brigant

April not a fool, just a joker … This is hame clawed in icicles since April’s first weekend. April feels a brigant, with its hoards of dark clouds …

brigant

A great review of my second collection In Brigantia, (link above), written by Shetland-based poet Nat Hall. Please check out her work too.

Love And Eight (Sorry For The Pun)

Eight years. That’s how long WordPress tells me that I’ve been blogging for.

Eight years – my anniversary passing last week. Wondering if there was anything significant about this number, and knowing nothing of numerology, I looked it up:

It seems that eight is male, who’d have though that numbers had gender? And it represents infinity-is this a sign that I’m going to blog, like, forever?

What about the number outside of numerology? Where would I be without Google?

Eight is the natural number following seven and preceding nine.

Now that I can get my head around! It’s that number in between seven and nine. I should have put money on it.

Then next there was this:

An eighth is a common measure of marijuana, as in an eighth of an ounce.

Hmm . . . maybe Jackdaw will continue flying high, so to speak?

On other blog anniversaries I’ve tended to think about the posts I’ve done in the past, the journey I’ve been on. This time, though, I started thinking about the people that I’ve come to know along the way. This was prompted by a comment I made tonight on a US friend’s blog ( https://laurabrunolilly.com/blog/ ) about how I once met a fellow blogger face to face, quite by chance, at a funeral of all places. I recognised her and (re)introduced myself, and she later blogged about this coming together of both her ‘real’ life and her ‘virtual’ life.

There are people that have been flying with City Jackdaw since its very conception, there’s some that have joined along the way, and there were some who fell away.

I took some time to look at a few of my early posts, recognising among the comments names of old friends who, for whatever reason, appear not to blog anymore.

Some of them were very generous with their time and their friendship back then, and I felt genuinely saddened that they were no longer around. I wondered what they were up to now in their own part of the world, and hoped that life was treating them well.

Sometimes it’s the not knowing, and being deprived of a chance to express my gratitude, say farewell and wish them luck.

But sometimes it is the knowing-

there was a woman who read my posts and often left encouraging comments. I’d noticed her absence for a while before I learned the reason: she had died at the hands of her husband. Awful, and I was grieving the senseless end of a person I’d never met.

Wow! What has happened to this post?! I was supposed to be celebrating my anniversary!

I think instead I should just take this opportunity to express my gratitude now to all of you still following City Jackdaw, and hope we have some time together yet. If life does take you away from this virtual world at some point in the future, and you see in advance that approaching fork in the road, come and say goodbye first.

I’d appreciate that. I really am the sentimental sort.

Roaming In Rome, Connecting In Retrospect

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes to our locked-down spirits!

I sat a while in our town centre gardens, drinking a coffee while watching people come and go. It was almost, almost, like the world before, when nothing impinged on our intentions and freedom other than schedules and finance.

The new warmth took me back even further, to around 2006, when I was in Rome. I would get up early and after showering go for a walk along the Tiber. Along the way I’d call for a bottle of water from a small shop that I knew of, tucked away down a small backstreet, that was championed by the locals as it didn’t charge the inflated prices that the others inflicted upon we tourists.

I would loop a route back round to take in Peter and Paul in St.Peter’s Square, up there high on their pedestals, before the crowds arrived with their clicking cameras and eager eyes. As the day wore on, with the sun well on its way to reach its zenith, there were no shortage of churches that I could choose from to seek respite in their cool stone shade.

It was on one of those days, easy and long, that I was sat having a beer next to the Colosseum when my wife messaged to inform me that the girl we fostered had shaved off her eyebrows!

Talk about being hooked right back into the ‘real’ world back home.

It’s funny how different places bring different memories, small connections that lead into each other over time. Hopefully soon there will be new places offering new memories and connections to be made down the line.

Anyway, that particular memory found a home in my second poetry collection In Brigantia, born of a conversation with one girl that made a connection with the recollection of another.

Islands In This Cold, Cold Sea

Mornings following mornings following mornings, sitting with a coffee and nowhere to go.

But I can still travel. Without going out of my door as Harrison sang.

During this lockdown we are all becoming islands, but still part of a vast archipelago, casting our messages in technological bottles that lap against each other’s shores.

Tides and tidings, what do they bring today?

The RNLI had launched a vessel from their Aberystwyth base, just twenty minutes ago. I follow many of the stations around our coastline on Twitter, marvelling at the courage of the volunteers who regularly head out into the kind of conditions that would make me blanch.

As well as the personal Twitter sites of the bases around the shorelines that I’m familiar with, it’s the RNLI: Out On A Shout that gives the regular updates. The listings though are sparse, just postings of times and places, critically cryptic (or should that be cryptically critical?), prompting a visit to the named stations in the hunt for further details.

‘Cold cleavings of the sea’ now comes to mind, something from George Mackay Brown’s The Masked Fisherman which I was reading last night. Everything leads to something else, an ever moving current.

Closer to home I learn of the death of a local church minister that I was acquainted with. I didn’t know him well, but he was a popular figure around here as the many technological bottles testify to. The last time I’d seen him he appeared quite gaunt, the way time affects those who have not a lot of meat on their bones to begin with.

There seems to be a lot of people leaving us at the moment. People once present now cut adrift, disappearing beneath the surface of vision.

I decide on a refill, taking a glance out of the kitchen window. It is yet another cold start, the sun is trying its best, though.

Bang The Drum, Let Summer Come

I took this photograph a few days ago of a local fishing pond, frozen over.

There’s not much colour in it, is there?

January has always been bleak, even without the added burden of a national lockdown.

The lines of a poem in my first collection, Heading North, come to mind:

There’s not much colour in that either, is there?

But that was the particular tone of that poem, it is called Laments of the Urban Dead after all.

But we can still hold hope, if not joy.

I know I keep banging the same drum, but before we know it spring will be sprung, to be followed by the first fruits of summer. You know how it works.

Seasons don’t follow lockdown rules, nature doesn’t adhere to restrictions.

So hang in there, Jackdaw friends, wherever you are and whatever circumstances you find yourselves in, there are brighter days to come.