The Swifts Are Screaming

Above the house, the swifts are screaming.

Can you hear them, Clarice?

We are bogged down by time and heat and lethargy.

I’m thinking of an old poem of mine, Dog Days, written under the sledgehammer of a July, noon-day sun:

who can deny /the sapping sun/at its highest point /lording over /our genuflecting /straw gods

We are all genuflecting, lowering our weary, supine brows. It’s been a hell of a long summer, and we’ve not yet reached July. Who could have foreseen this, who prepared? Not we little men, we average Joes and Josephines.

Not tonight, you-know-who.

Tomorrow is more of the same, that has been foreseen, but nothing lasts forever, nothing lasts at all, and storms are due to hit the day after that.

And then we batten down. Straw Gods and rush men.

Children of the corn. Drinking in the rain.

New Life; New Blog: Family And Football

With the demise, temporary or otherwise, of my son James’ team, Bury FC, I started taking him to watch a local non-league team by the name of Prestwich Heys.

A world away from the Premier League football that we could stay home and watch on the TV, it’s a real community club that values our support and attendance.

With no pretensions or VAR in sight, it’s proper football with proper fans, giving a warm welcome and an inclination to visit again – for the club quickly got under our skin to the extent that it has now become a family affair with both my wife and daughter also attending games.

We were having a great season, and then that damn Covid-19 virus arrived and everything was brought to a premature close.

In the meanwhile, a friend has started up a blog about all thing Heys to keep everyone still connected in these barren months. It isn’t on WordPress, but if you follow the link below you can enter your email address to subscribe to his posts.

So if you have an interest in non-league football; football in general; want to know what is going on in this part of Northern England, or to gain a glimpse of some of the things that I and my family get up to here in Manchester, UK, please follow the link and subscribe.

It’s a new blog and I’m sure the writer will appreciate the support of you lovely people.

His name is Rick, go say hello.

https://rickbarrett753.wixsite.com/website-2

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.

Walk On, Dear Sibling

We’ve been blessed with great weather during this lockdown, For those of us that have gardens, being able to sit outside in the sunshine does help to raise the spirits. But you’ve got to feel for those people living in flats, especially high-rise flats, allowed one form of exercise a day.

This is our daily walk. My two daughters walk on ahead as my son makes it his intention to catch them up.

Sometimes it gets quite competitive. On one particular day I may walk with Millie, armed with a stopwatch, on the next with James, as they both try to beat each other’s personal best. Another day, Courtney and Millie will set off in one direction, James and I the other, and, with the route one large circular road, we end up passing each other along the way, spurring each other on with a wave and accusations of cheating.

And, if a wasp or a bee should come along, the girls end up breaking the land speed record.

After Midnight; Fevered Storms

Storm Ciara.

I can hear the gales outside. It’s just turned midnight and it feels as though the wind is trying to gain access to the house through the chimney.

I don’t know how that works. The fire isn’t on and the chimney breast rises up to it’s capped peak, but somehow it sounds like the wind is spinning around in there, a dark vortex of dust and ash. That comes over a little dramatic, I know.

I’m a little feverish. That can’t help.

It’s a perfect setting to begin an M.R James story, or one by that favourite of mine, Le Fanu, but I’m feeling weary and bunged up with this head cold. Not exactly conducive for an half hour’s reading.

No, I think I’ll go up. Even if the wind keeps me awake (my bedroom being up in the loft), bed is the best place for me.

Tomorrow I’ll get rid of this four day’s growth of stubble and step outside, blinking, into Ciara’s aftermath.

There is a poem in my second collection, called The Storm Moves Out, which was written in the wake of such a storm. I can’t recall now what that particular storm was called. I’m quite promiscuous like that-forget the last storm as soon as the next one comes along, for what is life but one long line of storms and sunshine?

I’ll take a walk around my town. Dawdle among the debris.

It may not produce a poem, but the fresh air will do me good.