December Mornings

Of course, our eyes are cast towards the approaching Christmas festival, but here, on the edges, it doesn’t have the feel of something building. Instead, there is a lazy, languid, gait to our journey, mellow and hazy, the yellows of half-light.

We are in an urban prelude, an introduction to theme.

The Rain Never Stops On Deansgate

from my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

The Rain Never Stops On Deansgate

The rain never stops on Deansgate,
it clears the pavement
faster than the tribal skirmishes

the corrugated shelters
and scaffolded walkways
snagging the flood-water flotsam,
huddled in pockets
of faithless devotions.

The doorways are already taken,
will be for the night,
as we turn blind eyes
behind fogged-over windows,
comfortably dysmorphic 
in this residence of root.

The Church of Scientology 
over the road
has closed up for the day, 
but I feel Tom Cruise calling to me.
Do they have 24-hour call out, I wonder?
Working on Hollywood time.

I don't think these city limits
can hold us,
want to hold us,

they just lay barbed hooks
beneath our skin
reeling us in
every time we glance back.


©AndrewJamesMurray

View original post

That Damn Shalamar

It was a simple cafe, one of those we call, in all innocence, a ‘greasy spoon’. You know the sort, all-day breakfasts, exercise thwarting ‘gut busters.’

In fact, when I was a postman, I used to deliver to one such cafe that was actually named Gut Busters. “They’ve got your name wrong again,” I said one morning, waving the letter before depositing it on their counter.

“Who are we now?” the proprietor asked.

“Ghostbusters! You could complain, but who you gonna call?”

Anyway, this was a similar cafe to that one, but located in the heart of Manchester rather than one of its northern suburbs. Being early morning, there were only three customers in the place, myself and two other guys who were sat at a table against the far wall. I don’t think they were homeless, but they looked like they’d seen better days. A bit dishevelled, maybe coming off a five day bender.

I was drinking coffee as they tucked into a fry-up each, and first became aware of them when one called to the waitress who was cleaning the counter.

“Hey love, who sings this song, d’ya know?”

She cocked an ear to the song coming from the radio. “Erm, . . . oh, I do know this one . . . who is it now?”

I couldn’t place the singer, but knew the song: A Night To Remember.

“Is it Diana Ross?” the man asked.

“Is it bleedin’ hell,” his mate replied for her. “It’s a man.”

“You can’t tell the difference with some of those funky singers. Is it Luther Vandross?” he persisted.

Get ready,” the waitress sang along as she searched her memory, “tonight!”

Outside the window, in the dirty grey light, my fellow Mancunians were falling into their daily routines. I bet most of them could navigate their route blindfolded, scattering the pigeons and beggars as they go.

The waitress brought my plate over, now humming along to a new and easily identifiable song. Abba, that Swedish superpower of airplay.

As I picked up my knife and fork I caught the eye of the man who’d asked the question. “That song, it was Shalamar.”

“Shalamar!” they both exclaimed.

“And friends!” the one that had posed the question, added.

“Yes,” his accomplice agreed, “Shalamar and friends.”

“You’ll sleep tonight now,” I said. But then felt the need for confession. I held up my phone. “I cheated.”

“You didn’t know it either!” they grinned.

Brought briefly together by a thirty-odd year-old song, we then retreated back to our respective worlds, those two sketching vague plans for the day and I catching last night’s match report.

I was draining the last of my coffee by the time they’d finished and paid their bill. I nodded to them as they made their way to the door, and the guy leading the way shook his head reflectively. “That damn Shalamar,” he said, before joining the parade on the Manchester streets.

Life Through A Lens

My wife and I were in Specsavers on Friday, tasked with the simple job of picking a pair of glasses each for reading. It’s an age thing.

She handed me a pair of round ones to try on.

Jen: “You look like John Lennon. Or that other one.”

Me: “McCartney?”

Jen: “Harry Potter. Try these.” She handed me a pair of black rimmed ones. I put them on.

Me: (Singing) “We-a-hell, the little things you say and do . . . ”

Jen: “Well?”

Me: ” . . . make me want to be with you-ah-ou . . . ”

Jen: “Do you like them?!”

Me: “Rave on, it’s a crazy feeling and . . . ”

Jen: “Do you like them or not?”

Me: “I know, it’s got me reeling . . . ”

Jen: “Yes or no?”

Me: “No. I told you I didn’t want any strong-rimmed ones. Do you know why I was singing that?”

Jen: “Yes, it’s Chuck Berry,”

Me: “It’s Buddy Holly!”

Jen: “I meant him.” I took them off, she handed me another pair.

Jen: “Try these. They’re green.”

Me: (Without looking at them.) “Put them back.”

Jen: “You’ve not even tried them.”

Me: “I’m not wearing green glasses.”

Jen: “Well what about these?”

Me: “I look like Dame Edna Everage.”

Jen: “You don’t!”

Me: “I don’t want glasses with sparkly bits on them.”

Jen: “They’re not sparkly.”

Me: “They’re like Elton John’s in his Rocket Man days.”

Jen: “Right! I’ll pick mine first then.” She put a pair on.

Jen: “What about these?”

Me. “Let’s see. Nah, I don’t like them.”

Jen: “What do you bleeding know about glasses anyway?!”

Can’t wait until we qualify for dentures.

Musings At A Bus Stop

Shelter. That’s maybe all man has ever wanted. Shelter; warmth; food.

I’m huddled beneath a bus stop in what I regard the centre of my town. It’s not the town centre, so to speak, maybe not even the exact geographical centre, but historically, and spiritually, I think it’s the centre.

And even spiritual centres have bus stops.

A heavy rain has swept in from the coast, tail-end of a hurricane, no less, and I’m here, having emerged from the warmth of the library, watching a river of litter and leaves pass by on their mission to clog the drains.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m waiting for a bus. I’m stood at a bus stop, after all. But no, I’m waiting for my wife to pick me up, this was just the nearest spot to stand out of the rain. I hope a bus doesn’t arrive, that would be awkward.

Have you ever seen children in a supermarket? Young children, I mean. If there is one walking down the aisle, say with his or her Mum, and another child turns into the aisle, they stand there checking each other out. A bit like dogs do. Without the sniffing, of course. Neither smiling nor speaking, they just stand there, sizing each other up.

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about this now, it’s not like I’ve even been to the supermarket, but anyhow, here’s my wife, pulling up, windscreen wipers going ten to the dozen.