R.I.P Lewis Collins

I was saddened today to learn of the death of Lewis Collins, who lost his five year battle with cancer, aged 67.

He will forever be remembered for the role of Bodie that he played in the iconic The Professionals in the 70’s and 80’s.

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Collins was the ladies’ man that all the girls fancied, and the tough guy that all the boys wanted to be. Alongside Martin Shaw, Bodie and Doyle were our very own  Starsky and Hutch, complete with cool cars. They worked under the dour Cowley-the head of CI5.

I remember having a couple of those cars as a kid, along with every Christmas annual. I even loved the theme tune too. I attained many a bruise rolling over the dining table that doubled as a car bonnet, taking cover behind the kitchen door. It was all in a day’s work for a CI5 operative. Once the dishes had been washed.

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Collins once auditioned to be James Bond, and starred in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins, but never really escaped the character that he brought to life in the cult tv series.

With his death I have lost yet another figure from my childhood. A marker along the way.

R.I.P Bodie. Thanks for the memories.

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Claws for the Weekend:Kids Play

My daughter Millie came out of school a few days ago, gushing about the game she had been playing with her friends. Like all good stories, it is a long-running affair, an episode every lunch time.

Half listening, which I unfortunately sometimes do on the perilous journey home as I navigate the many roads to cross, while keeping a firm grip on her younger brother, I asked her what the game was.

“Well, I am Barbie,

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and Lucy is Barbie’s sister Stacie,

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Evie is my boyfriend Crystal Ken,

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Freya is Barbie’s little puppy dog

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and Lana is the zombie.”

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That’s right:

“I am Barbie, Lucy is Barbie’s sister,Stacie, Evie is my boyfriend Crystal Ken, Freya is my little puppy dog, and Lana is the zombie.”

Perhaps these really are the games our kids play in the Twenty First Century. Although I must admit, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, my first thought would not be:

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Whatever role you play this weekend, be it cute, pigtailed doll or festering walking dead, have a great one.

See you on the flipside.

Teenage Crushed: The Death Of Denial

I reblog this in honour of Agnetha Faltskog, who broke her twenty five year absence from performing live by duetting with Gary Barlow at the Children In Need Rocks concert. You go girl!! Erm, sorry, mature lady!!!

City Jackdaw

You can live in denial all you want, avoiding mirrors and old classmates on the school run with their own kids in tow who are almost as tall as you are now. You can ignore the fact that you now get out of breath going up the stairs, that your face turns crimson whenever you bend to tie your shoelace. That when you pull back the blinds on a winter’s day and see the snow, your first thought is ‘that cold is going to get into my bones’.

You can convince yourself that you haven’t changed since your late teens, that you still feel exactly the same, and in actual fact those carefree times of childhood and school days were not that long ago.

But then this imaginary, self-constructed world gets shattered when something comes along and smashes a thigh length silver boot right through your constructed facade.


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Halloween Retrospective:Jubilee Walk

I don’t normally post a lot of photographs (apart from the old, black and white ones that I try to breathe new life into).  But I do enjoy seeing the ones that other people share, particularly the bloggers in other countries. It gives me a limited sense of their communities. Their lifestyles.

So I thought I would reciprocate. No fancy camera or technique, just a temperamental phone.

On Halloween I went for a walk with my son, ostensibly to give my wife space as she finished cooking food for our buffet, but in reality I think we both were in need of some autumn air. Us guys can only be cooped up so long, you know?

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We went to Jubilee Park, which is a small park in the center of the town in which I live. I don’t know whether it is the exact, geographical center of the town, but it has always felt that way to me. That is how I regard it. Here is the Victorian bandstand, scene of many a trumpeted triumph.

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The building in the background is Middleton library, a building I think I have spent most of my life escaping to and in.

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This is the exedra designed by Edgar Wood. Sounds exotic doesn’t it?

Wood was an architect who now lies buried in Italian soil. There are many buildings locally designed by him that survive. Looming large above it is St.Leonard’s church-the place where my wife and I were married.

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View from the top. At the top of these steps there used to be a fountain, but nobody knows, neither layman nor official, where it now is. Always check your pockets.

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Looking towards the monument which is a memorial to the three people killed in the flood of 1927. (A future post, dear reader.)

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Lost in Autumn. Fun before the fall.

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Fairwell, faltering sun.

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I remember visiting the park with my primary school class. After the flood memorial we were shown this rock. I could not remember the significance of it-the visit was decades ago after all, and the plaque is no longer on it. Pockets again?

My line of thinking was that it was another marker connected to the flood, perhaps an indicator of how high the water rose, or how far it travelled. But I have since been persuaded that it is a rock that has been transported by glaciers in the last ice age. Sounds right..but we could do with a replacement plaque, though, to aid us ignorant people.

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We went into the Old Cemetery above the park-it was Halloween after all.

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Old highways and dieways

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Don’t let night catch you here.

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The forgotten lie underfoot.

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Celtic Circle of Life.

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A hint of heralded Winter.

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The Sam Bamford memorial, a local Radical/Reformer/Poet.

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Damn vandals! They have painted his eyes white and given him black eyelashes. I cannot say it is a generational thing though-I recall seeing this face when I was a teen and some wag had written ‘Dracula Lives’ on his forehead.

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There was an old saying about  the people of Middleton in regard to this church-wooden steeple, stubborn people.

If you were born within earshot of the Nowster bell, you could class yourself as a true Moonraker, a true Middletonian. The mythological term ‘Moonraker‘ came from a folklore tale of two local men trying to rake the reflection of the moon from a pond. Obviously two of the more brighter ones.

St.Leonard’s church is said to date to around the 1100’s, but is thought to be built on the site of an earlier, wooden, Saxon church. Perhaps if you peel back all the layers of Christian worship you would also come to pre-Christian ritual at a pagan temple, as the Christianisation of pagan sites was the custom. Before Christ and his Father God were worshipped here, I wonder who the local Gods and Goddesses were?

There is a hill nearby where it has been suggested a Roman beacon was kept.

Not only do I look at this area as the center point of the town, but also as its most ancient  anchor too.

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Looking towards the cemetery.

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Looking towards The Ring O’Bells pub, reputedly haunted by the sad cavalier.

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Opposite the library, down the hill from the church, is the oldest pub in town, the Olde Boar’s Head, an old 16th century coaching inn. Rumours have always persisted of a tunnel leading from this pub up to the church on the hill, and also from the church to the Ring O’ Bells. (There must be that many passages criss-crossing beneath our feet, we best not jump up and down too often if an orchestra should suddenly strike up in the bandstand.)

Bamford wrote about his father, in the 1800’s, taking part in the stand up fights that frequently occurred in this place. These days you can catch a pub quiz.

Continuing the Halloween theme, there are stories of hauntings associated with this pub too, as there are with any historic building worth its salt.

There are a few other notably old buildings in this immediate area, but for us twilight quickly began to descend, tummies were rumbling, and James insisted he wanted to go home for his ‘Halloween Tea‘ so we called it a day.

As we made to leave, James found a discarded mask on one of the park benches.

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Had Michael Myers nipped into the library to check his Facebook notifications online? Maybe he fancied picking up an Enid Blyton.

James had a great time scaring his poor Dad, but once Dad had a turn, well, let’s just say the peace of the park was suddenly shattered.

A Long History of Serving Life

Came across this great post here which further underlines the points I made in my post London Day Three:Neolithic Glimpses https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/london-day-three-neolithic-glimpses/ about how people with disabilities thousands of years ago were seemingly marked out as different, and treated as being of special status.

Shamamabear's Blog


“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.”

~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

A skeleton was discovered in Dolni Věstonice, an Upper Paleolithic archeological site in the Czech Republic about one hundred miles north of Vienna, Austria. This site was radiocarbon dated to approximately 26,000 years ago. While Dolni Věstonice is now arguably near the geographic center of Europe, during the Upper Paleolithic period, the area was on the edge of the glacial ice. The remains mentioned above were of a woman in her forties–old enough in those days to have been a grandparent. As an elder, she would have been important to her people. Rachel Caspari argued in Scientific American that elderly people were highly influential in prehistoric society. Grandparents assisted in childcare, perpetuated cultural transmission through storytelling and contributed to the increased complexity of stone tools through their practiced experience. In other words, during…

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The Day of the Doctor

Calm down Whovians, we are nearly there!



That’s whovian.

Me toovian.

Eleven days to go. Here’s a taster.

Oh, go on then-for you lot who like continuity. Here is the first trailer, featuring the old Doctors. Continuity can be complicated though, especially when it comes to time travel.

Hold on to your fez.

Jellybaby anyone?

Today We Remember: A Personal View

On the way to Manchester, in Collyhurst, there is a war memorial that lists the names of local men who died in the First World War.

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Among that obscenely long list of names are two which have a personal and emotional connection to myself-two of my great grandfathers.

One is my mum’s grandfather-Albert Cartwright.

Here he is pictured with his wife Ada as he is about to leave for war. Tall and proud in his Lancashire Fusiliers uniform.

Albert and Ada

I cannot help but contrast the image of Ada here, bidding farewell to her husband with all the fears and uncertainties that that must have involved, with the strong, confident, formidable woman she appears as on another photograph I have of her. (On the right).


Albert did return home, but died the day before new year’s eve in 1919, as a result of being gassed when at the front.

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The other name is my Dad’s grandfather: Timothy O’Sullivan.

He died on 10th January 1917 and is buried in Thessaloniki, Greece. A local orphan who was destined to lie in foreign soil.

In those days, family members had neither the means nor the opportunity to visit the graves of their loved ones who died overseas. A family notice, placed in the local newspaper by his older half-sister, spoke of ‘the pain of an unknown grave.’

On the 90th anniversary of Timothy’s death, I stood at that grave. Conscious that his widow and children never made it there, I felt the ghosts of my gran and my great aunt looking over my shoulder. Two women who often spoke of the man they never knew. I felt I represented them, along with my Dad, and my children. All the descendants of the chain.


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Every year on Remembrance Sunday, I take part in the service at that memorial, conscious of the links and the sacrifice and the blood that runs in my veins.

I let my daughters place a cross that holds the names of their two ancestors, along with the name of my wife’s great uncle who was worked to death as a prisoner of the Japanese, building the notorious Burma-Siam railway in World War Two.

Fred Dyson

My wife’s great uncle is the tall, strapping guy stood on the right. Fred Dyson, he died 15th Nov 1943. A generation on, a different war, the same sense of loss.

I have posted all of these photographs here to serve as a further memorial.

Every Remembrance Sunday, as well as the men who are represented by those cold, carved letters in stone, my thoughts turn also to my two grandmothers who are no longer here. Two women who I was close to, two women who as children both grew up without their fathers because of war.

That is reason alone for me, and my children, to remember.

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When A Day Of Death Became A Bridge

My Dad died ten years ago today. Although we mark it, the day itself is not significant.

There were days when he was here, then there are days when he is not. There is just a before and after.

Time appears cyclical to me, when I view the seasons, married to the differing stages of our lives, but we chart things in a linear fashion. That day ten years ago perhaps became a bridge, where plans/hopes/dreams pass by memories/regrets/hindsight , each moving in opposite directions.

What is known of us, that which survives us, becomes less and less as memories fade along with the number of storytellers.

The personalities and stories behind the details, enshrined in the remembrance of others.

I was going to publish some photographs here, reducing a full life to a handful of images, but instead I have decided the best way to honour him and the role he played in my life is to continue telling his story to my children.

That is the best way of keeping my Dad alive.

This Guy’s Wife Got Cancer, So He Did Something Unforgettable. The Last 3 Photos Destroyed Me

This was an article, from TheFreeThoughtProject.Com which I came across when it was shared on Facebook. A photographer, Angelo Merendino, fell in love and got married to Jennifer. Five months later his new wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Wanting to humanise the face of cancer on the face of his wife, he photographed her throughout her battle.


Please click on the link below to view the series of thirty one photographs. They are extremely moving, and, well, the title of this post, which is also the title of the article, speaks for itself.