Category Archives: Lifestyle

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

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Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

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The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

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The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

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The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Effective Time Management

Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.

You can grasp the important essentials of effective time management in 20 minutes ~ living with it, really using your time wisely and to your own best advantage, well that takes a little more work.

So, just what is this time management thing?   Effective time management ~ it’s all about making a little go a long way.  It’s about improving the way in which you use the 86,400 seconds you get every single day.  Time management is about doing away with; displacement activities, delay, deviation, distractions, hesitation, indecision, indulgence, procrastination, repetition, sloth, stress, tardiness, and waste.

I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.  ~  Louis E. Boone.

Effective time management is all about doing the important things, at the right time, and spending the right amount of time on them.  Like everything good and important in life, effective time management is also about control, restraint, and self-discipline.  What time management is not about is making certain that you are doing the right things ~ that’s something else entirely, something we will talk about at a later date.

You already know the basic techniques for effective time management, it’s just that you never use them.  So here’s what you should do, from now on, every single damn day.

  1. Make a list.  Start with a to-do list.  These are the things you should / must / want to do today.  (Actually, tomorrow, because you should start writing your to-do list the night before.)  You can even buy a ready-made to-do list App, packed with colourful features and supposed benefits.  Don’t bother to waste your time and money.  Get a notebook, or just some sheets of paper, and write down what you need to do.  You can use different colours for different categories or importance of tasks if you like.  Personally, I merely number things, in order of importance.
  2. Cross tasks off your list only when they’re completely done and tangibly, measurably delivered, and then forget all about them and move onto the next task with a clear mind.
  3. Do the worst / most unpleasant / most important things first.  Getting the nasty stuff out-of-the-way early in the day makes the rest of the day both easier and much more enjoyable.
  4. Make more lists.  These extra lists are for sub-tasks.  For example your to-do list may say ‘do grocery shopping’ ~ so you need a shopping list, (never, never, ever go into a store without a list of what you want / need / would like to buy).
  5. Break big and unwieldy tasks down into smaller and more manageable bits.  This is called chunking, and it can be used in all kinds of situations.
  6. Keep a journal.  As well as writing down what has happened and how you feel about it, you can also use your journal as a detailed day planner, and as a place to plan and manage future events / tasks / projects.  Properly used a journal will stop you turning up for things unprepared / on the wrong day / without your passport.
  7. Avoid meaningless distractions.  These come in all kinds of shapes, but the most insidious and pointless time-wasting evil right now is social media.  If you use social media at work, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or during your lunch break, then stop it.  You are just wasting time while turning your brain into mouldy dough.
  8. Take regular breaks.  Just sitting at your desk for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is not the way to be productive.  Worse than that, sitting at your desk for long periods is literally killing you.
  9. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  If you are tired and irritable you are also unfocused and unproductive.
  10. Develop good regular habits.  If you can run part of your day on auto-pilot, if doing some routine essential tasks becomes a habit, you are saving a hell of a lot of time and mental energy for the really difficult stuff.
  11. Learn how to say NO!  Agreeing to things that are unimportant / meaningless / we don’t want to do anyway, uses up a huge amount of our time, mental effort, and spiritual energies.  Along with that, drop people who waste your life and suck up your energies.
  12. Multi-task the routine stuff.  For example, prepare dinner while the bath is running, and let it cook while you’re soaking away the aches and pains of the day.  But be wary, multi-tasking doesn’t work for important stuff.

And then there is the tricky and oh so important number 13.

13. STOP DICKING AROUND.  There a billion things you could do instead of actually doing the stuff you really want to do, should do, need to do, absolutely must do.  Recently I read where a guy got sacked for spending all day at work looking at internet porn on his cell phone ~ if that’s not a definition of dicking around then I don’t know what is.

All of this is pretty much common sense, actually you knew most of this already, so why aren’t you using these good practices?  Probably because you’ve been lazy, lacking in self-discipline, or you think that ordinary rules and good advice don’t apply to you.  Well, let me tell you, little sister, you’d better shape up if you want that good quality, rewarding, spiritual, healthy life you’ve been promising yourself.

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.  ~  Pablo Picasso

Procrastination doesn’t cut it.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

The Question

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you are who

and what you are

in whichever world this is

why are you even here with me

why do we exist in this life of tears

why do we travel through a vale of travails

and when we get there how will we know

that is where we are supposed to be

am I fleeting just passing through

and why am I here with you

wherever this perplexing

strange darkling place

is supposed to be

who are you

?

~

words and pictures by jack collier

jackcillier7@talktalk.net

Scenes on Sunday ~ Cruel Sea

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hard reflective winter mirror

no acceptance nor understanding

presaging her cold bitterness

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words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Never being sorry

Sorry is not enough ~ sometimes you have to change.

What is a real and genuine apology?  It’s an acknowledgement and acceptance that one has done something wrong.  An apology is also an acceptance and acknowledgement of responsibility for the hurt one has caused, and a pledge to change one’s ways in the future.  A real and genuine apology is an expression of guilt, regret, remorse, and a pledge to try harder to do better in the future.  A real and genuine apology is not merely a platitude in order to placate the aggrieved party.

Feeling guilty is not a substitute for loving somebody; it is only an indicator that you have failed to love somebody.  ~  Clifford Cohen.

Sometimes just saying that you’re sorry will not do.  Ofttimes an apology is only an empty gesture made to ‘keep the peace’.  Sometimes the things that we do and say, the books we read, the movies we like, the people we listen to, sometimes these things reveal a deeper truth and our glib apologies are shown for the fatuous banalities they so often are.  An oft quoted line from John Wayne movies is; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness…’  A greater truth would have been if his character had said; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s meaningless…’

If we are truly dedicated to the truth, and if we have good inside us, then we should never need to apologise, because we will never do anything so bad that we need to say ‘sorry…’  However, we Englishmen are prone to apologise, to say sorry all the time.  If you tread on my toe, I will naturally say sorry.  If you barge into me because you’re not looking where you’re going, I will naturally say sorry.  Any English Gentleman of my generation has been brought up to be polite, to always show exemplary manners, to show women and girls the utmost respect.  To mind one’s language, never swear in front of women and children, to be careful of the topics we discuss for fear of giving offence.  And, an Englishman should never, ever, talk about; God, women we have ‘known’, how much money we make, and politics ~ not even with our closest friends.  Englishmen regard politicians with utter contempt, and we extend that contempt to anyone who dares to lecture us on religion, or political matters, or how to make money, or how to be successful with women, or what the English do ‘wrong’.

A side effect of the English ideal of ‘Good Manners’ is that we look askance at most American men, and would rather not include any boorish American men in our circle of friends.  The average Englishman doesn’t think the average American guy is a ‘good person’.  Sometimes this means that even a cool, calm, patiently understanding Englishman will get angry with Americans.  Recently we Englishmen have been quite annoyed / furious at Clinton, (both of them), Obama, Trump, Meryl Streep, and anyone who dares to lecture us about terrorism on English soil. Conversely, of English politicians we like Boris Johnson, (whom most Americans dislike intensely).

 In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix must first burn.  ~  Octavia E. Butler.

If an Englishman does get angry, then usually, after a while, his innate ‘good common-sense’ returns like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and he will attempt to rebuild burned bridges, to forgive and forget, to understand and accept.  Disagreeing with the things people say, and then getting angry about it, is not the mark of a good man.  There is a saying; ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the Death your right to say it…’  Voltaire I think.  I prefer the pithier and more honest; ‘You’re right, but I don’t agree…’  We may have to dig deep, but a real English Gentleman will eventually find the fountain of good within himself.

Look within.  Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig.  ~  Marcus Aurelius

I may like, care about, and respect some people in spite of their opinions, the things they do, the things they have done, and the things they are planning to do ~ even if I am hurt or profoundly disagree with their opinions and actions.  After all, I cannot change what happens to me, I can only change how I respond and react.  It matters not one iota whether another person ever feels the need to apologise when they have clearly been wrong and hurtful ~ after all, one should never apologise, it’s meaningless.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Your Ultimate Truth

There is a warrior’s path to the end of suffering.

In my life I have been lost, often alone, and sometimes in pain.  I have been down and disappointed, I have been beaten by misfortune, I’ve been so tired and despairing I could not eat or sleep, I’ve been crushed by unrequited love, I wanted things that were always out of reach, and I was so lonely I cried bitter tears.  Then I found a guiding star to wish to, and that bright star led me to a good place of freedom from pain and suffering.  Now I can cross broad oceans, climb tall mountains, see the far horizons.

Now I can experience true friendship and real love.

Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards, and leads us from this world to another.  ~  Plato

You too can find your star to wish upon and to follow, if only you are prepared to search both the heavens and deep within yourself.

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a supercomputer reveals that the ultimate answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42.

The answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe, and Everything… Is… Forty-Two.  ~  Deep Thought

This was meant as a joke, 42 was just a random number picked out of thin air by Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Allegedly.  However it turns out that the number forty-two has symbolism and special meanings in a whole raft of philosophies, religions, and magical convictions.  Forty-two is a highly symbolic number slipped into a work of fiction, seemingly by accident, or coincidence.

However, despite what some may say, there is an answer, a simple answer to Life.

If we are to believe numerology then 42 is an Angel Number, and the energies of this number bring us an inner-wisdom to help us pursue our Life Purpose.  To pursue your Life Purpose, then first you must realise that the true purpose of your life is to live and to grow ~ to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, in health and happiness.  That may be a long, long way from where you find yourself right now.

In order to get to where you want to go, you first have to know two things;

  • Exactly where you are right now.
  • Exactly where it is you want to get to.

You don’t need to know the road in-between, that will become only too apparent on your journey to your ultimate truth.

If you are anything like I used to be, then where you are right now could be unhealthy, unsatisfying, and depressing.  There may be no real joy and happiness in your life.  You may see no way out, even though you have sought relief and escape through religion, inspirational books, motivational speakers, support groups, counsellors, psychologists, doctors, medication, booze, street drugs, gambling, casual sex…

None of those escape routes will work for long, and the consequences of some methods of escape from hard reality just make things much worse.  I know, before I found my own ultimate truth, my own warrior’s path, I tried just about every quick fix there is.

There are more false prophets than there are those inspired by an ultimate truth.

Taking the wrong road through self-destructive behaviour leads to one rock-bottom after another, and each new rock-bottom is worse than the one before.

There are no quick fixes in Life, and nobody can fix you but you.

The Ultimate Truth is this;  Life is Difficult and Painful.

Once you are prepared to recognise that truth, once you are prepared to accept, appreciate, and understand that Life is Difficult and Painful, then you can transcend all pain and suffering.  You can take your first step on the warrior’s path to freedom from desolation and misery.

The first step in any journey is always the hardest.  It will mean uncertainty, leaving your comfort zone, doing things that seem unnatural, and at first it may seem just as painful as the misery you’re trying to leave behind.  But, you have to know this ~ follow the warrior’s path and things will get better.  Your life will become even better than you could ever have imagined it could be.

The first step is to recognise and accept that you are the cause of your own unhappiness.  Whatever the proximate cause of your misery and unhappiness, be it alcoholism, gambling, an abusive relationship, or whatever is your personal purgatory, the ultimate cause of your pain is your own need for instant gratification.  We must to accept that the causes of all our problems and unhappiness are our own cravings, desires, wants, lusts, needs, and our blaming of others when things don’t go the way we want them to.

The path to freedom from suffering and pain is through self-discipline in body, mind and spirit.  This is the ultimate answer to Life, our Psychological Cosmos, and Everything.

Self-discipline is hard, it means not taking that next drink, not having that next cigarette, not overeating, not placing our happiness in the hands of another.  Self-discipline means turning up for work on time, getting enough good quality sleep, getting enough fresh air and exercise.  Self-discipline means not blaming others for our misfortunes, not spending money we don’t have, not allowing ourselves to become infatuated with someone who will never truly return our affections.  Self-discipline is what will free you from pain, misery, and the teachings of false prophets.

You don’t need the hurt anymore, and you don’t need the pain in your life.  I promise you that if you accept and understand that you can’t ever change what happens to you, but you can change what you do, then your shadows will turn into warm sunlight.  Don’t ever allow yourself to give in to your craving for instant gratification, have the patience to appreciate, accept,and understand yourself, trust in yourself and not in others, and your life will get better.  Your whole life will improve very fast, and it will be better than you have ever dreamed possible.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ Sheet Pan

Eating is a Necessity, but cooking is an Art.

If you don’t have a sheet pan, get one.  It’s a super way to cook an easy and healthy meal in about 30 minutes, especially a sheet pan midweek dinner, especially if you’re a very busy person trying to hold down a full-time job as well as have a real life.

Chungah at Damn Delicious has some great sheet pan recipes, sheet pan garlic butter shrimp, sheet pan steak and fries, and this one, sheet pan garlic butter salmon.  Looks nice for a healthy dinner.  I know my friend in Southern California would lake me to make this for her sometime.

Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Salmon

Cool San Diego girl Averie, of Averie Cooks also likes 30 minute sheet pan dishes like this sheet pan Italian chicken and vegetables, sheet pan orange chili salmon, and Averie also has another salmon dish, sheet pan honey lemon salmon.  If you like honey, then this dish is for you, particularly if you live in SoCal and have a lemon tree in your yard.

Sheet Pan Honey Lemon Salmon

Found for us by How Sweet It Is we now have a recipe from Alyssa at The Recipe Critic; Thai Glazed Salmon and Vegetables ~ another delicious 30 minute recipe ~ and just how cool is that?

Thai Glazed Salmon and Vegetables

From Kansas City girl Katherine at Cookie and Kate we have this vegan and gluten free balsamic butternut, kale and cranberry panzanella.  Enjoy.

Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella

This is different, damn easy, and so damn fast.  From Karen at Honestly Yum we have sweet potato nachos ~ made with chips in 3 minutes….  well maybe 10 minutes all together.  If you want to graze or snack in front of the TV with a beer or glass of wine then these are for you.

Sweet Potato Nachos

This is a meal to gladden the heart of any true Englishman; found for us by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes we have sheet pan fish and chips from Boston cook Sheryl Julian.  Brilliant!

Sheet Pan Fish and Chips

I hope you’ve realised by now that a sheet pan is your new secret weapon ~ if your busy, and don’t really have time to cook, then try one of these 20 sheet pan suppers you’ll love, found just for you by Becca DiCenso at Eat This, Not That.  I like the look of this chimichurri chicken and potato sheet pan meal from Dara at Cookin’ Canuk, and how about one pan honey roasted turkey and vegetables from Katie Jasiewicz at Katie’s Cucina?

One Pan Honey Roasted Turkey and Vegetables

~

thanks ever so to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

love of a friend

~

rainbows that arch in the sunlight

with colours that gracefully blend

a voice in the peace of the night

soft with real love for a friend

my lady, I am your knight

~

words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

springtime colours

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vernal freshness efflorescence clear bright fresh light

transforms azure to cerulean and scattered enigmatic white

yet the verdant ground throws still skeletal branches coldly black

~

words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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