A Stonewall Certainty

Over here in the UK it’s Boxing Day, a day that is right at the forefront of the No-Man’s Land that lies between Christmas and New Year.

My Boxing Day plans have been ruined by the weather, which is another British certainty.

There are many people who go walking on this day (an activity that is also in the lap of the Gods), but I’d planned to go to watch my local non-league football team play but, alas, a waterlogged pitch has scuppered that.

Then I had a close call when my wife suggested shopping-but while she and my daughter brave the hustle and bustle I’ve managed to retreat into Costa with a book about Orkney. I’m surely due another visit. To Orkney, that is, not Costa.

Anyway, I hope you guys all had a good Christmas, and if not maybe we can navigate this treacherous No-Man’s Land together on the way to 2020.

Catch you soon. It’s raining in Orkney too.

Morning; Evening

A day bookended by two events: the final morning school run before the Christmas holidays, and a visit to Manchester in the evening for the last night of the Christmas markets.

It was like a lesson in irony, a blazing, ineffectual sun on a cold morning.

And more irony: for all of the times I have strolled through woods, along river banks and winding, countryside canals, in the centre of my town came a first – in a flash of fleeting blue I saw my very first kingfisher, skirting the edge of a fishing lake that lies adjacent to my son’s school. Not far from this frosted over short cut.

Later, night fell on us as we walked one of the Manchester’s deserted arteries, leading inevitably to its beating heart.

Laura’s place, at this time of year an appropriate light in the darkness.

Did I pronounce it correctly? Glühwein? Glüvein? Either way, it brought some welcome spiced warmth as my son clumsily devoured a Nutella pancake.

That juxtaposition again; light and darkness, in Piccadilly Gardens.

To be honest, though I’d been warned of swarming pavements and heaving roadsides, I’d seen Manchester much busier at this time of year. But, as the final Friday before Christmas, perhaps many had forsaken the outdoor markets for the indoor clubs and bars.

Outside Manchester Cathedral, surely the focal point of the festival.

The Cathedral was closed to the public this night as a charitable event was taking place, so I contented myself to take some photographs from outside. This is the Blitz window, looking into the chapel of the Manchester Regiment. The original stained glass was destroyed by the Luftwaffe bombing in World War Two.

Nearby – the blades on ice. Time was against us taking part, so I took this photograph before we set off for the car.

On the way back we stumbled upon this urban fox. Unlike the kingfisher that morning, this was not my first fox and, not shy in the slightest, it was probably the tamest of all of the wildlife we’d spotted on Manchester’s streets that night! With a tolerance that bordered on indifference, he went about his business as we returned to ours.

In The Pregnant Hour

This was Christmas Eve setting on the estate on which I live, viewed from the local church.

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It is now 11.10pm, the frosting air punctured by flashing fairy lights and music spilling out from passing cars.

We are almost there. In this pregnant hour, from a deep Mancunian night, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, wherever and whenever this greeting finds you.

Thanks for flying with City Jackdaw.