Tag Archives: God

When the ‘charity’ collector comes calling…

26 Jul

I’VE never been sure what the Spanish law is regarding door-to-door charity collections.
On one hand I’m told it’s illegal, and that the people who ring my bell trying to raise money for a new school/hospice/orphanage/public toilet are in fact bogus.
On the other hand, you have those charity callers whose impressive documentation .and smooth tongue convinces you they are for real.
‘’Don’t give money to anyone collecting at the door,’’ is the clear message from both my community president and the local Neighbourhood Watch. ‘‘The odds are that they are not genuine.’’
Well, for the last two or three years, this cheerful-looking Spanish guy in his 40s, lways armed with identity card, badge, documents and flyers galore, has been doing his best to squeeze euros out of the expat community around my home.
Some people give, some don’t. And I admit he’s sweet-talked me into parting with a few euros in the past.
But that was before I became Editor of The Courier – and in fact, before this newspaper even came into existence.
This time I was armed with a powerful new weapon and II plotted a scheme that would make or break him next time he came calling..
I would to tell him I was writing an article on residents being pestered by bogus charity collectors. I wanted take his photograph and put it in The Courier, at the same time confirming to readers that he was no Luis the Ladrón and represented a genuine cause.
I figured that an honest collector would agree instantly to being photographed since it would surely improve hisreturns…while an imposter would run a mile.
I was in the garden when he turned up in mid-afternoon a couple of weeks ago.
‘Hola senora, you Engleesh?’’
He clearly didn’t remember me – not that I wanted him to.
‘’Yes, I want to speak to you,’’ I replied in Spanish, going straight on the attack as he pulled his documents out of his briefcase.
I reeled off my proposal (well, hardly reeled it off – my Spanish isn’t particularly good) and then mentioned taking his photo.
He did not like the idea. In fact, it horrified him. ‘No photograph!’’ he snapped, quickly putting his papers back in his briefcase. ‘‘Definitely not. It is illegal to take photos in Spain.’’
‘‘It’s illegal to collect money door to door in Spain, more likely,’’ I retorted, uncertain whether this was in fact true.
With that, he thrust the leaflet alongside into my hand and stalked off to accost another potential victim.
The following day a respectable looking woman aged about 30 appeared at the front gate and began the charity sales talk. Or so I thought.
‘‘I’m sorry but there’s a great suspicion of charity collectors around here,’’ I said, lining up another photographic session. ‘‘People think you are not genuine.’’
‘‘Charity? I’m not collecting for charity, cariño,’’ she retorted indignantly. ‘‘I’m collecting for ME. For me and my family.’’
There followed a party political broadcast on behalf of Spain’s unemployed masses. She told me she had lost her job, her husband was out of work and his dole had been stopped, and they had three kids to feed.
How else could she support them than by calling on the generosity of more affluent people?
I know she could have been conning. But if she was, she deserved the €10 I gave her just for her acting skills.
Genuine or not, her face lit up at the sight of the money and she couldn’t thank me or hug me enough. ‘‘This will pay the lighting bill tomorrow, carino. I’m so happy.’’
And off she went with a parting shot. ‘‘Watch out for those charity collectors. You never know if their genuine.’’


TALKING of uninvited callers, I got into conversation the other day with two very nice ladies about…the end of the world.
Yes, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now although I am not a Christian, I have never been one of those ‘we’re not interested – clear off’ types.
Indeed, apart from the fact that they are invariably humble, gentle people, I have the greatest admiration for the courage of Witnesses in the face of adversity.
Namely the antagonism of so many people who resent their intrusion. It’s all very well to turn them away politely but firmly, but verbal aggression and rudeness is not necessary.
I’d also like to clear up one or two misconceptions about Jehovah’s Witnesses. First of all, they are neither crazy nor any more deluded than followers of any other religious order. Indeed, to me their message rings truer than most.
The mess that mankind has got the world into needs sorting urgently – and who better to handle it than Big G himself? And soon!
I would never have the courage or dedication to become a Witness. But I do wish I could truly BELIEVE because it immediately takes all the fear out of dying
‘‘I bet you get a lot more abuse than friendliness when you knock on doors,’’ I said to my visitors. ‘‘You are so brave to carry on despite all the resentment.’’
‘‘The strength to go on doesn’t come from us – but from Jehovah,’’ they replied.
I come from Jewish roots, but as a lifelong agnostic, I have spent my entire life wondering what existence is all about.
But there has to be more to it than eating, drinking and making a nuisance of ourselves.
Jehovah’s Witness literature often portrays their idea of the Paradise awaiting believers.
We see images of Mum, Dad and smiling kids strolling and playing in a sunny Garden of Eden, their pets – including lions and tigers – sitting obediently at their feet.
Beat you to it, guys. I’m in Paradise every time I sit in my sunny garden, full of glorious summer colour, with one purring moggy on my lap and another at my side.
In this life, that’s as good as it gets for me. It almost makes my chronic backache worthwhile…

Earthquakes, floods and God: Is life for real – or just a dream?

10 Mar

Have you ever wondered if  life really could be a dream?

That the people and places you see everywaking minute of your day are all a figment of your imagination?
And that the dream will end when you wake from your marathon sleep – at the precise moment you take your very last breath?
Think about it for a minute. Because to me the ‘life is a dream’ scenario if far more feasible than the ‘God made us’ theory spouted by most of the man-made religions of this world.
I’m not saying there is NOT a God because I believe very strongly that everything on this earth was created by an awesome, omnipotent force more powerful than anything we can imagine.
However, I find it hard to identify with a biblical God who (unless you take the fables of the Old and New Testaments as gospel) chooses never to appear before or speak to those that He or She created. At least, not to an audience big enough to convince us.
Just one Almighty appearance in front of a couple of dozen people – preferably with a TV camera rolling – and we’d all be totally convinced. But it seems our Maker (as personified in official religion) has become coy about publicity over the last couple of thousand years.
To me, life is all down to Mother Nature – the ultimate artist, sculptress, designer, you name it. The sole creator and also a fearsome adversary who is clearly on some sort of  mission in these times of political and physical upheaval.
Certainly the surfeit of natural disasters which have devastated the world over the past couple of decades suggests that something is changing dramatically in Mother Nature’s household.
But back to our dreams, in which we see and interact with all sorts of people, many of whom we know in real life.. Yet we accept when we wake up that the entire dream was merely a fabrication of our mind.
I often dream I can fly – or that I am on the edge of a cliff or a roof trying desperately not to fall off. At the time it all seems so normal and no-one could convince me it is not really happening. But when I wake up, the content of my dream still vivid in my mind, it seems ludicrous that I ever believed the bizarre events were for real.
‘How on earth did I not realise at the time that I was dreaming?’ I regularly ask myself.
In my sleep, my experiences are surrounded by what seem to be living, breathing creatures. Yet the reality is that every second is the bizarre product of a single subconscious mind.
And so to the BIG question: Is it not possible that life itself is just one long dream – a dream that lasts from the second we are born until the moment we die?
There is only one person that I KNOW for a fact exists. And that is myself. My family, my friends, my readers (if I have any)…I assume of course that they are all real people. But whilst they are all tangible parts of my day-to-day experience, a tiny part of me keeps asking: ”Am I the only person living in this world – with everyone else just a part of my imagination?”
That’s all for now folks. Back to sleep, all of you. If you’re for real, that is.