Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Life Well Lived

 
I was born at an early age in hospital in Wards 1, 2 and 3. I was a big baby.

My earliest memories as a child are about playing hide-and-seek with my parents. We used to wake up early and go to the woods before the trees got there. I used to close my eyes and lean against a tree and count to 100. My parents used to hide and then I'd have to find them all over Europe. I could never guess which country they had run to; but eventually I always found them.

As I grew up their attempts at teaching me the spirit of adventure never waned. I used to come home from school and find they'd moved house. My father used to take me out fishing and then let me swim all the way back to shore. He also used to encourage me to climb up a tree and then cut it down whilst I was still on top.

For my birthday one year my mother bought me a saucepan. She said it was a helmet for when I get a bicycle. I waited for ages for a bicycle and in time my head grew and got stuck solid in the saucepan.

As a child I had a dog as a pet, but it didn't move much. It was called "Sit". It wasn't as active as a pet snail I had which followed me everywhere. My favourite hobby back then was doing nothing. As a teenager I was good at doing nothing whilst standing up, sitting down or lying on my back. Whilst lying on my back doing nothing I sometimes passed out and lost consciousness. When I eventually opened my eyes I found that some time had passed. Sometimes an hour or more.

In my early twenties the priest in church encouraged me to volunteer and visit old people in an old peoples' home. Old people are funny, aren't they? They say there's no place like home and then when you put them into one they complain.

I used to visit an old lady called Dot. It was back in the days before the Internet and computers. I took her out for a walk by the beach and we took a photo by some fishing boats which were on the beach with their fishing nets drying out. I stood beside her with the nets as a backdrop. Basically it was Victor Dot Net. Which became my website address.

One day when visiting Dot I noticed she had something in her ear. I came closer to her and discovered it was suppository. 

I pulled it out and said: "Dot, you had a suppository in your ear."

She replied: "I wonder where I put my hearing aid!"

Anyway, I met a young nurse in that old people's home. She eventually became my wife and we had 4 happy years of marriage, out of 25. Not bad I suppose.

I remember one Sunday the sermon in church was from Matthew 16:21-27 where Jesus says to His disciples: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”.

When I got home I thought I’d do something nice. I gave my wife a big hug and a kiss, and carried her indoors.

Startled she snapped "What’s wrong with you, have you gone crazy?"

"No my dear,” I replied. "Didn’t you hear the sermon? Jesus said pick up your cross and follow Me".

I got a slap in the face and severe backache. No Sunday lunch either!

That's all folks. For now at least.
MORE MEMORIES - CLICK HERE

Thursday, 18 August 2016

VISIONS

ISBN 978 1536 976076

My first book, VISIONS has been re-launched with a new publisher and is available at half the price it was previously on sale - paperback and KINDLE. CLICK HERE

Imagine your own child, whom you love and who you have brought up well, one day tells you that he or she has seen Jesus in the park. What would you do? Would you believe them? Or would you dismiss the story as childhood fantasy? What if the child insists the story is true? Would you tell them not to repeat it for fear of ridicule or worse? Or would you stand by your child and proclaim your belief in their story.

When June, Helen and Tim see Jesus in the park news soon spreads throughout town. People react differently, some negatively. The children's parents are subjected to malicious gossip and vicious attacks. Their Parish priest has a crisis of faith. The Church wants the story hushed up. Whilst the children insist that it is true. Especially when Jesus appears again and again.

This book challenges its readers to undergo a reality check and to re-affirm their Christian beliefs. A must for every Christian.

READ SOME EXCERPTS FROM VISIONS - CLICK HERE

As the old version of VISIONS is withdrawn by AMAZON and replaced by the new book, I will lose the readers reviews that have already been made. Here's what some kind people have said:

***** A Wonderful and Powerful Spiritual Book

I found this book to be written very well. There was a "realness" to the Characters and a pertinent message for all of us. I found myself becoming friends with the Characters and feeling their emotions and becoming drawn into their lives. I also found that the spiritual message was a deep message and one that can be contemplated in our own lives.

This book definitely falls into the category of one of those books that once you begin to read it, you become captured and cannot set it down. I have told many people about the book and the message that it contains and all have enjoyed it tremendously.

You will not be disappointed with this wonderful Book.

Deacon Patrick Kearns
Roman Catholic Deacon
Sacramento Diocese, USA

***** A Must Read

I have read Visions and found it to be a book of faith, love and trust. Father Ignatius believed in the children, trusted his parishioners and respected his superiors. As a former catechism teacher I kept thinking what a wonderful book this would be for students. My niece loved the story, this book provided the opportunity for her to ask questions which her mother and I could answer making her journey of faith a little bit easier to understand.

I recommend this book to all those who want to read a wholesome story with many lessons that any age could benefit from.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Father Ignatius and his parish and certainly look forward to more stories of this wonderful priest written by Victor S.E. Moubarak, who has become a favorite author of mine.

Bernadette Wood

***** Visions

This book is captivating. The author has a wonderful way of drawing us into the story and allows us to feel emotions of compassion, understanding, and awe. The story becomes believable with every turn of the page. I was drawn into the story completely and find that it is a book full of lessons we all still need to learn.

Catherine Keller

***** An inspirational book that makes you question what you really believe

Just got done reading Visions. Whether you are a skeptic, a believer or somewhere in-between you wont be able to put this book down. Victor has a warm and inviting writing style that is filled with both humor and knowledge. I found myself laughing at all the "across the pond" sayings, which only made me love the book more. Came back to order another, but just had to write a review first.

JustKiminNC 

It's really a pity that I will lose these and other readers' reviews from AMAZON as the old version is withdrawn and the new one replaced. 

But there's good news. How about you writing a nice review of VISIONS for me to encourage other people to read it? 

And as a thank you - I will send a copy of my book GOD'S SHEPHERD to the first three people who write a review on VISIONS. (Just e-mail me with your address.)

And there's more ... any other reviewers after the first three will have their names put in a hat; and I will draw two more names to receive GOD'S SHEPHERD.

To buy VISIONS and to write a review please CLICK HERE


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

On Being Invisible

It's amazing how, as we go through life, we happen not to see certain people or certain situations right under our nose. It's as if some people are totally invisible.

Let me explain.

I could be sitting on a bus, or a train, peacefully reading my newspaper when people sitting around me start talking as if I am not there. This happened the other day.

I was on a long train journey and I sat in one of those old fashioned trains where they have small compartments seating six people, with a sliding door which you can shut for privacy. I was alone in the compartment reading in peace. At the next station stop, the door of the compartment slid open and in entered two women; I would guess they were in their thirties. As the train moved on they started talking. It was obvious they knew each other from work because the conversation started about their supervisor and how they did not like him. Then the conversation moved on to how they spent their weekend. Then it became more personal as they discussed their respective boy-friends. Then it got even more personal as one declared that she had an itch somewhere private.

I shuffled my newspaper a few times, turning the pages hurriedly to make my presence obvious. To no avail. They continued chatting away totally oblivious, or un-caring about me being there. This went on for a good 45 minutes or so when eventually one of them got off at her home station. The other then turned to me and mentioned how it's been good weather lately. This is an inane comment we usually make in the UK when we have nothing to talk about. But I was pleased she spoke. It confirmed that I was not totally invisible.

On another occasion, some years back, I helped a friend of mine who owned a restaurant by serving at tables. I took food orders and served people their food.

You know how waiters can often become invisible? Well, it happened to me.

There were these two men discussing something or other political. One thought this way, and the other felt it was another way. I took their order whilst they continued their discussion. I served them their food, and as I came to their table many times, they just generally ignored me, gave me a cursory glance and thanked me when I poured them some wine, but continued discussing their political view-points.

When I had served their whole meal and they were eating and still discussing; I pulled up a chair and sat at their table and joined in the conversation.

I sided with one of them and said he was generally right in his opinions. To my surprise they both welcomed my view and I found myself joining their debate. At one point one of them asked me to get a glass and have some wine with them!

The other day I was in an elevator going up a block of offices. On the second floor the elevator stopped and a young couple, man and woman, came in. It was obvious they were lovers because as soon as the elevator door shut they started kissing. Why is it the young generation these days think nothing of kissing and cuddling in public? Back in the day, if you wanted to kiss your girl-friend you had to send her a written notice a fortnight in advance. No anymore. Nowadays, apparently, you have to be spontaneous and be friendly with your girl whenever and wherever you want.

They'll never let us in that supermarket again! 

Monday, 15 August 2016

At Heaven's Doorstep


I stood at the doorsteps of Heaven in full anticipation. It was not a large Pearly Gate shining brightly as we’ve often been told and is depicted in some pictures; no … this was just a small wooden door. A humble ordinary wooden door with no sign or any distinguishing features foretelling where it led to.

I remembered the quote from the Bible: “Knock and it shall be opened to you …”

I knocked and as my luck would have it the door opened outwards and hit me in the face.

An old bearded man stood there and asked: “Yes … what do you want?”

“I … I … want to enter Heaven …” I mumbled hesitantly.

“Why?” he asked abruptly.

“Because I want to spend eternity with God …” I replied still fumbling for suitable words.

“And what makes you think He wants to spend an eternity with you?” retorted St Peter sternly.

It was a good question. We often assume that because we’re good Christians our entry to Heaven is guaranteed, but are we judging ourselves by our standards or God’s standards? I may believe that I am good to enter Heaven; but am I really?

The Saint noticed my discomfort and asked: “Who are you anyway?”

I gave him my name and he produced an electronic tablet and started punching his finger on the screen. I thought he was quite an up-to-date Saint technologically speaking considering his age.

“Ah yes … your name’s here …” he said finally, “I had to check. You’d be surprised how many people we get here expecting to enter Heaven as if it were a hotel. It isn’t an open house for all and sundry, you know. Just because some people attended church on Sunday and did not eat meat on Friday does not automatically give them free access to Heaven.

“As my friend Matthew quoting Jesus wrote: ‘Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do.’

“Look it up in Matthew’s Gospel at 7:21.

“He always had an affectation of numbering every sentence he wrote, old Matthew did. But don’t tell him I said so!”

I smiled feebly not knowing what to say.

The Saint continued: “The trouble with the world today is that too many people do the bare minimum and expect they are in God’s good book. Over the years they have interpreted the Ten Commandments to be ten suggestions and debating points to discuss and amend as they wish to suit their selfish lifestyles.

“The reason God asked Moses to write them in stone is so that they don’t get altered. Admittedly, Moses broke the first set; but fortunately there was another copy available.

“Over the years people have broken every Commandment even though they were set in stone.

“As I was saying to some of the disciples over tea this morning … people these days are no different to the Pharisees and Sadducees of my time on earth.”

I could see Saint Peter was rather upset which was indicative to what we’d learnt about him in the Gospels. Sometimes outspoken and short-tempered. For he it was who hit a priest’s servant with a sword when Jesus was arrested. I stepped slightly backwards in case he hit me with his electronic tablet.

He looked at me and chuckled, “I see here that you’re due a short spell at the Purification Center” he said, “Some of you lot call it Purgatory … it’s a bit like a car wash where you’re cleaned up and made ready to enter Heaven for eternity. I’ll be seeing you again shortly!”

I woke up with a smile on my face.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Doubts

Doubts are necessary to strengthen our Faith.

When God asked us to love Him, He didn’t want to force us in anyway. He wanted us to choose freely whether to love Him or not.

That’s why He allows doubts to creep in our minds from time to time. They help us to get to know Him better. We ask questions, we learn from the answers we find, we get closer to Him. Just like any other relationship; the more you know about the other person the closer you get to him or her.

Of course, too much doubt can make us lose our Faith altogether. The devil would be glad of that. That’s why he plays with our doubts and adds more to them; in order to confuse us and lead us astray.

We must learn to control our doubts, and use them to our benefit not the devil’s. When we have doubts about our Faith, we should not fear them but we should pray for guidance from our Lord.

"I believe, Lord; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Why always me?


The letter got miss-delivered by the postman. It clearly says on the envelope Number 1245 and we definitely are not Number 1245. I decide to walk up the street and deliver the letter to its rightful owner.

The old lady saw me approaching her house and opened the door.

“Oh, thank you” she said, “come in for a cup of tea!”

“I was just delivering …” I mumbled.

“Oh do come in …” she interrupted, “I often see you walking the dog to the park and back again. I’ve just put the kettle on …”

I looked at my watch and thought, she’s probably lonely, and just a few minutes won’t hurt!

I entered the living room and immediately noticed a large parrot standing on a perch in the corner, and two budgerigars on top of their open cage near the window. An old dog at least one hundred years old sat by the fire and a cat slept on the settee.

The old lady beckoned me to an armchair and went out to make some tea. 

As soon as she left, the large blue parrot moved his head left and right, as they do; looked at me and screeched “STUPID!”
I jumped out of the seat, not expecting him to talk.

He repeated again “STUPID … STUPID …” over and over every minute or so.

The old lady came in with a tray of tea and biscuits and cakes.

“Ah … Polly is being friendly” she said, “he often hears me talking to the dog and repeats what I say.”

At that point the parrot screeched “STUPID HAT … STUPID HAT …”

Let me tell you there is nothing stupid about my cowboy hat with a feather. It’s sartorial elegance in the extreme as I’ve been told by the man in the pub who sold it to me!

“I wonder what he means?” said the old lady trying to cover her faux pas. No doubt she’d seen me wearing the hat on my way to the park and had voiced her un-called for opinions to her pets.

She offered me a piece of cake. As soon as I held a small plate in one hand, and a tea cup in another, the geriatric dog got up ever so slowly from his mat, came towards me and started sniffing my groin.

What is it with dogs and sniffing people inappropriately? I’ll add, in case you’re wondering, that I had just had a shower that morning and had splashed Old Spice after-shave all over, even though I have a beard and don’t shave. So there was no need to sniff there or anywhere else.

“Oh … he’s being friendly” repeated the old lady, making no attempt whatsoever to take the dog away, “It’s his way of greeting you!”

Well … I’d rather not be greeted that way, thank you very much.

I mean … just imagine … what if we humans greeted each other that way? We meet someone for the first time, and instead of shaking hands, we drop on our knees and sniff to our heart’s delight.

Obviously, there should be a protocol as to who goes down first. Otherwise both people would kneel down together and end up bumping their heads.

One person should stay standing, and the other greets him … or her … and then …

OK … better change the subject.

I pushed the dog away … gently … yes … gently; although I must admit that was not what was on my mind when he started sniffing his welcome.

As soon as the dog went back on his mat the cat woke up from the settee and jumped on the arm of my armchair; and then started licking my hand.

I moved away slowly whilst the old lady, totally unaware of my discomfort, continued prattling on about her family and her children all grown up and living abroad. No doubt to escape from her lunatic menagerie.

The cat, still sitting next to me, having been denied the taste of my hand proceeded to lick himself in the most private of places.

Yet again … this is another annoying habit of the feline as well as canine species which, fortunately, we humans do not copy. The mind boggles at the contortions we’d have to make if we were to reach … OK … you get the point; let’s move on.

I moved surreptitiously towards the cat and nudged him gently. He dropped to the floor and walked out the room.

I listened to the old lady going on about her lonely life with no one to visit her; and how she often just goes out on the bus so that she can meet people, or stands at the window looking at people pass by and imagine what kind of life they lead. She said she plays a mind-game when she sees people. She looks carefully at what they wear and then guesses the sort of work they do. She also likes to name people in her head according to how they dress, the way they walk, and their general demeanour.

She said she’d been watching me take the dog for a walk for a very long time. “Do you realise” she said, “that whenever you stop by that tree to allow the dog to sniff at its roots, you always scratch the back of your head? Why do you do that?”

I’ll admit I never noticed that habit. And from being told, I’m sure I’ll resist that particular temptation in future. I’ll do all my scratching that’s needed before I leave home from now on.

She was about to tell me what nickname she had invented for me when suddenly there was a flutter of wings.

The parrot left its perch and made himself comfortable on my shoulder. I did not dare move an inch. Those creatures can be dangerous you know. Once they get hold of your nose in their beaks they will not let go.

“Oh … Polly likes you too!” said the old lady joyfully, “it must be your gentle and kind personality. Animals know when someone loves them. Do you like birds?” she asked.

I hesitated to tell her that the only birds I like are Kentucky Fried Chickens; although right now I would not mind tasting Kentucky Fried Parrot as well.

She didn’t wait for an answer and continued talking ignoring her feathered friend on my shoulder.

The wretched bird, still sitting by my left ear, eyed the big feather in my hat for a few moments, and then, to my horror, jumped at it and attempted to mate with it. I held the hat tightly on my head with my right hand for fear that it might be dislodged and end up matrimonially united with a myopic parrot.

I mean … how short-sighted can he get? It’s only a feather for crying out loud. Who’s STUPID now? Can’t tell the difference between a beautiful lady parrot and a feather in an cowboy hat!

The old lady laughed, not understanding the situation, and said that he was welcoming me into his domain. Whatever that means!

I had absolutely no wish to be welcomed anywhere belonging to that stupid creature, and my hat and feather certainly shared this opinion.

The parrot struggled vainly with his amorous advances at my hat and started to flutter his wings wildly and squawking loudly, no doubt upset at being snubbed by his new-found lady friend.  

Eventually the old lady realised that I was somewhat uneasy, to put it mildly. She got up slowly from her chair and removed the parrot from its clutches on my hat and replaced him back on his perch.

She then turned to me and asked whether I’d like to meet the budgerigars still sitting on their cage preening themselves.

I made an excuse about having a meeting somewhere or other and left hurriedly.

And that’s another cowboy hat with a feather totally ruined!

Monday, 8 August 2016

A nice day out

It was a lovely sunny day and we went for a drive to a small town some miles away for a nice day out. It will be great, I was told. They have a fun fair there, with a small gauge miniature train, and there'll be ice creams, and candy floss, and a garden center where you can buy plants and flowers and ... and ... and ...

Now I don't know about you ... why should I ... I hardly know you. Anyway, as I was saying ... I don't know about you, but my idea of a nice day out is staying in the back garden with a crate of cool cans or bottles of Guinness.
 But I was out-numbered. I was told I was a spoil-sport, an old fuddy-duddy who does not know how to enjoy himself, and anyway, there's bound to be a pub there which serves Guinness.

And indeed there was such a pub, but there also was a lot of walking. As soon as we parked the car everyone wanted to go there, and then there, and over there, not missing out also over there. What is the point of going for a nice day out if we're going to walk miles and miles seeing all sorts of boring things which we could have seen in a book at home in the comfort of one's garden with a bottle or two of Guinness?

We saw an arts exhibition, we saw a craft fare where people did all sorts of "interesting" things like glass engraving, metal jewellery, wooden sculptures and tapestries. Then it was decided, not by me, to have a nice walk by the canal to see the boats.
To be honest, they all looked the same. Granted, they were painted differently but all the long boats looked the same to me. But we walked ... and walked ... and walked by that never ending canal full of boats. Did you know that back in the day canals were built in Britain linking towns to each other and they were used to transport goods like coal, and wheat, and cotton or wool. Now they are used as an instrument of torture for people like me to walk aimlessly for miles admiring boats sailing up and down for no purpose whatsoever.

Then there was a sign post saying: "Ancient forge only 5 minutes walk. Just by entrance of the caves"

Why is it that people who advertise their wares or their trades are such a bunch of liars? After walking at least a million miles, and having worn out at least three pairs of shoes, we arrived at this long awaited forge of disappointment. All it was is a small warehouse where a man made things out of metal. Things like metal gates ... can you imagine me buying a metal gate from him and carry it all the way back to the car? Things like metal ornaments for the garden, or statuettes for the home, or anything else you could think of made of metal except a bottle of cold Guinness.

Anyway, having finished with the forge, (does that word derive from forgery, I wonder), they wanted to visit the cave. And NO ... I could not sit there and wait for them. I had to go too.
Well, for a start it was rather dark in that cave; and I do not like darkness. So much so that I was once fired from a job at a photographers' because I wanted the lights on in the dark room. I also don't like the darkness of the old style confessionals made of wood. And I don't mean the darkness of sin, (because I don't sin much, really - not like the other people in church), I mean the real darkness of the confessional booth you have to enter and confess to the priest. It's all right for him, I suppose. No doubt he has a bright light on and perhaps a TV watching the Sports Channel. But I'm in total darkness in my side of the confessional. Anyway; suffice it to say, I don't like the dark.

The cave was also damp and slippery. And I also don't like dampness. So much so that I now sit in the bath and vacuum clean myself.

We were guided by this tour guide fellow explaining all about this cave. He had a dull monotonous slow talking voice. My heart was all a flutter with boredom. He gave us brochures describing all there is to know about this particular cave. I couldn’t help but wonder why not give us the brochures and we could read all about it instead of entering this dark and damp adventure to nowhere.The guide started talking as soon as I lost interest in what he was saying. All I could think of is being in the comfort of back home.

Not so for the other visitors to the cave. They just had to ask inane questions to make themselves sound interesting and knowledgeable.

"What stone is the cave made of?" asked one.

"Who cares?" I thought.

"It is made of granite," said the guide, "this is all granite!"

"How long have these stones been here?" asked another visiting idiot prolonging this never-ending tour.

"He's probably brought these stones here last week," I whispered and was rewarded with a sharp elbow in my ribs.

The guide explained that the granite stones had been here for two million years. So I asked him whether he adds extra days and weeks if he is asked the same question tomorrow, the day after, or in a week's or a month's time. Surely their age increases every day. It's not always two million years. One or two visitors giggled at my comment.

I now had to appear serious and I asked a serious question. I asked him why are all the stones different sizes.

Aha ... I got him. He had no answer to that. He said stones are always different shapes and sizes. Not a clever response, do you think? He continued sheepishly, and boringly touring us round this cave for at least another half-hour.

Eventually we were out ... fresh air ... and a long million miles walk back to the car and a long drive home.

Good fun was had by everyone ... except me!
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