Glory to Stalin!

Stalin’s reign.

An old lady gets on a bus in Moscow. She has waited a long time, and sits down with a sigh of relief. “Oh, glory to God!” she exclaims.

The bus driver turns around with a grave look. “Comrade, there is no God. You must say, ‘Glory to Comrade Stalin.'”

The old lady apologizes and pledges to remember this. After a minute, she pipes up, “Comrade, what shall I say, if, heaven forbid, Comrade Stalin should die?”

The bus driver pauses, and answers, “Oh! Then you shall say, ‘Glory to God!'”

Have a glorious day, won’t you!

Glory-to-Stalin

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“No School Tomorrow” 2

Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, coined the expression, “Alarm clock Britain,” the people who have to get up in the morning and go to work.  I’m part of Alarm Clock Germany.

It’s 20:00 on Monday evening.  It’s monthly church council meeting.  Budget time.  Our treasurer is taking us through the list of repairs planned for this financial year.  I sit back and listen.  I day dream.  I munch a biscuit.  I munch another biscuit…. and another.  In fact, nearly a pack gone.  I sip my tea.

The repairs list should really be nodded through.  It all has to be done.  The sooner, the better.

Billy butts in and asks about repairs to the vestry window.  Can we get a lower quote?

Billy butts in and asks about repairs to the church boiler.  Can that be delayed?

Billy butts in and asks about replacements to the chairs in church.  How old are the chairs?

I lose interest.  I check my mobile to see if there are any Whatsapp messages from Grasshopper.  I pick up my Lamy fountain pen and start to jot down my shopping list for my next visit to Aldi.  Others round the table seem to be doing similar.  The vicar sitting next to me takes the tea pot and pours himself another cup of tea.  He needs caffeine to keep him awake while Billy drones on about each individual item.

Finally we take a vote on repairs.  A nearly unanimous vote for the programme of repairs.  Billy is opposed.

The next agenda items are discussed at length, and rightly so.

Finally, at 22:05 we reach AOB: Any Other Business.  (Please, please, Mr Chairman, hopefully none, so we can all go home.)

Billy:

Yes, I want to ask why we are installing poles in the church car park?  Are they necessary?

Ginge in Germany:

With the greatest respect, do we really need to discuss this topic here and now, at 22:07 on a Monday evening.

Billy (hackles starting to rise):

Yes, we do.  This is an important health and safety issue.

All around the meeting room, eyes roll.  We have run out of biscuits.  The tea has all been drunk.  We all want to go home.

[Tedious dull technical discussion about trip hazards.  Billy utters his must-say expression: “At my last church in England, we…”]

I doodle a stick man, a pine tree and a cat face in my notebook.  I day dream of the last meal I had down my local curry house.

Billy stops speaking.  It’s now 22:20.

I interject:

Is that the end?  Some of us have school tomorrow.

Vicar:

Yes, I think so.  Shall we say The Grace?

We say The Grace and the meeting concludes.

Billy looks like he wants to carry on having a windbag, probably about the colour of the tea towels in the church hall kitchen.  Not at 22:23, thanks, mate…

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23:00 I climb into bed, tune in to BBC Radio 4 and set my alarm clock for 07:00 tomorrow.  Billy sends me a Whatsapp message about the trip hazards of small holes in the ground.  Zzzzzzzzzzzz…

Have a stimulating day, won’t you!

“No school tomorrow”

“No school tomorrow” is a plea used by young British schoolkids when begging their parents to let them stay up later than usual on a Friday or Saturday night, usually when the parents just want a bit of peace and quiet without their offspring being around.

Because there was no school tomorrow, my parents used to let me stay up on Fridays to watch NTNOCN, Not the Nine O’Clock News.  That was forty years ago.  Time flies.  Even as a young pads brat, I used to love my current affairs, news, history and politics and was very occasionally (school holidays) allowed to watch Question Time.

NTNOCN did a brilliant spoof of QT.  Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) does a very accurate impression of Lord… Lord er… Lord er… Lord Peter Carrington.

Here it is.  Enjoy!

Have a questioning day, won’t you!

The Importance of Punctuality

Sunray was ex-Army.  22 years long.  He was never a civilian.  He was always ex-Army.  Soldiers always arrive on time.  Always.

One Sunday Sunray came to visit us.  To save money he decided to hitch-hike from Brompton in North Yorkshire to Redcar.  He was due to arrive at 11am.  We looked out of our living room window. 10:58.  He still wasn’t there.

10:59 Sunray appeared.  He was walking out of the front door of the house opposite ours.

Ginge in Germany:

Ummm, do you know the people opposite?

Sunray:

No.

G in G:

So, er, what were you doing in their house?

Sunray:

Oh, them.  I was running late, so I took a short cut through their house.

G in G:

Sorry, you did what?

Sunray:

Oh aye, I saved myself a couple of minutes by walking through their house to yours. 

G in G:

Did anybody see you?

Sunray:

Oh aye.  I walked into their back garden, straight through their kitchen, past their dining room, when this couple were having their Sunday dinner, with sprouts, joint of beef and and Yorkshire puds…

sundayroast

G in G:

Well, what did they do when they saw you?

Sunray:

This bloke spat his dinner out and told me to get the f*** out of his house.  So I told him cheers, mate, and headed out of the front door.  Like I say, I was running late.

I just shook my head.

Have a punctual day, won’t you!

One Year On

My Dad, Sunray, passed away died exactly one year ago today, suddenly at 14:00 GMT, while walking back from his local shop.

How time flies.

How was my grieving process?  Actually, IMHO, there wasn’t really one.  I was very matter-of-fact the moment I found out via a Facebook Messenger message from my younger brother.  I was in the office, collating an Excel spreadsheet.  I told my colleague, “My Dad has just died,” in the same way and tone that we would tell a colleague, “Our boss popped in, looking for you.”  I then carried on with my spreadsheet to meet a deadline for our rather unfriendly product owner.

I did pause to send out a Whatsapp round-robin message to Schatz and to church friends to ask for their prayers for Sunray’s soul.  Replies came in from single “prayer” emojis to long, warm messages from members of my house group.  I wasn’t in shock, but I think I was stunned.

I did not cry until I got home.  By then the posts and kinds words and funny stories about him flooded in on his regimental old comrades Facebook page.  Tears of grief ran out of my left eye, and of laughter from the right eye.  It’s what Sunray would have wanted.

That was then.  This is now.

I still feel relieved.  I still do not regret deciding to stay away from his funeral.  In any case I was still not well enough to travel at that time.  Even walking to my local shops and back was a major physical exertion.  I am glad that I visited his grave two months later, said a prayer or two over his grave and placed three daffodils on the broken earth, marking his relatively fresh grave.

I have prayed daily that his is indeed resting in peace and that God will let his infinite mercy shine on Sunray’s face.  Since he died one year ago, several more of his regimental brothers have died.  I pray that they will join him in the Senior Squadron bar to exchange “Do you remember when…?” stories.

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Sunray in November 1998

Have a poignant day, won’t you!

 

Pet Hate 97: The Copper Chopper Question

What are your pet hates?

  • Squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle?
  • Men not putting the toilet seat down for the ladies to use?
  • Being called a “translator” when you are, in fact, an interpreter?
  • Back-seat drivers telling you how to do your job because their third cousin twice removed showed them how to do it?

Here’s my latest pet hate.  To give you some context, I’m a member of several local affairs pages on Facebook thanks to my nomadic life.  Most of the posts are along the lines of:

  • Can anyone recommend a plumber/cleaning lady/oven cleaning firm round Jonesville?
  • What time does … shop close on Sundays?

But you can guarantee that at least once a week some nosey parker/rubbernecker will ask this classic, curtain-twitcher question:

What was the police helicopter doing over Bracknell/Redcar/Crowthorne/Scumbagsville yesterday evening?

Unless it directly affects you, why bother asking on FB?  Why not phone up the police public relations office if you are desperate to know?

This morning I saw this excellent tweet by Thames Valley Police in Bracknell in response to the latest “What is the police helicopter doing over Bracknell?” query on Facebook.

helipTVP.jpg

Good skills, Thames Valley Police, good skills!

Have an inquisitive day, won’t you!

The Back-Seat Driver: Part 94

The back-seat driver.  In German: der Co-Trainer. The armchair expert, Kneipenprofessor, who knows your job better than you do (because they saw this done in a movie or on YouTube).  The bane of my life, and quite possibly of yours, my dear reader.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then we’ll begin.  Time to write through gritted teeth.  I shall wear a smile.  Here it is for you.

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Let me outline the background of this article for you.  Our church treasurer is of Welsh origin, but quite Germanic in his view that:

Ordnung muss sein.

The treasurer noticed a week ago that we had two large boxes at the back of church.

  • One for used stamps to donate to charity.  In the UK, pretty much every small business had an A4 envelope full of such stamps, which the secretary or office junior would then take once in a while to the local charity shop.  (You get the idea.)
  • The other contained a whole load of spectacles, also to give to a Third World charity.

Both boxes have never been emptied in the near seven years that I have been attending this church.

Never, never, never, never.  In seven (7) years.  Never, never, never, never. 

Let’s cut to the chase.  Last week after seeing the two un-loved boxes one time too many, I undertook to take both boxes with me to the local charity shop.  After I had taken the box of spectacles to the shop this morning, I sent out a round-robin to church members via Whatsapp.

We have taken our collection of spectacles for the Third World to charity shop.  They are very happy.

Within minutes, messages of unbridled adulation flood into my inbox.

You are the finest human being I have ever met.

Truly you are a blessing in my life.

I am filled with endless gratitude to you for your sterling efforts and endless, selfless devotion to the work of the church, and indeed, to the human race.

And much, much more.

I tell a lie.  I get one message from the treasurer:

Cheers, mate.

Other than that one, I then receive a bombardment of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells messages from Billy, our “in-house” back-seat driver and giver of unsolicited advice.  He was challenging my decision to discontinue the collecting of stamps and spectacles.  I explain that, members of the congregation are grown-up enough to take their donations directly to the charity.  (Well, actually, Billy probably isn’t.)  He then combines his Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells comments with passive aggressive comments concluding in, “But of course, you’re in charge, and you you know best, and you probably have your reasons for your decision.”  (Think of when a woman answers you with “Fine.”)

(Yes, Billy, I do have good reasons, and I’ve just spent ten minutes of my life explaining the rationale, context, whys and wherefores thereof.)

Message after message, after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message…

“Billy must be bored today,” I sigh to myself.

In the end, Billy has the last word and informs me he is “far too busy to discuss this matter until tomorrow.”  A reprieve. I anticipate the next chapter at about 02:20 when he gets up for a night-time loo break.  I say the words that every ex-HM Forces person, every pads brat utters at least once a month.

Bl00dy civvies.

I then get on with my jobs at church:

  • Shiftin’ and liftin’ fifty stacking chairs back into the church hall
  • Writing a thank you card to Grasshopper for some highly amusing videos about protein powder
  • Nibbling a couple of small mince pies left for me by our catering team
  • Advising the catering team how to bake mince pies because that’s how my last church used to make them  (Er no thanx, I’ll leave that to Billy to butt in)

Have an advisory day, won’t you!

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