Monday 6 November 2023

Remember, remember, all those who have inspired us, who have lit the flame within

A friend asked me the other day why I refer to Molly as “Bugger Lugs”. He looked quite disturbed by the phrase. I explained it was a term of endearment when I was growing up. My grandad often you to say to me and my brother come on “bugger lugs”. It seems I speak to Molly in a similar way to how my grandad spoke to me. It is certainly affectionate, although if you actually think about it, it probably doesn’t to someone not brought up hearing it. It seems that anybody below the age of forty and not from Yorkshire and or Lancashire have never heard the term or at least a version of it. Hence the strange looks and responses from folk.

As is my way I posted about this on social media. It was an attempt to offer something light for folk to connect with. The responses were both amusing and fascinating. My mum obviously read it and replied with the following tale:

“I have probably told you this before.

I had a great uncle Eddie. He was certainly a character. I used to love going to see him. He had two Yorkshire terriers called Bugger Lugs and Mucky Clogs. He also had a Myna Bird who would shout out the two dogs names and say Shut Up

Needless to say he was granddads uncle.”

A little later she added:

“Uncle Eddie was Nana's brother. The family lived at 3 Loxley Street. It was a one down, two up. They had 6 children and an uncle who lived there also. No bathroom or inside toilet. To the right of the chimney breast was a sink with a cupboard above. Uncle Eddie replaced the cupboard fronts with wire netting and kept 2 hens in there.

You couldn't make it up

Love Mum xxx”

You truly could not make it up. I have heard this story before, but it was lost somewhere in my subconscious. It has resurfaced and reformed as the days have gone by this week. It makes perfect sense to me why I would call Molly “Bugger Lugs”. Some days she definitely suits “Mucky Clogs”. I have had some bewildered looks from people as I have shared these tales. That said I am kind of used to that.

The conversation has brought some wonderful memories to my heart and mind, of those tales my grandad used to tell me, most I couldn’t repeat here. As well as other tales that my dad and or aunties and uncles used to tell. Most of them make me smile broadly these days, although not always.

Autumn and especially late October and early November is the season of remembering and remembrance. This seems to have been the case throughout human history.

Do you remember the old English Rhyme “Remember, remember the 5th of November, the Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!

I won’t recite the full verse as it gets pretty dark and grim. Those old rhymes often did. Poetry and song are pretty tame these days, in comparison to days gone by. Modern life is pretty tame, when compared to the past. As my other grandad used to say, “There is no such thing as the good old days.”

This last week has marked the beginning of the season of remembrance. Remembrance is far more than simply remembering, its about bringing memory to life. We marked All Hallows Eve or Halloween on 31st October, All Saints Day on 1st November and on 2nd November All Souls Day, a time in the Christian Calendar to remember all souls who have departed this life.

Like other Christian festivals, including Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, these three autumn days are a fascinating mixture of pre-Christian, Christian and even post-Christian tradition and mythos. I am fairly certain that the children who were going door at Halloween were probably not aware that they were creating a modern day variant on the pre-Christian festival of Samhain; a festival that not only celebrated harvest, but was also a time to commune with spirits of ancestors. There are similar traditions throughout most culture's, autumnal and winter festivals. Autumn is a time of reflection, a time to take stock before the harsh realities of winter come.

Halloween in the north of England is something that is marked, at least in a secular way, far more these days than I remember in my earlier childhood. When I was a child it was Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night that took on greater significance. I don’t really remember going “Trick or Treating”, until a significant film came out in 1982 and then everything seemed to change. The film was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. One of the most commercially successful films of all time and one that changed something significantly, certainly in my life and perhaps the culture of the North of England. I recall, as many others did, that after this going door to door, trick or treating replaced the tradition of going “Door to Door” asking for “a penny for the guy” and of course “Mischievous Night”. It seems that these traditions all got swallowed up with “Trick or Treating”. “Mischievous Night”, at least in Yorkshire, came on the 4th November and was linked to the “Gunpowder Plot” and “Fireworks Night” that is marked today, the 5th of November. Things could get pretty wild on “Mischievous Night” and some, I’m sure, are glad to see that it has pretty much been lost to history. You do hear of little pockets of it in Liverpool and Leeds, but mainly it has gone the way of the Dodo and been replaced by “Trick or Treating”. There’s a part of me that wishes this wasn’t true. I remember the thrill of getting up to no good with friends and of hearing similar tales of other friends who were far more daring than I. I remember a particular exciting time with my cousin Charlton who sadly died earlier this year. The thrill and the excitement of those childhood days have been in my heart this year. I also remember my granddad telling me of things he and his mate Percy used to get up to. I remember the delight in this night of freedom that the children used to be granted. A freedom that I fear children of today do not enjoy. Maybe that is not a bad thing. We see enough to be frightened, to fear on the daily news each and every day.

I was recalling such adventures with a young friend this week. She was telling me of the joy of going pumpkin picking with her family. A tradition that continues into her adulthood. It sounds like a lovely experience. She was utterly bewildered as I and another friend recounted tales of our youth. As I had been listening to tales of my grandads.

These memories mean so much to me. I know there are gems there and they help me to truly appreciate the life I have now. A life made richer by those that have blessed it. Yes, there is much pain there, but there is also deep love. So many gifts and blessings.

Remember, remember…

Memories are snapshots of life. Moments that stay with us. It always fascinates me how these memories take shape and form and often reshape as time goes by; it amazes me how these memories seemingly re-incarnate as time goes by. We should not fear our memories, they are precious in so many ways, and it is these very memories that make the present moment truly come alive. I have discovered that sometimes you can lose some of the true richness of the moment by becoming purely engrossed in it. That might sound like a counter intuitive thing, but I think not.

By the way please do not get me wrong I am not rejecting the power of the present moment, quite the opposite actually. What I am suggesting is there is a greater power in bringing the present moment alive by enriching it with our whole selves. It’s a kind of active experience of the present moment. It’s about opening our whole selves up to the present moment and not just passively experiencing what is there. It’s about wholly living in the moment and then carrying that snapshot of the moment into the future. It’s about truly living on the threshold of life. The truth is of course that this is how we are always living, on the threshold of something, as one moment ends another begins.

Memory is a funny thing. It is amazing what we remember and what we cannot remember, how memory can be so very selective. Memory also changes over time. My memory or do I mean my perspective on past events in my life, have changed over time.

Remember, remember…

Remember’ literally means to ‘re-member’; to put back together that which has been torn apart. In some way remembering has a similarity to ‘religion’, which means ‘to rebind together’. Both are about seeking after a wholeness, and isn’t that what we are about most of the time?”

For so long I used to say I could not remember much about my childhood and the things that I could remember caused me either pain or embarrassment. I thank God this is no longer the case. It would seem that I was always on the run and you really cannot live like that. I also had a lot of trouble remembering much of my adult life too. It was fear that stopped me doing so. I was frightened of reconnecting with these memories. I was frightened of re-feeling these memories. I was ruled by a fear of resentment.

These days memory and remembering has become so very important to me. Every year I gain a different perspective on my past which helps me live better in the present moment and opens up the future in fascinating ways.

Memory is a funny thing.


I was reminded this week of someone else who came into my life for a short period of time some 20 years. They inspired me, they lit something in me and changed me forever. Something I ought not ever forget. It brought to mind those wonderful words of Albert Schweitzer, they have been singing in my heart all week.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

There are many people who have inspired me, who have lit the flame, when all was dark, there are many who have taught me life enhancing, nay life changing things. Something I thought deeply of at this weeks “All Souls” service. A time to remember those who have touched our hearts but who are no longer physically with us. There are so many souls who have inspired me and who continue to do even though they have long gone. I have to say I was quite emotional after the service this week. I was glad I was able to spend time alone afterwards. Grief and the love at the heart of it run so deep. S many souls have lit the flame, have inspired me.

Now “Inspire” is one of those words, like so many in common usage, that has been reduced in meaning as time has gone by. We have reduced its power as our lives have become secularised. It originally meant “immediate influence of God”, especially with reference to the writing of a Holy book. Coming from the French “inspiracion meaning “inhaling, breathing in inspiration”, coming from the Latin “inspirare” meaning to breath in, to inflame. To inspire means to breath upon, to blow into, to excite, to inflame, to affect, to arouse, but to do so through spirit or soul, it is a Divine activity. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that when we inspire others we are engaging in Divine activity. To inspire others is to engage in one of the highest forms of love, as it is Divine love in human action.

Everyone we meet, and everything that we absorb through our senses can be an inspiration. Those that have inspired us, awakened something within us, helped us to become the people that we are today. As we enter the season of Remembrance perhaps, we ought to remember all these people and dedicate our lives to create acts of Remembrance from the love they inspired in us. In so doing we will inspire future generations and those struggling around us to become all that they can be. In so doing our lives will become worth dying for by the legacies of love that we leave behind.

Remember, remember…

May it be so.


Below is a video devotion based on the material in this "blogspot"