Friday, 23 November 2018


and people who believe them.

It is bad enough when what could originally be described as a trivial omission provokes a disagreement, but when one of the parties defends his actions with a lie, it puts a strain on the relationship.

However, when he repeats his lie to others, the strain becomes irreparable damage. When those others believe the lie, the damage spreads.

Honesty could have brought healing and understanding, but to tell a deliberate lie and then, because that lie is believed, to spread that lie further afield is a cruel and callous crime.

My uncle once said if you steal once or a thousand times, you are forever a thief. People do not say "He was a thief because he stole my property." They say "He is a thief, because he stole my property." It is the same with lies. If someone tells one lie or a thousand lies, he will always be a liar. 

Of course, redemption might restore the relationship. The thief could admit his crime and return the property. The liar could restore the relationship by admitting the truth to all concerned.

In the case of the incident I have in mind, the liar has repeated his version so often, I think he believes it himself. One of the people to whom he lied considers he has made a magnanimous gesture towards reconciliation, but the one thing he hasn't done yet is told the truth.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Our "traditional" Boxing Day Dinner 

I received a gift this Christmas Which money could not buy Five generations of our family Joined us on Boxing Day!

Daughter & her husband 
have grandchildren of their own
And I sit in joy wonder, 
to see the family grown

Our Grandson brings his girlfriend
Our Son brings children three
But they are far too big now
To sit on Granddad's knee!

Greats and great great grandads,
Great Grandma's, Mothers & Dads,
Nineteen sat at our table,
Our growing family ...

And Joy abounds in this house,
That day and all year through


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

What is it like to have a Stroke?

I've had two major and one minor strokes, together with countless TIAs. 
The other day, someone asked me, "What is it like?"
In case you are interested, this is how I describe the long road to recovery ...
Having a stroke is like dropping a dozen jigsaw puzzles down a flight of stairs ...
You still have all the pieces, and hopefully, a few will stay in the boxes, but other pieces scatter on the treads. One or two might be lost forever by slipping through the gap between the carpet and the wall.

Other pieces might land upside down so you can't see the picture at all, just the cardboard on the back.

Pieces like the ability to talk, to walk, to remember faces of friends and family, tastes, smells, your likes and dislikes have to be picked up one piece at a time, and that little fragment of picture studied until you decide in which box it belongs. Sometimes, you will put the piece in the wrong box, and quite often, you have to tip out the box and start again, but in time, with help and support from family, friends and therapists, you will get the majority of pieces back where they belong. 
Some puzzles will never be complete. For example, my right hand has never recovered its ability to hold a pen, and I've lost the upper right quadrant of my eyesight. I guess those pieces are still under the carpet.
Picking up those pieces just takes time, patience, and courage.
Never Say I Can't

Sunday, 1 October 2017

I only met my South-African born brother-in-law three times. Twice in 1982 and again in 1986, but in those few visits, our readiness to share a joke and a smile developed a bond that survived throughout the years of separation. We never exchanged mail directly, but he always had a quip or a quote to add to my sister’s replies.
Beneath the fa├žade of humour, he managed to supress some immense tragedies that had occurred in his life. He outlived all three of his children from his first marriage. His two daughters died together when their mother was involved in a car accident. His son, who was also in the car, bore the physical and mental scars for twenty-five years, until one night, burglars broke into his Johannesburg home and shot him dead.
When humour failed him, he found solace in alcohol, and perhaps alcohol caused his death at 73, just a month ago today.
My sister was in her thirties when they married. They never had children.

I live 6,000 miles away from his home, 6000 miles away from my sister and over thirty years have gone by since I last saw either of them, but for some inexplicable reason, his passing has taken something deep and meaningful from my soul. How can I miss a man I barely knew so much? I feel full of grief and mourning coupled with worry for my sister, now very alone in her world, 6000 miles away from our home.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

With truth, love endures
But lies often seem stronger
Lies cut wounds even deeper,
In time, the wounds will heal
but scars remain forever.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


I don’t know whether this social phenomenon has ever been documented, but I’ve noticed it happen in playgrounds, in families, in work places, in clubs, even in churches.

It usually involves a controlling personality, let's call him or her Person 'A', and is often triggered by a minor, often insignificant error or omission by Person ‘A’, which causes another person, Person ‘B’ to be inconvenienced, upset or just confused.

Instead of just acknowledging or admitting the minor error, Person ‘A’ becomes aggressive towards Person ‘B’, displays anger, makes counter accusations and generally implies that Person ‘B’ has no right to be in the slightest bit inconvenienced or upset. Person ‘A’ might even claim that Person ‘B’ had, by action or omission, caused or contributed to the error.

Obviously, this causes Person ‘B’ to be more upset or disturbed.

What usually happens is a third person, Person ‘C’, will attempt to calm the situation. Almost always, Person ‘A’ will resent the intervention. With Person 'C' around, Person ‘A’ can no longer bully or subdue Person ‘B’.

Now Person ‘A’ knows he or she can’t bully Person ‘C’, so instead, in this hypothetical but frequently occurring situation, Person ‘A’ will openly denigrate Person ‘C’ to other classmates, friends, family or congregation members and in doing so, Person ‘A’ effectively persuades others that Person ‘C’ is responsible for escalating the minor problem into a major crisis.

To my way of thinking, the only way to resolve a situation like this is when Persons ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ work together on restoring friendships, relationships and trust at the earliest opportunity but that only happens in fairy tales, because in real life, Person 'A' wants to retain his or her dominance over Person 'B' and can't achieve that while Person 'C' is prepared to intervene.

Instead, Person 'A' works towards an understanding or reconciliation with Person 'B', but ensures Person 'C' is excluded from the process. In some (but not all) cases, Person 'B' is persuaded by Person 'A' to abandon the association with  Person 'C', which effectively increases Person 'C's isolation.

Having reached this reconciliation with Person ‘B’, Person ‘A’ switches his or her attention rebuilding a relationship with Person ‘C’.

This puts Person ‘C’ in a dilemma. On the one hand, Person ‘C’ wants to restore harmony in the playground, family, workplace etc so now Person ‘C’ has to choose whether stand aside and accept whatever tactic Person ‘A’ employs to regain his or her control over Person ‘B’, or to walk away, find another corner in the playground, resign from work, join another church congregation.
In all the times I’ve witnessed this social phenomenon, I’ve never encountered a Person ‘A’ type who makes any attempt whatsoever to reverse his or her denigration of Person ‘C’, thus Person ‘C’ is still ostracised or shunned by those he or she once counted as friends. Whatever the outcome, the relationship between ‘C’ and everyone else involved is damaged, tarnished and sometimes destroyed.

Such is the damage to these relationships, the ‘C’ type persons will sometimes change schools, resign from jobs, even leave the clubs or church. 

Every dictator or bully in history has succeeded through isolating the stronger while dominating the vulnerable, so this situation is nothing new.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Full marks for Never Say I Can't – Judges Commentary in full ...

Writers' Digest 4th Annual Self-Published e-Book Awards.

Judge4th Annual Self-Published e-Book Awards.”

Entry Title: Never Say I Can't
Author: Philip Catshill
Entry Category: Life Stories

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:
Author opens the book with an engaging scene, and we are soon – thanks to the author’s stellar talent in sharing his observations from inside the affected mind – immersed in the disorientation and fear of the post-stroke mindset. ‘Each every’ and the author’s early attempts at speaking are well-shared, and we get plenty of sensory detail such as the feel and temperature of the floor, the vinegar-cleaned windows, and other fascinating details he is able to process. We’re moved by how the author moved through the earliest stages of his recovery when progress has not yet been made. We sense the confusion, the wish to communicate better, the numbness.

Well done.
Author has created a very sensory account here. Very essential to the book’s success. I found the ‘rankings’ of patients in the care center according to whether or not they’ve had a ‘proper stroke’ fascinating. It was amazing to
think that the human race’s need to rank and impose status would ever apply to recovering from stroke.
It was a deep and moving scene when his friends preferred that he not accompany them to the ground floor for their departure, since it felt like they were abandoning him. That’s heart-wrenching, and the author presented this raw interaction with the concerned friends movingly.
‘I will manage’ uses terrific economy of words to show his empowerment and admirable courage. Settings are rich and detailed, and dialogue with caregivers is richly nuanced. We can feel that the caregivers are sticking to scripts that work with patients, but because they care so much for this patient, they show more heart and honesty with him.
Well done.
 We cheer for his progress, and we listen intently to his stellar writing voice.
Engaging and inspiring.