They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next!

I’ve just started reading Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing From Another World are my favourite 50’s sci-fi films, and though I’ve watched Invasion many times over the years it’s taken me this long to read the book. I’m not sure why. The same thing happened with Jaws.

Jaws is one of the few instances, possibly the only instance, where I’ve preferred the movie adaptation to the book itself, and as I love the Body Snatchers film perhaps the same thing will happen now. My expectations are, though, that I’ll at least be checking the garden shed and beneath the decking for pods. Anything less and I’ll be disappointed.

The title of this post is, of course, taken from the movie, and there’s another line which, if you substitute the name Becky for Andy, I’m sure my wife could relate to:

I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life. But I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.

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. . . I Know Her For The Student Of The Cold Northern Chamber

I’m sat on this rainy day in a cafe, drinking coffee and reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales Of Terror.

The title of this post comes, not from Jekyll, but from the included gothic vampire tale Olalla, which has captivated me on this gloomy morning. It’s to stories such as this that I habitually begin to turn to around this time.

Even just out of a heatwave, and the recent cessation of the hill fires, maybe it’s the sensing of those approaching blue, irregular nights that puts me in this frame of mind.

Alexander Jansson’s illustration for Olalla.

It’s All Greek To Me

I travelled into Manchester on a warm and stuffy bus, the heat only adding to my lethargy. I’d had only four hours sleep due to the late arrival of the student due to stay with us. (Don’t ask. No really- don’t ask! My WordPress word count couldn’t take it.)

After delivering him safely to the academy I called for a quick early lunch at the food court in the Arndale Centre. Sporting different stalls offering food from many different countries, I opted for a  halloumi pitta from Zorba’s.

Don’t worry this isn’t a food post, I’m not that kind of blogger.

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I took a table and began to eat while reading the book I was currently in the middle of, maybe not a good idea whilst making a mess of myself with yoghurt sauce. A voice reached me from a neighbouring table: “Do you like Greek writers?”

I looked across to him whilst frantically dabbing at my chin with a napkin. He did indeed look Greek, but I don’t think he was one of Zorba’s workers. Perhaps an expat with a craving for home cooking.

Emboldened by the name of the food stall, I replied “I’ve read most things by Nikos Kazantzakis.”

“He is Cretan.”

I conceded that he was, and that I’d actually seen the author’s grave in Heraklion.

“Crete is not Greece,” my neighbour said firmly. And then he glanced down at my plastic tray. “And halloumi is not meat.”
You had to hand it to the guy, he certainly knew his stuff. Again I conceded the point, and briefly considered asking him for both author recommendations and favoured meat dishes but decided to cut and run. For no doubt English would not be Greek and my wife’s cooking would not be his Mother’s.

I packed both my book and lunch into my backpack and said a hasty goodbye, bus to catch and all that, making  my escape through the adjacent indoor fish market. As usual with the fish market it is your sense of smell that registers before your sense of sight, but then Conga eels, live mussels and all types of fish parts catch your eye, including, at the end of the display, a sign for Cod Flaps.

Cod flaps? What part of a fish could that be?

Surely not?

 

Roman; Saxon; Norman; Schoolboy

Whatever your persuasion, whether you look at it as Beltain, May Day, or the first day of summer, yesterday, for once, the weather played its part. Actually the weather always plays its part-it’s just that it’s not always the weather you want!

Anyway the sun was out, and after doing my errands for She Who Must Be Obeyed I took time out in our local Jubilee Park which was certainly dressed for the occasion.

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Adorned in her best Cherry blossom, who cannot be lifted on a day such as this? Even I-Autumn and Winter lover that I am.

Though it may not be the exact geographical centre of my town I certainly look upon this area as both its historic and spiritual centre. St.Leonard’s church, part of which dates back to Norman times, is the church that my wife and I were married in.  It is believed there was a wooden Saxon church here before this, and possibly built, as was the custom, on the site of a pagan temple. A stone’s throw away is the suspected place of a Roman signal point, and just behind it some long gone prehistoric barrows.

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And speaking of history-here’s a building that has figured prominently in mine. This is Middleton Library. You guys know I’m a bookworm, right?  Go beyond those upstairs windows, in what is now the reference library, and you just might see the ghost of an eleven-year-old Jackdaw diligently doing his homework with his school mates in the former children’s section.

I wonder if I’d recognise him? Would he know me?

I’ve been a member of that library for something like thirty five years. And now my own book is in there. How cool is that?

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Near to the bandstand I found the Middleton coat of arms, shyly stating its claim in the grass. And those dandelions-so important for the early bees when many flowers have yet to bloom. At least that’s what I tell my wife when she wants the garden doing.

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When In Crete: The Author’s Tomb

A timely photo maybe, with today being Good Friday, but this isn’t a religious site-rather it’s the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of works such as Zorba The Greek and The Last Temptation. When we were in Crete in 2008 I travelled to Heraklion to seek it out. I have most of his books and I do like to make personal connections. Fortunately I have a very understanding wife.

Although deeply spiritual, his books often reflected his struggle to find truth in religion and spirituality. Many Orthodox Church clergy condemned Kazantzakis’ work and a campaign was started to excommunicate him. His reply was: “You gave me a curse, Holy fathers, I give you a blessing: may your conscience be as clear as mine and may you be as moral and religious as I” 

The tomb is quite plain, made of stone marked with a wooden cross. The epitaph, taken from one of his works, reads:

 ‘I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free’.

Heading North Turns Two; Put Up The Cards And Bunting

Happy Birthday HN!

Coronets For Ghosts

My debut poetry collection, Heading North, was published by Nordland Publishing two years ago today. I’m still rather proud of it.

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If anybody wants to buy a copy, with Christmas around the corner, there is a link below. Or, if any of you should find yourself near the Middleton public library in Manchester, UK, or the Norway National Library, you could have a read for free.

I’m all for the opportunists among you 😉

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heading-North-2-Songs/dp/8283310097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512565332&sr=8-1&keywords=Heading+North

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