Long Black Train

Loved this. Evocative writing that deserves to be read.

HannahLearnsGrace

Trains have been a bit of a theme in my life. When I was fifteen years old, it was the first time it really became my own personal thing to feel and think about. My Dad had transformed the attic, open wooden rafters with shingle dust pouring in. Cracks in the ceiling where water drops dropped. He took it from unfinished, to a teenage girls safe haven. That’s what I called it, my safe haven. Sea-foam green walls, tapestries painted with rainbow tie-dye and the moon and the sun and the stars hanging from the ceiling. Taking turns flickering on and off throughout my teenage years were several white halo ceiling lights that were probably incorrectly wired. Speaking to my Dad’s intention to do everything he could with the very little he had. Alone in my own world of longings and wonderment, I would open up the window at night…

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33 Crows

My morning observations so far:

crow bullies jackdaw;

jackdaw bullies magpie;

magpie takes it out on any living thing in sight.

This lovely weather allows me to sit outside and watch all of this, but nobody takes it in better than my dog, Bryn, who stands on his rear haunches like one of those meerkats that grabs his attention on the tv. I think this position adds to his delusion that he can somehow reach them, that they are just extra toys with which he can play.

Watching all of these corvid shenanigans has put me in mind of 33 Crows by Kula Shaker. I was a fan of them in all their 90’s psychedelic pomp, but this is a more stripped back track, though, from their 2016 album K2.0.

You can skip the ad, if you want to, of course. Now I’m off to placate Bryn.

Small Talk And Dance

I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.

A friend, who works in mental health, commented recently on a supportive FB post of mine:

 Andy, I’m telling you now, I’m having a massive fuck-off barbecue when this is all done with. You, Jen and the kids are all invited. Dad dancing and social closeness required.

I look forward to that.

 

 

Pulling Up The Drawbridge

Yesterday, with the UK on the brink of lockdown, I made my final journey before hunkering down at home with the family for God knows how long.

My journey involved passing through two major northern cities, and both of them were like ghost towns.

This is Millennium Square, in Leeds. Normally teeming with life, there wasn’t a single soul to be seen. Up on that large screen, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer was giving advice about the Coronavirus, but there was nobody there to heed his warning except me.

A sign of the times: no matter the faith; the denomination, all services are cancelled. Faith can still be held, of course, faith and hope, but behind our closed and secluding doors.

There is normally the bustle; the mad scramble; dashing figures frantically digging out railcards and phones before merging into a bottle neck to pass through these ticket machines to access the platforms. This time, however, it was more in the way of an amble, a gentle stroll, a handful of people passing through these vacant gateways.

Waiting to board my train back to Manchester. There was only me on the platform. Eventually a couple of other people arrived. For most of the journey I had the carriage to myself. No guard arrived to check my ticket. The train passed through countless deserted stations. This country is shutting down.

The only thing to keep me company was this information screen, giving further advice about the virus. There’s no escaping from this all-pervasive crisis that is gripping the globe. When we pulled into Piccadilly, I noticed a girl, who had been in the adjacent carriage, use the cuff of her sleeve, wrapped around her hand, to open the door. Unwilling to risk the germs of previous travellers.

Back in Manchester. Exchange Square, in afternoon sunshine. Who’d have thought it? There’s only so many ways I can say empty or deserted. Only so many end of the world novels I can think of. A few posts ago I’d mentioned The Stand and ‘Salem’s Lot. Now a couple I’d read quite a few years back came to mind: Earth Abides and Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang. A touch dramatic, I know, but there is that feel to things. A man in Waterstones said that he felt like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man.

Cutting through the Arndale Centre, this is the Starbucks where my daughter works at weekends. Closed up; the machines stood redundant behind those darkened windows. The chairs stacked away to discourage loiterers.

There were a few sporadic shoppers, hunting in vain for bargains and best buys. Those days are over for now, the priority must be food. Of those that I did see, I’d say a fifth were masked.

I’m not sure how these people eat or drink while wearing these masks. And I know they weren’t supposed to be sitting there.

Lip-readers would be screwed.

From here I caught the bus to my town.

We are not quite on lockdown yet, at least while I’m writing this, but it’s surely imminent (the Prime Minister is due to address the nation in thirty minutes). For all intents and purposes, though, it’s already happened. Manchester is now off-limits to me and my clan. We are pulling up the drawbridge, but thankful for the technology that keeps us all connected.

This crisis is on such a scale that all of you-all of you, are likewise affected. No matter where you are in the world, in whichever country you are currently reading this post, this virus is challenging the very foundation of your everyday lives.

Look after each other, people, and stay in touch.

Together we will all pull through.