Summer Lions

I’m sitting in the garden, once again, this time reading Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

It’s summer. I can smell summer; taste summer. My jackdaws are lining up along the neighbour’s rooftop, tethered by the sun.

It’s in the autumn I’ll think of my father; my grandparents, see the young ghosts of my brother and I playing cricket in the ginnel, dwarfed by walls I can comfortably peer over.

For now, it’s my children, playing with the dog as I pause to watch, mid-sentence, laughing on the threshold of a great beyond.

On The Centenary Of His Death

I’ve mentioned this man before on City Jackdaw, usually around Remembrance Sunday, but I feel that I should mention him again as today is the centenary of his death.

He is my Great Grandfather Albert Cartwright, of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

This is him with his wife, Ada. Maybe they had the photograph taken on his enlistment in 1914 because, you know, just in case . . .

He died at home, on this day in 1919, after being gassed during the second battle of the Marne in 1918. He was just forty. He lies in an unmarked grave at Phillips Park Cemetery, not far from Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.

That battle marked the beginning of the end for Germany. He almost made it safely to the end of the war.

He almost made it to 1920.

It wasn’t the first time he’d been injured. This photo, of course in black and white, shows Albert wearing his ‘hospital blues’, uniform they were given while recovering in hospitals back in England.

His war record states that he died on New Year’s Eve, though his death certificate says it was the 30th.

Perhaps it was either side of that midnight hour, when twenty four hours later the city would be ringing in the New Year, while his newly widowed wife Ada and his children, my Grandmother Lilian among them, would be grieving their loss.

It was a loss that reverberated down the years with my Gran.

And so, even further down the line, I remember him now, and always ❤️

Three James’ Day

Four years ago; the connections are forever.

City Jackdaw

Yesterday was a special day in our home-it was the third birthday of my son James. For those of you who are familiar with my post Boonless In Southport (19th June) you will know just how much he is obsessed with balloons. Mention it being someone’s birthday, anyone’s birthday, be them seven or seventy, and his immediate response is “Boons!” So, of course, first thing in the morning he was confronted with balloons everywhere-helium filled, resting against the ceiling, tied to chairs and door handles, and breath filled, covering the floor in a carpet of colour. His presents and cards weren’t even afforded a second glance.

Cue Sinatra: For I only have eyes, for boons.

He loved being the center of attention for the day, offering long-lashed, bashful eyes in response to the obligatory ‘Happy Birthday’ song.

I have a diary, as I expect most of you do. Along…

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D-Day And The Lost Stories Of Two Grandfathers

From 2014, the 70th anniversary.

City Jackdaw

Today, as I am sure you will be aware, is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. I intend to watch the many programmes commemorating the event today, my thoughts no doubt turning to my two Grandfathers who took part in history’s largest ever land invasion. I know next to nothing of their own, personal D-Day stories. I know very little of their time during the war full stop. Like so many, it appears that they didn’t speak too much about it. And by the time my own curiosity had grown, it was too late.

One of them died of cancer before I was born, the other died when I was twenty years old,  at a time when I had yet to fully develop my great interest in history, and in particular my own family history.

I do wish I had asked. Either them, or other older relatives who may…

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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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Father And Daughter, Summer

Father And Daughter, Summer

The swallows return, skimming the blue.
Hoist up the flag, fluttering in the breeze.
The summer's here, her heralds settled
upon the greening, burgeoning sea.

Full womanhood, now, she draws the eye,
points to the orchard; her hungry womb.
The sun sinks into his scoured face.
The air is sweet, but tinged with myrrh.

Banish the shadows, the star-filled night,
(the clock still ticks the markers down).
The day now reigns, resplendent robes
clothes them both and stakes a claim.

The poet; the painter; the waking muse,
blinks it all in, and turns the page.
Immortalises all, in frozen time,
airbrushing out the parting waves.


©Andrew James Murray


A Library Burns Down

You know, in my head, I’m still a teenager. Early twenties at a push. But last night a little reality leaked in when I spent an hour or so outside, reading The Mockingbird Next Door, by Marja Mills.

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There is some controversy about this book. Harper Lee issued a statement saying that she had not participated in the writing of it. But (in effect a rebuttal of the rebuttal), her elder sister, Alice, issued one confirming both their involvement and approval of it. As did a close friend, who was quoted many times in the book. It does seem that Harper’s close circle of friends, for so long famously protective of the author and unwilling to speak about her, were suddenly available and willing to talk, indicating that they had indeed been given permission by the Lee sisters.

Perhaps.

Maybe the source of this new openness to engage was an anxiety about two movies being made at the time about Truman Capote, spotlighting Lee’s role in the research done for his book In Cold Blood, in addition to a new, unauthorised biography of Lee due to be published.

I loved the book, throwing as it did new light on a favourite author, and also a disappearing window of the world.

Anyway, I digress:

In my head, I’m still a teenager, and all that . . . but while reading, I occasionally came inside to get a coffee, answer the call of nature, etc, and in doing so I would catch a glimpse of my reflection in the kitchen window. Wearing a particular blue jumper, and my reading glasses, I saw in that reflection both my father, and my grandfather. I could imagine a long line of Murray’s behind them, too, stretching back far in time.

In Mills’ book there is an African proverb quoted:

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.

All the acquired knowledge and wealth of life experience, gone. I get that.

I am by no means an old man, still in my early forties, but as the unacknowledged (by default) historian of my family, I often think that I should start writing down the things that my grandparents and other elders told me, along with the stories that I have discovered in the pursuit of uncovering the lives of my ancestors. Because if I leave it too late, all of that information would be lost, to my children and their children. The struggles; the triumphs. All gone.

Wasted.

It would indeed be like a library burning down.

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