From my poetry blog.

Coronets For Ghosts


With an ardent longing,
sending her mating call over corpulent dune
to my sand-sprinkled raptures,
wildly adoring 
her untameable passion
but knowing my place;

walking these ravaged islands,
carrying the frantic coupling 
in my bedchamber,

tasting the salty spume still,
her lingering kisses
an invitation 
to slip beneath her surface,


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Welsh Odyssey #2

On a beautiful summer’s day I climbed the conical hill at Mwnt, finding myself a spot to sit and stare out over Cardigan Bay, which is an inlet of the Irish Sea. Living in Manchester, over thirty miles from the nearest coast, it’s only when I come to places like this that I get a sense of living on an island.

In a land-locked city of concrete and glass it is easy to forget.


Taking in the blue horizon, some lines from a poem of mine came to mind which underlined this ‘remembering’ of my island roots.

Here it is in its entirety:

Sea View

There is a mutual exchange,

the boats on the horizon 

pass each other miles apart

but appear much closer 


A white-thimble lighthouse

provides scale and contrast

to the pelagic braid,

while salty notes,

redolent of summers past,

climb to this terracotta tiled balcony,

where we are reminded

that we live on an island,

perched precariously on the rim

of our outer edge,

looking out to sea.

©Andrew James Murray


I Love Lucy

I love this photograph, taken by Dmitry Vasyanovich, of an encounter with Lucy, at Guadalupe, Mexico.

I will show this to my fifteen-year-old daughter, Courtney, for a bit of perspective. She won’t go in a room if there is a spider in it.


I hope the diver learns to be more careful, though, or the next time he goes down he will be able to wear fingerless gloves. Or a sleeveless suit.

Shark Bites. Eyes Water.

I have always felt an attraction for the coast, a pull towards the ocean. But I am aware of my limitations, and how actually being on or actually in the ocean reduces my ability to be in control. It is the untameable power of the ocean that makes me both nervous and conscious of my shortcomings, so I like to enjoy the ocean from the relative safety of the land.

What has created my from-a-distance love of the ocean? Is it purely a question of aesthetics, or something deeper? The Celtic meaning of my surname is ‘sea settlement’ or ‘settlement by the sea.’ Perhaps there is something there, genetically dormant, that occasionally surfaces like a memory without a reference point. Perhaps there is nothing in that whatsoever and I may as well be called Jones.

I have also long felt a fascination towards sharks. What is it that draws me (in a definite non-literal sense!) towards these creatures?

An anachronism more ancient than the dinosaurs, sharks, more than any other species on the planet, appear to be detached, remote, so emotionless that they are impossible to anthromorphise. Sharks really do seem to be something other. Unknowable and unreadable.

Speaking of being unreadable, an early influence for me must have been the film Jaws, even if it did portray sharks in an undeserved, negative light. From my first viewing of it in childhood, it remains my favourite film, which I tend to re-watch around the Fourth of July. Jaws time.

Despite it being my all-time favourite movie, for some reason I never got around to reading the novel that inspired the film. Maybe because I had seen the film so many times I didn’t think it would hold anything new for me. But then in a recent conversation I learned that the book was different to the movie (I’ve no idea why I never considered this before seeing as though I almost always prefer books to films) and so I decided that I would give it ago.


I loved the book, and it was different, which helped me to read it as a stand alone novel without constantly comparing it to the film. Which wouldn’t be fair.

Although I do have to confess that I did picture the characters according to the actors who played them, and not according to Benchley’s descriptions of them.

In the novel Hooper (the likeable Richard Dreyfuss) has an affair with Chief Brody’s wife (the homely Lorraine Gary) who has a fantasy about being raped.

No. You don’t get that with Steven Spielberg.

One small pet hate was the way the author kept referring to the creature as the fish. Yes, technically it is a fish, of course, but that doesn’t sound anywhere as fearsome as SHARK! But on the whole the book was good, and the ending is very different from the ‘smile you son of a bitch’ film version.

Reading Jaws led to me buying the book that I am currently in the middle of:


This is a great non-fiction book about these creatures and how their existence is imperilled by the gluttonous, greed-driven creature that is now at the apex of every food chain on the planet.

Yes, I’m talking about you. And me.

In considering how everything on earth is connected, in more ways than one, I have just read a passage about how an essential part of our anatomy originated in fish, and how people tend to be comfortable about being described as a primate or a mammal, but not so over the moon about being called a fish. Not even a cold fish, just a fish.

Neil Shubin, in his book Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into The 3.5-Billion-Year History Of The Human Body, talks of the evolutionary debt that we owe sharks, not only on genetic levels, but for things such as the bones of our inner ear and the lever system that we use to bite.

But there is one aspect that I am not particularly enamoured about. Shark gonads are nestled near the heart. In human males they are located in the scrotum to allow our sperm to remain at the right temperature. Creating a weak spot in the body wall, this trade off between our fish ancestry and mammal present accounts for men developing hernias.

But not only that, there were times, many times, believe me, when I used to play football, that I could have done with being a shark. And now that I’ve had a vasectomy, and have no need for regulated sperm control, is there any chance that I could put my gonads back where they have always belonged, please? Before my lad is old enough to take me for a kick about in the park.

Consider it on my bucket list: relocation of gonads.

Now, back to my shark book.



A Boy’s First Sight Of Sea

As he approached the promontory, he wasn’t expectant. He was distracted by two of his favourite things-granddad and balloons. (“Boons! Boons! Purple boons, blue ones!”) His £1 fishing net may have been a give away, but he clutched it possessively without seeming to understand what it signified.

His older sister, of adventurous spirit, never hesitant or unsure, raced on ahead, disappearing from view as she mounted the steps then descended the other side. As James clumsily made his way up, I got ahead of him, determined to be in a position to see his reaction on first sight.

Using his granddad’s hand for support, he reached the top, tottered slightly, then looked in front. Those bright blue eyes of his, made even bluer in reflecting back the summer sky, widened, fixing firmly on the distant horizon.


Such a simple, short word, but the way he uttered it, the way he drew it out, held such greater significance, and made my heart leap in a shared acknowledgement. He turned his head slowly from side to side, scanning the whole panorama. Taking it all in. You could see it, he lost all sense of scale, and from that first momentary shock, the great expanse created in him the impulse to run.

And run he did. In wild abandon, all thoughts of balloons and fishing net discarded. He ran over the sand towards the sea, still some distance away, then veered this way and that, giggling as he moved, until finally, breathless, his little legs faltered and he came to a stop.

Then he became The Castle Rascal.

His sister Millie employed use of her bucket and spade to build a sandcastle, decorating it with a single seashell on top. But as she moved to build another one, he was in like a shot. Kicking it over and doing a celebratory, in-your-face-sister jig. “Nur-nur!”

“James!! she shouted angrily, but he already had his sights on her next castle, and she quickly headed him off, defending it ably like a knight of old.

He turned his face towards the sea, and was lost again. A moth caught in the thrall of the flame.

He set off towards the approaching tide, intent on acting upon its open invitation. Occasionally he would flinch as the shadow of overhead gulls skimmed across the sand towards him, seemingly to snatch him up, but he continued on. I stayed where I was, with his mother and his sister, watching the two figures of him and his granddad become receding, diminishing points. Allowing the moment to become a shared bonding of two different but connected generations.

If ever I lose my sense of wonder about this world, if ever my awe falters and I begin to take it for granted, the surefire remedy is to view it through the eyes of my delighted children.

The gulls cried overhead.

I helped my wife search for shells to be the crowning glory of my daughter’s new castles.

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