Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Marie Celeste of Tables

Working in the kitchen yesterday - making a chicken/ginger/mushroom stir fry for the Captain and the Roger's supper, I kept turning round to put things on the table, set the table, etc.  But:  No table.

It had spirited itself out onto the balcony, where a seriously-aproned Captain B was sanding and re-varnishing it. I am now under stern instructions about being more careful when I scrub it down.

It is back pristine, and I have just set it for breakfast.  The English Channel is back too. It had disappeared into a sea-fret earlier this morning. Looks like its going to be another hot hot hot day. But there is definitely an Autumnal feeling for all this - especially this morning, with the mist.

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.  Which I love.  But its the usual thing  - the way the years fly past me faster and faster and faster.

I have managed to do all but 3 of my magazine route calls - got a very nice welcome from both Mike and Tony when I turned up on their doorsteps yesterday.  I think that I can do one today as Jean and I drive back from visiting Maggie, but the other 2, a little beyond my driving range at the moment, will have to wait till next month.  I think I will deliver both magazines together.

I have just realised that the heading for this blog does not actually work.  To be the Marie Celeste of tables, the breakfast dishes I have just set out on it should all mysteriously disappear, but the table itself should remain.

I think I had better go to the kitchen and check

Sunday, 28 August 2016


Philip and Seppi left yesterday for their next port of call. They treated us to a lovely Indian meal on Friday- via a takeaway. We have so much left that we will be dining off it for a couple of days.  Then we went to Jackie's last night, and she gave us a very upmarket Quiche with salad, plus two slices to take home, so we are well supplied with meals.

It  has been very hot, but we have a breeze today.- and its overcast   I think it is a Bank Holiday weekend so I expect crowds on the Green if this weather keeps up,  It makes me want to try for a poem, or a verse

A play of children
swinging and sliding
the sea is rippling
kites are gliding
the Green is browning
and I am riding
into Winter
the tiny players
bounce into Spring
I want to call
back to them
down the years
don't know what to say
that they can hear.

That would be the bare bones of something I might have tried to form into a poem once.

However - and of course - Jehovah has said it perfectly in Ecclesiastes.

"Remember, then, your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come and the years arrive when you will say: “I have no pleasure in them”;  before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the downpour;  in the day when the guards of the house become shaky, and the strong men stoop over, and the women quit grinding because they have become few, and the ladies looking out the windows find it dark;  when the doors to the street have been closed, when the sound of the grinding mill becomes low, when one gets up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint.  Also, one is afraid of heights, and there are terrors in the street. And the almond tree blossoms, and the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry bursts, because man is walking to his lasting house and the mourners walk about in the street;  before the silver cord is removed, and the golden bowl is crushed, and the jar at the spring is broken, and the waterwheel for the cistern is crushed.  Then the dust returns to the earth, just as it was, and the spirit returns to the true God who gave it.
“The greatest futility!” says the congregator. “Everything is futile.”"

Find Jehovah, as soon as you can, and it will no longer be futile.  But how to tell the young?  All we can do is try.  

The talk at the Hall today was about communication within the familly - and how the family can communicate with, and stay close to, Jehovah.  Very very helpful advice - straight from the Source of wisdom, Jehovah of armies.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Fighting my way through the crowds of moths outside the front door - see Captain Butterfly's blogpost - I made it to Waitrose and brought back a large haul:

My talk - the whole 2 minutes of it - has been giving me a lot of anxiety. I am at the stage where I think it is completely hopeless, not at all to the point of counsel - and that we will both forget our lines anyway.  I have to remind myself that I always feel like this at this stage. But then I lie awake thinking, yes, but maybe this time I am right and it is...  why do we do this to ourselves?

We - Jean and I - visited Maggie today. She talks a lot about the old days in the Kingdom Hall, and how much she loved being there - and asked us to give everyone her love, which we will tomorrow night. Though of course a lot of us visit her regularly anyway, but she can't always remember.

The Roger is at his daughter's until Monday, and Philip and Seppi arrive from Bavaria tomorrow.

It has been very hot - and the gallant Captain B has been painting the garage door.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lost Moments

I don't seem to have captured many moments recently.   Roger has been staying - he has our spare key and can come and go as he needs- and he treated Captain B, Jacks and me to a takeaway Thai curry on Saturday night.  Cooks have a special offer on. It was very good. We had it with our current favourite wine, Oyster Bay, and Captain B's homemade Chianti (well, its kit-made, strictly speaking).

Kathy is coming round this morning as we need to work out our talk for the Ministry School on Thursday night. Its the 2 minute on the doorstep one, so its a question of timing it really.

The material we are working with is from the "Listen to God and Live Forever" brochure.  It is a very simple brochure - as many pictures as words - but it teaches us more about what the Bible really says than 3 years doing a Theology degree would.  And the counsel point I am to work on is: Listening to my householder.

This is the material, under the heading: Who is the True God?

There is only one true God, and his name is Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) He is a Spirit; we cannot see him. He loves us and wants us to love him in return. He also wants us to love other people. (Matthew 22:35-40) He is the Supreme One, the Creator of all things.
The first of God’s creations was a mighty spirit person who later came to be known as Jesus Christ. Jehovah also created the angels.

Jehovah created everything in heaven . . . and on earth.Revelation 4:11

Jehovah God created the stars as well as the earth and all that is on it.Genesis 1:1.
He formed Adam, the first man, from the dust of the ground.Genesis 2:7.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Captured Moment

When I used to write poems/verse, part of the reason was to capture the moment as it flew by,  I had become more and more conscious of how short our lives are, how they go almost before we know it.

And this is a moment I captured from my late thirties,

 by me

A blue spotted fish, swimming on the step,
Seeing me, nervously backs off
A turtle, rising out of the green deep,
Stares at me, and swiftly sinks away.
He’s worried that I might attempt to hold him
And all the thoughts that come up in my head
Melt just as quickly into heat
Before I can stir myself to know them.

Its an undigested poem/verse really - but it brings back something that would have vanished along with most moments. I was sitting on steps that led down into the big river - the mother of water - that runs through the steamy heat of Bangkok, rafts of weed were floating past, and amazing fish kept appearing and disappearing on the watery steps below my feet.  

I was on my own. I don't know where Captain B or our Thai friends were.  On my own except for the recurring fish and watery creatures that came and went.

Now that I hope to live forever in the restored earthly Paradise, it will be a different impulse that makes me write, if indeed I do write.   IF I am there.

Jean and I visited Maggie yesterday- and hope to restart the regular Wednesday visits now that I am much more mobile. She is always so pleased to see us, so it gives us all a boost.   And The Roger is staying off and on for the next 3 weeks, as getting the necessary paperwork done is proving more complex than expected - due to a sudden rule change that seems to have taken even the Embassy staff by surprise.

Today I must get the outline of my talk for next Thursday together.  It is the first call talk, so only needs to last about 3 mins, but it means I have to juggle with bag, magazine and brochure while standing up and delivering a talk

And I am one of those hapless people who can't chew gum and walk at the same time.

One of the many many things I look forward to in the restored earthly Paradise is being graceful and co-ordinated.  And yes Captain Butterfly, if you are reading this, that will be a miracle. Absolutely. But its amazing what Jehovah can do.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Word of God is alive

This video is a demonstration of the truth of Hebrews 4:12 which says:  " For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart."

God's word has power to reach hearts and change us.  And the congregations worldwide will be hearing and seeing the experience of this Russian brother and sister this week.

The Roger arrives tomorrow, and I have been busy cleaning and tidying, and Captain Butterfly has restored the balcony, pots and furnitures, after its re-paint.

We are enjoying the Olympics and are amazed at how well the UK is doing.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Team of Jean and Sue racing for Gold

Well, we weren't exactly racing anywhere - its just that I have been watching too much Olympics.  But we were out on the work this morning as, once again, I try to pick up the threads and get back to things.   It was very hot, but there was a breeze.

And I asked Jehovah not only that he would please guard my driving, especially with the precious cargo of Jean in my car, but that we would be working somewhere local and easy to drive to.  And we were and I picked up and dropped off Jean safely, for which I am very very grateful.

When I got back, I got a phone call from Janie to say that her mother died yesterday.  We talked for an hour on the phone and it was a trip to the past.  I have known her since we were both 12 years old when she, her young widowed mother and her siblings moved into the road I call "Disraeli Crescent" in my mostly unpublished-as-yet fiction.  They moved in next door and being Canadian, seemed a very exotic family to us.

We have known each other ever since, though we have lived in different countries for much of our working lives.   And we have both come back to England in our retirement.   Neither of us can travel much now, so I don't know when or if we will see each other again.

I don't think I can make it to the funeral - as I am not in good travelling shape at the moment - but Janie says it will be a small and quiet affair.

Her mother died peacefully, asleep, at her home, and in her nineties. Which is as much as any one of us can hope for until Paradise is restored.

I hope she has a wonderful awakening ahead of her when the time comes for the resurrection.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Underwater Synchronised Tiddleywinks

Yes, we have been watching the Olympics. Captain Butterfly is presently watching the Rugby Sevens - takes him back to his schooldays.   And he has taken a great interest in some sport - Synchronised Tiddleywinks? - that involves lots of young ladies in skimpy bikinis throwing themselves about on the beach.  I think there is a net and a ball involved, but I am not sure if he noticed that.

I have been enjoying the cycling and the swimming.    

Jean and I have just been out on some calls - driving and walking, not cycling and swimming- and she says she will always come out with me after the meeting on Sunday, which will be so helpful.   Its quite a struggle to make myself get out there again, but the pain in my "good" shoulder is subsiding a bit, so I must.  The horror of that fall keeps coming back to me and makes me want to stay at home, wrapped safely in a box of cotton wool.

The meeting at the Kingdom Hall tomorrow night should be very helpful, as we will be covering his topic:
Thriving Spiritually in Old Age

Monday, 8 August 2016

At Nymans

Captain Butterfly took us off for a Dragonfly Walk at Nymans on Saturday.  High summer, flowers, butterflies, giant thistles, very very hot, but already with that feeling that summer was about to tip over into Autumn.  A lovely feeling actually - but with a sadness about it because our lives are so short now. And, in my Seventieth year, I am approaching Winter, and leaving Autumn.

They have a great second hand book shop and I found a copy of John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids", and John Wain's "Hurry on Down", which I have been re-reading.

Strange to read them after such a long time, they both capture the Fifties of my childhood in their separate ways.   The Chrysalids captures the fear of this weapon we had just unleashed - the atom bomb, but also - and I had forgotten this - it presents a vision of an Evolutionary future.  And how bleak and meaningless that is - however much the author tries to make it otherwise.

"Hurry on Down" is so Fifties it almost hurts to read it.  I think of my young parents -  how young they were back then - and now they are asleep in the ground of dust.    How quickly it all vanished. And it is a vanished world.

It puts me in mind of this Betjeman poem, of a couple from the previous era:

Baker Street Station Buffet

Early Electric! With what radiant hope
Men formed this many-branched electrolier,
Twisted the flex around the iron rope
And let the dazzling vacuum globes hang clear,
And then with hearts the rich contrivance fill’d
Of copper, beaten by the Bromsgrove Guild.
Early Electric! Sit you down and see,
‘Mid this fine woodwork and a smell of dinner,
A stained-glass windmill and a pot of tea,
And sepia views of leafy lanes in Pinner –
Then visualize, far down the shining lines,
Your parents’ homestead set in murmuring pines.
Smoothly from Harrow, passing Preston Road,
They saw the last green fields and misty sky,
At Neasden watched a workmen’s train unload,
And, with the morning villas sliding by,
They felt so sure on their electric trip
That Youth and Progress were in partnership.
And all that day in murky London Wall
The thought of Ruislip kept him warm inside;
At Farringdon that lunch hour at a stall
He bought a dozen plants of London Pride;
While she, in arc-lit Oxford Street adrift,
Soared through the sales by safe hydraulic lift.
Early Electric! Maybe even here
They met that evening at six-fifteen
Beneath the hearts of this electrolier
And caught the first non-stop to Willesden Green,
Then out and on, through rural Rayner’s Lane
To autumn-scented Middlesex again.
Cancer has killed him. Heart is killing her.
The trees are down. An Odeon flashes fire
Where stood their villa by the murmuring fir
When ” they would for their children’s good conspire. ”
Of their loves and hopes on hurrying feet
Thou art the worn memorial, Baker Street.
John Betjeman

How would I feel now if I did not know the truth - Christianity being called "the way of the truth", and have the hope (its an "undeserved kindness" so we can all hope) of inheriting the earth, as Jesus promised, and living forever on this lovely planet which floats like a blue and white jewel in space in a universe more awe-inspiring and wonderful than we can comprehend.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Camberwell Beauty

TO H.   by Kingsley Amis
In 1932 when I was ten
In my grandmother’s garden in Camberwell
I saw a Camberwell Beauty butterfly
Sitting on a clump of Michaelmas daisies.
I recognised it because I’d seen a picture
Showing its brownish wings with creamy edges
In a boy’s paper or on a cigarette-card
Earlier that week. And I remember thinking,
What else would you expect? Everyone knows
Camberwell Beauties come from Camberwell;
That’s why they’re called that. Yes, I was ten.
In 1940 when I was eighteen
In Marlborough, going out one winter’s morning
To walk to school, I saw that every twig,
Every leaf in the vicar’s privet hedge
And every stalk and stem was covered in
A thin layer of ice as clear as glass
Because the rain had frozen as it landed.
The sun shone and the trees and shrubs shone back
Like pale flames with orange and green sparkles.
Freak weather conditions, people said,
And one was always hearing about them.
In ’46 when I was twenty-four
I met someone harmless, someone defenceless,
But till then whole, unadapted within;
Awkward, gentle, healthy, straight-backed,
Who spoke to say something, laughed when amused;
If things went wrong, feared she might be at fault,
Whose eye I could have met for ever then,
Oh yes, and who was also beautiful.
Well, that was much as women were meant to be,
I thought, and set about looking further.
How can we tell, with nothing to compare?
I saw a Camberwell beauty today.  Not a live one, but one in Tammy's father's butterfly and moth collection.  How lovely it is.   We had gone over so Captain Butterfly could have a look and assess the collection.  It is amazing, with exactly the information - date and location - that the Butterfly World requires.   There will be some very valuable information there.
And the Camberwell Beauty reminded me of this poem by Kingsley Amis - he dedicated it to his first wife - and it tells how we take things - and people - for granted.