The World, Both Small And Wintry

I have said it more than once: what a small world this is. Aside from all redundant technology, sometimes the particulars of conversation highlight this.

I was speaking recently with a friend, a priest of this parish, and mentioned the northern poet Adam Johnson, who died in 1993 in his late twenties. It turns out that this friend knew him back in the eighties, and as ever I marvelled at the coincidence of connections. The conversation led me to seek out the poet’s work, and I share with you now one of his poems that is a favourite of mine, winter lover that I am.

December 1989

The nascent winter turns

Each root into a nail,

And in the West there burns

A sun morbid and pale.



Now, from the city bars

We drift, into a cool

Gymnasium of stars -

The drunkard and the fool:



Into the night we go,

Finding our separate ways -

The darkness fraught with snow,

The leaves falling like days.

             
     - Adam Johnson

In The Moment

I had one of those moments tonight when everything just feels right, when, in some kind of revelatory sense, a glimpse of something extraordinary and meaningful filters through into the everyday life.

I was sat at a table in an Italian restaraunt. We were in between courses, and I found myself in a moment in which, paradoxically, I felt both detached and totally connected.

I sat back in my chair, looking at my two daughters facing me, laughing away as they played some kind of intuitive game together, oblivious to everyone else present in their giggles and playfulness. I shifted my gaze to their right, and my son was sat there sucking on a slice of lemon he had fished out of his glass of coke, absorbed in his own personal explorations and trials.

I turned to my right, where my wife was engaged in an intimate conversation with a good friend of ours, totally at ease in an immediacy of trust that had been brokered over several decades.

I felt no desire to break my silence and join in with any part of this portrait, to engage with either child or adult. I was content to just take in all of this as though I was some invisible witness, unsensed and undetected, and any sudden involvement on my behalf would break this blissful spell. I sat there among these people that I love, joined together around two covered tables, feeling a part of something bigger than myself, drinking it all in in great, savouring gulps.

Outside a dark December night was pressing up against the windows, held at bay by the warmth and light of this perfect evening.

In this eternal now, life was a blessing.

Everything was right.

Two Years

City Jackdaw has been going now for two years. The time really has flown.

Children, when they reach the age of two, are able to say three word sentences or more, sing to themselves, dress themselves in easy clothes, can be clingy one minute and fiercely independent the next.

I think this blog is developing age appropriately.

In the Twenty-First Century, the world truly is our neighbour. You fine folk who read my haphazard posts live in all corners of the world. Some of you are blistering beneath the sun at the same time as some of you others are battling through snowdrifts. Some of you are alighting on City Jackdaw not long after falling out of bed, while some of you others are just stumbling up the stairs. Some of us are on first name terms, some of us are satisfied with an occasional nod.

It’s all cool.

Whether you are here in my backyard, or whether I have to scramble up my rickety fence to catch a glimpse of you, I appreciate you all.

Claws For The Weekend:Rudolph Redeemed

I know what you are thinking:

“He’s lost the plot! Now he’s listing the lyrics to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

But bear with me.

My two youngest children were singing their own, inimitable, inharmonious version of the song. When they had finished their discordant ditty,charming though it was, a thought struck me. What happened next?

“Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose
and if you ever saw it
you would even say it glows
all of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names
they never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games
then one foggy Christmas eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
then how the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee (yippee)
“Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
you’ll go down in history.”
It doesn’t say what happened next. Just what was Rudolph’s response to that fickle, insular bunch?
I hope Rudolph told those other reindeer just where to go.
It’s the usual story, a cowardly clique gangs up to bully and cold shoulder the one that they deem different and not worthy of their friendship. But as soon as he is shown some recognition by the big cheese, and therefore becomes popular, they all want to know him and ride his train.
Well I hope Rudolph gave them the cold shoulder and told them where they could stick their boringly brown noses. I hope he remembered his roots and stuck with those who knew him when he was a nobody.
If it was a Hollywood film, he would turn on the sycophantic stags, wipe their faces in his reindeer droppings, spurn the limelight and return to the young doe that he had left behind. The one who had always loved him for being him.
Especially in time for the rutting season on Autumnwatch.
See if that makes his nose glow.
Write your own scripts this weekend.
See you on the flipside.

A Deluge of Doctors

The moment was almost  upon us. After counting down the days, and all the hype, it was now time for the 50th Anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. I was sat with my unenthusiastic wife Jen, who would rather be watching X Factor. Quarter of an hour to go, trying to wile away the time by browsing my Facebook feed, I learnt that Darren, an old school pal of mine who had moved from oop norf (Manchester) to darn sarf (London), along with his partner Laura, had somehow managed to acquire cheap tickets to watch it in the cinema.

Of course I took the posts personal. Every mention of the Whovians in fancy dress, how he made sure he didn’t sit behind the Sontaran as the massive potato head would obstruct his view. Being offering a jelly baby by a three foot cybermidget.

Consumed with jealousy?

As the clock wound down towards zero hour and my wife Jen sighed and plugged into her ipod?

You bet I was.

I tried to replicate the cinema experience, switching off the light, getting some chocolate, trying to ignore my wife singing along to The Dooleys.  But, then, I learnt that

he

was

viewing

in 3D.

In complimentary

stupid glasses.

To pass those final, frustrating minutes before the show aired, I decided to swamp his newsfeed with relevant Doctor images.  Just for my own amusement, you know. Maybe the vibration of numerous Facebook notifications would distract from his ogling of a Leela in a loincloth,a Romana in a rah-rah, with a surreptitious glance towards Laura from behind his green and red lenses.

The product of a juvenile mind, I thought that I would share them here with you. I should explain that references such as ‘chips and gravy’, are just a peculiarity of the north-south divide.

 

Just like your London buses, you wait hours to see a Doctor then five turn up at once.

photo (3)

 

Great atmosphere here, even Jen is getting into the swing of things

photo (4)

 

Tenth Doctor:”Cheap tickets, for the southerners, to watch in an obscenely comfortable cinema in 3D?”

Eleventh Doctor:”Yes, while those poor commoners oop norf have to watch it sat on the couch, squabling kids around their feet, wives that would rather watch that X Factor rubbish. We must do something timey wimey and wibbly wobbly.”

photo (54)

 

“Oi, you Cockneys-take those damn silly glasses off first!”

photo (55)

 

“I can barely watch, Pond. No gravy. Chips…without gravy.”

photo (56)

 

“Hello my Cockney Darlings! Time to kick some Dalek arse!”

photo (57)

 

Darren, when you said you got those tickets cheap, did you bother to read what it actually said on them?

photo (58)

 

Yes I know. I’m cool in 3D.

photo

 

Unravel this one, Jeremy Kyle.

photo (59)

 

No Jen-don’t put your earphones back in. Let me run this by you again…

photo (60)

 

Darren, you haven’t have you? Laura please check and let us know. Don’t worry, they won’t be in 3D.

photo (61)

 

This is just up your street Darren. The London eye, I mean, not the erm, you know…

photo (62)

With this last photograph posted, I ran out of time. The programme started, and it was ‘fantastic’, to quote the above Doctor. With the mini episode before it-The Night of The Doctor, both Paul McGann’s and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor were tied up nicely,providing continuity, and I just love how the ‘new Doctor Who’ acknowledges, references, and celebrates its own history.  Has to be important for a show about time travel.

And for a long term fan like me, the surprise appearance, at the end of the episode, of my Doctor, the great Tom Baker, was the icing on the cake.

We only have to wait until Christmas now to see Matt Smith’s regeneration and the new Time Lord on the block.

Darren-what do you mean, you have tickets?

Jen-what do you mean, divorce?

Our Anniversary Waltz

Today is my wedding anniversary, and if I know what is good for me I cannot let it pass without giving it a mention.

Jen and I have been married eight years today. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

We met when I was six, when my family moved house to a new town and I started afresh in the infants school that she was in. I have memories of her during this period,and of our juvenile interactions, which lasted until, aged 11, we were separated as we went to different secondary schools. Three years later we were reunited when we both left our respective secondary schools and moved on to the same high school, and from that moment on us two former primary school friends became inseparable best mates. Long after we left school and took our first faltering steps upon the road to adulthood we remained close.

As life took us both this way and that we stayed in touch, supporting each other through difficult times, congratulating each other in good times. I went to her engagement party. She came to mine. People would often comment on our closeness, and over the years we must have used that old clichè ‘just good friends’ a thousand times. When that thorny topic would arise, be it in the media or in our social circles, about whether members of the opposite sex can ever be just purely platonic friends (think Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in that film, minus the restaurant scene) we would say that we were living proof.

Now we are married with two children. Hmm……

We finally gave into what everyone else could see as the inevitable, and today we have been married for eight years. I guess it was all about the timing. We play the long game. If you want to break it down:

Friends: 36 years

Best Friends : 28 years

Relationship: 9 years

Married: 8 years

But it can never be just about numbers.

When it came to the day of our wedding, as well as the  readings that we had chosen, I felt it right to include my own words,to make it more personal. As a result, a few days before the wedding I wrote this poem which was read out by an old school friend of ours.

We Who Were Friends

We who were friends
and now lovers.
We who were separate
and now stand as one.
Remember the tears.
Remember the smiles.
That we shared in our youth
and our song.

We who entrusted
our secrets.
In rapt abandon, right
from the start.
An instinctive embrace
in the pale morning light.
Two souls
one animate heart.

We who were bonded
in childhood.
Together through each stage
of life.
A boy and his pal.
A lad and his mate.
And now, a man
and his wife.

© AJM