Big World Small Boat

Private Diary of A Priest. OK, so we're not all angels...Everyone needs a place to get things off their chest! And yes, I do talk to God about it all! Even He has a sense of humour! Want proof? Well, he made me, didn't He? Oh, one last thought-If you don't like what I've written, please keep in mind - it's MY diary. Go write your own!

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Location: England, United Kingdom

I've been serving children in crisis for over twenty five years. My goals are not to raise money, but to find organisations and individuals who can help change lives! What may be outdated equipment for you could change the life of a child in Eastern Europe! To learn more please visit our site at:


Meet Me At The Plaza!

'Nothing Unimportant Ever Happens At The Plaza.'

What brilliant use of a double negative! It’s a marketing tag line used by The Plaza Hotel in New York City thirty years ago.
Recently, Christie’s held the closing auction for the remnants of the world’s most famous hotel, in anticipation of her glorious rebirth as a half-hotel/half-condominium for the nouveau riche. (The noveau pauvre moved across the street to the Sherry Netherland)! Sold in lots were The Plaza’s ornate chandeliers, the heavy polished brass door knobs, embossed with the unique double P logo, mirrors, fixtures, ash trays, and what remaining silver plate that hadn’t been carted off in the open house sale that was held at the hotel last year.

The Plaza, one of the only hotels in the world where you could either hail a taxi or a horse drawn carriage, catered to the most diverse clientèle in the world, ranging from the wealthiest of society, such as the Vanderbilt’s, all the way down to …well…me I suppose.

I could wax lyrical for weeks about my own memoirs of The Plaza and how she's weaved in and out of my life, but anyone who has stayed there will have their own profound memories. The Plaza became an indelible fibre of my memories during my childhood and she has remained there for me throughout my life. It was the first telephone number I memorised as a child (PLaza 9-3000).
She was the perfect rendezvous point for any occasion, whether it was a simple breakfast in the Edwardian Room overlooking Central Park and Fifth Avenue, to an enjoyable chat with friends in the Oak Bar, followed by a fun dinner downstairs in Trader Vics. And if you wanted a place to enjoy after theatre, there was nothing like heading to New York’s only remaining Palm Court for hot chocolate and canapés.
I can't begin to count all the experiences I had and friendships that developed with people whom I certainly never 'deserved' to know, but to this day remain 'discreet' friends with. Black and White Balls, a sheik who had a live sheep delivered to his suite, (which fascinated me to no end), incredible rows I overheard and sometimes witnessed, as their battles moved out into the hallways, and a plethora of people who live in the balance between fame and infamy-they all formed the life and blood of this incredible grande dame.
The flickering fairy lights of their lanterns, as children ice-skated in Central Park at night, were among my first young memories, when my father held me out of the window from our suite overlooking the corner of Central Park and Fifth Avenue. And as my life progressed, just as with anyone else's life, my experiences ran the width and breadth of the hotel's room inventory.
From the 'Inside' Rooms, (which was an euphemism for facing the air-shaft), to the Park 'Views,' where you would have to stand on top of the radiator in order to have a glimpse of the park, my father's & my 'Résidence de choix, Suite 714, which comprised a large sitting room on the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park South, a large bedroom on the CPS side, and a small 'servant's' room leading to the sitting room, but although facing 5th Avenue, there was no window at all! And so my life travelled, all the way to Julius Monk's suite on the 18th floor. I've been fortunate to breathe part of The Plaza's breath. And whether it was a Swordfish steak in the Oyster Bar, or my 'signature' Coca Cola's with two cherrys, downstairs in the Plaza 9 nightclub with my father, every corner of the hotel embraced me like an autumn jumper, all the while whispering to me that I was at home.

It was The Plaza that stood as the setting when I fell in love…several times, as I recall. (a couple of times may only have been prickly heat). But there’s nothing to compare with the experience many years later, of feeling your eyes moisten with adoration and love, as you watch your daughter sip her hot chocolate amidst the splendour of the Palm Court. 
Just as with so many life stories, The Plaza had many highs and lows. Even through my childish eyes and perceptions of good taste, I cringed to watch the Edwardian Room be destroyed by the Sonesta Group, when they painted the walls gleaming white and hauled in wrought iron heart-shaped chairs, turning the most famous corner in the world into an ice cream boutique. And I rejoiced when Westin took over the property, vowing to restore the hotel to her original ‘tasteful’ state. (and they did!) But only to watch her again fall prey to the Real Estate pimps and end up being managed by a woman who was a cross between Zsa Zsa Gabor and Leona Helmsley!

The Plaza was always a vanguard in my life; my youth, my celebrations of living: love, birth, and even deaths. She will always remain among the fibres of my heart.

And with my children sitting beside me as I write this, I can indeed confirm:
Nothing Unimportant Ever Happened At The Plaza!

Plaza Hotel Big World Small Boat..

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What's Middle Age?

What’s middle age? When do we become middle aged? Or what age are we when we become old?

According to the Irish Humorist John D. Sheridan, ‘No one is old at 39 and life begins again at 41, but at 40 a man feels as old as Methuselah.’ He lies awake at night listening to the gurgling of the water cistern and thinking of his hardening arteries.

Then clearly, at 50 there's no way back! The thirties have gone forever. The forties passed you by so fast your head spun. And now you might feel like asking for a recount but there is no point, for somehow the 50th birthday is presented as a day of judgement.

Although there's nothing special about one birthday any more than another, there remains the implication that if the idealism of youth has not become a reality, or at least a probability by the age of 50, then somehow or other, we have failed to make much of life.

Middle age, like middle class, comes as a stigma - a sentence of 25 years or so with remissions for good behaviour: sensible diet, lots of fibre, and more ordered exercise, but a sentence none the less, and one that reminds us of the half measures of our lives. Lives which are neither too good or too bad, compromising vision with reality, but somehow acknowledging that in the end it is an unequal struggle and that a rising generation will now have to compensate for our deficiencies. God help them!

One of the advantages of this stage of life however is the ability to look both backwards and forwards, with a fair amount of sympathy and understanding. I certainly understand the challenges my own children face in today’s society. And my senses are deeply damaged and enraged, as I witness the daily carnage of human life so joyfully thrust upon us on television. Thirty years ago, I might have turned my head away and focused on other things.

Yes, being ‘middle aged’ provides the chance for one of those rare moments of total honesty when we place our values and lives in the balance, when we can choose to discard some of the excess baggage we have carried, and move on with greater freedom and a greater sense of purpose into another age.

Would I like to be able to correct the mistakes I made in my youth? I’m not certain that I would, because without having made them I would not be who I am today. Would I like to have my youth back? Well, only if I could retain all the battle scars I carry today with pride: because without the maturity of mind and soul I might only be reckless energy. Heaven knows we already have plenty of that to go around.

In other words, thank You Lord, no. Leave me with the tools I carry today, as they are the ones that are preparing me for my new life to come.

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