A Small Dialogue With Sheryl Crow

I went to see Sheryl Crow last night at an old Manchester nightclub called The Ritz. I first saw her  about twenty years ago, at the Academy. I think the years have been kinder to her than to me. In fact last night she could have been the same Sheryl Crow from two decades ago, except with a greater back catalogue and minus the leather pants that my friend was so enamoured with way back then.

I told my other half that I was going to see Shez Croz, chiefly because she hates it when I call her that.

I have never seen Sheryl Crow rock before, but in her encore she did just that with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll. She also made If It Makes You Happy quite sexy, which is a way I’ve never heard it before.

I saw Dylan once, and he barely said a word throughout the concert, he just closed himself off as if he was playing within his own, private, bubble. Crow from the outset last night had a great rapport with her audience, and of course her comments were directed to me, standing out in the middle of the faceless crowd. Here is a short excerpt of our conversation:

Sheryl:“This is a nice spit and sawdust place you got here.”

Jackdaw:“You should have been here twenty years ago-it was grab a granny night. They’ve still got the same carpet on the stairs.”

Sheryl:“It’s all hot and sweaty.”

Jackdaw:“Sheryl, believe me, you do not want me to take my boots off.”

Sheryl:“Are you all gonna party tonight?”

Jackdaw:“Me and my friend here might be going for a curry.” 

Sheryl:“I have no idea what is going on in the world today. I have two kids, I can tell you everything about kids tv.”

Jackdaw:“Over here that darn Peppa Pig has her own tv channel. It will go straight to her head. The same thing happened with Miley Cyrus.”

Sheryl:“You’ve been great, lovely.”

Jackdaw:“You too-chicks with guitars and all that, but I’m a married man. The wife works in the funeral business, and keeps threatening me with a free funeral.”

After blowing her out, I decided to forego the curry and got a small pizza to take home. Just a small one which was enough for me. But my wife swooped down from her early-night bed and tore two pieces from my grasp. Next time I’m sitting in to eat.

I didn’t mention the other woman.


I know, this photo could be anyone. It could be me in a wig. It could be me without a wig.


The set list for those of you who care about such things:

Maybe Angels
A Change Would Do You Good
All I Wanna Do
My Favorite Mistake
Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely
Real Gone
Can’t Cry Anymore
Best of Times
The First Cut Is the Deepest
(Cat Stevens cover)
Sweet Rosalyn
Anything But Down
Strong Enough
If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up the Sun
Everyday Is a Winding Road
Run, Baby, Run
Rock and Roll
(Led Zeppelin cover)


Sheryl told me to say hello to all you Jackdaw followers out there. Well, I’ve paraphrased her a little, but she and I are quite tight now. See you in Ok! Magazine.

A Sea Of Red

Here are some striking images of the moat of the Tower Of London, filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each one representing a British life lost in the Great War.


I like how they appear to flow down from the castle into a sea of blood.


The name given to this art installation is ‘Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red.’


In this centenary year of remembrance, I think it really is quite effective. Each individual poppy is to be sold to raise money for different charities.



Sometimes, when numbers become, well, just numbers, we need a visual representation to help us appreciate the scale of things. Think of the size of the ocean created if the seas of blood from every, affected, scarred country should run and merge into one.

The Vagabond Book (First To Find It Wins)

I have just finished reading Blackmoor, by Edward Hogan. It is a book neatly summed up by a phrase that comes right near the end of the story: ‘…loss far exhausts blame.’

I picked the book up from a second hand bookstore in Shudehill, Manchester, for the princely sum of £2.

In the middle of the book, placed between two pages, was a cash receipt, for unknown items, from an unknown shop, dated 2010.

2010-four years ago. Was that the last time this particular book had been read before it came into my possession? Had the receipt been placed there to mark out a significant sentence? Was it the place in the novel that the reader had reached, only never to return? Or was it merely the place of a random, forgotten, settling?

On the front, inside cover, was a name written in ink, partly scrawled out. The first name was Jenny, the surname was illegible. Next to the name was written ‘£1.’ Buying the book at such a discounted price didn’t cause me to bemoan the  fact that at some time (maybe four years ago?) the book was sold for half the price that I had paid for it.

On the inside, back cover was written, in pencil, ‘Scope. Whitley Bay.’ So, at some point the book had resided on a charity shop’s crowded shelf in Whitley Bay, some 112 miles away from the Shudehill shop where it had tantalisingly caught my eye. That’s some journey. But there is nothing to indicate that Whitley Bay was its starting point. Had the book been passed along a network of eager hands, finding temporary homes along the way in various refuges such as charity shops, book stores, market stalls, and homes of the erudite?

Kindles are good, they are practical and convenient, reducing space and search time, but with them you don’t have that sense of shared ownership. The compulsive responsibility to pass things on. How many people had held this paperback in their hands before me? Sometimes, though not every time, you get clues. Cash receipts, bus tickets, scrawled names and place names.

This afternoon I added my own contribution to the book, writing ‘Manchester, 2014′ beneath the Whitley Bay legend, and handed it into the RSPCA shop in my home town.

Long may its journey continue.

Imagine one day that I’m browsing in a coffee scented shop, overlooking the sea, down south in Cornwall, or maybe finding respite from the rain up north in Inverness, and I pick up a copy of Blackmoor, maybe moved by nostalgia, or curiosity, or something else that comes into play when you are promoted to act out of instinct, and inside the back cover I find written ‘Scope. Whitley Bay,’ beneath that ‘Manchester, 2014,’ and beneath that a descending list of other place names, and dates, added in chronological and geographical order, providing a traceable route and history all leading to that very place.

How freaky, how amazing, would that be?

Odds, anyone?

Keep looking people-that itinerant book is out there somewhere.



One And One

Lost in their own kaleidoscope of context, they regard each other with a suspicious eye. Curious, and aware of difference and distance.

Checking out each other’s innovations, reluctant to concede the ground.

One receives the baton, wholly unaware, the other passes it on, with regret. And not a little envy, whispering “Good luck,” before they ride away, in their opposite directions.



One last return to that coastal town, and the rain drove in from the Irish Sea, the October wind triumphing in gusts. Sheltered within our crawling car, we witnessed the season stamp its seal through a conquering night, barely held at bay by faltering, neon light. The streets were swept clear, the waves threatened to swamp.

We bid our farewell for the year. The dark rejoiced.