Sunday, 10 December 2017

Divine Detour

It was Christmas Eve, early evening, and it was already dark. It was freezing cold with blinding snow still falling and winds making driving conditions perilous to say the least. Weather warnings on the radio advised people to stay at home.

Yet Father Ignatius was on the road. Driving back slowly towards St Vincent Church determined to be there to celebrate Midnight Mass.

He had been away the previous few days and had planned to return home early on Christmas Eve; but the bad weather held him back. Missing Midnight Mass was out of the question for the determined priest, and as he set off on his journey home the skies were dark and the roads were clear; until suddenly he was caught in a snow storm and had no alternative but to proceed onwards towards his Parish church.

The shortest way home was through treacherous country roads, which he knew well, yet never drove on in such conditions. As he turned a sharp bend on the road he noticed just in time a fallen tree blocking his way. He managed to brake in time and avoided hitting it or sliding out of control into a ditch.

He had no option but to reverse carefully and take another way home.

A few miles further on, just before entering a village he saw a car crashed against a tree. He stopped to help.

He’ll never forget the sight that greeted him.

There in the driving seat was a man covered in blood. He was breathing heavily and still conscious.

“Can you move?” asked the priest, fumbling for something to say.

The man shook his head, then slowly mumbled “my leg … trapped …”

“I’ll go for help …” said Father Ignatius.

“No … my wife … she’s gone to the village …”

The priest decided to wait with the injured man until help arrived. He got a blanket from his car and covered him to keep him warm. He tried as best he could to place another blanket on the man’s chest to stop any bleeding from a wound which, although not clearly visible in the dark, was obvious by the bleeding.

It was still snowing and Father Ignatius was freezing. Yet he stood outside the crashed car leaning through the broken driver’s window, trying his best to comfort the driver.

In between heavy sometimes gasping breaths, the man noticed Father Ignatius white collar and asked, “Are you a church minister?”

“I’m a priest,” said Father Ignatius.

“I’ve never had time for people like you …” said the man, “I suppose I’ve never been able to believe … I tried mind you … but just couldn’t believe in God … Jesus …”

Father Ignatius said nothing but prayed silently.

“Do you think it’s too late … you know … can I believe now … or at least try …”

“It is never too late to put your trust in God. Just accept Him in your heart, right now, as best you can. Tell Him you believe in Him.”

The man breathed deeply once or twice. “Yes … I do want to believe, if He’ll help me do it …”

“Can I baptize you?” asked the priest daringly.

“Ah … it hurts more now … yes  … do as you say … tell your God I’m sorry … tell Him to forgive me for any wrong I've done Him by not believing ...”

Father Ignatius quickly prayed with the man consciously sitting there and baptized him.

As he made the sign of the Cross on the man’s forehead he heard him say “Is that it? … that was painless …” as he forced a smile.

Father Ignatius held his hand and waited for a further twenty minutes or so, praying all the time, and speaking with him until an ambulance and a police car arrived almost simultaneously. He remained conscious throughout, breathing ever so heavily and obviously in great pain.

Father Ignatius eventually drove to the village and phoned a worried Father Donald from a small shop which was still open. He stayed there for an hour or so by the fire to warm up a little and, determined as ever, decided to continue on his way home.

He made it for Midnight Mass all right, but he was too tired and almost frost bitten to celebrate Mass. He sat at the front pew, by Our Lady’s statue, praying for the crash victim.

He learnt a few days later, from the man’s wife, that he never made it to the hospital. He died in the ambulance on the way there. It was then that Father Ignatius remembered that had it not been for the fallen tree blocking his way, he would have got home much earlier and avoided the accident altogether. Obviously, God wanted him to go to the man’s aid.

A tragic Christmas in human terms, perhaps. But a joyous one in Heaven, welcoming a new soul.


Friday, 8 December 2017


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A Sandwich Short of a Picnic

Have you ever dreamt you are a sandwich?

If so, what sandwich were you?

If it was a dainty triangular cheese and cucumber sandwich then you are probably from the English aristocracy and well-to-do; or aspire to such a position. You probably drink tea with your little finger sticking out whilst holding the cup.

According to an article I read, you can tell what sort of person you are by the kind of sandwich you dream.

If you dream you're a cheese and pickle sandwich you're probably not so aristocratic in Britain, and maybe you drink your tea from a mug.

If you dream you're a peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich then you are probably American and proud of it.

If you're a burger sandwich/bun with lettuce and cheese and other relish, you're probably too busy in life and eat on-the-go.

If you're a ham, sausage, chorizo, salami, mortadella, luncheon meat or other such type of sandwich then you are a strong no-nonsense carnivore.

If you are a boiled egg with mayonnaise sandwich, (possibly with cress or salad), then you aspire to greatness but can at times be self-opinionated.

If you are a chocolate spread sandwich then you are good natured and kind with an optimistic outlook on life.

If you're a bacon sandwich, with ketchup or brown sauce, you are probably British. Bacon, cheese and egg is the American version. Also bacon, lettuce and tomato.

There are many other varieties and variations of sandwiches.

So ... what sandwich do you dream you are? Let us know what you are, and we'll check on your personality.

Personally, I like peanut butter and raisins sandwich. I spread the peanut butter on the slice of bread then carefully place, one by one, enough raisins in straight rows; they should be equidistant from each other, (I use a ruler for this), before covering it with another slice of bread. Then I cut it in four squares of exactly the same size.

I suppose that makes me a fruity nut!

Monday, 4 December 2017


... ... after the evening meal, my boss, a woman in her early thirties, went up to her room. Before she left the table she asked me discretely to follow her a few minutes later. She gave me a duplicate plastic card to use in that contraption which opens the hotel room door. She said she wanted to discuss my annual appraisal report.

I was hesitant at first. I sipped my coffee slowly to waste time and to gather enough courage to decide what to do. My boss was not one to argue with. When she said, “Jump” we replied, “How high”, rather than question her request – or should I say her command.

A few minutes later I entered her room and it was empty. I said loudly, "Hello ... anyone here?"

Her voice replied from the bathroom, "I'm in the shower. Come in!"

I was astounded and frightened at this request which, as I said earlier, sounded more like a command.

My boss had a certain reputation amongst the office gossip grapevine but I never quite believed it. It seemed that now was the time for me to sample such a reputation.

I did not know what to do, especially since my future career at this firm depended so much on her and her appraisal of me. I hesitated for a while.

"Get a move on," she cried impatiently from the bathroom, "I'm not going to wait all night!"

Those were her exact words; I still remember them clearly. She obviously meant business and my future life flashed in front of my eyes.

I was totally confused. I sought guidance from my abbreviated Catechism which I carried in my pocket but I could not find an answer in a hurry. They really should have a better index in those books.

I took off my jacket and put it on the back of the chair. Then I took off my shoes. I had a big hole in one of my socks!

Before I could go on any further she came out of the bathroom fully clothed and speaking on her cell-phone. Apparently you get a better reception in the shower than anywhere else in her hotel room.

"Why have you taken your shoes off?" she asked.

"I did not want to dirty the carpet!" I replied unconvincingly.

I wonder if she believed me. Fortunately I got a good annual appraisal although she did say I often get the wrong end of the stick.

AS I QUOTE MYSELF is not a biography of a famous celebrity, or other well known personality telling you how they made it good from extreme poverty to being as successful as they are today. Instead, these are the memoirs of someone you’ve probably never heard of, (unless you’re related to him), but yet with a story to tell.

A series of calamities and misfortunes with humourous outcomes which are sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. At least that’s what he hopes! AS I QUOTE MYSELF are the memoirs of no one in particular except the one from whose memories they originate.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Future Foretold

The fair was in town once again with all its amusement stalls and tents pitched in the park opposite St Vincent Church. The lights were shining bright on the big wheel, the round-about and other rides, whilst the music blared for miles around.

Father Ignatius was in the church’s car park when he overheard some youngsters talking loudly:

“I’ve had my fortune told by Mystic Matilda. She looked into the glass ball and it turned all full of smoke inside.”

“What did she tell you? You’re a loser and will always be a loser …”

And somehow, just these words, a snip of an overheard conversation became the basis of Father Ignatius’ sermon on Sunday.

He approached the lectern and asked: “Did anybody here go to the fair last night?”

A few nods and yeses greeted his unusual question.

“I hear there was a fortune teller there. Did anyone go to check their fortune?”

Not many volunteers this time.

“Interesting thing telling peoples’ future … it’s all nonsense of course; but then you all know that, don’t you?” asked the priest with a smile.

“Let’s suppose for a minute that it is not nonsense at all. Let’s suppose that the fortune-teller in the park opposite can really tell your future.

“Let’s suppose Mystic Matilda, for that is her name I believe, can really foretell your future and it is really accurate every time. Every little detail of it. And unfortunately for you she predicts a bad future.

“She says that you’ll lose your job within six months. You’ll suffer a terrible painful illness. You’ll have an accident … I’m sure you know what I mean ….

“And you’re certain the fortune-teller is always accurate and these things will happen. There’s no escaping your fate. How do you feel about that?”

Total silence greeted his piercing question; so Father Ignatius pointed to the children sitting up front, “How about you … you look very intelligent to me. Can anyone tell me how you would feel if you knew your future will be bad?”

A young girl raised her hand and said, “I’d feel terrible and very frightened.”

“Yes Louise … you’re right. You’d feel terrible and very frightened indeed. You’d be terrified and most likely want to change your future at all costs.

“Now let me tell you about someone who knew His future well in advance. Probably from the age of twelve; just the same age as you sitting here up front. When He was found by His parents in the temple in Jerusalem.

“He knew then what was going to happen to Him all His life. He knew He would be betrayed by His own follower. He would be arrested. Beaten, spat upon, mocked and tortured. A crown of thorns put on His head. Made to carry His own Cross and then die a most horrible painful death Crucified between two thieves.

“He knew all that throughout His life. Being human He must have shared the same human emotions we have. He would have been very frightened and terrified just like young Louise said.

“Being human He most probably had nightmares about His whole future. How often I wonder as a young teenager did He wake up in the night having seen His future in His dreams. Can you imagine how terrible this must have been? Knowing what would happen to you and there’s no escape?

“Daily His future must have been on His mind. Just seeing the terrible suffering that He had to face must have been in itself a daily torture for Him. All that evil that is to come His way at our hands!

“But did He give up? Did He try to run away from it? Did He try to change His future?

“When He prayed in the garden before His arrest the devil did tempt Him. Jesus did ask God His Father to make it all go away … but then accepted His terrible terrible fate just for us.

“He was both God and man, and as man He suffered all that pain and that horrible death on the Cross, just for us.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a few seconds, then continued.

“And now I want to address you mothers … how would you feel if you knew for certain what would happen to your children? Your loved ones. And you were told for certain that the future would be terrible for them.

“Can you imagine for a moment how Mary felt throughout her life?

“She knew from the moment she presented the baby Jesus in the temple when Simeon told her sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart. She knew then what would happen to her Son.

“Can you imagine that? Raising a little child, hugging Him, loving Him and caring for Him. Teaching Him to take His first faltering steps, teaching Him to talk, feeding Him and looking after Him every day like a devoted loving mother does.

“And knowing every moment she does these loving things what is to happen to her precious child. Knowing every detail that is to happen to Him. How did she cope with her own Cross to carry throughout her life?

“Not only did she carry this terrible pain in her heart throughout her life, but she lived to witness it as well. For she was there, at the foot of the Cross, when her Son breathed His last breath. She held His dead body in her arms. My heart breaks just thinking about it …."

The priest stopped for a while and silently thanked our Lady for accepting her ordeal on our behalf.

“Now what are we to learn from all this?” asked Father Ignatius in a soothing voice.

“Our future is uncertain; we may be concerned, frightened even, about what is to happen to us and to our children. The financial situation in this town is in a very bad state with many losing their jobs. Prospects are none too good, and it is understandable if we sometimes feel a little apprehensive and doubtful.

“Let us learn from Jesus and Mary and take courage. God was always with them and at no time did He abandon them. Nor will He abandon us.

“When we’re feeling anxious and worried let us turn to Mary and ask her help. Let’s implore her to come to our aid. She has lived through terrible times and she’ll know exactly how we feel. And I’m certain she’ll console us and help us to go on; just like she did all those years ago.

“Let’s honour her right now by reciting the Hail Mary …”

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Sound Of Laughter

My regular readers will know that I sometimes post humourous stories here as well as my more serious Christian articles.

There are two reasons for this:

First, I have discovered by studying the statistics that about 80% of my readers are first time visitors. They come here looking for funny stories or jokes, (probably through search engines), and then hopefully, they might be interested in reading my Christian articles.

Secondly, it is because I have been blessed from an early age, (I was born as a baby you know), with a sense of humour. I have always found the funny side in most situations. For example, I remember well, when I was born in hospital in Ward 2, 3 and 4, (I was a big baby), the nurse gave me a slap on my bottom, looked at my face and punched my dad.

Laughter is the best sound you can ever hear in your life. It tells you that someone else is happy and for a while he or she has forgotten all the worries and problems that life throws at us and is enjoying a moment of release.

We humans are the only creatures on earth who laugh. No other animals, insect or fish does it. Imagine for example you are having a shower and your pet dog or cat comes in the bathroom. Chances are he will not laugh; and just as well, I say. The last thing you want when standing in the shower is your pet smirking at you.

What is laughter? I asked myself the other day and did not get a reply.

Laughter is like a pressure valve lodged there deep within you, just close to your stomach and your asparagus. When you hear or see something which you think is funny, the pressure valve gives way and releases a very loud sound out of your mouth. From anywhere else and you are in trouble.

As a young man I used to compare variety shows touring round from village to village and raising money for charity; or playing in old peoples' homes to entertain the pensioners. We used to have singers, musicians, dancers and so on and I used to introduce the acts and tell a few jokes.

I discovered then that jokes can be quite territorial. For example, I could tell a joke in one village hall and they would all laugh. But the people in the next village would not even raise a smile because they were too far away to hear me.

I'd say - Have you heard the one about the two flies walking up a mirror? One says to the other, "That's another way of looking at it!"

Or the one about the skunk running down the forest. Suddenly the wind direction changes, and he stops and says, "Ah ... it's all coming back to me now!"

Quick one-liners usually go down well with an audience about to fall asleep. Which usually happened when I was on stage.

My grand-father used to say to me, "Always fight fire with fire!" That's why he lost his job in the fire brigade.

Whereas my other grand-father told me, "Always take everything with a pinch of salt!" Mind you, he made a terrible cup of tea.

My other grand-father, on the other hand, was very wise and often gave me good advice. He said to me once, "Remember son, if you walk a mile or two in someone else's shoes you'll be arrested for stealing them!"

Then another grand-father I had was a clown by trade and profession. He always looked like himself. I remember sadly going to his funeral which we had arranged previously at a great cost to the family. Unfortunately he did not turn up as he was on holiday at the time.

Eventually he died at the age of 96 of tiredness. What a day the funeral was. All his colleagues turned up playing music and singing and juggling and dancing as he would have wanted.

The hearse he was brought in kept honking every few minutes, the doors fell out and the steering wheel came off in the driver's hands. He was laid in his coffin in full clown's costume with his face painted and wearing a red wig. Unfortunately they could not put the lid on because his big feet protruded from the coffin.
I find that humour comes to me at the most inopportune times and sometimes I have to be careful not to speak too soon before engaging my brain. Like the time I was at a management convention and there were people there from every walk of life. Accountants, (they did not walk, they were so rich they came by car), lawyers, (they were rich too and shook hands one finger at a time to charge you more later),  doctors, (you could tell by the rectal thermometers behind their ears and their pencils ... in their top pocket), and many other professionals. Anyway, I mingled amongst these elite people and one of them introduced himself as a Funeral Services Undertaker. Without thinking I said, "I bet people are dying to meet you!"

Talking of accountants ... I went to a good fee paying school when I was young. The sort of school where they welcome you with a calculator in hand. All the children there came from good families with professional parents. You could tell the children of accountants because they had an electronic abacus. On one occasion the maths teacher asked the son of a lawyer, "If you have 10 apples and I take half of them, what will I have?" The lad replied, "You'll have a law suit on your hands for stealing you thieving ..."

The Religious Instructions teacher once asked me in class, "Who broke the Walls of Jericho?" I replied, "It wasn't me. I was at Music lessons playing the trumpet at the time!" The teacher phoned my father and told him what I said. Luckily, he vouched for me because he had driven me to Music class that day. The teacher told the headmaster what had happened and the headmaster agreed to pay for the damage from the buildings maintenance budget.

So there you have it. Humour and laughter seem to be a part of my life from an early age. That and singing too. We were all good singers in our family. We had to be because the toilet door had no lock on it. Sometimes I used to sit in the toilet with my leg outstretched behind the door. Unfortunately, it opened outwards.

As I write these few words here I imagine you reading them, and raising a smile, or a titter, and it makes me feel good that someone, somewhere, has enjoyed a few moments of valve release because of me. I may not hear you laugh out loud, but then that's probably because you live too far away from me.

Whatever else you do today, go around with a smile on your face and cheer up as many people as you can. Sooner or later someone is bound to ask you: "OK wise guy; what's so funny on such a miserable day like today?"


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Close Encounter of the Medical Kind

I went to hospital yesterday. It was a routine visit to check that I still had a sense of humour. At the waiting-room I took a ticket with a number on it from the dispenser and waited for my number to appear on the big screen overhead. Meanwhile I read some of the newspapers lying around. Terrible news about that ship called the Titanic sinking. There was no mention of it on the TV News but there it was as a headline in the newspapers.

Eventually my number came up and I entered the doctor's insulting room.

As soon as he saw me he asked, "Are you a private patient who will pay for treatment or are you on the Government's Free Treatment Scheme?"

I asked, "What's the difference?"

He said, "If you're on the Government Scheme I am allowed to insult you and hurt you!"

"Oh ... In that case I am a private patient," I said.

"OK ... sit down fish face!" he replied.

I was upset by what he called me and I protested, "I thought you would not insult me if I am private!" I exclaimed.

"I am allowed to insult you," he replied, "because I don't like you."

"But how about doctors having a good bedside manner and being kind and caring and sympathetic?" I asked.

"Oh that's all phooey!  Just nonsense to advertise the profession and attract new people to become doctors. In reality we doctors can do anything. From when we take the hypocritical oath we can miss-diagnose, give the wrong but more expensive treatment, or do unnecessary operations; and all our mistakes are buried six feet deep!"

I was astounded at his laissez-faire attitude, and he wasn't even French. I thought I'd better say nothing in case I made a faux-pas. 

"What seems to be the problem fish face?" he asked.

"I feel a bit run down."

"I'm sure the police will catch the driver who ran you down," he said. "When did it happen?"

"Oh ... yesterday evening, a mile up the road from here," I told him.

"Did you have a good look at the car which ran you down?" he asked.

"No," I said, "But I can tell you exactly which tires he had. He left an imprint all over my shirt!"

"Are these the clothes you were wearing at the time?" he asked looking me up and down.

"Yes, why do you ask?"

"Because I have found a piece of cloth exactly like the shirt you are wearing caught in my front car bumper!" he declared.

"That's a coincidence," I said, "you must have driven past a few minutes after my accident and the torn cloth from my shirt got caught in your car!"

"Yes ... that's probably what happened. What did you do after the accident?"

"I went home and watched the football on TV," I told him.

On hearing this he put his hands on his ears and shouted, "say no more ... say no more ... I have recorded the game and I have not watched it yet!"

"What about me feeling run down? What shall I do?" I asked him.

"I suggest you got home and destroy the shirt you are wearing," he advised, "and all will be well."

I got up and thanked him, and as a special favour he reduced my private patient's bill which came to £126.
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