Mytholmroyd 

A new poem from my poetry blog, inspired by a misheard announcement when traveling on a train across the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, from Leeds to Manchester.

Coronets For Ghosts

Mytholmroyd

The tin voice announced the place
as we pulled into the station.
I, soon to have my ears syringed,
thought it said "Ladies and gentlemen:
Marilyn Monroe."
I halfexpected to see her
sashaying down the aisle 
of the train,
all shimmering platinum
between plush, navy blue seats.
Wouldn't that have been a sight 
for a Thursday morning?
Not only a Hollywood star,
but fifty-five years dead to boot.


©AndrewJamesMurray

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Three James’ Day

Four years ago; the connections are forever.

City Jackdaw

Yesterday was a special day in our home-it was the third birthday of my son James. For those of you who are familiar with my post Boonless In Southport (19th June) you will know just how much he is obsessed with balloons. Mention it being someone’s birthday, anyone’s birthday, be them seven or seventy, and his immediate response is “Boons!” So, of course, first thing in the morning he was confronted with balloons everywhere-helium filled, resting against the ceiling, tied to chairs and door handles, and breath filled, covering the floor in a carpet of colour. His presents and cards weren’t even afforded a second glance.

Cue Sinatra: For I only have eyes, for boons.

He loved being the center of attention for the day, offering long-lashed, bashful eyes in response to the obligatory ‘Happy Birthday’ song.

I have a diary, as I expect most of you do. Along…

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When Two Worlds Meet, Two Bloggers Greet

In 2013 I was searching the Internet after googling ‘Canky Middleton’. Canky was the name of a legendary figure connected to my hometown of Middleton, allegedly a bodysnatcher of the 19th Century. I was trying to discover if there were any kernels of truth in the story, or if it was rather just a notorious urban legend.

My search led me to a post written by Pam, the author of a blog called Mushy Cloud, who lives in a town not too far from my own. We had a conversation on there about the infamous Canky. Afterwards, I began to explore WordPress, and so was sown the seeds of writing my own blog. This was how City Jackdaw came into being. I followed her blog, she reciprocated by following mine.

Fast forward four years to last Thursday afternoon.

I was attending the funeral of a dear family friend. The length of time that the woman who had passed had been connected to my family can best be illustrated by the fact that, not only did she knit clothes for my children when they were born, she also knitted clothes for me when I was born. Her family and mine had been tied together for decades. 

Anyway, at the service, the vicar who was taking the funeral service called upon a ‘Pam’ to lead the people gathered in prayer. I watched her walking to the front of the church, thinking: I’m sure that’s the Pam who hosts Mushy Cloud.

I knew from some of her posts that she was exploring her vocation within the Church Of England, and this was the town in which she lived. When the service was over and the mourners were filing out, I approached her as she sat at the back of the church. No doubt she thought that I was one of the many people saying goodbye as they walked past to the church doors.

“Are you the Pam of Mushy Cloud?”

She looked up at me. “I am. Who are you?”

“I’m Andy, of City Jackdaw.”

She started in surprise, then immediately thrust out her hand to shake mine, both of us declaring how good it was to meet after all of our WordPress-fielded conversations.

She said “It’s like two worlds are coming together.” 

She wrote in her most recent post that it was a lovely moment in the coming together of her online life and her ‘real’ life. I think we could also look at it as the world of Mushy Cloud and the world of City Jackdaw that came together, two separate planets connected in friendship and confederacy through the nebulous and all encompassing universe of WordPress.

Trust you, my wife said on reading this, to turn it into something all sci-fi! 

But all of our individual blogs are like individual worlds, existing in the blogosphere, each with its own inhabitants and laws, welcoming travellers from near and afar.

Thursday was a nice reminder that we do all exist in the real world, and sometimes indeed our paths do cross.

Keep an eye out for me as you go about your business. I’m the one in the green coat, probably with kids in tow.
Here is Pam’s post, where she mentions our unexpected meeting, go and set down on Mushy World:

https://sterlingsop.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/catching-up-4/

*As I’ve commented on Pam’s post, a further twist that underlines the connections theme is that it turns out that my wife and Pam have met in the past in a professional capacity. City Jackdaw was the ghost that moved unsensed between them.

Who’s The Doctor? Doctor Who?

It’s been a Doctor themed weekend.

On Friday, I sent my wife a text while she was at work.

I’ve got a lovely surprise for you when you get home.

She peppered me for clues, but I stood firm:

Wait until you’re home.

And so eventually, shift completed and finished for the week, Jen arrive home.

“Okay,” I said. “Close your eyes.”

She did so. I’m not sure what she was expecting, but she asked “Is this going to change the way I look at the world?”

“This is going to change the way you look at the bedroom.” (In hindsight, perhaps she was now expecting something a little risqué.) “Okay: open your eyes.”

I placed into her hands:


“What’s this?”

“A signed photograph.”

“Who’s she?” She couldn’t see past the loincloth-wearing Leela.

“It’s Leela,” I replied, then, theatrically: “with the Fourth Doctor!”

“He looks like Leo Sayer gone wrong.”

“What?! He’s the greatest ever Doctor! The great and eccentric Tom Baker!  Soon he will be, whisper it, dead. He’s in his eighties now. I wanted one with Sarah Jane, but as she’s died they are hard to come by, so Leela is the next best thing.”

“And how exactly will this make me look at the bedroom differently?”

“I’m thinking of putting it on the bedroom wall.”

“You’re bleeding  not!”

I think she’ll come around with time, no pun intended.

Anyway . . .

You may have heard the news that the new Doctor was to be unveiled on Sunday afternoon, immediately after the men’s tennis final. The identity of Doctor number 13 had been a closely guarded secret, so for us fans it was a big deal.

And Jen had arranged a trip into Manchester for the whole family on that very day . . .

We were sat in Starbucks, and I kept tuning into FB. I also had someone lined up to message me as soon as the world knew who the Doctor was to be. But, just in case it slipped by on someone else’s watch, I kept tuning in. I updated, and my mobilised army of Whovians were making comments which I was relaying to the family.

“The final is still going on.”

(Jen didn’t bat an eyelid.)

“Federer is two sets up so it may not be long.”

(My son: “Roger Federer is the new Doctor?”

“David Tennant is at Wimbledon! He’s in the crowd!”

(My daughter: “Tennant’s coming back?!”)

“They could be doing the reveal there, on court!”

(Jen: “I want the toilet.”)

“The match is over!”

(Jen: “Who won?”)

“Who cares! It’s imminent!”

My informers told me that there was a lot of analysing and backslapping going on, so I began surfing the web for signs of any leaks.

Nothing.

To pass the time, I took a photograph of Jen, wrote ‘Meet the new Doctor’ and posted it on FB. A friend saw the caption, but the photograph took ages to load. She told me that she was having palpitations, and then when Jen appeared she commented that, much that she thinks Jen is lovely, she felt slightly gutted.

I update again, this time categorically denying the rumour that I was the new Doctor on account that, with the kids finishing for the summer, I simply didn’t have the time.

Jen had had enough and decided that she was going to pop into a local store with the kids. I said, unnecessarily,  “I’ll wait here. I’ll text you as soon as we know who it is.”

“Don’t bother.”

Off they went, and on I searched, making sure my phone wasn’t on mute.

And then I heard and was stunned, the announcement coming straight out of left field.

Immediately I found the advertisement that had revealed all on BBC.

The new Doctor was Jodie Whittaker. The first female Doctor.

I never expected it to be a woman-I knew it was coming, the Master being regenerated as Missy had served to soften us up to the idea a bit, but I thought it wouldn’t happen until Doctor #14.

Although before it actually happened I was a little unsure, I have to confess that I’m now quite excited to see what Jodie does with the role. It will be fresh and, even though each new Doctor brings to the show a clean start, her appointment has shaken things up.

And some of the long-term fans couldn’t take it. The Doctor is a thousand year old alien that changes his face, but being a woman appears unacceptable.


Surely, with the strong female leads in the Star Wars and Game Of Thrones franchises, it was just a matter of time until a woman donned the mantle. And come on-once the Doctor even had a tin dog and that was fine!

Jodie released a statement:
Jodie Whittaker says: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.” She added: ‘‘I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one’
Some weren’t listening though. Among those venting their spleen and vowing never to watch again, there were many supportive comments. I liked this one:

‘This story reminds me of a profound moment in 1988 on the last day of my senior year at Holland Hall. Craig Benton (one of my all time favorite teachers) challenged us with a riddle:
“A father and his son are in a horrific car crash. The father dies instantly. The boy, in critical condition, is transported to the hospital needing immediate surgery. The doctor upon entering the O.R. exclaims, “I can’t operate on this boy he is my son!” – How is this possible?”

Our class of 63 students who were headed to The Who’s Who of prestigious colleges were completely stumped. Not one of us realized the doctor was the boy’s mom.’
Jen arrived back: “It’s a woman isn’t it?!”

“How do you know?”

“We heard a girl in the shop telling her Mum.”

My daughter beamed: “It’s a girl.”

My son scowled: “It’s a girl.”

And there it was-the whole, Whovian reaction. In microcosm.

Let’s give her a chance, yes?

 

 

*For another Whovian themed post where you may feel further sympathy for my long suffering wife-see here:

https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/when-a-nerd-turns-manic/

 

 

 

Orkney Odyssey 3: Time Tells

Feeling the need to return.

City Jackdaw

There is a romanticism and a melancholy to the islands.

An echo of times past. A hint of meaning that lies just beyond the wind. Meaning whose origin is adorned by labels: Norse, Pictish, Neolithic. A procession of markers that will outlive us all.

I wonder if living here day after day, year after year, causes you to be blasé about it all? Do the markers become invisible, blending in with the rest of the storm-shaped landscape?

I remember seeing a documentary a few years back about people living in the Scottish Highlands. Among all that natural beauty and dramatic vistas, the young ones were bored to death. They said that visitors would tell them how lucky they were to be living there. They would reply that there was never anything to do. They would amuse themselves by sending travelling tourists in the opposite direction of the landmarks that they…

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Seven Winds

Seven Winds

The seven winds.
Are there seven? 

Stapling 'Missing' posters to telegraph poles
sweaty black leather
and the odorous stink
of sex and B.O.

A slip with a girl's number on it 
found in the pocket of an old coat
ragged and threadbare

could she still be out there?
a fixed point
in a perishing dream.

Coffee. 
Caffeine doesn't keep you awake

it's a myth
it's the toilet trips
that need to piss every goddamned hour

slipping through the tincture of light
that crawls from the horizon 
with a Kirlian glow.

There are friends long gone
who festered for a while
couldn't take the hint

but maybe I was their project
grasping for words
as the dying gasp for breath

carving my affections
instead
into the flesh of trees.


©AndrewJamesMurray