a big cone like thing for the sound to come out? Well ... the CD player is the same but more modern.

What do you mean you never used it? What do you mean it doesn't work ... ... ...

No auntie ... you got it wrong ... for the machine to work you have to put a CD in the machine ... a Bing Crosby or Sinatra CD or whatever ...

I don't know what a CD stands for ... it's a disc ... you know, those two boxes I gave you with the photos of Bing Crosby and Sinatra on them. Yes ... the one where he is wearing a Christmas hat ... that's the one.

What do you mean you never used them? How do you expect the CD player to play Sinatra if you've not put the CD in it? 

What? Of course the box is wrapped in very tight cellophane material. It's for security reasons. Yes it can be difficult to unwrap ... I see ... so you ignored both boxes of CDs and expected the CD player to play you the music just by reading your thoughts? ... Or perhaps by you asking it to play your songs for you ... thank Heavens I didn't get you one of those ... the machine would not have understood a word you're saying and would have probably committed suicide!


Look aunt ... Listen ... Forget about the answering machine and the CD player ... 
Listen ... aunt Elma ... you have nothing to worry about ...

Of course I love my wife ... and the children too ... yes we are happy and our marriage is very happy ... 
You don't understand auntie ... we've just bought an answering machine to answer the phone for us when we are out ... You must have seen the adverts on TV ... some modern phones have an in-built answering machine service ... and she has a woman's voice ...

Yes ... I can assure you we are very happily married and have a very healthy marriage relationship ... yes ... healthy in every respect ...
Well ... apart from your sister ...

Sorry ... perhaps I shouldn't have said that ... your sister ... my mother-in-law ... well she worries too much ... a bit like you really ...  Only with her living so close to us she is here worrying all the time ... I wish she was more like you aunt Elma ... worrying from afar!

Well ... you know what she's like ... always finding fault and suggesting things we don't need suggesting at ... 

Like I drink too much ... I only have a can or a bottle of Guinness a day ... or every other day ... apparently that is too much. I should have half the bottle and leave the rest to go flat and tasteless for a day or two ... 

I know she means well ... but perhaps she means too much too well ... she should hold back a little. 
Always suggesting things we should do better ... like the kind of toilet disinfectant we should use ... we are happy with the brand we are using ... It kills 99.99% of all household germs leaving the rest a chance to survive and breed again so we buy more disinfectant ...

Yes of course I love my mother-in-law ... yes I know Jesus said we should love everybody ... but He did not have my family did He?

Sorry ... I did not mean that ... it was a joke ... an aside joke I made to myself. No ... I was not taking the Lord's name in vain ... yes, I'll confess it to Father Barnaby if I must. I'll ask him first if it is worth confessing.

Of course I go to confession regularly ... I can't remember the last time I went ... Father Smithson was the priest then ... twenty years ago? Is it that long? Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself and not confessing it ...

Sorry auntie ... another joke. No I am not being facetious. Or flippant. Yes I am still a Christian ... yes I love the Good Lord ... I am not a heathen, aunt Elma ... aunt Elma ... stop crying ... aunt Elma ...

Don't be upset aunt Elma ... yes ... I'll speak to uncle Jim ... he'll put me right ... yes ...


Hello uncle Jim ... yes I'm keeping well ... did you see the football match last night on TV? Didn't Henderson do well ... it was a good match ... Saunders is settling in and playing well too ... ... ...