Life, kids etc.

Angels guard us…from alien attack!

English: Alien invasion in Nercwys Pentre Bach...

May the Lord guard us from Daleks

“Daddy,” says four-year-old Eli one evening.

“Yes son?”

“If we don’t say our prayers the baddy aliens will get us.”

“Excuse me?” I said, somewhat surprised. I wasn’t expecting that to be honest.

What followed was quite a rambling  conversation so I’ll boil it down for you.

Eli has a learnt a prayer at school, to say at bedtime. It goes like this: “Lord keep us safe this night/ Secure from all our fears/May angels guard us while we sleep/ Till morning light appears.”

His understanding of what this prayer means is a bit, well, off the wall.

As he sees it, it’s essentially about asking the Lord to protect us. And what do we need protecting from? Overnight alien invasion of course!

This, in Eli’s mind, is the only thing it could possibly mean. The angels hang around, waiting to kick some alien butt. “If it’s not that,” he reasoned, “why does it say ‘angels guard us’?” Good point, small child.

“Children can need protecting from other things, ” I said. He shot me a look that said: “I absolutely refuse to believe anything you say.”

At this point my wife managed to supress her giggles long enough to join in too. “It’s a very old prayer Eli,” she explained. “And in the olden days there were lots of diseases and some people were  very poor so they needed protecting from bad bugs. I think  that’s what they meant.”

He didn’t believe her either.

When they first start learning about it, religion can be a funny thing for kids.  Ahead of my First Holy Communion as a six-year-old, legend has it I spent weeks blessing anything that moved and anything that didn’t – the dog, my Mum, cups of tea etc all got a holy and serene wave of the hand over them from time to time while I whispered a few incantations.

Catholics, eh!

Eli has his firm belief in a Higher Power, a force for good there to protect us. He is as readily accepting of this as he is, say, of his firm belief that animals can secretly talk.

Yet he refuses to believe our simple everyday explanations for all manner of things – we had to take him to a farm before he finally, reluctantly accepted milk came from cows.

On the one hand it’s this sort of thing that makes being a parent so rewarding. Seeing him grow up and learn new things each day and getting an insight into how the world works from the perspective of fresh young eyes has provided the Short family with some of our biggest laughs of recent years. Then there’s the warm, fuzzy feeling of satisfaction as he grasps new concepts  and ideas, as he grows and develops. Although it must be said this can backfire from time to time and destroy and semblance of childlike wonder. Example: when Mrs Short recently pointed to a particularly bright moon and asked him: “Can you see the man in the moon? Can you see his face?”

“Mummy,” he replied with disdain at her stupidity. “The grey bits are where meteorites have hit. It’s not a real face.”

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A true wonder of the universe

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, is an image of a ...

The Hubble Deep Field Image puts spitting in context


WHEN I hit my mid to late teens, acid house and giant, illegal parties were the thing. They weren’t known as “raves” for another few years. Cool, eh?
Hot on the heels of that came the Madchester scene – Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, The Hacienda, that sort of thing.
Needless to say, my weekends tended to be a bit crackers.
Last Saturday night I was back in a wet field late at night, joining a select few for a semi-secretive event under the stars.
But this time round there was no bouncing PA or police raid breaking up the action at dawn.
Instead, there were lots of people with high-powered telescopes who were really keen – I mean really keen – on stargazing. I am now officially a middle-aged geek. Cool, eh?
It was my first time out with an astronomy club – and it was an eye opener in more ways than one.
There were a couple of talks beforehand, on the life of a star and on the solar system. You know pretty-boy professor Brian Cox and his “Wonders of..” series? Well this was like seeing the covers band version down the pub.
But it was just as fascinating. You start to wonder about the miracle of our tiny blue planet teeming with life, almost alone in the vastness of space.
And there were enough amazing facts to make your head explode. Which, funnily enough, is exactly what would happen if you got a hole in your spacesuit it turns out.
But no fact was more remarkable than this one: we are all made of stardust. The dust and debris in the far reaches of the universe that collects to eventually form stars – well it’s fundamentally what we’re made of too. The things that made us came out of the Big Bang. In essence, we‘re all made of stuff that it 13.7 billion years old, give or take a year.
Maybe calling it “stuff“ is doing it a disservice.
Anyway, the amateur enthusiast who enthused about this fact ended his talk then informed us there was tea and coffee at the back of the room. So off I toddled to get a cuppa.
When the nice lady in the queue in front of me finished stirring her brew, she promptly turned round, smiled, then gobbed in the bin next to me before sliding off back to her seat.
So we‘re all made of stardust, eh?
I’ll be honest, I was a touch shocked at seeing a grown woman hacking a docker’s omelette at an astronomy club do, of all places. Although I suppose she had a bit of class – she flobbed in a bin.
I see so many people spitting in the street though.
I can handle bad habits. Lord knows I have enough of ‘em myself. Pick your nose? Bite your own toenails? Not bothered. But spitting? Gah. When did it become socially acceptable?
Yet when you pull them up about it they get a bit, well, shouty.
It amazes me. The fact that there are people going round who think giving strangers a chance to contract their Hep C is absolutely fine and dandy really is a wonder of the universe.
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