Ode To Freedom

These are difficult times; awful times.

Amidst the uncertainties tonight I found myself returning to this song, the closing track of ABBA’s long-awaited comeback album.

An understated anthem with a touch of the Tchaikovskys about it.

I would like to think that freedom is
More than just a word

Hope this post finds you at peace wherever you are.

A Bit Of The Wife’s Perspective

It was one of those historic moments.

I sat watching it live-the landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. Any of a number of things could have gone wrong, you couldn’t take anything for granted.

And I didn’t. As I waited I thought of our evolutionary journey and how we were landing upon an island we should never have been able to reach, navigating a vast ocean which we should never have been able to cross.

And I witnessed it all on my iPad with a brew:

We’re going in.

After a few moments of palpable tension, confirmation was given that the mission had been a success and Perseverance was on the red planet. In the control room there were cheers and fist pumps and congratulatory relief.

Then the first eagerly awaited images reached us, after travelling 205.62 million km, due solely to decades of man’s ingenuity.

Jen: “It looks like my cheesecake.”

R.I.P Colin Bell, The Reluctant Hero

I’m a little behind the times, and for that I apologise, but on the 5th of January Colin Bell, widely regarded as the greatest player to ever pull on the sky blue shirt for my team, Manchester City, passed away.

I’d meant to do a post about the time my wife and I met him, in memorable circumstances, a few years ago, but I got caught up in ‘stuff’ and haven’t written it yet. I will post that at a later date.

In the meanwhile, I’ve posted below a short tribute by 007 himself, Timothy Dalton, an avowed City and Colin Bell fan. It refers to the player’s beginnings and how this shy, most unassuming of men gained legendary status without really acknowledging that. There could be no more apt title for his autobiography: Reluctant Hero.

The tribute also shows him running through the streets of Manchester in a vain attempt to come back from the injury that prematurely called time on his career.

Please give it a watch.

V-Day, Great To See Day

A fragile, frosty morning, with the Warwick Mill intangibly framed against the dawn sky.

I took this photograph yesterday; today I awoke to rain. And you know how cold rain in December can be.

The Warwick Mill is an empty shell, surviving changing times and the neglect of abandonment. But for how long? The target of children and arsonists, it is the relic of a time when my town was a cotton town, employing hundreds of local people over many years. Today, if it was closer to Manchester, it would undoubtedly house converted apartments.

Instead, it houses pigeons and rats. But for now it’s still with us, and who knows what the future holds?

*

Speaking of the future:

Having been short on good news lately, there was such a lift today in learning that this December day is not only Tuesday, it is also V-Day. I’m not sure if the ‘V’ is for victory or vaccination, but they are both going hand in hand, anyway.

A 90-year-old grandmother this morning became the first person to receive the new Covid-19 vaccine. She was all over the news, sat in hospital having her jab while, symbolising the restored festive feel, wearing her Christmas jumper.

What a multi-cultural collaboration it has been to get here. The drug is from a US pharmaceutical company, the scientist behind it a Turkish immigrant to Germany, it’s manufactured in Belgium and our UK regulator is the first to approve it.

All of that ingenuity and endeavour and cross border co-operation has delivered.

I cannot remember the name of the woman who as first in the queue without googling, but I do remember the second patient: William Shakespeare! Not only William Shakespeare, but William Shakespeare of Warwickshire!

How’s that for a Winter’s Tale?

When asked how it went, I’d have really loved it if hed have replied “It was much ado about nothing,”

But still, at this time of year, the end of a cold and sorely taxing year, while the hours of darkness are deepening, there can also be discerned a shining light, a light that is slowly growing. A light that is heralding the hopes of a nation, coming with us through a gateway into a bright new start.

Turn On Your Lights And Be Damned

Guys, 2020 . . .

This Halloween I didn’t see a single trick or treater. Not one. In fact, for wont of a phrase, you could say that where I lived that night it was a ghost town.

My family are supporters of a local non-League club. This season started two months late, and we have managed to get to four matches before it has been suspended again. On Tuesday we had the chance of one final match before this pause, fighting the elements to get the game on, but then we received the message that we’d lost the other fight:

one of the player’s family members had tested positive for Covid-19 and now some of the players and coaching staff were also showing symptoms.

Everyone that attended last Saturday’s game were advised that if they’d had any contact with any players or staff members and began to experience symptoms then they should isolate and take a test. Straight off I remembered that one of the players had shook my hand before kick off, and also my lad James had his photograph taken with his favourite player.

With all of the publicity about distancing measures and the like I should have known better, but, being the social animals that we are, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid our long-established instinctive acts when greeting each other.

At the moment everything is fine, we all appear symptom free.

Tomorrow we enter our second national lockdown, provisionally set for a month. On the cancellation of our game I bid my fellow fans farewell until December, possibly even 2021, as our club was mothballed again.

The lights are going out:

Regular City Jackdaw followers may recall that every Remembrance Sunday I attend a service and place a cross at the foot of a memorial on which family members are named, and also another on the site of my Gt Grandfather’s unmarked grave. Well, I’ve just heard that the services are beginning to be cancelled for this year. You could have put money on it.

I will remember in my own individual way this year.

We lost Easter and now Christmas is under threat. Normally I’m not an advocate of Christmas decorations going up before December, but this year is not a normal year. I think if people need to then they should put up their trees and decorations whenever they want. Whatever it takes to lift their spirits.

This year more than ever, though it will be a different kind of Christmas, it is still the light in the darkness, the hope in despair.

And I do think that by then that the end will be in sight.