Tuesday, 22 August 2017

God's Invitation

Someone asked me whether God wants everyone to come to Him.

And, since He knows everything, if anyone refuses to follow God’s Word, then did this man really have a choice, or was it pre-determined that he would not follow God.

Pre-determination and free will have been debated by Christians and non-Christians for years. So I hope I am not adding to the confusion by sharing my views on it.

God's invitation is to everyone - without exception. When He invites us to love Him, He wants us to choose freely - without any pressure on His part to influence our decision. We choose to love Him and come to God through Jesus Christ: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

Of course, some choose not to accept the invitation. They decide to walk away from God. Not to believe in Him and in Jesus as His only Son. That is their free choice.

God in His infinite wisdom and in His loving kindness allows us to make that decision for ourselves. Of course, He knows our decision before we even make it - but He does not influence it in any way. He allows it to happen. If He were to force us in any way then He would have taken away our free will to decide. He might as well have created a race of robots pre-programmed with His every wish and command. But he didn't. He created us free to choose our own destiny. Our own will.

I believe that God has given each of us a mission in life. Some achieve this mission by being great preachers, church leaders, politicians, and so on. Whilst most of us can achieve our mission by the small things we do in life, our acts of kindness, love and caring for the rest of humanity.

Of course, some people choose to ignore their mission to "love one another as I have loved you"; and decide to go their own way. Not only to ignore their mission but also not to believe in the very existence of their Creator.

God allows this to happen.

There are times however when God does try to nudge us in the right direction. He encourages us to be aware of our mission and to attempt to achieve it.

Note that I say “encourage” and not force our decision.

Why He does that only in some cases we really don’t know.

A well known example is the way He “encouraged” Paul on the way to Damascus. I suppose Paul could still have walked away and not followed God’s Word; although I doubt many would have done so under the circumstances! God saw the good qualities in Paul and encouraged him to use them to good effect. Paul chose to accept God and the rest, as they say, is history.

Even today God does nudge some of us in the right direction.


Perhaps through chance meetings with someone who might talk to us about God and encourage us to accept His Word and take up His invitation to love Him.

Maybe He allows certain things to happen in our lives which make us turn to Him.

But the fact is that God does talk to us today. He does encourage us to come to Him through Jesus Christ.

Perhaps some of us just aren't listening.

But here’s the important distinction to remember. God tries to encourage us, or nudge us, in the right direction. He invites us all to accept His Word.

But He never forces us.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

That wee cat chat again

Those readers who read this column, which includes me and a member or two of my family, will know that we have a problem with neighbours' cats visiting our garden and leaving their calling cards everywhere.

I have written about this once before HERE. Why don't you check it out. It is worth a read.

The problem is that the cats continue to visit us come what may.

Now, I have just heard about some unusual deterrent and I would like your advice about it.

As you know, cats, dogs and other creatures wee on various trees and bushes to mark their territory. It is their way of saying "this is mine" and warn other animals to keep off or else.

I read in an article that if we were also to wee all over our garden we would in effect mark it as our territory and it would keep the cats from visiting us. All we have to do is sprinkle our scented eau de toilette on various bushes and trees and it will do the trick.

We can of course do this the natural way; making sure first that the neighbours are not watching and taking photos to share later on social media. Or we could fill a bottle in the privacy of our own bathroom and sprinkle its content all over the garden.

The article does not specify whether male or female scent is more effective or whether it makes no difference.

So I'm asking for your advice.

Have you heard of this rather unusual, and seemingly feasible, way of deterring cats and other animals from one's property?

Have you ever tried it?

Does it work?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The fear of fear is the greatest of all fears

If we are honest, we all have a secret fear which perhaps we don't tell anyone else. It could be the fear of confined spaces, (claustrophobia), or open spaces (agoraphobia), or outer spaces (Star Trek, Star Wars and so on).

When I was very young I had many fears. For example I was afraid to look up to the sun in case I got blind and always walked with my head down in the street in case I accidentally looked up my mistake. This led to my hitting my head against lamp-posts, trees, traffic lights and road signs which in itself led to a fear of street furniture generally. I thought they had it in for me and were out to get me. For a while I thought that perhaps I was a vampire destined to go out only at night.

I was also afraid of glass glasses in case when I drink I might bite on the glass and therefore swallow bits of glass whilst I was drinking which would necessitate me going to hospital and removing the glass from my stomach. This led to me fearing hospitals, doctors, nurses and anything to do with the medical profession in general. This fear was punctuated when later in life, in my twenties, a psychiatrist nearly killed me. I was going down a narrow lane when he drove at me on the wrong side of the road. From that day I have avoided psychiatrists altogether.

Hypnotists too. I went to see a hypnotist to discuss my fear of hypnotists. He sat me down on a chair, stood behind me and went "BOOO !!!" 

As a child, I also feared getting sunstroke or burning from the sun when out on the beach in summer. My parents used to cover me with factor 1,000,000 sun cream but this led to the fear that I might be absorbing all this sun cream through my skin and doing myself more harm than being burnt to a frazzle by the sun. So I decided to wear thick clothing on the beach. I remember spending a holiday in Malta one summer wearing a heavy coat throughout. I lost a lot of weight that year.

Also, I feared going for a swim after having just eaten in case I'd get stomach cramp and drown because the coat was too heavy having absorbed all that water. I always waited for two weeks before going for a swim after eating by which time the holiday was over and we had to return home.

As a child, I went to a very old school which looked more like a big manor in the country rather than a school. It had long dark corridors and large classrooms with wooden desks arranged in rows. Down one of the long dark corridors there were paintings of portraits along both walls as you walked down the corridor to my classroom. The portraits were of old school headmasters dating back to the 1800s. They were all dressed in the clothing fashionable at the time and they looked down at me, from both sides of the walls, as I hurried to my classroom. From that day I was afraid of portraits. I always thought they'd be looking at me. Just like you see in some horror films where the portrait on the wall has someone behind it looking at you from the holes in the eyes.

This led to the fear of mirrors in case the reflection in the mirror was looking at me looking at it.

The neighbours had a black cat always sitting on the partition wall out in the garden between our houses. At night his eyes would shine sometimes in the dark. This made me afraid of black cats. From that day I would never walk under a black cat. Did you know if a black cat crosses your path at night it is because he is going somewhere? This fear of cats led to other fears and superstitions. For instance, if I ever broke a mirror I would quickly sweep it up in case someone trod on it in bare feet.

Reading books at school did nothing to allay my many fears, but served to add to them. For example, although I love chocolates I have always had a fear of visiting a chocolate factory in case the Oompa-Loompas attacked me.

I was also afraid of beans as a young lad. I had read the book Jack and the Beanstalk and I feared eating beans in case one of them was magic and it would grow in my stomach and a plant would come out of my bottom sending me up to the sky.

I was also afraid to visit my grandma in case she was the big bad wolf in disguise. I remember at school once my English teacher said "your grammar stinks!" I told my father when I got home and he was very upset, especially since my grandma always smelled of sweet lavender perfume. He did say, however, that my other grandma smells of pot-pourri.

So ... have you got any secret fears? What are they? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Desperate Prayer

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Weird Happenings

Something weird happened to me today. Weird is the exact word for it. That, or possibly perplexing. Either way, I felt very disturbed at the time.

I went out in the garden, and there, in the corner by the pear tree was a panther. He was sitting there, on alert, ready to pounce on its prey.

I couldn't believe my eyes. So I tried believing my ears instead and listened. Nothing. Not a sound. It just sat there staring at me staring at him.

It could have been a black cat. Everything seems to be bigger than it really is since I wore these new glasses. The optician may have given me someone else's prescription by mistake. When I left his shop I could not find my red Mini car. Where I parked it there was a huge red Jeep instead. So I walked home.

Have you noticed how everyone seems to be putting a lot of weight on lately. I was like a dwarf amongst giants.

These glasses certainly make everything appear huge. I'll loan them to my wife some evening.

This is not the first time my optician made such silly mistakes. Especially since I only went there for a haircut. The last time I visited him he trimmed my beard and moustache too short.

He told me once that he is totally self-taught. He does not believe in all this wasting time at college and university to get a degree and fancy letters after your name. Anyone can be a hairdresser, he said. All you need is practice and he got all the practice he needs when he was a gardener cutting trees and hedges and mowing the lawn.

Whilst I don't mind having my eyes checked by him, I would certainly not have him shave me with one of those very sharp razor blades. Not again. Not after the last time.

I remember staying very still and very afraid as the sharp blade reached my throat. Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw an ear on the floor amongst all the cut hairs.

I said, "Look here ... there's an ear down here on the floor. Whose ear is it here?"

He replied, "Touch it. If it is still warm it is yours!"

Another thing about him, like all hairdressers, they like to talk whilst cutting your hair and always ask if you've been on holiday or are going on holiday. What is it about hairdressers and holidays?

On another occasion, after testing my eyes and then cutting my hair he asked, "Have you been on holiday?"

"Oh yes ..." I replied, "I have been to Rome. I went to the Vatican and met the Pope. I had an audience with the Pope and met him in his Pope Room!"

Being a Catholic, my optician and hairdresser was most impressed. He wanted to learn more.

"Really?" he asked, "You met His Popiness the Pope? What did he say to you?"

I hesitated and then said, "He said, tell me who cut your hair so badly and I'll get your money back!"

My hairdresser stopped sharpening his razor for a moment and then asked, "And did you tell him?"
In his job one has to be very discreet and not repeat what one hears or learns about one's clients. It's like going to confession to a priest. What one hears one does not repeat.

I remember years ago, when I was young and single, whilst he was cutting my hair, I told him about an indiscretion with a young lady.

"Was it Margaret who works at the butcher's?" he asked.

I said, "No!"

"Oh ... it must have been Jennifer then. She works at the supermarket down the road."

Again, he got it wrong.

"If not Jennifer, then it must have been Dorothy. She too is one for the boys!" he declared with a smile.

"Definitely not." I said. 

After a few more wrong guesses, he still did not know who my girl-friend was. But I got some useful contacts I did not know about.

I wonder whose glasses he gave me by mistake.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Reality Check

What is reality? I asked myself the other day as I sat out in the garden. I had to ask myself, because there was no one else there.

What I mean, and what I also meant when I asked myself the question, and got no answer. Albeit, I might add, the dog barked for no apparent reason. He always does that when I sit quietly talking to myself. I don't know why.

Anyway, what I meant by the question, if you can still remember that far, is that, what is reality to us, might not be so, or have been so to other people in the past. Something can be real to us, but not to others.

Let me explain.

Take my great great great grand-parents for instance. If you can find them. If you told them that you could be sitting at home, writing on your computer, and someone else many miles away could be receiving your e-mail within seconds and respond to it whilst you're enjoying your cappuccino coffee. They would not understand our reality of the internet, e-mails, texts, tweets, and so on and they would most probably reply, "What's a cappuccino?" Because they didn't have that in their time. It may be reality to us, but not to them.

Take another example, for instance. The other day my wife was looking through a ladies' magazine and she came across a lovely brown winter coat. She looked at me and said, "I'd like that!" So I cut the picture out and gave it to her. It was not reality to her ... but the consequences of my action were a reality to me.

So you see, reality is how you perceive it to be. It's like looking at a mirage which is not there. Which, when you think about it, in reality is not there. Because that's what a mirage means: a hallucination, a vision, an illusion. If it was there for real then it would not be a mirage, would it? For instance, is a marriage a mirage? Or is it real? If it is real then why does my predictive text type marriage when I mean mirage? Come to think of it, many couples lead a mirage type of marriage. They pretend to love each other but in reality they only stay married for many other reasons: the children, their religious beliefs, the cost and heart-ache of divorce, or just because they are plain lazy to do anything else.

And here's another example of reality not being real. The other day I met a friend I had not seen for ages. When he was young he was a boy. Then when he grew up he had a beard and he became an accountant. The last time I saw him at college he had no beard. Then two years later I saw him again and he had grown a beard and became an accountant. I'm not sure if the two incidents were related or not. So which one of these three instances is real? My friend being a young boy? Growing up and having a beard? Or being an accountant? Which leads to the question: can someone be an accountant and not have a beard?

Anyway, the other day I met him again after a period of six years or so of not seeing him. He was clean-shaven again and no longer an accountant. He became an undertaker. He was so popular that people are dying to meet him. They always signed letters to him; "Eventually yours ..."

I said to him, "If you had a moustache you'd look exactly like my mother-in-law!"

He replied, "I do not have a moustache!"

I said, "But my mother-in-law has."

The moustache was a reality, but it was on the wrong person.

This friend of mine is very rich now. Obviously either accounting or undertaking has suited him well as a career. He has a house with a cinema in it. The problem is that when there's a bad film on he has to leave his own home.

And that's what reality is. It is what it is perceived to be.

I am sitting here writing this Blog day in day out. But how do I know that you out there reading it are real? Are you a reality? Ordinary or extra-ordinary people in your own homes in far flung places reading my daily writings? Or not?
What if you are a figment of my imagination? What if I am a figment of your imagination? What if we are all a figment of each others' imagination and none of us really exist?

Who is writing this Blog then? And how do you know that it has been written and it is not a figment of your and my imagination?

Just because RenĂ© Descartes said, "Cogito ergo sum" does not mean that he is not a figment of his own imagination. He then translated it into "je pense, donc je suis" which as you know means, "I think, therefore I am!" But what does all that prove anyway? 

I started this whole Blog post with the thought, "What is reality?"

Does this prove that I am? Does it prove that I exist? Maybe I just thought or imagined that I thought what reality is? And maybe I don't really exist but the thought that I thought it does exist?

Hein? Have you thought about that? 

Share your views in the comments box below. That is if you truly exist.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


Father Ignatius approached the pulpit and said, “Hands up all those who have been to Lourdes!”

Quite a few hands went up.

“Keep your hands up,” he said, “now hands up those who went to Fatima, Knock or any other Holy Shrine!”

A few more hands went up.

“OK …” continued the priest, “hands down. Now hands up again anyone who has had a miracle happen to them at any of these places!”

No hands went up.

The priest waited a few seconds and then continued.

“Just as I thought! No one considers that a miracle has happened to them. Which of course begs the question; Do miracles happen these days?

“The truth is that miracles do happen these days; but people are not willing to believe in them.

“Perhaps they expect spectacular miracles to happen … Raising of the dead. Walking on water, changing water into wine … now that was a good one!

“Anything less than that and our Faith has not been stimulated enough to even consider it as a miracle, let alone believe it has happened.”

He stopped once again, as he usually did in his sermons, to allow the challenge to sink into the parishioners’ minds.

“I’d like us to consider for a while what is a miracle and who actually performs it when it happens.

“Spectacular miracles, as you would wish them to be, like healings from incurable illnesses and diseases do happen at Lourdes and elsewhere even today. There is plenty of documented evidence if you wish to research it.

“Many people have been healed suddenly with no explanation from medical or scientific sources. They remain unexplained and are accepted as miracles performed at the many Shrines visited by the sick person.

“Miracles happen elsewhere too … not just at these Shrines. Miracles can happen in churches, hospitals or even at your homes … if it is the will of God that they should happen.

“This then leads to the second question. Who performs these miracles?

“Is it Our Lady, the Mother of God at Lourdes or her other Shrines? Is it the particular Saint you happen to be praying to for help? Or is it God?

“And when we pray to individuals before they become Saints for a particular favor, or miracle even … like Padre Pio, Pere Charbel, and so on before they were made Saints by the Vatican … who performed the miracles do you think? Was it the particular person prayed to or was it God?

“Isn’t it after all the performance of miracles, or the answers to prayers, one of the tests which our Church considers as a requirement to Sainthood?”

He paused yet again.

“There are those who say that only God or Jesus can perform miracles; and to pray to Saints, or even people who have not even yet been considered as Saints, is wrong.

“Let me read you something from Acts of the Apostles … you can look it up yourselves at Acts 3.

“You’ll remember that as Peter and John went into the Temple to pray they met a man at The Beautiful Gate, as it was called, who had been lame all his life.

“The beggar expected money from the two apostles. Peter turned to him and said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold. But what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk!’ And of course the man was healed.

“Later on in Acts 5 Verse 12 we read that many miracles were performed by the apostles. Sick people lay in the streets so that Peter’s shadow would fall upon them and heal them. And indeed many were healed.

“The important thing to note here is that Peter said ‘in the name of Jesus Christ get up and walk.’

“So yes … the apostles whilst they walked this earth, and now they are in Heaven, can and do perform miracles; they have not lost their ability to perform miracles, in the name of Jesus, just because they’re in Heaven.

“And so does Our Lady perform miracles in the name of her Son Jesus. As do Padre Pio, Pere Charbel and many other Saints. But they do so in the name of Jesus. It is very important to remember that.”

Father Ignatius stopped once again having pressed his point home.

“And now we move on to our last question,” he said, “for today at least!

“What role does our Faith has to play in the performance of miracles?

“Jesus said time and again to the sick, ‘Your Faith has healed you. Your Faith has saved you.’

“He did not say, ‘Wait … let me click my fingers and hey presto you’ll be healed … Because I’m great at miracles!’ ”

The congregation laughed. The priest continued.

“He made a point of saying that the people’s Faith played a great part in their healing and in their salvation.

“The sick did not stay at home and think ‘Oh well … if Jesus wants to heal me, He’ll do so in good time … I don’t need to go and see Him!’

“They went out to seek Him. They believed in this man who was different. A holy man, a teacher, a healer, the Son of God.

“They had heard about Him, and now He’s in their town or village they went out to find Him … in hope, in desperation perhaps, and even in Faith … as small as a mustard seed! But that little Faith, however tiny it was, is what saved and healed them.

“The blind man shouted at the top of his voice to attract Christ’s attention and to be healed.

“The old lady pushed her way through the crowds in order to get close enough to just touch His cloak and be healed.

“The Roman soldier believed in Jesus so much that he thought just one word from Him would bring healing.

“That’s what I mean by true Faith … it plays a great part in the performance of miracles.

“It need not be our Faith that saves us … the Faith of others, on our behalf can and does bring miracles and healing to us.

“The Roman soldier was asking for healing for his servant, not for himself. His Faith helped heal his servant.

“The men who broke the roof off a house and lowered the man in his sick bed down to Jesus showed Faith on behalf of their friend … and their Faith was rewarded.

“All the people who lay in the streets hoping that Peter’s shadow may fall upon them showed great Faith too.

“As indeed do all those who visit Lourdes, Fatima, Knock and all the Holy Shrines.

“Let me conclude by saying that miracles do indeed happen today. Both great and small. They are performed by Saints and those yet to be Saints through the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Faith plays a great part in the performance of miracles.

“And before you ask … we do not have to go to the Holy Shrines for our prayers to be heard, or for our miracles to happen. All we need is to trust in God and be willing to accept His will in His time and in His way.

“We need a little Faith … not much, just a mustard seed’s worth!”


Friday, 4 August 2017

Saving the Planet - Sorted!

My last post discussed, amongst other things, the question of re-cycling. I would certainly welcome your comments on that subject over there, or indeed about any other topic raised on that post. How about that for re-cycling? I have even given you two links to that previous post. Sorry ... three.

Now the reason for re-cycling is, I am told, to save the planet. What we are saving it from I still do not know. Some say we are saving it from global warming - we are burning too many things which are bad for the planet and cause its temperature to rise, and this is bad because the icebergs will melt and the seas will rise and only the strongest swimmers will survive. Others don't agree with this theory and believe temperatures rise and fall in a cyclical fashion and as in the past we had the ice-age we are only going through a phase and we will survive through it.

Personally, I am not clever enough to understand one argument from another. It's like the argument about the extinction of dinosaurs. Some say they all died because they could not withstand the cold temperatures of the ice-age; others say they died because they were killed by a meteorite, or asteroid which hit the earth. Although why they were all standing in the same place at the time is a mystery to me.

Now about this global warming thing. Many have argued about what exactly causes global warming, but I feel they have missed an obvious reason for the problem which is there staring them in the face.


Can you imagine how many candles are lit at any one time in the world? In churches, in restaurants, at romantic dinner tables, in the bathroom - I mean; whoever thought of candles in the bathroom? Very dangerous if you happen to singe your hair. On birthday cakes too? Come on - admit it. How many candles are on your birthday cake each year? You and all these other candles are contributing to global warming.

That and cows breaking wind apparently. Cows break wind more than other creatures because they have two stomachs. It seems that all the gases coming out of cows float up to the sky and make a hole in the sky through which the warmth of the earth escapes and the sun rays get in through the hole in the sky and makes us warm again.

I have mentioned cows because, I understand, they contribute most to the problem. But apparently all kinds of gaseous substances from animals and humans contribute to the problem. So my advice to save the planet is don't break wind near a lit candle.

Another reason for global warming, I am told, is deforestation. This means that we are cutting down too many trees and not planting new ones fast enough.

The other day I was sitting at the library reading about global warming, and a man beside me said, "“Do you realize that all the time you've been sitting here 500 square miles of rain forest have been destroyed?”

So I got up and sat elsewhere. I don't want to be blamed for destroying a forest.

Whilst we are on the subject, yet another reason for global warming is books. Yes books. Books are made of paper which comes from wood from trees which have been cut down to make paper.

Do you realise that there are millions of books being printed in the world each year and most of them go unread? Including mine. Which is a pity because you're missing out on a good read. Just click the link to find out more.

Now if we printed fewer books, or we published them in Kindle or other electronic formats, like mine are, then we would save on a lot of paper and trees being cut down.

Yet another reason for global warming, it seems, is our voracious appetite for electricity. We are using more and more electricity every year.

We all need electricity to make our electric toothbrush work. As you know, the old fashioned way of brushing our teeth with a traditional brush is no longer effective. We all need an electric toothbrush to make sure our teeth are bright and clean and they attract a handsome and/or attractive partner in life.

This is why the consumption of world electricity is constantly increasing.

So another way to save the planet is by finding new ways of making electricity rather than burning fossil fuels to make the turbines which make electricity work. One way of making electricity cheaply, I am told by experts, is to harness the wind power and build wind-turbines. These in effect are big fans which go round and round and make the turbines which create electricity work. It's all very complicated but more effective than burning coal or oil to turn the turbines.

The problem with this method is that some people object to wind turbines because they spoil the natural scenery whether they are built in the countryside on hills and in fields, or out at sea. Also, I understand, the sound of the wind turbines as they go round and round upsets the birds' hearing as they fly by; and they have to cover their ears with their wings thus interrupting their flight causing them to fall to their death.

The answer to this problem is rather simple if only people use their imagination. Engineers should install these big wind turbines in caves or under-water out of harm's way and so as not to spoil the natural scenery. Either that or have them built on wheels and bring them out at night when everyone is asleep.

My main concerns with wind turbines, however, is much more serious. I am worried that if every nation builds more and more of these wind turbines everywhere, sooner or later they will make so much wind that the whole earth will take off like a plane and start flying away to another galaxy. Where would we be then?

In another solar system where they do not speak our language with no one to read my books.

So I think a better solution is to use less electricity by switching all our lights off and using candles instead!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Who calls you baby?

I was thinking the other day about old traditions which are no longer with us and have been confined to history.

Just to name a few, I remember in Olden Tymes we used to have milk delivered on our doorstep. Early in the morning the battery-operated milk van used to come down the hill with its engine whirring and the sound of glass bottles clinking in their crates. The milkman often whistled out of tune as he delivered bottles full of milk at each doorstep and collected empty ones to be cleaned and re-filled at the factory. The milkman also delivered butter, yogurt, and cream if you needed it too.

We also had a bakery delivering bread to your home every day. Each day the loaves were wrapped in foil with the day written on it to certify its freshness: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.

The greengrocer used to call every other day with a van full of fruits and vegetables. Oh ... and the coal man too! He called round every week with sacks of coal which we stored in the coal room in the back garden and used it to heat the house. Some people also used paraffin heaters at home and the paraffin man used to call for weekly deliveries. If I recall well, a fishmonger used to come round once a week, on Fridays, and at weekends, an ice cream van used to call with its musical chimes playing nursery rhymes to attract young customers.

And ... dare I say ... the priest used to call round every so often on his parishioners for a cup of tea and a friendly word or two.

All these traditions now seem to have disappeared and confined to history. All except for the postman who still calls round every now and then when he has a letter or packet to deliver. I wonder how long he will continue to do that.

Personally, I like to see the postman walking down the street and calling on me every now and then. I know his deliveries are not as fast as an e-mail or text message but at least they are crumpled when shoved in the letter box, and often wet when it's raining and quite often late beyond imagination.

I remember years ago friends of ours, living ten miles away, sent us an invitation to their daughter's christening. By the time the letter arrived we went to that daughter's wedding.

Quite often the mail was so slow that when it arrived it was half-eaten by snails. Admittedly, it came from France.

Once I received a letter which made me cry. It was written on an onion. That too came from France.

I remember many times the postman used to miss-deliver items to the wrong address. One time he delivered a package from Australia which was not addressed to me. I returned it to sender. It contained a boomerang!

Another time he rang the bell and asked, "Is this letter for you? The name's obliterated!"

I told him my name is Victor, not Obliterated!

I wonder why dogs have a habit of attacking and biting postmen. They don't seem to do it to other visitors. To discourage our dog I now buy him "Woof Woof" dog food. It's the only dog food that tastes of a postman's leg!

The other day the postman accidentally dropped his hat and our dog grabbed it and chewed it up. The postman complained to me and I smiled meekly. He said, "I don't like your attitude!"

I replied, "It's not my 'at 'e chewed. It's your 'at 'e chewed!" (An old one ... but still a goodie!)

Anyway, I should stop poking fun about the postman and pay tribute and gratitude to someone who, come rain or snow, come hot weather and drought, he always comes round our street, even though he does not always have something to deliver for me, and cheers me up as he goes along doing his daily work.

I just wish he would shut the garden gate after him when he comes round.

On reflection, I just remembered. Another person who calls on us weekly is the garbage collector. He, or they to be more precise because there are three of them, call once a week. One drives this huge lorry, and the other two collect the wheelie bins which we all have to leave on the edge of the pavement (sidewalk).
In our town we have three coloured wheelie bins. The green one is for you to put garden waste only - grass cuttings, tree branches, old leaves from trees and so on. But woe betide you if you put cabbage or cauliflower leaves, or potato peelings or other vegetable matter in this bin. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will visit you immediately and chastise you by planting a plague of boils on your backside.

Such vegetable matter should go in the black wheelie bin where you also put other household rubbish like the contents of your vacuum cleaner, and the dog poo you have collected when you took your dog for a walk, or the cat poo when your neighbour's cat visits your garden.

But don't you dare put newspapers, magazines, empty cans of beans and other foods, cardboard boxes such a cereal packets, plastic bottles of milk, shampoo, washing-up soaps or any other such things in the black bins. The Four Horsemen will visit again with four more of their friends. All such materials must go in the orange bins which are used for re-cycling materials.

And don't put glass, bottles, jars, wood, computers, monitors, small electric appliances like toasters, radios, phones, batteries and so on and on in the black bins. All these items must be collected by you and you have to drive miles to the re-cycling centre and put them there yourself.

Actually, of all the people that used to call on us in the past, and still do today, the rubbish men are the most feared because of the power they yield. If your bin is over full, or contains the wrong materials in the wrong coloured bin they just don't empty it. And when your bin is emptied in their large truck they usually leave your empty bin at least twenty yards away from your house rather than in the spot by your garden gate where you originally left it. And if you don't take your empty bin in your house quickly enough you can be fined!

Excuse me ... I hear the bin men calling right now. I need to ask them which bin to put the elastoplast from my boils.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Meanwhile here in the hood

We have in the area where we live a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme whereby all neighbours watch out for each other and report anything suspicious to the police. We also send each other weekly e-mails advising us of anything we should be aware of in our area.

Once a month we meet at the main organiser's house, Mr Thornhead, and discuss matters that concern us all. Like for instance the fact that his dog is always barking, or that his two cats visit our gardens and use it as a toilet, or that his children are too noisy when playing football in the garden, or that whenever we have meetings in his house the biscuits are often stale and there are not enough of the chocolate variety.

Anyway ... we have this Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and it seems to be working mostly OK; except for the fact of Thornhead's wandering cats which, if we pressed the point too harshly, he would resign from the position of main organiser and there's no one else willing to take on the task.

By the way, this reminds me of another Neighbourhood Watch Scheme I was a member of years ago when I lived in another town. I was the leader of that scheme. It worked very much like our present one except for the weekly e-mails because computers had not then been invented. Instead, we sent each other letters which, because the Post Office was so slow at delivering them, we got the news about something suspicious a month after it had happened. For example, we got the letters about old Miss Hungerford being unwell and to look out for her two weeks after her funeral.

I recall one night at that town I lived in, I was coming back from the pub with a friend of mine at about 10 o'clock at night, and as we walked home we kept an eye on every house we passed to see that all was well and there was nothing suspicious to report. As we came by the Murgatroid's house, which was a bungalow, we noticed that the front room, which was their bedroom, had its lights on and the curtain had been left open. We looked through the window and saw that Mr and Mrs Murgatroid were busily doing their exercises on the bed. They were probably celebrating a birthday or an anniversary and in their excitement had forgotten to draw the curtains. My friend wanted to ring the doorbell and warn them but I dissuaded him because I thought it was unfair to spoil the moment. That night they gave Neighbourhood Watch a completely new meaning.

Anyway ... back to where we live now. We've received an email lately saying there has been a number of burglaries in a neighbouring area and that we should be on the look-out, and to take extra precautions.

As a result we have had installed a wall safe in our home with a combination lock in which I keep my stockpile of chocolates and jars of ginger marmalade of which I am very fond. In order to confuse any would-be intruder we have hidden the safe behind a large oil painting of a safe. Any thief would look at the painting and say, "Ha ... Ha ... They would not be that stupid to have a safe behind this painting!"

Also, from now on, whenever we leave the house we throw all the chairs haphazardly on the floor; also throw all cushions on the floor as well as pictures off the wall, and we empty all contents of drawers all over the place making it as untidy as possible. This way if any burglar comes in, he will see all the mess and think we've already been burgled and leave without disturbing anything.

If ever I am the only one at home, of course, we don't bother to untidy the house. Instead every so often I go to the front door and bark like a dog to frighten any passer-by. I bark two types of dogs. A big ferocious one and a tiny yappy one to give the impression we have two dogs. This often excites our own real dog who also joins in the barking. Last night he got so much into the act that he bit me in the backside.

We've also been advised that when we go out we should leave a light on and perhaps a radio or TV on so that anyone would think there's someone at home. To save electricity I don't have the radio or TV on but instead I stand behind the curtain and sing opera arias at the top of my voice. The dog sometimes joins in by howling at the top of his voice. So far, the ruse has worked well. 

Also, it seems to have frightened Thornhead's cats from our garden!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Shakespearian Tragedy

Now not many of you know this, but I am a Shakespearean actor. I am a member of a small troupe who perform publicly at various venues far and wide.

We’re very good really. Matilda, Hilary, Gerard and I. It’s a small troupe as I said … an ensemble you might call us. We try our best to be as authentic as possible when performing our plays; or bits of plays like monologues, sonnets and so on.

We rehearse our productions in our living room every Wednesday evening. We put the headphones on the dog so we don’t disturb his TV viewing and we gather there to read our lines.

Now being a perfectionist, I like to dress in full costume beforehand and rehearse my lines in front of a full length mirror. You should have seen me as Mark Anthony the other day … frightened the cat I did!

That evening I was rehearsing my lines from Hamlet. “To be or not to be … that is the question!” I said in my best English accent. “To be … or not … to be …”

And the cat came into the room meowing and rubbing himself against my legs. I gently pushed him away and continued, “To be … or not to be …”

But the wretched cat continued to pester me, and my rehearsal turned more into, “To meow … or not to meow … that is the purr purr, question.”

“Go away”, I said to the silly creature, “this is a monologue … not a catalogue!”

But it wouldn’t go away, so I eventually put him out in the garden just as my guests arrived.

So there we were, Matilda, Hilary, Gerard and I, enjoying a nice cup of hot lemon tea. I like to offer them lemon tea because it loosens the vocal chords you see; it was also on offer and a little cheaper at the supermarket this week.

So we were enjoying a nice cuppa and chatting away casually when the cat came in and gently placed a dead mouse at Matilda’s feet.


She screamed loudly throwing her hot tea in Gerard’s lap. He quickly awoke feeling the sudden rise in temperature in his Southern regions and accidentally kicked the small table sending teapot, sugar and Viennese biscuits flying through the air.

I like to offer Viennese biscuits because they’re so delicate … and also on offer … buy one get one free. So I got two packets.

Anyway, in the mayhem that ensued the dog suddenly awoke and rushed out of the room still wearing the headphones, dragging the TV to the ground as it broke into millions of pieces.

The whole evening’s events were totally disrupted and our rehearsals adjourned to a date in the very distant future.

The cat enjoyed the Viennese biscuits but was not too partial to the lemon tea.

I understand both Matilda and Gerard are consulting their respective lawyers.

Anyway, weeks later, after all these events died down, I landed a big part in a play that’s showing locally in town. I play the part of a mouse.

I know it’s not Shakespeare but he could have written it I suppose; if he was into pantomimes. That’s a British comedic theatre style, for those of you who don’t know.

I play one of the mice that turn into horses in the Cinderella story. I’m sure you know the story, the Fairy Godmother turns a pumpkin into a horse drawn carriage and the mice into horses. I play one of the mice.

Now as I mentioned before, I like to rehearse my lines in full costume at home in front of a full length mirror.

I realise that in Cinderella I don’t have any lines to say per se. I just stand there dressed as a mouse together with three other actors; then there’s a big bang as the Fairy Godmother waves her wand … the lights go out … and when they come on again we’ve left the stage and we’re replaced by four other actors dressed like horses.

It’s very complicated you see and requires a lot of rehearsals to get it right.

So I took my costume home and put it on. Then I stood there in front of the mirror looking like a giant mouse.

The cat came in and AHHH!!!! He was totally frightened out of his nine lives. He thought one of the many mice he has been chasing in the past had come back for revenge. He climbed madly on top of the wardrobe and would not come down … shaking to death he was.

What a turn of events. The cat who made my life hell all these years is now cowering away like a quivering jelly on top of the wardrobe.

The lazy dog usually half-asleep in front of the TV woke up suddenly upon hearing the cat’s commotion. He looked at me and decided there’s no way he’d let a giant mouse usurp his territory.

He started growling. I tried to calm him down, but he pounced toppling me onto the ground and biting me in several unmentionable places.

I’m currently recuperating in hospital. But considering playing the role of the wardrobe in our next production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.


Monday, 24 July 2017

Not swimming with dolphins

Years ago I wanted to go on holiday and swim with dolphins; but I could not afford it. So instead I went to an English seaside resort and swam with sardines. As soon as they saw me they swam away thinking I was too weird to swim with them. The only thing I attracted was a jellyfish which attached itself amorously to the outside of my leg.

I got out of the water screaming in agony. A fat woman sitting on the sand sunbathing said, "You have to pee on it. It takes the sting away!"

How could I possibly pee on it attached to the outside of my leg? It's not as if I had an extension hose with me. Anyway, I couldn't just do it in public.

Since there was no queue volunteering to pee on me I kept on screaming instead.

A man came to my aid and suggested he buys a bottle of vinegar from the nearby fish and chips shop. He asked me for some money.

As I was only wearing my sports swimming trunks at the time, I of course had no money on me. He asked me for a credit card. I shouted in pain, "and where do you expect me to swipe it?"

He ran to the shop and brought a bottle of vinegar. As soon as he poured some on the creature it let go off my leg and shrivelled to the ground. But the leg was still stinging.

There was another man nearby selling ice cream from the back of a van. Every so often the van would play nursery rhyme tunes on the loudspeaker to attract young customers. The ice cream salesman volunteered to drive me to the hospital about a mile away. He rushed as slowly as he could playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" along the way.

At the Emergency Room the Head Nurse who served years ago with Florence Nightmare would not let me in. "You can't come in dressed like that!" she said, pointing at my minute swimming trunks.

It's amazing isn't it, that you can be on the beach with tiniest bikini or swimming trunks and it's OK; but in a different environment it is not acceptable.

"Would you like me to take them off?" I asked, still in severe pain.

She looked me up and down once or twice and said, "No, that would be worse!"

At the reception desk the receptionist asked me for some identification to prove who I was. I told her I did not have any on me. She insisted on some identification she could put on her computer. I assured her I did not have my name and address tattooed on some private place I could show her. She still insisted.

I asked her what would happen if a patient is unconscious. She said that would be different.

So I lay on the floor, closed my eyes, and pretended to be unconscious.

Another young nurse came out of her office, took me to the treatment room and treated my leg.

I then had to take a taxi back to the beach to go to the changing room and get dressed and pay the taxi driver. It cost me a fortune.

I don't like dolphins, or sardines. The only fish I like is the one served with potato chips and tomato ketchup.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Old Henry's Sin

As Father Ignatius arrived at Old Henry’s cottage he recognized the doctor’s car pulling away, so he parked in the vacant space and rang the doorbell.

The seventy-five year old opened the door ashen faced and not having shaved for a few days.

As the priest went into the house he asked tentatively, “That was the doctor leaving … have you not been well Henry?”

The old man sat down and said: “I’ve been in terrible pains since Friday night. Shivering and feeling cold yet sweating and with a temperature. I felt tired and light-headed and thought my time had come!”

“Since Friday night?” asked the priest, “did you call the doctor then?”

“Yes I did. There was no one there. And they don’t work during the weekend either. The doctor finally came on Monday … and he came again today. You just saw him leaving!

“He gave me a variety of pills … all different pretty colours like sweets, and said if I don’t improve he’ll take me to hospital.

“Fat chance! I can’t go to hospital and leave the dog at home alone.”

“But … if this started on Friday night, why did you not call me Henry? I would have come straightaway!” said Father Ignatius.

“Oh … I thought you’d be too busy Father” Henry replied, “I bet you had the church full of sinners at every Mass this weekend. Am I right?” he asked with a glint in his eye.

The priest smiled.

“The thing is …” continued Henry, “at my age I don’t have much opportunity to sin. I don’t think I’ve broken any of the Commandments. I haven’t killed anyone nor stolen anything … and I doubt I have the energy to covet anything my neighbour might have … either his wife, who is ugly and as large as a gorilla, or his donkey … because he hasn’t got one!!!” He chuckled to himself.

“But I’ll tell you something Father …” he continued, “I did despair with God over the last few days … Now that’s a sin I’m sure!

“I was in terrible pain and although I prayed He didn’t listen. Too busy with someone else I suppose … I begged Him many times to take the pain away, but it got worse. At times I did pass out and slept for hours then the pain would wake me again.

“I thought God had abandoned me.

“I still believed in Him you know. I believed in His power to heal and His love for us. I knew He could heal me … but I felt He did not want to.

“Now why would He do that?

“He can heal, yet He withholds His healing power for some … including me. I suppose I lost my Faith in Him.”

“That is not so,” said Father Ignatius gently, “when we are in difficulty, or as in your case, in great pain, we doubt and we question, but we do not lose our Faith.

“Our human nature can’t understand what is happening to us. But deep inside we still believe. The very fact that we pray when in pain, or in despair, shows that we believe there is Someone there listening to our prayers. Such moments of great difficulties strengthen our Faith, not weaken it.

“You said yourself that you still believed in God. So your Faith remained intact.

“But your pain and your fears said otherwise. The trauma of it all overwhelmed you.

“It’s human nature. God knows that.

“When Jesus was on the Cross, His human nature thought He’d been abandoned. But His Godly nature, as part of The Holy Trinity, knew otherwise.

“So have no fears Henry! God loves you and He has already forgiven you.”

The old man smiled feebly.

“Now tell me,” continued the priest, “did the doctor say what you can eat?”

“He said toast and butter would be OK, and tea with lemon, not milk.”

“I can do that … how about a hot meal?”

“He said chicken soup with bread … something light!”

“Mrs Davenport, our housekeeper, makes a great chicken soup with vegetables,” said Father Ignatius, “I’ll ask her to bring you some this afternoon.”

Over the next few days Father Ignatius made sure that a group of people took turns at visiting Old Henry until he was up on his feet and ready to sin again. Small sins of course!


Thursday, 20 July 2017

I don't look good naked anymore

Friday, 14 July 2017

Beware of your sins


Saturday, 8 July 2017




Thursday, 6 July 2017

Catholics at their best!


Why is it in our church we often have more than one collection? The other day we had a second collection for the "Bishop Maintenance Fund". I did not know he was falling apart.

Sometimes we have a "retiring collection". Instead of passing the plate amongst the pews, we have several men standing by the exit doors, plate in hand, to catch you out as you leave. I usually stay in my pew and pray and pray until everyone has left the church and the men with plates have gone to count the collection. 

The other day one of them noticed me and came to my pew and asked me if I wanted to donate. I told him I gave at the office. He did not like my sense of humour. But I bet that Jesus smiled!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Pursuit

I drove to the city, some forty miles away, for a business meeting which finished early in the afternoon. I looked forwards to an early return home relaxing with a Guinness and a football match on TV.

As I drove out of the city I switched on the radio to hear the news. As always, the announcer started with some bad news and then followed on with more bad news. I changed station to some country and western music instead. There's nothing better than "On the road again!" by Willie Nelson when you're travelling. That or Don Williams or Tom T Hall.

Anyway, there I was, approaching my home town and humming to John Denver's "Take me home Country Roads".

I tell you, those country roads in Britain can be long and winding with sharp corners and unexpected ups and downs of hills and narrowing lanes. But the good thing is that they are less busy than highways, and I often take the country roads back home after a difficult day at the city as it helps me to relax whilst driving. 

The other thing with less used country roads is that you tend to notice when you're not alone when driving.

As Waylon Jennings was singing the Dukes of Hazzard Theme Song, "Good Ol' Boys"; I noticed a car following me in my rear view mirror. Just then, by pure coincidence C W McCall started singing "Convoy".

But it was not a convoy on those long and winding roads. It was just the two of us. Me and the sparkling dark blue car a few yards behind me.

I put my foot down on the accelerator to put some distance between us. He did just the same and followed me exactly a few yards behind.

The road was too narrow for me to let him pass. And at the speed I was going I was afraid I might get off the road and land upside down in some ditch.

I slowed down a little. So did he behind me. He followed but kept the same distance of a few yards behind.

I knew this road well and remembered that just over a mile ahead there is a big roundabout; a big island through which many roads intersect in and out.

If I were to enter the roundabout and turn my car all the way round; all 360 degrees; this would give the car following me the opportunity either to drive on ahead of me or to get off at any of the four intersections on the roundabout.

I sped up a little to create some distance between me and my follower. I arrived on the roundabout first and as luck would have it there were no other cars there.

I entered the roundabout from the six o'clock position on a clock face. I turned all the way round to six o'clock again and saw my follower entering the roundabout at six of clock just as I did.

I put my foot down and exited the roundabout at the six o'clock exit just as he entered it.

To my surprise, he did the same manoeuvre and exited at the six o'clock exit following me.

Why did he do that?

He had the opportunity whilst I was going round to exit at twelve o'clock and drive on ahead of me. Or he could have got out at the three or nine o'clock exits. Why did he go all the way round 360 degrees, like me, and get out after me at the same exit we had entered?

It's obvious he is following me. It is obvious he is up to no good.

I looked in my rear view mirror to work out whether he was alone in the car, or whether he had passengers. But he was too far behind for me to see properly, but he was catching me up fast. Obviously, my manoeuvre on the roundabout had confused him and upset him. He has realised I am on to him and now he is catching up with me fast.

I began to panic.

I sped a little more on this dangerous narrow winding road. I nearly got off the road as I slid in a large puddle of water where it had been raining previously. I almost hit a tractor coming out from a side road. I was going a little too fast for these road conditions; and yet, the blue car behind me was following me inch by inch replicating my every move. But he must certainly be a better driver than me because he managed through the puddle of water better and certainly got round that tractor missing it with a hair's breadth.

He was tailing me every step of the way. I could see vaguely in my rear view mirror it was a man driving behind me; but I did not want to look for too long in case I miss a bend on the road and end upside down in a ditch.

Who could he be and what does he want?

I did not recognise the car. Is he a policeman in a plain clothes car; I thought. But if he were a policeman; why not sound his siren and blue lights to stop me?

Who else could he be? A gangster? Does he want to rob me perhaps? Steal my car? His is a better and bigger model, what would he want with my car?

A prankster perhaps? Trying to have some fun by scaring me and following me close behind?

Maybe he is drunk and just out of his mind.

Whoever he was he was scaring me. I could not phone for help because I always switch off my cell-phone whilst driving to avoid receiving calls and disturbing my concentration. I could not let him pass because he had no intention of doing so.

I looked at the gauge on the dashboard and noticed that I was running out of gas. Sooner or later my car would stop and he'd catch up with me anyway. I had to do something desperate.

I remembered a driving manoeuvre I was taught at Advanced Driving lessons. I hadn't done it for ages, but these were desperate times. I took my life in my hands, literally.

I quickly pulled on the handbrake and released it again. The car spun 180 degrees on itself, just like doing a U turn. In the narrow road, I almost flew off into the field by the road, but I didn't. Somehow, by some miracle perhaps, I managed to straighten the car and keep it on the road. There was a tremendous noise as I did this lunatic stunt and dust everywhere. The car zig zagged a little and I drove off at speed as my follower arrived on the scene and put his foot on the brakes violently.

Momentarily, I managed to escape him. I saw in my rear view mirror that he had stopped and tried, after several backwards and forwards motions, to turn his car round again. He was not as good as me after all and could not do the U turn in one go.

I used this time to gain a distance between us as I sped towards the roundabout I had driven through moments earlier. If I reach it quickly and get through it maybe he would not know which exit I took and so I would lose my pursuer.

He was catching up behind me fast. He was a real dare-devil and had a very powerful car. Better than mine.
There is no doubt now that this man was following me for the last twenty miles and his intentions were no good.

A cold sweat covered my brow. I could feel my heart pounding fast in my chest. I was afraid. More afraid than I had ever been.

This guy was obviously not a joy-rider out for some fun. He meant business. What if he caught up with me and killed me. He would not want any witnesses after all that's happened. That's why he was following me fast and now beeping on his horn like a madman.  

If only all this beeping would attract someone's attention. But no ... the road was empty. Just me and him speeding recklessly.

I felt like Dennis Weaver in the film Duel by Steven Spielberg.

Have you seen the film? Real scary.

David Mann, (Dennis Weaver), is a middle-aged salesman driving on a business trip. He encounters a rusty truck on the highway which follows him and terrorises him out of his senses

This man behind me is doing just the same.

He stopped beeping his horn. I looked in the mirror and he was catching up with me fast. His headlights now full on to make it obvious he was there. I could see his hand shaking at me out of the window.

Is that a gun in his hand, or is he just wearing a black glove? I can't see properly and drive fast at the same time.

What the hell does he want? Why can't he go away?

If only there were other cars on the road I could signal for help. Or pedestrians; not that there are many in the countryside. It's just a long narrow winding road with either trees on either side or a deep ditch inviting me to fall in and end my life.

I kept driving as fast as I could without endangering my life. He kept following me ... for thirty miles now.

I was entering my town and gaining some bravado confidence.

Why is it we feel brave and confident on home territory? If the other man is bigger and stronger than you he is just as likely to punch you on the nose in your front garden as anywhere else. He doesn't know or care this is your home territory. If he is determined enough to finish you of, because of some unknown reason, or to get rid of a witness, he would do it regardless.

Anyway, now is not the time for philosophical discussions. Especially since my mind is concentrating on going to the bathroom as well as escaping my pursuer. Although I cannot work out which is the more pressing priority!

Why can't they have bathrooms in cars? There must be a way of relieving yourself whilst driving, surely. What is the point of having all the technology to send a man on the moon if we cannot solve such a simple problem? What do they do when on rockets to the moon? Surely they have a system of relieving themselves. Why can't car manufacturers install a similar system in cars?

It's amazing how one's brain works when in a panic.

All these questions rushing through my mind and pressing on my bladder did not solve the problem of my pursuer.

At the next traffic light, which incidentally was red, my bravery took over from my cautiousness and I stopped the car abruptly.

He stopped behind me.

I got out of the car and walked purposely towards him.

I did not know what I was going to say or what I would do. My stupidity had taken control of my mind.

What if he attacked me? What if he had a knife, or a gun, or a baseball bat even?

Thankfully, none of these thoughts crossed my mind, because if they did my bladder would have given up in despair.

As I approached the blue car behind me he pulled down his car window.

Before I said anything he asked: "Who are you?"

I had to think for a second or two before knowing what to answer.

He continued: "You're not Thomas!"

"No ... I am not ..." I mumbled incoherently that I hardly understood myself.

"You're not Thomas Haversmith!" he said. "Where's Thomas?"

"I am not Thomas, and I don't know who or where he is," I said gaining a little courage from I don't know where, "why the hell have you been following me for some thirty miles?"

"I have not been following you," he replied with some irritation in his voice, "I have been following Thomas. I did not know the way to the Conference Centre and he told me to follow him. I did follow him as we left the car park, and I drove for miles only to find it is you and not Thomas! And I must say, you are a terrible driver. Thomas would not drive like that!"

I was so relieved to hear his explanation; not literally relieved, you understand.

I asked him to follow me in the pub up ahead, where I literally relieved myself; and then gave him step by step directions back the thirty miles to the Conference Centre he was supposed to be at.

He told me that he was a guest speaker at the Conference Centre and was due there over an hour ago. He also used my cell-phone to explain to an irate Thomas Haversmith why he was late to address the meeting on the subject of in-car satellite navigation systems.
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