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The amazing story of the mysterious magic lantern

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The bulb blew with a loud pop. Angry at the darkening screen, the father ordered his disappointed children to bed. There would be no pictures from that magic lantern tonight.
Next day, he walked from his panelled office several blocks to a less prosperous part of town. There he mounted the bare stairs to enter a shop marked ‘Thomas Wills & Son, Lantern & Cine Equipment’. A man in a brown dust-coat appeared from behind the shelves: “Can I help you, Sir?”
The businessman rhymed off the make and model of his magic lantern.
“Of course, Sir, I won’t be a moment,” said the shopkeeper as bobbed once more behind cardboard boxes.
Shortly, he reappeared bearing two corrugated paper packets.
“Now would it be the standard bulb or the deluxe model?” The customer thought he should purchase the more expensive lamp.
“That will be ten shillings and six pence, please.” The other wrote out a paper receipt to complete the transaction.

That night once more the wood and brass lantern sat on its table and the slides assembled for viewing. However, to the father’s annoyance and his children’s delight, the projector didn’t show them. Instead, it persisted in showing moving images. At first, it showed journeys across the continents before plunging into the ocean and whizzing into outer space. The screen filled with a full-scale orchestra. Next came actors in a Shakespearean play. The lantern then culminated its performance with a football match.
‘This would not do, not do at all,’ thought the father. So, having indulged his family long enough, he switched the contraption off and removed the bulb.
Next day, he returns to Thomas Wills or son and made plain his dissatisfaction to the salesman.
“Oh, I’m very sorry, Sir – most of our customers enjoy seeing the world with the deluxe bulb. I’ll exchange it immediately”
Handing over the standard lamp, the shopkeeper remarked “I am told that, one day, people will see a man walking on the moon with magic lanterns”
The businessman scuttled for the stair forgetting both his change and dignity. Because, he was convinced that the man staring after him was mad – quite mad – quite, quite mad.

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Posted by on 25/08/2017 in fiction, mystery

 

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The Cyclist’s Fight

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Through the illness, this moment kept him going.

He unearthed his bike and dusted it off after long disuse. He mounted and the wind breathed on his face. Down the main street with a few early shoppers barely glancing at the lycra-clad figure speeding pass. He, however, enjoyed being on a surfboard weaving easily around the parked cars. Next came the outskirts where business travellers encumbered with briefcases look enviously at the free rider. Little could they understand

The highway, tranquil and gentle, let him taste open country. Then he turned into a forest track. The effort he needed now increased multi-fold. He changed gear and pedalled hard with growing confidence. With each rising yard, he pushed himself more, oblivious to the cattle gawping in their curiosity.

Despite the cooling breeze, his legs burned as did his lungs. The acrid taste in his mouth told him he was closing into the ‘red line.’ But, sheer determination kept him focussed on each revolution of the wheels. Onwards and onward until he conquered the ascent. Then he stopped and looked in gratitude at the town nestling in the valley. Now he had surmounted the anxiety of the tests, the fear of surgery and the soul-sapping tiredness of the chemotherapy.

Another day of life lay before him and that’s enough.

 
 

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Painting the future

Time & Eternity

 

The artist opened her paint box, dampened her brush and started. Before her was a handsome half-timbered house complete with moat and gatehouse. She worked on in that hot summer’s day. The picture developed but did not show the many visitors who trooped passed. She disliked their intrusion with garish tops and shorts into this piece of Tudor history.

Then she sighted an old man in straw hat and linen jacket stop and gaze at the house. He was perfect for inclusion just at the bridge over the moat.
Soon she finished her work as the shadows drifted towards afternoon. So, she collected her gear and arose. To her surprise, there beside her was the gentleman she had portrayed.

 

They talked, and she asked if he knew the house well.

‘Yes’ he replied ‘many years ago I lived here’.
‘My uncle once owned it and I stayed each summer as a boy ‘. ‘Do you miss it?’ asked the artist.

‘Yes, but you can’t turn the clocks back. Now it’s the property of the tourists who pay for the upkeep’.

 

He paused and said: ‘Why don’t you paint it again including the visitors-that’s the picture of the future?’

 

A few minutes later he left with the first picture and the painter started again remembering that time runs in only one direction.

 

 

 

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A “Kodak” Moment!!

 

 

Kodak dominated the photographic scene for over 100 years. Almost everyone used their films and the phrase “a Kodak moment” meaning a phkodak tri-x film boxoto opportunity was well known.

What happened since then has become a story of failure and missed opportunities ending with Kodak filing for bankruptcy in 2012. Kodak had not kept up with digital technology.

 

Yet it was a Kodak engineer, Steve Sasson who invented the first digital camera in 1975. He is quoted as saying later, “it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it. Kodak’s leaders thought they were in the film business – instead of the imaging business”

 

Kodak chose not to pursue digital photography afraid of losing their profitable film sales.

 

It is so easy to get side tracked and lose sight of the original reason why we do what we do. Why I became a joiner, or a social worker, a mechanic or housing officer, a teacher or a gardener. This can also be true for our relationships, our hobbies and for the causes we champion.  If we take our eye off the ball, we can easily miss the point.

 

But there is a twist to the tale: Kodak is back again as a new company, concentrating on a specific market and knowing what it’s there for.  I hope they have learned and like us, will

 

Keep the main thing the main thing!

 

 Written by Chic Lidstone, Industrial Chaplain to Dundee, Scotland 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here and Now

Picture courtesy of Rome.info

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This week will see an ever increasing attention on Rome by the world. Since Papal conclaves naturally fascinate the faithful and the unbeliever in almost equal measure. More to the point for today is that the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will have a global influence on the future of the whole Christian Church not least in the way that those outside see it.

From that viewpoint, I have been more observant of the news than usual. Yet this has thrown up some surprises. Not least a Catholic priest in St Peter’s Square, on being asked about possible changes the new Pope might bring in, claimed that such possibilities would not happen as they were not of God. Next day, a Channel 4 commentator made clear that  without changes the Roman Catholic Church and, by inference, Christianity would fizzle out.

Both speakers seemed intimate with what God thought! Yet who can? For the last lines of Minnie Louise Haskins’ often quoted poem – I said to the man at the gate of the year – are much less repeated. But they contain a warning for they are:

In all the dizzy strife,

of things both high and low

God hideth his intentions.

Let us then put our hand into the hand of God, look after the now and trust Him to take care of both the past and future.

 

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Time for the Journey

Have you noticed how quickly time is passing these days. It seems that our Christmas presents were only being unwrapped yesterday. Even the interminable days of winter seems a thing of the past. And so, the weeks rotate at an almost breath-taking pace.

Well they say its a sign of old age. But there may be more true in this cliché than most. For, we judge the length of our journeys in life by the number and quality of landmarks we pass. In youth, everything is new and fresh and exciting. Can’t you recall the first date … the first important exam result.. the first… And so the weeks passed through a landscape of highs and lows which remember for all the right and wrong reasons. But when we get older, few events are new or challenging or refreshing. In fact,  as the years pass, we become like a ship at sea. For when we look back we see only a rapidly fading wake and a bland horizon.

What’s to be done? Time for finding a new challenge, a new venture and new discovery. Time to really look at the landscape around and then start to landscape the future. For then, life’s journey returns from sea voyage to alpine walk even of it is a bit of a hike!

 

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Public Libraries – future community hubs?

Where do men go on Saturday? Good question! In the past, it would have been football matches, golf courses and those ‘of a certain age’ the bowling club. But the public library – come off it!

Well so I thought until visiting my local book lender this Saturday morning. And it was packed out with males; some on laptops, others browsing the newspapers and more online on the library’s PCs. Some were even drinking coffee, looking at the books and nipping out for a quick puff on the now internally banned tobacco.

Now probably the recession requires those out of work to surf the job ads and those in work to study to stay so. Yet the sense of a busy community life about the place, both for  effort and pleasure, was palpable.

But libraries are for books and tatty governmental leaflets surely with the odd notice (in every sense of the word) for the local spiritualists’ meeting. Well, if  this is the purpose which the customers seem to want, don’t knock it. Since it might prevent public libraries,  going the way of the village pub, the parish church and the corner shop.

In fact, with our granulated, home-working, coffee shop meeting business environment, maybe these traditional ‘information centres’ have a future as communuty meeting points, business venues and just hubs for daily life. Evolve or die then in my book.


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