“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!

 

 

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“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…

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Have a united day, won’t you!

No lessons from history

A very well-analysed article.

Lion & Unicorn

Past performance, as they say in financial services, is not an indicator of future outcomes. The same is true in politics.

There are some broad lessons one can draw from history: the British electorate tend to vote solely on domestic issues, for example, as Winston Churchill found out in 1945, and Tony Blair in 2005 – and possibly Theresa May this year. But there are times when one has to admit that looking at the past is no help at all; the present really is a different country.

Which is pretty much the case right now. We haven’t been anywhere like this in modern times.

You can see some parallels, of course. Maybe the late 1970s, when living standards fell, with prices rising faster than wages, and there was a loss of faith in the future. We also then had a government expressing doubts about the economic policies that had…

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Memories of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Some wonderful photojournalism from a former classmate of mine. Not just a blogger, but also a published author.

Liz Taylorson

The setting of Robin Hood’s Bay, the little old fishing village just south of Whitby on the North Yorkshire Coast was one of the key inspirations for “The Little Church By the Sea” and it’s a place I’ve been visiting all my life.

When I was little, I used to be taken to “Bay” to visit a friend of my mother’s who lived in one of the the new houses at the top of the bank. I loved the view from her garden over the village to beach and the bay beyond, and I especially loved going to visit in the winter when the weather was stormy, but it was cosy in her house looking out over the sweep of the bay.

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I also loved the old village with its twisting paths and cottages – we went to see the ancient little cottage that had once belonged to this friend’s…

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P45-Gate

Poor old Theresa May.  Here’s one assessment of her speech today, from Reaction, which is right-of-centre.   Worth sharing this article.

Reaction

Oh dear. That went well. After three months of painstakingly trying to shake off the “weak and wobbly” label, poor Theresa May had an absolute nightmare of a conference speech today. More or less everything that could go wrong did – coughing, protest, the set falling apart, aides walking onto the stage with glasses of water, the Chancellor popping up with a throat lozenge, a voice giving way – it was all there. What was intended to be a personal, powerful speech proving that she has what it takes to be Prime Minister became an excruciating display of fragility. 

Interestingly though, the public reception has so far been mixed. Although many will think that this will be the straw that broke the camel’s back, others may feel that she showed humanity, grit and determination in difficult circumstances. The jury is out, but Tory MPs and ministers are already talking about how she might be replaced rapidly. There seems to be a full-blown leadership crisis underway. For more on this, read Iain Martin’s article below. 

The row somewhat rescued Boris, who was having his own very Boris-esque crisis. At a fringe event yesterday, the gaffe-prone foreign secretary said that the Libyan city Sirte could be the new Dubai, adding, “all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away”.  

The comments sparked anger, with Labour (ironic, considering Corbyn’s IRA sympathies) calling them “crass, callous and cruel” and Conservative MPs Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen saying he should be sacked. Mr Johnson claimed his critics had “no knowledge or understanding of Libya” and accused them of playing politics. That’ll go down well with Soubry. 

In Trump-land, Rex Tillerson, United States Secretary of State, has quashed rumours that he is planning to resign. In a North Korea style press conference today, Tillerson said that he “has no plans to resign” and will stay in his position “as long as the president thinks I can be useful to achieving his objectives”. The row kicked off last weekend when the President publicly humiliated the Secretary of State on Twitter, saying that he was “wasting time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man”. When asked today whether Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” for his comments (as reported by NBC) the Secretary of State declined to answer, saying that he wouldn’t “get drawn in to that sort of pettiness”.

So that’s a yes then. 

Olivia Utley
News Editor
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