Thursday, 30 April 2015

What my Marketing Manager said ...

I have a new Marketing Manager and Public Relations Adviser. You can see his photo above.

We met today to discuss ways of promoting my books and how to get help from my loyal readers to pass the word around about my books and recommend them to other potential readers.

The conversation went something like this:

Marketing Manager: You must stop monkeying around Vic and take this question of book promotions seriously.

I didn't pay much attention as I was eating some monkey nuts at the time. He threw a banana at me to get my attention and asked: How many books have you got published so far?

Me: Seventeen - and a cartoon one available to download FREE from my website (HERE).

He stopped and scratched his armpit for a while and then said: Seventeen? You have a lot to say for yourself. Are they all available online as well as in the shops?

Me: Yes, some are available in paperback and Kindle format, whilst others are available in Kindle format only (FROM HERE).

Marketing Manager: How many are available in paperback?

Me: Four of them - "Visions", "The Priest and Prostitute", "To Love a Priest" and "God's Shepherd". They are also available in Kindle version.

Marketing Manager: Good ... have you had any feedback from your readers. And I don't mean have they sent you bananas and peanuts!

Me: Yes, some have e-mailed me saying they liked the books, others have left reviews on the AMAZON website.

Marketing Manager: Why don't you encourage them to write more reviews on Amazon for you?

Me: How? Anyway, I don't want to impose.

Marketing Manager: You're not imposing you ape! If your readers genuinely like what you write they'll be happy to spread the word for you.

Here's what I suggest. Ask them to read any of your books. The serious ones or any of the humourous ones - they seem very inexpensive.

Once they have read any of your books they should then leave a review on AMAZON. Just like others have done (HERE).

They should of course tell you they have left a review.

At the end of the month put the names of all those who have reviewed a book in a hat. And then pull out two names.

Send those two people one of your paperback books signed by you. They can choose which of the four paperback books they like.

If someone reviews two or more of your books on AMAZON put their name in the hat twice or as many times as they've reviewed a book to give them more chances to win.

Me: Sounds a good idea!

Marketing Manager: What are you waiting for you big gorilla? Get on with it! And pass me another banana. Oh ... and another thing. Ask your readers to mention this promotion on their Blogs, their Facebooks or their Google+, or whatever other media they are on. Most readers are kind and nice people and they might mention you if you ask nicely. And say "Please".

Me: Over to you dear readers. Please do as the monkey suggests and let me know what you've reviewed. Thanx. Do you want a peanut?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Rude Nakedness

I think it was Groucho Marx who once said "If you want to have a good laugh stand naked in front of a full length mirror".

This particular quote leads me to think about a truism which we all may have missed up until now.

Beneath it all, no matter what we wear, be it fashionable haute couture from the most expensive and famous designers, or simply a T shirt and jeans, we are all naked. This scandalous rude nakedness has gone unnoticed for years simply because it is covered by our clothes.

Unlike animals and other creatures who are covered in fur, hairs, feathers or whatever; humans are the only beings to go around naked beneath what they wear.

Think about it next time you meet someone. A friend, your boss, that neighbour of yours you meet every now and then, or people on TV like celebrities, politicians, and know-it-alls who pontificate on this and that.

Look at them carefully up and down once or twice ... and imagine. No matter what they might be wearing, a fancy hat, a beautiful flowing dress, or a three piece suit, underneath it all they are naked. Can you see their nakedness?
 
We are all as naked as the next man, or if you happen to be standing next to a woman, then as naked as the next woman; or if you are standing or sitting on your own, the same applies. Under the clothes we are wearing right now we are not wearing anything else.

Throughout history, famous people like King Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, Robin Hood or the Three Musketeers, regardless of their various familiar costumes, underneath it all they were naked. (Click on them to learn more).

The only person in history who was actually naked without any clothes was Lady Godiva when she rode a horse through Coventry.

Oh ... and also the athletes in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece who competed in the nude.

The very first naked people in the world were of course Adam and Eve when they went around with no clothes on having barbeques in paradise. (Say, that's a great title for an Oscar winning movie "Barbeque in Paradise). Then they met a talking snake who pointed at their rude bits and that was the end of that.

So there you have it. Rude nakedness covered by the clothes we wear. Scandalous.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Gate



In the Gospel of John Chapter 10 Jesus says several times "I am the gate".

In Chapter 10 - 9 He says "I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture."

This seems strange at first. We can understand when Jesus says "I am the Way" or "I am the Good Shepherd"; but gate? What does all that mean?

To understand this we need to visualise how a sheep pen at the times of Christ looked like. It was a circular or square enclosure built out of stone, wooden fencing or just hedges. And it had an opening through which sheep got in and out.

But shepherds in those days were poor people. They certainly would not have the money to build gates at the opening of the pen. They stayed "watching their flocks by night" with their sheep.

The pen looked something like this:
 

And the shepherd would lie across the opening, sleeping with his sheep, and making sure that none would get out during the night. Also protecting them from wolves or other predators.

So, the shepherd was in fact the gate.

That's what Jesus meant when He said He is the gate.

He protects us from evil and stops us from going astray.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Rescue Drive

For a few days Father Ignatius had been thinking over his conversation with Father Donald about the dream he had.

In the dream, St Peter asked Father Ignatius directly, ‘Have you done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep?’

“What a challenge!” thought Father Ignatius, “St Peter himself asking me if I was a good priest!”

Jack lived a few yards down the road from St Vincent Church, just the other side of the Convent.

One Friday evening he was waiting outside the Fish and Chips Shop just opposite the church when Father Ignatius joined the queue.

“How are you keeping Jack?” he asked, “you look really miserable right now … just like a mile of bad road, I should say!”

“Hello Father …” mumbled Jack under his breath, “it’s a long story!”

“You’d better tell me about it … let’s move away from this queue …”

The two men left the queue and walked a few paces away from the shop.

“It’s this friend of mine …” Jack said hesitantly, “he’s over seventy years old, lives in Brintown, and he’s not too well. I think he’s dying. I spoke to the lady friend he lives with and she said the doctor is not holding much hope. I’ll go and see him tomorrow as I’m not working this weekend … I hope I get there in time …”

“I’ll pray for him Jack. I notice you said lady friend … is he not married then?”

“Oh … that’s another long story Father.” said Jack, “Many years ago, when he was thirty or so, he met this lady and fell in love with her. She was divorced and his priest would not marry them. In fact he argued the matter with the priest and the priest excommunicated him.

“I think he probably excommunicated her as well … I don’t know.

“Anyway, they’ve lived together ever since … that’s about forty years. I don’t know if they ever got married in the Civil Court.

“But the man kept faithful to the ban imposed on him. He didn’t move to another church and take Communion there, even though they moved town several times. In fact I believe he never set foot in another church ever since that day!”

“We’d better go and see them then …” said the priest.

“What now … it’s five o’clock. It will take us two hours to get to Brintown!”

“The sooner we start the better,” replied Father Ignatius, “you go to my office and phone them from there. I’ll get the car ready!”

Moments later Father Ignatius was driving up the highway as fast as the speed limit allowed.

They arrived just after 7:30 that evening. Father Ignatius went to see the old man in his bedroom whilst Jack stayed with the old lady in the front room.

They could hear talk, and sometimes laughter from the bedroom. The priest stayed there for a while. He heard the old man’s Confession and gave him Holy Communion. Then they chatted away about the past … the old man had spent some time in Italy, not far from where Father Ignatius studied for the priesthood, so they talked about Italy and all the places they visited whilst there.

Eventually the priest came out and asked Jack to go and stay with the old man.

He heard the old lady’s Confession and gave her Holy Communion.

Father Ignatius and Jack set off back home at about 10:45 that evening. In the car, on the way to St Vincent, Jack said, “Thank you Father … being with you is like being with Jesus!”

“Don’t ever say that,” replied the priest, “no one can possibly be like Jesus!”

The old man died three days later.

The old lady also died a few months after that.

(Based on a true story).

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Suicidal me - Goodbye cruel world!

I work in an old Victorian house three floors high. My office is in the attic.

It was hot and I had left the window open when I heard the noise of fluttering wings and saw a few feathers floating by.

I looked out and saw a pigeon hanging upside down on the edge of the roof. It had somehow gathered some twine on one of its legs and as it flew here and there with the string attached, it eventually got caught on the rainwater gutters of our building. So there it was hanging upside down by its leg on the edge of our building fluttering madly to free itself.

What do I do? Ignore it and let it die a slow death? Hit it on the head with my cricket bat which I bring to work on match days and put it out of its misery? Or phone the Animal Protection people and let them deal with it?

The more I thought about it the more the poor creature fluttered away desperately to set itself free.

In sheer desperation I did a desperate thing.

I opened the window wider and stepped out on the ledge. It’s wide enough for me to walk on slowly if I lean gently against the tilting roof. It seems solid enough despite the age of the building. And if I’m careful … very careful … I can ease myself slowly near the bird and then, if I bend down a little, I can untangle the string from the gutters.

Great plan! Badly thought out and executed.

As I neared the bird it fluttered even more wildely than before and somehow freed itself from the string as it flew away without a word of thanks.

It was then that things got worse. I could not move back towards the window.

No … No … It was not panic … or fear of heights … or anything like that.

It was much worse. My trousers got caught in some loose nails on the roof. It was where you have those loops through which you thread your belt … I think. Must have happened as I bent down to help the wretched bird.

Anyway … I was caught … or nailed to the roof by the seat of my pants. I couldn’t move backwards or forwards.

Dash it all … why do people gather in the street at a moment’s notice? Have they got nothing better to do? Don't you just hate it when you have an audience when you least want it?

I hear my boss talking to me gently through the open window.

“Come back in … I’m sure we can discuss matters like grown ups. Perhaps you need a few days holiday?” He says soothingly as I've never heard him before.

Why do people jump to conclusions whenever someone stands on a ledge? Why can’t they believe my story about the pigeon? Where is that stupid bird? Why is he not here confirming my story?

Miss Frome, the beautiful young Company nurse leans well forwards out of the window and soothingly tries to calm me down. Her décolleté revealing top confirms she is wearing no bra and confuses my troubled mind even more than it is. No wonder my blood pressure is so high whenever I go for a Company health check!

And now here she is, only feet away, urging me to look at her instead of looking down at the prospect of jumping.


Do I look away modestly and lead her to believe I’m not listening? Or do I look her in the eyes … if I can … and explain my predicament.

“Look at me …” she says calmly, “we all care for you … this is a caring employer as you know … despite all the job losses of late, no overtime, no promotions and cuts in pay!”

I turn back at her but don't know where to focus my eyes. I can’t speak as I stand there open-mouthed.

“Ehmmm …” but my voice fails me as no sound comes out.

She insists I keep my eyes on her as she continues to calm me down by reciting platitudes about how good our employer is; until eventually the fire brigade arrive and unceremoniously release me from the nails which held me captive by tearing my pants away.

I don’t know what’s more embarrassing. The story about the pigeon or leaving half my trousers back on the roof!

Had I fallen to my death leaving my trousers behind how would I have answered St Peter when he asked “And where are your slacks young man? And why did you not look at that lady in the eyes as she told you?”

Monday, 20 April 2015

The hare, the tortoise and me.

We have a rabbit. He lives in a hutch in the garden but he is let out every now and then under supervision. He is not allowed in the house of course, unless he ever enters the kitchen where there are plenty of pots and pans to accommodate him. I have often dreamt of having him in a rabbit pie, or with gravy and potatoes; but like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny I don't think I'll ever have that rabbit for a meal. The family say he is a pet and they love feeding him and generally looking after him.

The other day I opened the front door and found a box at my feet with a tortoise in it. I looked left and right ... and saw nothing unusual. Why do people look left and right when something like this happens? What was I expecting to see? Someone running away after leaving the box on my doorstep? For all I know the box may have been there for ages and whoever placed it there is now long gone to another Continent.

I picked it up and asked the family "Has anyone ordered a tortoise from the Internet?"

I didn't know you could buy such things online; but they all denied any responsibility. All they said is "Can we keep him? He'll make a nice friend for Choochoo the rabbit."

Who ever heard of a rabbit called Choochoo? Sounds more like a train to me. Apparently they called him such because of the way his nose moves up and down when he chews on a lettuce leaf.

Anyway, I held the tortoise in my hand and half wondered whether I should phone the Missing Persons Bureau to check whether anyone reported a missing tortoise. I dismissed the idea thinking they'd probably say I'm wasting their time.

Besides, technically speaking, the tortoise was not missing. It did not just decide to go out for a walk and forgot where he lived. He was placed in a box, with a lid on, and the box left at my doorstep. I assumed that the tortoise had not done that to itself; so presumably someone left it here deliberately. Or by accident, mistaking my address for someone else.

I decided that for the time being I'd let him loose in the garden; whilst I sit there to keep an eye on him whilst searching our cookery recipe book for any meals involving tortoises.

No sooner he was out of the box, Gonzales came out of his shell and started walking towards the end of the garden. I mean ... whoever heard of a tortoise called Gonzales? But I didn't have much say on the matter.

He walked and walked, followed by me to ensure that he doesn't wonder away to the neighbours' gardens. Eventually, walking in a perfectly straight line, he reached the end of the garden after ten minutes or so. Fortunately, he stopped by the pyracantha bushes at the end of my garden.

I was really grateful for his sudden stop because I had no intention of following him inside those bushes. I still have nightmares of the day I fell backwards from a ladder into a bush of these infernal plants; and the humiliation thereafter of having thorns removed from my derriere which looked like a pin cushion. But that's another story.

So I picked up the tortoise and turned him round a full 180 degrees. To my amazement Gonzales started walking again straight back to where he had come from. I followed him for another ten minutes or so and when he reached the house, I turned him round once again. He walked once more straight towards the pyracantha.

This went on for at least six times or so. Gonzales was intent on walking his own marathon without the incentive of a hare or rabbit named Choochoo chasing him. Up and down the garden he went until I got tired of following him; so I put him in the hutch with the rabbit.

Choochoo and Gonzales have been friends for a couple of weeks now. I've asked around and placed posters enquiring whether anyone has lost a box with a tortoise in it but no one has come forward claiming him. Instead, people look at me furtively and whisper whenever they see me in the street.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Marriage Divorce Annulment


A few months after Joanna Hill was introduced to George Lomas by Father Ignatius, the couple fell deeply in love.

One evening they visited Father Ignatius in the Parish House, and after they had settled down to tea and biscuits George said:

“Father, we have some good news. Joanna and I are in love and we would like to get married. We hope you’ll do the honours, so to speak.”

“That’s good news for you two,” said the priest gently, “but there’s some difficulty with me officiating at your wedding.”

“I don’t understand,” said Joanna somewhat concerned at the news.

“You are divorced Joanna,” said Father Ignatius in his gentle voice, “the Catholic Church does not recognize your divorce. You are still married and therefore you cannot marry again in Church.”

“What do you mean?” said George, “she is properly divorced in Court.”

“Yes, that may well be so,” continued the priest, “that’s a civil divorce, but unless the marriage was annulled by the Church she is still married. The Church bases its teaching on the words of Christ: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery,’ ”

“But that’s crazy,” interrupted George raising his voice a little, “are you saying that if I, as a single man never having been married … if I go around with various women, you’d forgive me in Confession. But if she marries me you’re accusing her of the graver sin of adultery?”

“Joanna was married in a Catholic Church, this one I believe, to a Catholic man, and her being Catholic,” explained the priest still maintaining his composure, “this being the case, and seeing that the marriage was not annulled by the Church, then she is still married in the eyes of God and the Church.”

“Hold on a minute,” George interrupted again, not noticing for a moment that poor Joanna was wiping her tears silently, “you said she married in a Catholic Church. So if she had married in an Anglican Church, or any other church, you would not have recognized the marriage?”

“That is strictly true,” said Father Ignatius, “if Joanna as a Catholic had married in an Anglican Church without the permission of the Catholic Church, and without the presence of a Catholic priest, then that marriage would not have been valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. It then follows that her civil divorce would not have been recognised either and in all probability she would have been able to marry again in the Catholic Church.”

“This is totally mad,” said George getting a little angry, and still ignoring Joanna, “she married at 19 Father, and divorced her husband when she was 22. She was a mere child when he walked out on her and left her holding the baby … literally.

“That was over ten years ago Father. At the time she hardly cared about the Catholic Church. She was really distraught at having been abandonned by her husband and the last thing on her mind was to seek annulment. She tried to get her life together again and raised a baby on her own. Anyway, from what I hear annulments can take a long time and are worse than the Spanish Inquisition ...”

“George … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly.

“I’m sorry love,” he replied holding her hand gently, “I hate to see the Church … our Church … mistreat you so!

“I’m sorry Father for getting angry,” he apologized to the priest, “but you can see our dilemma.

“For whatever reason, regardless of who was innocent and who was at fault, this young couple in their early twenties divorced in a Civil Court.

“Is the Church seriously suggesting that Joanna cannot be intimate with a man for the rest of her life? Or else you’ll accuse her of adultery? Is that reasonable Father?

“Or do you want her to come to confess every time the two of us go to bed when we’re married?”

“Stop it … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly, “this has gone too far … I want to go home …”

She stood up and made her way out of the room followed by George.

Father Ignatius followed them silently to the front door, not having the chance to explain himself or the Church’s position.

The couple married in the Civil Court three months later.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Carnivore

I sat in the car whilst parked on our drive and I turned the ignition on. The engine started running … tat … ratatat … tat … ratatat … It didn’t sound quite right. It wasn’t that smooth running sound you normally get from an engine when all is well. The ratatat bit was new and sounded somewhat off key. Like Luciano Pavarotti singing with one shoe off … you know what I mean. Hobbling with your voice!

“One of the sparkling plugs must be loose!” I said confidently to my wife sitting beside me. I really didn’t know what it meant … I had read it somewhere and I thought it would make me sound intelligent and knowledgeable. It’s good to build up your confidence in the eyes of your spouse … after all, she know you more than most!

“Should we call the Emergency Repair Services?” she said reflecting her confidence in my mechanical abilities.

“Not at all … it’s a simple matter … I’ll soon have it sorted,” I replied getting out of the car and leaving the engine running.

I lifted the bonnet (car hood) up like a professional would. Quickly and smoothly!

Now I should explain that this is an old car … and it has a little metal rod on the side which you have to pull out vertically and hook it under the car hood so that it holds it up. In modern cars the car hood opens up smoothly and stays open by some clever pneumatic device. But my car is old … so old that the Instruction Manual is written in Latin. You have to lift the car hood by hand … then pull out the metal rod … hook it under the hood in a special place and it keeps the hood up whilst you work in the engine. If you’re a wimp that is … If you’re macho like me you just lift the hood up and hold it firmly with your left hand whilst working with your free hand in the engine.

So there I was holding the hood up in my left hand and looking down at the vibrating engine going tat … ratatat … tat … ratatat … There were wires everywhere but no labels or signs telling you which bit of the engine does what. I mean … what does a sparkling plug look like? Is it a light that sparkles on and off?

With my right hand I just pushed and prodded all the cables and wires confidently.

And that’s when I got the most horrific electric shock you could imagine. It went straight up my right arm through my chest and up my left arm holding the hood. It was like those cartoon videos you see when a character touches a live wire and sparkles on and off.

In my agony I let go of the hood which fell with great weight and a single thud on my head knocking me down into the engine.

I could not decide for a moment which hurt the most … the electric shock I’d just received or the clunk of heavy metal at the back of my head.

Neither of these pains soon mattered because the little fan that goes round and round inside the car engine compartment caught my tie and dragged me in further choking me all the time.

The whole scenario looked like a car eating its driver as the hood bounced up and down as I struggled to free myself from the fan’s throttling grasp. I was slowly being eaten up by my own car as my legs were flying in all directions.

At that particular moment my cat decided to come walking by beside me and I must have accidentally kicked it.

Instead of running away … the cat decided to attack my legs by scratching hard at them and shouting “Vengeance is mine!!!”

This attracted our lazy dog who usually lies on the mat in front of the TV watching the Dog Channel.

Not this time … there was something more entertaining going on outside! So out he came and decided to jump on me biting me several times …

Luckily my wife switched off the ignition and the engine reluctantly released its grasp on my tie. I was still stuck head down though as I could not loosen the tie enough to slip my head out.

The tie was eventually cut with a sharp knife and I decided to phone the Emergency Repair Services after all.

I told them the tie must have been left in the engine by some careless mechanic at the workshop where I took the car for a maintenance service. That’s probably what caused the odd sound in the engine.

They agreed that this was a distinct possibility although they wondered why I had the remains of a similar coloured tie round my neck.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Déjà vu Titian

 Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian in English

My loyal readers, to whom I am most grateful, will remember that last year I ran a series of posts about classical painters and their famous masterpieces. It was a successful series with a number of readers contributing suggestions for paintings to be critiqued by myself - a self-proclaimed art critic. More suggestions welcome!

One such artist we studied together is Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian in English. He was famous for his mastery of the paintbrush as you can see from his self portrait above painted in about 1567.

Now one thing I need to say as your advisor in such artistic matters is that in my opinion this could not possibly be a self-portrait of the grand master. This is because the painting is done in profile.

At the time when Titian is supposed to have painted it they did not have cameras; and the only way that he could have known what he looked like is by looking at a mirror face on - full frontal. There is no way he could have looked at his profile in a mirror and paint the masterpiece at the same time. Not unless he had the paint brush firmly stuck in his ear and he painted by standing sideways to the canvas. Either that, or someone else painted the picture which would not make it a self-portrait.

Please contain your self-amazement at my prowess a little longer as I go on.

One of Titian's famous paintings is "Venus and Organist and Little Dog" painted in 1550 (ten to four in the afternoon for those of you unfamiliar with the 24 hour clock).

I really cannot imagine what possessed Titian to paint such a scene. Portrays of nudes have long been common amongst famous painters and photographers. So asking a model to lie down naked on a bed would not have been that difficult for a master like Titian. Suggesting that she has a little dog by her side would have been easy too. But how exactly did he manage to convince her it would be a good idea to have a man sitting beside the bed playing with his organ? And its not as if the man is playing casually looking at the music sheet in front of him. No, this guy knows the tune by heart, so he is leaning backwards to have a good look at something more interesting. Her bracelet perhaps! And she doesn't seem to mind.

I wonder how many times they had to pose for him like that. And with an open window behind her so that the gardener could have a good look whilst mowing the lawn. 

Now what I've discovered in my research on your behalf is that Titian must have really enjoyed painting this particular scene. So much so that no sooner he had finished he tried painting it all over again. See below.

This time he made the colours more vivid in order to bring out all the mastery of brush strokes for which he was so famous. He used the same model of course and convinced her that it would be more pleasing to the eye of the beholder (i.e. his) if she were to lose a bit of weight. (Compare the two pictures).

He also asked her to look up to a little Cupid character rather than down at the dog as previously.

Unfortunately he could not convince the man (a different person wearing different clothes and with no sword) to look forward whilst playing his organ. He too prefered to lean back and admire the bracelet which the model is wearing. That's his excuse and he is sticking to it!

Can you see the gardener in red by the trees on the left?

Not quite satisfied with this version of events, Titian had another go as we can admire below.

In this picture he added a different dog to the scene and asked the same model to lean slightly more forward. She must have felt a little cold by now because she asked to be covered (somewhat modestly) with a very tiny transparent curtain netting to keep her warm. Note that the little Cupid seems friendlier in this picture and seems to have a wandering hand compared to before. No wonder the dog is upset; with his jaw dropping he is asking what's all this about!

In this painting Titian uses yet another much younger man to play the organ. This is because the other two had to retire with a stiff neck having to look backwards. Despite being warned this fellow too claims that he is only admiring the model's necklace (not bracelet). Likely story! (Note how his eyes point at a different direction compared to the previous two paintings).

You'll also notice that Titian has changed the background from a garden to an open plain with a whole village in centre stage so that the inhabitants can also have a good look with their binoculars.

Yet, not totally satisfied with his efforts, our master had another go at the same painting.

On the face of it, (that is if you are looking at the face of any of the characters), this appears to be a totally different painting. But it is not.

The same model, having got enough of the dogs all over her bed, and various organists ogling her, insists to Titian that they must go away.

"I will not pose nude with organists looking at me!" she says as she takes her clothes off. 
 
Titian agrees and gets rid of the dog and replaces the organist with a lute player.

Drat! The silly woman should have been more specific.

To be fair, the lute player is much younger than all of the organists before him, so he is less likely to get neck cramp sitting in that twisted position. The model is holding a stick in her hand in case the amourous lute player comes too close. And her legs are well positioned to give him a good kick in the kidneys, just in case.  

You'll note that Titian changed the background scenery once again.

But this was not enough. Titian wanted to try one more time.


But this time the model finally has her way. She insists that there are no men at all sitting there watching her rude bits. She agrees to dispense with the net curtain covering her as long as the Cupid fellow keeps his hand well away ... or else.

"And keep the dog well away by my feet!" she tells Titian.

He agrees. But asks, "Can I have my pet pigeon on the window behind you?"

"Oh OK ..." she answers, "as long as he doesn't fly and peck at my backside!"

And here you have it. Titian's famous painting of Venus and Coo Coo his pet pigeon.

As you'll appreciate, dear readers, one has to wonder whether Titian painted all these paintings himself, (the model appears to be the same in all of them), or whether he painted one scene and other painters painted the rest.

If that were the case, then all the copies are just imitations of the one the master himself painted. But which is which? How can we tell which one is the original?



I don't know.


In order to find out whether it is possible to paint just like Titian I thought I'd give it a go. Not to be outdone I searched for my paint brush and palette of colours; I hired a model to pose for me, and promised her that there would be no organists or lute players ogling at her every aspect.


She agreed.



I hope you like the end result of my efforts ....


Monday, 13 April 2015

Nostalgia


Nostalgia these days isn't what it used to be.

Time was, back in the day, when nostalgia was people getting together and reminiscing about old times perhaps fondly or maybe not. These days, however, nostalgia is sharing the latest text or selfie-photo you've just received on your cell phone. Everything is so instant, even memories.

You take a photo and you got it on your screen in seconds. No need to send the film for development and printing, and waiting in anticipation as to how many photos you took badly or are over or under exposed. Today, the only thing they expose in the photos is their bodies.


How many people I wonder remember those far off days when life was in black and white and sound was in mono?

Back then everything was in black and white, or in sepia color, depending on how old you really were. I recall a story that on a snowy day a man wearing a white coat went out for a walk and was knocked down by a snow plough.

This wouldn't happen today with all the vibrant colours we wear which need a special washing powder to make them even more brilliant and soft to the touch. Back then there was no clothes' softener; and people washed their hair shirts by hand, not in a contraption invented to lose your socks; or turn all your clothes pink if you put a red item in it.

I'm told, (because I'm not that old, you see), that in those olden days before stereo sound, or quadrophonic, or whatever else multi-sound is called these days, - back then people talked in mono; and if they were standing on your left you heard them with your left ear, and vice versa if they stood on the other side of you.

It was simple. People talked from their mouth on your left or right and you heard them. Unlike now when people seem to talk from more than one orifice in their bodies and make no sense whatsoever.

Back then in nostalgia times, if you wanted to listen to music you bought big black vinyl discs which you scratched with a needle to hear beautiful balads sang by talented artists gifted with masterful voices. Today people listen to music on small devices no bigger than a match box; and if you happen to lose it, you've lost your entire collection of noise which you have spent hours to collect and cherish.

Another thing I've noticed in today's non-nostalgia world is that people seem to have a fondness, addiction in some cases, of telling each other about themselves every few minutes. They go on social media websites and tell each other inane information like the fact they've just woken up, had breakfast, washed their armpits, and all other things which back in the day we kept privately to ourselves. What's all that about? What is the point of telling a whole load of people personal stuff that is of no interest to man or beast?

I'm not a member of any social media site. In order to appear trendy I walk in the streets, or when on the bus or train, and every so often I say something out loud about myself for no apparent reason.

I make short statements of no more than 180 letters, like "My shoes hurt!" "I need a haircut." "My trousers itch in unusual places." 

At first it astounded those around me. But now I have three followers - all wearing white coats.

In olden times, if you needed something you got to the shop and bought it. Now you can buy almost anything online. Which is a convenient and a good thing I suppose. But here's the catch. Having bought something you are then bombarded by e-mails asking you to review what you've just bought.

"We note you've bought a shirt. Tell us about your enjoyable experience. Did it live up to your expectations? Did you like the item you bought? How did you use it?"

I'll tell you how I used it. I put it in a bucket of soapy water and washed the car with it, that's how.

The other day I bought online a small radio/alarm clock. Now I keep getting e-mails from the trader inviting me to buy other clock/radios of every size, colour, and uselessness. How many clock/radio should a man need?

I tell you. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sin of ommission

I really must apoligise to one of my Blog readers, LULU, for not saying thank you much earlier.

There I was the other day searching for various items on that great website AMAZON when it occurred to me that I needed another copy or two of my latest book "To Love A Priest".

I went to the usual page where all my books are listed and to my surprise I discovered that someone had left a customer review and gave my book 5 STARS. Wow ... I thought. 5 STARS - must be a relative of mine being kind to me. Check it out here.

I clicked on the book and scrolled further down to find a lovely write-up from Lulu.

Thanx Lulu. I would have thanked you much earlier had I known you'd written so nicely about my book.

To any other readers tempted to write something nice about me on AMAZON please let me know so that I can thank you publicly here. I normally go to the UK Amazon website so I wouldn't know if you've reviewed my books on your own AMAZON sites.

God bless.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Film Director Diploma

I have just been awarded a Diploma as a Film Director after attending a long and extensive course at a local establishment of education. Let me share a few of the tricks of the trade which I have learnt from this college.

1 All action films must have a fight. Whether it is people punching and kicking each other in martial arts fashion, or a pub brawl, or a swords fight like the three musketeers. What is important to remember is that it does not matter if the hero is heavily outnumbered; the enemies will always wait patiently to attack the hero one by one, dancing around in a threatening manner until the hero has knocked out their predecessors.

2 The hero must never show any pain whilst taking the most ferocious beating by his enemies; but he must always wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

3 Whenever a large pane of glass is visible on the screen, it is imperative that someone will be thrown through it.

4 All electronic timing devices must have large red readouts to add to the suspense and drama of the scene. The hero must always be seen with cold sweat on his forehead and he must always blindly choose to cut the right wire with seconds to spare.

5 In police films, the detective can only be able to solve the case once he has been suspended from duty. And he is always assigned a partner who is the total opposite in character.

6 Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, the character must always turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments to show that he is driving. He can also look sideways to the pretty woman in conversation for at least a mile without having an accident.

7 In war films the characters can survive any battle unless they show someone else a picture of their sweetheart back home. That's when you're sure they'll die.

8 In bedroom scenes it is important to have a special L-shaped sheet that reach the armpit level of the woman, but only the waist level of the man lying beside her. Apparently, watching male nipples is very suggestive in such scenes.

9 If staying in a haunted house, women should always investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear. Even if it is freezing outside and the wind is howling through the open windows.

Now that you have learnt as much as I have, I look forwards to watching your videos. Here's mine:


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

My Emmaus

Just after Christ’s Resurrection, two of His followers were going to Emmaus. (Luke 24: 13-35).

They were totally distraught about Jesus’ death, and even though there was now news that His tomb is empty and that Christ is alive, they were still down-hearted and confused.

Jesus appeared to them on the way. They did not recognize Him. They spoke with Him and told Him their news. They said that their Lord and leader had been crucified, and there were rumours going around that He was alive again.

Jesus did not tell them who He was but explained to them the prophets’ predictions about Him. He walked with them all the way to Emmaus, but still they did not recognize Him. It wasn’t until He broke and blessed the bread that they recognized Him.

Why? I ask myself.

Why did they not recognize Him when they first saw Him, or when He took the time to explain to them the writings of the prophets?

Could it be that their minds were more pre-occupied with their problems and their dilemma rather than listening to Him?

You can just imagine how their mind worked and how concerned they were about their predicament.

Their leader is dead. What are they to do now? Is it all over? Every thing He said and taught comes to nothing? And what of the future? What are His followers to do now?

But aren’t we just the same.

How often do events touch our lives and turn it upside down. Events perhaps of our making, or events that we did not contribute to but they affect us all the same.

And we panic. What are we to do now? What will happen next?

We fear the future, we fear matters getting out of our control and we turn our attention to our problems and our dilemma. Just like those two on the way to Emmaus.

Yet, all the time we are panicking Jesus is there. Walking beside us. Quite literally. Waiting for us to recognize Him, hold His hand in the full knowledge and trust that He will see us through our darkest hour.

It is our doubts, our fears and our worries which prevent us from seeing Him.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Men Only

 
This post is for MEN ONLY.

Let it be a warning to all MEN before they utter those two simple words "I do ..."

Those two words can sometimes lead to a lot of unhappiness and regrets - believe me.


I'll never forget that day when I uttered the words "I do". They were the beginning of a long period of sadness, anguish and remorse in my life, which seemed to last an eternity.

Those two innocuous words uttered unthinkingly so often with a heart full of hope, happiness, trust and joy, can lead many a desolate soul to a sorry state of affairs from which there seems to be no come-back.

I really loved that woman. In fact, I still do and will do for ever. Yet ... I regret, as I have done many times since, having uttered those two words "I do".

I always believed that true love is based on mutual respect, genuine caring and good communication; but most of all honesty between two people committed to each other for life.

But I learnt, to my anguish and deep shame that this is not so. Certainly not honesty! Honesty can lead you down a path you never meant to take, from which there is no U-turn or coming back to where you started.

There are many times in married life when it is better to lie.

Yes ... I remember it as if it was yesterday, that day I said "I do".

She stood there looking radiant and full of pride and asked me "Do you think this dress makes my backside look big?"
I replied ... "I do".

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Father Ignatius makes a discovery


There are times when a light turns on in your head and you see something clearly for the first time and understand something new you’d never realized before.

Father Ignatius was a studious type of person spending many hours reading the Bible as well as many books on theology, ancient history and similar subjects which would soon send any lesser head spinning widely.

One evening he retired to the room he called “my meditation corner” and after reciting the Rosary he started reading the Bible and cross-referencing certain passages with other books to better understand what God is teaching through His Word.

One passage in particular caught his interest. After Christ’s death and burial, we are told that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple and told them what she had seen. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. When Simon Peter got in and went inside he noticed the linen wrappings lying there, but the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side.

There it was, in the Gospel of John Chapter 20 Verse 7.

Father Ignatius puzzled about this for a moment or two. He’d read that chapter many times and nothing specific occurred to him. But this time, as if a small voice buzzing in his head, he kept wondering the significance of what he had read.

“Why are we told that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side? What’s so important about that?” Father Ignatius asked himself.

Yet somehow, John thought it important enough to mention it. Why?

Father Ignatius checked the other three Gospels but they did not mention this fact. “But why did John consider it so significant to point it out” he wondered silently.

After hours of searching other books and checking on ancient traditions he came upon something he’d never known before.

In ancient Hebrew tradition the folded napkin was symbolic between the master of the house and his servant.

When the servant set the dinner table he made sure that everything was perfectly set out as the master wished and then he would wait out of sight until the master finished eating.

The servant would not clear the table until the master had finished.

When the master finished his meal he would wipe his fingers and mouth with the napkin and then toss the napkin on the table.

The servant would then clear the table, because in those days a tossed napkin meant “I’ve finished.”

However … and this is the significant bit which Father Ignatius discovered for himself, if the master left the table but neatly folded the napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table.

Because the folded napkin meant “I’m coming back!”



“He’s coming back …” mumbled Father Ignatius in wonderment.

That’s what John was trying to tell us in his Gospel.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

EASTER - Lies and Realities

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord let us remember that this particular event gave rise to many speculations and rumours all those years ago, and indeed over the years since then.

Let’s consider the facts as we know them.

A man claiming to be the Son of God was crucified and died a most horrible death.

After His death, His followers claimed that He rose from the dead as He had said He would.

Now let’s look at the rumours and the conspiracy theories.

It is possible that Christ’s disciples and followers stole and hid the body of Jesus to perpetuate the story that He is the Son of God and that His Father raised Him from the dead.

But if that were the case; what benefit is there to them to disseminate this story knowing full well that it is a lie? Why suffer persecution, imprisonment, torture and death for something you know to be false? Would you do that?

The other theory is that the Jews, the Sadducees or Pharisees, removed the body in order to stop any beliefs that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God.

But if that were the case; then why not produce the body once the disciples said that Jesus rose from the dead and invalidate the story of the Resurrection right from the start? Isn't that what one would expect in such circumstances?

Another hypothesis is that Christ never died at all. He just lost consciousness or was in a coma, and He woke up once again and walked out of the tomb.

But the Romans were very thorough people. They made sure that those crucified were indeed dead by breaking their legs whilst hanging there. They did not do so to Jesus because when they checked He was already dead. Even so, they did pierce His side with a spear just to make sure.

And then; there is of course the fact:

Christ died on the Cross and rose from the dead.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Washing of feet



This week, many churches re-enact the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. The priest washes the feet of 12 people representing the disciples. You can bet that the chosen 12 have ensured that their feet, (or foot, because usually one foot is washed to speed the whole procedure), are/is as clean as could be, to avoid embarrassment during the re-enactment.

At the time of Jesus, however, things were different. Streets were not as modern and clean as they are now in our towns and cities. They were dusty, muddy if it rained, and no doubt full of deposits from horses, camels and cattle. People wore sandals or even walked in bare feet.

So when they entered a house as guests washing their feet must have been an essential task rather than the symbolism it is in today’s churches. A task left to the servants to undertake.

When Jesus offered, insisted even, in washing His disciples’ feet He was teaching them, and us, a very important lesson.

Here is God Himself, born in poverty, raised in poverty, living in poverty, submitting Himself to perform a task reserved for servants.

Perhaps the disciples didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus had just done. Maybe we don’t understand it ourselves right now.

Yet, He was preparing for an even greater submission and humiliation for us.

Dying a most horrible and painful death on the Cross.

Just for us.
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