Officially it is not winter for five weeks or so, but the seasons sometimes blur the calendrical boundaries and fixed points that we like to attribute to them.
Yesterday was the first real cold morning of the year. Crisp and clear, a light frost covered everything, a promise maybe of what is to come. And, perhaps with a sense of the shift in things, it seemed that my Facebook feed was filled with photographs by people drawn to mark this liminal time.
An old school friend by the name of Dave Wright lives up in Inverness, in Scotland. He has two things up there that I don’t have: a decent camera and the northern lights.
He took this photograph as a cold dusk fell upon the land, he himself hunkered down for the night. The tree serves as a point of focus in an otherwise horizontal sweep.
And then, as he quite aptly described it: the moment the sky danced.
Further south, across the English border (how we like to divide and designate, whether with land or time or people) another old school friend, Derek Bates, paused to take in the view from his works window. This was in Duckingfield, a town in Greater Manchester, with light struggling slowly over the bare hills, the low-lying land shrouded in mist.
To the east of Duckingfield, in my hometown of Middleton, the temperature stubbornly refused to rise. The mist appeared hesitant beyond the trees.
And then the school run beckoned, drawing us out of our heated home. Ignore that sun, it may as well have been a snowflake.
“It’s cold,” my daughter exclaimed as we hurried along the main road. “I can’t feel my legs.”
“They’re still there,” I replied. “Keep going!”
From my poetry blog, written fourteen years ago on the death of my father.
This poem appeared in my book, Heading North. Though it doesn't explicitly say so, I wrote it on the death of my father, fourteen years ago today. No More No more. No more bleaching white the nicotine stained flesh of your fingers, picking at the sterile veneer of cordiality amidst the well-thumbed scattered deserts from which ruins strive to rise. No more counting down the markers, elbows jostling territorially, courting, sequential swans rising in toasts, triumphant. Your slow, inexorable withdrawal left behind a vacuum, the equilibrium of a table out of kilter. No longer the trumpeted parading of the heir apparent, the tedious repetition of vine and tongue, reproduced seasoned lines framing the true inheritance and held to likeness. Casual comparity no more. No more. ©Andrew James Murray
It is now fourteen years since that day. R.I.P X
My Dad died ten years ago today. Although we mark it, the day itself is not significant.
There were days when he was here, then there are days when he is not. There is just a before and after.
Time appears cyclical to me, when I view the seasons, married to the differing stages of our lives, but we chart things in a linear fashion. That day ten years ago perhaps became a bridge, where plans/hopes/dreams pass by memories/regrets/hindsight , each moving in opposite directions.
What is known of us, that which survives us, becomes less and less as memories fade along with the number of storytellers.
The personalities and stories behind the details, enshrined in the remembrance of others.
I was going to publish some photographs here, reducing a full life to a handful of images, but instead I have decided the best way to honour him and the…
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A timely post from my poetry blog.
Pumpkin a hollowed out, rictus grin placed prominently at this liminal time a curious crossroads of old and new with but a cursory nod to the peaceful host frail shelter from this Samhain storm a rail of russet leaves and borne the broken limbs of oak and scorned a single flame, faltering ©AndrewJamesMurray
Russ Meehan, aka Qubek, is an artist whose work can be encountered during any walk around the Manchester area.
His murals feature throughout the region, including a huge image of 22 bees in the Northern Quarter, which represents the 22 killed in the Manchester Arena attack.
Meehan was asked to do the mural by Marc Gallanders, a graphic designer who set up the Bee Strong MCR in a bid to spread positivity in the wake of the Manchester bomb, and help children and adults have conversations about what happened. His project supplies worker bees which will be placed across Greater Manchester in a show of condolence and solidarity.
The 22 bees mural – a tribute to those killed at Manchester Arena was created in Monton.
Gallanders says: “We decided on Monton as I live there and a lot of the local schools had children directly affected by the attack, and we wanted to spread the love and the message of togetherness beyond the city centre.
“As months have gone by since the attack, we wanted the piece to help move the city and the community forward with a symbolic design.”
The new painting gives the illusion that bricks have been taken out of the wall, revealing a garden with bright flowers, blue skies, and of course – bees.
Meehan explains some of the symbolism in the work: “The flowers have all got meanings – I went through a library of flowers and read through what each of them meant.
“Snapdragons, they symbolise grace and strength, and in the same family there are some statice – which aren’t fully in bloom in the picture, they’re just behind the daffodils – they are a symbol of remembrance and symbolise sympathy and success.
“The rose at the bottom symbolises love, when you think of all the love which poured out of Manchester I thought that was a nice symbol to put in there.
“Also the rose is red because of Lancashire. Daisies symbolise innocence and purity.
“On the left hand side there’s a flower called the king protea, that stands for change and transformation and it signifies daring and resourcefulness.
“The daffodil, it’s indicative of rebirth, new beginnings, and eternal life. Now I’m not really very religious, but I think that’s a nice meaning, it’s like the flowers and the piece is in remembrance to those who have passed away. It’s almost like they’re living on through the art work.
“The bees represent the people of Manchester: hardworking individuals around the city. I didn’t want to drag it up again… I wanted to make a piece of art that celebrated not just the people who were there on the night but everyone in Manchester.
“It’s an overall celebration of people, and the love that people have for each other in this city.”