Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Musical Rescue

 

Many years ago, when I was young, I was out climbing the mountain ranges somewhere in Europe. Can't remember where exactly. I used to travel a lot in them days. It could have been in the Alps which stretch across many countries, or it could have been in the Pair 'O Knees.  

Anyway, all I can remember is that I was high up in the mountains, all alone, which is a stupid thing to do when you go up mountains, and it was getting dark and it started snowing .. again.

I was getting colder and colder and I hurried here and there to find some shelter. The blinding snow was making it difficult to see far ahead, and I felt my body freezing from head to toe and all the way up again. A cold frisson of foreboding ran up and down my spine. 

I like that last sentence, "A cold frisson of foreboding ran up and down my spine." I may yet become a literary genius after all. Notice how I said "frisson" instead of shiver. Maybe I was in France after all, or some other French speaking country.

As I was saying, it was getting dark, and cold and very dangerous. I had to find shelter soon. Fortunately, about a hundred yards ahead, up a perilous incline, I saw a hut. Maybe it's some shepherds' shelter, or some small hostel or other. I hope they let me in without a tie!

I struggled up those last few feet and I was at the door of this broken down and abandoned shack. I opened the door against the weight of the snow and got in. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness therein I realised that it was empty save for an Alpine horn left there by its previous occupant. 

A very long conical shaped tube with a large opening at one end like those ancient wind-up record players that had a big horn to amplify the sound. This horn was in two pieces which, when put together, made the whole instrument so big that it would not fit inside the small hut.

An idea came to mind. You know how it is, when desperate you try anything.

I opened the door and slid out the large end of the instrument, then inside the hut I attached the second part. Basically, most of the instrument was outside the hut.

Now, I have never played the Alpine horn before or ever since. I play the harmonica a bit, but I did not have one at the time. Besides, I don't think that playing "Home on the Range" on the harmonica would have carried the sound very far.

I'd seen people playing the Alpine horn on TV. It's one long monotonous sound that carries very far. I believe it was used as a communications system. How difficult would it be to play it?

I blew hard at the mouthpiece end and my ears popped. No sound came out. I tried different lip movements whilst blowing and eventually got a sound ... of sorts.

I persevered in the hope of blowing a Morse S.O.S. message. Do you realise how difficult it is to blow dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot down an Alpine horn?

First you need to fill your lungs with a lot of air to sustain you throughout this long message which should be delivered loud enough down this long pipe to be heard more that three feet away.

Secondly, I have found out to my great chagrin and sartorial cost, that as you blow hard a certain amount of air escapes from another orifice in one's body.

I had to stop and reconsider. I certainly did not want to contribute more to global warming by adding to the malevolent noxious gases already produced by our bovine friends.  

I decided on a strategy of long and slow monotonous sounds. That should attract the attention of any passing mountain goat or ferocious creature.

After about an hour or so of blowing at both ends, I heard a sound outside.

"HELLOOOO !!!" they shouted, "We are the Red Cross!"

 I shouted back, "I GAVE AT THE OFFICE !!!!"

Typical of these people, going out collecting money at a time like this instead of rescuing people stuck in a snowy mountain.

Anyway, they got me home safely even though I had lied about contributing at the office.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Enjoy Life Today

 

I think yesterday's sermon
by Father Francis Maple
says it better than me.
Enjoy Life Today
 

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Save a little sunshine

 



Saturday, 27 November 2021

Did you know ...

 

Did you know that although mice and guinea pigs have been used in various experiments, anatomically speaking we have more in common with the pig than any other animal?

From snout to tail, the pig is more like a human. We have both evolved to be omnivorous; meaning we eat a variety of foods like vegetables, fruits, meat and nuts. Pigs have similar teeth like humans. They have the same digestive system. Pig parts have been used as donations for transplants.

Mind you, a couple of chimpanzees or gorillas would be much more suitable if you want to move some furniture or other heavy loads. A pig would just grunt and be of no use to you at all. 

OK, totally different "did you know".  Did you know that in the Bible women are reprimanded for not playing fair?

It says, "If two men are having a fight and the wife of one tries to help her husband by grabbing hold of the other man's genitals, show her no mercy ..." DEUTERONOMY 25:11

So there you have it, ladies. Keep your hands off other men's genitals.

Did you also know that in many countries the octopus is a delicious delicacy and should be cooked alive? Unfortunately the dish is very expensive because the octopus runs so fast with his eight legs that no human can catch him quickly enough. On the rare occasion an octopus is caught and taken to the kitchen he wrestles with the cook and throws all the knives and kitchen utensils all over the place. When he is sometimes over-powered and put into a large pot of water, the octopus uses his free tentacles to turn off  the cooker.

Did you know you should never undress in front of a pet because it confuses them since they are accustomed to seeing people in clothes and not naked? Also, a goldfish in a bowl would see all body parts out of proportion to each other because of the spherical shape of the bowl acting like a magnifying glass?

 


The Ancient Romans used letters instead of numbers. The letter I meant 1, II meant 2, III meant 3 … they then got tired and tried something different. IV was 4, V was 5, X was 10 … and they also had L, C and M as numbers.

All this suddenly stopped when the Emperor Claudius received a text saying – I LV CLAVDIVS – and he didn’t know whether it was an amorous message from his girl-friend or his wife’s new telephone number.
 
And another "did you know?" Did you realise that there are now teach yourself books on almost any subject? You can easily teach yourself either from a book or from the Internet.
 
I taught myself how to swim from a book. I nearly drowned when the book got wet and the pages stuck together.
 
Human ears grow bigger in proportion to the rest of our bodies as we grow older? I knew a man with his ears sticking out quite a bit. He looked like a car with its doors open. The slightest gust of wind and he spun round like a revolving door.

Did you know that if you had a meal in a restaurant that is totally dark you would not be able to tell the difference between steak and a beefburger?
 
Also, in Tudor times in England blood-letting was a cure to many ailments. You'd go to the barber and he'd cut you up and let the blood out.

A man once went to the barber's for a haircut. As the barber was working on him the man looked down and saw a human ear on the ground. "Whose ear is that?" he asked.

The barber replied, "Hold it. If it's still warm it's yours!"

Hence the phrase, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" which is a famous line in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616).  

Friday, 26 November 2021

Where do the thoughts come from?

 

I was thinking the other day ... where do thoughts come from? Do they originate from one's brain, I wonder? Do they start as a small thought which grows bigger or is it a chain of little thoughts following each other? Like a train of thoughts. 

I went to the train station and they said that my train is cancelled due to shortage of staff. Why can't they employ taller ones?

My thoughts took me to when I was sixteen and I did not share my cake with my friends at school. The teacher witnessed it and muttered under his breath, "you selfish!" 

So when I left school I became a fishmonger.

Another teacher gave me good advice. He said there are two words in life which will open many doors for you - PULL and PUSH.

Years later as a young man I used to lie on my bed looking up at the sky, at the beautiful full moon and the hundreds of stars and think ... one day I'll have to put a roof on this house. 

One day I suddenly got very hot ... and the smoke alarm started screaming. And I thought ... why can't they put a snooze button on smoke alarms?

When the fire brigade arrived a fireman looked through the open window and shouted, "can't you hear the fire alarm?"

I said, "Yes I do, but there's no way of switching it off!"

When I was young I grew up in a very rough district. Poverty, crime and deprivation. Bad neighbours and parents who did not care much for their children. My friend Eric did not know what it felt like to be wanted until he saw his photo on a police notice board.

It was the sort of neighbourhood where if you asked people for directions they would show you the way and then follow you to make sure you got there.

My parents were very good to me. But they often made me walk the plank ... we did not have a dog. Like most people we were very poor. We could not even afford the essentials. For example, we used to tie a dead hedgehog to a stick and use it as a toilet brush.

Our toilet door had no lock on it. We were all good singers. Except me. I used to sit with my leg stretched out against the toilet door. Sadly, I forgot it opened outwards.

As I recall people in them days were often sick. Dad's friend went to the doctor's with a cucumber up his nose, a carrot in his left ear and a banana in the right ear.

"What's the matter with me?" he asked the medic.

The doctor replied, "You're not eating properly!"

I remember one day there was a terrible accident at a wedding. The photographer was badly injured when a huge lump of cheese fell on him. To be fair, the people who were being photographed did try to warn him.

Anyway, I was thinking  ... do you realise that coffee is not everyone's cup of tea?

History too; and geography, not everyone likes them. Did you know that  the Battle of Hastings took place on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William the Conqueror and an English army led by King Harold. 

King Harold was hit in the eye by an arrow. As he laid dying a lawyer approached him and said, "Have you been injured at work through no fault of your own? You could be entitled to compensation!"

I notice small things like that, you know ... for example, short people with umbrellas tend to catch my eye.

It's amazing all the new products they have for sale these days which did not even exist when we were young. For example, I bought a modern memory mattress for our bedroom. Now it is trying to blackmail me. 

At the department store I tried to buy a pink negligee for my wife. I picked up one and I asked the saleslady, "Is this satin?"

She replied, "no, it's brand new!"

On my way home I met the priest walking his dog. The brute jumped on me and bit me. The priest, not the dog! 

Then he said, "this is Karma!"

I said, "he looks very angry now that you bit me!"

Anyway ... I had to take a friend to the vet today. Nothing wrong with her of course; otherwise I would have driven her to the doctor's or hospital. She was OK. It was her hamster. He just sat there at the corner of his cage not moving for two days. Not interested in food or his little wheel. So we took him cage and all to the vet.

Turned out he had swallowed a fridge magnet and was stuck to the railings of the cage! 

All of which reminds me of the day I nearly landed in hospital myself. We were camping in the mountains, my friends and me. After a day or two they complained that our tent was rather untidy and needed a clean. I had in the car a battery operated vacuum cleaner. Surprising how good they are and handy to have around.

I vacuum cleaned the tent and the cleaner was so powerful it sucked in the whole tent with me inside it. I nearly suffocated gasping for breath. No one could hear me scream because sound does not travel in a vacuum.

Eventually, the battery power ran out and the vacuum cleaner stopped. When my friends returned to the site all they could find was the cleaner. No tent. No me. Just the vacuum cleaner!

That's enough thoughts for one day ... don't you think!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Le Quiz Pour You

 

Allo mes amis. Aujourd'hui I 'ave a quiz for you to work out zee little grey cells in your 'ead. N'est ce pas?

Zee first one is eazy to getting you started.

Who painted zees painting in blue? A clue: Zere was a song zat started "Starry, starry night. Paint your palette blue and gray ..." by Don ze McLean about zees artist.

Now anozer zee quiz for you:

OK ... zee grey cells are doing zee working. 'Ere is another question:
 

What eez zees a photo of? Anee idea? A clue ... I took zees photograph zees morning when I waking up ... 

No idea? Eet eez a close-up photo of my ginger cat. Veree close up!

OK ... an eazy one zees time. Write down what do you see in zees picture.

Can you spot ten differences between zees two pictures?

Anozer puzzle to keep zee grey cells zee working ...

Come on people ... do zee thinking ... more thinking in zee interlude ...

Alors mes amis ... you do not know zee answer? Zen stand on your 'ead!

If you got it right, you deserve a banana.

Here is the algebra for those of you more clever than me:

R+C+D=X
R+C=10
R+D=20
D+C=24

D=24-C
R+24-C=20 

R+4=C
R+C=10 

C=10-R

R+4=10-R
2R=6 

R=3

C=10-3=7
D=20-3=17

D+C+R=X
17+7+3=27 KG!

And now a final one to keep the brain working:

Look at zee bus above for a minute or so. Imagine zees bus arrives at a bus stop empty. Once eet eez zere 6 passengers get on. A little later zee bus stops again. 4 passengers get on and 3 get off. Later still zee bus stops and 8 passengers get on and 2 get off. A while further zee bus stops and 6 passengers get on and 1 gets off.

What is the name of the driver?

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

What's up Doc?

 

Years ago, when I lived in London I woke up one morning and discovered our cat laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit's not bloody, just dirty. 

As soon as it saw me the cat ran away. The neighbours raised rabbits so I guessed it was one of theirs. I picked up the rabbit and it was motionless. I'd read somewhere that some animals play dead when they're afraid to escape their predators. I brushed the dirt off the rabbit, jumped over the fence, and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard. Luckily the neighbours were not at home.  

Half-an-hour later I heard my neighbour’s wife screaming. So I got out and asked her what's wrong! She said their rabbit died that morning and they buried it but now it's back in the cage.

Monday, 22 November 2021

John 6

OK folks! This is going to be a little controversial and no doubt confusing. But it is Biblical. You can find it in John's Gospel.

John Chapter 6 has been the source of much debate and confusion over the years. Jesus said something that not only baffled His audience at the time; but he re-iterated what He said to make sure it is understood.

I speak of course of the part in that Chapter where Jesus says He is "the Bread of life" and later when He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life.

As you can imagine, this was very upsetting to His listeners; even His followers and disciples.

I guess they said to each other, "What is He on about? How can we eat His flesh and drink His blood? This is cannibalism surely. This is too much for us. We don't want to follow this guy any longer!"

Some of them got up and left. So what did Jesus do?

He didn't say, "Hey ... wait a minute. You didn't understand what I meant. This is what I really meant to say ... let me explain!"

No; Jesus let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said. It was as if He dissolved the unspoken contract between them. They could not accept a certain clause so He let them go.

Then He turned to His disciples and asked, "How about you? Do you want to go as well?"

As ever, Peter was first to answer, "To whom shall we go?" he asked. "We're in this for the duration, all the way, to the end". Or words to that effect, signifying the he trusted Jesus without question; albeit no doubt he had many questions in his mind. 

Peter accepted Christ's words without question and stepped out in blind Faith and dared to believe.

So what are we to make of all this after all these years? Did Jesus mean what He said literally or was it all symbolism and imagery using common day articles of the time like bread and wine to signify the sacrifice He is to endure for us? His flesh would be torn by the beating and the nailing to the Cross and His blood would be spilled for us. Was it all symbolism?

Catholics believe that the total substance of bread and wine are changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ at the moment of consecration during Mass. 

That is to say, the bread and wine that Catholics take at Communion are no longer such but they are the body and blood of Christ. 

I discussed this with a priest some time ago and he explained that this is Catholic dogma and that Catholics are "invited" to believe it is so. He admitted that some do not believe so and believe it was all symbolism.

So, where do we stand all these years after Jesus proclaimed clearly this saying?

Quite frankly, I'm with Peter on this.

I don't believe there is much to be gained in debating this ad-infinitum. The fact remains that it is recorded in the Bible that Jesus said this emphatically, and He repeated it at the Last Supper.

So I am minded to accept it for what it is. Something that Jesus said and we're to believe it as best we humanly can.

It's obvious that many will find this difficult to understand, but then, Jesus does not ask us to understand Him. He asks us to trust Him without any evidence whatsoever.

By the way: you may wish to visit this link and see what happened to a priest who had difficulties in believing. CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Examen

 

Let us spend some quiet time in reflection. Examining our own soul and perhaps discovering who we really are.

Some of us may be devout Christians, others perhaps less so, and maybe some others do not believe at all.

Let us imagine we came face to face with Jesus. What would we say to Him?

Let us not go for the obvious and thank Him for all He has done for us, for loving us and for His sacrifice on the Cross. Let us ask ourselves, what would we truly say to Him?

Would we be able to say anything, or just stay there silently in awe at seeing Him?

Maybe we should look at this another way. What would He say to us?

One day Jesus was in Samaria and He sat by a well. A Samaritan woman approached Him and He asked her for a drink. (John Chapter 4)

In conversation, Jesus told her all about her past life, how "you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband."

What would Jesus tell us about our past? The things we have done, or not done? The stories which we have hidden away in our hearts that no one knows about? Not even our loved ones.

On the surface, our present life may look exemplary. We may be active members of our church, or do charitable works, visit the sick and elderly, or whatever else we do to to benefit others. 

But is there some hidden dark secret which we have not revealed; even to God to ask for forgiveness?

Would we on meeting Jesus fear Him in any way?

Let's not dwell on the obvious, "I don't fear Jesus because He loves me", answer that is often spoken but perhaps not meant.

Imagine you are there with Jesus, the Son of God, are you really not going to have some trepidation in your heart?

And what if He asks, "do you trust me?" What would you answer?

And how would you respond when He says, "why did you worry so much in your life if you say you trust me so?" 

Since He loves us so much, and has done so much for us throughout our lives, how come we do not love Him equally and love one another as He has asked us to?

We say we love God; but how deep is our love? How genuine? Single-minded? In full trust that He loves us too?

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Speaking in tongues

 

Speaking in tongues: A controversial subject. A subject that many do not understand; but that's OK. It is acceptable not to understand speaking in tongues; or not to believe it. The fact remains that it happens. It happened in Jesus' times and it happens now. 

Before we discuss this let me explain that speaking in tongues is not just a Catholic thing. Other denominations, pastors and preachers believe in it too and speak in tongues when in prayer.

So what is it?

Some history: After Christ's Resurrection, the early Christians were in a house when "suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. And when this sound rang out, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking his own language" (Acts 2 1-6 onwards). 

What happened in that day is something that the followers of Jesus experienced. It was not something they had read about in scripture, or something Jesus had told them about. It was a personal experience.

They were in a house, hiding in fear, when suddenly they experienced the Holy Spirit descending on them, giving them courage to speak out about Jesus, and to do so in languages they did not until then know.

Imagine this happened to you. Suddenly, through prayer, you realise and know, that the Holy Spirit is within your soul. You put away any shyness, nerves or fear you may have had, and you proclaim your Christian beliefs to people in French, German or any other language you do not presently know. 

How would you feel about that? You would tell the whole world about it; about what you experienced.

Speaking in tongues today: Many people today have difficulty understanding that the Holy Spirit can, and does, inhabit one's soul and guide us in this life whenever we ask Him. Ironically, in this modern age, people are more willing to believe that the devil can possess a person, which he does, rather than believe that the Holy Spirit can abide in us when we ask Him to. The Holy Spirit will never inhabit a soul without being invited.

When this happens, the individual often feels a sense of peace like they have not experienced before. A sense of knowing that all will be well and that God is indeed in control of every situation. A sense of "enlightenment" guiding them on what they should do, or say, and how to do it.

This sense of being filled with the Holy Spirit can last a matter of days or longer; depending on the situation and person. I have known people who have always been calm and serene and somehow at peace with themselves and the world all the time. Being with them was like being with a living Saint, a holy person ... someone totally different from everyone else.

I have witnessed "speaking in tongues". I used to attend regular weekly prayer meetings. We were a group of 20 or so. At quiet times, as we were praying silently, one or two individuals would start babbling incomprehensibly in a low voice for a minute or so. They were not in a trance; but fully awake either with eyes closed or looking down in prayer.

At first I did not know what was happening. It was explained to me that they were speaking in tongues - the Holy Spirit was praying through them. It was never explained in what language the Holy Spirit was praying. This happened several times over several weeks and was accepted by the rest of the group that these people spoke or prayed in tongues.

It does not matter if the individual speaking in tongues does not understand what he is saying. It is the Holy Spirit praying or praising God through them. Sometimes, there were other individuals who claimed to understand what was being said and interpreted to the rest of the group.

It is understandable if some people feel sceptical about this and think it is all nonsense and the individuals were putting it on. This is a controversial subject which has been debated by Christians and non-Christians alike for many years.

At the end of the day, you have to decide on this matter for yourself:

Do you believe the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity? The Holy Spirit is God, just like Jesus is God, and just like God is God. 

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit of God does fill us with His presence and guides us should we ask Him earnestly to do so?

On the answers to these two questions rests your views on speaking in tongues. If the Holy Spirit can abide in us, and guide us in life's difficulties and teach us how to behave, what to say or not say at a particular time; then surely this same Holy Spirit, when abiding in us, can if He so wishes, pray to God in tongues.

Friday, 19 November 2021

I don't speak modern

 

I'm not sure I understand this modern world with new fashions and habits and behaviours and lingo.

Time was when I would enter a bar and ask for a beer, or a Guinness. The pub would be a nice room with a bar at one end where you are served by a barman and tables for you to sit with friends and enjoy your drink. Sometimes, there was some music playing from a juke box; but not always.

Now it's different. They have theme bars, with bright lights, and fancy people serving the drinks, who speak a totally different language. In the past if I wanted a strong drink, I'd ask for a whisky, sometimes with soda or ice. People used to ask for a Martini, shaken but not stirred, whatever that means.

Now the drinks have new exotic names which bear no resemblance, nor meaning, to what they are or what they contain. It's like a secret language. The customer says he wants some incomprehensible beverage and the weird-looking barman knows what it is.

I asked for a "Blue Ocean". I got a large glass of some alcoholic base or other, some blue dye to change its colour and two fish sticks. For an extra $2 they put a few shrimps in the glass too. Is that a drink or a meal? It tasted awful.

The other day I was watching a cooking program on TV and this man was making carrot cake. What is that? Carrot is a root vegetable which you have as part of a meal - meat and two veg used to be a staple diet in my days. Like chicken, roast potatoes, carrots and peas. I know some would say this adds up to three; but we were never any good at Math in our family.

Now you have carrots made into a cake. Also, chocolate cakes made of beetroot. You boil the beetroot, mash them into a paste with vegetable oil, add flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder and hey presto a chocolate cake.

I bought both in the supermarket. They tasted passable but lacked some je ne sais quoi ... perhaps a few fish sticks or some tuna and mayonnaise would have improved the recipe.

And then there's clothing. In olden times if you wore torn trousers people would think you're poor and perhaps feel sorry for you. Now you can buy jeans which are pre-torn. And they cost more than normal ones. You can also buy already faded jeans and other clothing. Looking dishevelled is all the rage. 

Also, there's a trend for women to wear a T shirt with one side pulled right down revealing a shoulder, and perhaps more, depending how low you pull down the sleeve. I have not yet worked out whether you should pull down the sleeve on the left or the right side of your body and whether it makes any difference. Is this another secret message by the wearer which I have missed?   

I have now started my own fashion trend in the small locality where I live. I wear jeans two or three sizes too big and large at the waist. I pull them right up to my nipples and hold them tightly by a belt as well as braces. Underneath the braces ... this bit is important ... I wear a knitted pullover in many colours with moth-eaten holes at the front. Also, I make sure that the pullover is tucked tightly into my trousers. The whole ensemble is completed by a brown shabby and tatty tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows. Also an old hat with deliberate oil marks made from left-over margarine, (not butter), and a pipe in my mouth; although I do not actually smoke. 

Sometimes, depending on my mood, I sprinkle some bread crumbs in my beard for added effect. Although I've discovered this tends to attract birds when I fall asleep on a park bench. I woke up once and there was a seagull pecking at my beard. 

People look at me in the streets, pointing and speaking to each other. I'm sure this new modern fashion will soon catch on around here ... and perhaps internationally. 

How about you? Are you au fait with modern society? Or are you a trend setter ready to show the world your individualism?

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Broken ...

 



Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Ink Blots

 

I went to see a psychiatrist the other day ...

Now, before you all jump at the wrong conclusion and think that I need certifying; let me explain. A colleague at work is married to a psychiatrist. She said that anyone who thinks he does not need to visit a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Anyway, she needed to go and see her husband at his practice because he forgot his book, "A to Z of Phobias", which he needs when meeting his patients in his insulting room.

It's a wonderful book. Each page has a big letter of the alphabet, a picture, and an explanation about it.

A = Arachnophobia

The fear of crawly creepy spiders which can run towards you and attack you without warning.

B = Bananaphobia

The fear of bouncing big bananas which can bounce towards you and attack you without warning.

There is also C = Chocolatephobia, and so on all the way to Z. 

Since my colleague was busy finishing a report she was writing, I volunteered to take the book to her husband. 

When I got there, his receptionist would not let me in without an appointment. I explained I was only delivering a book. She insisted on an appointment. I made an appointment for five minutes' time. She kept me waiting for five minutes then let me in his insulting room.

As soon as I got in, he asked me to lie down on the couch. I asked him why. He replied, "I want to vacuum clean the room and you're standing in my way!"

I laid down on the couch. He asked me why I came to see him. I explained that I was delivering his book. He asked me why I stole it. 

"I used to be a kleptomaniac," he said, "I took something for it!"

I explained patiently that I was delivering his book on behalf of his wife who works for me. He asked me to look at some ink spots, or blots, and to say what I saw in them. To humour him, I looked at the first piece of paper and said:

"I see two distressed dolphins arguing because the husband dolphin has lost his job at the sea-side marina because nobody wants to swim with him because he has bad body odour; and the wife dolphin is concerned that they may be thrown out of the marina and they will have to swim freely in the ocean away from all the tourists who come to see them. The sea-side marina could then well close down because of lack of tourists and no income. And it's all because the husband dolphin insists on eating garlic with everything and breathe his body odour over the tourists!"

He raised his eyebrows in amazement. "Do you really see all this in these stains?" he asked.

"Of course," I replied in a straight face.

"Funny," he said, "I accidentally spilt some coffee on this sheet of paper this morning; and wondered what it all meant!"

He then asked me, "Just a question, another little test ... you know the earth spins round one revolution every day. That's why we have daylight with the sun, and night time. What would happen, do you think, if the earth stopped spinning?"

I looked him straight in the face and said, "all the moths would fly to the side that is lit up!"

"Do you have difficulty concentrating?" he asked me.

At that very moment a penguin entered the insulting room and stood behind him.

"Of course not," I replied, "I can concentrate as well as ... there's a penguin!"

"Where?" he asked.

"It's behind you!" I said.

"I don't believe you!" he insisted.

"It's either a large penguin or a small nun!" I insisted even more.

"Oh ... she's been coming here for a while," he said, "she read my book ... P = Penguinphobia. The fear of imagining you are a penguin."

I gave her a packet of fish sticks I'd just bought on my way in and left as quickly as I could.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Various facts and other things

 

Amazing the things you learn every day. I was reading a book recently entitled "100 Things You Did Not Know And It Did Not Matter Anyway".

It is full of useless facts that most probably do not apply to you, or if they did, you would be panicking about them at the time to bother to remember the remedy or action required to deal with the situation.

For example:

Did you know that if you are stung by a jellyfish in the foot or leg the best remedy is to wee on it? I'll admit, it is not always possible to run to the nearest toilet and put your foot in the urinal or toilet bowl; but apparently it is the best remedy. The alternative, it said in the book, is to get someone to stand next to you and wee on your leg. It should be a human of either sex, but not a dog.

Also, did you know that if you are bitten by a shark the best remedy is to wee on it? The bite, not the shark. It takes all the sting away from it.

And if you are bitten by a snake or a scorpion, you pour tomato ketchup in the wound to simulate blood and get someone to suck the poison out just like they do in films. 

Another solution is to ring for an ambulance if you can get a good reception on your cell-phone in the middle of a desert or forest. 

Also, did you know you are more likely to be injured or killed by an attacking hippopotamus than being bitten by a shark. That's because there are no sharks in the jungle. Unless you took one in your suitcase.

Did you know that Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats? They have to fall backwards. If they fell forwards, they'd still be in the boat.

Another important fact, did you know that the most famous phrase in French is "La plume de ma tante"? It is in all the books that teach French. If you're ever in France and want to ask for directions just say it and they'll understand you.

Learning French is useful. One year I went to France on holiday and saw an old lady in  Montmartre in Paris sitting on the side-walk knitting. She had a jar of marmalade beside her. She looked at me and said, “Voulez vous crochet avec moi? Ce soir!”

And another thing, did you know that snails remember more than elephants? They say elephants never forget. That is not true. I have never received a birthday card from an elephant.

Snails are different. I once found a snail on my doorstep. In order to save him from being trodden on and killed I picked him up and threw him in a bush. A week later he returned and rang my door bell. When I opened he said, "What's the big idea throwing me in a bush?" 

 Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would take three days before you're surprised?

Did you also know that in some Northern European countries where it is very cold people enjoy a swim in the sea followed by a hot sauna? They sit naked together, men and women, in wooden cabins with a hot fire burning and steam everywhere discussing politics. It is their way of airing their differences.

Another interesting fact, tortoises can be dangerous and can kill people. The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise. It was dropped by an eagle which feeds on tortoises. The eagle had mistaken the man's bald head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile. Ironically, Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avoid a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object.

Did you know that flamingoes stand on one leg because if they were to lift it up they would fall? Also, in some zoos they put mirrors in the flamingoes' enclosure. This is because flamingoes do not breed unless there's a certain number in the flock. The mirrors make them think there's more of them than there really is so they get together and breed.

Also, fish do not yawn because water would get into their lungs. 

When Edison invented the light bulb a little lit candle appeared above his head because light bulbs did not exist until then.

Scientists have discovered that it is too dangerous to read between the lines, especially if you are standing in a railway station at the time.

Do you realise that if you had a small bird in a cage and as you happen to weigh the cage if the bird jumped up from its perch then its weight would not register on the scale? Also, if you were to weigh the cage under water the small bird would drown?

Monday, 15 November 2021

No Politics ...

 

This is not a political Blog. It is a Christian Blog with a bit of humour every now and then.

I rarely/never discuss politics here or on any Blogs I do visit. 

I remember once being approached by a politician in the street. He asked me, "Do you believe in free speech?"

I said, "Yes, of course!"

He then asked if he could borrow my cell-phone to make a call.

There is a trend these days where certain subjects or topics, however general in nature, and should be no more than differences in opinion, suddenly take on a political flavour. Everyone becomes an expert. People take sides and are soon entrenched in their views. Before you know it you have doctrines and dogmas pronounced by all and sundry to further their argument.

At a funeral I attended recently in a church for an individual who was a devout Christian, a member of his family approached the lectern to deliver a few words, and said, "I thank the Universe for giving us (name) and the life he led!"

Also, even more recently, reading one of the many Blogs I visit, someone commented, "I pray to the Universe that you will get better soon."

Now I don't know whether this is yet another new modern trend which has escaped my notice, but thanking or praying to the Universe is a new one on me.

As I recall from my science lessons, the Universe is a term used to describe "all existing matter and space considered as a whole". 

So basically it is a collection planets, stars, galaxies, dust clouds, light, and even time if you wish to include it and all. And also my fridge and the cats that visit our garden and the deposits they leave behind. They are all part of the Universe.

Additionally, I seem to recall from my youth a local cinema called The Universe.

So I ask myself, what is the level of intelligence required to thank the Universe for the existence of that dear departed person whom I knew and loved so much? Or to pray to the Universe for someone's healing? What has the Universe, or an old cinema, to do with it?

Is it perhaps that these individuals are so sure that God does not exist that they seek solace in addressing something they consider greater than themselves?

Why not thank and pray to a tree instead? That's bigger and mightier than them. Or an amoeba. It is certainly more intelligent.

It seems to me there's a modern fashion which is to go out of your way and publicly deny the existence of one's Creator as a living Deity.

Personally, I think God loves stupid people, seeing He created so many of them.

And I thank Him for it.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Remembrance Sunday

 Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday- 14 November

IL SILENZIO


Saturday, 13 November 2021

I cannot tell ...

 



Friday, 12 November 2021

Facts, Truth and Lies


I wanted a good photo to attract your attention. So ... what do you think? Truth? Facts? Or lies? Or even perhaps distorted facts?

You see, sometimes we cannot believe our eyes. We see something and it's imprinted on our minds; and later on perhaps we have to tell the police or the authorities what we saw and our minds are all confused. Did we see it as we think we saw it or is our mind playing tricks on us? 

So why did these women attend church naked?

Here is the original photo:
Aha ... now it makes sense. The photo was true. It was a fact. These women did go to church just as you see them. But your mind decided to think something else and it distorted the facts into lies.

And that's the problem these days with newspapers, magazines and social media; with everyone able to go on the Internet and write what they want and it is accepted by others as the truth and it is repeated and perpetrated as such and before you know it everyone believes it. 
 
This is how people are influenced. This is how conspiracy theories start and proliferate. This is how confusion occurs. This is how people can be fooled into parting with their monies hoping for a get rich quick scheme, or a new miraculous diet to lose weight, or a cure against baldness, flatulence or stupidity.

It's everywhere! People not telling you the real truth because, as Jack Nicholson said, "you can't handle the truth!" Or as Pontius the Pirate said, "What is truth?"

I often thumb through the local paper to see what's happened locally and to check whether I really care.

The other day I saw a small advert for a local handyman who would come round and do jobs that need doing in your house. The advert said: "No job is too small!" claiming that the man would do anything.

I rang him and said, "The toilet paper roll needs changing. I don't know how to do it. Can you do it for me?"

He declined. The job was too small for him to bother. His advert was lying.

Did you know that the mole ... those little creatures that hide underground ... the mole can smell in stereo. That's what it said on TV. Apparently they can pin-point where the bad smell comes from in an elevator and say, "You did it!" So be careful if you're in an elevator with a mole.

One of the faucets in our bathroom was dripping. The plumber called and said it could not be fixed. I don't know whether that's true or whether he was fooling me into doing a bigger job than just fixing it. 
 
He suggested I change the faucet; but because it would look different from the other one, he suggested we change both faucets. And because they would look different from the faucets in the wash-basin, he suggested we change those too, so we would have four matching new faucets.

I did not know whether to agree his suggestions or to tell him to shove the faulty faucet somewhere on his anatomy.

When he finished the job he then asked me, "would you like to keep the old faucets?"

"Yeah ... of course," I said, "I'll have them framed and hung over the mantle piece. They will be a good conversation starter at our next party. I'll be able to tell everyone what a thieving ******* you are!"

And whilst I'm thinking about it, here's another example of misinterpretation of the facts. I was at the pharmacist the other day to pick up some medicines and I happened to mention I was a little tired. "You need a foot-spa!" he said.

I'd never heard about this and asked him what it was. He showed me one. It is in effect a small plastic basin which you fill with water and then you plug it in the electric mains to warm the water, and then you put your feet in to relax them after a long day at work.

Well, I may look stupid, but even I remember from my science lessons at school that water and electricity do not mix, and putting your feet in that basin would not be a good idea.

And finally, here is another utter lie I saw printed on the side of a QUICK-COOK RICE packet. It said, "take one sachet from the packet and stand in boiling water for 5 minutes".

I did it and got my feet burnt.

And also, really finally, apparently even today in the 21st Century, when science has proved certain things beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are people that would have you believe that the earth is actually flat. I wonder, do the Flat Earth Society people have branches all over the globe?

And also, really really finally, I am not lying to you this time ... really really finally ... apparently I read in the papers that in the UK 13% of babies are conceived in an IKEA bed. I find this difficult to believe; especially since those shops are normally well lit.

Also ... really really really finally, did you know that if you come face-to-face with a gorilla and you suddenly hide behind a tree it will forget ever seeing you. It's out of sight out of mind. This is really true, the gorilla sitting next to me just told me!
 
I bet you don't believe me!

Thursday, 11 November 2021

The Italian Experience

 

Father Ignatius spent the early years of his priesthood in Rome, so he was quite fluent in Italian, although he had no opportunity to use his linguistic skills in St Vincent Parish. Until last week that is.

One of his parishioners, a wealthy businessman, invited him to a new Italian restaurant for lunch and to discuss the proposal to refurbish the church hall and Parish house.

It was a nice little restaurant beautifully decorated in Italian style resembling a typical fisherman’s cottage you’d find in Naples. Although the menu was mostly fish, you could still order a nice pizza or your favourite spaghetti or ravioli.

“We’ve refurbished and decorated this place” said the proud businessman as they sat at a table near the window.

“It’s beautiful” said Father Ignatius, “I hope you won’t decorate the church hall in the same style though …”

And so the conversation progressed throughout a lovely meal with the sound of Italian music playing softly in the background through hidden speakers. The priest recognized Domenico Modugno singing Volare and Mario Lanza’s version of Torna Sorriento. It took him back to happy times spent in Rome and Turin.

But that was not the only Italian that reached his ears that day. He noticed that from time to time the efficient waiters spoke to each other in their native language and commented on the customers sitting at table. Sometimes their comments were quite complimentary and pleasant, whereas at times they were quite rude and certainly inappropriate in his presence … if only they knew!

At one point he heard them speak about him.

“That man at table six is a priest,” said a waiter to another, “how can he afford to eat here? I thought priests were meant to be poor …”

“Don’t you recognize who’s with him?” replied the second waiter, “he’s the contractor who decorated this place. I bet he’s paying … you’ll see …”

“Just as well …” said the first waiter, “the priest looks poorer than a church mouse. I bet he hasn’t a penny on him …”

Father Ignatius smiled at himself and said nothing; except continue his conversation with his host.

When the meal was over, and just as they were leaving, Father Ignatius turned to the two waiters and said in Italian, “Grazie molto. Arrivederci.”

Three simple words, uttered in perfect accent, which spoke volumes to those they were addressed to. You should have seen their faces!

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Charade in Church

 

At the back of our church we usually have one or two ushers. Their job is to welcome people coming in to church, hand out the missals and hymn books, take the collection, (and often a second collection), and generally help throughout.

At the end of Mass, just before the blessing and dismissal, our priest usually reads one or two announcements he has to make: change of Mass times during the week, beginning of First Communion classes and so on.

He then looks round the church and asks: have I forgotten anything else?

The other day, the usher at the back of the church, an elderly gentleman in his 70s, raised his hand. The priest looked at him in silence expecting a prompt. The old man raised his leg and started patting his knee. The priest waited in total confusion. The old man then started pacing up and down like a Scot playing the bagpipes. The priest eventually gave up and said: I didn't realise we were playing charades! And gave the final blessing.

As people left the church I heard the priest ask the usher what was all that about.

The usher replied; Pat MacDonald is in hospital. We should pray for him. I patted my knee and walked like a Scot for Mac ...

At which the priest interrupted: How would you have mimed Donald? Impersonate Donald Duck?

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

In the beginning ...

 

In the beginning, when God created the universe ... (Genesis 1:1 onwards).

Then God created Adam and gave him the task to name all the animals, birds and creatures of the sea. Adam was enthusiastic at first and as the animals passed by he said in monosyllables "Ant, bee, cat, dog, cow, pig ..." and so on.

In time, he became more adventurous and used longer words, "giraffe, horse, llama, lion, tiger, panther, zebra ..." and so on.

But there were many animals and birds, not to mention all the fishes in the sea, still to be named. So Adam grew tired and he could hardly keep his eyes open. When the next animal walked by him he said, "Hippopotamus amphibius or Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis depending on the size of the animal."

At which point God hit Adam on the head with a dead bat and said "Don't be too clever, lad!"

And that's how we got the word Hippopotamus.

Anyway, this went on for a while and Adam grew tired and forlorn, whatever forlorn means. So he asked God, "I wish I had some company other than these dumb animals!"

God scratched His beard and asked, "What do you want?"

Adam replied, "I wish I had another person like me ... but not totally like me if you understand what I mean. I like her to be beautiful. I want her to love me and to be faithful and loyal to me. To be always with me. To be able to cook and clean when things get a little untidy; but not when sports is on TV. And generally to be the best companion and friend any one in the world would wish for. "

"Good Lord!" said God mentioning Himself, "you're not asking for much are you? To have a wife like that would cost an arm and a leg!"

Adam hesitated and then replied, "All right ... what do I get for a rib?"

So God was pleased and told all His creations to go forth and multiply. 

A while later, (not sure how long), God came back to check, and sure enough, every one had had a good time and there were plenty of baby everything everywhere. Baby people, baby animals, baby fish, birds and so on. And God was pleased that they had learnt their multiplication tables.  

However, He noticed that there were only two snakes. So He asked them, "Did you not have a good time? Why did you not multiply as I said?"
 
They replied: "We are adders. We need logs to multiply!"

[Mathematical joke. Logs means logarithms.] E.G. log2 64 = 6

Monday, 8 November 2021

A Good Read About You

 

As an author of the odd book or two, I have often wondered ... what if I am not real? What if I am a character in my own books, or a character in someone else's book? A book which is read by a school of fish?

What if this book were to win the Lobster Award? What would that be like? Would a lobster present the Award?

And what if in this book, within which I am a character, I have to play tennis at Wimbledon, or the US Tennis Open championship against an octopus? He would surely win because he has eight rackets against my one!

And being a character in a book I have no control on what I say or do; or who I meet, and who else is in the book. It's up to the author's imagination and writing skills. And indeed it is in keeping with the period of time he is writing the book in which I feature as a character. He could be writing in Chaucer's time, or Shakespeare's, or at a time so old that the letters on his type-writer are in Latin.

As a character in a book I could meet other characters; like Vaughn Veneer the Second, for instance. Vaughn could be married to twice-married Henrietta Knobbly-Knees and he could have a step-son called Ivor Ladder.

Vaughn could be an inept lazy rich person who inherited a fortune from his father a trader in second-hand shoes who started at the bottom and worked his way down. Vaughn is so lazy that if he fainted he would require help to fall to the ground. His staff would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.

In this imaginary book, Vaughn once said to me that he's so laid back and lazy that he would rather have a quiet meal in a restaurant with his wife than make love to her. The last time he made love to her they were thrown out of the restaurant.

Once Vaughn had to make an after-dinner speech to his staff. His colleagues encouraged him to tell a few jokes about sex and even offered to write the speech for him.

On the evening in question, he delivered the speech as written by his colleagues. 

When he went home, his wife asked him what he spoke about. He mumbled, "Oh ... nothing much ... boating and sailing ... that sort of thing!"

A few days later I met his wife at the supermarket. In order to make conversation I said that the speech was well received the other night.

She said, "That's strange, considering he only tried it twice. The first time he was sea-sick and the second time his hat blew off!"

Don't blame me if this joke is a little risqué. I'm only a character in this book, remember?

Have you ever wondered if you are a character in someone's book, being read by a giraffe, or a bookworm maybe? 

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Christian Books

 



Saturday, 6 November 2021

Memories ... Memories ...

Father Ignatius was certainly the product of his up-bringing.

Raised in a poor family who had known real hardship; yet at the same time a family held together, despite all the turmoil that life threw at them, by a common bond of mutual love and basic Christian principles.

It’s because of his up-bringing, and because he grew up with very little materially, that he developed a habit of frugality and saving whatever he could rather than wasting it away.

He had taken a private vow of poverty when he became a priest, and since then he spent as little as possible on himself. He was not mean in the sense of avarice since anything he had, or whatever else came his way in terms of money or goods, he eagerly shared with the poor in his parish.

The little he kept for himself was usually either books or certain items he had collected over the years and kept for their sentimental value.

One Friday afternoon he decided to clear up the spare room of personal items he had not used for ages. He decided to donate them to the rummage sale in aid of the elderly.

As he was searching through a box full of books he found an old vinyl record; the old 45 rpm type record, black in color in a torn paper sleeve. He looked at the title of the song and sat down on a nearby chair.

Suddenly, the memories came flooding fast. He held the record in his shaking hand, as tears welled up in his eyes. He hadn’t seen nor played it for years, yet here it was, like a ghost from years long past, awakening distant memories so long forgotten.

He remembered how, as a child, he had saved all his pocket money, and went to the music store after school to buy this particular record as a birthday present for his dear father. Now departed.

The song was quite popular then.

He remembered his father’s reaction when he opened the brown paper bag and pulled out the shiny black vinyl record.

His parental eyes welled up too all those years ago, the same as Father Ignatius’ eyes are welling up right now.

His father placed the record on the table and said nothing. He just held little Ignatius tightly in his strong arms and kissed his head gently. Ignatius was held so tight that he could hear his father’s heart beating in his chest.

He could hear it beating right now, as he sat there holding the record in his shaking hand. And strangely as it may seem, the experience also brought to mind the sweet smell of cooking as they all gathered there as a family in the kitchen that cold winter evening.

His mother moved towards the table, leaving for a moment the food on the stove, and picked up the record.

“How lovely …” she said as she read the title.

She too then hugged little Ignatius as tightly as she could.

The priest remembered that that particular day was the first and only time he had seen his father cry. Silently, he had wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and quietly said: “Thank you … son”.

He was a big strong man, not given to much emotions or small talk. He had probably invented the British stiff upper lip and kept his feelings well hidden within himself. Usually silent at the best of times; mumbling the odd “yes dear …” whenever his wife asked him something. A gentle giant in every respect.

His father had known extreme poverty and hardship throughout his life, having lived through the depression and economic crisis.

Father Ignatius recalled how his father told him that many a time, when he was a child during the depression, he had gone to bed at night with nothing to eat; because there was simply no food in the house. Those were terrible times indeed, as his father often recalled.

He remembered that his father had worked the land from the age of eleven, leaving school with little or no education. It was the done thing in those days, to work hard at an early age to help the family beat off starvation.

And in later years, as young Ignatius was growing up, his father still continued to work hard on the farm to bring enough food to feed his family. His mother too, took on washing to earn a few pennies to supplement the family budget.

Yet despite their impoverished state Ignatius never had to go hungry, as his father did before him; and he was always well dressed and cared for by his parents.

He wondered about all the sacrifices his parents must have made, and how much they had gone without, to ensure that Ignatius lacked nothing as he grew up.

Father Ignatius then brought to mind the day when, as a young man, he built up the courage to tell his parents after the evening meal that he had decided he wished to become a priest.

How he had feared their reaction on hearing the news.

Although they were a good Christian family, he often suspected that his father wanted him to take over the small farm he had built up over the years. How would he react to the news that his son would not follow in his footsteps as a farmer?

“Mom … dad … I’ve been thinking and praying about this for a while. I want to become a priest …” were the opening words to an announcement that he dreaded making.

His father just smiled gently and said: “Son … I am proud of you.”

Father Ignatius could hear those words ringing in his ears, as clear as if they’d just been spoken; and he sobbed gently as he remembered his parents now both in Paradise. No doubt looking down on him, and hopefully still proud of him.

He said a silent prayer as he wiped his eyes with his handkerchief.

He then went to his room and put the record on the turntable and one more time let the lyrics come to life.
 

Friday, 5 November 2021

Yellow Helmet

 

Father Ignatius was out driving in his car when he stopped at a red traffic light at the road crossing. He waited there for a minute or two until the lights changed to green when suddenly there was this almighty bang at the back of his car.

Another motorist had come at speed from behind and failed to brake hitting the priest’s car so hard that it pushed him forward into the path of oncoming traffic at the street intersection. The priest felt himself thrown violently forward when his car was hit from behind; and then he was hit again just as violently when a bus hit him on the side as his vehicle moved forward onto the traffic. The sideways hit was so hard that the priest’s car swung round almost back the way it was coming.

Father Ignatius must have lost consciousness for a few moments because the next thing he heard was the sound of sirens and blue and red lights flashing everywhere.

He opened his eyes slowly and felt the warm trickle of blood down his face. He tried to move but he felt trapped in what now was a crushed metal box around him. He was somewhat dazed and in pain all over. His thoughts turned to panic when he considered the possibility of the car exploding into fire.

He looked to his side and saw a huge man in a bright yellow helmet. The man managed to open the car door window slightly and said:

“Please sir, don’t move … we’ll have you out in no time. I am Fireman Derek Larcing … my colleagues will help you straightaway …”

Father Ignatius must have mumbled something incoherent because the fireman continued,

“I didn’t quite understand that Sir … eh … I notice you’re wearing a white collar Sir … are you a priest?”

“Yes …” said Father Ignatius.

“What is your name Sir?” asked the fireman.

“Ignatius …”

“That’s good Ignatius … now don’t talk and tire yourself. I’d like you please to try to move your feet and your toes … can you do that for me?”

The priest moved his feet and toes and then nodded.

“That’s a good sign Ignatius. Can you move your arms and hands?” The priest nodded again.

“OK … I’ll hand you this piece of cloth through the window, please just hold it on your head wound. It is sterilized and will soak the blood. Just hold it still … don’t wipe … just keep it there for a moment or two …” said the fireman soothingly.

“You’re obviously in great discomfort Sir, in such a confined space. The vehicle’s bodywork has collapsed around you, but all signs are that you don’t have any broken bones …”

“I know how sardines feel like …” said the priest forcing a smile.

“That’s good Sir, a sense of humor helps in moments like these … my colleagues have all the cutting equipment ready and we’ll soon have you out. It will be noisy for a while whilst they cut through the bodywork … but we’ll soon have you out.”

Fireman Larcing moved to the other side of the car whilst his colleagues started cutting open the bodywork. Moments later the priest was out of the wreckage and able to stand on his own feet. A couple of ambulance men moved forward and asked him to lie on a stretcher. Before he could protest that he was OK to go home the priest had been carried into a waiting ambulance and driven at speed to hospital.

On arrival at the hospital Father Ignatius was surrounded by doctors and nurses. They cleaned his head wound which had bled profusely and took various X Rays to ensure there were no broken bones or internal injuries.

As he lay in his hospital bed half-dazed by the experience he noticed Father Donald and Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, sitting beside him. Someone had contacted them soon after the accident.

Before Father Ignatius could say anything a doctor came in.

“Well Father …” said the doctor, “I’m not a believer personally … but it seems to me that your God must have been with you in that accident.

“Apart from the deep cut above your eye … which missed your eye by millimeters … you seem to be perfectly OK. There are no broken bones or fractures or internal injuries whatsoever … A few bruises which will soon heal … and maybe a scar will remain on your forehead.

“To be honest Father … my colleagues and I are surprised you’re alive. The police and fire brigade cannot understand how you got out of that wreckage in one piece.

“It’s as if someone was there with you in the car holding you tightly in His arms and shielding you with His body.”

Father Ignatius said nothing, whilst Father Donald made the Sign of the Cross.

“Was anyone else hurt?” asked Father Ignatius eventually.

“No … no one. The car which hit you from behind was damaged as was the bus which hit you from the side. But no one was hurt. Police say witnesses saw your car spin right round like a top when it was hit on the side.

“We’ll keep you here for a day or so for observations,” continued the doctor, “just a precaution you understand … we doctors like to make sure …”

A week later Father Ignatius had a visitor in church. It was a tall handsome man in jeans and T shirt.

“I am Fireman Derek Larcing … Father.” he said quietly.

“Oh do come in …” the priest invited him in the Parish House, “I didn’t recognize you without your bright yellow helmet!”

Moments later, as they were enjoying a nice cup of tea and biscuits the fireman said, “Sir … I have something to tell you.

“I am not a religious man … somehow, I don’t believe in anything. Religion was never mentioned in our house or at school …

“The thing is Sir … a few days before your accident I had a dream … nothing specific, I can’t even remember it … but I remember seeing a man in my dreams with a white collar … just as you’re wearing.

“It happened twice … a few days later I saw the same man in my dream … I can’t even make out his face … but I remember the white collar well.

“I mentioned it to my wife and we thought nothing of it. We just laughed it off. But since your accident my wife asked me to come and see you and tell you about it.”

“Thank you for doing so.” said Father Ignatius gently, “I cannot explain it nor interpret it … dreams do feature often in Christian teachings and there are several instances recorded in the Bible. Whether your dreams are of any significance I cannot tell … but I sure welcome you being there and helping me when I was in that wreckage.”

The fireman smiled and said.

“The thing is Sir … my wife and I discussed this incident … especially you coming out of the car alive and in one piece … I’ve seen many accidents in my time but none so bad with such an outcome …

“My wife and I think we should come to your church … is that allowed? We’re not Christian or anything you see …”

“Everyone is allowed in God’s Church” said the priest, “it is His and not mine.

“You’re welcome on Sunday … take it one step at a time and perhaps you’d wish to join our Adult Catechism Classes too when you’re ready … just come along and see how it goes!”

… And that’s what happened as a result of Father Ignatius’ accident.