How is this for a photobomb?
My wife won’t let me grow a beard. I’ve had the same haircut since my schooldays, (though it is getting progressively thinner), and I wanted to do something different.
Jen: “You’re not growing a beard!”
Me: “Why not?”
Jen: “Because you won’t suit one.”
Me: “How do you know until you see me in one?”
Jen: “I don’t like beards.”
Me: “It’s my chin!”
Jen: “Well if you grow a beard then I’m going to grow one too.”
Me: “That’s not fair because you’ve got a head start on me.”
Death or divorce, take your pick.
My long-awaited copy of The Northlore Series Volume 1: Folklore arrived today. Just as I was fearing it would be delayed by the Bank Holiday Monday, it was actually delivered today on a Sunday. Who’s ever heard of that before?
In my impatience it seems to have taken forever, but the anthology is now available on Amazon. I have a story included in it called And The Snow Came Down, in addition to a poem entitled Mara, My Love. The book is an eclectic mix of poetry and prose, with some good illustrations too. The book itself looks and feels great-the cool cover design was inspired by Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, for you music aficionados in the know.
It is available on Kindle also, but books like this explain why I am such a bibliophile.
I’m quite proud to have my work included in this collection, both my poem and my very first published fiction. For anybody who would like a copy, I include the Amazon link below.
Happy Reading! Don’t feed the animals!
Earlier this week we went to the opening night of To Kill A Mockingbird at the Lowry Theatre. The Lowry is in Salford. I always think, a little irrationally, of Salford as Manchester. But Salford is Salford, separated from Manchester by the river Irwell. Some think this fact important, not least half of the local football fans.
But anyhow, we are neighbours.
I must have have been attending the play with the only two people in the audience, if not the world, who have not read the book: my wife and a friend. So I gave them a brief synopsis on the way, checking in the rear view mirror for the slightest hint of any eye-rolling, telling them that I would ask questions afterwards. Hard task master that I am.
On reaching the theatre, I asked my wife what the name of the family cook and housekeeper was. I figured that ‘Calpurnia’ was unusual and exotic enough to either stick in her memory, or be totally beyond her recall. Her reply gave me something to greet the usher with as she took our tickets at the door:
“Hi, this is my wife. She is very cultured and has read the book six times. She would like to know who is playing Pocohontas?”
I received a dig in the ribs ( from the wife, not the usher), and we took our seats. Thankfully, the play was true to the book, the cast members even reading passages from paperback copies throughout. I guess if the book is considered such a masterpiece, why risk changing things? The only thing added, quite effectively, was a folky soundtrack by Phil King, who sang several pieces accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica.
The child actors were good, and the guy who played Atticus deserves particular mention. It was a great production, and the courtroom scenes were quite powerful, with Atticus addressing us, the audience as the jury. He convinced me. When poor Tom Robinson was found guilty I was tempted to jump to my feet and demand a retrial. Either that or another drink.
At the end, my friend took a surreptitious snap of the cast receiving deserved acclaim.
Feeling like he had broken the law, this is the first time that he doesn’t want a photo credit on my blog. No problem, Derek.
One last little connection on the late journey home: what do you think we listened to on the car radio? Why, Wake Up Boo! by the Boo Radleys, of course. If you don’t understand this, it is high time you read the book. And remember: I will ask questions.
And keep those eyes still.
I am a well known, self-affirmed winter lover. Frosty mornings, gloomy afternoons, and sleet-scourged nights do it for me. Bleak rather than bright is my inspirational kick.
But even I, in my hoary thrall, can appreciate the sights and sounds of the other seasons. I mean, how beautiful is the scene below of our local church, taken last week in all its decorative setting?
The church is just a minute’s walk from my house. Given the right breeze, and the right appreciative eye, some of that blossom could be adding much needed mottled colour to my front garden.
Yes, I acknowledge the spirit-lifting effect that all of this brightness and colour brings, while also decrying the usual urban downsides: the wasps that thwart the kids’ picnics; the drone of the quad bikes; the outdoor parties that stagger on into the early hours. I know, I know, I’m getting old. Ageing along with these seasons, fading with the rhythm that seeps through our concrete sprawl and adds lines to my dry, cracking skin.
As a single entity, Manchester strips herself of her cloak and turns her face to the sun.
And as one of her children, I understand that each season has its own merits and champions. Each, like this very summer, lays claim to our affections with a Johnny-come-lately charm. But, as always, playing hard to get, (even the faithful lover), at the very moment I am feeling the heat on my skin, I turn my face to the north, looking for the first signs of those grey, laden clouds.
But if we have, for the third year running, a largely snow-free winter, then perhaps my fidelity will be severely tested. Until then: come, northern chill, come. Come and caress my soul. Throw me a stanza or two.
(Manchester as woman)
She wakes slowly, takes a while to come around, rubbing her eyes wearily as strangers knock at her door. It is too early to let them in. (Not before she has put her face on.)
But she doesn’t mind them waiting, pacing up and down outside. After all, they have come from all over the world. They all have their particular needs.
She is still working class, at heart. A woodbine dangles from the corner of her mouth as she speaks, her stockings are laddered and torn.
But in public, these days, she’s taken to wearing fancy clothes, adopting airs and graces and chameleon-like traits. A fixed, demure smile hiding those dirty thoughts.
Every now and again, though, the mask slips, old habits and all that, and you find that she’s not averse to flipping you a nicotine-stained finger, or thrusting a broken glass into your unsuspecting face.
They continue to knock, loud and impatient. She gets ready. Ready to flirt coyly over cocktails and crêpes. Ready for the rough hands to slip beneath her frock.
She can court you or fuck you. Claim you or kill you. Wrap you up in promises, or in her own, soiled sheets.
photograph by Derek Bates