Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy Gnu Year

Well folks it's 2016 so let me be one of hopefully many to wish you a Happy Gnu Year, or Happy Noo Year, or as they say from where I am "Jus' sit down and have another whisky!"

So it's the New Year. Let's hope it is a nicer one than last year in many ways. The last twelve months have been terrible in many respects, so rather than dwell on them let's look forward with Hope, Joy and Faith.

I knew a girl called Hope once. I could tell you a lot about her but she's a lawyer now and may well sue me. So I'll tell you about Joy instead. Well, she did not live up to her name at all. She had a sour face like a mile of bad road, as they say around here when we're not drinking whisky. She always looked as if she had a permanent bad smell under her nose. I also knew a girl called Faith, believe it or not. Once we were out driving on a romantic evening and the car ran out of gas. To start a conversation, seeing she was religious, I talked about life after death. I asked her: "Do you believe in the hereafter?" She replied "If you're here after what I think you're here after, you'll still be here after I'm gone!" So I started the car and took her home. I also knew a girl called Ruth. She left me and for a while I was Ruthless.

Anyway, back to the New Year. Or forward to the New Year. Have you made any New Year resolutions?

I have made a resolution that from now on I will no longer care. Caring only leads to trouble I tell you. So it's easier not to care. Let me explain.

During Christmas, just after midnight Mass, I had to rescue a partridge from a pear tree. We were walking back home, the church is not too far, and we noticed a man standing high up on a tree asking us for help. I think he'd had a bit to drink. My family, being good Christians, advised me not to get involved and walk on. Good advice as it happens. But I decided to stop and help and they walked on home without me. Very supportive, I thought.

So I stopped by the tree and asked the man at the top who he was. He said: "I'm John Partridge and I can't get down this pear tree!"

Well, until then I did not realise it was a pear tree. It had no leaves, being winter, and it was quite big and tall. It could have been an oak, or an elm for all I care; but it would not have fitted the story, would it? So a pear tree it was.

I asked him how he got up there. He said he was going back home from the pub. He lives in an apartment block a little further on. He was caught short so he stopped by the tree, which happened to be a pear tree as it was, and for a while, a long while, he answered a call of nature. As they say in the movies: "A man's got to do what a man's got to do!"

When he finished his business he tried to get in the tree, thinking it was his apartment block. Remember, I told you he'd been drinking in the pub. He pushed against the tree trunk and as nothing happened he assumed that the elevator was not working again. So he decided to go up the tree as one would do to reach one's apartment. When he got to the top of the tree he found out that his apartment was not there. There was an owl on a branch which quickly flew away. So the man decided that he either had new neighbours who could fly or he was in the wrong apartment block. He looked for the elevator to get down but could not find either the elevator or the stairs. Someone had taken them away.

The only way I could help him was to suggest that I'd try to bend the tree a little. It was not that old and somewhat supple. If I were to pull down one of the big branches I would lower the man a little and then he would jump to terra firma.

At first he was hesitant. So I told him he'd be safe because if he pulled the zipper on his jacket as he jumped his parachute would open and he'd float safely to the ground. After a while he agreed.

I pulled hard on a branch and lowered it at least three feet or so. He stepped on it to lower himself from his position and then he jumped to the ground.

He twisted his ankle and fell flat in agony.

I picked him up and we hobbled all the way to his apartment block. As I put him into his elevator he asked whether he should sue me for making him jump and hurt himself.

I told him to sue the manufacturers of his jacket because the parachute did not open in time. It was obviously faulty. He agreed that it was a better idea.

I went home determined that as a New Year resolution I will not care about anybody anymore. So if you're ever stuck up a tree don't expect me to come and help you. Not unless you have a good working jacket.

What is your New Year resolution?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Father Ignatius and the Painter


Once upon a time there was an unscrupulous painter who was very interested in making extra money if he could. He often thinned down his paint with turpentine to make it go a bit further. Sadly, he got away with this for some time.

One day Father Ignatius decided to paint the outside of the Parish Hall white. He asked for several quotations and this painter’s was the lowest price quoted. As the priest was short of funds the painter in question got the job.

So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with turpentine.

As the painter was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, there was suddenly a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the Parish Hall walls, and knocking the painter clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

The painter realised that this was a judgement from above …

He got on his knees and cried:

“Oh God … oh God … help me … what should I do?”

And just then a thunderous voice replied:

“Repaint !!! Repaint !!! And thin no more !!!”

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Quote Unquote





Monday, 28 December 2015

I am better than you



“I’m so pious ... Always on my knees praying ... So much so that I’ve calluses on my knees the size of mountains ... Ha ha ... I fast too and go for long periods without water ... I’m alright really ... I’m a devout Christian ... Not like all those un-believers.”

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:10-14.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas at Theodore's

It had been a busy year for Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the lovable eccentric millionaire businessman, and he hadn’t been in touch with Father Ignatius for some time. So it was a surprise for  the priest when the phone rang early on Boxing Day, the day just after Christmas, and he heard the familiar voice.

“Is that yourself Padre?” asked Theodore in his well pronounced posh English accent.

“Yes … it is. Merry Christmas Theodore to you and your lovely wife Rose …”

“Yes quite … jolly good … what?” interrupted Theodore, “I was somewhat concerned at getting that other French priest on the phone. You know the one … you’ve had him visiting lately …”

“Yes … Father Gaston. He has gone back to Paris”.

"Jolly good I say … what? Never liked the French … Father Gaston being an exception of course … he was rather quiet and said very little … just as I like the French to be … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing whilst Theodore continued totally unaware of what he was saying.

“Right … now that I’ve got you on the phone rather than that French fellow, I need you urgently to help me out! Terrible spot of bother … old boy … terrible I say!”

The priest frowned fearing the worst. “What’s happened?” he asked.

“Well … Rose and I had arranged a quiet after Christmas get-together for this evening and we’d invited the Mortimers … you know them? He’s a businessman working in the US most of the time. Very nice fellow and his wife too. Jolly pleasant both! But of course you don’t know the Mortimers. I've never introduced you to them.

"Have you ever been to America Padre? I’m sure the Vatican has opened a few Branches over there. Nice place America; I've visited often. America that is. Not the Catholic outlets over there.

“Anyway … as I was saying ... back to the Mortimers. They’re over here right now for a few days … visiting family … that sort of thing. Rose and I thought we’d invite them for a spot of dinner this evening. Disaster old boy! Disaster I tell you!”

Father Ignatius smiled again.

“Well, as it happens …” continued Theodore never stopping to pause for breath, “the Mortimers can’t make it tonight. Jolly bad show don’t you think? We’ve got most of the food prepared and all … well, Mrs Frosdick, the cook, and her staff have everything prepared anyway. And the Mortimers can’t make it for dinner. They’re stuck up North because of the terrible snow storms we’ve been having over Christmas. Totally snowed in and cut off from civilization and a decent drop of whisky I shouldn’t wonder! Terrible being without whisky at Christmas; or at any other time, I'd say!

“So I thought of inviting the Hendersons … now I’m sure you know them Padre. They live about a mile or so from us, just up the hill. I thought I’d introduced them to you some time ago. Not Catholics you know … but decent people all the same. Better than many Catholics I know, I should say! Anyway … dash it all … they’ve decided to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws. Now what kind of nonsense is that? I tell you. Who’d wish to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws? It’s just like being in Purgatory I imagine … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled once more at Theodore’s continuous rant and wondered what all this was leading to … and then it came.

 “Well Padre … as neither of them can make it tonight, I thought of you. Would you care to join us for a quiet spot of dinner this evening? We’re having a goose and Brussels sprouts you know … traditional fare for this time of year sprouts … and I’ll be playing the latest musical instrument I’ve mastered … the harmonica … much less stressful than the bagpipes. I can now play Chopin’s piano concerto on the harmonica as well as the pipes!”

The priest was amused at being the third choice as guest at the millionaire’s luxurious mansion in the country, but he knew that Theodore meant no malice by it.

“It’s so nice of you to think of me …” he said quietly, “but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline too. The problem is that this evening St Vincent’s Church hosts the annual Christmas Dinner and get-together for the old folks of the Parish. We bring them to the Church Center and Father Donald and I and a few of the nuns from the Convent prepare a Christmas meal …”

“Bring them along too …” interrupted Theodore with no hesitation, “we’ll make a party of it … we’ve plenty of room over here …”

Father Ignatius knew that there was little point resisting Theodore’s generosity and enthusiasm; so plans were hurriedly changed to reschedule the venue of the Parish Christmas Dinner to the mansion on the hill.

And so it was that about fifty people including the nuns from the Convent went to the millionaire’s house to enjoy Theodore’s and his wife’s genuine kindness. They all gathered in the grand dining room, which had been festively decorated at short notice, where they enjoyed the best food and drinks sumptuously prepared by the catering staff.

Theodore dressed up like Father Christmas to give each guest a gift and then he entertained them with a sing-along which featured him playing his repertoire of the classics re-arranged for the harmonica!

The following morning, Theodore Luxton-Joyce as eccentric as ever jumped into his car, despite the heavy Christmas snow making most roads impassable, and sped towards St Vincent Church.

Half an hour later he was in Father Ignatius’ office, having barged through Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper who opened the front door, mumbling about some emergency or other.

“Padre … we have a problem …” he exclaimed to the astounded priest sitting behind the desk, “I tried to phone you this morning but you were permanently engaged … I thought you were probably hearing some late Confessions on the phone from sinners who couldn’t make it to church because of the snow! Anyway … here I am. Got in the car and came over as quick as I could!”

“Sit down … take a deep breath. What is the problem?” asked Father Ignatius fearing the worst.

“I was in the library this morning … You know, the room annexed to the dining room where we had the old folk’s Christmas Dinner last night?”

The priest nodded.

“Well … just by the section where we have the books of Sir Walter Scott. You must have read him Padre! Scottish novelist, playwright and poet … you know … Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian and so on …

“Anyway … just by those books I found this beautiful gold necklace on the floor … what? Looks pretty expensive to me … must belong to one of the old ladies you invited to our Christmas party! Must have dropped it when they all went to the library for a spot of Darjeeling. The poor lady, whoever she is, must be beside herself having lost such a valuable piece … I’d say!”

Father Ignatius took the necklace from Theodore and said, “I’ll keep it in case someone phones and asks for it!”

“I’ll hear none of it …” interrupted Theodore, “the poor lady who lost it must be looking everywhere for it … under her bed … or behind the piano … or wherever old ladies hide their jewellery! We must get in touch with them all and ask them if they’ve lost this necklace!”

Father Ignatius looked up in disbelief. “There were about fifty old people there … most of them women … you’re not suggesting …”

Theodore was suggesting just that! And for the next hour or so they phoned most of the old ladies to find the owner of the necklace; with no success.

“Well that’s all of them … except these six who are not on the phone,” remarked the priest, “I’ll ask them when I next see them at Mass on Sunday!”

But Theodore’s concern would have none of it.

"I have the car out there …” he said, “why don’t we visit them right now? I also have a bottle of brandy in the car to keep us warm … always prepared what?”

Father Ignatius said a silent prayer in his mind seeking forgiveness for what he thought about Theodore right now. Then as a self-imposed penance he decided to accompany the eccentric millionaire on what would no doubt turn out to be a wild goose chase.

And a waste of time it certainly was. At every house Theodore insisted on accepting the invitation for tea and biscuits, or mince pies, or home made cake or whatever other delicacy the old ladies had prepared for Christmas. And at every house he regaled them all with stories about Sir Walter Scott and other Scottish writers and famous people, not forgetting to mention time and again his Highlands lineage and the fact that he could play Chopin’s piano concerto on the bagpipes!

“Where does he put all this tea?” thought the weary priest to himself, “and he hasn’t been to the toilet once!”

Eventually they returned to Father Ignatius’ office at the Parish House both very cold, dejected and exhausted.

“You don’t think we can have a drop of tea to keep us warm?” asked Theodore to Mrs Davenport as she came in to collect the empty cups from this morning.

Father Ignatius held the gold necklace in his hand and admired it pensively.

“You don’t think it belongs to one of the nuns who came to the party?” asked Theodore rather stupidly, “do nuns wear necklaces under their habits Padre?”

The priest smiled and shook his head. “It’s a beautiful necklace with a lovely little rose here in the middle …” he said, “You don’t suppose it belongs to your wife … Rose?”

“Dash it all …” cried out Theodore standing up from his seat, “I forgot all about Rose! That little flower on the necklace should have reminded me …

“I bought that necklace six months ago for Rose’s birthday in January. I hid it in Sir Walter Scott’s book Rob Roy, which I was reading at the time. I thought no one would find it there … no one ever reads the books in that library … what? The necklace must have fallen out yesterday when someone picked up the books.

“I’d forgotten all about it … and for the past three weeks I’ve been wondering what to buy Rose for her birthday next month. I got her a bracelet … I know that for sure … the thing is I don’t know where I’ve hidden it …old boy!”

Father Ignatius sought forgiveness from the Lord once again for what was going through his mind.

He gave the necklace back to Theodore and followed his enthusiastic rush to the car and waived him goodbye as he sped back to his mansion on the hill.
More stories about Theodore in the FREE downloadable E Book HERE

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Something For Me To Eat



It was five days before Christmas, Father Ignatius drove into the car park and was about to enter the Parish house when he noticed a man standing by the Church door. He walked up to him and the man asked: “Have you got something for me to eat?”

He was in his fifties perhaps, although he looked much older. Unshaven, wearing dirty clothes with tears down the pockets, an open shirt revealing skin that had not been washed since who knows when, and shoes with no socks.

“I’m not from around here …” said the man, “just got off the train … I hid amongst the cattle and no one saw me …” he continued with a grin revealing missing teeth.

The smell of his clothes certainly testified to the fact that he slept amongst cattle, thought the priest.

“I think you’re in need of a good warm bath …” he said without thinking, “follow me …”

He took the man into the Parish house, led him to the bathroom and filled the bath with hot water. He then brought a large plastic bag and asked him to put all his clothes inside it. “I’ll try and find you something new to wear. We’ll have to throw your old clothes away …” said the priest as he left him to it.

He then looked through his own wardrobe and found a few bits and pieces which he no longer needed; and complemented these with other items of clothing donated by parishioners for the monthly jumble/rummage sale.

Half an hour later the man was clean and dressed, minus his shoes. The priest noticed that his toe-nails had not been cut for ages. So he sat him down, went down on his hands and knees and cut his nails for him; for it was obvious the man could not even bend down and do this for himself.

He then took him to the kitchen and prepared a lovely meal of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding and fried bread. Followed with coffee and toast and marmalade.

It was getting rather dark by mid-afternoon when the man finished eating; so Father Ignatius got him in his car and drove him to the St Bernard Shelter for the Homeless at the other side of town.

On his way back Father Ignatius could not get the man out of his mind. “What a miserable place this town is …” he thought to himself, “high levels of unemployment … businesses shutting down … people losing their jobs and their homes even … I wonder how many are sleeping rough this Christmas …”

His thoughts then turned to his parishioners. “This is definitely the poorest Parish I’ve been assigned to,” he thought as he drove home, “I wonder how many of our old folk will have a miserable Christmas … sitting at home with little if anything to eat … Miss Fletcher for instance … seventy years old and all alone … and the Palmers … both in their eighties … and Mr Sanders …” and the names kept coming to mind as he drove mile after mile.

When he reached the Parish house he was determined to do something about the old folk in his congregation. He decided to invite those whom he knew to be alone and with little money to a Christmas dinner at the Church hall.

He rushed to his office and started by writing a list of people he’d invite. A few minutes later and the list ran to twenty-seven people, all elderly, all poor, all of them he knew very well would spend Christmas day alone in their homes with little to celebrate.

He then started another list of what would be needed to prepare a lovely Christmas meal and to his dismay it totaled over £100.

And his dream was shattered in an instant. Where was he to find such a large sum of money? The Sunday collections hardly amounted to twenty pounds or so a week and every penny was needed for the up-keep of the church, the Parish house, the car and sundry other expenses.

He decided to stop thinking about this project. Doomed before it even started. Thankfully he had not shared his thoughts with anybody. Not his fellow priest, nor the housekeeper.

He looked at the clock and went to church to celebrate evening Mass.

The next morning there was a large brown envelope in the letter box with Father Ignatius’ name written on it in large letters. It had been hand-delivered as it did not have a stamp or postmark. Just his name in bold capitals.

He took it to his office and on opening it he found it contained £150 in bank notes.

There was nothing to signify who had sent it; but it was obviously for him as the envelope had his name clearly written on it.



He did hold his Christmas party for the old folk that year; but he never found out who sent him the money.



This happened many years ago when Father Ignatius first arrived at St Vincent Church. Since then he has held a Christmas party for the old people every year; with money donated by various rich and not so rich parishioners.
NOTE: This story is based on true facts. I have known a priest to go down on his knees to cut the toe nails of a poor person who called on his house for something to eat. And I've known another priest who got a donation of money anonimously just as he needed it to feed some poor folks in his parish.

More Father Ignatius stories can be downloaded FREE from HERE.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY READERS

GOD BLESS

Monday, 21 December 2015

My Childhood Christmas Gifts

It's at this time of year when one's memories drift back to our childhood and the many Christmases we had with our family and siblings. The lovely memories (hopefully for most of us) come rushing back and we smile with nostalgia and a sigh or two. Personally, I don't like Nostalgia, whoever she is. Never met her but old people around me always seem to mention her in conversation. The other day an old aunt of mine, sitting by the fire, said "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be!" So I took the bottle of whisky from her, and the blanket that covered her, and went to another room to watch TV.

Anyway, back to my memories ... this is my Blog after all. Let my aunt get her own Blog and nostalge on it as much as she wants.

I remember as a child I used to love playing hide-and-seek with my siblings and parents too who used to join in. We used to go out in the garden, I would lean against a tree and close my eyes and count to 100; and then I would look for my parents and siblings. I would search for them in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and even London. They were very good at hiding from me. I would enter the house and find out my parents had sold it. What fun that was. When I eventually found them I could see from the grin on their faces that my family loved seeing me again. They often suggested widening the area of search to the whole of Europe and beyond.

As a child, I was not a demanding kid at all. Apart from the odd piece of bread, I sometimes asked for presents to mark the occasion of Christmas or my birthday. As a joke my parents used to say that I was not born as such; but dropped from the clutches of a tired stork which had picked me up thinking I was a bundle of old clothing. 
 
Because of their love for me my parents often bought me books for my birthdays and at Christmas. Books like how to maintain and fix a car, how to unblock the drains, clean the chimney and so on. Dad used to say that they were practical and would be useful should they need me to do these jobs around the house. In my innocence I liked such educational books and knew that they could be very useful in life. For instance, the Encyclopaedia Brittanica set I was given one year proved very valuable for many years. I soon discovered that by putting two volumes on top of each other I could easily reach the cookies jar. I then put the books back on their shelf and my parents never worked out how the jar of cookies got a little emptier day by day. 

I also used to read the books given to my siblings on their birthdays and Christmas. The thing is, I took the books I read quite seriously and quite literally. Take Jack and the Beanstalk for instance. I always worried what would have happened if Jack ate the beans and they grew big inside him. Would they grow so big that the beanstalk would come out of his bottom and raise him up to the sky like an elevator? And where did the giant live exactly? Up in the sky? Was it another world up there?

And how did the goose come to lay golden eggs? Did it happen all of a sudden or did she always lay golden eggs? What if you fed her chocolates? Would she lay chocolate eggs all year round or just at Easter?

And why did the three little pigs have to build a house of straw, and sticks and bricks? Could they not afford a good mortgage from the bank? And why did the surveyor and architect not warn them that a straw and a sticks house would not withstand the huffing and puffing of the wolf? They were probably badly advised by their accountants.

And was it the same wolf that ate Little Red Riding Hood's Grandma? Riding Hood must have been very short-sighted not to recognise the wolf in Grandma's clothing. Perhaps she should have visited an optician. 

As for Goldilocks! She should have been arrested for entering a house that does not belong to her.

So, as you can tell, I took all these stories seriously and believed what I read. I used to ask my parents all these questions that crossed my mind. They used to smile and suggest we go outside and play hide-and-seek.
 
One year I asked my parents for a real live unicorn for a birthday present. I'd read about it in a book, and now I wanted one. They tried to convince me that there are no such things as a real unicorn. I argued that if that was the case, then the writer of the book would not have written about them. Perhaps he should be prosecuted for mis-representation of the facts. Anyway, I still insisted on having a unicorn.

To satisfy my young desires, a friend of my parents brought in a horse on which he had stuck a large carrot on his head. To me, this was a real unicorn. Oh, I was so happy to be the only one in the world with a real unicorn.

My parents had nowhere to keep him. So he was kept at a nearby farm and I visited him every day for a week.

Sadly, one day the other horses he was with ate the carrot off his head. 

When I saw this I was distraught to find my unicorn had lost his horn. I was beside myself with grief. Which is quite an act considering there was only one of me. Have you ever been beside yourself? If so, who else was beside you at the time?

My parents had no explanation to offer about the lack of horn on the unicorn - lack of imagination I suppose. The friend who had brought the horse in the first place explained that in modern times unicorns have edible horns. So it was quite normal for the other horses to eat my unicorn's horn. 

I think I almost quite believed this. But I'm not sure though. What do you think? Are unicorn's horns edible or not?

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Why did Jesus have to come to earth?



Another week, another Friday. Father Ignatius set out from St Vincent Church to St Joseph Catholic School to take on the Catechism class with the 15 years old.

It was always a challenge facing those youngsters, especially since he allowed a few minutes at the end of class for free discussion. They could ask anything they wanted and he promised to give them an honest answer – even if he didn’t have an answer, he promised them to say so.

A young pupil put up her hand and asked:

“Why did Jesus have to come to earth? Why didn’t God continue to speak through the prophets like Moses and all the others? And send His Commandments and messages that way? Did Jesus really have to come and die for us to be forgiven? Couldn't God just forgive us?”

“That’s an intelligent question Catherine,” replied the priest, “in fact it’s more than one question; all intelligent at that!”

The young pupil smiled proudly.

“I am not God,” said Father Ignatius, “and I cannot possibly explain what went through His mind when He sent us Jesus; or His motivation for Christ’s Virgin birth, sinless life, death and Resurrection. I know and believe that God decided to send us His Son Jesus to die for us. Yes, He could have just forgiven us, as you say. Being God, He could have done what He wishes, and still can. But I believe that He sent us Jesus, His Son ... and when Jesus was raised to Heaven He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is still with us today ... ”

He stopped for a while to clean his glasses which gained him some thinking time; then putting them back on he continued:

“Let me tell you a story I heard years ago …”

The whole class was now focused on his every word. He knew how to captivate their attention and he firmly believed that honesty, combined with his modern-day parables, would make them remember what he had to say and hopefully mold them into a lifetime founded on the Word of God.

“Once upon a time there was a farmer living in Canada where, as you know, the winters can be very cold and miserable.



“One such cold winter evening in the midst of a very violent snow storm, the farmer was in his home keeping warm by the fireside when he heard banging on the side of his house.

“What could it possibly be? He thought as he heard the continuous thump, thump, thump coming from outside?

“He ignored it at first, but as his dog was getting a little fractious by the sound the farmer put on his heavy overcoat and woolly hat and went outside to investigate.

“He struggled in the blinding snow and nearly slipped once or twice.



“As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness he discovered that a flock of wild geese had lost their way in the snow storm and landed in the field near his house.

“There were literally hundreds of them. Disorientated, cold and wandering everywhere.

“They were landing heavily like an airplane with failed engines, and many of them crashed against the side of the barn.

“The farmer realized that left out in the cold they would soon perish without any shelter.



“So he opened the doors of one of his barns and hoped that they would go in for the night.

“But no ... they remained out in the cold cackling and walking around in circles rather than seek shelter in the barn.

“He tried to shoo them in by walking behind them with his arms spread out ... but to no avail ... the geese ran everywhere except into the barn.



“He tried to persuade his sheepdog to herd them into the barn. But the dog had better ideas in mind. He raised his back leg to answer a call of nature then ran back into the house.”

The class of students laughed in unison.

“The farmer thought to himself ‘If only I could talk to these birds in their own language and explain to them that the barn will shelter them from the snow ... It’s their only way to salvation from this freezing cold …’

“Then an idea struck him.

“He opened another barn and let out his own geese in the yard. The yard was now full of his flock as well as these Canadian wild geese. All cackling away in the freezing snow.

“After a minute or so he shooed his own geese into the open barns again and to his relief the wild geese followed them to safety.”

The priest stopped to allow the story to sink into their young minds.

“You see … I think God had the same problem with us humans on earth.

“For years He spoke to us through the prophets as Catherine said when she asked her question. But did we listen … of course not. We continued in our sinful way.

“So God sent His only Son to us, as a human, so that we may see Him, hear Him and hopefully listen to Him speaking to us in our own language.

“Some of us have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and have heeded the Word of God, as spoken through Christ our Lord.

“But years later, even now, there are many who are not listening still.

“And that’s what we must remember at Christmas time. It isn’t just about the baby Jesus being born in a stable. It is more important than that. It is about the reality that God Himself visited us here on earth all those years ago.”

Thursday, 17 December 2015

What did she know?


It’s amazing how sometimes a chance remark or a word spoken in jest can lead one to think something anew or with a fresh point of view.

Father Ignatius was helping with the dismantling of the Nativity scene in church and putting away the various statues safely for use the following Christmas. One of the helpers lifted the statue of the Virgin Mary and remarked: “Look at her face. She looks sad. It’s as if she knew what was to happen to Jesus when He grew up.”

“She’s probably tired after giving birth,” replied another helper.

“No … she looks sad, not tired. Do you think she knew that Jesus would be crucified Father?”

Father Ignatius sat down on a nearby chair.

“I think we need a rest, at least I know I do …” he said.

The other helpers stopped for a while.

“It’s a good question you ask …” continued the priest, “many people have argued about the Virgin Mary over the years, and no doubt will continue to do so. Not everyone holds her in such high regards as we do. Some see her as a woman who gave birth to the Son of God, and just that.

“Many doubt her various Apparitions throughout the world.

“As for how much she knew … well that’s another matter.”

“What do you mean Father?”

The priest finished cleaning his glasses and put them on again. It was a trick he had perfected when he wanted some thinking time.

“Let’s consider Mary when the Angel Gabriel announced what is to happen. Did the Angel just tell her about the Birth of Jesus, or did he, or the Holy Spirit perhaps, also tell her of what is to happen after that?

“Was she told that Jesus would grow up to perform many miracles? That His Mission on earth was to redeem us from our sins? That He would be arrested, beaten, tortured, have a crown of thorns put on His head, made to carry His own Cross and then nailed cruelly to it until He died in agony?”

“I’m not sure … the Bible doesn’t say much about this,” said one of his listeners.

“No, the Bible doesn’t …” continued the priest, “it does not record everything. For example, we have a gap in Christ’s life from the age of twelve when He was found in the temple by His parents to the age of thirty or so when He started His Mission on earth.

“The Gospels in particular focus mainly on Christ, as they should, and don’t mention Mary or Joseph very much.”

“Well what do you think Father?” he was asked again.

“What I think is only a personal point of view.

“I doubt that God would have asked her to become the Mother of Jesus without telling her what this entailed.

“I believe the Holy Spirit would have told her what is to happen. We don’t know in how much details … we can only guess at that. And throughout her life, from the moment the Angel Gabriel visited her, she had snippets of confirmation of what is to happen.

“When she visited Elizabeth … we learn that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and confirmed ‘you are the most blessed amongst women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’

“When she presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon warned her ‘and sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.’

“And when at the age of twelve His parents found Jesus in the temple He said ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ And Mary treasured all these things in her heart.

“Yes … I believe she knew quite a lot what was to happen to Jesus.”

“Wow … no wonder she looks so sad …” exclaimed one of the helpers.

“This leads us to consider something else,” added the priest.

“Imagine you knew every detail that is to happen in your life. Every illness, sad moment and unhappiness that is to happen. And you could not change it. You had to go through it. How would you feel? Would you be able to cope with the fear and agony of knowing what is to happen to you?

“We don’t know how much Mary knew of her future and that of Jesus.

“But Jesus certainly knew what would happen to Him. Every detail from the moment of His arrest to His death. Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, His disciples fleeing in fear. The agony of His torture and Crucifixion.

“Can you imagine how He must have felt as He grew up, as a teenager and young man, knowing that this day was still to come? The horror of it must have been unbearable.

“Yet He went through with it … just for us!”

They were all silent for a few moments as they considered the seriousness of what they’d just heard.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Go away ... I'm busy

Why is it when you are busy trying to do something that you get as many interruptions as you can accumulate in a short space of time?

There I was busy writing an urgent report which just had to be finished for work that day when the phone rings.

"Hello ... yes, it's me. How can I help you?

"No thank you, I do not need to have new windows fitted in my house. Why? Because I live in a tent, that's why. Good bye!"

I got back to work. A few minutes later the phone rings again.

"Hello ... how can I help you? No thank you I do not have time right now to take part in a shopping survey. It's too inconvenient right now ... why? Because a horse has just got in my house through the window and left a pile on the carpet which I have to clean up before my wife gets home! The vacuum cleaner does not work. So unless you can deliver a new vacuum cleaner in the next ten seconds. Good bye!"

I put the phone down feeling proud of my impromptu response which made me laugh even if it did not amuse the other person at the end of the phone. Why do they phone when I'm busy? I have to answer the phone because I'm expecting an urgent call from a work colleague. So I can't leave the answer-phone machine to take the calls. (I remembered later about call-screening).

I get back to work. The door bell rings. I open the door. Someone is standing there with a collecting tin.

"This is a collection for fallen women!" he said.

"Sorry ... I haven't got any here!" I reply flippantly.

Then, feeling a little guilty I give him a penny. That's four pennies I have already given away in this season of good will. Why do these people with collection tins make you feel so guilty in your own home? A few weeks ago it was trick or treat. I had to split a bar of chocolates into 16 little pieces to give away that night. I really don't understand the benefit in all these giving donations. You give money away and don't get any benefit from the transaction. What's so clever about that?

I get back to work and the phone rings again.

"Hello ... goodbye ... go away!" I shout.

"Oh sorry auntie ... I did not know it was you? Is it urgent? Only I have a lot to do right now ...

"No of course you're not interrupting auntie ... only, I have to finish some work and then go to the vet ... no, I am not with Yvette. Yes, I know she is a wonderful young lady. Yes ... I know she has been a bit down-hearted lately. Ever since her poinsettia plant died. I know they're delicate plants, auntie ...

"What is it I can do for you auntie? Can it wait or is it urgent?

"No ... I said I am not busy with Yvette. I was due to go to the vet.

"No not a bet ... you know I don't bet. I said VET with a V not a B ... No auntie, I am not shouting. There's nothing wrong with my vest. (Sotto Voce - Deaf Old Trout). No I did not say Deaf Old Trout ... I said I agree there is no need to shout.

"Oh ... don't be upset auntie ... I'll come over to see you later OK? I'll buy you some flowers and some chocolates to cheer you up. Hello? I can't hear you auntie ... I am loosing the connection ... the train is going into a tunnel and I'll loose the ..."

I put the phone down with a smile wondering whether she will ever realise she had phoned me at home and not on my cell-phone.

The phone rings again.

"Hello auntie ... yes, I can hear you OK. The house has just got out of the tunnel. Bing Bong. Bing Bong. Sorry auntie. I have to go now. There's someone at the door."

I put the phone down. It rings again immediately. It is my works colleague. The report I am writing is not that urgent now. Management needs it in a week's time. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Mean Old Trout

I don't know if it is the same where you live, but here in the UK, when a couple are getting married they prepare a Wedding Gift List. This is a list of all the items they need to set up home together. Guests pick an item they'd like to purchase, tell the couple, and it is crossed off the list. So be quick to choose the cheap items like "a bottle opener" otherwise other people will choose the cheap item and you'll have to buy an expensive one.

In this electronic day and age, a number of shops have prepared wedding lists on their websites. The couple to be married tell their guests where to access the list of their chosen shop. Guests go on the internet, choose a gift and pay for it, and the shop delivers it on the wedding day. I don't like this idea because it ties you down to the shop the couple have chosen, and some greedy couples will choose the most expensive shop, whereas I could buy them the same item from a garage sale at a cheaper price. Admittedly it will need cleaning a bit; but who cares. When you get married happiness is above all else; not gifts!

When I got married I did not want to prepare a list; but tradition is tradition after all.

The list proved useless. Not one guest bought us anything from our list. I had asked for a new house, a car, a luxury holiday, jewelleries, and similar small trinkets. But instead we got toasters, ironing boards, kettles, tea pots and similar small items. Let's face it, the price of a toaster is much much less than the guests would have consumed in food and drinks at our wedding. So I was out of pocket from the start. I remember it cost us a fortune getting my favourite hamburger bar to prepare all those meals with French fries and milk shakes.

Now many years later, I have grown older and wiser. I tell friends and family not to give us Christmas presents; but if anyone breaks the agreement and gives us something anyway, I wait until after Christmas and buy them something in the winter sales. Either that, or recycle some present that someone else has given us.

It's surprising how many good things you can buy in the sales. The other day I bought a shirt from the shop. The sign said "20% OFF" so it was a bargain. When I got home I found out they had cut the sleeves off.

What is the most useless present you have received?

Monday, 14 December 2015

It's Christmas time

It's Christmas time once again. My favourite time of the year. And although we always say that this year we will be minimalist and not overspend there's always a reason why we should buy this and that.

This year, bringing forth my Ebenezer Scrooge nature, I wrote to all relatives and friends making a pact of some sort. I suggested we don't buy presents for each other but instead we say a little prayer for each other. It's a much more valuable gift and costs nothing in monetary funds to my ailing wallet. Most agreed. At least, by not responding to my e-mail I took it they agreed.

WRONG.

Some have already broken the truce by sending us early presents to put under the tree. This means they have put us (me) under an obligation to purchase something of equal or greater value; that is if we knew what's in the wrapped parcels. How inconvenient.

I was given a list of items to purchase from town during lunch break from work. I ran from shop to shop buying the items on the list and soon discovered that I was running out of money.

I went to the bank for more cash because I needed some money to put in the Church collection. They have a system in our church whereby they give you 52 envelopes with your number on it. Every Sunday you put some money in the envelope, seal it, and drop it in the collection tray. No one knows what you have given except the church treasurer. He opens the envelopes and records what you have given using the number printed on the outside to identify you. At year end, he tells the Government how much you have donated and the Government gives the church a donation based on a percentage of your donation. So the church gets more from what you've donated.

I suggested to the priest we use credit card transactions during collection time; and he frowned at me without responding. So I needed some cash.

At the bank all the machines giving out cash were out of order. So many people withdrew cash that the machines were empty. I had to queue to get cash from the counter.

At the counter, whilst the young lady was cashing my cheque the phone on her desk rang. It was a personal call. She just learnt that her favourite aunt had died. She was totally distraught and sat there staring into space doing nothing. I was in a hurry to get my cash and get on with my purchases. I did not want to be late back at work.

As tactically as I could, and as gentle too, (as you know I am, dear readers), I suggested to her that her aunt would still be dead in ten minutes. Could she cash my cheque and grieve later?

She burst into tears and ran away. I had to wait until another cashier came to complete the transaction.

When I got to work I discovered that my secretary was upset and crying her heart out because her cat had died that morning.

In order to prove my kind heartedness, and in the spirit of Christmas, I went out again and bought her an identical cat.

When she saw it she was even more upset because she now has two dead cats!


I never win.

Friday, 11 December 2015

No Peace

Please allow me to quote from my book "Visions" where Jesus says: "This world cannot know peace until it learns to forgive. Forgiveness is the way to peace".

Regular readers of this Blog, (that's just you and me, the two of us), will know that I often post humourous articles and fun stories here.

I know from analysing the stats that these articles often attract new readers who came here by searching for "jokes", "fun" or other similar words and, having found me, hopefully spend some time looking at the other more serious Christian posts; and hopefully get to know Jesus through what I write.

As I look at life around me, in my locality or on a wider scale through the news media, I notice that as a human race we still have not learnt to forgive.

We may well have advanced in numerous fields such as science, technology, the arts and so on ... but we're still unable or unwilling to learn the very basics regarding mutual peaceful existance.

We've all been hurt in life at one time or other. Some more than others. The hurt runs deep and the wounds are still raw and painful. No one is immune to being hurt.

The trick is - what do we do next?

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22

According to my calculator this adds up to 490 times. But I'm sure Jesus did not mean to limit us to that number.

How do we forgive?

True forgiveness means that we no longer hold something against the one who hurt us. No thoughts of revenge, retribution, punishment or anything like that. We just let what they have done pass away and we move on.

Someone asked me the other day – I have forgiven but cannot forget the pain and hurt caused to me. Does that mean I’ve not really forgiven?

The simple answer is:

If none of the feelings mentioned above are in our hearts – then we have truly forgiven.

Jesus asked us to forgive. Not to forget.

Of course we'll remember the hurt. The more the hurt the more we'll remember as every day something happens to remind us. This is natural.

The second trick is:

We use every remembrance of the hurt to forgive once again.

We also use every remembrance to pray for the one who hurt us. We hand that person over to God as well as the hurt itself.

You cannot possibly hate someone you are praying for.

When Jesus looks at the scars in His hands, feet and side He remembers; and forgives once again.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Great News

I have great news to share with you. First of all, this is the scene from my front window today. Isn't it beautiful?

Secondly, the choir leader in church has chosen me to sing solo this Christmas. She said I have an "angelic" voice and she would like me to sing Silent Night. I have been practicing all day to get it right. Here's a short recording I made today for you to enjoy.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

St Paul's lost litter to the maddern wold

Deer fiends,

I am riting this litter to warn you of the dangers of modern thyme.

Life is moving fast these dais. It is not as when I was round on earth. Back then life was much slower. We wear more care full, especially when talking or writing too each other. We thought carefully aboot what we said.

I used too write with a quill on parchment pepper or thick sheets of papyrus. A quill was a feather I plucked from a mongoose and sharpened its end - of the feather not the mongoose. I tipped the feather in ink and wrote slowly and carefully so as not to make any misteaks.

Now life is much faster with electronique gadgets with there prescriptive sex. You type one thing and out comes an other. Then you press send and the damage is don. What you did not mean to say has been said and the other person can get upset or very heart.

Pleese communication slowly and carefully. Do not heart each other by what you say. Be gentile with one another. I remember a fiend of mines always used to say: Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never heart me. And then a printing press fell on him. Ouch!

So take cake ... care.

I'd better stop now. My quill is getting blunt. I use it to hit the keys on this keyboard and it breaks easily. Not like the olden thymes.

Yours sin cere lee,

Sain PAuL.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Graceful Lady

For the last three Sundays Father Ignatius noticed a new member of his congregation attending Mass and always sitting in the same place on the left of the Altar.

She was an elegantly dressed lady in her mid to late fifties. She took part in silent prayer throughout Mass and never came forward for Communion. At the end of Mass she got out of church without speaking with anyone and drove away in a nice new car. Not the sort of car you see often in St Vincent Church whose parishioners are mostly either out of work or earning a pittance in a job in the poorest town in the country.

Father Ignatius liked to wait in the car park after Mass and greet his parishioners as they came out of church. Yet he never managed to speak to this mysterious lady who always left just before the final hymn ended, and so avoided contact with him or any other parishioner.

This week however the repetitive saga would have a different outturn because Father Donald was offering Mass; so our resourceful priest decided to wait in the car park a few minutes before Mass ended and so have the opportunity to greet his mysterious new visitor.

As the elegant woman came out of church early Father Ignatius greeted her with a smile.

“Hello, I’m Father Ignatius … I don’t think we’ve met …” he said.

“Yes Father … how remiss of me …” she replied in a refined English accent, “perhaps we can meet somewhere and I’ll introduce myself …”

Father Ignatius was taken aback. He certainly did not expect such a response.

“Ehm … we can go in the Parish House” he mumbled.

“Excellent … lead on and I’ll follow” she smiled.

Minutes later they were both in the large lounge room downstairs in the Parish House. She sat on the armchair near the warm fireplace; the very chair the priest often used when watching TV or listening to his beloved classical music. He sat on the settee opposite her.

“I haven’t been attending your church for long," she started.

“You’re very welcome here …” he encouraged her.

“The truth is … I haven’t been to church for almost thirty years,” she continued, “but my husband died a month ago and I thought I’d come back …”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear it …” the priest sympathized.

“Sorry that I’ve come back to church or that my husband died?” she asked teasingly, and before the priest had time to reply she smiled and went on “oh … don’t worry Father, actually I’m glad he’s dead … I’ve cursed him often enough …”

Father Ignatius knew to say nothing and let her continue.

“We married some thirty two years ago to be precise and he left me for another woman after two years of marriage. We had a young son aged one year at the time. My husband moved to another part of the country to start a new life with his new lover and I haven’t seen him since.

“He provided generously for the up-bringing of our son. He was fairly wealthy and made arrangements for moneys to be regularly credited to my bank, yet he never made contact nor visited our son since the day he left.

“My son is grown-up now and married with two children of his own. And my husband and I never divorced.

“He went to live with his girl friend, and had two other children with her although he never married her. And last month he died in a car accident.

“I heard from his solicitors that he left money for our son and for me.

“And I cursed him once again … I never forgave him for the pain he’s caused me and that’s why I’ve not been to church ever since the day our marriage broke down!”

“Well, as I said, you’re very welcome here …” Father Ignatius replied encouragingly once again.

“I know it’s wrong not to forgive Father …” she continued as calmly as before, “but I just can’t. And that’s why I haven’t been to church for a long while.

“I don’t even know why I’m back in church now … for the past three weeks at least. Perhaps I’m hoping that God will give me a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” she smiled. “You know what I mean … He’d forgive my hatred for my husband yet let me continue to hate him.”

“I doesn’t work like that …” Father Ignatius said gently.

“Yes I know Father. You’d have thought that after all these years I would have moved on … but I haven’t …” she continued lighting a cigarette.

“That’s because the hurt caused to you all those years ago has not healed. For various reasons the pain has not been given time to subside and fade away. Memories perhaps remained too vividly alive and so fuelled your anger and made the pain worse,” he explained as quietly and gently as before.

“Anyway … that’s my story,” she smiled stubbing out her just lit cigarette in the ashtray, “I may or may not continue to come to church … but it’s been nice meeting you Father. You’re a very gentle and caring person, and I appreciate your kindness.”

“Let me ask you something …” Father Ignatius asked just as she was about to get up, “if your husband was alive today, and he was here right now, full of genuine remorse for the hurt he has caused you all these years. If he asked you to forgive him, knowing full well that there’s nothing he can do to turn back the clock and put things right. If he genuinely and truly asked you for forgiveness; would you find it in your heart to forgive him?”

“What an interesting question …” she replied, “yes … on reflection I think I would forgive him.”

“It’s too late for him to ask your forgiveness,” said the priest, “but it’s not too late for you to forgive him.

“For your own peace of mind … and for your own sake and salvation, you must forgive him once and for all. The memories and hurt may well linger on, but with true forgiveness will come healing and in time reconciliation with Our Lord.”

“I’ll try …” she said showing emotion for the first time.

“That’s all God is asking of you. And I’ll be here to help you if you need me …” he replied.

And that’s how a wounded soul finally managed to find peace and healing. She continued to attend Mass on Sundays and had several discussions with Father Ignatius and Father Donald over a period of time to make her way back to God.

Yesterday, she went to Confession and had Communion for the first time in over thirty years.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

John's Legacy

A man wandering in the desert, dressed in clothes made of camel hair, and eating locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:4-8).

Not exactly sartorial elegance. More of an eccentric if you ask me.

Yet this was a man with a mission.

His mission – to tell everyone about Jesus. To prepare them for His arrival.

His name – John, the Baptist. In case you confuse him with another John.

An outspoken man who feared no one in his quest to do what God had asked him. He even dared to criticize the king, and paid dearly with his life for doing so. (Mark 6:14-29).

His legacy to us?

Courage and Obedience.

Despite living in dangerous times, this man had courage to speak out and tell the world about Jesus; and dared tell the King that he was wrong.

How often are we presented with the opportunity to speak about God, about our religion and our Christianity. Do we shy away and miss a good opportunity to witness for our Lord? Or have we got a tiny fraction of John’s courage? And obedience?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Accents and Slang

The other day a friend of mine and frequent visitor to this Blog, Lulu, mentioned English accents in one of her posts. By the way ... as I go off to a tangent ... Have you ever visited Lulu's Blog? If not, I suggest you do. You'll like what she writes there - makes more sense than what I write here. Just click on her name above and off you go. But not just yet ... finish reading my post first.

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself ... Lulu mentioned English accents; and this set me thinking. The British Isles are a relatively small area geographically, yet we have many varied and different accents to contend with.

Up in Scotland we have different accents in the Capital Edinburgh and in Glasgow, as well as in other parts of Scotland. Then we also have Welsh and Irish accents as well as the many accents in England itself. Someone from Liverpool for instance would sound totally different from a person from Manchester only a few miles away, or someone from Birmingham, Norfolk, Cornwall or London. In fact in London you'd find different accents depending from which part of London you come from.

But I wonder how many of you have heard of Cockney London Rhyming Slang?

This is a way of speaking prevalent in the East End of London whereby you use a rhyming word or phrase to mean something else totally different. So if you're ready; here is your first lesson in speaking in Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Adam and Eve - meaning "believe" - Would you Adam and Eve it? (Would you believe it?)

Apples and Pears - meaning "stairs" - He went up the apples and pears.

Barney Rubble - meaning "trouble" - He is real Barney Rubble he is!

Brahms and Liszt - meaning "pissed" (drunk) - He came out of the pub totally Brahms and Liszt.

This next one is a bit rude:

Bristol - short for a football team called Bristol City - which rhymes with titty meaning breast. So you would say - She had some large Bristols on her. Or, look at those Bristols.

Butcher's - short for butcher's hook - rhyming with and meaning "look" - Let me have a butchers at it. (Let me look at it).

Are you keeping up with me? Ok ... guess this one - Dog and bone.

Give up? It means phone.

I spoke to her on the dog and bone. She said her dog's meat (feet) hurt her and she had an itch on her fireman's hose (nose) and a pain in her Gregory Peck (neck). She went out and crossed the frog and toad (road) to fetch her dustbin lid (kid). When he got home, her dustbin lid (kid) was Hank Marvin (starving) and wanted feeding; but he said he wanted a Jimmy Riddle (piddle = urinate) first. So he went up the apples and pears - or tables and chairs (stairs) and pointed Percy to the porcelain (pointed his man bits to the porcelain urinal or toilet). She called him down but he must have been Mutt and Jeff (deaf) at the time because he didn't answer her.

She heard him wash his hands with a bit of Bob Hope (soap) and then he had a bread and cheese (sneeze) because he was coming down with a cold. He sat in front of the custard and jelly (telly = TV) and watched the baked bean (queen) give her Christmas address to the nation.

Anyway, that's enough Cockney Rhyming Slang for now. I'll say goodbye and go to the trouble and strife (wife) in the hope that she's got a Vera Lynn (gin) ready for me.

Tara now!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

An impromptu séance


Something really unusual happened to me the other day. It was totally unvoluntary and I did not know it was going to happen.

I was visiting friends at a party and as we were all enjoying a chat and a few drinks and something to eat, the hostess suggested that we all sit down because she had a special surprise for us all. Apparently she had invited a clairvoyant that evening, who incidentally arrived a little late due to unforeseen circumstances. But that aside, we were asked to sit down and the clairvoyant woman, who wore glasses by the way, took the stage and started talking.

There was no question of sitting in a circle, holding hands with all lights out. No this séance was different. We all sat there in cinema style and she started talking.

She closed her eyes, (what's the use of the glasses, I thought), and swayed from left to right a little as she stood there. She then said,

"I am getting a message from the other side ..."

There were a few murmurs around the room.

"I can see him clearly ..." she continued, "He died only two weeks ago but he wants someone here to know that he is very happy. I can see him waggling his extremity and sniffing someone's privates!"

At this the whole room spontaneously and in unison went "Aaahhh !" in disbelief at what she had just said. But she continued unperturbed, "Rest assured, whoever you are, that your little dog is very happy in dog's heaven!

"Does anyone here have a dog, or had a dog, which died recently?"

A woman raised her hand and started sniffing a tear or two in her handkerchief. Her dog had just died and she was relieved that he was now OK and happy with his new lady doggie friend.

The clairvoyant then went on to relate how the dead dog was grateful for the happy life he had enjoyed with his owner when alive. How he liked to go for walks and loved the food which she served him every day. It was all general type of commentary which you would attribute to any dog regardless of who owned it; but this lady whilst weeping silently was so relieved to hear of the well-being of her dear departed pooch.

As the evening wore on, it transpired that this lady excelled at contacting dead animals from the other side. I was quite impressed, especially considering I have great difficulty communicating with my dog and cat who are alive and well; and here we have someone who can communicate with those who are as stiff as a wooden board. The thought passed my mind, when I say to my dog "Go to bed!" he looks at me with a stupid face as if to ask "Who is Ted?" How could he possibly communicate with this fraud of a woman if he were dead?

Her next message from the beyond was, believe it or not, from a cow. She said that although her body was dead and had been enjoyed by many a Sunday roast, her spirit roamed freely in a beautiful meadow sun-bathed by a warm and cloudless sky. Unsurprisingly, no one in the room owned up to having had a cow; perhaps there were no farmers there. The clairvoyant explained that sometimes she got messages even if there was no one in the audience for whom it was meant. A crossed telephone line, maybe!

She then moved to more familiar territory and said she received a message from a parrot. She could not make out what it was, but it was a little repetitive!

She then mentioned a dearly departed goldfish. The message was that it was not having an epileptic fit but that it was out of water at the moment and gasping for breath because a sea gull had just picked him up from the river where it was swimming. The clairvoyant then stopped as she noticed one of the guests getting distressed; presumably the owner of the dead fish. The clairvoyant continued,

"Aha ... good news. The sea gull realised that she is in animal heaven so she dropped the goldfish back in the river."

Everybody applauded in delight, whilst I downed yet another whisky. I prefer my spirits to come in bottles and not speak to me through a mentally deranged woman.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

How old is the earth?

For a long time now scientists and archaeologists and all sorts of learned people looking up at the stars and digging various places on earth for artifacts and things have been asking each other how old is the earth. Some have surmised that it is millions of years old, others have said it is older than that, give or take a day or two either side, whilst some believe the earth is really trillions of years old if not more.

Well, I can tell you with a fair degree of accuracy that the earth is 12 years old. Yes, just 12 years old. I know that my theory does not pass much scrutiny by learned scientists, or the one or two readers of this Blog who know better; but bear with me whilst I explain.

It all happened some 12 years ago whilst we were all asleep and we did not notice it. There was a major cosmic happening and the earth as we know it entered a vortex leading to a black hole with a singularity much greater than anyone could imagine. That is of course if anyone was awake to imagine it. Entering such a vortex is like going round and round with the water as it goes down the plug hole in your bath. Eventually, you too go down the plug hole with the water.

And this is what happened to earth. In doing so, it somehow rejuvenated in energy and stamina albeit not necessarily in age. So, although measurements like carbon dating, or archaeologists unearthing things dating back centuries may prove the earth existed more than 12 years ago; in energy terms it is only 12 years old. It's like giving an old coot a massive dose of vitamins and making him young and "active" much to the displeasure of his wife or girl-friend. Which reminds me; if I may be allowed to go off at a tangent for a bit: Did you know that archaeologists make the best marriage partners? The older you get the more interested they are in you.

Anyway, the earth entered this vortex leading to a black hole and came out the other end much rejuvenated and as young in stamina and energy as if it were 12 years old. And we didn't even notice it.

Why did this happen? I hear you ask.

Well it's simple really. The earth as it was then was slowing down. As you know, it turns from left to right all the time and has been doing so for ages. But like anyone who has had a life's diet of large burgers and French fries washed down with great amounts of drinks the earth was getting heavier and much slower. The turn from left to right was taking longer than the accustomed 24 hours each turn.

The earth was getting heavier because of the millions and millions of people who over the years have been born and died. Imagine as far back as the year dot how many people have been born. What happens to them when they die? They are either buried or cremated and their remains remain on earth, if you pardon the pun. Think also of all the trees and plants who have been "born" and eventually died. All these have their remains still on earth. The same for animals, birds, fish and everything else. They die, they remain on earth and new ones come along to eventually die and also remain on earth. Nothing actually leaves the planet which is getting heavier all the time.

And because it is heavier it becomes slower. Which means the sun has more time to shine on the same area as it passes slower and slower underneath it. And this my friends is what contributes to global warming.

It has nothing to do with all the other theories you've heard about regarding global warming. Not even the fact that we light so many candles in the world; at birthday parties, in churches, in restaurants, at intimate dinners or even in the bath. What's the idea of lighting candles in the bath anyway? Quite dangerous I think if you happen to singe your hair. Take it from me. Lighting candles does not lead to global warming. The earth slowing down does.

Going through the vortex at very high speeds has meant that the earth lost some (a lot) of its excess dust and is now a little lighter and its turn around speed a little more normal. For now ... We could all help it along by becoming lighter ourselves and eating less burgers and fries. And breeding less!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Fundraising


I am not sure if this happens a lot where you live, but this is something that happens a lot around here and to be honest it is getting a little out of control. I am talking, of course, about fundraising. Now, I am not against giving money to charity or for a good cause. Indeed I am known for my generosity and I often give at least one penny at the Sunday collection in church; even on those days when we Catholics excell at having a second and sometimes a third collection. That's three pennies in one day, I tell you.

No; what I am talking about is fundraising when people approach you and say that they will do something or other if you would sponsor them for charity. Often it is relatives or friends and you are immediately put under an obligation to put your hand in your pocket and sponsor them.

It's wrong, very wrong, I tell you. If someone wants to walk 50 or so miles why should I be punished by paying for it? If they want to take some exercise by walking aimlessly and hopefully lose some weight in the process, let them do so. Why should I pay for it? Or pay for people to swim long distances, or abseil down a building, or parachute from a plane.

It's ridiculous, I tell you. And just as ridiculous are the lengths people are prepared to go to to separate you from your hard earned pennies. A friend of mine suggested the other day that if he were to grow a beard for a whole month I sponsor him to back a particular charity. Well, I don't buy that. If he wants to be scruffy for a month that's his business.

Whatever next, I ask you? Will people volunteer to have a tattoo on their backside to be sponsored for charity? Mind you, if that person were a woman and she agreed to show proof of the tattoo I might well be persuaded to contribute a penny or two.

We've even had ladies featuring nude on calendars which they sell to raise money for charity. There are similar male calendars too; but not as good.

Anyway, just to prove that I am not a miserly Ebenezer Scrooge let me tell you right now that I am doing something for charity.

I shall be going on a first class holiday on a nice sunny beach for a fortnight or so where I will enjoy the local amenities and fine foods for charity. Will you sponsor me?

Saturday, 28 November 2015

VISIONS


Excerpt from "Visions" (ISBN 978 1536 976076)


His hands trembled uncontrollably. He looked at the envelope in the vain hope that it was addressed to someone else. No. It was his name all right. "Father Ignatius" it said in the same capital letters.
Obviously someone who knew him, or knew of him, was very angry to want to threaten his life.

The knock at the door made Father Ignatius jump out of his skin. He shoved the letter in his pocket and stood there trembling uncontrollably again.

Whoever it was knocked hard once again. Out of sheer stupidity, or perhaps because he was no longer focusing properly, the priest opened the door more as a reflex reaction to the knocking than anything else.

There standing on the doorstep was the biggest man he’d ever seen. He was well over six feet tall with broad shoulders like a rugby player. The young man in his early twenties towered above the priest. He had long scruffy dark hair and a fresh wound just above his eyelid. He was wearing dirty blue jeans and red sleeveless T-shirt revealing strong well-developed muscular arms covered in tattoos. He looked as if he could kill a person with one finger.
 
Half an hour later, when the last of the congregation had gone, Father Ignatius entered the church which was now silent once again. He turned off the main lights leaving just the one light on by the Sacristy door. The church was quite dark now, except for the flames from the candles on the Altar and by the statues in the side aisles. The smell of incense still lingered in the air. He looked at his watch and made his way to the front pew by the statue of the Virgin Mary. He knelt down and for a short while looked pensively at the flames dancing gently on the votive candles. The slightest breeze made the flames move backwards and forwards like synchronised ballerinas on a stage.
 
He’d been praying for half an hour or so when he heard the door at the back of the church open and then shut again with a soft thud as the spring pushed it back to its original position. He waited for the footsteps which would normally accompany such an occurrence but none were forthcoming.

He looked towards the back of the church but he could see no one in the darkness. The door was partly concealed by the confessional and a large statue of St Peter, so it could be possible that someone came in and was standing by the door hidden from view. On the other hand, someone could have opened the door, looked in, and finding the church empty just went away.

He decided to stay where he was and continue with his prayers. A few minutes later he heard footsteps at the back of the church. There was obviously someone there. His blood ran cold!


Friday, 27 November 2015

Galileo

We've mentioned Galileo before on this Blog but there's no reason why we can't mention him again. So here goes: Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) famous Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher from Pisa.

In 1583, Galileo entered the cathedral in Pisa. Some men were carrying out some repairs and someone accidently set in motion a heavy lamp which was suspended from the ceiling. The lamp kept moving to and fro, to and fro, backwards and forwards. Galileo sat there on a pew and watched it move backwards and forwards ... backwards and forwards "you are feeling sleepy, very sleepy, your eyes are getting tired, your eyelids are heavy ..."

Sorry ... I got distracted by my own writing there. Exciting what? I'm so good at suspense that sometimes I surprise myself. Anyway, back at the suspense.

The suspended heavy lamp, (see what I did there with the word suspense?). As I was saying, the swinging lamp set Galileo thinking. He was easily amused. 

He noticed that the to and fro swings seemed to be timed almost the same. He put his fingers on his left wrist and counted his pulse. To his surprise the swinging of the lamp was almost the same as his pulse.

It was a Eureka moment.

He got in touch with a Swiss friend of his called Role the Tenth because he was the tenth son of a man called Role who called all his children Role. Anyway, Role the Tenth shortened his name to ROLE X. He was so excited by Galileo's discovery that he and Galileo invented a watch which works like a pendulum. It was the first time that pendulums were used for time keeping purposes.

People wore the watches on their wrist and went around swinging their arms to and fro, to and fro, to keep the watch working. Unfortunately, in doing so they often hit other people in the eye or in the face causing a lot of injuries. So the pendulum watch never took off as a successful idea. This did not deter Role X who went on to invent much better sought-after watches.

Back to Galileo, however, who also undetered by his watch experiment went on to invent the telescope. He took a long tube and put a glass lens at each end et voila.


Galileo placed the telescope by the window high up in his house in the attic and, remembering his adventure with Role X years previously, he started swinging the telescope to and fro, to and fro. He moved it to the left, then he moved it to the right, and then the left again.

And this is what he saw.
And this ...
And also this ...
Of course, those were the days before curtains in windows were invented. So Galileo put his telescope to good use by watching his neighbours' goings on all evening.

He was there for so long that his wife grew a little worried. She switched off the radio in the kitchen where she was listening to "Woman's World"; a popular programme at the time, and went up in the attic.

"What are you doing?" she asked Galileo in Italian. (She did not speak English, but even if she did, it was pointless speaking to Galileo in English because he did not know English either).

"Oh ... I am looking at the heavenly bodies" he lied as he swung his telescope upwards towards the sky.

His wife was suspicious about this but said nothing. It was after all a very cloudy night with not even a moon, so there was no chance he would have been watching "heavenly bodies" - not unless they were mooning him from their windows!
 
The following day, whilst Galileo was out of the house buying pizza for lunch, she went up to the attic and put a little ink on the end of the telescope from which you look. She knew from listening to the weather forecast on the radio that that very evening would also be very cloudy and therefore there was no point in watching up to the sky for planets or stars.

That very evening, Galileo pretended to be tired and went to bed early. As you've guessed, he spent all night watching his neighbours again.

The next morning he woke up with two black rings round both eyes. That's because he had gotten very tired watching for "heavenly bodies" with just one eye, so he alternated eyes to have a rest.

His wife challenged him and he confessed and told her the whole truth. 

Rather than be angry, which is what you would expect under the circumstances, or over the circumstances even; the clever wily lady invented binoculars to save one from having to change eyes when watching whatever it is you want to watch.

Which goes to show:  

Man might think he is clever. But in reality woman is much cleverer than him.
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