Monday 31 May 2021

Mary Cries


Father Ignatius was in his office when George came running in.

“Father come quick” he gasped in between breaths, “the Virgin Mary is crying ….”

“Calm down George … take a deep breath … now tell me, what is going on?”

“The statue of the Virgin Mary, in church …” said George, “it is crying. Come and see for yourself ….”

The priest left the Parish house and followed George across the car park and into the church. By the left of the altar there was a large statue of Our Lady high on a pedestal. Father Ignatius had sat there in the front pew many a time reciting the Rosary.

As he approached the statue, Sonia, who was there with George and others cleaning the church in time for Sunday spoke first.

“Hello Father,” said Sonia, “this is really weird. We were cleaning around here when I looked up at the statue and noticed her cheeks were wet. I thought I was seeing things … but look … doesn’t it seem wet to you?"

The priest looked up, and true enough; the statue’s face seemed to glisten in the light.

“George …” he said, “there’s a small ladder in the garage. Would you mind getting it please?”

Moments later Father Ignatius climbed the ladder gingerly to get a closer look. And for certain, there was a little moisture on the statue’s face, just beneath the eyes and on the face. He took out his handkerchief and wiped the statue dry.

“It’s probably condensation,” he said as he got off the ladder, “it sometimes happens in old churches. Condensation builds up and turns to moisture on a cold surface.”

The situation was quickly defused and the volunteers got back to cleaning the church.

That evening, as Father Ignatius sat on the front pew to pray the Rosary he looked up and sure enough the statue was moist again on the face. He looked carefully standing on a nearby chair and was convinced that, somehow, the condensation, or were they tears, had built up once again. Only on the face of the statue.

The mysterious incident did not happen again. He checked the following day several times and all seemed back to normal. Or so he thought.

Because somehow the local paper had got hold of the story and placed it on their front page, having also obtained a picture of the statue in question.

“VIRGIN IN TEARS” read the headline in big letters.

It quoted various un-named parishioners who said they had seen the Virgin Mary cry and suggested a miracle had occurred.

By itself, the newspaper article was a small story in a town where nothing ever happens. Yet the priest felt he needed to address the issue quickly.

On Sunday he approached the pulpit and said:

“I am sure you have all read the article in the press about the statue of Our Lady over there.

“And no doubt you want to hear my views on the matter. So let me tell you now categorically that in my view I do not know.

“I do not know whether this was a build up of condensation or whether they were tears as some people believe. I can only tell you that this happened a few days ago and has not happened again since.

“But I think we should consider this.

“Has the Virgin Mary good cause to cry? I ask you.

“When she looks down on us what does she see? Does she see pure believing loving hearts, or hidden lies and hypocrisy?

“What is the state of Her Son’s Church on earth these days? Have His words taken roots and flourish abundantly in our hearts and in our lives? Or do we just pay lip service to our beliefs and wear Christianity as a badge rather than a Truth?

“There is really nothing more we can say about the events here a few days ago. Whether we witnessed a miracle or whether the moisture on the statue was just a natural occurrence will remain a conjecture for some time no doubt.

“But one thing is certain. That event has given us all an opportunity to look deeply within our hearts and ask whether we have given cause for Our Blessed Mother to weep.”

Sunday 30 May 2021

Are we saved or have a choice?


This question of being "saved" has taxed many brains over the years. Some believe that we have all been saved and redeemed through the death and Resurrection of Christ. We are loved by God and will go to Heaven. Others quote "Once Saved Always Saved"; although I'll admit not to understand what this means.

Let me set out my views, and perhaps we'll debate further.

There has not been a generation that has not had the opportunity to get to know and love God. God first spoke to the Jews through the prophets and their leaders. People like Abraham, Moses and others. God taught them who He is and told them He was their Creator, and set rules by which they should live. The Ten Commandments.

When the time was right for humanity to understand and accept, God sent His only Son Jesus to earth. Jesus did not begin to exist when He was born. He always existed as a Divine Spirit, just like God is. When He was born, Jesus took the form of a human being so we could accept Him visually, conceptually, and listen to His teachings and witness His power through the miracles He performed. 

By the time of His death, Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven, His disciples had learnt to accept and understand that Jesus is the Son of God. They associated Jesus with God. The two were inseparable.

When Jesus was raised to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples and followers at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the very soul of God. A Spirit, just like God is and Jesus always has been since before His birth on earth.

The Holy Spirit lived in/with the soul of the apostles, and gave them courage to preach the Word of God. He does so even today. We can have the Holy Spirit abide within us if we truly and earnestly ask Him.

So ... how about "we are all saved" and "once saved always saved"?

The way I see it is that God loves us all, and His invitation to love Him back and obey Him is open to everyone from the very first generation to all the ones still to come.

We have the choice to accept that invitation, or say, "thanks ... but no thanks!"

Of course we are all saved; that is to say, we all have the opportunity to be saved and to follow God's teaching and to go to Heaven with Him. But God will not force this salvation on us. He will not say "you are saved whether you like it or not!"

He offers us salvation, through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit; and we have the choice to accept it ... or not.

Saturday 29 May 2021

What a waste of time


I was talking with someone the other day and he asked if I still write books. I said yes, so far 35 published and I am working on my latest: a murder mystery book. List HERE

He said, "what a waste of time. I should be doing something more productive; like travelling, or gardening or whatever else I like!"

This set me thinking. Why do I bother with writing books and keeping up this Blog? To be honest, I don't know!

When I wrote my first book, "VISIONS" I thought I had a Christian story to tell. It took me ages writing that book and when it was published I said to God, "I wrote the book, You make sure it goes in the right hands!"

Well, God only knows who has really benefited from that book; and the others that followed.

In the parable of the sower, (Luke 8:4-15), we learn that he scattered his seeds everywhere. Some seeds ended on the footpath, and others on rocky ground, and others among thorns and only a few on good ground. The seeds are of course the Word of God. It is meant for everyone.

If the Word of God was meant for just Christians we would dig a long furrow and make sure that the seeds are planted one by one carefully in the furrow and none are wasted. But Jesus does not say that in this parable. He spreads the seeds far and wide and if people do not want to listen that is their problem. Not ours.

I guess it's the same with my books. Some may well be used to prop up a short-legged table. At least they prove useful in that respect.

I gave that man a copy of my book. He said he'll get his wife to read it.

Friday 28 May 2021


 Then He led them out of the city as far as Bethany, where He raised His hands and blessed them. As He was blessing them, He departed from them and was taken up into Heaven. Luke 24:50.

After saying this, He was taken up to Heaven as they watched Him, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as He went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw Him go to Heaven.” Acts 1:9.

A few days after the Resurrection Jesus was raised to Heaven in full sight of His disciples.

Can you imagine how they must have felt?

They’d been with Him for three years or so. Saw Him preach and heal the sick. Witnessed His arrest, death and Resurrection. And now … He was gone.

They must have missed Him very badly as they walked back to their homes. Confusion, fear and doubts must have crossed their minds several times.

He is gone … and He is missed.

Missing somebody is a sign that their presence had an influence on your life, your well-being and your happiness.

Their absence now has created a void in your life. An emptiness, and a longing to be with them once again.

We’ve all missed someone at one time or another in our lives. It is usually someone who has been kind to us.

Are we ever missed when we are no longer there? Have we done something nice to someone who will remember us and miss our presence in their lives?

Thursday 27 May 2021

Decisions, Decisions.

 I sat in my garden admiring that robin flying from one bush to another and then to the ground and then he flies away only to return a minute later. My thoughts wondered from one thought to another and led me to ask more questions leading to even more confusion.

Then the robin spoke to me and said that every decision I make has an effect on another person. I thought about that a bit. He is right, you know.

Let me give you an example. I had a brand new pair of pants. Never wore them. Bought them some time ago. They now do not fit me.

I took them to a tailor and asked him to let them out a bit. He said it will cost £x.

I asked him if it would be cheaper just to buy another larger pair of pants that would fit me.

He said, "No ... you should have me let out these pants for you to fit you. Because that is employment for me. The more you eat, the bigger you are, the more pants I have to let out for you. Which is good. Enjoy!!!"

We all inter-depend on one another in this world. Whatever choices I make in life will somehow affect you or some other person somewhere on the planet. Whether I buy this or that type of food, clothing or whatever will affect the economy or well-being of other people living elsewhere.

Let us say I want to buy a traditional petrol (gas) driven car or an all-electric car. Which one is best for me and for all those affected by my decision?

For the sake of fair comparison let us assume that both cars are identical - same shape, volume, capacity etc ... The materials required to make them, like steel, glass, plastic, rubber and so on is the same.

The robin told me to compare just the mode of motion or mobility. What makes the car move.

What I am comparing here is which engine is overall better in its environmental friendliness, and the cost of such friendliness.

The petrol driven car requires you to dig for oil from underground, transport it somewhere where it is made into petrol, transport that petrol and distribute it everywhere to petrol stations where I can go and fill my tank.

The electric engine requires you to make a battery where the electricity is stored. Then the electricity has to be made at the electric power station and distributed to me to charge my battery. 

Is the cost of making and distributing this electricity ... more or less than that of petrol? 

For example, if the electricity is made from burning coal, or from nuclear then we have to consider the pollution effects of that coal or the disposal of the nuclear bits we no longer want after we have made the electricity. This pollution/disposal costs money which should be added to the cost of production. I'm sure you understand what I mean. The robin certainly does!

Then we have to compare the actual distance travelled. If I want to drive X miles - how much petrol do I need in my car to drive that distance at a certain speed and efficiency? How does this compare with travelling the same distance and speed in an electric car?

What are the comparisons in costs, efficiencies, environmentally friendliness etc ... etc ... of the two  types of fuels.

Finally, my robin asks - is it better to have a red or a blue car? I prefer white. The robin prefers a green car.

And ... how can I attract more robins to my garden? More worms in the ground?

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Elegy on a carpet


I’ll admit I’m not the best man at do-it-yourself type work at home. Be it woodworking, painting, plumbing or electrical work. I always seem to get it wrong and more often than not I hurt myself.

For example this morning when I hammered hard on my finger, missing the nail altogether, my first instinct was not to say calmly and in a quiet voice “Jolly gosh, this was a tad uncomfortable for me!!!”

I threw the hammer in the air in pain followed by a string of un-repeatables unworthy to be repeated here.

The hammer struck the beautiful crystal vase of flowers which we’d treasured for years as a special present from the in-laws. The vase shattered into a million pieces pouring water everywhere which caused an electrical short circuit which blew the TV into a loud bang and sparks.

And my finger still hurt.

“That was a wedding present from …” she said crying.

“I know … I know …” I thought silently. I never liked the thing anyway, but I’d better say nothing and pretend I’m more hurt than I really am.

It did not work. The deceased vase got more sympathy than me.

Better get on with my work. After all, laying a carpet in a room is easy. Take out all the furniture. Well … most of the furniture anyway. Why bother with the coffee table, the TV and so on. 
Let’s measure from here to there, and from there to over here. Match the measurements to the carpet. Lay the carpet. No … wait. Fix that loose floorboard first. Hammer the nail in. Miss it altogether. Hit your finger hard and we’re back to where we started.

An hour or so later I managed to lay the carpet in the room. There were areas where the carpet was somehow bigger than the room. Don’t know why. Maybe the carpet stretched as it was laid down and grew bigger and curled up a little up the wall. Never mind. It’ll be hidden when I put the furniture there and no one will notice.

And in some places the carpet did not quite reach the wall. It was a few inches short. Perhaps it shrunk a little over here whilst it stretched over there. What if I move more furniture over here to hide it?

Wait a minute. What’s this lump here in the middle of the room? It looks like a small mound a few inches high. It doesn’t move much and it feels as if there’s something under the carpet.

I can’t take the whole carpet off and start again. Dash it all. Where’s that hammer? I’ll bash that mound hard and flatten what’s under there … ah … that should do it!!!
As I finished flattening the carpet with the hammer I heard a young voice from the kitchen ask “Mom,  have you seen my hamster? He’s not in his cage!”

“Dear Lord,” What do I do now? Put those flowers from the broken vase where the mound was and say a prayer?

Better say nothing. Perhaps they’ll think the hamster went out for a walk. It’s a nice day out there and Dodo will enjoy the sunshine.

Appropriate name … I thought. This particular hamster is now as extinct as his namesake. I hope he doesn’t stink under there as he decomposes away!!!

I shudder away the dark thoughts as I move the furniture back into the room nonchalantly as if nothing happened. If I confess I’ll open up a new can of worms and tears will flow for ever more and I’ll never be forgiven by anyone for eternity for what I have done.

It is sometimes kinder and much more loving to ease away the pain of others by not telling them what they don’t need to know. Better to believe that Dodo has gone for a walk and met a Miss Dodo and they’re living happily ever after in the fields behind our house.

Just as I finished putting the furniture back I heard that young voice say “Mom, I found Dodo. He was under the bed.”

Now then … has anyone seen my brand new cell-phone? I can’t find it anywhere! 

Tuesday 25 May 2021

As I was saying ...


As I was saying before I interrupted myself ... ah yes ... I remember now ... I was talking to a friend in the street and he said he has been very busy lately. He has been working non-stop for three weeks. Personally, I think exaggerations have gone up by a million percent lately. Everyone is exaggerating and telling fibs. Not me ... I have never lied in all of my life. He told me he is hoping to start on a new diet soon to lose weight; but right now he had too much on his plate.

I think people should be careful with what they say, don't you? Words can be so easily misunderstood, it seems. At a Wedding Party recently our priest said publicly, "Marriage is such a Holy institution. Let us bless all married couples. All married people here please stand next to the one who has made your life worth living."

The bartender was almost crushed to death! 

Yesterday I went to our local bookshop and asked the woman for a book about turtles. She said, "hardback?" I replied, "yes with a little head that pokes through!"

Whilst there I also bought a book about fixing things myself around the house. It's cheaper than calling in plumbers, painters, decorators and the like. My wife thinks that I am absolutely hopeless at fixing electrical appliances. Let me tell you, she is in for a shock!

I was reading in the newspapers about two thieves who stole a calendar from a bookshop. They both got six months. On a similar vein, a prison van collided with a lorry full of mixed concrete. The police are looking for some hardened criminals.

An odd thing happened this morning. I received an envelope full of rice. It was from uncle Ben. It said on the packet, "take one sachet and stand in boiling water for two minutes". I did that and burnt my feet.

He means well, my uncle Ben. He is an amateur philosopher. He is very old and has spent his life searching for the meaning of life. Now he is searching for his car keys.

He asked me if I could interpret dreams. He dreamt that he was cutting carrots with the Grim Reaper. I told him he was dicing with death. 

A colleague at work is very annoyed with his Insurance Company. He is an atheist and the Insurance Company will not insure him against "acts of God!"

There isn't much good on TV these days. Only dust. The other day I watched a program about how they kept ships together. Riveting!

Last night my wife and I watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the TV.




Monday 24 May 2021



Sunday 23 May 2021

The Holy Spirit


Father Ignatius was helping a few volunteers clearing out a storeroom deep in the basement of the church. It was dark and somewhat humid down there as well as dusty amongst the cobwebs that accumulated over the years.

The intention was to redecorate the basement, connect it to the mains electricity supply, and use the area reclaimed from years of neglect to more profitable use than just storage space for unwanted bits and pieces.

The helpers had brought with them extension cables and lit up the place a little. Slowly they took out old bits of furniture, wooden boxes full of books and other knick-knacks, church ornaments, statues and whatever else had been deposited there by previous generations.

Father Ignatius and an antique dealer friend started cataloguing the items as they were recovered from the bowels of the church in order to decide whether they were of any value and worth keeping, or whether they would be sold or got rid off.

“Rather musty in here,” commented one of the volunteers carrying a large vase.

“Creepy too … if you ask me,” complained another, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this place is haunted. Is there not an old crypt at the end of this corridor?”

“Boooo … hooo !!!!” moaned another helper eerily covering his head with an old blanket.

“Grow up George …” cried out Sonia.

“Are you having fun down there?” enquired Father Ignatius from the top of the stairs as he catalogued yet another candlestick.

“Hey Father … look what I’ve found down here,” replied Sonia coming up the stairs followed by the other helpers who needed a short break.

She carefully carried a large framed picture with the glass still intact. The wooden frame needed a little cleaning but otherwise it looked in reasonable condition. The helpers wiped the dirt from the frame and glass to reveal a brightly coloured painting of a dove flying high with rays of light or fire descending on a heart.

“Wow … this is beautiful,” said George.

“Isn’t it just …” said Sonia.

“It’s the Holy Spirit …” exclaimed Father Ignatius, “I wonder how long this has been down there.”

“Why is He depicted as a dove?” asked one of the volunteers, “and fire too … The Holy Spirit is a bit of an enigma I think.”

“I understand what you mean …” reflected Father Ignatius, “the Holy Spirit can seem an enigma to some …

“He appeared as a dove at Christ’s baptism, and as tongues of fire at Pentecost when He descended on the apostles.

“I suppose many people still misunderstand who the Holy Spirit is.

“We are taught about God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit …. He doesn’t seem to have a title or a description.

“It was St Hilary of Poitiers, a Bishop in the 3rd Century AD, who first described the Holy Spirit as ‘the gift’.

“He is the gift given to us by God after Jesus ascended into Heaven. He is the very Spirit of God Himself. His very soul come back to us on earth to dwell within us and to help us in our Christian life.

“That’s why He is sometimes referred to as the Helper, the Counselor, God’s own Being living within us.”

“God living within us …” repeated George.

“Yes …” said Father Ignatius, “can you imagine that? God. Living within us. Guiding us. Helping us. Teaching us. Advising us when to speak and when to remain silent. What to say and what to do.

“Isn’t that wonderful? Or is it too difficult to imagine or believe?

“Isn’t it a tragedy that these days many people are too willing to believe that the devil can possess an individual unwillingly and reap havoc in their lives; which of course is true.

“Yet … they find it difficult to understand that the Holy Spirit of God is willing to abide within us and lead us to an eternal better life in Heaven. And He only does so when we ask Him, when we invite Him in our hearts …

“All we have to do is believe … and ask Him.”

They reflected silently for a few seconds when eventually Sonia said “I think we should hang this picture prominently in church.”

“I agree …” replied Father Ignatius, “and it will give me an opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit in my sermon this Sunday.”


Saturday 22 May 2021

At the doctor's


After the dentist, I thought of visiting the optician, the hairdresser, the manicurist, the clothes stylist,(tailor), the shoemaker, and of course the doctor.

I don't like to go to the doctor. No one does, I suppose. So I'd better get it over and done with first.

The receptionist at the doctor asked me, "why do you want to see the doctor?" I told her to mind her own business. She insisted she wanted to know so she can put it on the computer. I told her what if it was a very personal problem relating to something sexual. What about that? Would she still want to know?

She said yes, then explained, "You see, I need to know what is your ailment and put it on the computer here. This gives time for the doctor to Google your condition and find the answer to your problem."

Eventually I went to see the doctor in his insulting room. "Doctor, I have a personal problem," I said.

"Don't worry," he replied biting on a KFC chicken leg, "it will soon go away!"

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yes, most problems soon go away just as they have come!" he answered licking his fingers and wiping them on his shirt.

"Don't you want to see it?" I insisted beginning to undress.

"Not really," he said standing up from his desk, "I'm too busy right now. You know how it is. If it is not one thing it is the mother. It's always the mother. And mine has asked me to get her some cinnamon. Do you know how difficult it is to get cinnamon at this time of day? It is at least a half-hour drive to the supermarket with this traffic. If I delay it any longer it will be worse. I really don't have time to deal with your problem."

"But ... but ..." I stammered.

"I don't have time with your butt!" he interrupted heading for the door, "I tell you what ... I can pick up some spices for you from the supermarket. Do you need some cloves, nutmeg, ginger, coriander, cumin? Anything. You name it ... I'll get it for you!" 

"What do you want me to do with them?" I asked angrily, "stick 'em up my butt? I came here for a diagnosis and some treatment; not to purchase a lot of condiments which I do not require, or to listen to your meaningless trivial self-pitying complaints about your mother's most probably reasonable request to do her shopping. Pull yourself together man. You're supposed to be a doctor, not a whining snivelling insignificant excuse for a human being. As a pitiful son it is your job and responsibility to look after your mother. As a useless doctor it is your duty and obligation to look after your patients, not share your frivolous problems with them."

After I finished my uncharacteristic tirade he sat down at this desk again and began to cry, or snivel. He did not even have the strength of character to cry openly and bitterly. I felt sorry for him. I sat down next to him and explained. "Look ..." I said gently, "I have come here because I have got a pain on my knee. Just happened recently. Maybe I am on my knees praying too much. I don't know ... we all have our problems these days. I just came for some advice, that's all!"

He half-smiled and said, "have you tried cod liver oil? It is good for bad joints!"

I patted him on the back and left.

I've tried rubbing cod liver oil on my knee for a week. Those tiny gel capsules are too small and fiddly and contain very little oil. Just a drop. Might as well stick them up my bottom for all the good they do!

Friday 21 May 2021



It seems that society is obsessed with setting and achieving goals. You switch on the TV and you hear about setting economic goals for the country, environmental goals for the planet, sporting goals for individuals or teams, and so on.

And it's always been so, it is not a new phenomenon. I remember when I was young I wanted to be married by a certain age, buy a house by a certain time, or get that promotion before my nth birthday. Once my boss said to me about himself, "19XX will be a good year for me!"

"How so?" I asked.

He drew out a chart he had scribbled earlier and said, "by 19YY this director will retire. He will be replaced by either A or B. Leaving at least one vacancy to be filled. Also, we know that C will move to another branch shortly; that's another vacancy. And ... and ... and ... this means that by 19XX there will be at least four opportunities for promotion for me!"

How sad, I thought. This man had plotted his life on paper for the next five years. And was waiting for people to retire, move on, or die, to create space for him to move upwards into the organisation.

Don't misunderstand me, there's nothing wrong with setting and trying to achieve goals. Indeed God asks us to do that. Remember the parable of the talents? Servants who used the money given to them to do better? I believe God wants us to achieve things in life and to aim for a goal; but it should be for the right motive. Helping others.

Every New Year our resolutions are centred on achieving goals; whether it is losing weight, exercising more or whatever else we wish to do.

But then I wonder ... why not have goals that affect others. Every day I will do something that will make someone else smile. I will try harder this week to help someone less fortunate than myself. This year I will aim to be a better kinder gentler person. 

Or ...

This lifetime I will try to live a life to make God proud of me.

Thursday 20 May 2021



Father Francis Maple sings in malls, shopping centres and bus stations to collect money to combat poverty. He has collected over the years more than £1m for charity. He has also written several books (sermons, cooking recipes, jokes), and has contributed to many newspaper columns and Catholic newspapers and magazines. He spends a lot of time travelling throughout the UK leading Missions in various churches.

Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the papers,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely at his side
Yesterday's papers telling yesterday's news

So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her world in two carrier bags.


In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man is sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea-cup,
Each tea last an hour
And he wanders home alone


And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care


Wednesday 19 May 2021

Stupid Text


I'm sure I'm not the only one who dislikes texts as the modern means of communication. Personally, I'd rather send an e-mail which I can check for every comma and full stop, (period); or make a phone call, rather than send a quick text which can be misinterpreted or have mistakes.

The problem with texts is that there's a program which I have not asked for called "predictive text" or "corrective text" or some similar title. Basically I call it unwelcome interfering text. Because what happens is that when I am texting someone in a hurry this program interferes and adds its own interpretation of what I did not want to say. 

I'm sure you know what I mean. I type something on my cell-phone and the predictive text offers other options or completes the word I started typing.

For example, some time ago at work my cell-phone bleeped and I had received a text from my boss.

She wrote: "When shall we meet?" referring to a forthcoming meeting that very day.

I replied: "We'll meet at sex." (Obviously meaning the time. But interfering text thought a better version would be fun and changed the word six to sex).

She said: "WHAT?"

To speed things up, as I was rushing from one meeting to another, and as I did not understand her "WHAT?"; I decided to use an emoji instead. Another plague in our modern communication language.

I wanted to show a clock face with the time hands at six but instead I texted: 😈

She texted back: "R U being funny?"

I did not understand what that meant either. To make matters worse, what I did not realise at the time, is that she had a reputation in the office of being a little friendly; and that apparently she had been made aware of that reputation about her. So my response to her question "when shall we meet" was a faux pas of the greatest magnitude.

Before I had time to text anything else, my cell phone rang. 

She said, "Come to my office NOW!" and hung up.

After a very long and difficult ten minutes she was convinced that I meant no harm by my misinterpreted text. 

The next day she sent a note round the office saying that for the sake of clarity all communications will be by e-mail and not by text.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Information and warning


I guess I don't really know you, or you know me. We have never met in person, (a pity), and we don't know much about each other. So it would be impertinent of me to ask anyone about bedroom habits.

Before you wonder where this is leading to, let me explain. I read a very odd article in a magazine the other day. It started by explaining how much fun the human body gets by bouncing up and down. We feel free ... liberated ... as if we are flying. This is why people jump off bridges or high mountains whilst tied to an elastic band - bungee jumping I believe it is called.

Then the article goes on to say that many people (how many is many?) like to jump up and down on the bed a few times before going to sleep. Personally, I doubted that, but the article goes on to warn that there have been several accidents as a result, with the bed suddenly giving way and breaking causing injuries to its hopping mad occupants.

The article goes on to say that some people have taken this a step further by installing a trampoline in the bedroom, (how big a bedroom do they have?) Sadly, this too has resulted in injuries with people knocking their heads against the ceiling, losing their balance, falling head first to the floor causing concussion and worse. One individual broke his wrist whilst another broke a vase given as a wedding gift by his mom-in-law causing further pain and acrimony.

The short article goes on to recommend that a trampoline is best used outdoors or in a building with high ceilings. Rather obvious I would have thought.

Anyway, that's what it said in the magazine. I thought I'd let you know about this danger that might be lurking in a number of homes ... it seems.

Also ... in the same magazine ... another warning. Do not use a vacuum cleaner at home with the windows shut. The vacuum cleaner will suck all the air in the house causing possible asphyxiation to its occupants.

Also, as the air in the house decreases the vacuum cleaner is likely to suck anything in sight. On one occasion the cleaner sucked in a cat. In another instance it sucked in the very person using the cleaner. The woman screamed for help but no one heard her because sound does not travel in a vacuum.

This has been a public service announcement.

Monday 17 May 2021

It's the science


There are a lot of scientific facts that escape our knowledge, and therefore, we deny ourselves the benefit that they impart purely because of our sheer ignorance. Had we known these facts ... then life would have been better for us.

This article will help explain some of the hidden science in the hope that we all benefit from what we've learnt.

Let us start with mosquitoes. We all hate mosquitoes and the pain they cause when they bite us; not to mention the possibility of spreading disease too.

Mosquitoes are prevalent at certain times of the year. They're everywhere. Outdoors in the garden or wherever we go, and indoors in our homes too. One way to avoid mosquitoes indoors is to have a chicken in your house. A live one. The frozen one in your freezer will not do. Chicken eat mosquitoes. You did not know that, did you? Science!

Mosquitoes know that chicken eat them, so they stay away. They actually "smell" chickens from far off. Science again. Even if an intrepid ninja type mosquito manages to bite a chicken through its feathers, the blood it sucks is not nutritious at all. So it is a failed attempt risking to be eaten anyway.

So keep a chicken in your house. If you go for a walk take a chicken with you. On a lead like you would a dog. Or train the chicken to sit on your shoulders like a pirate. Not that I have ever had a pirate sitting on my shoulder. I knew a vegetarian pirate once. He had a carrot on his shoulder. Better than having a parrot, I suppose. Parrots can be so dirty ... have you ever seen a pirate from behind!!!

Another insect that a lot of people are frightened of is the spider. Creepy crawling spiders in your house. The common name for them is "house spiders". Which leads one to wonder where they lived before we built houses. 

Now for the science. Did you know that spiders are afraid of sheep? You didn't did you? But they really do. If you want to avoid the situation of having a spider in your bath tub; especially when you want to have a shower or a bath; then put a sheep in your bath. Problem solved. No more spiders in the bath.

And now flies. To keep flies out of your home place a bucket of horse manure, (cow's will do also), in your garden. It will attract all the flies. Ideally, place the bucket as far away from your house as possible. Preferably near your neighbour's house. He will wonder where all the smell comes from and have multiple baths and showers thinking it is him that's beginning to smell. When you meet him or her, keep the pretence going by sniffing loudly and turning your nose up without saying anything. Be subtle about it and he'll never know about the bucket of manure.

Wasps and bees are also a nuisance in summer. Especially when you're on a picnic. Bees only attack when threatened. This is because once they have stung you they lose their sting, (that sharp tail-like thing they have), and they die anyway. Do any of you remember an English Rock Band in the 70s called The Police? Their singer-song writer was called Sting. Fancy being named after a bees bottom!

Wasps on other other hand attack when they want to, and can do it in swarms which can be highly dangerous. They do not lose their sting and attack time and again. The best scientific advice is not to have a picnic next to a wasps' nest, and if possible to wear a medieval suit of armour when you do so. Also, carry with you one of those electrified rackets that zaps insects in mid flight and fries them. Make sure the racket does not touch any part of your suit of armour as a short circuit is likely to fry your delicate parts. Another way of deterring wasps is by hanging brown paper bags to nearby trees. The bees, or wasps, will think it is another wasps' nest and fly away. Make sure the paper bag does not have the supermarket's name on it as this will spoil the illusion!

For larger creatures like skunks, squirrels, deer, rabbits and so on; the best way to keep them off your garden is by spraying talcum powder all round. Lavender scented is best, although lilac and pot pourri would do just as well. When I lived in London I spread lavender talcum powder all over the place and I never had an elephant in my apartment on the 31st floor. So I know it works!

Finally, if you have a pond filled with goldfish make sure you never drop any orange juice in the water, because the fish will think they are melting.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Facing Anxiety


It is said that the closer we are to God, the more we love Him and worship Him, the more we pray, the harder the devil works to derail us and to take us away from God.

Because that is exactly the devil's job. He exists all right. He is a spirit. Very much like the angels are spirits. Very much like our souls are spirits; and we live on after we die. The devil too is a spirit. He is an evil spirit; a malevolent spirit, whose job, as I said, is to take us away from God.

He does this in various ways. Through temptation for instance. Let's face it, he tempted Jesus many times. So we shouldn't be much of a challenge for him.

Another way apart from temptation, is by playing with our fears, with our minds, with our worries.

Let's say for example, you hear something bad in the news and you worry about it.

We are anxious about how it will affect us, or affect our loved ones; and as anxiety grows, the thing we have heard about in the news continues playing on our minds and we can't shake it away.

The devil takes over. This is his playground. He makes us more and more concerned both for ourselves, our loved ones and whatever else we are fearing at that moment in time.

And this is the way he gets us to start doubting about God. Doubting His very existence. His love for us and His protection.

I think in a way we should be proud when the devil does that. When the devil attacks us and tries to draw us away from God. Because it proves that we are worthy of him to be bothered with us. Let's face it, he would not be bothered if we were already lost souls. So when he actually comes to attack us and lead us astray, it shows and it proves that we are in effect close to God; and we should use this opportunity to defeat the devil through prayer, and through trust … unfailing trust … in God.

Let us pray to God that throughout our anxiety and our fears, we know, we believe, as much as we possibly humanly can, that God still loves us, is still in control of the situation, and will protect us. Nothing bad will happen to us or our loved ones if we trust Him totally.

Thank you for listening. God bless.

Saturday 15 May 2021

The Grouse


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

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

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

People talking to each other whilst the film is on.

The couple behind you being amorous.

The volume of the film is too loud.

A grizzly Momma bear and her cubs enter the cinema.

A flock of seagulls deposit their souvenirs on you.

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

An attack of cramps throughout the whole audience.

You remembered you left the lights on at home.

People going to the toilet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I liked the women in bikinis better than the play.

Anyway, what is your pet hate, or grouse?

Friday 14 May 2021

Why did it happen to me?



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

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

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

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

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

I just stammered.

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

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

 I pointed at the machine.

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

I thanked him and ran out of the place.

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

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

Thursday 13 May 2021

Modern Technology

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

"What do you mean?"

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

"Very funny, dad!"

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

"Dad, I have Bluetooth!"

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

"Dad, it is called Bluetooth."

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

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

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

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

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

"Made on a photocopier, no doubt!"

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

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

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

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

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

"Poor dad ..."

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

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Feline Dilemma


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His wife waited for him in the street.

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

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

What do you think?

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Uncle Herbert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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