Within A Dampened Twilight

I love this photograph of Deansgate, Manchester, taken during a heavy rainstorm this August, 2019.

Taken from Deansgate Station, it has been likened to a Lowry painting.

It was taken by Simon Buckley, an artist whose photographs I discovered in his blog Not Quite Light, featuring photographs of the older, northern parts of the city that I love when, well, it was not quite light.

His blog led me to his website, where you can view and purchase copies of his prints:

https://notquitelight.com

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Through An Unsullied View

My son is easily pleased.

This morning, as we made our way through Manchester city centre, he wanted nothing more than to stop and watch the water fountains in Piccadilly Gardens.

Gardens. If ever there was a misnomer then that’s it. There’s barely anything green about it. Certainly nothing floral.

There is a much maligned concrete wall, dubbed by locals the Berlin Wall. What exactly the design was meant to represent I don’t know. Man seems to have a propensity for turning beauty into ugliness.

There was an attempt to spruce things up a bit last year. The council returfed the area, but with a deadly dovetail of hot weather and a failed sprinkler system, it turned out to be a dry brown mess.

Both a gateway and the city’s heart, Piccadilly Gardens could be Manchester’s showpiece open space.

It is a focal point now, but for not the right reasons. Crime is rising, the homeless are everywhere, punctured by the ragged, stiff-silhouetted users on Spice. A place best avoided at night.

I don’t know what the answer is. Heaven knows the council and the police have tried over the years. I think they are about to try again.

But this morning, this warm, July morning on the cusp of a heatwave, my son, oblivious to its sullied reputation, could see something more.

Water, sunlight, an anachronistic wonder.

A ‘Shoutout’ For In Brigantia

I have the honour of appearing on musician Laura Bruno Lilly’s site this week for the publication of my poetry collection In Brigantia.

You can read her review here:

http://laurabrunolilly.com/poetry-shoutout-in-brigantia-by-andrew-james-murray/

Summer Simmers

Night has finally fallen on this longest day. For once, the summer solstice actually looked like a summer’s day. I think the heat and energy was affecting everyone.

I saw a woman shouting like a matador to passing cars. “Speed down! Speed down! You’re speeding up!” Then, almost as an aside to herself: “I’m old school. Hard school.”

Can you actually ‘speed down’? Can an old school be a hard school? These are the things keeping me awake tonight.

Like I said, it’s affecting everyone.

Berlin

from my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

Berlin

Hanging on the telephone
in a hazy funk.
Ice in a glass.
The words
shape-shifting silver bream,
occasionally
catching the light.

The ice shifts,
tying me down,
caught on a line
encumbered, turbid.
Tasting Berlin: Berlin,
diluted,
hanging on the telephone 
in a hazy funk.



©AndrewJamesMurray

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Here In Manchattan

Waking up it was just another day: drop my son off at school, nip into Manchester to pick a few things up, have a coffee before making it back for home-time. But, on cutting through the Northern Quarter, I found my city transformed: the taxis were now an unfamiliar colour,

and our news was being brought to us by hitherto unread newspapers

Bemused, confused, years of watching sci-fi movies threw all sorts of implausible theories up. The only thing apparently clear was that I had woken up this morning as a citizen of an American city.

Last night must have been some night.

But no, despite being rather excited at the prospect of having undergone some kind of spontaneous relocation, I soon discovered that I had wandered onto the setting of a new movie, the Spider-Man spin-off Morbius. Apparently it is cheaper for Hollywood to film New York in our Manchester than it is to film New York in New York!

Forgive my ignorance, but when I heard whispers that Jared Leto had been spotted in a nearby street I thought that maybe he was one of those bloggers that my kids spluttered their cornflakes out about over breakfast, maybe after publicising his latest meet and greet.

So, oblivious to it all, off I went, leaving the bystanders behind, to have a leisurely coffee in my favourite coffee place. It’s my favourite because it is smack-bang in the middle of a heritage site where many generations, and many branches, of my ancestors lived, worked and died in old Ancoats, the world’s first industrial suburb. I love nothing more than to sit with a book in what is a charming, historic mill, making those personal connections that makes the history, well, more personal.

Except not today. For scenes were being filmed there, scenes that totally disrupted my quest for nostalgic feels. And so I set off again, trudging along those same streets that my ancestors once walked, streets that were far removed from the glamour of Hollywood.

Damn those Americans, coming over here and dominating our converted cotton mills. I found another place to drink, somewhere a bit more modern, and ordered an Americano. Americano! Was that them too?

Or was that the Italians? This used to be our Little Italy, after all.