Time And The Swede

Speaking of Time: posted three years ago.
Time, please be gentle.

City Jackdaw

A while ago, on Facebook, I stumbled across this photograph of my old Swedish friend Agnetha Fältskog, taken from the first Abba Greatest Hits album of 1975. If you look closely, you will see that inserted into her hand is a copy of her last solo album, A, released in 2013. Both albums, both images, separated by thirty-eight years, stand, in a way, like chronological bookends of a linear journey. Of her linear journey, along that particular period of her life. In between, of course, much has changed. For better, or for worse. Such is life.


I like to think that the photoshopping artist, whoever he or she may be, has, like I, a penchant for both history and continuity, similarly casting an appreciative eye over the progressive journey, yet, also, being cut to the quick by the unstoppable, winnowing effect of time itself.

There is a song on Agnetha’s…

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Father And Daughter, Summer

Father And Daughter, Summer

The swallows return, skimming the blue.
Hoist up the flag, fluttering in the breeze.
The summer's here, her heralds settled
upon the greening, burgeoning sea.

Full womanhood, now, she draws the eye,
points to the orchard; her hungry womb.
The sun sinks into his scoured face.
The air is sweet, but tinged with myrrh.

Banish the shadows, the star-filled night,
(the clock still ticks the markers down).
The day now reigns, resplendent robes
clothes them both and stakes a claim.

The poet; the painter; the waking muse,
blinks it all in, and turns the page.
Immortalises all, in frozen time,
airbrushing out the parting waves.

©Andrew James Murray

Damn You, Time, Damn You!

I ventured into Manchester this morning, ostensibly to show our new Swiss student how to get to the English Language Academy, but I also wanted to pick up a couple of pair of jeans. I had asked my wife if I should get the type that have the fashionable tears in them, to which she pointed out that I am now forty two and have left it too late to jump the fashion train.

Heeding her advice, I walked my retro walk around town instead. It was when I went to try on the jeans that I had selected that I realised just how in denial I am about the passage of time.
In the accusing confines of the fitting room, I was trapped in a cell clad with mirrors on every side. A reflection of me of a reflection of me of a reflection of me ramming home an echoing damnation that I am no longer the young guy that I always claim to be.

Caught in that kaleidoscope of unforgiving mirrors, there was nowhere for me to hide. I could see for the first time how much weight I have put on, but more disconcertingly, I could see just how much my hair is thinning.

Thickening below, thinning above, I am taking the tonsure of terror.

Damn you, merciless time, damn you!

Within this emphasised and enhanced indictment of visual decay, I donned for the first time my badge of middle age. I came out of that fitting room a changed man, in both attire and attitude, finally aware of where I am on life’s path.

But It didn’t last.

Away from those revealing mirrors and waistline labels, I put it all out of mind, flipping the finger at mobility scooters and high fiving the school-skipping kids riding the escalators. I was quite cool in my denial again. I really am adept at constructing my own reality.

But this time, uniquely, my facade would be occasionally pierced. Everywhere I looked, on the journey home, there were reminders.


I shrugged them off as I boarded my bus, put on my iPod, sent texts to my homies, and wondered, not for the first time,  ‘just what the hell is snapchat?’

I made a mental note to ask my daughter.



Midsummer. Evening.

Everything still looks the same, but a line has been crossed.

Any change, any shift, will for a while be imperceptible. But things, as always happens, will gradually gather momentum until all is transformed.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” my father used to say.

They didn’t wait for him. He never attempted to outrun, or withstand. Once you reach a certain age, there is an air of inevitability about things. But there is no great hurry. We can live riding the rhythms of seasons, of tides.

The sun begins to set, it does not appear any different to the way it set last night, or the night before. But a person knows. That is our curse. But it is also a blessing.

Today has been a good day, shared with family and friends, and the things that count.

In the morning the rising sun will place another bead upon the abacus of the mortal man.



Local photograph by Drou Petrides

Generations #2

Last week I attended the funeral of my great aunt. She was a lovely woman who squeezed every last bit of fun out of life. For a woman in her eighties she was very switched on-she had an iPad, an iPhone 5, and was even on my Facebook friends list.

She was the last of my grandparents’ generation, on both sides. With her passing, it feels like we have lost so much more than just a beloved member of the family. We have lost the last connection to the causes of which we are the effects. A link to the parts that make up our sum.

Now we move onto the next generational  level. That is the natural order of things. That is how we go on.

When she received the news that she had cancer, she decided against having combative treatment, citing her age and her health. She told me that she didn’t want anybody’s pity, and that she had had a good life. My immediate thought was that there is not a lot of people who, having been an orphan at a very young age, and being widowed twice, would look back and say that they had had a good life.

On the day of her death, she told her grown up granddaughter that she would be happy to go tonight, that the time was right.  I hope when it is my time, I can stare my own mortality square in the face with similar levels of acceptance, of reasoning, of faith.

There were no recriminations, no regrets.

Hers was a peaceful, natural end to a life filled with laughter. That makes things easier.

When we are with others, we sit in the blazing light of their presence, filled as they are with personality and vitality. And life. When their essence leaves us, we are suddenly confronted by the shadow of their absence.

If we are attentive, we can follow still the wake of their journey, track the fading trails of light as they sink over the horizon.

We can close our eyes, and feel still the warmth on our face.