Sunday 28 February 2021

What is Faith?


This is going to be a difficult post to write. Please don't just agree with me. Offer you opinions and views; even if they are not like mine. If your pastor or vicar or priest has a view on this please share it too.

God said to Abraham, "I will bless her, (his wife Sarah), and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."

Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year."
(Genesis 17:15-21)

I have often wondered why God tests us if He knows already how we will behave and the outcome of our behaviour. Is it to make us stronger perhaps? To make us trust Him more?

In the passage above, God promises Abraham that through his son Isaac there will be many descendants. 

Let's imagine God spoke to you and He promises that through your offspring good things will happen in future. You are happy and you trust the Lord your God. And then ... ... ...

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. "Take your son," God said, "your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will show you." So Abraham got up early the next morning, saddled his donkey, and took along two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had designated. (Genesis 22:1 onwards)

If this story happened today the police and social services would soon be knocking at Abraham's door.  Poor Isaac would never recover from the traumatic experience. And Sarah would probably divorce Abraham.

Why would God go to such dramatic lengths to test Abraham's love and obedience? If God is all-knowing, surely He would know that Abraham loved Him and would obey. Did God not think of the traumatic effect this episode would have on Isaac?

But let us look beyond the human emotions which we often use as a measuring yardstick when we consider earthly things. Here, God is not just testing Abraham for the sake of testing him. He is also strengthening his faith in God.

We all believe we have faith in God. But that faith is really only truly tested when we go through a bad time in our lives and we learn that we are not alone. God is with us. Protecting us as He has promised. 

Without experiencing the bad times, and without experiencing God's hand in helping us through these bad times; then our faith is only just that! A word ... a blind belief ... which we don't even know why we believe it, or whether we could truly maintain it when things go wrong. 

You see ... our bad times are an opportunity for us to experience God's closeness to us. To experience His love and protection. Our bad times are not just a test for the sake of a test.

Of course, God knows how we will react to the "test" as we perceive it. Yet He let's us experience it in order to strengthen our faith and to experience His love and protection.

Remember that God had already promised Abraham that through Isaac there would be many descendants. This would not have happened if Isaac had been killed. So Abraham had a tough decisions to make. Either trust God's earlier promise or not.

Note that Abraham trusted God. On the way up the mountain with Isaac he said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5)

He said we will come back to you. So in his heart he knew that God would not let him go through with sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering.

As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. (Genesis 22:6 onwards)

Abraham had faith indeed. He knew he was being tested; yet he held on tight to God's earlier promise that through Isaac there will be many descendants.

When I go through difficult times, (often), I ask the Lord, "Why are you testing me so if you already know how I would react?" 

Perhaps instead I should thank God for reminding me that in all of the difficult times I have been through in life He was always there beside me. Now, looking back, I am sure of it. Too many experiences for me to mention or tell you about. But on each one I am certain He helped me through them.

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

Let’s face it – God is not in the business of losing His followers. Those devoted to Him. It does not further His cause one bit if His own followers are so tested by the world’s evils that they loose their Faith in Him. This is contrary to His love for us. He will not allow us to just perish.

Also, let us remember that although God spared Isaac, He did offer His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. A sacrifice which Jesus accepted willingly to redeem us from our sins.

Friday 26 February 2021

Endangered Species



Thursday 25 February 2021

Gateaux Anyone?


After Mrs Barker’s funeral, Father Ignatius went to his office and sat at his desk. He picked up the Prayer Card dedicated to her and looking at her photograph, staring back at him, his mind wondered to times past. He smiled to himself.

Father Ignatius was a good priest, he cared for his parishioners dearly and often spent time visiting them at home, or in hospital when they were sick, or at the local Catholic schools.

He remembered how once he had visited Mrs Barker at her home and she offered him coffee and gateaux. She called them gateaux because she had spent some time in France in her youth and had worked in a patisserie. So she prided herself at her little creations.

She had served two of her cakes in little plates and having poured the coffee, she realized she’d forgotten to bring out the sugar. She excused herself and went back to the kitchen.

Father Ignatius was holding the cup of coffee in his hand, and before he could do anything, Mrs Barker’s dog came in, picked up the priest’s gateau in its mouth, and ran in the corner to devour it. 

When she came back in Mrs Barker said: “Finished your gateau already Father? Shall I get you another one?”

He politely declined and felt embarrassed at his apparent greediness.

As happens on such sad occasions, one’s mind wanders to the past and seeks pleasant stories perhaps to alleviate the pain one feels for having lost a loved one.

Father Ignatius’ thoughts wandered from one parishioner to the next. He brought to mind the Hendersons; a lovely young married couple with a three years old child.

When he visited them recently he was surprised to be asked by Mrs Henderson to take off his shoes.

“We have a young child Father,” said Mrs Henderson, “and it’s more hygienic to keep shoes off the house.”

The priest smiled politely and prayed that he hadn’t a big hole in his socks as he slowly took off his shoes. His prayers were readily answered.

He entered the living room where the child was playing with his father. As he made his way to the armchair near the TV, Father Ignatius accidentally stepped on a Lego brick lying on the floor.

The pain was excruciating !!! So sharp and severe that he felt it again right now as he recalled the event in his mind. He remembered tears welling up in his eyes.

He kept his composure and did not let on to what had happened – but since that painful visit he always considered these toy bricks as instruments of torture dating back to the Spanish Inquisition.

His thoughts were free-wheeling now as he recalled one more occasion when he visited another parishioner, Mrs Granger, to return a book he had borrowed.

It was a windy day as he drove to her house, out in the country. Approaching the front door he noticed that it was open. He rang the bell and waited for a while. No response. He rang the bell again when he heard his name being called from the back of the house.

He made his way to the back garden and did not see her at first. But then he heard her cry: “Up here!

 And there she was, half-way up a large oak tree, standing on a thick horizontal branch clasping another branch tightly with both hands for fear of falling.

“Could you put up the ladder please Father?” she asked.

He picked up the ladder lying flat beside the tree and held it in position as she slowly and gingerly made her way down to terra firma.

He was too polite to ask what had happened when she said with a smile: “I went up there because the cat was stranded and was too afraid to get down.”

“Where’s the cat now?” asked the priest.

“Oh … it got down and ran away as soon as I got up there. Then the ladder slipped and left me stranded instead!”

His eyes caught Mrs Barker’s photo once again and he said a silent prayer for the repose of her soul. Her voice reverberated in his head; “Finished your gateau already Father? Shall I get you another one?”

He recalled his long departed mother and prayed for her too as he remembered her favourite saying:

“Always make time to laugh Ignatius. And remember what made you laugh. At times of hardship and sadness you’ll draw strength from those fond memories of happy times.” 


Wednesday 24 February 2021

Time Travel


Before we consider time travel, let us first consider what time is. Time is very long indeed. If the height of the room you are in right now is time, then you are no higher that the thickness of the carpet. 

What I am saying here is that you and I are nothing compared to time. 

It says in the Bible that “There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same.”
(2 Peter 3:8)

This must make it difficult to have an appointment with God. Imagine God saying to Moses to go to Mount Sinai “tomorrow”; and Moses asking, “Is that tomorrow in 24 hours or in a thousand years time? Because I’d be dead by then!”

So what is time? Anything that happened yesterday, or before yesterday is in the past. Anything that will happen tomorrow and after tomorrow is in the future. You must never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has already happened in Australia.

What is happening today is in the present. 

But let us look at the present under a microscope. We find it is divided into twenty-four hours.

Let's get a better microscope. We find every hour is divided into sixty minutes.

An even better microscope will show us that right now, this very split second, 1 millionth of a second, that is precisely the present. And as that one millionth of a second has passed you are already in the new present and the last one millionth of a second is now in the past.

Get it? If you split time to the tiniest millionth of a millionth of a second you will discover that you are always moving in time because every tiniest microest bit of a second is already in the past before you even think about it.

That's time travel. You are already, and constantly, travelling in time. Time travel!

Time travel can be fast, as I described, or can be very slow. Especially if the train I am on stops at every station and is late leaving its destination anyway. My commuter train is frequently 15 minutes late. I wrote to the railway company suggesting they change all the times in the time-tables by 15 minutes and the trains will run on time. They have not replied because my letter was sent by snail mail which is slower than the train.

I once found a snail on my doorstep. To save him from being trodden on I picked him up and threw him in the bushes nearby. A week later he was on my doorstep again. He said, "What's the big idea throwing me in the bushes?"

When I was young I had difficulty controlling time. I was always late to school because I had to feed the cactus. When I grew up I sold the cactus and have no problem with time.

Scientists believe you can travel fast back in time to years already gone by. Or indeed travel fast to the future. If you travel fast into the past you can meet famous people who lived many years ago.

I tried that once by visiting a medium. Well, she was very large really, but she preferred to call herself a medium. So I humoured her. She was also a clairvoyant. She could see into the future. Unfortunately our first appointment was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. She could also communicate with animals that had passed away to the other side. She spoke to a parrot once but he kept repeating on her. She tried talking to a goldfish which had drowned because it could not swim. But that's a different kettle of fish; a red herring really.

Anyway, I asked her to use her "medium" talking to people from the past skills to invite certain people to my birthday party. I wanted to invite Shakespeare, Henry the Eighth, Marco Polo and Cleopatra. That way I'd be the only one not in fancy dress.

Unfortunately not one of them turned up. Not one sent me a birthday card even. And they say elephants never forget. Don't believe it. I never received a birthday card from an elephant either. 

So in essence, time travel does exist. It happens right now and all the time. Every tiny split bit of a second of your time is immediately into the past, and you are always travelling fast into the future.

Use your time wisely.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

On the beach


Tom is a regular visitor to this Blog and he comments here often. I visit his Blog often and I would recommend you do too. I always visit the Blogs of those readers who comment here.

Tom is an accomplished photographer. He is what I would describe as an observational photographer. His photos are, to my mind, what a "fly on the wall" would see. His photos range from wonderful sceneries of countryside scenes, urban life with people going on with their lives, to close-ups of flowers and trees, or various murals painted on buildings. There's always a variety of professionally taken photos on Tom's Blog. Really worth a visit.

Yesterday's photos on Tom's Blog intrigued me. They are typical "fly on the wall" photos taken on the beach. The sort of thing you'd see on any beach. Click HERE.

What you see is a woman by the sea. As I said, the sort of scene you would see on many beaches here in the UK, or indeed on any beach near where you live. 

But somehow these photos intrigued me. They raised many questions in my mind with no answers.

The first one being: WHY?

Why is this woman (and many others on many beaches) dressed like that? It must be very uncomfortable for a start. So why dress like that in public?

Is she perhaps thinking, "no one will look at me, there are many other women dressed like this here"?

Or is she thinking, "look at me, do you like?"

What statement is she trying to make by being dressed like that in public?

Don't misunderstand me. If she, (and others), are happy to dress like that in public, I am happy to watch. But still the questions are raised in my mind.

Does this woman have a partner, husband or boy-friend I wonder?

What does he think of seeing her like that in public? Is he happy and proud in a macho way that he has such a beautiful girl-friend? Or is he concerned but too afraid to tell her in case she leaves him for someone else?

As I said, I have seen this scene often on many beaches over the years. Nothing unusual about these particular photos. What I cannot understand is the motivation of people happy to appear like that in public.

Thank you, Tom, for getting me to stop and think. The video you posted yesterday brought back happy memories too. I like your taste in music when you post these from time to time.

Monday 22 February 2021

Beware the Broccoli


At the back of our house, just by the corner facing South, there is a patch of garden which I have designated as the vegetable patch. I have over the years grown several vegetables there, but in particular, the area closest to the house has always been dedicated to broccoli. I don't mind broccoli. I would not order it at a restaurant in preference to steak, or a pizza, but I tolerate it as presumably it tolerates me. I regard it as green cauliflower; which I suppose it is in a way.

Anyway, that aside, I regret to announce that the young painter who was painting the windows at the back of our house fell off his ladder and into the broccoli patch, as did his father before him, and his grandfather before him, and his uncle before him too.

He is about 20 years old and he works for his father as house painters. He leant a bit too much to the side, the ladder slipped, and he landed into the broccoli with his pot of white paint. Half the broccoli is green and the other half is white. As he was being carried away to hospital he said he'd send his brother to finish the job. I told him not to bother. I could paint the remainder of the broccoli white myself.

Two years ago, his father was painting the same windows and he too fell into the broccoli with his pot of paint. His brother, the lad's uncle, came to finish the job and he fell into the patch too and painted the remainder of the broccolli white. 

Four years ago, the grandfather painted the windows. Now he was a real professional. When he fell into the patch he painted all the broccolis white. No need for anyone else to paint those still green.

I rang the hospital to check on the young lad. The nurse said he was a bit off colour. But he'll be all right.

Well, after a series of similar accidents by four different people, all falling off the ladder at the same place, I have decided that something drastic should be done about it.

I shall move the broccoli to a different part of the garden. I shall plant strawberries there instead.

I thought I'd let you know in case any of you like to grow broccoli.

Sunday 21 February 2021

The Holy Trinity - Explained


(Six minutes)
Excerpt from the book

Friday 19 February 2021

It's me folks!!!


A funny thing happened on my way to the newsagent to buy my paper the other day.

A man stopped me in the street and said, "Hey ... you're that man from television, aren't you?"

I was taken aback. Before I said anything he continued, "I've seen you on TV many times!"

"I assure you I have never been on TV," I said.

"Of course you have!" he confirmed enthusiastically, "can I have your autograph please? Here, can you sign this packet of corn flakes? It's all I have that can be signed on. I don't have an autograph book because I never meet famous people and celebrities."

"Look," I said gently, "I am not a famous celebrity. I am no body. You have me mistaken for someone else!"

"Of course you're on TV," he insisted, "you're on that program I can't remember what it's called. Last week you were talking about aubergines. I told my wife then I don't really like you. But now I met you, I'd like your autograph on this corn flakes packet!"

"I can't possibly sign a corn flakes packet. What do you want my signature for anyway? You've just said you don't like me, even though I am not me ... or rather, I am not the person under whose misconception you believe I am!" I said, pausing to take breath after such a long sentence.

"I can sell it on E Bay" he replied.

Now I tell you, I don't even know who this E Bay fellow is. Is he an autographs collector by any chance? It would be interesting to know how much my autograph would sell for. Or rather the autograph of the person I am supposed to be; seeing he has not even told me who it is he is imagining me to be. 

I am often confused by people for someone else famous. I was once mistaken for Don Williams at a concert I attended in London, and on another occasion two young ladies were convinced I was Jennifer Aniston.

On neither occasion did I sign any autographs.

But this man insisted I signed his corn flakes package. To get rid of him I just scribbled something unreadable and he was pleased with that. He thanked me profusely and left.

I wonder who I am?

Thursday 18 February 2021

Elma's Visit


Aunt Elma came to visit us from Glasgow again. What else can I say? 

She said she needed a break from her husband so she told him she was going out shopping, went to the airport and flew in to see us. When she arrived she phoned her husband and told him she was at the supermarket. He asked her to bring home some ice-cream. That's when she told him that it would melt by the time she flew back home. He was not amused.

As a protest, like before when they've had an argument, he left home and moved in the garage until she returns home.

She told us an interesting, albeit weird, story.

Her neighbour who is in her late eighties, Mrs Mac Aroni is her name, went out shopping in town. By the way, Mrs Mac Aroni is a widow. Her husband died a few years back. He was the manager of a shop selling vacuum cleaners. It was his wish on his death bed that his ashes are spread all over the carpet in the store and then vacuum cleaned. His favourite saying was, "Life Sucks but not as good as our cleaners!"

Anyway, as my aunt was saying, Mrs Mac Aroni went out shopping in Glasgow. She stood outside the travel agent's shop window admiring all the places people go to on holiday. A few moments later an old man, about the same age, she said, came and stood by her watching the holiday brochures in the window.

Suddenly, the travel agent came out of the shop and invited them both in. "Congratulations," he said, "you are the 1000th people to visit my shop. You have won a free holiday abroad. All expenses paid!"

He took photos of both of them for publicity purposes and gave them tickets for a week's holiday in Italy ... or was it France? Aunt Elma couldn't remember which but it doesn't matter.

Anyway, after returning from her holiday Mrs Mac Aroni went back to the travel agent to thank them. They were delighted and asked her how she enjoyed the holiday. She said it was really wonderful, but who was that old man who shared the bedroom with her?

What else has been happening here? Oh yes ... might as well tell you about this in case it is of some help. The wi-fi in our house has been weak. We live in an old Victorian house with large rooms and high ceilings and sometimes you cannot get an internet signal on the laptop if you move from one room to another. The techie guy said he increased the router signal by some gigabytes; whatever that means.

What else? Oh yes, Aunt Elma. I did not know this but she fell off a horse recently and broke her femur. That's the big bone in the thigh. Can you imagine? At her age, she is about 88, riding a horse? And it was not a real horse either. It was one of those mechanical electrical horses which jump about like a rodeo bull which you sometimes have in pubs. A mechanical type seat that spins and jumps to make you fall off. It was at the pub. The Drunken Bishop, I think. Or was it The Fat Handmaid? Doesn't matter which pub it was.

She went to the pub and had a go on the mechanical horse thing and fell off breaking her femur. She went to hospital and got it fixed. It's OK now. Apparently they put in a metal plate round the bone to hold it together. She said it beeped at the airport security desk when they checked her.

But that's not all. Now with our improved more powerful wi-fi signal she gets radio wavelengths through the metal plate which acts as an aerial. It is very disconcerting when she's sitting there and we hear Frank Sinatra singing "I did it my way!" in her thigh.

She is a bit hard-of hearing so she does not realise it is happening. First time it happened we were at the table having dinner. Someone asked, "can you hear music?" It was Frank Sinatra then also. He was singing, "I've got you under my skin!"

Someone said the sound was coming from under the table. I looked under the table and realised what was happening. To save her blushes I changed the subject and told the family it was probably the neighbour's radio a bit too loud. 

I could not make out what was happening. Then she mentioned the metal plate in her leg and I realised. 

I told no one about it. At night, when I was in bed using the laptop I could hear from next door "Rock around the clock!"

The only way to remedy the situation is to get the techie guy to lower the power of the router to fewer gigabytes. This means I won't be able to use the laptop in all the rooms. We can increase the power again after Aunt Elma leaves.

In the meantime, "You put your left leg in. Your left leg out. In, out, in, out. You shake it all about. You do the hokey cokey. And you turn around. That's what it's all about. Woah, the hokey cokey. Woah, the hokey cokey. Woah, the hokey cokey. Knees bent. Arms stretched. Ra-ra-ra!"

Wednesday 17 February 2021

I am getting tired ...


I am getting tired of being told what I should do in life by some so-called expert fathead on TV.

There was a program on TV blaming me for all the pollution out at sea harming and killing the fish. 

I'll have you know that I live miles from the sea and all my trash goes in separate bins to be re-cycled or dealt with according to what the so-called experts think is appropriate. I dispose of my trash according to the instructions given by the local Authorities. Can anyone explain to me how it ends in the sea? And how this is my fault?

Then there was another fathead expert on another program advising us all to stop eating meat to save the planet. He didn't say who we are saving the planet for. Idiots like him?

He claimed that animals such as cows, sheep and so on let off gases at both ends of their bodies and that this is bad for the ozone layer. His solution was that we stop eating meat and have fewer animals.

Now I don't mind people being vegetarians or people eating meat. It is a personal choice. But I resent being told and coerced into following a particular lifestyle because some idiot has deemed it necessary.

Has this man worked out what the world would be like if all of us on earth stopped eating meat? What would we do with all the cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other creatures on our daily menu? Would we kill them all to extinction and burn them on a funeral pyre? 

Where would we find a substitute for all the milk produced; and milk by-products like cheese, yoghurt, cream and so on? Can you make cheese from almond milk? Does this man realise how many gallons of water are needed to produce just one almond? And how many almonds you need just to make one pint of almond milk?

Has he worked out the effect on the world economies if we all stopped eating meat? Why, my favourite fast food restaurant selling burgers and fried chicken employs six people alone. That's six people who will be out of work. How about all the others who farm animals, feed them, milk them, shear their wool to make woollen ties for me, collect their eggs to make omelettes for my breakfast, and so on and so forth? 

In short, I don't think that if we all stopped eating all meats it would have that much beneficial effect on the ozone layer as this man if he stopped guffing hot air from the orifices at both ends of his body. 

By all means, he can stop eating meat. That's more left for me and those who agree with me. Let him not lecture me on TV under the guise of expert in stupidity.

As for those who worry about plastic and other trash ending in the sea. Instead of blaming the consumer, why not get the producer to clean up their act? Why is it I can buy pasta and rice from one supermarket in plastic bags that are totally recyclable, whilst in other supermarkets pasta and rice, (and other products), are in bags that cannot be recycled? The price is exactly the same. So why do the producers not use recyclable plastic? The same applies to plastic containers for milk, shampoo, washing up liquid, lemonades and so on. Some are in recyclable plastic, others not.

And why are some products double and treble wrapped? You buy a presentation box of chocolates, or biscuits, or whatever and it is wrapped in cellophane, it's in a cardboard box, and inside you have plastic trays containing no more than 12 tiny chocolates, or biscuits. The same applies for many ready-meals you quick-cook in the oven. It's as if the only way you can have a square meal these days is by eating the boxes rather than their content. More vitamins this way too!

So, Mr Fathead on TV, instead of lecturing the poor consumer about saving the planet, laudable as this is; why don't you first tackle the problem at source? Eating meat has a lot of nutritional benefits which you may choose to avail yourself of, or not. Eating cardboard boxes on the other hand will provide you with some roughage but I doubt whether it will control your hot air emissions.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Monastic Visit


Some time ago I visited a monastery high in the mountains far away from society and the rest of the world. The monks there were self-sufficient, growing their own food and praying all the time. The monastery did not even have a postal address because they had no postal deliveries, telephones or computers or such things. The only directions to the place was: third mountain peak from the left.

The monks had taken a vow of silence.

When I arrived there, unfortunately, a monk was leaving the premises for good. He had been a monk for exactly three years. The Monk Superior, who was allowed to talk to me because he was meeting me for an interview, explained that monks are not allowed to speak apart from once a year for thirty seconds when they get to meet Monk Superior in private. 

After spending a whole year at the monastery, this particular monk was invited to speak to Monk Superior. He said, "the food here is too salty!"

After spending a second year at the monastery, he told Monk Superior, "the bed is too hard to sleep on!"

On the third year which ended yesterday he told Monk Superior, "my room is too cold!" At which Monk Superior replied, "I think you'd better leave; you've done nothing but complain since you arrived here!"

I was given permission to tour the monastery as long as I did not talk to anyone to preserve their vow of silence.

I went to the carpentry workshop where two monks were working quietly. As I got in, one monk was distracted by my presence and hit the hammer hard on his finger.

He stopped what he was doing and picking up a pencil he wrote "Ouch!" on the wall.

The other monk approached him and wrote underneath, "Did you hurt yourself?"

The first monk wrote under it, "OF COURSE I DID YOU ****"

The second monk wrote, "You don't have to shout!"

At this point, another monk came in the workshop. Picking up a pencil, he wrote, "Who's been writing on the wall? I've just painted it yesterday!"

The first monk who'd hurt himself wrote, "What's it to do with you? Why don't you just **** off!" And then he pushed the monk who'd just got in.

A fight ensued. One monk held the other by the neck like wrestlers do, and before long they were both rolling on the floor cassocks aloft. I noticed that they wear white underpants with red polka dots.

They knocked over one table and the various tools and instruments fell to the ground without making a sound.

At one point they stopped fighting and one of the monks wrote on the wall, "AAAAAAHHHHH! That hurt!"

A fourth monk came in and wrote, "Please stop fighting both of you! Or I will write to Monk Superior on his wall!"

The monk who'd hurt himself stormed out of the workshop slamming the door behind him. The door did not make any sound. I noticed that the edge of the door was padded with heavy cotton material to stop it making a sound when closed.

The remaining monks then left too without saying a word.

At this point Monk Superior entered the workshop and wrote, "Have you been writing on the wall?"

I said, "Of course not!"

I was thrown out of the monastery for speaking and breaking the vow of silence.

Monday 15 February 2021

Oh Fortuna Carmina Burana


"O Fortuna" part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana.
(Lyrics from Wikipedia).
O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
just like the moon
thou art variable,
always dost thou
wax and wane.
Detestable life,
first dost thou mistreat us,
and then, whimsically,
thou heedest our desires.
As the sun melts the ice,
so dost thou dissolve
both poverty and power.

and empty fate,
thou, turning wheel,
art mean,
good health at thy will.
in obscurity,
thou dost attack
me also.
To thy cruel pleasure
I bare my back.

Thou dost withdraw
my health and virtue;
thou dost threaten
my emotion
and weakness
with torture.
At this hour,
therefore, let us
pluck the strings without
Let us mourn together,
for fate crushes the brave.

Sunday 14 February 2021

Be Clean


A leper came to Jesus and, kneeling, he begged him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" (Mark 1:40-45)

Leprosy is a terrible illness. In those days 2000 years ago a leper was thrown out of every town and village. He was ostracised from society. He was feared. He lived alone, in poverty, starvation, and died alone. No family. No friends. No one to care for him or even bury him when he's dead.

Since then, we have had many plagues and epidemics throughout the world and throughout the years. 

And whenever they happen, people tend to react the same way. Suspicion and uneasiness as to its seriousness, fear as to how it could affect us and our loved ones, ignorance and contradictions as to what it is and how it is spread, conspiracy theories, confusion, every man for himself, and indeed many other emotions you can think of and add to the list.

But what does Jesus have to offer to this list of emotions?

Pity. Mercy. Love. Compassion. Healing. Hope. Salvation. New beginning. 

Can you add any more to Christ's list?

Better still, can you offer any of these to someone in need?

Friday 12 February 2021

Romantic Adventures


Seeing it is St Valentine's Day I thought I'd write a romantic novel for a change. Something nice that pulls at the heart strings and will survive the passage of time and stand out there in the world of literature as a great monument to love, loyalty, passion and ... well, whatever!

Here are a short few lines I have written so far. Tell me what you think.

They stood there holding hands watching the sun go down as the waves lapped the shores beneath them. A light breeze from the East blew her blonde hairs softly. He ran to fetch them as they entangled in the bushes.

She put her wig back on and whispered softly, "let us go upstairs and turn out the light and unite in our thoughts of love".

"But the ships rely on our bright lights," said the lighthouse keeper.

"Take me in your arms," she breathed lightly, "lift me, carry me, take me to our love nest my darling!"

"What? All the way to the top of the lighthouse?" he said rubbing the small of his back to soothe away the pain.

She bit her lips delicately to hide her disappointment. "I think our relationship is on the rocks!" she said, wiping a tear.

"That's inevitable," he replied, "seeing we are by the lighthouse".

Just then the air turned sour and somewhat toxic on a love that was not to be.

"Och aye, ye ken," he said in his broad Scottish accent, "I see the tide has brought in some rotten fish once again!"

So ... what do you think? Is it a bit too romantic? Or will it be memorable like all the other great works?

I also thought of writing another novel at the same time. This one is an adventure with a Super Hero who can do all sorts of things that no other hero in history can do. For example, he can disguise himself as a table. One moment he is a man, the next he is a table. In a restaurant perhaps, or a house, or a manor. Whilst people are eating from on top of him he is listening to their conversations and evil plots to conquer the world.

He can use his super powers to smell round corners. He can control time by ten seconds before something happens. For example, he would say, "Bless you!" before someone sneezes. He can eat the hottest chilli con carne even though he is a vegetarian.  

His name is: SUPERHERO

Here is what I have written so far. Let me know what you think.

Hello ... Hello ... Is that Superhero?

Yes it is. What can I do for you?

HELP ... HELP ... I am hanging on by my finger nails at the edge of a cliff. I can hold on no longer. If I fall I shall surely die. HEEEELP !!!!!

Let me take some details. What is your name? And where are you exactly? Damn, my pencil broke ... hold on ... got another one. Where are you caller?

I don't know where I am exactly. My speed boat was caught up in a hurricane, I flew in the air and landed on top of this cliff. I got thrown out of the boat and only managed to hold on to the edge by my finger nails. I don't want to die. Help me. Can't you use your super powers to hear where I'm screaming from and fly to my rescue?

Normally yes ... but I lost my hearing aid. I've just found a suppository in my ear though!

Help me ... help me Superhero!

All right ... all right ... just hold on!


He did not hold on. Now I have to use my frequent flyer miles and search all over the world for him.

Hello ... Superhero! Is that you?

Yes, it's me ... where did you go? I won't be able to find you if you keep moving.

I fell off the cliff and I am now hanging on to a branch a bit lower down. Please come and help me soon. The battery on my cell phone is running low ...

I am coming as fast as I can. I have to change at least three flights on different airlines to reach you. Also take a bus and possibly hire a bicycle to get to your location for the last few miles.

Just hurry up ... I can hold no longer ... AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

Damn nuisance. He has moved again. How can I save people in distress if they keep moving? They are so inconsiderate these days!

Hello ... Hello ... Superhero?

Yes ... that's me ... and it's you again. I notice your cell phone is loud and clear now.

I'm not on my cell phone. It broke when I fell. I am now at the bottom of the cliff. I am phoning you from the bar at the hotel on the beach. I'm OK. No need to come and save me.

I'll charge you double for wasting my time, you fathead!

So ... what do you think? Am I better at romantic novels or adventure?

Or do you prefer my other books?

As it happened


A long time ago, I hated being at school. The children used to bully me, steal my lunch box and give me wedgies. Eventually I gave up being a teacher.

There followed a series of other jobs. For example, for a while I was a door-to-door salesman selling doors. I had a couple of doors strapped on my back and two suitcases with door handles, locks, hinges and so on. Once I knocked on a door, not mine ... a door of a house ... and a man opened. I asked him, "do you want to buy a door?"

Before he answered I bent forward a little to put the suitcases I was carrying on the ground. The doors on my back hit him straight in the face. He fell right on his back like a felled tree. He did not buy any doors.

My next job was also as a door-to-door salesman. This time I was selling First Aid kits. I sold little boxes with all the things you need in an emergency. Like a small mirror in case you want to check your lipstick should you get injured. Small scissors to cut your finger nails and so on.

I knocked at a door and an old lady opened. After I recited the sales blurb to her, she politely said she did not need to buy anything and shut the door. Unfortunately she caught my hand in the door. I screamed. She was shocked and said, "are you all right?"

I said, "my right hand is ... but my left has been crushed!"

She used my First Aid kit but unfortunately the sticking plaster would not stick to my hand. She used the bandages but they were too thin and kept tearing as she wrapped it round my fingers. Eventually she tied my handkerchief to my hand and did not buy anything.

I worked in a zoo for a while. We had a tiger which ate Frosties. Serves the woman right for letting Frosties the little dog inside the tiger's enclosure.

I got fired from that job for feeding the monkeys ... to the lions. The visitors did not enjoy the lions feeding time whilst they were having their lunch. 

I got another job at a golf club. My job was to go round the course and count the holes. We had gophers nearby and they dug extra holes all over the place. The players got too tired going round a 108 holes golf course. The problem is I did not know which were legitimate golf course holes and which were additional gophers ones. I filled all of them in and the players complained that they could not get a hole in one or any hole whatsoever either. 

Another job I had at this club was to check if there were any golf balls left in the holes by the players. I used to go round the course in the early evening, after everyone had left, and check all the holes. I hated having to put my hand in the holes to retrieve the balls. I wore gloves. I once forgot my gloves so I tied my scarf tight round my hand. Unfortunately when I held on to the golf ball my hand got stuck in the hole. I could not get it out again. I could not open my hand to drop the ball and my fist was held tightly shut holding the ball and being stuck inside the hole.

There I was on my knees with my hand stuck in the hole. You could say I was "one in hole".

I cried for help, but there was no one there to help me. I was the only one in the golf club to lock up and leave. Yet there I was locked in a hole myself.

As it grew dark a fox came out of the bushes. He was not a club member. I decided to remain still ready to hit him with my free hand should he get vicious.

He approached me, raised his back leg, and told me what he thought of me. 

Somehow, this released my hand like magic as I ran to the club house!

I worked as an undertaker's assistant in a funeral director's office. I got fired when one April Fools Day I hid a tape-recorder in a coffin which repeated, "let me out ... let me out ..."  

I also got fired from working in a pet shop for teaching the parrot to say to the customers, "hello ugly ... what are you looking at?"

I worked in a museum for a while. I was a night security guard. I was the only one at night in the museum guarding the whole place and doing my rounds every so often in all the rooms. I was scared. So I took my dog with me without anyone knowing. I got fired when the dog ate the dinosaur's leg.

And that's how it happened.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Come on

It was a warm sunny day and Father Ignatius was alone in the Parish House. He got out in the gardens at the back of the house and sat by the little shrine to Our Lady set amongst rose bushes some way from the main building.

He took his Rosary from his pocket and started praying. A few minutes later he heard a bird singing in a tree nearby. It wasn’t so much the usual singing one hears, nor the panic cries of a mother when a cat or other predator approaches the nest … this was more like a calling type of singing. It was as if the bird was beckoning someone to do something.

Father Ignatius got up from his chair and walked into the shadows to better see what caused this bird behavior.

There on a tree nearby was a nest. He could see it clearly now, even though it was well camouflaged amongst the branches and leaves. And in the nest there were three birds … quite well-grown by the looks of their size and the fact they were covered in feathers.

The mother bird kept flying towards the nest singing wildly and then moving away from branch to branch … then it got down to the ground … and up to the nest again … singing all the time.

The three little ones looked over the edge of the nest but stayed put.

The priest realized what was going on. The mother was teaching her little ones to leave the nest and fly.

There she was hopping from one branch to another singing away: no doubt encouraging her young to take flight. You could almost hear her speak: “Come on my dears … don’t be afraid … jump!”

They hesitated. Looked around, looked down at the ground which seems miles away, and then politely said to each other: “You first.” “No, no, after you …” “Ladies first, I always say.”

And none of them had the courage to take off, whilst the mother is cheering heartily: “Come on, you know you can do it!”

Eventually one of the little ones gingerly jumped out of the nest, his wings flapping madly, and somehow landed safely to the ground. In time he was followed by his siblings and yet another generation took flight and left the nest.

The priest smiled as he saw all four birds hop from bush to bush, and eventually up the tree branches again, and then fly away confidently.

He sat down again at the feet of the statue and reflected on what he had just witnessed.

“Our first steps with the Lord are no different to these birds I suppose” he thought to himself.

“We question, we analyse, we debate and then … perhaps … in time, we come to believe.

“Eventually, we make that first step in Faith. Believing, without having all the answers. Without knowing everything about the aero-dynamics of flight, or the effects of gravity as we leave the perceived safety of our nest.

“God does not ask us to know everything about Him, how He thinks, how He works, and how He manages the universe.

“All He asks is that we trust Him and believe, without question and without hesitation.

“His Holy Spirit will then lead us through our journey to the Father.” 




Monday 8 February 2021

Important facts you should know and remember


This statue of four satyrs was found in Rome. It is now in the Louvre in Paris. I depicts Omphaloskepsis.

They are not looking at what you think. Omphaloskepsis means navel-gazing - contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation.

I did some meditation once when I got out of the shower. I stood there and contemplated. I won't tell you what my wife said when she saw me!

Eratosthenes. That's another word, or name, you'll never forget. Eratosthenes measured the Earth’s circumference mathematically using two surface points to make the calculation. He noted that the Sun's rays fell vertically at noon in Syene in Egypt at the summer solstice. In Alexandria, also in Egypt, at the same date and time, sunlight fell at an angle of about 7.2° from the vertical. So by sticking a stick in the ground and measuring its shadow he worked out the circumference of the earth at the equator.

It wasn't until many years later, at the time of Galileo in Italy, that a pizza salesman discovered that the earth's circumference, at its largest point around the equator, is just under 25,000 miles. Apparently he had read it in a book somewhere.

Now that fact is important - remember it. Around the equator, the earth's circumference is just under 25,000 miles - let's call it 24,000 miles.

Since we know that the earth goes round a whole revolution, from left to right, in one day, then it is right to assume that if I stood at the equator facing East, I would be travelling at 1000 miles and hour: 24,000 miles divided by 24 hours = 1,000 miles an hour. In fact, it is faster than that because, as we said earlier, the circumference is just under 25,000 miles.

At that speed my wig would fly off.

If the earth were to suddenly stop; like you putting the brakes in a car suddenly very hard, we would all slide along the ground for miles. And we would need a lot of cream to put on our scraped backsides.

The murrelet is a bird which migrates 8,000 kilometres, (5,000 miles), from Canada to winter near Japan and China, even though the climate is similar at the two ends. It is the only bird known to cross the whole North Pacific. They then start a return trip in February, flying four or five hours a day. It just flies there and back for no apparent reason.

Unlike me. When I have to go somewhere I've never been to I always go there the day before to check how to get there. I once travelled all day to check where my meeting was in Edinburgh. When I got back home very late at night; it was time to go back again for my meeting.

Did you know that there is a shop in Edinburgh who pride themselves that they will search and find your own family tartan if you tell them your surname. I told the manager my name was Donald Duck. He could not find a tartan with such a surname. They did make me a Coat of Arms though.

Another fact for you.

Did you know that you get taller when out in space? Because of the lack of gravity, and gravy, astonauts get up to two inches taller when out in space. They gradually lose that extra height when they return to earth.

Also, the wild boar, because it is so full of fat, will always float when in water. It will never sink or drown. If you want to learn to swim just tie two wild boars to your arms and you'll float like a Donald Duck.

The sand wasp always flies backwards when leaving its nest so that it remembers what it looks like and can find it again when it returns home.

I did that once when leaving home and tripped and fell backwards in a bush full of thorns. It was an experience etched on my backside.

As you know, mosquitoes are attracted to blood. So if you are having a picnic or barbecue in your garden, place a bag of blood near your neighbour's fence and all the mosquitoes will go there instead.

Did you also know that mosquitoes are afraid of chickens? This is because chickens actually eat mosquitoes. They peck them in mid-air and eat them. So when you have a picnic have some chickens walking around freely in the garden to keep the mosquitoes away. If you run out of beefburgers you can put a chicken on the barbecue.

A raindrop is fifty times heavier than a mosquito. So when it rains the mosquito spreads its legs because it is squashed and it slides away.

In order to make snails move faster place some oil in their path. They can get up to great speeds then and you can have your own snail race. 

A problem for you: if you were to throw a snail, a cat and a grandparent into a bush. Which one would return back to the place from which they were thrown?

The grandparent. No matter how far you throw a grandparent into a bush they will always return to you. They may even bring you an apple pie, or some nice present. Amazing.

Where do you think the tattoo goes when you go to a specialist to have it removed? Say you have a tattoo on your body, and its removed. Where does it go?

Apparently, when they use lasers to "melt" the tattoo the ink is dissolved and absorbed by the body and it comes out in one's poo! People with removed tattoos can see it in their poo afterwards!

Have you ever wondered where the dry leaves that fall of a tree in Autumn go? That's the ones you do not pick up yourself.

Well, I'll tell you. At night the worms come out of the ground and pull the leaves down into the ground where they decompose and enrich the soil. 

Check it out in Autumn or Winter and you'll see some leaves almost standing on one end where they've been pulled in by the worms.

Once the children left their skipping rope in the garden. I noticed that the worms had started pulling it, bit by bit, into the ground. I held the other end to pull it out and I felt a tug on the rope. Obviously, a worm underground was still holding on to the rope and pulling it in. I pulled. He pulled back. I pulled some more. He pulled stronger. I tugged hard. He must have called for reinforcement because the rope was pulled even harder dragging me on the ground as I fell forward. A tug-of-war ensued with both me pulling and no doubt a multitude of worms pulling at the other end. I felt myself being dragged into the ground and perhaps buried alive. I cried for help, holding tight to the rope. The dog came out in the garden and bit my backside. I was in real pain shooing the dog away and being dragged by the worms. I did not let go the rope. I managed to stand up and pull with all my might. Suddenly the worms let go the rope and I flew backwards into the bush full of thorns. The same type I fell in when I walked backwards from my house; only this one was in my back garden. I still have the rope and the bush top prove it.
Finally, did you know that I auditioned for a part in the film The Sound Of Music?
I auditioned for the part of Mr Hill in the song The Hills are alive with the sound of music.
They turned me down because of my accent. I told them the part was a silent one. But they turned me down anyway.
Shame. I could have been famous like Julie Andrews.
Here's a demo video I took with me for the audition.

Sunday 7 February 2021

A soulless body


Many people believe that we have a soul. C S Lewis went further and said, "you don't have a soul. You have a body. You are a soul".

We are all souls. Invisible spirits who inhabit a body so that we can see and recognise each other. The body is like a covering for the soul; and when the body ceases to function it decomposes and turns to dust, leaving the invisible soul or spirit to live on.

There is an invisible world consisting of spirits like God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, demons, souls of those who have died, and indeed us - the souls still inhabiting a living body.

There are some people who believe all this is nonsense. There is no such thing as a soul. We are human beings who, when we die, we just decompose and fade away. No such thing as a living soul which guides and manages our behaviour in life and lives on afterwards when we die.

Let us consider this further. Let us assume that such people are correct. We don't have a soul. We are a combination of water, bones, muscles, nerves and a variety of chemicals and "things" that make us human. We can add other words to the mix. Words like genes, DNA, electrical pulses and so on.

Let us agree for a minute that there are no souls. We are a combination of bits and pieces put together, or stuck together.

If so, then what does manage or control our behaviour? If we are all a mix of the same ingredients, or components, just like a machine; then why does one individual's behaviour differ greatly from that of another? Why do some people do good in life whilst others choose to do the opposite? Why do some become doctors, lawyers architects and scientists, whilst others are musicians, athletes and painters?

If we are all machines, just like a fridge or kettle, then what exactly controls our behaviour?

A fridge has been designed and built to keep things cool, or cold. It does not suddenly decide to bake what is put inside it. It functions according to what it was programmed to do.

If similarly we are all machines, then what exactly controls our behaviour which is often the direct opposite of another machine? Surely we should all acta as pre-programmed robots. But we don't. Something makes us act differently.

Some would say it is our environment, our up-bringing, our education, background and so on, which makes us act differently. I accept that. But what is it within us, machines, that makes us recognise the differences amongst us and thus make us behave differently?

The fridge does not recognise that its owners need a hot meal and bakes instead of freezing. It does what it is programmed to do. It is a machine.

If we are machines, as some people believe, then there is something else that we have which machines don't have. Something which makes us act and behave independently and respond to environments and situations around us in different ways. 

Think about it. Machine only - body only: then we behave like a pre-programmed machine.

Machine plus something else - body AND soul: then we behave like we do and choose our path in life. And our immortal soul lives on thereafter.

What do you think?

What does God look like?


The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities” by Bartolom√© Esteban Murillo.
Murillo, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, about 1675-1682 
Photo © The National Gallery, London 
 We are told that God created us in His image, and for centuries people have assumed that God is a bearded man sitting on a cloud in Heaven looking down on us.

Artists over the years have painted Him as a human being, no doubt taking their clue from what the Bible said about us and His image, and also from the fact that Christ, His only Son, came down to earth as a human being.

But what does God really look like?

Is He a Spirit somewhere in the sky, or wherever? But the Holy Spirit has been depicted, and seen, as a dove and tongues of fire. Is that what God looks like?

It is worth remembering that although we are taught that God always existed, so does Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus did not begin to exist the day He was born on earth. He has always existed. When He was born on earth, this is when He took the shape of a human being, a baby, born amongst us. He is "Consubstantial to the Father". From Latin consubstantialem, of one essence or substance. He always was and is.

So although we accept, and many have seen, Jesus in human form, and the Holy Spirit has been seen as a dove, tongues of fire or bright lights, no one has actually seen God. And we cannot therefore assume that He looks like any of these.

In essence it does not matter what God looks like. Christ taught that He is a Father in Heaven to help those people listening to Him at the time to understand Deity in a form their minds can comprehend. 

What we need to concentrate on is that God is love. Unmeasurable love Whose desire is that we all one day will be united with Him in Heaven. He is mercy. He is forgiveness. He is goodness and patience. And all that one would wish from a caring Creator.

And that's what it means to be created in His image.

We all have the potential to love, to have mercy and pity for our fellow beings, to forgive, to be good and patient and caring, and everything else that we consider God, our Creator, to be.

Yet ... sadly yet ... despite being created in His image, with all this Godly potential, there are many it seems who live their lives with none of these qualities in their behaviour.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Bonzo Bookshelf



Friday 5 February 2021

And another confession ...


Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

Oh ... it's you again.

Yes Father, it is Alphonse ... I normally sit right at the front pew.

I know ...

It's been a week since my last confession.

I recall it well. I suggested then that you seek medical attention. Your doctor perhaps, or even a psychiatrist.

Yes that's right ... I wrote it here in my notebook. Do you want to see it?

No ... ... ...  so, what did you do? Have you been to see the doctor?

Not really ... 

What do you mean not really? You either did see a doctor, or better still a psychiatrist or you didn't.

I didn't!

Why not?

Well, I thought I'd go on the Jerry Springer Show instead.

What? Whatever for?

Well ... he might be interested in my condition ... he is good at this sort of thing ... he has people on his show with various problems and he is good at talking to them. And he always ends the show with some good words! He says 'Take care of yourselves and each other!' You never say that in confession. Have you seen his show? The audience often sing ... Jerry ... Jerry ...

Is he a doctor?


A psychiatrist?


What does your wife think of this?

About my problem or about me wanting to go on the Jerry Springer Show to talk about it?

Well ... both!

She is worried about my problem but excited about going on the Jerry Springer Show. She has bought a new dress to wear if we go on the show. New shoes too!

Look my son, my job here, which is badly paid I might add, is to hear your sins, dish out some advice, and absolve you if you really repent. Technically, you are not committing a sin as such. Although you are getting pretty close to it, if I remember well what I was taught in seminary. But I honestly think you should seek medical attention.

Do you want a ticket to the Jerry Springer Show, if I get on it that is?

No I don't ... thank you. I shall pray for you ... and your wife!

Bye Father ... ... ...Isn't life exciting?

Thursday 4 February 2021

The Meaning Of Life

When I was young and I lived in London I got interested in all sorts of esoteric things and theories; like: are we the only ones in the universe? At what time do trees arrive in the forest? Why some tomato ketchup always gets stuck at the bottom of the bottle? The last one always foxed me. Adding water to the bottle does not solve the problem but only washes the bottle out.

I used to visit libraries and spend a lot of time searching for the answers to all those questions that were whizzing round in my mind, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning, on an ever spinning reel, like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.

I hate plagiarism, don't you? I long for a world without plagiarism. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will have no plagiarism whatsoever.

Anyway, as I was saying. I was young and got interested in all sorts of world problems, like the meaning of life. Then I read in the papers that a hermit type character was visiting London to talk about such things like the brotherhood of man, living peacefully and simply with few possessions, minimalism, happiness through simplicity rather than wealth, the meaning of life, and the composition of tomato ketchup in relation to its speed of travel out of a bottle.

I was suddenly attracted to this man and the wisdom and knowledge he had to impart to society. Here was a man living life the way he preached it. In poverty and simplicity sharing what little he had in wisdom with his fellow beings.  

So I visited him at his posh hotel in the luxurious part of London where all the wealthy tourists go. Unfortunately, as I got in I caught my ear in the revolving door. The door kept going round and I found myself in the street again with a bleeding ear. I tried again, but this time going backwards through the door. Sadly, I caught my other ear and got thrown out again.

There's a lesson to be learnt here, I thought. Although I could not work out what it was.

Eventually, I was led to the penthouse suite of the hotel where the hermit man lived in isolation and utter poverty. He was eating a humble meal of shell-fish rather than sumptuous food you would expect to find in such a hotel. He had a plate of oysters, and another of moules marinières, whatever they are. Also lobster thermidor with real thermidors in them.

He spoke quietly in short little sayings rather than in conversation.

I asked him, "What is the meaning of life?"

He replied, "Life is a bowl of cherries. Some ripe, some still to ripe, whilst others are rotten and mouldy!"

"I don't like cherries," I replied.

"All right," he continued softly sipping some liquid with bubbles from a crystal glass, "Life is a basket of bananas. Some are yellow and ready to eat, others are green and would give you tummy ache, but they are all bent."   

"What advice would you give a young man like me?" I asked.

He smiled and said, "If you walk in someone else's shoes for a mile or two you will be accused of stealing them!"

"Anything else?" 

"A man who has been swimming will be wet when he gets out of the water."

I did not understand the meaning of that. So I asked him. He continued.

"It is not good having such an open mind that your brains fall out of it!"

"That's deep!" I smiled.

"Depth is comparative to one's perception," he responded. 

It seemed that every time I asked him something he answered in these riddle type replies, leaving you to find any hidden meaning you wish from what he said. 

So I attempted another question. "The world is in turmoil right now, " I said, "what advice would you give today's generation from someone as learned and wise as yourself?"  

"Too many oysters give you the runs," he answered as he rushed to the bathroom.

The interview was stopped abruptly. His helpers and minders saw me out. I never got to find out why tomato ketchup gets stuck at the bottom of the bottle when it is nearly empty.

Any ideas? 

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Inventions and Discoveries

When you think about it; are there truly any new inventions these days? Have we not reached the stage where everything has already been invented?  

All that seems to be happening is that the so called inventors are tweaking things a little and making them that little bit better; rather than invent something totally new.

Cars can perform that little bit better. Same for cell-phones, computers, washing machines and so on. And in a year or two other manufacturers have caught on and have that new improvement in their product too. There is nothing really new. Like a car that you can fold and put in your pocket, saving you from having to find a parking space.

I long for the days long ago of really true inventions. Something that never existed before was invented and now everyone can enjoy it.

My great great great great grandfather was a great inventor. He was a great man. Enormous in fact. He also put on more weight since his invention.

His name was Ivor Rawbottom, and he invented sitting down.

Before that people did not sit down. They either stood up, or lied down on their back in bed, or on the ground. When they were standing up and got tired they just fell to the ground. You'd be walking down the street and see lots of people just falling to the ground of tiredness. No one ever sat down until one day my ancestor showed them how to do it.

He bent his knees and lowered his backside on a bench in a farm where he worked. Unfortunately someone had left a cactus on the bench. So he invented standing up again as well.

That's two inventions almost instantaneously and simultaneously. And he got no credit for either because he forgot to patent them.

My aunt's grandmother was also an inventor. She lived some hundred years ago, probably less. I never met her but I was told she invented the silk wash cycle in washing machines. Before that people did not know how to wash silk items. They just threw them away. Silk shirts, ties, scarves or whatever. People used to wear them once then throw them away. Can you imagine not washing silk shirts? Rich people had fifty shirts of grey!

She also invented the spoon rest. You know ... that porcelain thing that looks like a spoon and you use it to rest your spoon when cooking. Before that invention people used to bring an armchair in the kitchen for the spoon to rest on.

The knack or skill for inventing things has continued right through the generations in my family. A cousin of mine is a chemist. He worked in a big laboratory for one of those medicine type companies. He got fired recently for inventing an instant laxative and testing it on the nurses.

My family is not only famous for their inventions, but for their discoveries too. A great grandfather of mine, Jehoshaphat Smith discovered the East Pole. People knew of the North and South Pole but no other. At the time they were both poles apart. So he set out to discover a nearer one and he found the East Pole somewhere in the West. Apparently, it had moved whilst he was not looking. So to avoid confusion he called it the East Pole. It was near the Equator and because it is hot there it melted away. Sadly not many people knew of his discovery and he was soon forgotten. 

Another relative of mine discovered gravity. I know the science books tell us it was someone called Newton and an apple fell on his head. That's not entirely true. Gravity was discovered much earlier by a relative of mine Chef Ivor Heartburn. He accidentally dropped a bowl of gravy which shattered and splattered all over his kitchen. His wife said it was a calamity. "No ... my dear," he replied, "it is gravity!"

Wisdom runs in our family you know. That's probably why most of my relatives are stupid. I guess God must love stupid people seeing He created so many of them. 

An aunt of mine was so stupid that mind readers used to charge her half-price.

One very wise uncle said to me on his death bed, "My dear niece ..." (He was short-sighted by the way).

"My dear niece," he said, "remember ... there are two words in the world which will open many doors for you. Remember them always!"

"What words are these?" I asked sipping my pint of Guinness.

He smiled and said, "Push and Pull."

I liked that uncle. He was very short. So short you could see his feet on his passport photo. 

He often said, "take everything with a pinch of salt." Mind you, he made a terrible cup of tea!

He once told me, "Never ever ever take advice from any one!"

So I ignored him!