Through An Unsullied View

My son is easily pleased.

This morning, as we made our way through Manchester city centre, he wanted nothing more than to stop and watch the water fountains in Piccadilly Gardens.

Gardens. If ever there was a misnomer then that’s it. There’s barely anything green about it. Certainly nothing floral.

There is a much maligned concrete wall, dubbed by locals the Berlin Wall. What exactly the design was meant to represent I don’t know. Man seems to have a propensity for turning beauty into ugliness.

There was an attempt to spruce things up a bit last year. The council returfed the area, but with a deadly dovetail of hot weather and a failed sprinkler system, it turned out to be a dry brown mess.

Both a gateway and the city’s heart, Piccadilly Gardens could be Manchester’s showpiece open space.

It is a focal point now, but for not the right reasons. Crime is rising, the homeless are everywhere, punctured by the ragged, stiff-silhouetted users on Spice. A place best avoided at night.

I don’t know what the answer is. Heaven knows the council and the police have tried over the years. I think they are about to try again.

But this morning, this warm, July morning on the cusp of a heatwave, my son, oblivious to its sullied reputation, could see something more.

Water, sunlight, an anachronistic wonder.

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Night Poem

from my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

the loneliness of distraction

a question of language

the cravatted pirate hijacking the turntable

wait up to see the shooting stars

tearing holes in the firmament

of crystal glass

name a rose after that velvet queen

lost in the garden

painting portraits and hustling

the elite for a pound

speak the names of those gone before

unfinished manifestos staked

to scarlet trees

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The Escapologist; Bryn Comes In #2

Further to my earlier post about our imminent new addition to the family, a Welsh Springer Spaniel named Bryn, we were thrilled to receive this photograph from his breeder, having hired a photographer to capture him and his eight siblings in a great family portrait.

After meeting the challenge of getting all nine pups on the couch at the same time, lined up and facing the same way, (no easy task), they both sat to view the results. The photographs were great, capturing the young dogs in all of their appealing cuteness.

Then one of them counted.

Eight puppies. One had managed to give them the slip, unnoticed. It could have been our Bryn, for the breeder had already given him the nickname Houdini, due to his ability to escape from any man-made restraints. And so they had to go through the difficult process again, which may explain why our dog, on the far left as you look, appears decidedly unimpressed.

If you read my previous post, you’d have learned of the great coincidence, some might say divine intervention, that led to us getting Bryn. Which is quite appropriate as this puppy portrait reminded me of a certain Da Vinci painting.

Last Supper? Im expecting him to eat us out of house and home.

Fate Plays Her Hand; Bryn Comes In

After four years being dog-less, since the sad death of our Golden Retriever (link below), my family are about to welcome a new addition into its fold.

Whereas I’d have been happy with another Retriever, Jen preferred something smaller. But which breed? Faced with this dilemma, fickle Fate played her hand.

It just so happened that on the very night of our conversation, a programme about the nation’s top one hundred breeds was on television. We tuned in for ideas, and when a Welsh Springer Spaniel appeared on our screen my wife said, “That’s a lovely looking dog, how about one of those?”

Initially, Jen had resisted the clamour for another dog from my children and I, having been so hurt from Rydal’s passing, so within a dog’s whisker of her uttering those words I had joined a group for Welshie lovers on Facebook and enquired about an imminent litter!

Welsh Springers are not as common as English Springers, and so I knew we’d have to travel to find one. Somebody had even suggested Sweden to me, but air fare was definitely beyond our budget.

I’d not considered Scandinavia, funnily enough, but that became a moot point when I found a pregnant Welsh Springer in Wales, of all places. Who’d have thought it?

But, alas, her pups were already reserved for buyers.

A week later, another breeder, living a two and a half hour’s drive away from us in Manchester, had seen my online query and contacted me as her Springer was due to have a litter in four weeks. I confirmed that I was still interested and we got talking about why we wanted this paticular breed.

(Fate Alert drumroll please)

It only turned out that the dog that we had seen on that television show was THIS breeder’s dog. The very dog that my wife had remarked upon, and so steered us in this direction, was soon to give birth to our new puppy! What’s the odds on that?!

You’ve gotta love the magic of television.

Anyway, for reasons of space, let me give you this brief summing up:

a litter of nine was born; children were at fever pitch; we had first choice of five boys; children nearly had a breakdown with the pressure; then finally:

after my daughter, tearing her hair out and saying that the process of ruling out the four other, equally cute dogs was worse than the multiple choice questions of her SATS exams, we chose this little fella:

Originally named Uno by the breeder (we later found out that this was because he was the first born. It seems quite apt that the first born should be the first chosen). We now had to come up with our own name.

I wanted something Welsh.

“What Welsh names do you know?” asked my wife.

I came up with Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey.

“Not a chance!”

My alternative suggestion of Jenkins, after Katherine Jenkins, was similarly dismissed. So as a family we went through some Welsh names and links. I liked Arthur, you know, our once and future King and all that. But in the end we came to an agreement: Uno was now Bryn.

But you knew that, didn’t you? Having read the title of this post.

We get him tomorrow. It’s the end of our lives as we know it.

My post about the passing of Rydal:

https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/farewell-old-friend/

A ‘Shoutout’ For In Brigantia

I have the honour of appearing on musician Laura Bruno Lilly’s site this week for the publication of my poetry collection In Brigantia.

You can read her review here:

http://laurabrunolilly.com/poetry-shoutout-in-brigantia-by-andrew-james-murray/