Friday, 14 October 2016

Exorcism on the rise. Why?

Talk about reaping what you sow.

The Catholic Church is bewailing the alarming increase in exorcisms, which, with over half a million calls for help in one year, are overwhelming the Vatican’s anti-demon squad of just 10 ‘trained exorcists’.*

In Italy, there are 10 million people desperate to evict these unpleasant squatters. Church leaders will doubtless blame Hollywood, psychics of every ilk and Harry Potter, but completely ignore the original source of spiritistic practices, the Holy Roman Empire’s own doctrine:

The immortality of the human soul.

Anyone who’s prepared to examine the Bible in any depth will find that this belief – that we all have a separate, invisible being within us that survives the body after death – is in no way supported by scripture. Death is described as a state of unconsciousness, a dreamless sleep, while the hope for the future is a physical resurrection to life on earth.

We don’t have souls – we ARE souls.

I hope all those sad, tormented people find the help they need and that, with accurate knowledge, will turn away from the occult.

As for the Church – along with virtually ALL world religions – they really should review their teachings which have misled the entire human race for so long.


See also:

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Halloween - Trick or Treat?

       The shops are full of it. Ghouls, ghosts, zombies and a whole array of devilish guises including (briefly) a ‘mental patient’ outfit featuring a white blood-spattered coat with a tastefully matching blood-spattered axe. Introduced a couple of years ago, this item was quickly removed after a storm of protest. but, with real-life horror viewed daily on-screen, it may now have become acceptable!

       Parents and grandparents are stocking up on candies to meet the young extortionists who’ll soon be knocking at the door. Pumpkins are carved for lanterns, apples prepared for ducking and treacle toffee is poured into trays to give dental practitioners a boost.

       Yes, it’s Halloween, a night of mischief and harmless fun for all the family.  Or is it? Where does this feast originate and why is it so prevalent today?

       According to The Encyclopedia Americana, “Elements of the customs connected with Halloween can be traced to a Druid ceremony in pre-Christian times. The Celts had festivals for two major gods – a sun god and a god of the dead (called Samhain), whose festival was held on November 1, the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The festival of the dead was gradually incorporated into the Christian ritual.”

       “Halloween,” says The Encyclopedia of American Folklore, “is integrally related to the prospect of contact with spiritual forces, many of which threaten or frighten.” Certainly, many of the customs involved have close links to ancestor worship  and are meant to ward off or appease wicked spirits. The Celts, for instance, wore scary masks in the belief that evil spirits would think the wearers were spirits too - and leave them alone.

       In the 7th century CE, Pope Boniface IV is thought to have adopted ‘Samhain’ as an annual event to honour martyrs, renaming it All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day. (Hallow is an ancient word for ‘saint’). The evening before this celebration was called All Hallow Even, which later became Halloween, making some Christians throughout the world feel comfortable celebrating it. 
Origins of Halloween
But the real roots of Halloween are far more sinister, dating back to the Flood of Noah’s day.  In his book, The Worship of the Dead, Colonel J Garnier explains: “The mythologies of all the ancient nations are interwoven with the events of the Deluge…..illustrated by the fact of the observance of a great festival of the dead in commemoration of the event, not only by nations more or less in communication with each other, but by others widely separated, both by the ocean and by centuries of time.

       ‘This festival is, moreover, held by all on or about the very day on which, according to the Mosaic account, the deluge took place, viz., the seventeenth day of the second month – the month nearly corresponding with our November.”  In effect, Halloween began by honouring people whom God had destroyed due to their wickedness in Noah’s day. (Gen 6:5-7; 7:11)

       Also destroyed by the Deluge were the Nephilim, sons of disobedient angels who left their heavenly positions and took human bodies for themselves in order to mate with beautiful women. These hybrids were known as ‘fellers’ (in the tree-toppling sense!) due to their immense size and violent tendencies, and, along with their superhuman sires, could well be the source of legends of beings with immense powers. Move over X-Men!

       Halloween is celebrated on 31st October throughout the USA and Canada, and its continued spread across the world delights pagan adherents. Thousands of Wiccans, for example, following the old Celtic rituals, still refer to the event as ‘Samhain’, regarding it as the most sacred night of their calendar.

       To the demons, of course, it is a time of mourning for their human wives and unnatural offspring as they serve their time in Tartarus, unable ever again to take on human form. They do retain, however, paranormal powers which they use to influence, deceive and intimidate people - especially those who are drawn to the occult and pagan celebrations such as Halloween.  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Social media - avoiding the pitfalls

       It’s some years now since I posted my very first Tweet on Twitter and, following the advice of a best-selling online novelist, managed to get myself suspended on the very first day (must be a record!). The Twitter team thought I was a spammer; me, I put it down to enthusiasm.       

       Since then, I’ve become a little more circumspect and, on the whole, it’s been a positive experience; for me, Twitter works well. 

Proceed with caution

       Like any modern invention, there’s an upside and a downside. The ups are obvious – social networks are brilliant marketing tools, a great way to meet people from hugely diverse backgrounds, to keep in touch with friends, and to find out what’s happening around the world. Linking up can be exciting, refreshing and educational. 

       The downside? Well, one problem has already been mentioned; once logged into the site, it’s extremely hard to log out again, especially if you work from home as I do. When on Twitter, the hours just fly, the next chapter lies unfinished, and the dinner plates are still in the sink. How children with homework get on, I shudder to think. But there are more worrying factors which can affect all of us – and which can apply to virtually any use of the internet.

Loss of privacy

       Twitter has around 500 million followers, while Facebook subscribers total almost 1 billion. Every message sent has the potential to go viral within seconds and we have no control over who has access to personal information. Fraudsters, burglars, cynical marketers and even abusers can exploit such information to our detriment. On a local scale, many a teenager has posted details of a forthcoming party only to be swamped by unwanted guests looking to cause trouble.

       In her book, CyberSafe, Gwenn Schurgin O’Keefe points out that “large websites back up their databases. What we put on cyberspace never truly goes away. We have to consider it permanent because there is likely to be a copy somewhere; to think otherwise is foolish.”

Bad associates

       Young people are particularly vulnerable to online bullying, from schoolmates with a grievance to total strangers, sometimes with tragic consequences; reports of children being driven to despair, self-harm, anorexia and even suicide bear witness to the damage caused by haters and trolls.  Some children have arranged to meet ‘friends’ their own age, only to find the person waiting for them is neither a friend nor a day under 40! And every time they go online, there’s always the danger of inadvertently accessing websites featuring porn or violence. 

       These issues are – at least should be – obvious. But what about more subtle factors, such as:

Loss of reputation

       A recent article compared a person’s reputation with a shiny new car. Suppose you own the latest model with flawless paintwork; you take it for a spin but, due to a momentary lapse in concentration, you crash into a ditch, leaving the vehicle a total write-off?

       That’s what can happen to your reputation. A momentary lapse in discretion, a compromising photograph or a careless remark can quickly dent other people’s opinion of you. Families will forgive, true friends will understand, but what about potential employers? Often, the first thing they do on receiving an application is check out your Facebook account – would  that picture of you mooning or leering drunkenly into the camera mark you out as a suitable candidate? According to Dr B J Fogg, author of Facebook for Parents, the answer would be ‘No’. He’s just one of millions who checks Facebook pages as “part of my due diligence. If I can access an applicant’s Profile and see junky things, then I’m not impressed. I won’t hire that person.” Why? “Because people who work with me need excellent judgment.” 

       Certainly, people tend to be less inhibited on social networks, and that applies to your comments too. What may seem innocuous or hilarious to you may be a big turn-off for others. Bad language, off-colour jokes and insulting remarks may trip easily from your fingers as you type, but are they really impressing anybody? Are they as witty as you think, or simply sad? And if they’re suggestive, you may attract the wrong kind of followers. Remember too that others can post comments on your page. As one 19-year old says: “Sometimes people post comments with bad words or double meanings. Even though you’re not the one who said it, it reflects poorly on you because it’s your page.”

Avoid the pitfalls

       Before signing up for a social network, it’s good to set a few boundaries. Look at the potential dangers, decide how best to avoid them and create rules that will protect you from any fallout. Here are a few suggestions which I try to apply myself: 

1)   Be careful what you post and only do so when sober! If you wouldn’t like your parents to see those photographs or comments, why make them available to total strangers? Or worse – prospective employers! When texting, remember your manners. Try to ensure that every remark is gracious, ‘seasoned with salt’. 
2)   Check your privacy settings, as the default settings on the network site may let more people view your page than you imagine. It’s a good idea to customise your settings so only close friends can access your posts. Even then, you need to watch that you don’t give out more information than intended. 
3)   Should you receive a critical or negative response, don’t retaliate. If the criticism is well-meant, thank the sender for his/her interest. Ignore abusive comments and block them from your page along with any that make you feel uncomfortable. The same goes for dubious would-be followers or ‘friends’. Be selective and never open links from anyone you feel unsure of. Some may be pornographic or violent.
4)   Social websites are constantly buzzing with gossip, rumours and opinions about people in the public eye. Be determined never to write derogatory personal remarks about anyone, famous or not, even if they seem to deserve it – after all, who are we to judge? Failing to observe this rule may, at best make you seem spiteful, and at worst get you sued for libel! 
5)   Remember your details are accessible to millions of people, including some who know you, so guard your privacy. Don’t give out too much personal information such as home address, email address, where you attend school, work or college, when you’re at home, when and where you’re going, when you’re at home, when nobody is at home, your photos, opinions, likes, dislikes and hobbies and innermost thoughts. 

6)   Set limits for the time you spend on social networks and stick to them. Doing this will help you control your online activities instead of letting them control you. And if social networks start to take you over, and you find yourself thinking constantly about your tweets, blogs and profiles, then switch them off. Or simply take a break from them, like these teenagers: 

       “I deactivated my account, and I had heaps of time. I felt free! Recently, I reactivated my account, but I have complete control. I don’t check it for days at a time. Occasionally I even forget about it. If my social networking account becomes a problem again, I’ll just deactivate my account.” 

       “I have taken ‘networking breaks,’ where I deactivate my account for a couple of months and then reactivate it later. I do that whenever I realize that I’ve been spending too much time with it. Now I don’t feel as attached to it as I used to. I’ll use it for a purpose, but then I’m done.”  

      By taking sensible precautions and rationing the time we spend on social network, we can use it with confidence -without filching too much attention from more important activities.

       As for me, I feel quite an old hand now - in fact, it's a source of satisfaction to see some of my (very techie) website designer friends are only just getting started! And, of course, with time, I've become more atuned to potential problems and a lot more careful about whom I follow. 

       My personal  'no nos' include profiles with no tweets; tweets containing sexual references or bad language of any kind; profiles with no pictures or other personal touches; tweets which appear in one's timeline with no message -just a link; people with zillions of followers; direct messages (except for confidential info from a trusted contact); and anyone famous (who rarely write their own tweets!)

       And here's an apology to anyone who has kindly retweeted me but to whom I haven't yet returned the compliment. Some of you are obviously lovely people and I'll always try to RT if I possibly can - especially if you're a writer. However, there are certain things I will not promote, such as erotica or the occult. I also try to remain neutral with regard to race, nationalism and party politics.   

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Roots joins the jet set!

Extract from The Runaway Children, when the Hadwins, Laurel and Roots take to the water on a souped up narrow boat! 

"Quick!" cried Jo "Switch on the engine!" Miles ran to the back of the barge and slipped the key into the lock. As soon as he turned it, the barge set off at an amazingly spanking pace for such a heavy vessel. Roots had just untied the rope from its mooring and was now trotting alongside with it on the towpath.
"Hey! That's them!" bawled one of the trench coats and started running towards the Judith Rose.
 "They've seen us!" Roots yelled.  "Press the Booster, Miles!"  He was just about to hop on board as Miles touched the large red button. This caused the barge to lunge forward at such an incredible speed, it yanked the unfortunate Roots off the towpath. "Sack this!!" he hollered, clinging desperately to the rope, his feet wafting in the air behind him. "Sack this for a Kleenex full of bogies!"
"Supersonic!" whooped Miles and he waved his fist above his head as the barge blazed along the canal, sending ducks and fishermen diving for cover. "Wit woos!"
Meanwhile, Roots had recovered his balance sufficiently to press his heels into the water and lean backwards like a skier. "Look at me!" he cried, jubilantly. "I've joined the jet set!"

The Runaway Children by Jacy Brean is available to download from Amazon and other online booksellers

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bring back courtship!

       Some years ago, my darling daughter (DD) came home from college in a strop! “That Joe Taylor!”
       From the tone of her voice, Joe Taylor had obviously done something despicable. “It’s so insulting!” she growled, “All the girls are fuming about it!”
       The ‘it’ in question was a list, drawn up by Joe, which rated each girl in his group according to ‘how fit she was’. This naturally caused quite a stir. Yet, despite my initial feminist sensibilities, I quite admired Joe Taylor. For the next few weeks, he became the focus of attention with every girl trying desperately (but unsuccessfully) to discover her score. Let’s be honest, not many guys can get so many girls so interested in their opinion.  
       Did the list even exist? If not, it wouldn't surprise me. Joe, who later went up to Oxford, was an extremely clever young man with his eye set on a political career – in which such tactics would doubtless prove useful.
       But would they work on any female over 16 with any self-esteem?  
       I'd like to think not!

Being top of the list is not enough.

       Being Number One infers there’s a Number Two and a Number Three and countless other numbers. A man with more than one woman in his sights is not ready for a serious relationship. A man with a list is STILL LOOKING. And a woman with any self-esteem wants to be NOT Number One but THE One, the One and Only.
       Sadly, an ever-widening choice of partners and the willingness of both sexes to hook up with whoever takes their fancy has made intimacy as meaningful in modern times as a trip to the public urinal. Sowing wild oats is a rite of passage, along with social diseases, unwanted pregnancies, broken marriages, loneliness, lovelessness, depression and heartbreak.
       So what’s the solution? Maybe we should all take a giant leap back into the past. True, previous generations saw injustice, poverty and exploitation (just like today), but they got at least one aspect of their life correct.


       Courtship wasn’t just for the upper and middle classes. Every level of society craved respectability, to have a good marriage with a good person.
       In Jane Austen’s day, young couples enjoyed chaste activities under the watchful eyes of their chaperones. Instead of rapidly shrinking hemlines and necklines, the hint of an ankle was as far as it went. Extreme, maybe, but many a strong marriage was formed by exercising self-control.
       Of course, in many ways women are better off these days, but the very fact they are no longer dependent on fathers and husbands makes it even easier to hold oneself worthy – to view oneself as more than a number on a checklist!

A few tips from Jane Austen

Don’t hold yourself cheap.

Never get ‘picked up’, accept a one-night stand or indulge in casual sex.

Make sure you know the person fairly well – make friends with him before dating.

For that first date, arrange to meet in a neutral environment where there are people.

Introduce him to family and friends - and expect him to do the same with you.

Avoid putting yourself in compromising situations – parked cars, empty apartments or lonely parks.

Remember, if he truly cares for and respects you, he’ll be prepared to wait.....

And want you for his One and Only!!!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Harewood House, home to the Lascelles

Front view of Harewood House
       This may come as a shock to some of you but, on a recent trip out, GG and I decided to forego our usual walks around the Peak in favour of a whole new world….well, county, anyway….somewhere our precious Green Book would not be required.
       As part of a planned agenda for her week’s holiday, GG wanted to revisit one of her favourite stately homes. Harewood House near Leeds, Yorkshire.

Rear view of Harewood House
       Harewood House (pronounced Harwood) was commissioned in 1759 and completed in 1771 by Barbadian-born landowner Edwin Lascelles, whose father, Henry, had amassed a great fortune…not, as you might suppose, from the slave trade, but from other unscrupulous means – by exploiting his position as a customs collector and by supplying provisions for troops during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, which continued between Spain and France from 1739 to 1748, and throughout the Austrian Succession.
       His son, Edwin, put these apparently ill-gotten gains to good use, hiring only the best craftsmen to create the home of his dreams.  

Rocking chair in leather

            Designed by architect John Carr and with lavish interiors by Robert Adam, Harewood was furnished by Chippendale and boasted the finest china money could buy. Edwin certainly pulled out all the stops – even the gardens were spectacular and remain today just as jaw-dropping as their landscaper, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown intended.

One of the intricate ceilings by Robert Adam
       Fabulous paintings litter this palace; landscapes and portraits by the most distinguished artists of the day – such as Reynolds and, Gainsborough - hang beside works from old masters such as El Greco and my own favourite, Titian.

Flower themed Coalport China
       In the 20th century, Harewood came to prominence once more when the 6th Earl married Princess Mary, daughter of George V, bringing genuine blue-blood into the house.

A selection of Princess Mary's hats from the 1920s
       My pictures in no way do justice to the fabulous treasures which Harewood contains, but I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did!

Wonderful 4-Poster bed in State Bedroom
       If you want to know more, please visit

Section of Harewood from the garden terrace

State Bedroom

View of terrace from rear window

Terrace garden designed by Capability Brown

Stunning Hydrangea bush in Hymalayan garden

A Walk in the Peak - Over Haddon, Bakewell

       Arriving ‘oop north’ for a week of Mum’s cooking and general 5-star service, my London-based daughter had already produced her bucket list:
       A trip to a stately home (see my post on Harewood House); the new Jason Bourne movie; and, of course, another mammoth walk from the now very well-thumbed Green Book.*
       My Gorgeous Girl (GG) had already pinpointed the most suitable place for our walk, one we considered during her last visit but rejected in favour of our Wormhill workout.~ Well, I’m only human - one marathon per visit is all I can manage!
       Over Haddon is a tiny, picturesque village in the White Peak, a couple of miles from Haddon Hall, Bakewell where "Elizabeth”, "Pride & Prejudice”, “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “The Princess Bride” and no less than THREE versions of Jane Eyre were filmed in recent years. 

       The village itself has also had its drama. In the 17th century, for instance, a young lass called Martha Taylor starved herself to death. It took a while, mind: The “fasting Damsel” or “‘Mirabile Pecci” (whatever that means), swallowed nothing but a few drops of water with a little sugar and the occasional raisin for nearly two years, dying as a national celebrity at barely 20 years old.+  
       Centuries later, Over Haddon was again put on the map, being the birthplace of Sir Maurice Oldfield, a former head of MI6, who is now buried in the local churchyard. Another reason to spy out the land!  
       According to the Green Book, the walk is roughly 3 miles, although in our case it proved to be twice as long due to a (ahem!) little error of judgement!
       To start with, however, the omens were good. We managed to find somewhere to park, a public toilet block and - oh joy! - sunshine! So it was with high expectations we set off down a hill from the village car park for the first leg of our journey.
       “’At the bottom of the hill turn left along the riverside path,’” reads GG from the Green Book. She has obviously assumed the role of navigator and no one, least of all her Mum, can wrest the book from her grasp.
       We stride gamely along the narrow path. Looking down on Lathkill River to our right. An unusual river, it has a habit of disappearing underground when the weather is dry, a process that seems to turn the deepest part of the river a brilliant shade of blue, but whether this is due to the clarity of these ‘Blue Waters’, or to the limestone through which it passes is anyone’s guess.

       Strangely, for the school holidays the walk is really quiet. Except for two young families splashing about by the river edge, and a couple of solitary passers-by - gentlemen with back packs and spring-loaded walking sticks – we meet no one. I put it down to the weather forecast; the Beeb had given rain, a prediction backed up by threatening clouds as we left that morning. But now, the sun was out, the birds were singing their hearts out, and the scent of hedgerows and recent hay mowing lifted our spirits.

       Suddenly, the peace was shattered! Further along the river, we heard a dog yelping frantically! Either it was injured or barking to alert someone to its owner’s distress….just like Lassie!
       GG and I ran along the river and saw a collie in the corner of an inlet, jumping and yelping as though his life depended on it.

       “Maybe he’s stuck!” I said and was just about to paddle to the rescue when a lady called: “Don’t worry! He’s not hurt or anything! Hush now, Willow!”
       The lady owner and her companion had been following Willow from a distance when the dog raced ahead to dive in the river.
       “He’s always doing that,” the owner explained.            “Wherever there’s water, he just goes bananas! Here Willow! Fetch!” She threw in a stick for her pet to chase, no doubt hoping he’d stop once the object reached his mouth.

       After a short chat, we parted company: Willow and the ladies vanishing up the fields; Madam and I crossing the river “by a humped-back bridge and continuing uphill on a narrow path through a wood.”
       This was where it all went pear-shaped. Instead of “bearing left at the top of the path along a wide track”, GG decided to turn right. As I would never dare accuse my daughter of ‘erring’ in any way, there can only be one explanation: Whereas most of us have a dominant side, my daughter is totally ambidextrous, which means the concept of ‘right’ and ‘left’ has always been alien to her.

       Blissfully unaware of this false step, we continued across open fields to witness the most spectacular views I ca remember – and we’ve see many in the Peak. They were breath-taking!
       “I think this is my second most favourite walk,” declared GG.
       “Well, I think it’s my first most favourite walk.” I replied. It was downhill too, which is always a plus when you get to my age!

       We crossed a wide hayfield under a million acres of sky, now peppered with clusters of cloud, and followed a wall past a ploughed field and another where the hay had already been cut.

       As we descended, we could see the turrets of Haddon Hall, looking as magnificent as ever.

       “Strange,” I mused, “I never expected to come out here,” then stopped to take a photograph, much to GG’s displeasure.
       It was only when we reached the A6 that our problem came into view. We’d gone miles out of our way.
       “So which way from here?” said GG.
       “Let’s google for directions,” I suggested and took out my phone, only for GG to snatch it from my hand.
       “You’re too slow!” she said and began to pound the screen with her finger. Ten minutes later, she was still pounding, waiting and pounding, but help was at hand. A young man was running toward us, obviously in training. I leapt in front of him and, to my relief, he removed his earphones as I asked the way to Over Haddon.
       “It’s miles away!” he replied. “Best bet is to walk to Bakewell.”
       “But that’s along the main road!” moaned GG.       Then the awful truth hit us. We just had to go back the way we came.....and it was all uphill!
       ......and it started raining!
       BUT, we were rewarded by this beautiful sight!

*Short Walks in the Peak Park by William and Vera Parker