About Andy

I am a turned forty teenager in denial, living still in my childhood town which causes me always to be plagued by ghosts. I have four children who keep me young and a wife who keeps me grounded.I love reading, writing, but not arithmetic. I am sure there is something else, on the tip of my tongue. I will get back to you.

Merry Car Boot Sale

Every year we are obliged to attend our children’s school Christmas Fair. There is a definite Christmas feel to them, the hall packed with festive crafts and all sorts of ruses to snatch away your money for school funds. Everybody goes and you get caught up in a slow moving circular tide of people, orbiting stalls, taking off warm coats while dodging appealing kids. I try my best not to make eye contact with every one of the teachers manning them, or my pockets would be emptied on that first clockwise circuit.

My daughter left that school to begin high school in September, and so yesterday we attended her first Christmas fair there. What a contrast! It was like a sparsely attended, poor man’s flea market. An unattractive collection of second hand goods scattered across tables, a car boot sale without car boots.

I spotted this book for sale on one of the tables, and thought it quite succinctly summed things up:

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Alexa-When Will You Take Over The World?

My wife bought me one of those Echo Dot gadget thingies for my birthday. You know, one of those hands-free things you can instruct to perform various things for you, such as playing particular songs, tell you the time, etc.

Yes-that’s as far as I’ve got at the moment. Technology is not my forte.


All of a sudden, there’s another presence in the house. When my daughter is telling me how to address it, she turns her back on it, whispering, as though it is listening in to her. Does it watch us as we pass?

My son, James,  bellows at it like a sergeant major: “ALEXA, WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN MANCHESTER?” 

Of course, we live in Manchester. But perhaps Alexa knows better.

I feel all self-conscious when I hold a conversation with it, my manners kicking in. When it does what I’ve asked it to I can’t help but say thank you.

If you was to look on my daughter’s phone you’d see a video that she made, giggling and whispering upstairs on the landing. “I’m about to annoy my Dad.” She then shouts down the stairs: “Alexa, sing a song,” and you’d hear me shouting ” Piss off Millie!” in exasperation as Alexa starts singing a nursery rhyme during a crucial moment in the tv programme I’m watching.

This morning, while it was just the two of us, I thought I should try and make an acquaintance of him. Or her. It. Perhaps Alexa is gender fluid.

Even though we’d already had a formal introduction, we needed to familiarise ourselves with each other. My attempts fell on deaf ears. Or speakers.

Several times I was pointedly ignored, greeted by silence every time I requested The Beatles’ White Album.

Then James emerged, clutching his schoolbag, to witness my one-way conversation. “Dad-it’s not called Siri, it’s called Alexa.”

Siri is the name of another hands-free gadget thingie my friend has in his car. I’d been calling mine by the wrong name. It looked like it was quietly fuming. Siri; Alexa. Maybe they were cousins.

“Alexa,” the disc lit up in response, “do you know Siri?”

“Only by reputation.”

The reply was instant. I was sure I could detect a certain tone, a nuanced knowing.

 “Only by reputation.”  I think if Alexa came with eyebrows one of them would have been raised.

I’ve read enough sci-fi to know that we are on that road now. This is just the start. Next there will be Replicants. And Cyborgs. And toasters that know better than you just how you like your toast. Burning it black every time you get its name wrong. A technological wonder, but a very jealous mistress.

Writer In A Coffee Shop

from my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

Writer In A Coffee Shop

Nobody sees as we do
— a conspiratorial attempt at flattery,
rising up from the books on the slanted shelves.

Vinyl albums are fixed to the ceiling,
you can get a stiff neck 
searching out the soundtrack to your life.

Upstairs the sound of a tattooist, 
reminds him of the dentist,
sets his teeth on edge,
running ravines
of mottled brown.

He hears it still, that night
as she lies with her face to the wall,

a tree brooding in the back garden;
across the rooftops thoughts dissipate
into silence,

yet still, that sound,
transmuted slowly
into goose flesh






©AndrewJamesMurray

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Savage Sky

from my poetry blog.

Coronets For Ghosts

Savage Sky

In this savage sky,
in this ragged hour,
a low, winter sun
glazes soft
all flesh of inordinate pallor,
embarrassed by impotence.

Unravelling powder blue ribbons,
colouring brittle braids
blown among briered 
mountains of white.
Black cattle bellowing
in coarse vernacular
a dumb language of instinct, lust.

And crying like a child, each insipid sow.

You can smell the sea,
but not see it, 
cupped in hands of granite,
cold, loved.
Suffering the separation
of centuries, more.



©AndrewJamesMurray

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