Blackpool

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.

 

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When Write Is Wrong

The same thing happens every time. Whenever I find myself in Waterstones, when I’m not there to pick up anything in particular but just to lose myself amongst the shelves, I pick up a fiction book, read a few lines, and think to myself, ‘I need to start writing.’ Then, in comparing, I realise that my writing is affected, full of pretension and hyperbole.

In contrast, these lines that I read are not fleshy but stark and sparing, dragged out from the marrow and offered up for the cardinals to kiss.

See, there I go again.

St. Mary’s Snows

St. Mary’s Snows

Christ on the cross
in a swirling maelstrom.

Nuns 
whirling dervishes
spinning immaculate
washing line 
robes,

gathering up blind children
in night's under-wing,
talons flexed,
stripping veiling rags
from the bright
assailant.

Wild revenants flee
the howling smoke-rings 
of dilating eyes,

quickly absolving me
of my mundanity
in this Roman Catholic reverie.

Suddenly, suddenly.


©AJM

Bite Size

I spotted this on Facebook, in a neat little moment of synchronicity. I’ve just started reading Skarlet, which is the first of Thomas Emson’s Vampire Trinity series, and I’ve also been enjoying The Strain on tv. I really don’t know how I sleep at night.

Your little bit of escapism doesn’t always have to be highbrow, you know.

Anyway, have a great Friday evening people. Don’t go too heavy on the garlic.

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R.I.P Alan Henning

So the news broke that everybody had been dreading: Alan Henning had been killed in the most hideous way by his Islamic State extremist captors.

Here in Manchester  we heard the condemnations from an international perspective, and the response from a national perspective, but also we witnessed the local reaction, as Alan came from Manchester, or to be more precise, Salford. Among the many comments that came pouring out, amidst the anger and upset, were the platitudes for a man who died doing what he was most passionate about-helping those in need. In a vigil at the local church, Reverend Cyprian Yobera told the congregation “In one way you could look at it that Alan was taking some light to a dark place….”

Family, friends, colleagues and strangers waxed lyrical in heartfelt tributes to a man who had gone to Syria on an aid mission, a man who was moved to act by the suffering and welfare of others.

But also could be heard, by a smaller minority, the observation that Alan had been warned not to go as he would be in very real danger of being kidnapped or harmed, which is ultimately what happened. Valid perhaps though this view is, I have heard a couple of remarks that Alan Henning died because of arrogance-arrogance that he chose to ignore the warnings given and went ahead on his mission regardless. I think that is going too far-to call a man arrogant because perhaps his courage of compassion far exceeded his fear of personal harm.

Martin Luther King received constant death threats, but these did not deter him from leading the civil rights movement. His eventual murder did not make him arrogant. Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to return to his native Germany, less than two years after seeking sanctuary in America, knowing the risks that awaited him there. His execution in 1945 does not make his act one of arrogance. Both of these men knew the risk that they were undertaking, but the strength of their convictions in doing what they perceived to be right caused them to continue.

You, the reader, can no doubt think of countless others who have sacrificed themselves in such a way throughout history. For every one of these noted individuals, there must be thousands of others, maybe known only locally, who so acted in such a similar, selfless manner.

If all altruistic action was abandoned out of fear, where then would we be? What state would humanity find itself in? Although undoubtedly his family and loved ones are hurting, I admire Alan’s actions borne out of a compassion that is far more courageous than my own.

Among the many tributes in my local newspaper, sent in both by people who knew him and by people who had never met him, this one caught my eye:

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.

My thoughts and prayers are with all other hostages still in captivity throughout the world, and with their families, and also with the brave people who make the choice to continue in trying to make a difference, despite everything.

 

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Diving for rose petals

Andy:

For all you dog lovers, a short, moving post here from Lady Fi.

Originally posted on Lady Fi:

Many many thanks for all your wonderful messages of sympathy on Oscar’s passing. It has meant a lot to me.

This week I went down to Oscar’s favourite place, the jetty on our lake,

And threw some rose petals into the water as a way of honouring my furry friend.

Ruby, who is Oscar’s great-granddaughter, and who we have been fostering for the past nine months,

Decided to honour Oscar in his favourite activity: diving into the lake.

Ruby rose petals copy

She carefully retrieved one of the roses

And placed it on the jetty.

Bright colours copy

We sat for a while

Enjoying the autumn scenery and good memories of Oscar.

I’d say that a part of him lives on in Ruby, who is now our own dog.

Ruby on pier copy

Be warned: you might see more pictures of wet (and dry) dogs here on my blog after all!

Big brown eyes copy

For more good memories, please visit: Our World Tuesday.

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The Forecast Is Wet And Windy Outside, Stormy Inside

Autumn has come roaring in with a vengeance, blasting away all notions of an Indian Summer.

Sixty miles per hour winds, pouring rain, and I could not find my waterproof coat anywhere. I had the kids all wrapped up to brave the elements this morning, but my own efforts to withstand the October onslaught were seriously hampered. I left it to the last possible moment before we left on the school run, but the jacket was nowhere to be found. As it was, I had to fall back on a fairly typical soak-me-up-and-wring-me-out coat that put up a resistance for all of five minutes.

Buffeted by the winds, as fellow pedestrians struggled with umbrellas turning inside out, my two children and I made the challenging trek into school. Along the way we had to navigate the Puddle Of Doom. This is a stretch of water that gathers in the road by a bus stop whenever it rains, and when cars plough through it it creates a splash of up to five feet high. I kid you not.

So it is all about the timing. We wait until there is a gap in the traffic and then we run along the pavement hoping to pass it before another car comes along.

Of course, the kids love it!

It looks something like this photograph here, only you cannot see the absolute joy radiating on my face as I experience this beautiful season.

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I managed to get them to school in a fairly presentable state, still bemoaning the fact that I did not have my waterproof amidst growing suspicions that my wife may have sold it or threw it out, then made the journey back, involving another sprint past the Puddle Of Doom as a car appeared to speed up,  the driver no doubt attempting to chalk off his first hit of the day.

I got back soaked, my jeans, boxers, jumpers, socks, everything. 

Next I walked the dog, which I normally do at 7.30 but had delayed, reasoning that if both I and the house, because of the dog, is going to get wet, I may as well do it all in one go. I gave our Golden Retriever the shortest walk on record, then dried him with an old towel we use especially for him and the kitchen floor that he skates in on.

Finally I could get out of my wet clothes. My useless jacket and hat went on the bathroom radiator, above my leaking boots, and I swapped my jeans and boxers for dry ones. I dried my hair (yes my hat was also similarly useless) and made myself a hot cup of tea-one of the last remnants of English civility.

At that point, as I sat down, my wife sent me a text, asking if I could nip into town to pick some things up for her.

Ha ha ha-I laughed all the way to Divorce Court.