Saturday, 15 May 2021

The Grouse

 

A medium to large game bird with a plump body and feathered legs, the male being larger and more brightly coloured than the female.

Also, to moan, to have a pet peeve, to complain, something that annoys or irritates you. I'll tell you in a minute about one of my main grouses, or pet peeves. But let's see what would be yours in the example below.

Imagine you are at the cinema. It's a crowded theatre and you're enjoying one of your favourite films.  What would irritate you the most?

People talking to each other whilst the film is on.

The couple behind you being amorous.

The volume of the film is too loud.

A grizzly Momma bear and her cubs enter the cinema.

A flock of seagulls deposit their souvenirs on you.

People eating in the cinema and the sound of sweets unwrapping, or packets of popcorn etc ...

An attack of cramps throughout the whole audience.

You remembered you left the lights on at home.

People going to the toilet.

The person in front of you has big ears obstructing the screen.

The tears in your eyes because of the price of cinema tickets.

Someone has dropped their ice cream at the back of your shirt or dress.

Which one of these would be the most irritating event to spoil your enjoyment? For me, it is the sound of sweets and other packaging being crumpled and crunched whilst the movie is on. I wish they had closed captions (subtitles) in movies. 

I once saw Les Miserables film on TV with closed captions. Now I can claim to have read the book.

Did you know, I once went to the theatre and they had closed captions as the play was performed. As the actors were saying their lines, young ladies in swimming costumes paraded on the stage carrying large cardboards with the words the actors were saying. Just like they do on boxing matches to denote what round it is. These women walked up and down on the stage in front of the actors holding the cards high up showing us the words that are being said.

I liked the women in bikinis better than the play.

Anyway, what is your pet hate, or grouse?

Friday, 14 May 2021

Why did it happen to me?

 

WARNING
IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED
DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER

It happened this way ... let me first explain that in the UK, in many public places like cinemas, pubs, restaurants and the like, they have machines in the gents' bathrooms which sell condoms. Why in such places in particular? I don't know. Perhaps people go to the movies or for a nice meal and drink afterwards and get ideas ...

Anyway, I was at the gents and I noticed that the button on such a machine was sticking out, denoting that someone had put in some money and not got his purchased product. Now, normally I would ignore such a casual observation and left well alone. If it was a machine selling chocolates, or soft drinks, I would not bother to do anything about it. But somehow, the devil had other ideas in mind.

I was tempted to press the button. Nothing happened. It went in ... then out again. I pressed it once more. Nothing happened. I pressed it harder two or three times. 

A voice behind me said, "Is it not working, Sir?"

I jumped out of my skin. It was an attendant that came to clean the place every so often. I did not know what to say. I am a Catholic after all, and we're not allowed to use such things. We rely on playing chess, or backgammon or Monopoly. Sometimes Scrabble.

I just stammered.

He pulled out a key from his pocket, opened the machine and asked, "which one were you intending to purchase, Sir?"

"Eh ... hmmm ... ehm ..." I said incoherently. I mean ... I did not know what kind, size, flavour or type to choose. I did not know there were so many choices. That's the problem with modern life ... too many choices. Why can't we have one size fits all like in olden times? No choice apart from buy it or don't!

 I pointed at the machine.

He pulled out a packet and said, "It's a popular choice, Sir!" and gave it to me.

I thanked him and ran out of the place.

Now the problem is ... do I confess to Father Frederic that I got a packet of condoms without paying for it? What if he asks me what I intended to do with it? 

I am not sure which is the bigger sin - using it or not paying for it.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Modern Technology


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

"What do you mean?"

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

"Very funny, dad!"

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

"Dad, I have Bluetooth!"

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

"Dad, it is called Bluetooth."

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

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

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

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

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

"Made on a photocopier, no doubt!"

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

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

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

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

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

"Poor dad ..."

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

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Feline Dilemma

 


It was about five o’clock in the morning when I heard a sound outside in the front garden. It sounded like cats fighting.

I looked out of the front window and saw two cats chasing each other in our garden. One of them, doing the chasing, was our tom cat. The other one was some female cat owned by someone down our street.

Our tom cat must have been making advances to his girl friend because he was carrying a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates, figuratively speaking you understand. But the other cat was either playing hard to get or was not at all interested in his amorous advances. How am I to know? It’s difficult enough for us men to understand women let alone female cats!

Anyway … both cats were jumping all over the garden and in the street like hares do in early March. And in all their jumping my cat landed hard on the side of my neighbours car setting off the alarm.

Both cats flew away and I was left there at the window watching the lights in the car going on and off and the alarm sounding loudly enough to awaken the whole neighbourhood.

Minutes later our neighbour came out bare feet and in his pyjamas. As he approached his car he must have slipped on the damp grass and landed hard on his backside. He switched off the alarm using a remote control key whilst still sitting on the wet grass.

Before he managed to get up his little dog terrier came out running from the house barking like mad and running down the street.

The neighbours wife then came out in her negligent. (I bet you’re all looking this word in your dictionary. I like using French words in my stories – it adds class!)

She helped him up and he got in the car to go and fetch the runaway dog. For some reason, instead of going forwards he reversed hurriedly and mounted the side-walk hitting a tree behind him. He let out some profane words which I will not repeat here and then drove off at speed.

His wife waited for him in the street.

About ten minutes later he returned and got out of the car with the little dog in hand.

The thing is … do I tell him that it was my cat who set off the car alarm or not?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Uncle Herbert


Uncle Herbert came to visit us the other day. He’s a lovely old gentleman much liked by the whole family for his kindness and extreme generosity.

He always arrives laden with gifts for everyone and I must admit to looking forward to my large bottle of vintage single malt whisky every time he visits.

He certainly is an expert at choosing great gifts that we can all love and appreciate, Uncle Herbert is. Anything from something decorative or useful for the house to lovely toys and various presents for the children!

All are received gratefully with open arms … as well as Uncle Herbert himself of course. If there’s any spare space available in our open arms he is received gratefully there too.

Even the lazy dog lying on the mat opposite the TV reacts to Uncle Herbert’s arrival. He looks up … yawns … and goes back to sleep.

The cat of course hurries in the corner of the room and consults his book of tricks to see how he can embarrass me in my own home in front of my own family and friends.

Oh what a lovely meal we had last Sunday when Uncle Herbert called.

The best steak that money can buy, all sorts of roast vegetables, with Yorkshire pudding, gravy and all the trimmings. All washed down with fine wine (and orange juice for the kids) followed by a steamed plum pudding with custard and a glass or two of port – just to celebrate you understand.

After such a sumptuous meal the rest of the family decided to go out to the park for a walk to help the digestion … and I was left alone with Uncle Herbert.

He settled in front of the TV in his favorite armchair and pretty soon he felt the effects of the food and drink and followed the lazy dog into the land of nod.

I sat on the settee for a while relaxing and pretty soon the conniving cat was up to his tricks again. He jumped on the back of the armchair just behind Uncle Herbert and gently tried to paw his head whilst he was asleep.

I should mention at this point that Uncle Herbert wears a wig. It’s pretty obvious to anyone I think except himself. He’s obviously self-conscious about his bald head and prefers to cover it with some falsies instead …

Hey, why not. If it makes him happy why should we interfere?

Sensing a potential disaster with the cat standing just behind Uncle Herbert’s head I quickly, but silently, tried to entice him away with a morsel of food from the dinner table.

Eventually, the cat moved away and I cleared the dinner table and went to the kitchen to wash the dishes, leaving Uncle Herbert and the dog fast asleep.

Half an hour later when I’d finished washing up I returned to the living room to find Uncle Herbert still asleep in the armchair minus the wig.

What could have happened … I panicked. Surely the cat did not take it away without waking Uncle Herbert!

I searched everywhere for the missing wig. First behind the armchair … pretty obvious place. Then on either side of the sleeping man in case the wig fell by his side. Then … as usually happens in these circumstances … I widened the search area.

They say when you’re looking for something it will always be in the last place you think of looking … again, pretty obvious … because once you’ve looked there and found it, then it will be the last place and you’d stop looking. The thing is … where is this last place where the wig is supposed to be?

It was one of those quick and frantic searches yet carried out very quietly because I did not want to wake sleeping Uncle Herbert. It had to be done hurriedly before the children came back from the park and discovered that their uncle had detachable hair.

I prayed to St Anthony to help me find the missing article, but the Saint must have been busy with something else that day because the wig was no where to be found.

A cold sweat covered my forehead and trickled silently into my eyes. My heart was pounding in my chest like a drum sending my blood pressure to new highs.

Think … think … think … where else could it be? I even looked in the fridge and in the washing machine … although why it should be there is beyond anyone’s imagination. But when I panic … I really panic … I’m expert at it.

And panic makes you do stupid things … like go out in the back garden hoping for inspiration … or just to escape from being inside where all the panic is.

How could I possibly explain to Uncle Herbert that his wig had disappeared?

What if the family came back and the children asked him if he'd shaved his head as a fashion statement? Do you think he'd be angry enough to want his whisky back?

Questions ... questions and more questions ran through my mind as I stepped into the garden for inspiration.

Just as well I went out because that’s exactly where the wig was … right in the middle of the garden. That wretched cat will be the end of me one day …

I can read it in the Medical Journal already … heart attack induced by family cat!

I picked up the wig which was by now covered in dirt and cat’s saliva. How do you clean a wig? Anyone know? More questions.

I can’t put it in the washing machine … the spin dryer would turn Uncle Herbert into a curly head.

I can’t vacuum clean it … it would get sucked up in the machine and transformed into a mop.

I can’t beat it hard against the wall to knock off the dirt … it would probably moult and lose or shed hair … and poor bald Uncle Herbert would have a bald wig to cover his bald head.

I rubbed my hand across the wig gently and slowly wiped away the cat’s saliva with a clean cloth. I then tiptoed into the living room and tried to replace the hair-piece onto its rightful place … one problem … which way is forward and which way is backwards … it all looked the same to me.

I gently let it drop on Uncle Herbert’s head and quickly sat on the settee pretending to be asleep just as he woke up and straightened his wig to its pre-destined position without any care or notice.

NOW IN PAPER BACK
 ***********************
***********************

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Psychological Nonsense My Style

 

So ... it happened like this. Why is it these days people start sentences with "so"? I hate it. I never do that and will never ever do it.

So ... as I was saying, these directors thought it would be a good idea to hire a psychologist to assess their top managers and identify their potential to get on to higher positions in management. The psychologist's name was I M N Idiot - as I recall.

He divided us into two groups of five. I did not know until then I was one of the ten top managers. He said one group would be the control group and he will not interfere or affect their behaviour in any way. He will let those five act as a group, or individually, as they wish. The other five people will be the experimental group. He will, or may, interfere with their performance to see how they behave. Of course, he did not tell us which group of five was which.

Well ... I was not keen about this at all. I am not a guinea pig and refuse to be treated as such. My potential for higher management is obvious - I am not interested. My job is stressful enough counting paper clips for them to add more stress with counting staples as well.

Our group of five were given a cup of strong black coffee to drink. I did not know whether they did the same with the other group, or whether they were the experimentals or us. I was certain that the psychologist was mental all right. And the coffee tasted like gnats' pee. I threw it away whilst he was not watching.

We were taken out, blind-folded and asked to stand still for a while. After just five minutes, we were told to take off the blindfolds. We were in the middle of a maze. They had built a maze around us using self-standing panels on legs. We were told to find our way out.

That's when my disruptive scheme came into effect. I told the group that we were the experimental group. I had no way of knowing that, but I lied that there was a peculiar taste in the coffee and they were assessing how we think as a result of what we drank. I suggested we should think creatively. Think outside the box. That is what was expected of us. Rather than walk round the maze, which is what most people would do, a quicker way was to push all the panels down and get out that way. In three minutes we were free. The psychologist was very annoyed that we ruined the exercise but said nothing.

In the second exercise he divided our group into 3 people in one room and 2 in another. In my room we had a little house made of Lego bricks. Using only a telephone, which they said our conversation will be recorded and listened to, we had to describe the building to the other 3 who would build an identical house with their bricks. I asked my colleague to make the phone call. Whilst he was describing our building, I took a photo on my cell-phone of the house and sent it secretely to another colleague in the other room on his cellphone. To be honest, the guy in my room was awful at describing the building but, somehow, the others managed to build an identical house in record time.

The final exercise was a one-to-one interview with the psychologist. I was as disruptive as I could, but politely of course, by giving the wrong answers, or pretending I did not know whether a zebra is white with black stripes, or black with white stripes. He showed me a lot of ink spots, or ink blots, and asked me what I could see in them? I gave silly answers, like, "I see a fridge with nothing inside!" He asked me how I knew it was empty. I said it was not connected to the mains electricity supply.

A week later they offered me a promotion. I turned it down. They could not understand why, but they never employed the psychologist again.

When things go wrong

 

4 minutes recording

 

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Oh Noah ... Noah!

 


THE DAY NOAH GOT DRUNK

It's in the Bible.

Noah was a farmer and
he was the first man to ever plant
a vineyard.
He made wine,
drank it,
and became drunk.
He then took off all his clothes,
and lay naked in his tent.
His son Ham (what a name)
saw Noah naked and
he took photos with his cell-phone
and posted them on Facebook.
GENESIS 9:20-22.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Catalogue of disasters

 

Well it all started some years ago when a man from a pet charity came knocking at our door. Can't remember the name of the charity, but he asked me if I would like to sponsor a cat.

I asked him, "What will it do?"

He did not understand, so I explained, "you want me to sponsor a cat, will it run the marathon? Go on a diet and lose weight? Climb a mountain range? Eat broccoli for a year? What will it do?"

He said that it doesn't work like that. This sponsoring method is that I pay a given sum every month and the charity looks after the cat.

"What's in it for me?" I asked, "I seem to be out of pocket in this transaction!"

He said it's a charitable gift, tax deductible, I would get photos of the cat every now and then and a progress report how he is doing. I thought it was a waste of money. I might as well buy a cat. So they sold me a black cat called Snowy.

Unfortunately he was difficult to handle so we exchanged him for a white cat called Rover. Sadly, on a snowy winter he got run over by a snow plough. Perhaps we should have kept the black cat called Snowy instead.

So the charity gave us another cat. A ginger one called Albatross. He was very clever for a feline.

I lived in London at the time. In a tiny apartment.One day my boss said I had to go and work in Glasgow for three months. It was an urgent project and I had to fly there that very evening. There was no one to take care of my Albatross for that length of time so I decided to take it with me. 

There was no time to make any arrangements so I looked on the internet and there's an organisation that can transport animals from one place to another for a fee. They took my cat and said they'll deliver him to me in two days' time.

Two days later, in Glasgow, they delivered a Golden Labrador dog called Pussycat.  

"What the **** is that?" I asked the delivery man who could not put such a big dog through my letter box.

He looked at his delivery note and read, "A ginger cat called Albatross!"

"So?" I asked, "do you see a mistake here perhaps?"

He looked at the dog and said, "he's a bit big for a cat!"

"Of course he's big, he is not a cat," I said holding back my temper, "he is a Golden Labrador, not a damn cat!"

"Do you not want him?" he replied, "he is bigger than a cat, and very friendly. Saves me having to return him to the depot. Besides, this delivery note was in the cage he was in. It says ginger cat named Albatross. So he's definitely yours, look the address is correct as well!"

To cut a long story short, as you have guessed, someone at the depot had mistakenly put the wrong delivery notes on the cages. We got down to his delivery van. It was full of cages with rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, parrots, snakes, tortoises and other creatures due for delivery. And, you've guessed it again, all the delivery notes were on the wrong cages. The snake was labelled a parrot, the parrot was labelled a hamster and so on.

We found my ginger cat called Albatross. His delivery note said tortoise called Speedy to be delivered to a totally different address to mine.

I convinced the delivery man to give me my cat in exchange for the Labrador called Pussycat.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Love letter from my past

 



Hello mon petit choux, my little cabbage. I thought I'd write to let you know I missed you since we last met on Saturday at the back of the fast food burger bar. 

Sorry I had to run and leave you but I had to get home before the football match started on TV. I hope you got the bus home all right and you were not bothered by any weirdos like that man eating pickled onions you told me about. 

I really should have walked you home, or at least took the bus with you; but it was an important football match. Sadly my team lost, dad got drunk, mom got upset and locked herself in the bedroom, and dad slept on the couch. I got in my room and my thoughts turned to you, and I was very upset that my team lost at football. 

To comfort me, and in the absence of your presence cuddling next to me, I took my pet to bed with me instead. The next morning the bed and I were all wet and my goldfish had died. I shall have to replace him before the next time I am alone without you.

I can't live ... if living is without you ... I can't give ... I can't give any more. I gave you all the spare change I had for you to take the bus. I cried myself to sleep. Every night I wake up crying. Tears on my pillow and pain in my heart. You on my mind. Yes ... when I woke up this morning, you were on my mind. Maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have. Maybe I didn't love you quite as often as I could have. We've only just met really, but you were always on my mind. You were always on my mind.

I wondered how you are getting on in your new job at the slaughterhouse. You being a vegetarian and all. Perhaps next time we should not meet at the burger bar. Are there any vegetarian burger bars? We can share some sauerkraut and root beer. 

I hope there will be a next time and you will want to go out with me again. I really enjoyed our first date. So much so I will tattoo your name on my chest, close to my heart. Let me know how you spell your name.

I love you darling Caitryn ... Cietrin ... (I really can't remember how you spell your name. Is it i before e except after c? Or does your name start with a k not a c?) I look forward to seeing you in your golden leotard at your next wrestling match my Mighty Meatless Muscles.

P.S. - Did you find your lost doggie?

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Galileo ... Galileo ... Magnifico-o-o-o-o

 



This history lesson will focus on how we got to find out that the earth is round and revolves around the sun as well as round itself.

It all started a long time ago in Italy when a man called Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) became a famous mathematician, physicist and philosopher. He was born in Pizza in Italy and often walked leaning sideways. This is because he had one leg shorter than the other. When he eventually became famous the townsfolk built a tower in his honour and made it lean sideways to look just like him.

He achieved great distinction amongst society by doing his homework whilst at school and not wasting time watching TV or playing video games. This proved easy for him because at the time neither TV nor video games had been invented; so it was either a choice of doing homework or helping with the household chores.

Anyway, as he grew up Galileo used to think a lot. He would sit on a chair in the veranda for hours and just think rather than help his father work in the fields. One day he looked over the field at the people far away and wondered why they were small. "Do people shrink as they walk away from you?" he thought. "And how is it they grow up again the closer they get to you?"

It was a mystery which exercised his imagination until his friend Vidi Maximus suggested that he should invent the telescope.

It is worth noting here that Vidi Maximus was the second of the three Max Brothers - Veni, Vidi, Vici.

Vici was always fighting, whereas Vidi had great foresight as well as hindsigth because he had eyes at the back of his head. Not much is known of the elder brother Veni.

But I digress as I often do to add interest to my conversations and to check whether you're still paying attention or have fallen asleep.

So, using a few inner rolls of toilet paper Galileo stuck them together and made a long cardboard tube. He looked down one end and was disheartened to find that the men in the field were just as small as before.

It took Vidi Maximus quite a lot of patience to explain to Galileo that it would be better if he were to put some lenses in the tube first. And that's how Galileo invented the telescope.

One day as he was sitting in the veranda thinking, Galileo noticed that the shadow of a nearby tree moved every so often and it was not always in the same place. He looked up to the sun and was nearly blinded by its brilliance; so he cursed that he had not invented sunglasses as well as the telescope.

He figured out that either the sun is moving around and so giving the illusion that the shadow is moving, or the sun is standing still in one place and it was the earth which was moving.

He waited until nightfall and then he got his friend Vidi Maximus to walk in a big circle in the street holding a lit torch. To his delight he noticed that as Vidi walked around in a big circle the shadow of the tree moved round as well. This proved to Galileo that the earth moved around the tree ... until Vidi patiently once again pointed out that the earth moved around the sun not the tree.

Eventually, the slow Galileo saw the light, from the torch as well as in his head, and realised that the earth indeed moved round a stationary sun. They were both so excited by their great discovery that they stopped suddenly and cheered at the top of their voices. Unfortunately they were run over by a passing fast chariot.

The following day, dazed and bedraggled, Galileo got out of hospital and decided to go public with his discovery. He told everyone that the earth revolves around the sun. They all laughed at him.  

Some church people said that this was all heresy and he should be arrested.

It was at this period, whilst challenged for his beliefs, that he is supposed to have said "Eppur si muove!"

This is a famous saying which in Italian means "and yet it moves".

This is believed to refer to the fact that he maintained at all times that the earth revolves around the sun; and has nothing to do with the notion that he was referring to his over-large mother-in-law who got up from her chair to make everyone a well deserved Expresso coffee.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Unbelievable Horror Story

 

You'll never believe this story. In fact I hardly believe it myself. But it did happen. To me. Years ago. In the wilds of Scotland it was.

I went to visit an old friend called McPherson who lived out on the moors up in the Highlands. His house, or shack, was out there at the foot of a mountain. No electricity, or running water. Just running cockroaches as I recall. I killed one of them and within minutes my bed was infested with other cockroaches. They had come for the funeral. Ominous I thought.

He was an odd fellow, McPherson. Although well educated with various University degrees he chose to live alone in the wild relying on his inventiveness and wit to survive. 

As I recall, he always stank like a skunk. Partly because he had no bathroom in his small wooden shack. He used to bathe in the river once a month whether he needed it or not; until one day he was bitten by a hungry fish searching for worms. After that, he bathed wearing an old diving suit he had from his deep-sea diving days. He claimed that a bout of flatulence helped him float. 

The first evening with McPherson it rained heavily and there was thunder and lightning. We were outdoors, McPherson and me, gathering fire wood to keep us warm that evening. Every so often there was a strike of lightning which lit the sky and the surrounding area. This was followed by a low rumble from the thunder. Apparently, you always see the lightning first and then hear the thunder. Unless you're indoors and perhaps you don't see the lightning at all; unless the roof has blown off.

Well, we were outdoors and as there was some sudden lightning I thought I saw someone moving in the woods near us. It may have been my imagination but it looked like a skeleton. He had no body with him. He was all alone! So thin you'd say he was skin and bones; only he did not have the skin.

I told McPherson about it but he was totally unperturbed. He said it was probably the ghost of Joshua McAdamia. An old nut who lived in the shack nearby. He died years ago when trying to harness lightning to light a cigarette with. He stood there in a night like this with a long metal pole in hand, hoping to direct the lightning to the end of the cigarette on his lips. Sure enough the lightning caught the metal pole and turned McAdamia into a roasted nut.

"He comes out on nights like this to borrow a cigarette from you. I always turn him down," said McPherson, "because I smoke a pipe not cigarettes."

We hurried indoors with whatever wood we had and lit a fire to keep us warm. As we sat there eating beans and vegetarian sausages ... oh ... I forgot to mention, McPherson was a vegetarian. He only ate sausages and burgers and such stuff made from mushrooms or similar spores or fungi. It tasted like rubber but without the taste of rubber. 

I don't know about you, but I resent vegetarians making things like sausages and burgers. Meat eaters invented those shapes first. Vegetarians should invent their own shapes like cubic sausages and square burgers. 

Anyway, as we sat there eating there was a knock at the door. "Who is that at this hour?" I thought. 

"It is probably McAdamia," said McPherson, "he often comes round to borrow a cup of tea or coffee. He says it goes right through him!"

Well I don't know about you, but I suddenly got the urge to go to the toilet. The shack did not have such a facility. You have to go out and choose a tree, or hide behind a bush if you're a lady.

I certainly was not going out in weather like that, especially with McAdamia's skeleton in search for liquid refreshment.

"What do we do now?" I asked in trepidation. 

"Just cross your legs tight together till morning," he said, "I always do that rather than go out and get wet!"

"Tell me more about McAdamia," I said to pass away the time and take my mind off my predicament.

"Oh, he's a nice fellow all right," replied McPherson, "rather skeletal in appearance and somewhat transparent. I bet he's still out there behind the door in the rain. But he doesn't get wet and shivery like you or I would. Always as dry as a bone. One day, whilst he was asleep, his dog ate his legs. When he woke up in the morning he was furious, but he did not have a leg to stand on. So I made him another pair of legs from a tree branch that had fallen in the storm! From then on I called him Splinters. He loves to say "Ooh ARRRR!" and pretend he is a pirate. Because he is a vegetarian too, he has a carrot on his shoulder!"

I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I noticed that the door of the shack was loose on one of its hinges. No doubt that's what made it rattle in the wind all through the night. 

Was there a McAdamia knocking at the door? Was it one of McPherson's sick inventive jokes from his repertoire of wit? 

I did not have time to ask him. I ran outside to the nearest tree and then jumped in my car and drove off as fast as I could. No doubt McPherson was bathing in the river because I noticed the diving suit was not in the shack.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Do NOT Be Afraid

 

                                     DO NOT BE AFRAID

If we are honest, we have all been afraid at one time or another in our lives. Afraid about something that might happen to us, or to our loved ones. And our fear, whether warranted or not, weakens our faith in God our loving Father. This song should prove comforting when we are in such mental turmoil.

.


Sunday, 2 May 2021

What do you believe?

 

What are you praying for right now? A need or a want? For you or for someone else? Do you believe that  God is listening and will respond in His own way and in His time? How sure and certain are you of this?

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Do you know God?

 

Here are some comforting thoughts.

John 14:7-14 

"If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him."

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to Him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."

Jesus here is not trying to teach Philip and the disciples about the Holy Trinity. This was, and still is, too difficult a concept for those people and us to understand.

Jesus is teaching a far easier lesson for those people, and us, to understand. He says, "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves."

Jesus is telling us that the best way to know God is by looking at Him, (Jesus), and the way He behaved. When we see His kindness, His closeness to sinners and to those marginalised by others, when we see His many miracles helping those in need, when we see His love and mercy and forgiveness, even to those who nailed Him to the Cross, when we see to what extent He was ready to share our human condition, and to care for us; then we are seeing God, our loving Father.

This is what God looks like. A loving, caring, merciful and forgiving Father.

Jesus also gives us a promise here, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

How comforting is that?

Friday, 30 April 2021

Exercise



Thursday, 29 April 2021

As I was saying

 

Teacher: How many feet in a yard?
Pupil: That depends! How many people are in the yard?

 

The teacher says, "OK class, I'd like you all to tell me what you need at home.

Susie says, "We need a computer".

Wendy says, "We need a car".

Mary says, We need a new washing machine”.

Johnny says, "We don't need anything Miss".

Teacher says, "Come on Johnny, everyone needs something?"

"No Miss, My parents were happily watching their favourite program on TV when my sister came home with her new boyfriend and my Dad said, Well, that's all we need!”

 

Ken and Rita had finished their breakfast at the retirement home and were relaxing in the library. "You know," said Rita, "today, in most marriage ceremonies, they don't use the word 'obey' any more."

"Too bad, isn't it?" retorted Ken. "It used to lend a little humour to the occasion."

 

I was having dinner with a world chess champion the other day. Our table had check tablecloth. It took him two hours to pass me the salt.

 

A vicar is walking down the street one day when he notices a very small boy trying to press a doorbell on a house across the street. However, the boy is very small and the doorbell is too high for him to reach. After watching the boy's efforts for some time, the vicar moves closer to the boy's position.

He steps smartly across the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child's shoulder, leans over and gives the doorbell a solid ring.

Crouching down to the child's level, the vicar smiles benevolently and asks, "And now what, my little man?"

The boy replies, "Now we run!"

 

Two men in Court. Judge asks the first: “Where do you live?” “No fixed abode!”

He asks the other man “And you, where do you live?” "In the apartment above him!"

 

Postman: Is this letter for you sir? The name's obliterated.
Man: No, my name's Peterson. 

Patient: Doctor help me. I keep thinking I'm a dog.
Psychiatrist: And when did this start exactly?
Patient: Ever since I was a puppy.
Psychiatrist: I see. Please get on the couch.
Patient: I'm not allowed on the couch!

A ventriloquist sitting on the stage goes through his routine. The dummy he's holding tells one blonde joke after another ... "there was this blonde ..."

The audience laugh themselves to tears. Eventually a blonde woman has had enough. She stands up and shouts "Stop all these jokes. They are degrading and insulting to blondes everywhere. You should be ashamed!"

The ventriloquist stops his act and says "I'm sorry madam ... I meant no offence."

She says "I'm not talking to you ... I'm talking to the little man on your knee."

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Best Vacuum Cleaner Ever

Salesman: Hello Sir. I would like to demonstrate to you the greatest invention ever. May I come in?

Man: Yes ... come in ...

Salesman: I would like to show you the latest invention which will revolutionise the world. This vacuum cleaner does not use any electricity at all. And no batteries either. What do you think of that?

Man: Neat!

Salesman: For a moment I thought you'd say it sucks!

Man: No ... it's neat!

Salesman: Indeed it is neat. And it will make your whole house neat. And it will save you hundreds of dollars in electricity. Because it does not use electricity, or batteries which you have to re-charge. And what's more ... no electricity means it will help save the planet because you are not using any power at all. So you save money and you save the planet. What do you say now?

Man: Neat!

Salesman: Yes ... double neat indeed. Let me show you how it works. You are married are you?

Man: Yes.

Salesman: Good ... because this vacuum cleaner requires the help of one's spouse to make it work. We call it Perfect Partnership. Husband and wife working in harmony together. Or indeed any couple, friends living together, or any two or more people working in harmony together to save money and to save the planet at the same time. Shall I show you how it works?

Man: Yes please.

Salesman: I'll pretend to be your wife and I will operate this hand pump here. As I pump up and down up and down ... see how I do it ... you will move the vacuum cleaner head backwards and forwards and suck all the dirt from the carpet. Let's try it ... what do you think?

Man: Neat ... it's great ...

Salesman: You bet it's neat ... it picks up all the dirt ingrained deep in the fibres of the carpet. And no electricity whatsoever. All it needs is me to pump up and down and you to suck in all that nasty dirt.

Man: It missed a bit over there.

Salesman: Yes it does every now and then. But you can always pick the bits it missed with your hand and put them in the trash bin. I bet you can't guess how much this new invention costs!

Man: I have no idea!

Salesman: Well, for you ... as an introductory offer seeing you are the first house I called on in your area ... this latest modern invention is yours for only $100. Do you like it?

Man: I do ... I think ...

Salesman: I'll tell you what ... I am authorised to make you a special offer. If I leave this vacuum cleaner with you for a month, and you demonstrate it to all your neighbours, family and friends ... for every vacuum cleaner you sell I'll give you $10. You only need to sell 10 in a month and I'll give you this cleaner for free instead. What do you say to that?

Man: Neat!

Salesman: Neat indeed ... now let me get your John Hancock signature on this contract here ... By the way, what will you do with your existing electric vacuum cleaner?

Man: I'll throw it away. It's only gathering dust!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

The Best Moment

 

There we were in the Parish Hall listening to the priest give one of his Bible Study lectures. There were not many of us; about half a dozen or so. To illustrate his point, (I can't remember what the point was; I was looking out the window wondering whether we'll have pizza for supper), anyway ... as I was saying, to illustrate his point the priest asked us to write anonymously on a piece of paper ... so I wrote "anonymously" ... no ... no ... I was joking. 

Let's start again ... the priest asked us to write anonymously what was the best moment in our lives.

He then collected the pieces of paper and read them out one at a time. The first one said the best moment was when she gave birth to her baby and how she'll never forget holding him in her arms just minutes old. The woman identified herself and described that lovely moment and the group said, "Aaah ... how beautiful"

The second piece of paper was also baby related. This man had said how he remembers his baby daughter holding tight to his little finger. What a moment that was.

A young woman said her best moment was when her husband proposed to her; and she realised for the first time how it felt to be loved. She cried as her piece of paper was read out by the priest.

There was also a touching moment when someone's child was healed after a serious life-threatening illness.

My piece of paper was the penultimate to be read. The priest read, "I had a nice apple pie earlier this week!"

The priest looked at me and said, "Is that all?"

I did not help by saying, "I had vanilla ice cream with it too!"

I hate these stupid sessions where they ask personal questions. How was I to know what they meant by beautiful moments? My wife is angry with me !!! She has told me of many best moments in my life since we met. I can't remember many of them. Why is it you women like to tell men how lucky we are!

Monday, 26 April 2021

You're not as bad as all that.

 

Don't worry .... you're not as bad as all that. Not as bad as you think.

If we're honest with ourselves, we have all had times of doubts and confusion in our lives. Times when things were a little bad and we wondered whether God cares for us. Whether He has abandoned us. Whether we are not such a high priority in His In-Tray and whether He was more busy with someone else's problems. We may even have wondered whether He exists at all. And questioned the real basis of our faith.

Let us consider His followers and disciples. They had been with Him for three years or so. They had heard Him preach and lived with Him. They witnessed many miracles. Turning water into wine, feeding the thousands, walking on water, calming the sea. They witnessed His kindness and healings. The blind were made to see again. The lame to walk, the dumb to talk, and the deaf to hear once more. They saw the lepers cleaned and those possessed by the devil made free and whole again. They even saw the dead raised back to life. They witnessed Christ dying and be raised from the dead. He conquered death and evil for ever.

But even they, those who witnessed all this, hesitated when difficulties came their way. They ran away when Jesus was arrested. They betrayed Him, denied knowing Him, would not believe He was raised again unless they had proof, and did not even recognise Him on their way to Emmaus.

They were all too preoccupied with their own problems, Their own safety. Their own well-being. They were too fearful to recognise the truth in front of their very eyes.

They, who witnessed Jesus and His power and His Holy Deity, failed when it was so important not to fail.

So, you're not that bad as all that after all.

God knows when your faith falters, and why it does so. He understands and forgives you as He forgave Peter and the other disciples. 

We all fail Him at some time in our lives. We all have our Emmaus moments. Few people have a strong unfaltering faith no matter the circumstances.

The important thing is to keep on believing. To keep on trying, no matter the circumstances, to believe in Him. 

"Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." (John 20:19-31).

Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Shepherd

 

 
The Good Shepherd, by Bernhard Plockhorst, (1825-1907)
VIDEO = 3MINUTES

 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Track Record

 

TRACK RECORD: the past achievements or performance of a person, organization, or product. 

"He has an excellent track record as an author".

I guess we all do it at some time or other, subconsciously perhaps. We measure someone's future performance based on the last one, or series of past performances. Whether it is an athlete, politician, organisation we have dealt with or a product we have bought; we assume and believe that their behaviour or performance will be as it has been in the past. We even judge our friends and family this way. We know a certain person is always reliable, prompt on time, and a good honest worker; whereas someone else is not.

But what is God's track record?

You must have known Him for a time, or perhaps you're new at making His acquaintance; how much can you rely on Him in future based on His past performance in your life?

Looking back at past experiences I remember some very bad times in my life. I may not have realised it at the time, but now I think of it, God was there beside me on every occasion. Helping me. Making things easier. Caring for me through some very difficult moments.

So based on His track record in my life, I see no reason why He should fail me in future should I get into difficulty or misfortune. Shall we say, I have faith through experience.

But what is your experience of God in your life? Has He ever let you down? Think about this before you answer it. Did He let you down, or did you distance yourself from Him? How well did you know God at the time of your troubles? How close a friendship was it? And if you feel let down, is it because you did not get what you expected of Him? He did not respond to your requests or demands? He is not a magician you know; ready at your beck and call to do what you command.

Sometimes God does not respond the way we want, or at the time we want, because what we ask for may not be in our best interest. It's the same way as a good parent would not give a child too many sweets just because he asks for them.

But God's track record is a constant one of caring, loving and nurturing His creation; even though we might not realise it. Again, just like a good parent would behave.

Let our prayers be: Speak Lord your servant is listening. Not, listen Lord, your master is talking.

Friday, 23 April 2021

On the carpet

 

We've got a room in the house that is tiled red and white. I think it's OK. But it has been suggested that it should be carpeted. So eventually, after being told several times, I emptied the room and decided to carpet it myself. I am after all an expert at everything.

I bought one of those electronic measuring tape type machines. It's a small box which you place near the wall and it sends an invisible beam to the opposite wall which somehow measures the distance; and then you can read the distance between the two walls on the little display screen.

Marvellous.

I measured the room in question and went to the carpet shop to buy the carpet.

I discovered the room is three kilometres long and four centimetres wide. The shop manager tells me they don't do carpets in those measurements. Wrong colours too! I wanted a carpet with red and white squares.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Why does it always happen to me?

 

So that's how it happened. We were visiting mom-in-law to celebrate her birthday. It was a lovely Summer's day in August. I did not know what to get her as a present. I thought, seeing we'd all be outside in the garden enjoying a barbecue and no doubt jumping and swimming in her swimming pool in the garden; why not get her something we could all enjoy.
A TRAMPOLINE
 
I bought her a trampoline. My wife did not think it was appropriate for someone her mom's age; but hey ... why not? You are as young as you feel your age; or whatever the saying is.

She had a nice barbecue ready with sausages, burgers and steaks. By the way, as an aside, I once had elephant steak. Have you ever had elephant steak? You'll never forget!

So I set up the trampoline in the garden and the children quickly had a go at bouncing up and down. To her credit, so did mom-in-law. She got out of the swimming pool and decided to try out her new toy which I got her. She is such a short lady. So short that her legs don't reach the ground.

I had to pick her up and lift her onto the trampoline. Once there she started bouncing higher and higher and somersaulting as she did so. She got up so high that her swimming bikini bra got caught up in the branches of the nearby tree. She just hung there like an ornament on a Christmas tree. We did not know what to do. I was concerned in case the bra strap broke and she'd come tumbling down and break the trampoline. 

It reminded of the occasion years ago when I learnt magic and had practised levitation. It was at this very house where she lives. I got her to lie down on her back on the dinner table and magically levitated her. She floated up slowly until she reached the ceiling. Unfortunately, once she reached there I could not get her down again. She remained up there in a lying down position with her nose touching the ceiling. In my panic I forgot the magic word to bring her down again and I was afraid she might suddenly drop with a bump and break the table.
 
This time it was no different. If she fell down from the tree she'd break the trampoline for sure. I did the only obvious thing and moved the trampoline away.
 
My wife got very angry at me shouting at me to get her down. I explained that bra straps these days are made of very strong material and are unlikely to break - polyester I believe! This did not appease my wife.

We got a long step ladder from the garage and I was volunteered against my will and better nature to get up there and get mom-in-law down. It was not a pleasant experience. Going up there and holding on to her legs whilst I tried to untangle her bra from the tree branch. What if I fell? There was no trampoline down there to soften my fall. 
 
Anyway, I got the bra strap off the tree branch. She sat on my shoulders, and I slowly step by step got down to terra-firma.
This is me and father-in-law enjoying bouncing on the trampoline. He did not want to go up the ladder to get his wife down because he was minding the barbecue at the time. No one likes burnt food!

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Forest Picnic

 

Some years back our young priest thought it a good idea to take some youngsters, aged between 16 and 20 from under-privileged families, for a day out in the forest at the edge of town. The idea was to go out on Saturday, have a picnic lunch and return early evening about 5 o’clock in time for evening Mass.

Somehow, he managed to convince me and a few other adults to go with him and help with supervision and also to provide transport there and back.

We arrived at the forest at about 9 in the morning and we parked our cars on the edge of the forest. Everyone was excited and well prepared. They all carried haversacks filled with all sorts of picnic foods and drinks, and cameras, binoculars and all kind of other things that are considered necessary for a day out in the forest. They were all dressed appropriately of course. Shorts were the order of the day and big thick boots and hats. Even the young priest did away with his white collar and wore a multi-coloured open necked shirt and a large hat.

I wore an old pair of khaki short trousers I use when gardening and I brought with me my large cowboy-type hat; the one with the large feather. I had an open necked shirt, so no need for the turquoise bow tie with pink flowers!

I brought with me some sandwiches and small drink in a plastic bag, and most important of all six large bars of chocolate. You need chocolates when out for a long walk; it helps keep your sugar levels well under control if you get tired. Six bars should be enough so I can share them around with the rest of the group.

To save me carrying the chocolates in the bag I put them in the back pockets of my khaki shorts. Three bars in each back pocket. They fitted perfectly.

They all moved eagerly ahead into the forest with the priest leading the way and a few adults interspersed every now and then. I chose to be the last one in the long queue of people, which would give me an opportunity to stop and take a rest every now and then. I’m not into long walks, especially in the forest.

On and on they walked and they sang as they walked. “Sing Halleluiah to the Lord … Our God reigns … Seek ye first the Kingdom of God …” and several other hymns led by the priest at the front and echoed by the rest all the way back to me.

Pleasant it was. But tiring too! Where exactly were we heading? Searching for Dr Livingston or the treasures of the Inca?

It was getting hot … very hot under a punishing sun which you don’t often get around here. Even the feather in my hat was the worst for wear.

After what seemed miles of walking I felt a trickle down my legs. I stopped and to my horror discovered that the six bars of chocolates had melted soaking my short trousers and dripping away leaving a tell-tale track of brown behind me.

I felt my face go red as panic set in.

What am I to do? I pulled out the empty wrappers of chocolates from my pockets, for that is all that was left … empty wrappers. Each bar was 600 grams; so that’s more than three kilos of chocolates melted down my pants and on my legs with embarrassing visual results that would be almost impossible to explain away.

I tried to wipe as much as possible with my handkerchief which soon became soaked anyway and of no use. I hid the handkerchief under some leaves and forest debris. No point in putting it back in my pocket is there?

I scraped as much of the chocolate off my legs but they still looked embarrassingly brown, as indeed was the back of my trousers.

I could see the rest of the gang well away in the distance. I must catch up with them if I’m not to get lost.

I took off my jacket and wrapped it round my waist by the sleeves just like trendy people do when they pretend they are hot. Well … I was hot all right … with embarrassment, panic and fear of getting lost.

I hurried and caught up with the rest of the team just as they were settling down in the woods for a picnic lunch.

I whistled nonchalantly as I arrived and sat on a log some distance away so as not to over-power them with the sweet aroma of melted chocolate.

The young priest said “Grace” and they all started eating their picnics.

Now, why is it when things go wrong for me they continue to go wrong?

As I sat there considering how best to hide my situation for the rest of the day I heard an ominous buzz around me. I’d inadvertently sat on a wasps nest in a hollow in the tree trunk I was on.

Now … they have the whole forest in which to nest … why choose this particular tree trunk?

Pretty soon I was up on my feet and dancing in a panic, tapping on my buttocks and legs as I did so.

Wasps up your short trousers are no fun I tell you.

Everyone stopped eating and turned to me wondering what I was up to. Then they realized and a few adults came to my rescue shooing away the wasps with their hats and napkins.

Once the wasps had gone a pleasant young lady helper offered me her chair and the young priest got me a drink of white wine from his haversack to calm my nerves.

The young lady saw me shivering and said I was in shock. I should take the jacket off my waist and wear it to keep warm.

Well … I could hardly do that? Could I?

The sight of my chocolate stained brown trousers would have sent her into shock as well!

I sat there calmly for the rest of the day and until it was time to go home.
 
Needless to say, I did not join them to Saturday evening Mass but drove straight home for a quick shower and change of clothing.

I hate chocolates. I hate picnics. And I hate forests. Wasps too!
EXCERPT FROM MY MEMOIRS
"AS I QUOTE MYSELF"