Five for 41. The statistics were enough to secure me a standing ovation and a much-coveted place on the Lord’s honours board. The electronic scoreboard reflected the magnanimity of the victory as England clinched the deciding Test and, with it, the Ashes by an innings and 50 runs. My team-mates and I were near overwhelmed, barely holding back the tears of joy, as the ecstatic crowd enthusiastically hailed an unforgettably glorious and epoch-making occasion. Everyone who loved me was there to witness my success. My father looked particularly proud, and why not!
Recently, my wife Deb and I were enjoying a coffee in a quaint little coffee house in the picturesque market town of Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. As I was enjoying my hazelnut latte my eye was taken by a quotation by the English Romantic Poet, William Wordsworth, written on the wall adjacent to where we sat: “Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future.” I found myself admiring The Great Poet’s words and giving mental ascent to their wisdom.
In 1977 Bonnie Tyler had a hit with her romantic love-song Lost in France. A short while ago I was lost, but it certainly was not in such an exotic location as France. I was lost in Abertillery! It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it? My somewhat embarrassing predicament was not made any better by a very friendly and, I’m sure, well-meaning pedestrian whose directions, sadly, sent me up a very narrow blind alley. It was so frustrating! I sat in my car, a preaching dead-line looming, reflecting upon just how much blind alleys are such ugly monuments to somebody’s stupidity!
Like many, I enjoy the challenge of solving a riddle - though, I suspect, I am not too good at them! See how you fair with this one:
My first is in hidden but not found in seen. My second’s in coming but not there in been. My third’s in promise and also expectant. My last is in Easter as well as in Advent. My whole is a word that can mean many things; from confident trusting to wishful thinking.
The answer, of course, is hope.
Opposites attract, they say! Personal experience suggests that ‘they’, whoever ‘they’ are, have it right. For all intent and purpose, both casual and informed observers could have been forgiven for doubting the longevity potential of the blossoming romance between a young Scouser and an ever so slightly-younger Prescotian. The former, a sports-mad historian with an irrational obsession with ‘smelly old’ second-hand books. The latter, a level-headed mathematician with a natural flair for home making.
En route to the African Crusades in 1960, Leighton Ford made a brief stop at Dakar, West Africa A French missionary of the Reformed Church met with him for a coffee This missionary had laboured in that Muslim country for ten years. During conversations one of Leighton Ford’s colleagues asked the missionary: “How many converts have you had?” “Oh,” thought the missionary, “one, two, perhaps three.” “Three converts in ten years!” exclaimed the enquirer, “why do you stay?” The missionary’s face mirrored his surprise at the thoughtless question. “I stay because God has called me here!”
In my younger, fitter days, a particularly favourite jogging route of mine would take me along Shirley Road and passed the St. Helens depot for hauliers Suttons Transport. The clock tower overseeing the main gate at ‘Suttons’ once stood on the estate of racing driving Sir John Whitmore and was rebuilt at the St. Helens site by the late Alf Sutton. Now a well-known local landmark, the clock tower’s annotation reads: “Time and tide waiteth for no man.” It is said that this prophetic 14th century proverb was chosen by Alf to, “prod any slackers!” Whether that is true or not, I cannot say.