2015 in review

Stats are okay, but it is you readers who breathe life into the crunched up numbers. I will take you guys over the helper-monkeys any day.

Thanks for visiting, have a great new year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Year End Gusts

The year seems determined to depart in a rail of rain and gusts. The night is fractured by the crashing sounds of unknown objects, untethered and unaccounted for. There is an angry howling around the eaves, but the house stands firm.

not by the hair on my chinny chin chin

The pale dawn reveals a community of resigned routines, a northern expectancy of more to follow, raised on a staple of storm and flood

a good day for ducks


to fly a kite

There is a woman bearing a ‘can you believe this’ grin, a hand placed protectively upon her scarf-covered head, even though it is knotted tightly beneath her set chin.

The kids have given up on snow, blinking back stung tears in the wind, laughing at the firm hand on their chests, pummelling and pushing, tempering their flight.

Throughout the town there is a weary shuffle towards the end. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.

Still we batten down.

The Fox In The Night

This was from the eve of the last new year: the cusp of transition; ghosts of the past; and my old faithful friend who, if only I knew it back then, would be with us only for six months more.

City Jackdaw

On the night of New Year’s Eve, before the celebrations began in earnest, I took the dog for a walk. The mind often wanders when outdoors, and I began to reflect on how, being on the cusp of 2015, I would, in the coming year, be turning forty four. With my attention turned inward, I started to think of all of the ways we, as a family, celebrated Christmas and New Year when I was a child. And, for the first time ever, I felt a sudden, brief, twinge of sadness. Sadness that I am moving still further away from my beginnings, and sadness that some of the loved ones who contributed to those happy memories have been left behind, some far behind.

It was only a fleeting emotion, for I am seldom morose and normally quite sanguine and accepting of the order of things. On life’s journey we all…

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Christmas Day Snippets

My five-year-old son was unwrapping a present that was a rug patterned with dinosaurs, for his bedroom. “OH MY GOD! I GOT A CARPET!”

My seven-year-old daughter handed me a present to unwrap. “You can unwrap this now, it’s for you. I want you to look after it. And when you die I want it back.”

A couple of throwaway comments for you. Merry Christmas.


Creative Christmas

Like every year, there has been both positive and negative aspects to 2015. That is great for balance.

Creatively, though, it has been a fantastic year.  I am proud to be a part of Nordland’s journey over the last twelve months. It has given me both the incentive and inclination to keep going.

Merry Christmas everybody. Make the most of this time.

And keep creating!


In The Moment

I had one of those moments tonight when everything just feels right, when, in some kind of revelatory sense, a glimpse of something extraordinary and meaningful filters through into the everyday life.

I was sat at a table in an Italian restaraunt. We were in between courses, and I found myself in a moment in which, paradoxically, I felt both detached and totally connected.

I sat back in my chair, looking at my two daughters facing me, laughing away as they played some kind of intuitive game together, oblivious to everyone else present in their giggles and playfulness. I shifted my gaze to their right, and my son was sat there sucking on a slice of lemon he had fished out of his glass of coke, absorbed in his own personal explorations and trials.

I turned to my right, where my wife was engaged in an intimate conversation with a good friend of ours, totally at ease in an immediacy of trust that had been brokered over several decades.

I felt no desire to break my silence and join in with any part of this portrait, to engage with either child or adult. I was content to just take in all of this as though I was some invisible witness, unsensed and undetected, and any sudden involvement on my behalf would break this blissful spell. I sat there among these people that I love, joined together around two covered tables, feeling a part of something bigger than myself, drinking it all in in great, savouring gulps.

Outside a dark December night was pressing up against the windows, held at bay by the warmth and light of this perfect evening.

In this eternal now, life was a blessing.

Everything was right.

In Gleeful Gluttony

We gave in to the pull of the Christmas markets. The night was mild and dry, it could have been late August.

To get there we cut through the city’s famed Gay Village, pausing before this billboard in appreciation:



My five year old gazed up at it, brow furrowed, obviously of the attitude that this went far beyond the remit of superheroes.

We drifted through the jostling throngs at the markets-the European markets. The smells of Dutch cheeses and German knockfursts mingled with other carefully chosen geographical and cultural totems.

My children wrinkled their noses in disgust at the sight of a roasting pig, but this was soon forgotten when they realised that they stood beneath the moving head of a lethargic reindeer. I thought it looked more like a Moose, but given that its name was Rudolph I ceded the point.



Rudolph moved its head from side to side, maybe in disapproval at our unchecked gluttony. The children laughed; conversation was loud and warm, fuelled by a final mug of hot Glühwein before deciding to call it a night.

As we made our way through the gamut of male and female, young and old,  our French student turned to me and said “I think I am falling in love with the women of Manchester.”

I told him that if he was thinking of starting a relationship with one of them, he was leaving it a bit late: he was flying home to France in the morning.

But he was taking with him this final, Mancunian night: a night with a fostered family, full of strangers and beautiful women, casual British peculiarities and familiar hints of home.