Monday 31 January 2022

Rodin - The Kiss


As you know, I go to great lengths to provide a varied diet on this Blog. Different articles to cater for different tastes.

Today it is art. We focus on Auguste Rodin's statue in marble known as The Kiss, or Le Baiser in French, completed in 1882.

Originally entitled Francesca da Rimini because it was in fact meant to be the 13th-century Italian noblewoman from Dante's "Inferno" (Circle 2, Canto 5).

Here's the Dante story. Francesca fell in love with her husband's younger brother, Paolo. They fell in love whilst reading a story about Lancelot and Guinevere. 

Her husband Giovanni Malatesta, (which means John Headache), discovers them and he kills both of them.

In the sculpture, if you look carefully, the book about Lancelot is seen in Paolo's hand. You can't see it in this photo but the book is behind Francesca's backside . 

Also, in the sculpture, the couple's lips do not actually touch, suggesting that they were interrupted by Giovanni and killed before they actually kissed.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

For some inexplicable reason Rodin decided it would be a good idea to make a marble statue of the moment they were interrupted before kissing, or doing anything else like playing monopoly for instance.

Obviously, he can't chisel a big block of marble from memory, so I'm guessing he used two models to sit still in this pose as he chipped away at the marble.

Looking at the statue, it must have been very uncomfortable for both of them to sit still in this position for ages. Her back is half-twisted and she is leaning on him. It must have been freezing too sitting on a piece of cold marble.

The poor lad must have been very nervous considering where her knee is placed!

Mind you, she's probably not overjoyed either. She's probably whispering, "You move your hand one inch and I'll knock your head off!"

Eventually, when the sculpture was finished it quickly became controversial because of what and who it represented. When critics first saw it in 1887, they suggested the less specific title Le Baiser (The Kiss).

Strange, but true ... I think!

Sunday 30 January 2022

Modern Idols


The dictionary definition of idol is: an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

When Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments he found that his followers had made a golden bull which they worshipped instead of God.

That was their idol.

I would like to offer another definition of idol: Putting something before God.

Choosing to prefer something or someone more than God. 

In today's modern society, wealth is an idol; but then, it was ever so. Other idols are power, influence, celebrity, fame, various possessions, cars, houses, ... beauty. Yes, some people so idolise the perfect body that they often spend fortunes to achieve it and maintain it for as long as possible.

For some, even marriage can be an idol. They see marriage as a must have or a must do status symbol and true love and shared values often don't feature in their agendas. 

There are on TV many dating programs where people meet for the first time and go on a date. They are  interviewed before they meet their potential partner, and they often, (always), say they want someone who is handsome, beautiful, with a sense of humour, adventurous, and other physical features which they consider essential to a successful relationship. Rarely does someone say they want someone who shares their values in life.

Secularism is the most modern and fashionable idol of our times. Everywhere it seems to shout at you that it is a good thing not to believe in God. Not only trendy to do so, but it is also the intelligent thing to do. To believe in a Creator God is not only so "yesterday" but it also betrays a certain lack of intelligence on your part.

The young people of today have little choice but to follow this trend. Not only is religious education lacking in our schools but it is often non-existent in the home where the parents are just as ignorant on the subject as their offspring.

Even Christianity itself can be an idol if we are not careful. Many just wear their Christianity as a badge, a medal of honour, something to be proud of; yet their lives are far from being Christian and would shame Jesus to be associated with them.

Idolatry is putting other things in our lives before we put God in our lives. 

Our love for God, our respect and obedience of God, should be paramount. I believe that's how we will be judged one day.

Saturday 29 January 2022

DO NOT ...



Thursday 27 January 2022

A Shot In The Park



ISBN 979 8402 9636 10

A gunshot is heard in the park opposite Saint Vincent Church. Is Father Ignatius the victim of this attack or the perpetrator of this heinous crime?

What was he doing in the park at a time he was due to hear Confessions in church? Was he meeting someone? Is he involved, once again, with the criminal fraternity? Is this the end for our much loved and respected priest?

The latest novel in the series about Father Ignatius is a fast-paced and intriguing story with a credible plot line and characters which will keep you guessing at every turn.


Wednesday 26 January 2022

Back to University

I went back to University last week. Not as a student; I was visiting a friend of mine who is a professor of graffiti and bad behaviour. He teaches would-be graduates hooliganism and wearing torn clothing as a sign of new fashion.

You should have seen some of the students there. I asked myself where do they come from? Are we really saving the planet for the likes of them?

I think the only way some of them should have been accepted at University is as a scientific exhibit in a glass jar for primates to study.

To misquote Mark Twain, "if they keep on learning at this rate then soon enough they will know nothing at all!"

I think the only reason some of those youngsters were there is to allow their parents to fumigate their bedrooms.

In the cafeteria I sat at a table and talked to some students as part of my research into Higher Level Education - I am writing a paper about it for my business.

I gave a student a piece of paper with the question: If you were on a desert island what luxury item would you take with you?

He replied: A spoon!

Some of those kids were so highly educated that they can bore you on any subject. 

There was this geek looking young man with black rimmed glasses ten times larger than his face. He was studying ancient Greek history and was keen to tell me that the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise which was dropped by an eagle which feeds on tortoises by dropping them on hard objects. The eagle had mistaken Aeschylus' 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.

Interesting don't you think? NOT!

Has this piece of information enriched my life in any way? Will it be useful for me in life? Apart from wearing a tortoise shell for a hat in case a tortoise fell on my head?

Why do we teach these youngsters subjects that are not likely to help them in a future career? The only jobs this geek will be able to do when he graduates is either teach ancient Greek history to another generation of torn-jeans-wearing students, or be a cashier at a supermarket.

The country, and the world, needs scientists, medical people, computer people and such like; not experts in the velocity of drunken crab under water! Let's teach them subjects relevant to modern society.

But then; what do I know? It's a long time since I last set foot in a University. I failed math so many times when at school I can't even count them! My parents used to buy me alphabet pasta in tomato sauce to teach me to read. Eventually they gave up on my stupidity and bought me spaghetti hoops instead.

I left the University rather disillusioned to learn that 9 out of every 6 students there do not understand percentages. That's almost half or 50%. 

Sad, isn't it?

Tuesday 25 January 2022

My confession


I don't know about you, but I must confess I am addicted to collecting Beatles albums. I think I need HELP!

I read somewhere that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So I threw it at him and it kept him away for longer.

Did you know that I ran a dating agency for chickens? At the end I was struggling to make hens meet.

I am studying genetics by correspondence course; specialising in cloning techniques. If I don't perfect human cloning I won't be able to live with myself.

I tried studying ancient history. My poor knowledge of Greek mythology was my Achilles heel.

I went out for a drive yesterday. I didn't realise I was a bad driver until the lady in the satellite navigation system said, "A few yards ahead, please stop and let me out of the car!"

I went along to the local Kleptomaniacs Anonymous and found that all the seats were taken. 

We had a garage sale last week. I sold our vacuum cleaner. It was only gathering dust. 

This morning I met Henri. He is a Private Investigator. He was hiding behind a lamp post. Even though it was a beautiful day he was carrying an open umbrella. He told me he was undercover.

On her birthday my wife told me to go out and get something that makes her look sexy ... so I got drunk.

My grandfather told me that he saw the Titanic all those years ago. He warned the people that the ship would sink but no one believed him or listened to him. He was a brave man and did not give up. He continued warning people several times again and again that the ship would sink. Eventually they threw him out of the cinema. 

I like romantic movies. In the cinema I always like to hold hands, which often startles the strangers sitting next to me.

Monday 24 January 2022

Who will teach them?


When I was at school, not so many centuries ago, we used to start the day with "Assembly". 

The whole school would gather in the big hall. Because there were so many of us all the pupils used to sit on the floor because there was no room for chairs to accommodate everyone; or even enough time to put the chairs out in rows like a cinema, and then take them away after Assembly.

My job, as a lead pupil, was to organise two other pupils to stand at the door and hand out hymn books to all coming in, and to collect them afterwards.

All the teachers stood/and sat on chairs, on the big stage up front. The hall was used as a theatre when we had plays or concerts.

Every morning at Assembly we waited for the Head Master to come in and walk all the way up front and walk up the stage from the side and stand in the middle of the stage. At that point we would all stand up and sing the hymn for the day. The music teacher played the piano.

After the hymn there was a Bible reading. Then school announcements, then another hymn. And so we left in an orderly fashion to our classrooms. The whole event lasted about 15 minutes.

Every day started with a Christian based assembly.

Now ... ... ... 

I wonder how much Christianity is really taught in schools. Not much I am told. In a lot of businesses it is forbidden to talk religion at work. I know it was so when I worked in London; it was frowned upon.

Some youngsters get Christian teaching in church either on Sundays or in preparation for certain events like First Communion, Confirmation or such. However, I read somewhere that in the UK regular church attendance is about 5% of the population.

So I ask myself: Who will teach them?

If there is a generation growing up with little if any Christian education; how will they grow up with Christian values and principles? How will they teach the next generation after them about God and Christianity?

I know of several people who not only have they stopped going to church, or believing altogether, having been brought up as Christians; but they have also not bothered to pass on the Christian beliefs which their parents instilled in them to their off-springs. 

Their attitude is that their children will have to make up their own minds on what to believe when they grow up.

Sunday 23 January 2022

In her hour of need


Father Ignatius was in the Sacristy after morning Mass on Wednesday when Henry, a young Altar server, came in and said:

“Father I was off to school and I noticed there’s a woman at the back of the church crying loudly …”

“Thank you Henry … it’s good of you to tell me …” said the priest calmly, “you go to school … I’ll deal with it …”

Moments later the priest entered the empty church and walked towards the back. He approached the woman and sat calmly on the pew a few feet away from her.

She raised her head and got up from a kneeling position and sat down. Father Ignatius had never met her before. She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and stopped crying loudly.

She looked at him and said:

“I’m sorry Father to make such a scene in church …”

He smiled and said nothing for a second or two … then he said gently, “If Jesus was here with you right now … do you know what He would say?”

She shook her head and wiped her nose with the handkerchief.

“He would say ‘Peace be with you’ … those would be His first words as a start …”

He stopped for a while, and then continued, “and slowly, His peace would be upon you and you would slowly calm down …

“And then you would get to know, and realize, perhaps for the first time … that He truly loves you and cares for you …

“Because Jesus loves us all … individually … each according to his or her needs …”

“Even me?” she asked calming down a little.

“Especially you …” continued Father Ignatius, “He cares for you as a child of God … and no matter what hurts you right now, He shares that pain and wishes to help you relieve it … all you need do is trust Him and speak to Him freely … He will lead you to His peace as He has done to so many others …”

“Thank you Father …” she said, “that’s very helpful.”

“In the meantime,” continued Father Ignatius, “if there is anything I can do to help … let me know … when you’re ready of course …”

“No thanks Father … I think I’ve just witnessed Jesus’ presence …”

And with that she left the church with a lighter heart.

She has been back to church every Sunday ever since … and no one knows the reason for her upset on that day she first met Father Ignatius.

Saturday 22 January 2022

These things I have spoken unto you


 These things I have spoken unto you
(John 16:33)

These Things I Have Spoken Unto You

That in me you might have Peace

In the world you shall have tribulations

But be of good cheer be of good cheer

For I have overcome the world.

Friday 21 January 2022

Hollow Deck?


In this Blog I try to offer a varied diet for your edification and entertainment. Often, I post a Christian themed article, then there's humour, music, scientific articles which I have spent a lot of time researching in the deep recesses of my mind, and whatever other subjects I dream of in a moment of whisky induced imagination.

And now for something completely different.

I wonder how many of you are familiar with that wonderful TV and Film series Star Trek? We all have our favourites, if we like that sort of thing. Personally, I prefer The Next Generation with Captain Jean-Luc Picard played by the English actor Patrick Stewart.

Picard is an odd fellow I think. He has a perfect English accent yet he is supposed to be from France. Why does he not speak with a French accent and say things like, "What eez zis out zere? Eez eet anozer extra terrestiaaal form of zee life in zee outer space ... zee final front ear? Zeese are zee voyages of zee starship Enterprise. Zee mission eez to explore zee strange new worlds. To seek out zee new life and zee new civilizations. To boldly go where no man haz gone before!"

Which perhaps explains why Picard was bald ... to baldly go ... or to go baldly if you do not wish to split zee infinitive.

Anyway, my mind is wandering ... I need anozer whisky. 

In Star Trek they have something on the spaceship called the holodeck. It is a large room, and before you enter it, you ask the computer to load a particular favourite program of yours. Once you enter the room, it transforms into whatever your computer program is. You could suddenly be in a rich mansion in the 19th or early 20th Century England, you could be in a field riding a horse, or transported back to a Western scenario with cowboys, or in Shakespearean times, or whatever. 

The computer creates the scenario for you with real computer animation 3D characters with whom you can interact, have a discussion with, or whatever. In one Star Trek episode they were transported into a Sherlock Holmes scenario and met James Moriarty.  

OK ... now over to you.

Imagine you had a holodeck. Where would you like to be transported to and who would you like to meet? What would you discuss or what question would you ask them? 

Remember, the holodeck computer has been programmed with all characters and scenarios you would wish to imagine and the characters you ask for will respond and behave exactly as they would do if they were alive and with you right now. For example, you may wish to meet up with Groucho Marx in 21st Century Britain, or in your favourite restaurant or ...

So ... tell us what is in your holodeck computer program?

Thursday 20 January 2022

Something to think about


Wednesday 19 January 2022

True story of the lion


I'm sure you've all heard Aesop's story about Androcles and the lion. Basically, Androcles was an escaped slave who met an injured lion in the forest. The lion had a thorn in his paw and the slave withdrew the thorn and healed him. Years later both the slave and the lion were captured and the slave was sent into the big arena and the lion released to kill him in front of the crowd gathered for the spectacle. The lion recognised the slave and did not kill him.

Well, it seems the story became true recently, as I read in a magazine.

A scientist found an injured lion and healed him. After a short while recuperating, the lion was released again in the wild.

Years later whilst visiting a zoo the scientist recognised the lion. He was convinced it was the lion he had healed in the forest. The lion sat there calmly, looking at him, (see photo above).

The scientist asked the zoo management to let him into the enclosure. They thought he was mad and refused. He insisted and explained how it would be great publicity for the zoo when the story is made public. The managers were not convinced. The lawyers were brought in and after writing an indemnity agreement releasing the zoo of all liabilities, and after checking with the health and safety people, the zoo finally agreed to let the scientist into the lion's enclosure.

As the scientist got in, the lion turned his head and ignored him. A few steps forwards and the lion did not move. Then all of a sudden he pounced and attacked the scientist. They had to tranquillise him with several darts and they saved the scientist.

It was not the same lion!


Tuesday 18 January 2022

Basic Instinct


We all act on instinct from time to time. If we touch something hot or sharp we immediately withdraw in pain. If we taste something unpleasant, the basic instinct is to spit it out. And when I hammer hard on my finger, missing the nail altogether, as I did this morning, believe me, my first instinct was not to say: “Jolly gosh, this was a tad uncomfortable for me !!!”.

I suppose the same applies when some terrible situation happens to us. The first instinct is probably fear, followed with a multitude of others such as confusion, doubts, worry, anger and so on.

But what if our first instinct in such situations was to immediately turn to God?

Instinctively, without thinking, turn to God for help, reassurance, guidance and peace.

What if our automatic reflex to any bad situation was an immediate reaching out to God? Before even the negative emotions come into play.

Wouldn’t that make our lives that much better? Because after all, God’s will for us is to have peace. Christ often greeted His disciples with the words “Peace be with you”.

So at the first sign of trouble, let’s turn to Him and ask: “Lord, grant me your peace in this situation.”

Years ago I knew a priest who was always calm and serene. Nothing seemed to rattle him, and I truly believe he had the Holy Spirit within him.

Once in a sermon he said: “I’ve made a deal with God. I carry out His work on earth to the best of my abilities; He takes care of the worries!”.

There’s a message for us to consider.

Monday 17 January 2022

Three things no one knows about you


I don't like work's parties, or gatherings. I've mentioned this before. But at times you have to attend purely because your absence will be more noted than your presence. At least it is so in my case. I was once told I am the sort of person who can brighten up any party by leaving it.

These work's dos are all the same. After work, say 6:00pm or thereabout, everyone gathers in a large room, a drink in hand, also perhaps a sandwich or a canapé, (French for couch or sofa ... why would anyone want to hold a sofa in their hand?) ... anyway, everyone stands there because it is standing-room only and they smile and chat to each other about ... work!

What is the point of that? I'd rather be on the train home to spend my time sitting on a canapé rather than holding one and enjoying a pint of Guinness and sports on TV.

But I had to attend, as I said. 

This time, some idiot decided to liven matters up a bit by suggesting we all tell three things that no one knows about us. What a stupid fathead idea is that? For a start who would want to reveal information that can come back and bite you in the derrière? (French for ...)

Can you imagine someone saying "my three secret things are I spent time in prison for embezzlement, I am having an affair with the boss's wife, and I really don't like canapés"?  

When it came to my turn I made some inane funny comments like, "I wrestle crocodiles, I can smell round corners and can tell who broke wind in the elevator, and when I'm in a hurry instead of a bath I just sit there in the tub and vacuum clean myself!"

But for you, dear loyal readers, I will tell you the truth, as long as you also share three things about you that not many people know. So here goes:

 Years ago I used to be a ventriloquist on radio. I performed with a little dummy every week. No one saw my lips move. The dummy was a knitted replica of me. Here's a photo of the dummy to prove it.

Second thing about me. I also used to be a magician. I used to enter a big sack; a sack that used to contain wheat or some other grain. Members of the audience would tie up the top of the sack with me in it, and I used to escape through a secret trap door at the bottom of the sack. Only one day, I forgot to have the key to the trap door with me and I could not get out.

If you don't believe me, here's a video of one of my tricks I used to perform:

I could never find out how to do this trick, because the magician who taught me would not tell me the secret.

And now the third thing about me that nobody knows. I have always had a secret ambition to knit scarves, or pullovers, out of spaghetti. I was never successful because whenever I tried I got tomato sauce all over the place. I could have been a millionaire with my range of edible knitwear. But it never happened. 

Now over to you ... three things no one knows about you ...

Sunday 16 January 2022

Reflections for the soul



Saturday 15 January 2022

Helpful Advice


Years ago, my grandfather said to me, "Never take advice from anyone!" So I ignored him.

My other grandfather said to me, "There are two words in life which will open many doors for you, PULL and PUSH."

My other grandfather said to me, "If you walk in someone else's shoes for a mile or two, then they'll accuse you of stealing them!"

My other grandfather always used to say, "Fight Fire with Fire!" He lost his job in the Fire Brigade.

My other grandfather used to say, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" One day a dictionary fell on him from a high shelf.

My other grandfather said to me, "What does not kill you will not hurt you." I got diarrhoea.

My other grandfather said to me, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has already happened in Australia!"

My other grandfather asked me, "How many grandfathers have you got?" I replied, "Don't ask me, ask grandma!"

Friday 14 January 2022

Breaking News

Good evening. Here is the News.

On Tuesday a woman was rushed into hospital with two burnt ears. Apparently she answered the phone whilst ironing. The doctors asked her how she burnt her other ear. She replied: "It happened when I phoned for an ambulance!"
A man was found asleep in a stationery van. Police say he was on a late delivery and fell asleep because he was on a staple diet of manila ice cream.

A tornado hit our part of town on Wednesday causing £2 worth of damage when a potted plant fell from a window sill three floors up and narrowly missing a man's mother-in-law by inches. Undeterred, he threw down another pot from his window; but the insurance company has turned down his claim for the broken pot because it was not an accident.

After a freezing spell on Thursday night the Park Rangers found a short bank manager wearing a kilt suffering from frostbite underneath a tree in our local park. Apparently he had frozen assets. 

On Friday evening aliens from outer space visited our neighbourhood and turned a man into fish sticks. His family are totally distraught and unsure whether to freeze him or fry him and have him for supper. They reported the matter to the police who told them that grilling is a healthier option than frying.

Our City University has carried out extensive research and discovered that four out of ten children are conceived in IKEA beds. Which is surprising considering those shops are usually well-lit.

Also, at the local University a professor has announced that dinosaurs were wiped out by a giant asteroid hitting the earth because they all stood in the same place.

In the neighbouring village a cement mixer collided with a prison van. The police are looking for some hardened criminals.

Our Local Authorities have announced new plans to shorten the unemployment line. They've asked people to stand closer together.

After 3 millimetres of snow melted away on the local golf course a large hole six inches deep suddenly appeared on the green by the club house. The Golf Committee are looking into it.

A dog has escaped from the local Dog Rescue Centre and bit a tax inspector who was checking the accounts of the charity at the time. After treatment at the hospital, including tetanus and other injections, the dog was allowed to go back home.

An 80 years old farmer recently married a young bride of 25. After only six months of marriage he divorced her because he couldn't keep his hands off her. He has now fired his hands and bought himself a combine harvester instead.

Whilst visiting France on holiday a local dignitary returned with his head all bandaged up. Apparently, because he is so tall when in a Paris nightclub he hit his head against a "MIND YOUR HEAD" notice. 

We asked him if he did not see the notice. He said he saw it but he could not read French!

Finally, we have been advised to look out for an Internet thief who steals the end of sentences. The man is described as tall, bald and with a very big ...

Thursday 13 January 2022

The Power Of Negative Thinking


Have you ever considered the Power Of Negative Thinking? What it can do for you and how it can affect your life?

How many people, and how often, do they ask this question? Maybe you did it yourself.


And immediately a list of answers come to mind. Perhaps inspired by the devil.

They start thinking: "there's something wrong with my nose. It is too large. My ears stick out; in the slightest breeze I spin round like a revolving door. I look like a car with its doors open. I am too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too awkward. I am not well educated. I am shy. I am ... I am ... I am ..."

The list is endless. We can always find something wrong with us. The question "What is wrong with me?" is so easily answered. There is always something which we consider has held us back in life. Something we can use as a crutch, a prop, or a stick to support our perceived inadequacies.

It could be anything; as long as it is negative. Negative is powerful.

It could be your physical appearance, your background, race, religion, family history. Anything.

Years ago, a well-meaning boss told me that if I wanted to get on in this organisation I'll have to change my surname. I replied that it took me ages to learn how to spell my name; I was not going to start all over again with a new name.

I did get on in my career despite my name, or other negative things about me.

The real question in life is not "What is wrong with me?" but "What good does God see in me?"

Aha ... difficult to answer? Let not false modesty hold us back. Remember this, there are no rejects off God's production line. 

God created us all and He created us in His own image. This means, like God, we all have the ability to love, to care, to forgive, to be merciful, to be compassionate, to be kind, to be generous and to live as Jesus would have wanted us to.

It is all a matter of asking the right question: "WHAT GOOD DOES GOD SEE IN ME?"