An early Father’s Day present from my kids.
Got me down to a tea.
Sometimes I feel a longing for the coast. Or perhaps somewhere more rural, away from the built up concrete confines of my city. This occasionally intensifies into a desire to move to such a place permanently. These are idealistic episodes and don’t normally last too long, for roots are important to me.
But even when traveling through less scenic routes I get curious about other places. It is easy to get superficial, inadequate views of the towns that we pass through, and in our ideals wonder if they could hold an appeal.
Recently I was on a train heading to Manchester from Leeds. Passing through the train stations the landscape began to open out. There was space between the fixed points of these two urban sprawls. The sky, for once blue, lifted the spirits, and there were jackdaws—always jackdaws, scattered upon the fields. These birds have become something of a personal totem to me, and these familiar friends accompanied me along the way.
We rolled into Hebden Bridge. This place always looks charming, though I have yet to explore it. There was only a handful of people waiting to board the train here. They looked like walkers ( hikers, I mean, not zombies). They got on board and we moved on.
The next station on our linear amble was the market town of Todmorden. I have wondered about this place also. From my limited views it looks like a nice place to live, but as I said earlier, superficial views are inadequate to get a true feel for a place.
Then, from my window I saw this sign, set back upon a hill:
The letters stood there like a miniature version of the famous Hollywood sign. I didn’t know why it was there, but it felt refreshing to be greeted by a (literal) sign of positivity. I searched on Google and found a news reference to it. It seems that some of the town residents were erecting these signs to counter the news that hate crimes throughout the country were on the rise. What a great idea, providing a bit of balance by nailing their colours to their provincial masts.
What noble endeavours, what admirable gestures. Who wouldn’t want to settle in a town that salts its perimeters with the grains of compassion?
This is a teaser trailer for a forthcoming short film made by a talented friend of mine by the name of Catherine Stepien. Having worked in film for a while, mainly within wardrobe and production design, Soul Mother is very much her project. Being her debut directorial outing, she also wrote the script, created the effects, designed the production and dealt with make up and wardrobe.
My old school mate is nothing if not versatile!
Please check it out. Turn your volume up.
I was sat in a café, reading a great poem about my home city of Manchester.*
The opening lines read:
Queen of the cotton cities,
nightly I pick you back into existence:
the frayed bridal train your chimneys lay
and the warped applause-track of Victorian rain.
You’re the blackened lung whose depths I plumb,
the million windows and the smoke-occluded sun.
A couple took the table behind me. The lad never spoke, but the girl:
“I’ve always had weird drinking habits. I used to drink the vinegar out of cockle and muscle jars. I think it’s the cause of my leaking bladder.”
All of this was underscored by a female cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power Of Love. Haunting and ethereal. Alchemical.
All of these things merged and mingled into one tributary, collaborative moment, leading me to the page, transcribing slowly.
*Manchester, Adam O’Riordan.
Oh how those Victorian children must have loved playtime.
These three books constitute the (current) Songs Of The North poetry series, of which my book Heading North is a part.
These words are from my editor Michael Kobernus:
‘I am proud of every book we put out, at Nordland Publishing. However, these are special. While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they elevate the written word into art, and that is amazing.’
My book, Heading North, is available here:
All three different takes on the inspirational north can be discovered here on Nordland Publishing’s website:
Isn’t it time you journeyed North? 🙂
April the 19th is the day of Alphege, who was an Anglo-Saxon monk of Deerhurst near Gloucester. Old Alfie, as I rather irreverently refer to him purely because it’s easier, was made the bishop of Winchester in 984 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1005.
When he took the post of Archbishop he took with him the head of St.Swithin, like you do. I would normally just take a book.
When the Danes invaded in 1011 he refused to leave his people, and when held to ransom he refused to let the money of the poor be used to buy his freedom.
What’s it all about, Alfie?
He became the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death.