Sad Music, Dark Literature and Positive Thoughts 2

Art helps me to reconcile my past whilst my goals push me into the future

Tag Archives: Christianity

Yasmin’s birthday…Valentine’s Day…

I have been flitting briefly onto social media in February thus far.  I type this in explanation of the erratic days that I am posting and visiting everyone’s blogs.

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Yasmin’s outfit for her 24th birthday outing

And why these odd habits these two weeks?  Well, you can blame the two ladies who refer to me as ‘my husband’ or ‘my Dad’ for this.

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Chocolate fudge cake and lager shandy…a good afternoon out!

Yasmin has celebrated her 24th birthday this month.  I’d given Yasmin some money to buy a birthday outfit and it happened that the money was enough for two dresses, perfume and even a little something else.

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With lashings of ginger beer

I also booked her the actual day of her birthday off work to go and help her buy her outfit.  The photo shows one of the two dresses just before I took Yasmin and three of her friends to their night out on the town last Saturday.  In the early hours of Sunday morning, I picked them all back up and drove them back to Yasmin’s place to sleep.

Gloria and I spread our Valentine’s Day celebrations over both yesterday and today.  Yesterday, I took Gloria out for a meal and today she returned the favour.  After today’s food (a Sunday roast followed by chocolate fudge cake) we went to Church with my Mum.

I ended up explaining my earring to a few people at Church this evening by describing myself in terms of being a pirate.  I said that the earring would be used to pay for my burial if I fatally lost a cutlass fight on a small island.

No-one seemed to believe that I really am a pirate.  I don’t know why.

My Mum’s milestone birthday

There are a few phrases which I hear again and again that both make me groan with annoyance as well as smile to myself.

One such phrase was this one that I heard several times in December, “Where has the time gone.  It’s not that long ago since the start of the year.”

I would groan inwardly to myself when I heard this.  I reasoned that the person I was speaking to had let the precious hours within their year slip past them.  They were wasting their life.  If they had filled their time with non-repetitive and worthwhile actions other than sitting watching television or some other time wasting activity, the year would have felt like a year to them rather than a few days that had somehow flowed uninterrupted into each other.  I would also smile to myself that I had had the foresight to not let all of my time escape me without being used – I wasted some minutes but not all.

And so, I always answered in the same way, “Yes, the start of the year seems like only eleven months ago.”

Already, so much seems to have happened to me in 2016 and we have not yet finished the second week of this leap year.  It is true that I have had some help in filling my time.  There was the office Christmas party last Friday (in January…I know!) and my mother’s 80th birthday last Sunday.

Ah, yes, my Mum had a great extended birthday weekend.

On Saturday, she invited Gloria and me to her bungalow for a small afternoon meal.

Sunday, Mum’s birthday, consisted of a trip to Church in the morning, lunch at my sisters’ house with a guest appearance by my other sister from North Lincolnshire (I was not at this meal); and then an evening service at a different Church with me.  This service was conducted by an old family friend, a Reverend like my late father, who led the congregation in singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’.

Finally, on Monday Mum had her 80th birthday hog roast at yet another Church.  Gloria (and I) baked the cake and my sister’s bloke and his brother provided the hog roast.  Gloria would have been at work but, to my Mum’s delight, she was able to come.

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Mum and Gloria

The reason why Gloria did not go to work was that she was given some emergency time off.  Unfortunately, Yasmin was very unwell on Sunday and after the hog roast Gloria and I collected Yasmin’s prescription and drove up to give it to her.  Anyway, that’s another story.

It was a wonderful afternoon.  Oh, my apologies if you are reading this on a smartphone as you may not see the whole of the photograph without opening it in a separate browser window.

I made one observation.  At the end of the engagement, I was washing up all of the plates, mugs, glasses and cutlery and looked around the kitchen.  Also helping in the kitchen were my sister’s partner, his mother and also my sister’s eldest son who is one of two children from her first marriage.  In other words, we were demonstrating how it’s nonsense that kitchen chores are all women’s work!

I hope that I enjoy myself just as much on my 80th birthday as my mother did.

In readiness for Christmas…

In readiness for Christmas, I’m testing out a new cocktail called Ginger Storm.  It’s a whisky cocktail and will make a change from the usual Black Russian.

As you can all see, the drinks cabinet is full.  This year is the first time that this has ever happened.  When I was a kid there was never a full drinks cabinet and since I’ve been married there has never been a full drinks cabinet.  Not until this year, anyway.  Go back about eight years ago and Christmas saw a cabinet with just a few fizzy drinks in it.  This year Gloria and I have been blessed with some money to spend on ourselves and I am thankful to God for that.GingerStorm

You may notice a few things in my cabinet.  On the shelf above the drinks there are five photos.  The two at either end feature Gloria’s father who passed away from a heart attack when she was ten years old.  To Jesus’s right is a photo of my father’s grave and to the left of Jesus is Gloria and Yasmin when Yasmin was only four years of age – nineteen years ago!

Gloria’s parents were both from Saint Helena while my mother is Jamaican.  Because of this differing heritage, you can notice that Gloria and I have different textures of brown skin when we stand next to each other.

Yasmin, meanwhile, has that enviable skin that tans nicely in the summer thanks to the brown blood on her mother’s side.  In spite of this, she still resorts to using fake tan from time to time.  A total waste of money in her case.

To the right of the picture (for those using tablets or mobiles, you may have to open the photo in a new window to see this), hanging on the door handle are two tabards that Gloria wears to her work in a local infant school; the same school that both she and Yasmin went to.  Gloria really enjoys her work there and it’s the most relaxed that she’s been in years.  She gets on amazingly well with her bosses and we’ve been to a few of their private parties.

Generally, we have been blessed when you look at where we have been in years past.  But, there’s always someone that you wish that you were sharing the good things with.  I know who I’m missing, who are you all missing this year?

Stay home and do nothing

This post is a more serious than normal.  At the end of it I’m going to make a suggestion for anyone reading this that can make a massive difference to the world whilst costing you nothing more than a few moments of your time one evening.

I wish that I could think of something really funny to post this week.  Being able to do so would provide the perfect antidote to the conversations at work.

If people aren’t ranting to release their stress from the multiple projects at work, they’re instead discussing foreign affairs and especially the recent events in Paris, France.

I try to keep out of any discussions at work merely for the fact that political arguments in the workplace can be divisive.  There used to be someone who worked with us who would get quite angry when people did not agree with his views.

As far as I am concerned everyone can do exactly what they want so long as what they do  doesn’t affect anyone else’s freedoms.

Using this basis as my moral code, I know it’s not okay to spend the weekend in a football fan mob physically attacking passers by for no reason but for the love of a fight.  Yes, this obviously affects the freedoms of others.

But it goes further than this.  Everything that each of us decides to do has the potential to affect the freedoms of someone else.

Driving your car above the speed limit in urban areas removes the pedestrians’ right for safety.  Hmmm…a lot of people seem to have difficulty realising this.

And what about buying chocolate or coffee that isn’t fairtrade?  What about the freedom of the coffee or chocolate workers not to be slaves?

And what moral stance robs the helpless more of their freedoms?  Do we ignore the atrocities being committed in Syria, Iraq, Yemen etc?  Do we ignore what happens to girls, women – and men – in these far away countries?  Do their freedoms mean nothing to us?

If their freedoms mean something then we are morally obliged to think of how we give our fellow humans freedom.

By the way, this is not an argument either for or against war.  I do have my own belief as to what we should do but I don’t feel it’s important to try and convince anyone of it via this blog.

Doing nothing is often the greatest way to remove the freedoms of others.  Recent British history is littered with people doing nothing and letting a few famous people continually sexually abuse children.  An extreme example, maybe, but I hope that you get what I mean about doing nothing rather than something…anything.

I’m not going to make a case for or against war on this blog.  What I will say is that I respect those who are ready to go to war as well as those who don’t feel that war is right.  So long as they have sensible reasons for their stance it’s not a simple answer to say that either is wrong.

The most important thing is to be doing something to make the world a better place.

If all you do is talk about what’s right and what’s wrong and not do anything yourself to help anyone else, then what are the consequences of your actions?

To paraphrase a saying that I once heard, evil wins when the good stay home and do nothing.

Right, I started off by writing that I’m going to suggest something that you can do to improve the world without spending more than a few moments of your time.  Well, if you cannot work in a hostel, in a poor country helping the needy or by giving to charity maybe you can write a letter.  And I mean a letter that can literally save a fellow human from being tortured.  Here’s something I’ll be doing.  It’s called Write For Rights and is organised by Amnesty International.

John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty

As in the words of the poet Robert Burns –

There was three kings into the east,
   Three kings both great and high,
 And they hae sworn a solemn oath
   John Barleycorn should die.

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

I do have a passing interest in ancient beliefs and folk lore.  One of my favourite books on my bookcase (yes, I do have a bookcase in my lounge) is a collection of old folk tales of the British Isles.  One tale within this book is called The Wee Bunnock, the original version of The Gingerbread Man which was a nursery rhyme read to me when I was a toddler.

For those unfamiliar with John Barleycorn, you may want to read this wikipedia page.  I will tell you in summary that it is a story and song dating back centuries with John Barleycorn a metaphor for barley, and the whisky and beer that is made from the barley.  It examines his life, indignities and death and subsequent new life as an invigorating drink.  Man, I offer thanks for his passing every time I have a glass of whisky.

One of the facts that Jehovah’s Witnesses have said to my wife Gloria is that Jesus Christ was not born on 25th December.  She later asked me about this.  I explained that that’s true but this does not disprove anything in the Bible as the Bible never actually tells us Jesus Christ’s birth date.

The date of 25th December as the celebration of Jesus’ birthday should bring a wry smile to every Christian’s face.  This date was previously Dies Natalis Invicti which was probably first celebrated in Rome by order of the Emperor Aurelian who was an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal.  The worship of Baal features repeatedly in The Old Testament as an idolatrous religion.

And as for the twelve days of Christmas, look no further than the twelve day Yule festival.

Well, this is the pity with Britain.  We have a rich history of pre-Christian beliefs, festivals and architecture but it seems to me that not enough Britons care about them.  Our pre-Christian history is as exciting and frightening as that of South America or Africa but do we care enough about this in Britain today?

Okay, you are right.  I am a little biased.  I got a grade A in my History GCSE exam and I enjoy a glass of whisky when it is etiquette to do so.  So, I will continue to shout that John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty.

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