My Crazy Kids’ Song

These are two of my children, filmed a couple of years ago doing an improvised ‘Exterminate’ song. (Yes, they are Whovians like their father.)

This is the only video that they have posted onto Youtube, and go crazy every time they get a like or a share over there. If any of you guys can do that, take pleasure in picturing me here in Manchester reaching for the paracetamol!

You may want to turn the volume down a touch. See you on YouTube.

 

 

2015: The Things That Got The Jackdaw Flying

I am a guy who regularly concedes that he can become a little obsessive about his interests and pursuits. I have tried to reign things in a little, and be a bit more discerning about the things that excited me during 2015. There has been a lot, but here are some of my eclectic highs:

Books

Go Set A Watchman.

Yes, I was aware that it was not a bonafide sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. And neither did I think it was a ‘new’ novel, either. But this did nothing to temper my excitement about the publication of this book. For big fans of TKAM like myself, it was, at long last, something else to read by Harper Lee. Come on!  Treat it as a stand alone novel and leave Atticus up there on his pedestal.

image

The Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion For Vampire Lovers

Like Watchman, this was not a new book. But nor was it published in 2015, either. A definite highlight of the year was the unexpected discovery that I made, in a second hand book store, of a signed copy of this book. How thrilling to get my hands on a book signed by the Hammer Queen herself, offering ‘lots of fun & millions of fierce little bites-always !!’ Though I may have to change my name to Charlie.

image

The Northlore Series Volume One:Folklore. 

Okay, I know I’m not exactly non-partisan about the following two books, but how could a banner year for me not be a highlight? In addition to a poem of mine being included in this anthology, called Mara, My Love, my first published fiction featured in the form of a short story, entitled And The Snow Came Down. Volume Two is to follow.

image

Heading North. 

The next stage in my publishing journey was my very own poetry collection, published in December by Nordland Publishing. I was, and am, very proud to be featured as one of the Songs Of The North poets. After getting my hands on my very first solo collection, my appetite has been whetted!

image

 

Travel

In September I fulfilled a long held ambition to visit Sweden, spending four great nights in the capital, Stockholm. Next in my sights is Malmö, including a journey over the Öresund Bridge to Denmark to meet up with an old school friend. I may have to wait until 2017, though. Christmas cleared me out.

image

Small Screen

The Bridge. 

Speaking of the Öresund Bridge, I was much excited by the return to our screens of the joint Swedish-Danish crime series, Broen. I love this programme, one of the best things I have seen on television for a long time, and had been counting down the days until Season Three debuted in the UK. In the plethora of crime dramas that seem to dominate our television sets at the moment, I don’t think there is any character more  interesting and intriguing than that of Swedish police officer Saga Norén, played by Sofia Helin. This season lived up to the standards set by the previous two, and for the first time we saw a vulnerability in Saga. In no time at all I found myself drawn in again, both fearful and rooting for Saga. Now in my greed I want a Season Four!

image

Doctor Who. 

As an unashamed Whovian, I have been a little disappointed with some of the writing for Capaldi’s Doctor, (even though I do like his portrayal of the Time Lord), but the 2015 Christmas special was a highlight. Whereas some episodes have been too convoluted in a seeming attempt to be ‘clever’, this was a straight, enjoyably old fashioned adventure romp. River Song is a delight, and that moment (pictured) when she recognises the Doctor (who she had only known during Matt Smith’s tenure) for who he really was, was profoundly moving. But then I’m just a sentimental softie at heart.

image

Big Screen

Star Wars The Force Awakens. 

The nerd in me was counting down, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. The moment when Han Solo and Chewbacca unexpectedly emerged onto the screen again for the first time, well, yes, the sentimental softie escaped again. I loved the film, but something occurred in it that I am biting my tongue not to say. Somehow I have managed to avoid venting my spleen as I’m mindful of spoilers for those who have not caught the film yet. BUT IT RUINED MY WHOLE DAMN CHRISTMAS! My wife, who hasn’t seen the film and cares not a jot about spoilers, told me several times to get over it as it was ruining her Christmas too. You will have to see it to discover what upset me so, or call back to Jackdaw in a month or so. There has been a great disturbance in the force.

image

Music

The Beatles. 

Many times over the last eighteen months or so (since I first started using it) I have complained about my favourite group of all time not being available on Spotify. I discovered some great new groups on there, but I was unable to fall back on my default musical love. Then suddenly Beatles fans everywhere were granted an extra Christmas present by the news that the Fab Four were now available for streaming. Oh how I have already plagued my poor, beleaguered wife and children! Doing the pots, doing anything-every single Beatles album was accessible. And now I’m thinking of playlists 🙂 Here’s to 2016. You’ve got a lot to live up to.

image

Birthday Boy

My little lad James is a big four today.

He will be starting school in a couple of weeks. He seems too small-he qualified by just four days, so will be one of the youngest in his class. If he had arrived on his due date then he wouldn’t be going until next September. That would be another twelve months of devoting himself to my distraction.

Like boys the world over, he can be obsessive about the things that he likes. I won’t go into all of the presents that he got, now lying across our toy strewn floor, but let’s just say that he will be exterminating his sisters and reversing my polarity all day.

To paraphrase a fellow Mancunian, he’s not twistin’ my melon man. He’s reversing my polarity. 

Paracetamol loading.

 

image

A Glimpse Through The Dark Glass

A few of my recent posts have been a little time-oriented.

I came across a quote a while ago in a book, and now I can’t find who it was that made it, or exactly what it was, verbatim. But it was something along the lines of how we cannot appreciate the present because we are too caught up thinking about the past, and planning for the future.

Or was it re-living the past and fearing the future?

If only we could learn to live in the eternal now, letting nothing pass us by. Opening our senses to the full, letting life flood us as it is happening. If we could but appreciate and experience all the good things that are occurring, and attempt to deal with the bad, so that they can be dealt with and filed away. Not hinder us, tearing us this way and that. Splitting us asunder from the present.

I know I speak like a naive idealist. But it would be good.

Of course another meaning for the word present is gift. I like that. An ongoing moment of opportunity that is given to us with grace.

All of us live in context, shaped by the time and place and circumstances that we find ourselves in. No matter where we may travel to, whatever strange and exotic shores we may find ourselves on, we take this shaping with us. All played out on our inner landscape. We are all made up of past experiences and current stimuli. I think what we need is a certain amount of acceptance.

Every view we hold, every opinion we develop, all have their point of origin. Our self-source, if you like. Even the genius is not an anachronism-that blinding flash of insight still has a source. A fertile ground from which it suddenly sprouted.

But what about the future, that distant, unknown destroyer of dreams? If you could somehow pierce its sanity-saving cloak, would you want to?  Or would knowing of future events absolve us of both action and responsibility? Those of you who are Doctor Who fans will know that the Doctor often speaks of fixed points in time. Would those fixed points be malleable, be subject to change? I’ve no idea! But I do know that the Doctor always has his hands full trying to save an imperilled universe, and is usually up to his eyes in paradoxes.

There are many scientists and physicists that talk about such things in a way that is beyond me, that makes my confounded eyes glaze over. You could always seek out their books if you are actually that intrigued.

This here is just a rambling set of questions provoked by my quest to locate a quote that I’ve temporarily lost. Everything is temporary!

And I think the main question is: if you could see into the future to discover what life holds in store for you, would you want to do it? With all the ramifications involved?

Well, would you?

 

Oh Norma Jean, if you only knew.

20140726-083640.jpg

 

New Year:The Last Words Of A Sentimentalist

Well as conversations go, I couldn’t see the problem.

The end of the year seems to make all of us into philosophers and analysts, and my wife was in suitably reflective mood. Looking back on 2013, she considered the highs and the lows, the blessings and the challenges. She paused when thinking of loved ones lost. She talked of the things that she had found trying, the uncertainties of life that caused her to worry, but also the successes that brought her great joy. She talked of our growth as a couple, and as a family, the way our children were continuing to blossom, and looked forward to greater opportunities for us all in 2014.

Then she asked me to give my perspective on 2013.

“Well, the most emotional parts was Agnetha Fältskog coming out of exile, and Tom Baker appearing at the end of the Doctor Who anniversary special.” 

It was when I saw the look on her face that I began to falter.

“Erm….” (where was I? Oh yes-emotional) “James Herbert dying too….I loved his books when I was younger.”

She seemed to be waiting for something else, but I couldn’t fathom what, and as the silence grew between us, she then said, in a very clipped fashion:

“And what about plans for 2014?”

I didn’t feel, exactly, that she was testing me, but I did begin to feel uncomfortable, and thought that the best policy was honesty:

“Well, I am expecting City to win the league.”

Best Wishes to you all from North Manchester General Hospital. Hope the year is a good one for all of us single people.