Claws For The Weekend:Cloud Watching

I don’t know if you saw my last post about Sid the Sloth appearing in the wood grain of a garden table, but I do think that the human mind has a propensity for seeing faces and images in things like wallpaper patterns, and natural formations such as rocks and flowers and clouds.

I recently saw this photograph of a cloud in California that looks like an American Eagle:


Unmistakable, isn’t it?

Then there is this side profile of a noble face above Canada:


The recognition does seem to be a subjective thing, not everybody identifies the same image. See how I gave the attribute of nobility to the cloud-face. Would everybody see that, I wonder? A few years ago, in my local church, people claimed to see the face of Jesus in the large, rough cast aluminium cross that rises high above the neck craned congregation.  Some claimed it looked more like Henry VIII, while some could not see anything at all.
















Uncanny isn’t it ?

Have a great weekend everybody. Keep an eye out for a Jackdaw in your cornflakes.

See you on the flip side.

Claws For The Weekend:Summer

Well, the Met Office has confirmed what we all already knew:
this has been the wettest winter on record.
A winter without snowmen. A winter without snow. At least for us, pocketed here in this particular part of north west England.
Just a succession of wind and rain storms.

But nothing lasts forever. Be prepared.


Have a great weekend, I’m off to wax my bikini line.

See you on the flip side.

Blow Me Down

It is no wonder that, much to my children’s great chagrin, we have had no snow this winter. We just seem to be assailed by one great storm after another. We get through one spell of gale force winds and torrential rain, and then find there is another storm building in the Atlantic.
It was only December that I posted about the storm that brought my Mum’s chimney down next door, and last night the wind seemed to be howling more furiously than ever.
At least here in the north we do not experience the floods that much of the UK is suffering from at the moment. The coast has been ravaged by fifty foot waves, and part of the country in the south has been under flood water for over a month. The forecast is that things aren’t going to improve anytime soon.
And when my football team, Manchester City, is scheduled to play at home and has a chance of going top of the league with a win, and then the match is cancelled on safety grounds, then you better believe that things are getting serious.
Although not making light of the destruction caused by 100mph winds, and the possible damage to property and injury people may suffer, amid reports of shoppers being blown over on the streets of Manchester yesterday afternoon,  I couldn’t help but laugh at this photograph taken on Deansgate.

I can imagine Miss Unfortunate sliding 300 metres to the end of the street still clutching her shopping and that most useless of weapons in this type of weather: the umbrella. Or maybe that is not an umbrella but a baton, and this is just her part of a relay race?

But it is the look on the face of the other woman that really tickled me. The look of disbelief as she gamely tries to hold on to her bags, hold down her skirt, hold on to her dignity, hold onto the pavement.


Batten down the hatches people, and try to keep your feet on the ground. Spring is just around the corner.



Imbolc Woman


Yesterday my pagan friends celebrated the festival of Imbolc.
This is the festival that falls midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. I have heard it said that it is a time to celebrate, among other things, the coming of spring,  fertility, fecundity, reproduction, and the young.

I found this old photograph a while back, and to me it seems to symbolises all of these things. Perhaps it is just the flowers in the hair. I wonder if she is going to San Francisco?
I think the woman in the portrait may have been famous, but I have lost the details. Sometimes a sense of mystery adds to the allure.
Anybody know who she is, or rather, was? Or would that spoil things?


Angel Meadow/Hell Upon Earth

I came across this six-minute video on YouTube and wanted to share it with you people.

Just a few minutes walk from Manchester city centre, Angel Meadow in the 19th Century was anything but heavenly. Under the dark skies of the industrial north, this was one of the city’s worst slums. A London-based journalist, Angus Reach, on visiting it, described it thus:

‘The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester is called, singularly enough, ‘Angel Meadow.’ It is full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps and, in the very worst sties of filth and darkness, by those unhappy wretches the ‘low Irish.’

The cellars that he described were situated beneath lodging houses, crammed and overcrowded with the most unfortunate people in the direst of circumstances.

Reach visited one such cellar:

‘The place was dark, except for the glare of a small fire. You could not stand without stooping in the room which might be about twelve feet by eight. There were at least a dozen men, women and children on stools, or squatted on the stone floor, round the fire and the heat and smells were oppressive…the inmates slept huddled on the stones, or on masses of rags, shavings and straw which were littered about. There was nothing like a bedstead in the place.’

Another memorable description by Friedrich Engels in his book ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.’ :

‘Such is the Old Town of Manchester, and on re-reading my description, I am forced to admit that instead of being exaggerated, it is far from black enough to convey a true impression of the filth, ruin, and uninhabitableness, the defiance of all considerations of cleanliness, ventilation, and health which characterise the construction of this single district, containing at least twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants. And such a district exists in the heart of the second city of England, the first manufacturing city of the world.

If anyone wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air–and such air!–he can breathe, how little of civilisation he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel hither. True, this is the Old Town, and the people of Manchester emphasise the fact whenever any one mentions to them the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth; but what does that prove? Everything which here arouses horror and indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch.’

I have a few personal connections to this place. My great-grandfather lived in one of the 19th century lodging houses. I have followed his journey, on the 90th anniversary of his death, from the church in which he got married all the way to the soil of Thessaloniki  that now holds his body close to her Greek heart.

Timothy O’Sullivan, an orphan who swapped the hell of the industrial slum for the hell of the first industrialised  war.

When you view this short film, look out for the Tobacco factory-that is where I worked for five years. My mum worked there fifteen years before I did. It has now become an apartment complex.

And of the two ragged schools, my Dad used to play pool downstairs in the Sharp Street one.

Also, St Michael’s flags: These are the mass graves of 40,000 paupers, many the victims of Cholera.The burial ground was unpaved for forty years until it was laid with flagstones.  When my Dad was a kid he used to play football on them. It reminded me of the historical description attributed to a local, Rochdale Road resident:

‘There was at one time a number of gravestones covering the remains of some dear lost ones, but these have been removed and a few are to be seen in some of the cottages….Very often are the bones of the dead exposed and carried away and a human skull has been kicked about for a football on the ground.’

It was many years after the time of this description, but my Dad never did mention what he used for the football.