Category Archives: life

Grandmother II

GRANDMOTHER II (Maternal)

My maternal grandmother, was small(-ish) in stature.

I had more ‘awareness’ of this pleasant lady who outlived my paternal grandmother by nine years.

She lived with my mother’s sister and her husband. The sister was a very pleasant lady also, (just like her mother).

I marvel that the 1970’s saw the demise of at least eight of my relatives.

I can’t say that I spent ‘enormous’ amounts of time with them. Certainly less when I reached my teen’ years. Too busy exploring this world’s offerings of alcohol, discos, girls, and holidays etc., until I met The Person of Jesus the Christ.

My grandmother would visit our home, and one thing I do remember was ‘the password’.

Yes ‘the password’.

As I entered our living room, my grandmother, sitting next to the door, would utter these words, in the form of a question:

“What’s the password?” Intimating that I could not enter unless I verbalised this ‘password’.

She removed my blank look of ignorance, by whispering the said password into my ear, so that I could verbalise it loud and clear, for the rest of the family to hear.

“Up Churchill!” I would exclaim.

“You may enter” was her response.

‘Up Churchill’ was a leftover from the second world war years, and typified her somewhat tongue-in-cheek political persuasion.

Memories of this grandmother although a little vague, similarly take the form of mind’s eye pictures of her wearing her 1940’s long dress attire (still wearing it in the sixties era) She was also quite ‘attached’ to her hat, the kind that has a hat ‘pin’.

(I can picture her also, just as I can – my paternal gran.)

What a person is – usually stays with us.

One could almost say a person’s essence remains after departure, as in the impression they made on us, – their personality etc. 

Of course such expressions (i.e. ‘essence’), are open to all kinds of mis-interpretations. So in referring to this, I make no reference to new age philosophy, which is replete with esoteric or ethereal error.

I do remember seeing her once, during her final illness that led to her demise.

She had a (returning) child-like quality and I remember being left with the impression that ‘this wasn’t my granny’. Something was different and I couldn’t quite grasp what.

Things were kept from me as the junior in my whole family connection, even though I was twenty-one at the time of her departure!

So I had no real realisation of her mental state.

Her husband, my grandfather, died when I was about two years of age. I have a picture of myself in his arms, in a local park.

So a ‘granda’ experience was a limited event for me, whilst growing up. One grandfather I never knew.

The other – only as a two-year-old (short lived indeed).

Generations come and generations go. Mentalities change for the better and for the worse.

My maternal grandfather was always addressed as ‘Pa’, by the family members.

His actual name was Kirkwood, Kirky for short. He worked like the majority of men during that era, at the Belfast Shipyard.

I am ill-equipped to try to do a Wikipedia for you on the shipyard’s history.

There is no shortage of such historical info on the net, I would imagine.

But the shipyard, also referred to as Harland and Wolff’s, was at one point the biggest shipyard in the world. The famous Titanic being built there. 

That whole industry has all but ceased to exist in Belfast.

My grandfather bought a new watch, (so the story goes), and he happened to show it to one of his fellow workmen, who thought it was very nice.

Five minutes later another workman happened to pass by. “D’yi have the time Kirky?” He asked.

“Yes it’s 3.15” my grandfather replied.

Ten minutes passed and yet another friend asked the same question. And Pa dutifully replied, giving him the time of day.

Twelve minutes later another fellow workman wanted to know the time of day.

And so it went on. It took ‘Kirky’, quite some time to realise that he had been ‘set up’ and his colleagues were ‘pulling his leg’ as we say. Or in modern parlance: ‘winding** him up’.

Such a term** especially relevant to this particular round of ‘timepiece’ banter.

The story is also told of how one of his daughters (my aunt), planning a cycle ride meet-up with a boy, was about to leave the house in shorts.

She came under Pa’s scrutinising rebuke and was told to change into something ‘decent’ immediately.

So she dutifully responded, meeting up with a boy a few blocks away, whereupon she removed her skirt, revealing the cycle pants intact, and they cycled-off together ‘into the sunset’.

Pa held amateur talent nights in various halls. My mother played the piano (by ear as they say), and tap-danced along with her sisters.

Well into her seventies, she still was able to show ‘the moves’ that made up her style of tap dancing.

Jane, my grandmother had three girls and one boy.

All of that generation is gone. I lost my last remaining aunt a few years ago.

I was not privy to exactly where my grandmother stood concerning the things of God.

I think of all the things I would like to have asked my grandparents.

When we are younger the big questions, the important questions, are often ignored, and would not be on the lips of grandchildren.

Paradoxically however kids often stop us in our tracks with astute observations/considerations: e.g. What does God look like?

In fact let me quote a few statements of childlikeness that propel us into necessary considerations about life.

Deceptively deep, they were expressed in prayer-letters such as –

“Dear  God, did you think up hugging? That is a good thing.”

“Dear God, count me in”

“Why did you make the sky blue and the grass green. Is that the only colours you got?”

“Dear God why do I have to pray when you know anyway what I want? But I’ll do it if it makes you feel better.”

[Children’s letters to God compiled by E. Marshall and /S. Hample]

My grandparents generation were certainly of high survival calibre – knowing what it was to ‘make-do’ with little.

At worst they had restrictive unnecessary rules, – what we would term legalism. At best they stood for moral principles, our world today is ignoring, as it falls apart at the seams.

Grandmother I

GRANDMOTHER I

My grandmother was a Christian lady. When I was a little boy (pre-teens) I used to visit with her, along with my mum and her son (my dad).

Her husband, my grandfather, died before I was born, so I never knew him.

How easy it is, when we start to write about relatives, to lose ourselves and those listening, with the necessary jargon needed, when explaining.

[e.g. My uncle’s grandmother’s son, and my cousin’s grandchild on their daughter’s side, or my mum’s mum’s brother – crazy!

Not amazing – just a maze].

So – my grandmother was my father’s mum. That’s simple enough. If you still don’t follow please ask a practicing historian.

She was probably in her eighties at the time of my visits, and was cared for by her daughter, who later became a missionary in Japan, and remained a spinster, until she went to be with Jesus in 2008.

My paternal grandmother would sit very still in her chair. And would ask: ‘if we were never going to make a cup of tea’? She asked this every ten minutes or so.

She would sit with me by her side, looking straight ahead. She couldn’t see very well.

As though unbeknown to everyone else, she would move her arm slowly across to me, and slip a sum of money into my little hand.

The large sum of one penny.

I would sense by the way she did so, that it was top secret, and I fought the smile that would try to break forth on my face, afraid of betraying her act of kindness, and exposing  this great secret.

She would sing a song from her younger days and I always remember the chorus: I did a painting based on the song, it is long gone. I forget who has it.

(As with many paintings a great curiosity comes to me at times regarding where a painting is. Lost in the world somewhere, like a long lost child.)

Here is the chorus, I searched it of course, and found it on the internet. ‘Riding on a load of hay’ (author unknown).

Oh someone stole my heart away

Riding on a load of hay

I looked up and he looked down

Handsome sunburnt Johnny Brown

She told me of her extremely naughty youthful antics. Extreme things like banging on people’s front doors and running away.

Hiding, while she and her co-conspirators, observed the reaction of the house owner, as he or she looked up and down the street, baffled as to the invisible visitor.

And that was about the sum total of her reported naughtiness. (Naughtiness? – My! – how times have changed).

I remember nothing of her passing. I was twelve years old at the time.

As she sang the song, her voice was still as sweet, as when she graced the platforms of Christian Meetings, being the invited soloist.

In Northern Ireland we designate some church buildings as Gospel Halls. And they still exist.

Her daughter went to be a missionary in Japan, as previously stated, and I often reflect on my aunt’s faithfulness in prayer for me.

Indeed I often query with The Lord, just how much a part my grandmother’s prayers, played in my mighty encounter with The Living God, seven years after her passing!

When my dad, was nearing his journey into eternity, though that is for another blog post, I remember him telling me, that his mother taught him how to pray.

How important that young lives are taught the Word of God, at an early age. It will impact them fully or partially – it all depends on how they respond to it as they journey through life.

The bible describes it this way:

Cast your bread upon the waters,

For you will find it after many days.

I’m sure everyone has the experience of failing to ask enough questions regarding their family history, and suddenly it is too late. Those able to furnish us with details are gone, we didn’t ask them.

Nevertheless we can cherish what we do know. And I can still see plainly my grandmother’s facial expression as she sat – ever so still – in her armchair.

I think I must have spent the pennies.

My name’s Ken from…

by Ken Riddles

My name’s Ken from…

I have been blogging since 2015. I’m not exactly a technophobe – but can think of better things to do with my time 😎.

By so stating I’m indirectly communicating that I take minimal interest in my ’stats’ regarding followers, viewers, etc. I commented recently to a fellow-blogger that I look at my stats about once a year! ☺️

A bit of a tongue-in-cheek remark but more or less true.🙂

[Notice: that is three emoji’s in a row. A record!]

Initially I posted my paintings more or less – all of the time.

Then I removed all paintings and settled for posting my Christian teachings, and poems, with the odd painting still displayed.

This is more or less how things are at the moment.

My idea back when I starting blogging was to let the work speak for itself. No need to proclaim ‘boring’ details about myself (?).

So that the art, the art appreciation, the poems, the Christian teaching would stand (or fall) on their own merit.

Up until this point little to no, personal references as to who I am, where I live, what I do (daily life), has been revealed.

I’ve decided to share along the above lines. I feel another emoji coming – 💡

My name is…

Well that’s already been revealed

What hasn’t been revealed is that I hail from Northern Ireland, that six county province on the island of Ireland.

[Maybe this ‘whereabouts reveal’ – comes as no surprise – maybe ‘I thought so’ might have crossed your mind – or you remain non-plussed either way?]

What has been revealed before, is that I married my sweetheart from The Netherlands. We celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary back in March.

Other snippets of ‘identity’ can be found somewhere in the fog of old blog posts.

I came to a revelation of The Lord Jesus Christ on the 20th November, 1970, when I was overwhelmed by the Presence of God. And fell to my knees in repentance in my bedroom, in a little terrace house in Belfast. The house and therefore the room no longer exist.

The house was demolished many years ago, as part of the redevelopment of the area.

So I was born in one of the three upstairs rooms. And was born again in one of the two remaining.

[Mostly natural births today, in western culture, are in hospital wards as you know – although don’t quote me].

So what difference does this beginning of further information make?

I’ve no idea.

But I must confess I find the personal story of others – interesting. So maybe time to explore that approach in some writing.

That’s about it – carry on eating your lunch. Any questions?

No? Well, have a nice day.

Our Life

OUR LIFE

Intense feelings as we began our intertwining

Following the book we read of other things

Of virtue and wholeness and worship

Pure emotion with mutual respect

Got us to our decision of covenant love

                 …

We looked to the hills

The hills of our future life

The horizon lost at times for the present

But all in all and in it all

We kept our bond and journeyed on

With children – three in tow

                 …

We spent our times in family gladness

Everyday thing-ness and small crises overcome

Happiness shone even in discontent

For who can be fully with time when eternity beckons

                 …

On through the years

Decades here – decades there – in this – in that

Gathering with the throng around the throne

                 …

Accepting the next with each decade’s demise

Looking together for the prize

Of the high calling – the anchor of the soul

The strength that permeates our weakness

                 …

The vanity of vanities will not overcome

Because of the undefiled harmless and Holy One

And so it will be as we plan – and so it will be

We are led to understand

That all will meet together to see His Return

We shall be like Him – His beauty to affirm

Apprentice interlude

APPRENTICE Interlude

So much has happened in the world since those days

Just as so much happened in the world before those days

Standing outside the central library on the steps

Leaning against the pillar and watching the world go by

As the odd gust of wind lifted dust and old cigarette packets

That wafted their obnoxious mix across one’s squinting eyes

While the journeyman who stood there beside me said little

And seemed to never hear when spoken to

Long monologues I would exhale to his ears that seemed to swivel his head from side to side as he too observed the passers by

And then frustratingly he would – after my well-crafted theories were expounded – grunt a question mark in response

As though he hadn’t heard a word

Time was up – back to the stone – the chase – the form

Back to his instruction – for now he came alive

Indentured-I-was to this fair trade as it was then

With licence to carry a sword by ancient decree

I carried a lunch box instead

The library (rarely entered) covered us with it’s canopy it’s baroque archway of an entrance providing shelter

So that even on rainy days we could watch that

changing world go by

Lunchtime break – a welcomed device for quenching

the smell of ink and wash-up

Menial tasks thrust into one’s path – do this – do that – scenarios

Except for the efforts of the non-answering journeyman

under whose wing

I began to learn the trade – Stanley – with slightly crossed eyes

I never did hear of his life again or of his demise

Put away…

PUT AWAY

Much as I could do

 – I won’t complain

If I was to complain that would be 

 – getting into the blame game

Much as I obviously disagree

 – it makes no difference

 – ‘Tween you and me

Oh by the way

 – I like your ashtray

It’s the first time in my life

 – to like an ashtray

It’s all that goes with it

 – that sends me away

 – Into a spiral of disgust

                  …

I’ve never liked that poison

Since I had to breath it in

                  …

Parenthetically –

[During the shifting sands

The sinking sands

Of popular opinion

Versus what the experts did say

Until one day

The world woke up and

put the cigarettes away…]

…Dillinger

Did they get Dillinger…? by Ken Riddles

Did they get Dillinger?

The story behind this painting:

I held an exhibition when I finished with my day to day job as a typesetter.

The exhibition sold well.

Amongst my guests on the opening night was my elder brother.

There was eight years between us.

He suffered from a heart condition and passed in 2015.

We used to meet up once a month for lunch, and these were enjoyable times, with banter about whose turn it was to pay etc.

When we were young, he was always kind to his little brother, especially at Christmas, when I waited with anticipation to see what present he had bought me. He never disappointed (e.g. when I was 8 y.o. – he was 16).

I had two ‘not for sale’ drawings in the show. And he liked these because they were depictions of the street of our childhood upbringing.

As I would have explained – not topographical depictions. A drawing of a memory, not a drawing from memory. (Some of you might ‘get’ the difference).

But I wouldn’t let these go. So his eyes lit upon the painting above, and just before someone else wanted to buy it, he was able to stake his claim and it ended up on the living room wall of his home.

He too, like me, was ‘weaned’ on the old black and white gangster movies seen on TV.

He had three of my paintings in his home and joked about how when I was gone – they would be worth so much more. With reference to the old adage about an artist not being worth much until he was dead.

These paintings have been inherited by his son and daughter.

Be great to have my brother back – I would paint him as many ‘Dillingers’ as he wished (RIP).

All darkness…

ALL DARKNESS 2021

Dramas today

Carry the stench of having gone astray

Negative emotions to the fore

Feel-good factors immobilised

Only dark situations portrayed

Dark times

Obnoxious rhymes

Dramas all black and sombre

Violence perpetrated and perpetuated

Scripts full of swear words

Of the worst kind

Addressing fellow citizens to trash them

Drug abuse and obtuse – philosophies

Abused women

And refused men

Conceited bosses lusting for power

Greed and weed

Hurt and pain

Serious crime with nothing to gain

Misery and sorrow in their wake

Dog eat dog – all on the take

Robbery and sloth

Indolent gain

Swooning around in delusional narcotics

Chaotic…

Hierarchy’s in gluttonous consumption

Iron-fisted dictators dictating to losers

And abusers

Writers won’t stop for a moment

To even ask why?

All uplifting stories gone below

To the place of disappearance

And they don’t even notice it

Characters swiftly running

to calamitous ruin

Plots of confusion for monetary gain

Dramas written

Not a wholesome word in sight

The drama pens look for material

Penning us to believe

this is the world you are living in

So they think to write the same

Make it real is the excuse

Delusional meditation offerings

Is the result

as we

Try to stay the course

In hope of a noble plot

Or something sane

So we can hope in life again

But it’s not to be found

As the rut has set in

The rut of negativity and pain

Everything wrapped in

A suicidal chain

Come on

You normal playwright minds

Give us a drama to affirm life

Let us rise with optimistic

Reprise and cheer again!

Everything’s important

EVERYTHING’S IMPORTANT

Everything is important

Even your first bit of toast

                       …

You bend your knuckles

doing finger press-ups on your hand

                       …

A twitch of the mouth sideways

Will you remember this in years to come?

                       …

Because everything’s important

Even when you go for a run

                       …

Do you remember that on the ‘fourteenth

Of the eighth – nineteen-fifty-eight’

You crossed the road of the big avenue?

                       …

You bought a bag of crisps

but pulled it all apart

You didn’t open it – you destroyed it –

Fifty per-cent of crisps eaten

The rest dirtied on the floor

That was important at the time

                       …

And the night you couldn’t get warm in bed

You didn’t sleep – sore head

That night passed – exhausted the next day

Do you remember that event?

A night ill-spent

                       …

What was the matter with you anyway?

That was an important night

You were sick for a few hours

And didn’t make a note of it

                      …

I can still hear the voices

echoing across the lake

That was an important holiday

I bonded even more with my son

                      …

It may not seem important to you

But remember how you made a decision

with heads-you-win – tails-you-lose?

That was a Friday…

                       …

You sat bored and kept swinging

your bunch of keys

When was that?

You didn’t get up for an hour

Where was that?

It was important to express

your boredom in that way

In fact will you ever express

boredom in that key-way again?

                      …

It’s important to note the dates

When things transpire

Momentous – one-off experiences

                      …

You laughed and laughed

‘Cause you got the funny -bug

On Penny Lane with your friend

You couldn’t stop laughing

‘cause – everything was a teenage joke

                     …

Not enough sleep again – occasion two

What was that important date?

                     …

See – you’ve forgotten…

You can’t pin it down – 1990-what?

So another important event

slips by into unimportance

When it was important at the time

                     …

Everything is important

You will come to this again

Innumerable instances of importance

                     …

Little and large things transpire

You made no note of them

They didn’t seem important

It’s almost sin – that they passed you by

                     …

You stood for too long – that night

Your legs were sore

The comfort you felt when you sat down

Emotionally overwhelmed

With a sense of wellbeing and rest

But you’ve forgotten that important date

                    …

The chewing-gum-paper

You folded it and folded it

Until you couldn’t fold it anymore

See? – important…

Never again would you do that

to a chewing gum wrapper

Because you don’t eat chewing gum

anymore – it gives you wind

                    …

There you go – see?

An unrecorded moment of

‘immense’ unique importance

The demise of the bubble gum wrapper

                    …

You lifted three shirts that day

You put two back on the rack

You wanted one of them

But not more – than the one you bought

But that was one day in the lifetime of

many shopping sprees with your

Hard earned cash

                    …

It’s important that you know –

When you bought that sweater

– When that sweater gets holes

You can look back and say:

Sweaters – lasted – intact –

from November ’82 to December 2000

When – they developed holes

                    …

Do you see your own importance?

You are important –

with a big head or with humility

                    …

It’s an important date – when you were there

Born from your mamma’s womb

She remembers that important day

You cannot – but make a note of it anyway

                     …

Flicking through the magazine in the dentists

You read an article – you’ve forgotten

As though it wasn’t important anyway

It was important to the writer

and still is today

                   …

The Importance of being Earnest

Oscar Wilde did say

While the stewardess

told you to fasten your seatbelt

It was important in preparation

for the aeroplane’s sway

                    …

Everything is important in it’s own way

Your debit card number

Remember it?

What day did it arrive on?

“Not so important?” you say

                    …

Important or not important?

Important wins hands down

“Everything is important

in it’s own way”

                     …

As we say – in cliche

Dreamed Life

DREAMED LIFE 2020

Like a concertina screen

Unfolding before your inner eyes

Scenes of the decade’s demise

All must reflect on the fact

That time stands still for no man

                  ….

Call up your recent days

And see if you remember –

or is it a haze?

You will find the distant past

Comes rumbling over the hill

from long ago

As you relive your memory

in various dreams

                   ….

Dream-memories are

not what they seem

Vivid though they be

They scramble what has been

into another life-lived

A might-have-been scenario

Pick out what you like

And leave the rest of the meal 

Happiness?

HAPPINESS?

I was thinking of the word – Happiness.

Happiness – where do I stand in the ‘happiness’ stakes?

My dictionary gives us this for happy:

  • feeling or showing pleasure or contentment:

Happiness – hmmm.?

Paul the apostle tells us that (I Timothy 6) / Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

I do have a deep abiding peace in my spirit.

In fact – a peace I can’t explain – one that passes my ability to figure it out.

Philippians 4/

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

However I like the old sayng that made it’s journey around the church years ago:

I’m satisfied with a dissatisfied satisfaction.

In my own nature and personality I’m a discontented kind of a guy.

When we find a negative tendency in our personality – (and we are all so different) – we need to feed ourselves, as Christians, with God’s antidote: – the Word of God.

This both counteracts our negative tendencies and also brings change.

God is in the changing business. He, as a faithful Heavenly Father takes time to raise His family correctly.

Raising us in the nurture and admonition of His Word (see also Ephesians 6/4)

Reminding ourselves of all the wonderful promises He has given us, through the New Testament and Old Testament writers, is giving God the opportunity to work in us.

He uses His Word to accomplish the changing and maturing of the Christian’s heart.

I Thessalonians 2/13

…the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

This brings greater wholeness in our lives – and consequently greater contentment.

So role out your own definition of happiness, if you wish. But perhaps, godly contentment may not be what you have in mind?

Godliness brings contentment – whereas the pleasure of sin is only for a season.

Contentment starts deep within – growing from the assurance that Christ has made me acceptable, through no merits of my own.

I drift from the contentment He provides – and get restless, but when that happens it’s time to get back into the power-house of contentment, through prayer and Bible meditation.

Passivity and contentment are not the same thing. How easy it is to become passive, especially in this present lockdown situation.

But, nevertheless, I need to be reminding myself that my contentment is in Christ.

Complete by Grace bringing contentment:-

Colossians 2/

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 

Secretly

SECRETLY

John 19/

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

I feel very reluctant to come to a conclusion about this man Joseph.

Perhaps there are two schools of thought. 1) There should be no secret disciples or 2) It is perfectly acceptable to be so.

Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear… 

It would seem to me there is no ‘one rule covers all’ application to be made here.

We know that The Lord calls his disciples, to confess Him before men – or we will miss out on Jesus confessing us before the angels…

Luke 12:

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

But in Joseph’s case we have a man who is convinced of the fact that he must take care of the body of Jesus, and that He believes that Jesus was/is The Son of God – otherwise he would not be designated as a disciple.

But he was also having to deal with fear. Fear is an emotion, so apparent in our lives at times, that it can cause a faithful disciple like Peter to deny his Lord and Master.

The lesson learnt from it, in Peter’s case, meant such denial was never to be repeated.

Did Joseph go from being a secret disciple to a manifest one? Well if it became known what his good deed consisted of – then he certainly would have been suspected of being a follower of Christ.

What about you – are you a secret disciple? Perhaps a member of another religion – but secretly a believer on Christ as Lord? Perhaps you are in a workplace where you would receive ridicule and banter for being such a disciple? Perhaps you are secretly trying to live the Christian life – with limited knowledge as to what it is really all about? You just want to be a good person?

Jesus spoke of someone in this manner: Mark 12/ 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Perhaps in your secret discipleship, you are doing the best you can?

Seems to me that you are not far from the fulness of what God has for you.

Next should follow advice as to how to proceed.

But I’m stopping short of this and offering to talk to you off-line.(ken.riddles@btinternet.com)

Some day you will need to confess Him before men. But meantime:

Jeremiah 29/12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord,