Michael, they have taken you away

Michael K was buried yesterday morning.  He was 50 years old.  Three of his children attended his funeral, together with about fifteen other people who knew him, including his first wife.  I’m not sure if he had other children, but that was all that turned up to a spartan chapel in a local cemetery.

I would like to be glib and say, “It was a nice funeral.”

In a way it was.  The flowers on and around his coffin were beautiful.  The mourners, especially the British – for he had many British friends – were warm and supportive towards the members of his family, saying kind words and offering sympathy and hugs.  We sang one of his favourite hymns well: There Is A Hope.

But it wasn’t a nice “he had a good innings” funeral.  He died too early, alone and lonely and lacking love and hope.  His partner had died slowly and painfully three years ago.  He had been in and out of jobs since then.  When he was working, he was doing shift work and could not get to church to be with his church family.  As for his “blood family” to quote the Prince of Wales’ brother, I think his relationship with them over the years had been strained.

Michael was what we Brits call “a bit Marmite.”  You either loved him or hated him.  I myself enjoyed his company, as long it did not involve endless hours spent on a summer afternoon in an Altstadt Irish pub.  Michael, a German, knew the words to a vast array of Irish rebel songs.  Sometimes he’d tweak the lyrics.  Sean South of Garryowen became Sean South of Gerresheim.  He and I used to sing these songs every now and again together…  All his years working in IT in Scotland and Eire had not gone to waste.  I guess his local pub in Scotland must have been full of Celtic fans, judging by his repertoire.  Oh yes, he also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of East Germany jokes.

We got on well.

We often used to sing Fields of Athenry while strolling through the local park.

Michael, they have taken you away.  May you rest in peace.

Have a peaceful day, wont you!

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Catalonia: the case for self-determination

Yet another excellent analysis by the grandson of Lt Col H Jones.

The Personal Blog of Henry Jones

On Saturday, 21 October, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced plans to remove Catalonia’s regional government and rule the region directly from Madrid. The situation faced by Spain is that of the right to self-determination. This right is enforced by United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514, which states that ‘All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.’

The UN being the go-to organisation for legal disputes of an international nature, it seems the writing is on the wall. Catalonia, using international law, legally has the right to determine its political status and become independent. However, we have an issue. The Spanish Constitution, created in 1978, gives autonomy to the regions of Spain, but affirms ‘the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation.’ According to the constitution, an independence referendum is…

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“Hör auf zu meckern!”

Hello, everybody.

For those who don’t speak German, the title translates loosely into colloquial English as:

Stop your bl00dy moaning!

In the past month I’ve been doing pastoral work for the local church.  Anyone can wear the label.  Anyone can talk the talk.  Can they walk the walk?  For sure it’s rewarding, helping people to sort their problems, whether that be depression, loneliness, falling out with friends, etc.

But…………

Fast-forward to the last 24 hours.

Last night I went to the local ELCN (English Language Comedy Night) in DUS Altstadt.  It was excellent as ever, including seeing the world’s shortest comedian.  (But some other time, please.)

I get home just after 01:30, pretty much still on a high after enjoying two hours’ live stand-up comedy including the world’s shortest comedian bantering with a bald man who was a hair brush salesman.  (But some other time, please.)

A quick check on my emails and Facebook.  I’m still a bit “hyper” from the ELCN.

G, my old classmate from pads brat days nearly 40 years ago, is online.  Night owl.

Then comes the bombshell.

G, a policeman, tells me matter-of-factly,  his wife had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which had spread to the lungs.  (British understatement: Not very good news at all.)

I immediately submit a prayer to York Minster Prayer Box.  I say kind words to G… which probably all his friends had told him earlier on in the day.

It’s now 02:00.  Bedtime and BBC Radio Five.

Fast forward about 10 hours.  I’m at church, using one of the meeting rooms as a study to read one of my IT text books.

A member of congregation happens to walk in.

MoC:

Hello German Ginge.  How are you?  Bleat bleat bleat moan moan moan grumble grumble grumble…  The local kiosk had run out of bread rolls, or some similar catastrophe.

G in G:

MoC, let me tell you something.  I really enjoyed the comedy evening last night.  But something spoilt it, I’m afraid.  You see, in the wee small hours this morning, I found out that a friend of mine has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Now, do you still want to tell me about what a morning you have just had?

MoC – exit stage left.  Bis später.

Have a grateful day, won’t you!

 

 

“Meet me halfway…”

Let me prepare you with a bit of context for this article.

A friend of mine told me this joke the other day.

A man prays:

Heavenly Father, I am always skint.  Please please please, let me win at least a tenner on the National Lottery.  Amen.

A week later our man is lying in bed, when a voice calls out to him:

Hey, at least meet me halfway.  Please please please, go and buy yourself a ticket!

Now and again, I do a bit of pastoral work for my local church.  (Think of Matthew 7:16.  Anyone can talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?)  It’s rewarding, but also frustrating, especially when you are dealing with someone who perceives God as a “magician.”  Pray for a bike for Christmas and God waves his magic wand to ensure the desired bike appears at the foot of the Christmas tree on the morning of 25th December.  Ach nein, das geht nicht…

Prayer alone is not enough.  Prayer is good, but not enough.  I have a headache.  I will pray about it.  Fine, but better if you also take an Ibuprofen or lie in a darkened room. By the same token, liebe Leute, if Uncle Ginge in Germany gets you a social security form for you, please pray about the paperwork, but…

  1. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE fill the blessed form in.
  2. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take the form to the office.
  3. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just allow the nice, kind, friendly civil servant to process your claim in due course, even if it does take 3-4 weeks.  That’s just the way it is.

Have a prayerful day, won’t you!

Birthday Joke

I happen to share my birthday with Gerry Adams, infamous person of note from Belfast.

When he was asked how many candles he was going to blow out today, he replied:

  • This was an absolute insult to the nationalist people of the Six Counties, and indeed, the whole of the island of Ireland.
  • He had never had any involvement at all in the blowing out of any candle.
  • However, he did have close contact with the IRA Army Council, to whom he would place a fervent request to cease such activities forthwith.

Have a totally innocent and uninvolved day, won’t you!

The West Brits?

I’m sure this piece from the Belfast Telegraph will have you either shouting in fuuuuuuuuuuuurious anger or smirking with amusement.

I’m just waiting for Varadkar asking London if Eire can become part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland again.  Doubtless he will ride into Downing Street on Shergar with Elvis Presley providing the welcoming music.

Oh, and happy birthday to Gerry Adams, who happens to share the same birthday (today) as me.  I’m sure his birthday cake is not the only thing he’s ever been responsible for blowing up/out…

soft-iced-happy-birthday-cake-2000117_4

Have a united day, won’t you!