Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Plethora of Advice


It's amazing that nowadays on TV, radio, the internet and in newspapers and magazines there is a plethora of advice on what you should and should not do, what you should eat or not eat, wear as the latest fashion and every other conceivable advice you can think of.

Why can't we be left alone to make our own decisions without feeling somehow guilty that we are not trendy enough to suit other peoples' lifestyles?

The latest advice on TV is that a Mediterrenean diet is much more healthy than taking a variety of medecines to ward off heart problems and other illnesses. That may well be so. We don't know whether it is diet alone that contributes to good health or whether it is also one's attitude to life and the level of stress we create for ourselves. But the fact is, not anyone can afford a Mediterrenean diet; so pointing it out as a universal panacea is hardly helpful. Especially if you live too far away to go to the Mediterrenean every day for your groceries.

We're advised that we should do a lot of walking to remain healthy. What nonsense. My grand-father, at the age of 70, took that advice to heart and went for a five miles walk every day. He is now 85 and we don't know where the hell he is.

We're told we should diet and lose weight. I agree up to a point. But we are not warned of the consequences of losing weight.

A friend of mine was well-rounded, to put it mildly. So large that he could not see his ... feet! He went on a strict diet and indeed lost a lot of weight. But the result is that he had a lot of loose skin hanging about his body in the chest and lower area. They suggested surgery where they would cut off the now extra un-required skin. He declined that offer.

Then he went to a new treatment center where they "pull up" the loose skin up his body a bit at a time, and eventulally they stretch it so much that any extra skin is then somehow tied up and hidden behind the back of his neck. This requires no surgery. Just pulling up the extra skin by some sort of rollers and then tying it up behind his head. It worked so well that now he looks twenty years younger. Unfortunately, his bellybutton (navel) is on his forehead. He has an unusual tie too.

So much for dietary advice. But it does not stop there does it? We are told by advertisers and those with vested interests on what we should wear, what type of cars we should drive, about our concerns for the environment, care for endangered species, even the kind of furniture we should have in our homes.

Did you know that in the UK 1 in 3 babies are conceived in an IKEA bed? Which is amazing considering that IKEA shops are usually well lit.

Well, I don't know about you ... how could I know about you ... I've never met you and hardly know you ... but as I was saying ... I don't know about you but I have decided to stop taking all this well intended advice from so-called experts on TV and the general media. I believe that every one who gives you advice has a hidden agenda, a personal interest in giving you that advice. They usually quote research done by this and that expert to prove their point, but they don't tell you who financed that research do they? They also quote various statistics to frighten you into action. Well, let me quote you some statistics to prove my point.

Did you know that six out of seven dwarves are not Happy?

So take my advice - don't take any notice of any advice you are given!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Strange Goings On

Something strange happened the other day. As I was asleep in bed someone turned the whole room around. The window which is on my left was put on my right and the door on my right was put on my left.

I got up from my bed at night and I fell out of the window into the fish pond below, which I might add, had just been dug out, as we do not happen to have a fish pond by the house.

As I got out of the pond totally wet I discovered that the miscreants who did all this had also transported me to a hotel several miles away from my home. To confuse me further, they had also brought my chauffeur-driven firm's car and parked it in the hotel car park. The chauffeur was nowhere to be seen at that time of night.

Fortunately, I remembered that I had a business meeting at that very same town the following morning.

The hotel receptionist who let me back in the hotel, and accompanied me all the way up to my room to open the door with her master key, said she'd been in the industry for many years, and had had many experiences, but she'd never seen anything like it before!

Has your bedroom layout ever been changed whilst you were asleep?

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Go to Heaven - Go directly to Heaven - Do not pass GO - Do Not Collect ...

One day a priest approached the lectern on Sunday and asked: "Raise your hands if you are going to Heaven!"

The whole congregation raised their hands enthusiastically. The priest looked around the church for a while and eventually noticed, in the third row on the left, a man sitting there with his hands on his lap. He was impressed at the humility of the man. "How humble," he thought, "not to presume that he will go to Heaven, but no doubt striving to be there some day".

He asked the congregation to lower their hands and then he asked the man: "Why did you not raise your hand?"

The man replied: "I'm not sure I want to go to Heaven if they'll all be there!"

And that's the point I suppose. We all believe that we are going to Heaven some day. We all feel that we are worthy enough to be there. After all, we go to church on Sundays, we say our prayers, sometimes, we are generally good people; so why shouldn't we be there? Even people who do not believe in God, when asked whether they'd prefer to go to Heaven or hell they choose to go to Heaven.

We treat Heaven, however we might visualise it to be, as a luxury hotel where we will be welcomed with open arms, and indeed the current residents will be honoured to have us there. We look forwards to spending an eternity with God, without even considering whether He wants to spend an eternity with us. We judge ourselves according to our standards and forget that God has His own standards as to whom He will welcome with open arms.

"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." Matthew 7:21

In other words - There are no parrots in Heaven.

Despite what some people might think, that there are animals in Heaven; and that they'll be re-united with their pets one day. Personally, I hope there are no animals up there; because I'd hate to come face to face with the Sunday roast admonishing me for having eaten it. But I digress.

I am not one of those people who believes we have to work hard and strive to enter Heaven; and that it is all to do with good works and sacrifices and we enter Heaven on our own merit.

Of course, our actions and behaviours do have a bearing as to whether we are worthy to spend an eternity with our loving Creator; but there's more to it than that.

What is the point of going to church regularly and forever praying when we do not even notice Lazarus starving at our gate?

What is the point in proclaiming we are Christians and we believe in God when our behaviour bears no resemblance to God's love as personified by Christ? Even the devil believes in God, but his actions are hardly to be emulated.

What is the point of lighting candles and placing flowers in church, serving on church committees and doing all sorts of other voluntary work if our life-style is hardly Christ-like?

So if our prayers, our devotions, our belief  in God and good works by themselves are not enough; what should we do to enter Heaven?

Let us remember that we cannot buy our way into Heaven. All our good deeds, prayers, lit candles, flowers and even giving money to charity will not by themselves open Heaven's gate for us. What is missing from our actions is love.

God loves us so much that His invitation to Heaven is open to anyone who loves Him back and trusts Him in all things.

Our relationship with God should be a one-to-one relationship, built on love, trust and respect. Not on fear that we might not meet His demanding standards to enter His Kingdom. If fear there is, it should be the fear of hurting Him and disappointing Him by our behaviour. Very much as a good son would fear hurting his parents by his actions.
FATHER FRANCIS MAPLE
Father Francis Maple O.F.M Cap. in one of his sermons makes a good point about our relationship with God by referring to a leaning tree. Here's what he says:
 
I think of a life as a tree. If a tree leans in one direction when it dies it will fall in that direction. It is not going to fall in the opposite direction. So, too, with our lives. If all the time we are leaning towards God, very likely, with God's grace we shall fall into His arms when we die. But if our lives never point to God, it is very likely that when we die we shall die in enmity with God.

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS IN MY BOOK 
 

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? 

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!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Curve Ball


No doubt many a priest has faced a complicated or perhaps a trick question from time to time from a member of his congregation. Never mind … it’s part of their job I suppose.

Remember that Jesus faced many a curve-ball by His opponents trying to catch Him out.

Father Ignatius is no exception.

He was visiting one of his parishioners in hospital the other day and quite unexpectedly came the curve-ball. It wasn’t meant in a malicious way at all; but more as a cry of help from a tired old body.

“You know Father,” said the patient lying in his hospital bed, “this is the third time this year that I’ve landed in hospital. It’s one check-up after another … and these wretched doctors can’t find what’s wrong with me!

“I sometimes think that God has it in for me.

“Do you think he loves all people the same? Because I can’t see it myself. Here I am in hospital yet again … whilst others are OK and walking out there freely.

“I think He has favorites and He looks after them better than others.

“What do you think Father; does God love every one the same?”

“No.” said Father Ignatius firmly.

The patient laughed.

“Now there’s a surprise … I thought you’d give me a lot of platitudes about us all being equal in the eyes of God; we’re all His children, and He loves us all the same … and yet you agree with me. Bravo Father Ignatius. So God does not love us the same. He has His favorites.”

“I did not say that,” replied the priest sitting by his friend’s bedside.

“Explain yourself then,” said the patient jovially.

“God does love us all,” continued Father Ignatius, “and His love has no favors towards one individual as opposed to the next. He loves us all equally in the sense that He created us all and He loves us even though we might sin and distance ourselves from Him.

“Yet His love is not the same towards everyone.”

“How so …” asked the patient with a glint of humor in his eyes.

“He loves each one of us according to our needs,” said Father Ignatius gently, “like an earthly parent would do.

“You have three children Fred; and I’m sure you love all three of them. You have no favorites.”

Fred nodded silently.

“However,” continued Father Ignatius, “let us imagine two of your children were very bright and would one day follow in your footsteps and manage your business. Whilst the third is perhaps less business minded, not very academic, and interested in doing his own thing … you’d still love him would you not?”

“Yes, of course. You know that Father!” said Fred sitting up in his bed.

“I know you would … but let’s take the analogy a little further. Suppose for instance one of your children had been born with an incurable illness … you would not love him any more, or any less than the other two; would you? You’d love them all the same but differently. If you see what I mean.”

“I think I do …” said the man with a smile.

“God loves all of us according to our needs.

“For example, some people are born very bright, and are well educated whilst others are not.

“I see them in church every Sunday. Some of our parishioners are well versed about religion and their walk with the Lord; whilst others, through a variety of circumstances, perhaps related to their background and up-bringing, are poorer in spirit. Their Faith and knowledge of the Lord is not as advanced as say, a theologian.

“Sure they believe and love the Lord; but their spirituality is simpler compared to others’. Because that’s all they know; that’s all they are able to comprehend.

“They love God, and pray as simply as they’ve been taught; and they try to obey His Word as best they can.

“Does God love them any the less than say an educated priest, a bishop or cardinal who have studied incessantly and are, supposedly, more pious?”

Fred laughed heartily at the mention of more pious clergy.

“I suppose not … He must love them all the same amount,” said Fred.

“Exactly … He loves them the same amount; but differently … each according to their need.

“And one more thing …” continued Father Ignatius, “He expects more from those who are educated and should know better.

“To those who have been given much, more is expected of them.

“So the educated clergy are expected to set a particularly good example to those they are meant to guide to Heaven … so I’d better watch out I suppose.”

Fred smiled as a nurse approached and interrupted the discussion.

“I have the results of your tests, Mr Temple,” she said indicating a private conversation.

“Oh don’t mind him …” chuckled Fred, “he’s a priest. He can always give me the last Sacrament before you dispatch me off!”

“Well sir … you are a little anemic and you need a lot of rest. It’s nothing serious and we’ll have you on your feet and out of here in no time” she said.

“That’s great … thank you” replied Fred as the nurse left.

“You see Fred,” said Father Ignatius, “God does love you differently. He obviously thought you needed to listen to a private sermon.

“One to one personal attention. You can’t have better than that!”

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES IN THIS BOOK

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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

At the doctor's




I went to see the doctor today. He was checking whether my sense of humour was still intact.

Ours is a big medical practice with several doctors and nurses. It has a large waiting room with a speaker system which plays soft music and every so often it calls patients to their appointed doctor.

“Would Mr Herbert Pixon please go to Dr Smythe’s room please?” said the speaker as a weedy tall middle-aged man got up and left the waiting room.

Now Dr Smythe may well be the best doctor in the world, but he is certainly not that good at technical matters; because he inadvertently left the microphone open in his room, and this is what we all heard.

“Do sit down Mr Pixon. What seems to be the problem?”

A lady in the waiting room suddenly got up to advise the receptionist that the mike was switched on.

“It is rather very embarrassing!” interrupted Mr Pixon.

The lady sat down again to the relief of everyone in the waiting room.

“There’s no need for embarrassment,” soothed the doctor, “we’re here to help and I’m sure whatever is the matter, we’ve dealt with it before.”

 “Well … I’ve met this young lady …” Pixon hesitated.

An elderly lady in the waiting room reading her book suddenly took off her spectacles and started listening with the rest of us.

“I met her on an Internet website …” continued the hapless man, “she came to my apartment yesterday evening … for a romantic encounter …”

A man in the waiting-room started tapping his hearing-aid violently to make sure it works all right.

“I understand,” said the doctor, “you want to discuss precautions …”

“Well … not just that,” muttered Pixon, “it’s that something actually happened … I feel awful about it!”

At this point the receptionist entered the waiting room. Everyone pretended they were reading a book or newspaper and not paying attention to the loudspeaker on the wall. She looked at us suspiciously for a moment or two, and then she stood on a chair and increased the volume on the speaker, and sat down with us to listen.

“The young lady arrived at 7:35 …” said Pixon, “this put me off a little because she was five minutes late.

“I took off her coat and she was wearing a nice pink blouse and a short blue skirt.

“I offered her a cup of nettles tea. She took one sip and said she didn’t like it. I offered her dandelion tea and she turned it down too. She wanted a gin and tonic but I didn’t have any tonic. And I didn’t have any gin either …”

“I understand,” interrupted the doctor gently, “what exactly happened which made you come to see me?”

“I’m getting to that …” answered Pixon, “we sat down for something to eat. We had tofu and nettles salad for starters, and quinoa with broad beans for our main. She didn’t like either and asked for some meat; but I didn’t have any. She just nibbled at a multi-grain bread roll.

“I got up to put some romantic music on. Insect sounds of the forest. Have you got that record?”

“Mr Pixon, please get to the point,” suggested the doctor, “I have other patients to see …”

“Don’t rush me!” said an upset Pixon, “you’re like my mother. She always says Herbert get to the point.

“Well the point is that when I put the music on, the young lady started running her finger through my quinoa. She had her own plate full, but she ran her finger provocatively in an enticing and beguiling manner through my quinoa moving it around in circles all over the plate. I had difficulty eating from around her fingers because I did not wish to stab her accidentally with my fork.

“Wherever I ate, she followed my fork with her finger.

“I didn’t know what to say … I asked her ‘Would you like some of my quinoa?’ and she said rather abruptly ‘No … I’ve dropped my contact lens in your plate!”

The whole waiting room chuckled and then realized that this was not appropriate in case they missed part of the conversation.

The doctor encouraged Pixon once again, rather sternly but politely, to get to the point.

“After the meal I showed her my organ pedal collection,” continued Herbert whilst the waiting room filled up with more patients and nurses.

“I don’t actually play the organ, but I collect the pedals from old ones which have been decommissioned. I have some that date back to Napoleonic times. And some from the reign of Queen Victoria, King George, and even as far back as Henry the Eighth. And of course there are pedals from modern electronic organs too …

“I brought all the pedals which I keep in separate boxes, all properly labeled. Both the boxes as well as the pedals so that each pedal goes back in its proper box. I write carefully in my best hand-writing which organ the pedal appertained to, the date of manufacture of the organ, as well as the date of decommissioning, the price I paid for the pedal when I acquired it, although mostly I got them for free, and the date and place of such acquirement.

“I have six hundred and seventy two pedals. Some are wooden and some are brass or other metallic substance such as cast iron or steel.

“I took each pedal out of the box carefully and explained their history to the young lady.

“I had reached number two hundred and ten when it happened … the embarrassing thing I came to see you about doctor … I noticed the young lady had fallen asleep. She had her face in her plate full of quinoa and she was snoring loudly.

“Doctor … are you OK? Doctor … why is your head down on the desk? Are you feeling a little tired? Have you not been listening to me?”
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