A Final Manchester Post: Still The Flowers Grow

(Things have got heavy here on City Jackdaw, understandably so. This will be, I think, my final post on the Manchester bombing. At least for a while. And here are some final photographs: some inspiring, some personal, some heartbreaking. Thank you for acting as witness with me.)

There are still many armed police on the streets. I saw one heading for the Gents toilet in the Arndale shopping centre. “Do you want me to mind that while you go in?” I asked him, indicating his gun. He laughed. I’ve seen other officers reassuring children, placing their helmets onto young heads for photographs.

Meanwhile, outside, still the flowers grow.


Real bees-Manchester bees, were flying among the thousands of flowers, unthwarted by the barrage of moving tethered balloons.


There was a subdued air compared to the earlier staunch triumphalism, the knee jerk refusal to be cowed.

My two youngest children and I.

Then, somewhere beyond this transformed square, a lone piper began to play.


A woman took a photograph of her little girl, stood in front of the flowers. “I’ll show you this when you grow up.”

“I don’t want to grow up,” she replied. I can understand why.

Everywhere: an alternative message to hate.

Remembrance of the twenty two.


And messages to ourselves; to each other:


But also, heartbreakingly, survivor’s guilt:


My kids stayed a little longer, quiet and thoughtful among the reflecting figures.


This place of memorial draws the creatives: the musicians; the poets; the painters. I’ve seen them everywhere, and of course I’m one too. Bleeding our art through open wounds.


Victoria train station, through which the Arena (site of the bombing) can be accessed, has now reopened. Samaritan volunteers were present everywhere, handing out cards for anyone who may need help. Above the platform scaffolding shows where the damage is still being repaired, draped by one of the We Love Manchester signs that adorns the city.


And also this, a memorial to the dead, and a tribute to the people:


This has been laid, naming and depicting the dead as angels. The five males in white, the females in pink, the girl with the balloon the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie.


I left the centre still, even more so, a proud Mancunian, moved by the resolve of the Manchester people.

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And The Clock Ticks On

A memory reblog-my daughter has recently turned ten years old. This was from when she turned eight.

City Jackdaw

My daughter turned eight years old today. On greeting her and wishing her ‘Happy Birthday’ this morning, she told me that she said a prayer last night in bed:

“Thank you for being seven, and thank you for all my remembers.”

I loved that last bit-thank you for all my remembers. Her way of summing up the past twelve months of her life, all of the memorable moments in the cavalcade of chronological events.

The other day I was watching her younger brother James from the kitchen window. He was out in the garden, studying a bird perched in a tree above him. He was serious and rapt, the hint of the handsome man he will be painted there on his face, and I found myself confessing a sad, wistful thought to myself:

I wish I was younger.

I have four children, and their arrival into the world was spaced…

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Farewell, Old Friend

A year ago today we lost our family dog, how fast it has gone. When I posted this last year it seems I inadvertently upset people: mothers on the school run was asking me not to post anything else about him, I got a message from a girl on holiday in Spain: ‘I’m in tears, my mum’s in tears, the waitress serving us has two Labradors and she’s in tears!’ It wasn’t my intention then or now, I’m just remembering our old friend.

City Jackdaw

Dog lovers: why do we do it? I mean really, why do we fucking put ourselves through it?

We know, when we let them into our homes and incorporate them into our family dynamics, exactly what their lifespan is. We know that they don’t live as long as we do, and that there is going to be an emotional payback for all of the years of unconditional love and non-judgemental companionship that they offer us. But it is only when you reach that devastating moment of reckoning when you ask the question: is it all worth it?

I’m a Doctor Who fan. How many times have I heard it said, courtesy of the script writers, that the Doctor doesn’t stay with his companions because the hurt of watching them age and die, while he goes on, is too much. Having watched the programme since the 80’s, you think I’d have…

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Diving for rose petals

For all you dog lovers, a short, moving post here from Lady Fi.

Lady Fi

Many many thanks for all your wonderful messages of sympathy on Oscar’s passing. It has meant a lot to me.

This week I went down to Oscar’s favourite place, the jetty on our lake,

And threw some rose petals into the water as a way of honouring my furry friend.

Ruby, who is Oscar’s great-granddaughter, and who we have been fostering for the past nine months,

Decided to honour Oscar in his favourite activity: diving into the lake.

Ruby rose petals copy

She carefully retrieved one of the roses

And placed it on the jetty.

Bright colours copy

We sat for a while

Enjoying the autumn scenery and good memories of Oscar.

I’d say that a part of him lives on in Ruby, who is now our own dog.

Ruby on pier copy

Be warned: you might see more pictures of wet (and dry) dogs here on my blog after all!

Big brown eyes copy

For more good memories, please visit: Our World Tuesday.

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Love v Hate: A Dialogue

I recently had a conversation on another blog, whose author was asking the question:

‘Which is stronger, love or hate?’

Stripped down, the dialogue, in essence, went like this:

Me: ‘Hate appears stronger because it is extreme. Mostly, (although maybe not in all cases) it is similar to anger in which it is relatively short lived and channelled. The strength shows in the initial burst. But love endures, it has a constancy that stretches on and so does not appear extreme. It’s strength is in the longevity of the emotion. It can outlast hate, I think.’

Blogger: ‘I agree with what you say. I have never thought of hate being similar to anger before. I wonder if holding grudges has any role in this one? Love, yes-I see. But what about infatuation? Can that be classed as love?’

Me: ‘I would say that infatuation is akin to obsession. Love is, or should be, selfless, whereas infatuation is all about self.’

Blogger: ‘That is a new thought, too. So are infatuated people aware of their own ‘selfish’ behaviour?’

Me: ‘I would say that they are aware of what they are doing, because they are feeding their own needs so are not acting subconsciously, but are perhaps confusing infatuation for love. They see only from their own perspective.’

Blogger: ‘Ah, there we go!’

In considering the question set by the blogger, that of which between the two is the strongest emotion, I took this to mean not as the strongest emotion felt, but as an observation in an almost abstract, disengaged manner. I gave my answers as above, but this cannot be definitive. Context, experience, and circumstance must all play a part.

We cannot help but bring to the question our own preconceived perceptions and prejudices.

Also, how we view our life here colours our view. If we see ourselves as living a spiritual life,   and our time here as just the beginning of a long journey, then love must be our default setting. Any straying from this core essence is but an aberration to be corrected.

If we view our existence as purely physical, and temporary, then the process of living leaves us prone to the whole, reasonable gamut of emotions, each as valid as the other.

But back to the original question: which is stronger, love or hate? What do you guys think?