Thursday, 29 July 2021

High Class Do

 

Have you ever been to one of those high-class posh types of dances, or parties, where the men dress in penguin suits with bow ties, and the women normally have very tight revealing low cut dresses showing their bosoms?

I remember going to such an event years ago in London. I just found the "program" they gave us at the time. Yes, a beautifully printed on quality paper program of events, with the names of all those attending listed there. 

It was a really high-class birthday celebration for a friend of mine at the time. It was held at a top hotel where a man in a bright red uniform would announce your arrival as soon as you got in, and everyone would turn round to see your entrance and greet you with a smile; or in my case, total indifference and disdain.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mr Victor Moo ... Moo ..." he stuttered, not being able to pronounce my name, nor having the wit or inclination to check how to pronounce it beforehand.

I whispered my name quietly.

"Whatever," he said as I got in and no one cared. 

I noticed a man a short distance away, with a beautiful young lady, turn round, look at me and snigger with derision.

That's when I gave way to the devil at my side. I made a bee-line towards him, walking like Groucho Marx used to, and when I got there I said, "Hello Mr eh ... hmmm ... I'm so sorry. I make a point never to forget a name or a face, but in your case I make an exception. I hope this gorgeous lady will bother to remember you better than me; but somehow I doubt she likes cockroaches!"

Then before he had a chance to say anything, I left and walked straight to the bar where I met the birthday boy and his friends. They were really down to earth lovely people who greeted me like a star. The birthday boy, or man, apologised for the announcer's faux-pas and was genuinely most hurt at my treatment.

I'm reading some of the names from the program of events which I've just found amongst my papers.

There was Mrs Madeleine Byteme-Legg, with her husband Professor Thomas Legg. Apparently she insisted upon keeping her maiden name when they got married.

From Stirling in Scotland there was Mr and Mrs Strapp with their young son Jock Strapp.

Mr and Mrs Lear with their daughter Crystal-Shandi.

Also there was the famous opera singer Melissa Tone with her husband Barry Tone.

I recognised my old friends Mr and Mrs Dover with their daughter Eileen. I remember she had a REALLY low cut dress. She'd been on a peanut and melons diet. The peanuts did not have any effect on her figure, however ...

Brigadier Turner arrived late. On his journey to the hotel his car crashed into two houses side by side belonging to old friends of his, John and Mary Ball, and Robert and Helena Jones. What are the chances of that happening? The car nearly caught fire but luckily he was pulled out of the car by the Joneses.

Looking at all these names brings back memories of old friends and acquaintances like Mr and Mrs Stick and their daughter Ella. To call her a friend would be stretching it a bit; but she was good fun until I made a snap decision to end it all.

I also recall the somewhat superstitious couple who always tried to anticipate every eventuality. What was their name ... oh here it is in the program. Mr And Mrs Case and their son Justin. 

I don't know about you, but I am not superstitious. Just a little stitious at times. For instance, I would never walk under a black cat. 

What a party and what an evening that was. I wonder if you were also there and at the time we had not met each other and get acquainted. Do you remember anyone else at that party?

Oh ... by the way. That man who sniggered at me when I arrived. His luck soon ran out. I went out with the lady he was with at the time. We became good friends!!!

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Retired Scientist

 

George was a scientist. He retired long ago, yet he continues to work in his spare time at his own home. He has a large shed, or barn, behind his house full of scientific equipments, bottles with various liquids in them, test tubes, electrical gadgets and so on.

He is quite an inventor. He was fired from his job at a pharmaceutical lab for inventing an instant laxative which he tested on the nurses.

When I went to visit him he had a tattoo on his forehead advertising beer. He said bald people could use the space on their heads to advertise various products. Also people could advertise all over their bodies when on the beach. 

He had a large empty glass tank; like a fish tank. I asked him what it contained, and he said it is full of chameleons but you can't see them because they're camouflaged like the glass tank! I placed a small stick in the tank and moved it about a bit. I assured him the tank was empty. He confirmed that they were all there when he counted them the previous evening. Then he started singing, "Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleons ... You come and go, you come and go ... Life would be easy if your colours were like my dreams ... Red gold and green ... Red gold and greeeen ..." I didn't understand what all that was about. Some scientists can be strange, I find.

He told me a story about the time he had to go to hospital for an operation on his toe. As he was wheeled in the operating theatre, there in the middle of the room was a man sitting in a boat. He asked who the man was and was told he's the anaesthetist.

The anaesthetist gave him a choice and said, "I can either knock you out with gas or with a boat paddle!" It was an ether/oar situation!

Anyway, as we walked through his rather crowded barn full of instruments and things, I noticed a bottle had tipped over and its content was leaking all over a table. I pointed it out to him. He put his finger in the liquid and then licked it.

"Is it safe?" I asked.

"We'll soon find out," he said with a smile. 

I noticed on a table a plastic nose. I asked him what it was.

"It's my latest invention," he said, "with this nose on, you can smell in stereo and 3 dimension pin-point accuracy. You can turn to someone in an elevator and say 'it was you!' " 

It was a surreal experience visiting George. He is one of those people who never actually give up working even though he retired years ago. He showed me another latest invention. Motorised shoes.

They looked a bit like skis but much shorter. They had some contraption in which you stand and lock your shoes and feet, like on skis. And the whole thing had wheels. He asked me to wear the shoes and gave me a remote control gadget with various buttons.

As soon as I pressed the "GO" button the shoes jolted forwards and I fell backwards on my back banging my head on the ground. That was not the worst of it. The shoes ran forwards at speed dragging me behind them on my back. I could feel my shirt and pants being scraped and torn on the ground. I could not stop the runaway shoes. He shouted, "Press STOP ... Press STOP!"

How could I? The remote control thing had flown out of my hand and I was being pulled on my back by these motorised shoes with a mind of their own.

After about two minutes of being pulled at speed I stopped feet first into a pyracantha bush. Those thorns can be quite painful, you know!

What a disastrous visit that was when I went to see George. I recall he had a beautiful parrot sitting on a perch in his house. I asked him if he talked. He replied, "he used to; but my wife has taught him the silent treatment!"

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Too Heavy

 

Father Ignatius was not necessarily orthodox when it came to delivering a sermon. If there was something he could say or do to make his point forcibly he would certainly do so.

One Sunday before Mass started he left a suitcase by the lectern where he was to deliver his sermon.

At the appropriate time he looked at the children sitting up front in church and asked: “Who knows what it means to have a chip on your shoulder?”

A few hands were raised high. He pointed to a young girl who said: “It means moaning all the time and feeling hard done by.”

“Exactly …” said Father Ignatius, “how clever of you. It means feeling over-sensitive and badly treated. And some people I know don’t just have one solitary chip on their shoulder, but they have a whole super-sized packet of chips and a large hamburger and a milk-shake too!”

The congregation laughed.

“And that’s the problem you see …” continued the priest, “many people in this world live life carrying heavy baggage from the past rather than rejoice in what God is doing for them right now.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a moment and looked down at the suitcase by the lectern.

“Which brings me to this item here …” he said, “I need two strong men to help me please.”

He looked up and waited until two men left their pews and joined him by the lectern. He asked one of them to carry the suitcase a few paces down the center aisle. It was fairly heavy, but the man managed it. He then asked the second man to return the suitcase to him; which he did with some difficulty.

“I think we have shown here how difficult it is to carry such heavy baggage with you for the rest of your life,” said Father Ignatius as the two men returned to their seats.

“Imagine carrying this with you always. You’ll soon get tired and it will certainly slow you down. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of it altogether?

“Let’s see what’s inside.”

He opened the suitcase and revealed a number of bricks. On each one he had stuck a label which he read out loud:

“Now these heavy bricks represent all the troubles and worries, or excuses even, which we may carry with us throughout our lives. Let’s see what they say …

“This one reads ‘it’s my up-bringing that holds me back, I grew up in a broken family when my parents divorced, it’s scarred me for life’

“And this one says ‘I left school with no education, my parents didn’t send me to a good school, what chance have I got?’

“Let’s see this brick here … ‘my health has always been poor, I can’t help it,’

“As for this one, I like this one, it says ‘I must have been born unlucky, nothing ever works out for me! I’m destined to fail.’

“There’s a few more bricks here,” continued Father Ignatius, “you can read them afterwards if you wish.”

He put the bricks down by the suitcase and looked gently at the congregation.

“Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not in any way making light of people’s difficulties. I do accept that some people have genuine and very difficult obstacles to overcome every day of their lives. And I am often inspired by their fortitude and great Faith as they go through life despite such hardship …

“The problem I’m addressing now is where people, for a variety of reasons, still cling to something in their past as a crutch or prop to explain away their present state in life.

“And they continue to carry this heavy weight, real or imagined, like this suitcase here beside me. Their issue could be their up-bringing, their education, their background … or a great hurt they suffered in the past, which still gnaws deep inside them and goes unforgiven.

“It could be anything … a heavy weight which they carry for ever because they just can’t let go.

“This heavy weight slows them down throughout life and hinders their progress towards God.

“Let us have the courage to let go the heavy baggage in our lives.

“Let us trust God to help us as we go on in life.

“Jesus carried a heavy Cross on His way to Calvary. He asked us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

“Let not the weight of your Cross crush you down; but instead use it to climb up to Heaven to Christ’s welcoming arms.”

EXCERPT FROM "TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP"
CLICK HERE



Monday, 26 July 2021

On Stage

 

This is true. It really happened. Although I guess most of you will not believe me. I don't blame you really. I have difficulty believing it myself; although as I relate the story to you I might end up believing it.

I was in town, as you do from time to time. And I wanted to visit the bathroom. You know how it is. It starts with a wish, then a need then an urgent need. There was no fast food restaurant nearby. Normally fast-food restaurants are good placed to visit the toilet. You enter nonchalantly, pretending to buy something. You stand in the queue for a while. You look at your watch once or twice, then leave the queue and nip upstairs. Why do they always have the toilets upstairs? They don't discourage me, you know. 

Anyway, there was no fast-food restaurants in that part of town. The ironmonger was of no use. They don't have public toilets there. Neither does the butcher or the hairdresser. 

I was not far from the theatre. They're bound to have a toilet there. I stood outside for a while pretending to read the notice board. I entered the foyer and read the posters to see what's playing during the week. Then whilst no one was looking, especially the lady at the ticket kiosk, as she got distracted by a phone call I walked through a door on the left. Down a corridor, then another, and I found the toilet. 

On the way out, I must have lost my way, I took the wrong turning and I heard some noises of people talking. In order to avoid them I walked through some curtains and found myself on stage. There were some other people there in various costumes. They looked like ancient costumes like medieval perhaps or something like that. There was this fat woman wearing a helmet with horns singing. I stood there, not daring to move, hoping no one would notice. She continued singing. Another woman actor responded in song also. It was some sort of duet.

The audience noticed me and started tittering. Not outright laughter but short spasms of giggles. That's how I would describe it. Maybe my clothing did not fit in with the play they were performing.

One of the men on stage approached me casually, slowly so that the audience would not notice, and when he got near me he whispered from the side of his face, as you do, "**** off!"

How rude, I thought. Not customer friendly at all. I could have been a paying client who lost his way on the way back to his seat. I tried to go off stage the way I came in, but by then some actors had moved there, as part of the play they were performing no doubt, and blocked my way. 

"The other way!" whispered the rude actor.

I moved the other way and slipped on something on the floor. It was like a cloth, or some kind of shawl or cloak that an actor had dropped. I tripped and fell on my face to the ground. The audience roared with laughter as the curtain was brought down.

A couple of men grabbed me off stage. I pretended not to understand and spoke in a French accent, "Comment ... je ne comprends pas ... where eez zee way to zee audience seating place?"

They thought I was one of the spectators and politely led me to the main seating area where I found a seat. They did not bother to ask if I had a ticket. They were probably concerned that I may have hurt myself in the fall and would sue them in Court. I pretended to limp.

The play continued as the curtain went up again. I waited for an appropriate moment and slipped out of the theatre and took a bus home.

The problem is, now I've told you this, I'm not sure whether it happened or not.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

The Real Presence

 

Catechism lessons with the 15 years-old at the local Catholic school were often a challenge to Father Ignatius. The youngsters were unremitting with their questions and they certainly pulled no punches. Today was no exception.

“Is it true that the Host and Wine at Communion are actually the Body and Blood of Jesus?” asked one of the pupils.

“Why would Jesus want us to eat Him?” asked another.

“That’s cannibalism” retorted a third. And so the questions went on.

Father Ignatius waited until they had stopped and then said calmly:

“Our Faith is full of mysteries. That’s why they call it Faith. If everything was explained to us by God, with every little detail made known, and every fact analysed by scientists, learned people and so on; then it wouldn’t be Faith would it?

“For reasons best known to Himself God has chosen to keep certain things hidden from us. And just as well I think, considering how we managed to mess up the world so far.”

“But is the Host the Body of Christ?” interrupted an impatient youngster.

The priest smiled and continued: “Catholics are invited, by the Church, to believe that the Host is indeed the Body of Christ, and the wine is His Blood.

“Many people have difficulties in believing this; and I can understand why.

“They can’t see what Christ meant at the Last Supper when He uttered those words we know so well. Was it symbolism? Was it fact?

"Also, we read in the Gospel of John Chapter 6 verse 52 onwards; Jesus says again that unless we eat His body and drink His blood, we have no eternal life. Some of His followers did not understand this; as you don't right now. They got up and left Him, to follow Him no more.

"What did Jesus do? He did not call them back. He did not say, 'Hey ... wait ... let me explain what I meant!' He just let them go. I guess He forgave them and let them go.

"He also asked His disciples whether they wanted to leave too. Peter, speaking for everyone there, said that they would remain with Jesus as His followers."

“So what do you think Father? Is the Communion we take in church the body of Jesus?” asked a young girl sitting up front.

Fr Ignatius habitually cleaned his spectacles as a natural pause and to allow the class to settle. He now knew he had their attention. All eagerly awaiting his reply to the challenging question.

“Let me tell you something first before I answer you” he said.

“Many years ago, about seven hundred years after the Birth of Jesus, there was a Basilian monk who lived in Italy in the Church of St Legontian. He doubted, like many others, the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“One day, as he was celebrating the Holy Mass at the moment of Consecration the Host turned into live flesh, and the wine was changed into live blood.”

“Gosh …" gasped a young girl.

“This flesh and blood have been preserved, totally intact until today.”

“What? How is this possible?” asked one of the boys, "unbelievable!"

“That’s true … the flesh is the same dimension as the large Host used in Church, it is light brown in colour. The Blood has coagulated and is slightly brownish yellow.

“Various scientific tests have been undertaken over the years on the flesh and blood and it was discovered that the flesh is real human flesh and the blood is real human blood. The flesh is essentially a human heart.

“The flesh and blood are the same blood-type, AB. That’s the same blood type uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin.”

“Wow …” said one of the children.

“The preservation of the flesh and blood still in their natural state for all these years, over twelve centuries, is an extraordinary phenomenon,” declared the priest.

“After all this time?”

“Yes,” said Father Ignatius, “after all this time the flesh and blood still exist in their natural state. Why don’t you do some research in the library in time for next week’s lesson.

“Here are some clues on what to look for. Search for Eucharistic Miracle, Lanciano, Italy, 8th century AD, The Real Presence.

“I think that’s enough clues to keep you going for now.”

Friday, 23 July 2021

Thank you

 

A big "Thank You"
to all of you
for your many visits here
and for your comments.
Also,
to all of you who have posted
Customer Reviews
of my books on
AMAZON
 
 

.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

What's been happening here lately?

 

Lots of small things have been happening here lately which, put together, amount to lots of small things. They're worth mentioning I suppose, seeing I have nothing else to write about.

My friend, who will remain nameless to protect his identity, was arrested by the police last week. Alan Stephen, (he spells his surname with a PH because he's a bit acidic), was speeding down the motorway. Or was it up the motorway? What's the difference?

Anyway, he was speeding at the speed of dark, which is a bit slower than the speed of light, but still too fast for the motorway. The police chased him up. Siren blaring. Blue lights flashing. But he still drove faster than before.

Eventually he stopped and the policeman asked him, "Did you not see the lights flashing and hear the siren?"

"That I did!" said Acidic Alan. 

"Why did you not stop?" asked the policeman.

"Well you see," said my friend, "I have ... a police record."

"Really?" the policeman said.

"Yes ... message in a bottle ... by Sting!" Stephen said, "I've never understood why that singer has a name like a wasp's backside!"

The policeman was not amused. So Stephen thought he'd better be serious. He explained, "you see, officer ... I did see the flashing lights and hear the siren. Fifteen years ago my wife left me and ran off with a policeman. When I saw you chasing me I thought you were returning her!"

"I want your name!" said the policeman.

"Why do you want to be called Alan Stephen?" asked my friend.

And that's when he got arrested. To be honest, he's always been a tearaway. He came from a broken family and his parents never really loved him. He used to come home from school and find that they had moved ... to another country. He never knew what it felt like to be wanted until he saw his photo on a police notice board.

Then somehow as he grew up he settled down a bit. But he was always very lazy. No job lasted very long. He was so lazy that he married someone already pregnant.

When he divorced her, fifteen years go, they had an unusual financial settlement regarding the house. She kept the inside and he kept the outside. That's when I met him. At the homeless shelter. I was volunteering at the time. 

If you have time, you can read the story about my volunteering work HERE. Really worth it! 

Anyway, the police let him off with a caution and penalty points on his driving licence.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Meeting Satan

 

The devil appeared in town one Saturday morning. He stood there looking menacingly and threatening. Everyone panicked and escaped.

Except John. A small, short man, standing there all alone.

The devil advanced towards him and said angrily: ‘Do you know who I am?’

‘Yes … I do’ replied John.

‘Aren’t you afraid of me like all the others?’ asked the devil.

‘No … I’ve been married to your sister for 25 years!’ 

The thing is, I knew John's wife. She was evil. Believe me, some people are really evil. They connive and plot in order to create havoc, chaos and ill-feelings wherever they are. 

One question which is rarely asked these days is: Does the devil possess people?

Before answering this, let us remember that the devil, Satan, is a spirit. There is out there, all around us, a spiritual invisible world. An invisible realm or state of being. This invisible world consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit - who are spirits. It consists of Angels, and the souls of all people who have died. We are spirits. You and I are spirits - or souls is another word for it. We inhabit a body made mainly of water, chemicals and minerals. When the body disintegrates the soul/spirit lives on. And of course, the devils are also invisible spirits.

So, being spirits, evil ones, the devils can and have possessed people against their will. The Bible is full of such examples; and Jesus did on many occasions deliver people from their evil spirits or devils.

The Catholic Church believes that the devil can possess people and has appointed trained exorcist priests in every diocese. Other denominations and religions believe this also.

Thus, the devil can, if he wants to, possess people against their will. He can enter their souls and make them do his will. Very much like the Holy Spirit can enter our souls and help us and guides us in life - but only if we ask Him. The Holy Spirit does not abide in our souls without our express invitation.

However, the devil is clever. He does not possess people like he did in Biblical times. This is too dramatic. If he were to possess someone these days it would scare the **** out of us and make many people turn to God. Somewhat counter-productive, I think.

The devil is much more subtle. He influences people. He brings temptation in their way. And once influenced by his evil ways, he encourages those people to spread their evil influence everywhere around them. More effective and under the radar than outright possessing people, don't you think?

Our role and responsibility when we meet such people in our lives is to distance ourselves from their influence. It is not a sin to protect oneself. Just keep our distance and pray for God's protection and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is only a prayer away.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

What did He look like?

 

Doesn't it strike you as strange that nowhere in the Bible we have a description of Jesus? We are told He was born as a baby, He was twelve when His parents found Him preaching in the temple, He was a grown man when He started His Mission on earth.

We are not told by the Gospel writers, or by Luke who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, the colour of Jesus' hair, the colour of His eyes, how tall He was, or anything specific about His features. 

I guess we can tell how tall He was by the shape left on the Turin shroud. And some artists have tried to use this as the basis of paintings of what Jesus looked like. But yet, many people doubt the authenticity of the Turin shroud; so a debate about this will not lead very far.

The fact remains that no Bible writer has described Jesus. Why is that?

Is it perhaps because they did not consider the physical description of Christ as relevant to His Mission on earth? After all, they do not describe the disciples either. We assume that Peter was big and tall; but that's because that's the way he was portrayed in films. Do we really know how he and the other followers of Jesus looked like? They may have been tall, short, thin, fat, walked with a limp or whatever. 

What we do know about Jesus, however, is more important.

He was kind, merciful, compassionate, forgiving, caring and loving. He was all-powerful, and if He wanted to He could have healed millions of people just by clicking His fingers. But He did not do that. On every occasion, and in every Gospel, we read that He treated people on an individual basis. Whether the person was blind, deaf, mute, lame, a leper, infirm, paralysed or possessed by demons; on every occasion, we read that Jesus approached them personally. Spoke to them. Took pity on them; or on the person pleading on their behalf, like the centurion who pleaded for his servant, or Jarius for his daughter. And then, having communicated with them personally, He granted their requests and answered their prayers.

That's the description of Jesus that really matters.

That's what it means when we learn we are made in God's image.

The early writers, and painters, assumed that if we are made in His image, then God must be a man. Because He always existed, then He must be old. So they painted Him with a beard sitting on a cloud.

How wrong they were.

Being made in His image means having the potential to be kind, merciful, compassionate, forgiving, caring and loving.

Sadly, many people these days seem to be intent on being anything but in God's image. Anything but being like Jesus.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Hot or Cold

 

I know you folks always blame me for everything when it goes all wrong. It's not always my fault you know.

There were six of us sharing a large apartment. We were young. We had parties every weekend. We had joy, we had fun.We had seasons in the sun. But the hills that we climbed; were just seasons out of time. Whatever that means.

Anyway, one weekend we played HOT or COLD. I don't know if you're familiar with the game. One person hides something, and the others try to find it. If they get near the item you say warm, luke warm, hot and so on until they find it. If they're away from the item you say cold, colder and so on.

We'd been drinking. We were happy and perhaps light-headed. It was my turn to hide an item. One of the girls thought it would be a great laugh to hide her underpants - brand new ones still in their packet!

Whilst they all had their eyes closed, I sneaked into the kitchen and put the pants in the oven.

They were useless at finding them. They were miles away. Might as well be in the next country or continent. I kept saying, "Cold ... Colder ... Even more colder ... Coldest ... Freezing ... Polar Regions Freezing Temperature!" But they could not find the girl's undergarment.

Then there was a funny smell from the kitchen. And black smoke. The smoke alarm went on shrieking.

How was I to know that someone had put something in the oven to bake?

I know you're blaming me right now!

I doubt the owner of the pants ever forgave me. They were sheer delicate see-through. She had bought them for her boy friend ... Not for her boy friend to wear ... For her to wear and ...

Oh go on ... blame me as usual.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Order ... Order ...

 

Order ... Instruction ... Direction ... Structure ... Guidance ... Discipline ...

We all need some kind of organisation in our lives. It's the only way to avoid chaos and destruction. If we all went out and drove on the wrong side of the road, and ignored speed limits and traffic lights ... well, you can guess what will happen.

The thing is, many of us would like to think, or believe, they are free spirits. Young people especially, although older folks are not immune from this phenomenon. People may think they're "independent" but in reality they follow the "rules" of fashion, taste in music, house style, food fads and so on.

We are creatures who require order and guidance in our lives. 

God knows that. God is a God of order. See how the planets and stars all follow a certain orderly pattern. How life, whether human, animal or plants follows a pre-set orderly determined pattern. 

God wants order in His creations. That is why He gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses.

I met my friend Moses the other day. He said he put the Ten Commandments on Facebook and did not get any "likes" or thumbs up.

That is because we all think we're independent. We know better. We can do things our way, and look after ourselves. Who needs God these days?

Until things go wrong in our lives. Then we rush home, or to church. Get God out of the cupboard and brush away the dust that has accumulated over the years. And ask Him to save us.

God is not a magic wand or an Aladdin's lamp.

How do you think He feels when we treat Him like that?

How would you feel if your friends or family members only come running to you when they need something?

Let's grow up and treat God with the respect, love and reverence He deserves.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Je ne comprends pas

 

You know those electronic contraptions some have at home which you talk to and they listen and respond to your requests? There are many models available. Usually with female names and voices. You say "what's the weather like?" and they respond whether it will be hot or cold or whatever. You can also ask them to play various music. They learn to recognise your voice and respond to it.
 
Well ... some lunatic friends have gifted us one.
 
I use the word lunatic advisedly on two counts.
 
First, I think gifts to people should not be too personal. I mean, did they know whether we already have such a device? (We don't). Did they know how we feel or think about such equipment, or whether we even have the intellect and University education to operate them. I still prise the bread out of the toaster with a knife despite being told not to. The automatic  pop up thing does not always work. I hate electronic gadgets that decide when to work or not.

They are also lunatic on a second count. They bought this listening and talking device whilst on holiday in France. It looks like an old style telephone. Très à la mode; as they say in la belle France. Very chic. It blends with the rest of the environment and does not look too modern a contraption. Ours is an old Victorian house and I'll admit the device looks attractive compared to the more modern looking equivalent. But why couldn't these lunatics have bought us a more traditional holiday present? Like a leaning Eiffel Tower or other touristy thing which I could hide in the garage with a guiltless conscience.
 
Instead, we have one of those talking things in the house in the corner of the room on and old piece of furniture.
 
What I did not realise is that Giselle, that's the thing's name, speaks with a French accent. The other day I asked her to order a KFC to be delivered to our home and she said, "What eez zee K ... F ... C ... Je ne comprends pas!"

I was surprised and said, "Kentucky Fried Chicken!"

She replied, "Ken tock eee ... eet eez American State wizz Ohio River in zee North and Appal Asian Montagnes in Zee East. Zee capital eez ..."

"Stop!" I said, "I meant place an order with the local KFC to deliver ... oh never mind!"

And I picked up the phone, a real one not a French old style imitation, and did the job myself.

Giselle seems to have a mind of her own. It's as if she understands what I'm saying or doing. The other day she complained, "Eet eez veree cold in ere! Not az warmer as in France."
 
I ordered for a pizza to be delivered, she must have overheard me and she said, "all zee time you 'ave  zee pizza. Try some thing else ... Why not 'ave something noo tree cious like vegetable soup?"
 
I was watching a football game on TV, she heard the soundtrack of the game, and even though I was not talking to hear, she commented, "all zee time eet eez zee football ... zere are jobs to be done ... like zee taking of the trash bin out!"

It's like having another wife in the house! Only this one looks like an old phone.

The final straw came last night. Someone had moved Giselle on the corner table upstairs in the corridor. They were listening to some music and left the contraption there.

I was alone at home. I got out the shower to go and answer the phone, the real one, also on the same corner table.

Giselle said, "Oooh la la ... quel physique you 'ave Monsieur Victor ..."
 
It was Aunt Elma from Scotland on the phone, the real one. The real phone, I mean. She said, "I heard a French woman ... are you with a French woman? What did she mean ... quail physique? What's going on with you and her? Oh the shame of it ... how could you?" 
 
She called her husband, "Jim ... Jim ... come here quick Jim. Vic has got some French hooor with him. And in his own home too. Come here Jim ... talk some sense into him ... the shame of it all! She's French ... I heard her talking to him."
 
I did not know those machines can see as well as hear. Did you?

 
 


Friday, 16 July 2021

Pipe On

 

I was thinking the other day. It was a Tuesday as I recall. You don't often see people smoking a pipe these days. Pity.

There was a time when many people used to smoke a pipe. It was quite a task cleaning the pipe with those wire type brushes and penknife thing. Then you take some tobacco from a small bag or pouch and put it in the pipe. Lighting it was a joy to see. Puffing away like a steam locomotive and filling the room with smoke as everyone has tears in their eyes and difficulty breathing. 

Some people used to have a pipe in their mouth but never light it. It was there as an ornament more than anything else.

Pipes make a person look distinguished. Learned. Pensive and serious. Like a professor, or a private detective from times gone by, sucking away at the pipe and solving complicated scientific problems or dastardly crimes.

When you smoke a pipe you need to have the vocabulary for it. In England you would say things like "By Jove" or "Don't you know!" and "Old boy!" You need to have the mannerisms too. When someone asks you something you don't answer straight-away. You stop and think for an hour or so, you puff at your pipe, and then say something.

Pipes are good as a prop. Like a walking-stick or a monocle. You could be walking in the street and someone asks you for directions. You take out the pipe from your mouth and point left and right like an index finger, "go straight ahead ... then turn left ... and then right!" You must be careful though you don't hit the other person in the eye with your pipe. Best practice in front of a mirror at home. Your wife may think you're an idiot but what does she know about style?

Pipes can be used as a greeting when you meet and recognise someone. You walk down the street, probably the same street as the one mentioned before. You meet someone you know. You take the pipe out your mouth, raise your hand in the air, and say, "Hello Frosdyke! How are you old boy?"

A bit like lifting your hat. Best do one or the other. Don't raise your hat and your pipe. It also helps if the other person has an unusual name like Frosdyke, Rowbottom, Marchmant or something like that. It doesn't work with just Fred Jones. So ignore him if you meet him and look the other way.

I think I'll take up pipe smoking. I need to practice first. When we were young you could buy little licorice pipes with a few red sweets at the end to simulate fire. They tasted nice too. I wonder if they still make them.

You can't find any good licorice these days. They all taste of tarmac. Probably made of tarmac I shouldn't wonder. Not that I've ever tasted tarmac. 

I asked a friend to buy me a pipe. He got me a ten-foot long drain-pipe. My wife thinks he's just as much an idiot as I am. 

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Laugh N Pray - REALLY?

 

I am not above criticism. I know there are times I do something wrong, and maybe I upset one or two of my readers. If so; it is unintentional and I hope you forgive me.

The other day I got some criticism on another social media website I belong to. I posted the above advert. It is for one of my books entitled Laugh N Pray. As you can see from the advert it is a collection of various articles which have appeared here on this Blog. Some articles are humourous in nature and hopefully bring, (or have brought), a smile to my readers' face; (I know they make me laugh). And other articles are serious and cover several Christian topics which we all must have thought about at one point or another.

The book is a selection of both types. Like a chocolate variety box. You can choose milk chocolate, or plain high cocoa content chocolate.

So what was the criticism. Or reprimand, for that is what it was.

This person felt that prayers are a serious subject and it was wrong, (sinful), of me to write a book with jokes in it thus demeaning, or belittling, the whole sanctity of prayer.

Well ... maybe he has a point or maybe not. It was certainly not my intention to be disrespectful or insulting in any way towards prayers or Christianity. All the guy had to do is read the advert carefully. It clearly says in the last paragraph my intentions regarding Christianity.

I believe, as Christians, we have an obligation to proclaim the Good News to one and all. Whether they listen or not is their business.

I have discovered from careful study of the statistics that a lot of people visit this Blog for the humourous articles. Hopefully, once here, they may well read one or more of the Christian posts too. We never know who is visiting and not leaving a comment. The stats show that about 70% of visitors are first time (new) visitors.

That's why there are so many humourous stories here. That's why there are humourous stories in Laugh N Pray.

Obviously my critic did not agree. Which goes to show you can't please everyone.

Reminds me of the time when my wife bought me two ties for my birthday. We were going out to celebrate. So I wore one of the ties.

As soon as she saw me she said, "what's wrong with the other one?" (Joke ... honest it is ... joke ... not serious!)

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

At The Doctor's

 

I wasn't feeling very well lately. Been having this recurring problem. It's on and off really. I remember it first happened when I was a teenager and I started ballet lessons. I used to wear those very tight-fitting tights. I suppose that's why they called them tights really.

Very uncomfortable they were. I had to wear them all the time at home to get used to them. You know ... get the feel for them. I used to practice my pas de deux and other moves you do at ballet. I raised my leg high onto the mantelpiece and the dog attacked me. The cat ran up the curtain and brought the whole thing down.

Anyway, back to my problem. I went to the doctor's. Unfortunately my usual doctor was not there. He was replaced by Dr Angelica Withers. 

I don't like being seen by women doctors. I get embarrassed I suppose. I thought of leaving and going back home. Then I thought. I've come all the way here; I might as well see her. Mine is a very tiny problem. She will have seen it before many times. Doctors tend to see many tiny personal problems in the course of their duty.

So I went into her insulting room.

Dr Angelica was a pleasant enough person and asked me what was the matter. I said, "I've been getting these hot flushes. Getting very red in the face as if I'm permanently blushing."

"Oh ..." she said, "do you have pain in the knees?"

"No!" I replied.

"Pity," she said, "I've been reading about that only the other day. I do a lot of medical reading to keep up to date," she continued. "Important in my job. I get these women's magazines and they have good articles about various ailments and diseases. You don't have haemorrhoids, do you?"

"No!" I said emphatically.

"There was an article about that the other day," she said, "do you know what you get if you go to the North Pole and sit on a block of ice?"

I shook my head.

She said, "Polaroids!"

She could not help me about my blushing and my red face and hot flushes. She suggested I call back in a few weeks' time when perhaps there'd be something about them in her women's magazines.

I left her insulting room rather sad and dejected.

To cheer myself up I thought I'd buy some new shirts for work. White ones of course.

I said to the man in the shop, "Hello my good man. I would like two white shirts please. Collar size 14 inches!"

He looked at me and said, "I think Sir means 16 inches collar size!"

"Not at all!" I responded, "I know my collar size. It is definitely 14 inches. It has been so ever since I was at school!!!!!"

"That's strange," he said, "do you get red in the face with hot flushes as if you're blushing?"

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Fitness Video

 

VICTOR S E MOUBARAK
FITNESS INSTRUCTOR
UNQUALIFIED

Hi everyone. I have just become a fitness instructor. No training or special education needed. I just sent three packet tops from a cereal packet and got my certificate today. It says I'm certified.

Here's my first video. Take up your partner, husband, wife, pet dog or cat - but not pet fish as he'll be gasping for breath at the end of this - and follow the steps with me as in the video.


 

Monday, 12 July 2021

Don't Do It On The Bus

 

The other day I got thrown off the bus. Again …

The bus driver threatened to call the police unless I got off the bus. I hadn't done anything wrong I tell you. But let you be the judge of that.

You see ... when I read something I read it as I was taught at school. I run my finger over every word and read it out loud.

There I was on the bus reading loudly from my book:

A – Apple. B – Banana. C – Cat. D – Dog.  

A woman next to me asked me to stop. She said she was busy playing Bingo on her cell phone.

SIDE-LINE NOTE: I don’t know if it is the same where you live. Over here in the UK people can gamble on their cell-phones. They can play bingo, roulette, poker, and other card and casino games on their cell-phones or on their tablets or computers. There are many organisations providing this service for you. You just log in and play. They all advertise their companies and their games on TV. They also warn Gamble Responsibly.

What does that mean? If you are gambling, then you are gambling. How do you do it responsibly?

Just like all the alcohol adverts on TV for beer and liquor. They warn Be Drink Aware.

What does that mean? If you’re drinking whisky, which I do, then you are aware it is whisky, and I for one would be very angry if milk shake came out of the bottle.

Anyway … you are now leaving the SIDE-LINE NOTE and re-entering the main body of the article you were reading. Please read carefully and be Grammatically Aware and Cognisant of what you are reading.

As I was saying, this woman told me I was interfering with her Bingo game by my reading aloud. Even though her cell-phone was calling out numbers loudly for her to cross on her Bingo card on the screen.

I ignored her, politely, and continued reading. You can ignore someone politely by pretending you do not understand their language.

She said, “Are you an idiot?”

I immediately turned to the right page in the book and read: I – Iguana.

She turned the volume on her cell phone louder. There were numbers being called loud for everyone to hear. Fortunately, we were the only two people on the bus. As well as the driver of course.

I picked up another book and started reading louder:

1 – 1 Apple. 2 – 2 Bananas. 3 – 3 Cats. 4 – 4 Dogs … and so on.  

She raised the volume on her cell-phone louder, rather than move elsewhere on an empty bus. I read louder and faster until I reached number 100 then started again.

That’s when the bus driver stopped the bus and threw me out the bus. To be fair, he also threw the woman off the bus too.

I’ll never take my wife shopping with me on the bus again.

SUPPLEMENTARY SIDE-LINE NOTE: I did try to break the habit of reading aloud. I tried and tried and eventually I learnt to read silently.

Days later, in church, the usual reader was absent. The priest asked me to do the readings at Mass. I approached the lectern and read silently. He was most upset and asked me to leave. He did the readings himself.

You can’t please everyone in this world. Why try?

Sunday, 11 July 2021

I'll thump you first then seek forgiveness.

 

I make no apologies for returning to the subject of forgiveness. Someone said to me that years ago, in a heated argument, he resorted to violence in order to defend someone else. He feels he has forgiven the person he argued with, but he does not forgive himself for using violence.

Let's make one thing clear. We all have a duty and a responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones. There are times when violence is the only course of action. God knows this, and understands our actions.

I've often wondered what would Jesus have done if He saw two or three people beating someone else to death. Would He have got involved?

In the Bible we read the story about those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. But in that case, the people were testing Jesus. No violence had yet taken place.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Sometimes our violence is justified when in defence or protection of ourselves or others.

In a similar vein, we are justified in avoiding and distancing ourselves from those who have harmed us and are likely to do it again.

As a Catholic, I am aware of the Church's views on divorce. But despite their doctrines and dogmas, at the sharp end, many priests hold a different view. I know of a number of priests who would encourage or advocate divorce, in certain circumstances.  

Note that I say in certain circumstances; and not flippantly and as a first resort as modern society tends to think.

A priest once said to me that marriage is based on mutual love and respect for each other. When one partner has abused this principle to breaking point then divorce is the only solution. God does not smile when the innocent victim is left to lead a life of hell in a violent or loveless marriage.

And another thing. When we forgive someone, it does not mean that we have to reconcile and go back to things as they were before. Sometimes trust between two people, a married couple, or friends, has broken down to such an extent that you can no longer go back to things as they were. Perhaps you feel threatened, or fear, that if things went back to normal then that individual may harm you, or your loved ones, once again.

In such cases, it is all right, in fact it is essential, that you forgive, but not reconcile.

Forgiveness yes. Reconciliation no.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Arachnophobia Therapy

 

Hello everyone. Welcome to Arachnophobia Therapy Unlimited. We are here to help you. Arachnophobia means the fear of spiders. There is nothing wrong with being afraid of spiders.

Let me tell you ... you are not alone. 

There are spiders everywhere. Outdoors, indoors, in homes, in cars, on trains and buses. Everywhere. At home, they are not just in your bath tub, but everywhere ... including your bedroom. There is scientific evidence that at least 40% of us have swallowed a spider in our sleep.

I know ... I know ... you find this frightening and disgusting. But you are here to be cured of these feelings. In fact, as a starter to this session we have placed a spider's nest underneath each of your chairs.

All right ... all right ... calm down ... sit down please ... sit down ... PLEASE CALM DOWN. Thank you ... calm down ...

Miss Henderson ... please get off your chair and don't pull your skirt so high up to your navel. Especially wearing such skimpy underwear. Mrs Granger ... please help her down from the chair. 

Now then ... of course we did not place any spiders under your chairs. But ask yourselves ... why did you all behave as you did?

Because we as humans are too compliant towards the animal kingdom.

And the animals know that. We throw a stick in the park and the dog goes to fetch it. Why can't he throw his own stick?

When a cat climbs up a tree and he's afraid to get down again, we call the fire brigade to get him down.

We seem to do everything the animals ask for; and they know it.

Take dolphins for instance. Many people pay a fortune to go swimming with dolphins. And the dolphins enjoy the attention and get fed by us.

Not me ... I'd prefer to go cycling with dolphins, on the principle that if we can learn to swim they should be bothered enough to learn to cycle.

Years ago I could not afford to go swimming with dolphins with the whole family. So we went swimming with sardines instead.

As soon as I got in the water they all avoided me and swam away. Stupid creatures. They prefer to squeeze themselves into a tin and leave the key outside.

Any way, back to spiders. You will have read that a certain Peter Parker got bitten by a spider and turned into a spider hero himself. Should this happen to you during this therapy session we have the appropriate costumes for you to buy at a reduced cost. That is after you have undergone a total blood transfusion, (optional), at a price to be quoted on demand.

Oh ... and another thing ... when you have been cured of your phobia, you can purchase a real live spider as a pet from the souvenir shop. They cost $10 each, although you can get them cheaper from the web.

Now then ... how to cure you from your fear of spiders?

To conquer a spider you must be a spider. A spider is more afraid of you than you of it.

Come on now ... all of you. Get down on the floor ... on all fours ... on your hands and knees and crawl around aimlessly like a spider does.

Miss Henderson ... please pull down you skirt at the back ... it's distracting the other spiders. 

OK... sit down all of you. Say I am not afraid of spiders. Repeat it again. Three times. With conviction.

Say I AM a spider. I AM A SPIDER. Again. Again.

Right ... that's it for today. See you all next week. By session 25 you'll all be new men and women no longer afraid of spiders. You could enrol in other therapy sessions.

Like fear of apple pies. Fear of tricycle wheels. Fear of the underneath of ships. Fear of the letter omega in the Greek alphabet. Or any other fear that you may have!

You have nothing to fear but fear itself. 

Friday, 9 July 2021

Forgiving you is easy

 

Do you remember the song "Forgiving you was easy" by Willie Nelson?

The lyrics go, "Forgiving you is easy ... But forgetting seems to take the longest time."

That's the problem with forgiveness. Many people feel they have forgiven the wrong done to them and then when the memories come back they get all angry and upset again and believe that they haven't forgiven.

Let us look at forgiveness more closely.

Forgiveness is an act, not a feeling. You decide, actively, that you will forgive someone who has hurt you. This means you will not seek revenge, retribution, compensation or feel resentment or ill-will towards the person who did you wrong. 

Of course, the memories will linger on. The slightest event will bring back the whole situation to your mind and will make you angry or upset once again. This is only natural. Don't worry. Use these moments of remembering again as an opportunity to actively forgive once more. Hand over the person who hurt you to God. Pray for them. You cannot possibly hate someone you pray for. Say to God, "I hand this person to your love and mercy. Forgive them for me!"

What if the person who has hurt you, and never sought your forgiveness, is now dead?

He is no longer your concern. Stop agonising about it. This person is now before God and has seen the situation in all its facets. God will now deal with the situation and that person's role in it. You should pray for that person when the memory of the wrong-doing comes to mind.

What if you need to seek forgiveness from someone who is now dead?

Obviously, it is now too late to seek forgiveness from him. But it is never too late to seek forgiveness from God. Confess your wrong-doing to God and honestly and earnestly ask for His forgiveness. Provided you are sincere and repent God will forgive you.

And once God has forgiven you this is the end of the matter. Stop picking at the situation over and again. Stop feeling guilty at your wrong-doing. God has forgiven you. By picking at the situation you are insulting God in that you are saying He has not forgiven you. That He was wrong that He forgave you. 

How do you think He feels about that? Doubting His love, His mercy and His forgiveness.

Accept His forgiveness graciously and move on with a joyful heart.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

My phone conversation with the priest

 

FATHER MARK
 

Hello ... is this St Vincent Church?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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