Monday, December 28, 2009


It was Christmas Eve, babe:

Manc.: (bright-eyed, amused) So? Which Premiership manager d' y' reckon it is, then?

Shane: Is what?

Manc.: Y' haven't heard?

Shane: No.

Manc.: Some Premier League manager has been caught leaving a brothel - hasn't been named, though. When I heard, my heart sank. I just thought 'Pulis'.

A conversation ensues, in which I explain that I can't believe that it would have been the Manc's beloved Pulis, manager of Stoke City.

Manc's Wife: The article said he was wearing branded sportswear as he left the building - which was on an industrial estate.

Shane: Sounds a bit Midlands, could be anywhere, though.

An alternative festive game develops, in which we compare guesswork and thinking. Our collective intellectual might forms a pointless Poirot.

Shane: So from what you tell me, we can identify three characteristics of the punter... he's high profile, with a lot to lose - so he's a risk-taker. We can assume that he's able to be fairly amoral about paying for sex, or the sex economy. And we know that he's the sort of man who's willing to be out in public in branded sportswear.

We narrow the field to six or seven.

Manc.: So if you were a Premiership manager, would you have been ruled out yet?

Shane: Great question. Risk-taker - I can be. Amoral as regards the sex economy - tricky, but yes, I can be that. Out in public in branded sportwear?

Manc's Wife: That's the one, isn't it?

Shane: I wouldn't be out in branded sportswear - no way.

Manc.: That's the measure of a man, isn't it. Who'd be willing to be seen out in branded sportswear.

Shane: It's one measure, that's for sure.

I spend moments through the rest of the day wondering about how the story - such that it is one - will be played out elsewhere. In various football managers' households, in pubs and clubs, and in the 'wider press and public', I imagine many shrugging shoulders. Later, I notice in the Daily Mail coverage, a reference to the brothel as a 'Scene of Disgrace'. 'Disgrace' in what sense, I wonder.


Just 'done' five episodes of The Wire.

Feeling a bit light-headed.

It was a bit cold up north... weather, family, family, weather.

Brother's girlfriend, 'Sue-Ellen', was on good form... utterly deluded, but on good form.

Brother's silence speak volumes.

There was no obvious moment for opening up to Dad about his brother...

Moments of inaction confirm My Own Private Tradition.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday was a good day. A monkey on our back was cut right down in size, and though this was explained to The Boy (for he has felt it, as we all have), and although he gave his Mum a hug, I doubt whether he yet understands the collective weight that was unburdened. And nor should he, he is only eight years old after all.

But I was so pleased with him, and for him. I gifted him the Simon's Cat book - important, as I felt it was, to mark the day somehow. He was pleased and gave implausibly emphatic thanks.

Earlier in the day, his mother had spoken the words:

'No, you don't need to give me a moment, I'm going to cry through this anyway', as good news was detailed.

At bed time, The Boy and I flicked through about half of the Simon's Cat book, recognising many of the wry illustrations.

And after reading a couple of chapters of The Fire Thief, we chatted for a while. We talked about how when you're a child, it's hard to imagine who you might meet later in your life - which new friends you'd make between the ages of eight, and say... thirty four and exactly one half. This chat led to his explaining that Daddy would like to get married, and that he uses match dot com - for meeting new people and for setting up dates. Feigning naivety, I asked questions, listened, and suggested examples of what my profile might look like on match dot com.

The Boy: It'll find people for you who like the same stuff as you. So you put in things like... your favourite colour -

Shane: Green.

The Boy: Mm. And... what you like -

Shane: Chicken in gravy.

The Boy: (hesitantly) If you like.

Shane: Mm. But what if all of the other people who like chicken in gravy live in... Africa?

The Boy: You have to put in where you live as well.

Shane: Oh. Is it best to meet people who like the same stuff as you?

The Boy: Yeah.

Shane: Is that so that you can go to a restaurant that you both like?

The Boy: (sighs, rolls his eyes) Something like that. You can put the light out now.

Shane: Alright. See you in the morning.

The Boy: 'night.

He slept soundly. I didn't... the residual thought of what might have been.

The next week or two should see some relaxing of the mind, and the shoulders.


Monday, December 14, 2009


Context: A couple of years ago, I discovered that my Dad's missing brother had died more than twenty years earlier. My Dad didn't know this. I chose not to tell him. With that, I always end up daydreaming about the sharing that has not been, whenever I'm due to see my parents.

I discussed all of this, with Franglaise, at the weekend. He was a good one to be discussing this with - reluctant as he was to jump to any quick assertion about what would be best or inevitable. In the course of talking, I mentioned that my initial inclination - to tell - was opposed to that of my brother and sister. Wondering if that was still the case, I spoke to my brother. From which:

Shane: ...think about it, though - if you went missing - even if we hadn't been getting on or whatever, I'd still want to know if you had... y' know, died.

Brother: That would be different. You wouldn't need to be told.

Shane: But if we'd lost contact, how would I know?

Brother: Cos I'm considerate. Just to let you know I was alright - even if I thought you were a total dick, I'd post y' some dog shit every Christmas - just t' let y' know I was thinkin' of y'. So when the dog shit doesn't arrive, that's when you have to mourn 's, like.

Shane: (impressed) That's very creative.

Brother: Cheers.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The Boy is eight years old. He'll be nine in January.

Alex: Right, today at school, the teacher read part of a story then just stopped. And she said we had to write the rest of the story, but that we weren't allowed to write about anything that was violent. We had to describe how people were feeling.

Shane: Mm.

Alex: But I said to her, 'Well, Miss, this story might have to have a little violence in it, because my new character is going to be a boxer.' She laughed at that.

Shane: Good. Laughing is good.

Alex: Mm. But then, I asked her, 'Is it ok if I use footnotes?' And she laughed! I mean, what's funny about that?!

Shane: Did she say anything?

Alex: She asked how I knew about footnotes, so I told her. She said it would be fine.

Shane: That's good. I think there's a lot of adults who wouldn't know about footnotes, so she was probably surprised more than anything.

Alex: Mm.

Shane: Mm.

Alex: You know with footnotes, do you always have to start with number 1.

Shane: Yeah. Some people start from number one on each new page that has a footnote - one, one, one two, one, one two three, one, and so on, others will keep going up by one regardless of the page - one, two, three, la la la.

Alex: Mm. I only had one footnote.

Shane: That's fine. You only needed one footnote.

Alex: Mm.

Shane: Mm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


As the festive period - are we there yet - rapidly approaches, I begin to imagine the brief foray into the Up North. I think of Boxing Day as Up North Day. Tradition has it that the day will be bitterly cold, yet the family will collectively haul frozen ass to some sporting non-event - maybe a football match, possibly a horse racing fixture.

This year, things could be a little different. Boxing Day morning will see me visit the ever-ailing maternal grandmother. As I explained to Birthday Colleague, earlier, a September or October death would have probably been the best thing that could have happened (I think I used the word 'convenient'), but that hasn't been the way.

I'm wondering whether some bracing outdoor walk, maybe a forest, or the coast, would be a better alternative afternoon 'trip out'. I think that would risk the further fragmentation of the clan, though. Siblings, and their plus ones, would likely miss the eleven against eleven, or the chance of a flutter. We also share the quiet humour of how unremarkable our Boxing Day sport can be, and I'd miss that.

This is what I've been wondering about.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Soft shit, I'm a bit of a soft shit.

Stanley Matthews Way is a road that takes pressure off the A50 through Stoke-on-Trent, close to the main football team's Britannia Stadium. It's a road that offers an escape to the south, towards Stafford. I often use it as a short cut when heading north for the University Quarter. Ordinarily, it's a massively unaffecting corridor, with its industrial units, anonymous modern office blocks ('To Let') and JCB markers of devastated grasslands by the Trent and Mersey canal.

Accelerating off a roundabout, heading north along The Way, all it took was the glimpse of a father and son, walking hand-in-hand, to produce an emotional spike. Within seconds I was past them, but I still had open road on which to ponder how utterly ridiculous I can be... all it was, was a man and a boy, walking. No. Big. Deal. Yet I manage to contrive something poignant and gorgeous, troubled and troubling from that. I mean really, what a fuck-up.

I didn't used to be like this. I used to go to lots of random football matches, in peculiar backwater places. Every minute of every day, I'd be doing something that was ultimately about what I wanted to do. I lived for no-one, but myself. Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I'm sure there was none of this high-sensitive paternalist lark. But you know what, it's actually not only about paternalism. In that scene, where the boy and his Dad are just walking along, all casual and big coats, I think it's the possibilities of 'But where's Mum?' that pricks at me. Maybe they walk to meet her, as she finishes a shift at the factory, maybe they're off to spot lapwings, as Mum has Saturday morning to herself, maybe maybe.

I reach my destination, the local Tesco enormo-mart. It's as I'm scanning for tomato puree that I slide by a couple, both hollow cheeks and skin that's aged beyond their years. A young boy, gazing into the distance, sits in their trolley. And another emotional spike is thrust from within. By the time I locate the double concentrate, I'm tremendously distracted and realise that I need a break. I gently place the basket on the floor and leave the store.

I take a different route home.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I receive some text messages from a London-bound chum:-

1. (On the platform)
Am sharing a carriage with MP Rob Flell0. It's Monday, it's Westminster.

2. (Journey begins)
Another politician joins our carriage - it's MP J0an Walley. Am listening in on their conversation. This is just like The Wire.

3. (Well on the way)
And now former mayor Mark Mered1th gets on - though he's in a different carriage. This train is the opposite of a political vacuum.

4. (Journey's end)
I shared carriage with Noddy Holder. Just helped him get unstuck from automatic door. Best journey ever! First class is class!

Entertaining nuggets that break up the morning, though the main theme seemed to get lost somewhere at the end there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Whilst reading Rebus, earlier, I was reminded of the times when, as kids, we would makes ramps for our bikes. A plank of wood from the garden and one brick - easy, two bricks - getting serious, three bricks - one for the crowds. The crowds would generally have been my brother - 'No, just one brick - you're too small for three'. I was caring like that. And the more impressive stunt-rider for it.


And also earlier, in a rare moment of thinking 'Lordy, I'm being a good professional right now', the chap who I was speaking to caught me quite off-guard. He'd said that he had to go back into hospital... back into hospital. And so having forgotten the detail of his previous hospital trip, I murmured a cool murmur and asked if it would be a long stay. I asked out of caring for the man, nothing to do with 'This has the potential to be damned inconvenient'. And before I know where I'm at, he's all 'big ones', 'internal', 'haemerrhoids' - but I didn't ask, man, I didn't ask! The arse.

As these blog posts have become much more rare, I think it's important that when I post, I should post with gravitas, with thoughtful purpose.


I think the word julienne is gorgeous. Words like julienne make me want to cook. Properly - no cheating with gadgets that do the art for you, I mean proper hand-crafting of the food - careful and caring. Julienne.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Life goes on.


Friday, July 31, 2009


Seahouses, Northumberland.

Unassuming and lo-fi, a place for the occasional Sunday afternoon out, when I was a kid - (whispers) when Dad was capable.

A couple of decades later, I could see more to Seahouses than I had done as a child. It stood as an invite to slow down, unwind, recharge - not a place of noise or garish colour, full of slateish greys and deep seaweed greens. It was, perhaps, a bit rude of us to go intruding on those who might call the town home.

But then again, if one's freedom can be bought (temporarily) for the small yet alluring sum of a bag of bacon bits, then perhaps the onus should be on a little more fishy self-restraint. Still, no harm done.

From our digging and sand-piling, The Boy and I turned a tad artful. A few days earlier, we'd stopped off in Durham for breakfast, and to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (not quite as dark and doomy as I'd imagined, pleasing for Jim Broadbent's Professor Horace Slughorn and Evanna Lynch's Luna Lovegood, overall quite restrained - a breathing space before the final chapter, the filmically two-parted final chapter). I suspect there were echoes of The Dark Lord, clouding our direction, as we got down to our sand-etching.

The Boy's work (above), and my own (below).

Try as he might, The Boy's sea-beckoning did rather fall a bit flat.

But lo and behold, when that tide turns, it does race in across those sandy Northumberland plains. And thus we did bear witness to the inglorious destruction of our work. It was gradual, it was wet, it was what we'd wait for. Which reminds me of something, well, elsewhere, that I read recently. Each unto his and her own in this wee family of t' 'net. Back in the land of wholesome goodness, and my, see the creation come a-tumbling down:

It turned out to be a more relaxing week than I'd imagined it would be. Emma was with us for much of it, which helped. My family dropped by to join us for some puffin-spotting - not overlooking the razorbills, guillemots, shags, arctic terns, seals and more, about the Farne Islands. It was good.

The Boy and I caught (and were rather pathetically scared by) a pipefish - well how was I to know that the damned thing would wriggle out of the bucket?! The Boy was impressed (and amused) at my delicate flick of said specimen, back into the harbour. And so it goes.

That was all a week ago. The Boy has been with the paternal clan, in Abersoch, this week - he gets about. I miss him. But his Dad timed their trip well, very well indeed... Emma grinds on, with what she must.

So, this week, I have been sustained by Wallander, Taking the Flak, Psychoville, and by the silly silly game that is XpertEleven. Couldn't quite bring myself to write (like, proper big really selfish stuff) or get out much.

As I write this, trickle-down grind reaches me, and so to it must I turn. Must I. I must.

Hope you're catching some summer... relaxation, that your bearing is positive, and that you (the visible, and the quiet ones) are well - simple but effective, seems reasonable enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The Bed-time Blues.

Shane: It's late - you really need to brush your teeth now.

The Boy: But I'm not tired.

Shane: But you still need to brush your teeth.

The Boy: I'm hungry!

Emma: (fails to withhold snigger)

Shane: Look! It's li-ke... past nine o'clock.

The Boy: It's li-ke... a biscuit.

Shane: No! And don't be cheeky.

The Boy: Ohhhhhhhh.

Shane: I'm out of patience. I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I need you to brush your teeth and get into bed.

The Boy: Should I get you a biscuit, too?

Shane: Brush your teeth!

We are less than one week from the official summer not-a-holiday. Many events, many places, await. As a family unit, we are ill-prepared. As a family unit, as for so many others right now, we're having a tough time - a crunchie time - nothing to do with credit, though. Friends and family ask delicate questions and they invite us to hang in there. Some promise change. The audacity of hope - that's how it feels, that's what I hear.

Parting at the school gate earlier, The Boy chirruped, 'Shane! This time next week! Puffin Cottage!' 'That's the spirit', I thought. Got to work towards that same frame of mind - hope springs internal.

He did brush his teeth, and he did sleep well. No biscuits.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Such a lot going on, such a lot.


I find myself talking to a couple of actors - a married couple, nice people. And they're telling me about how he has to do a parachute jump as part of a film project that they're working on. He strikes me as the sort of chap whose likeliest form of exercise would be the run to beat closing time at the off-licence. I can tell that he didn't wash his hair this morning. She washed her's, though.
Neither of which hair observations are related to jumping out of aeroplanes, but there you go.

We talk about their funding and about timescales. And then, dimly, distantly, I recall:

: I think the strangest thing about parachute jumping was watching the ground get further away through the space where there should have been a door.

: The aeroplane doesn't have a door?!

: No. It felt stable, though - tiny but stable. Bit breezy.

: No door?!

: (to Him) You didn't have to agree to it. Say you've changed your mind.

: Thing is, after a day of training, I had such absolute faith in the people training us, that I felt very few nerves - it was just about doing what they'd said to do. And actually, the movement, as you come down - putting on the brakes - the side-to-side - kind of swinging down in great graceful arcs - even if you were a big ball of fat, it could feel like the most elegant thing you'd ever done.

: (mildly amused eyes)

: (murmurs)

: Assuming the straps aren't digging into your arse, of course. There was one jumper - a woman -

: Yeah. I've heard it can be a bit uncomfortable.

: It's like fastening your shoe laces. Too tight - loosen off a bit. Too loose - tighten up. The whole thing can be fairly profound... I'm not a scientist, but I found the stuff to do with movements of warm air - the thermals that'll lift you right back up as you cross over a heated runway - to be absolutely fascinating. Got to play with the brakes - the toggles - a bit as you're coming down, though - to get the measure of them, to trust them for the landing.

Her: Mm.

Shane: Mm. Wouldn't want to brake too early and go smack-down on your face.

: (frowning) You're not helping.

: (thinks sideways, thinks about this chap being an actor) When I was a kid - through the teenage years, up to about twenty - I hated public-speaking. I mean hated - panic attacks, nausea, no belief. I ended up realising that it had to be dealt with and that only I could do that, otherwise I'd be really pissed off with myself - so I just flooded it. Any opportunity, I stepped up and spoke - I became a Master of Illusion - scared shitless for the first few goes but got away with it - quickly felt the circularity of the whole thing - fake confidence, get away with it, breed real confidence. But the nerves that I had to handle to get through that, I promise, they were off the scale compared to the jump 'plane going up.

: (raised eyebrows)

: (thinking) Yeah, but you see, public-speaking versus jumping out of an aeroplane - there's only one of them that...

: ...could kill y'?

: Yeah.

: Mm. Strange, isn't it. Like I said, the whole thing can be quite profound.

This felt like a rare kind of conversation - one of those where you don't really know the person or people who you're talking to, but you sense that there's something slightly deeper going on - there's a... a puzzled warmth. It felt good. They said I could be in their film.

Okay, so I did ask to be in their film - which isn't cool, but I was joking. I was, really. But they weren't, I could tell. I'm not an actor, I don't want to be an actor, but I'll be in a film - it's something to tick-off. There are more important things to tick-off, but it'll be something.

I'm going to Morecambe tomorrow. I've never been to a Morecambe, before.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Every second Friday, routine now sees self, The Boy, and his Dad, drive over to the young cricketers' training session. Boy plays cricket, Dad reads a book or goes for a run, and I help out with the coaching. It's a comfortable enough set-up.

Last night, we probably stuck around for just a little bit too long, though it was fun having general knockabout time with the young guns - a largely bright and funny bunch. That is, whilst the wind is with them.

Getting into the car, The Boy realised that he forgot to have the drink that was bought for him about an hour earlier, and so suggested we return for him to have a drink. Dad and I were as one, 'You can wait, we'll be home in 10 minutes'. Cue tantrum - a rare thing, but a thing of tiredness and layered frustration nonethless. Some effort towards reasoning occurred, but this was upset that he'd just have to burn off. Barking his frustration from the back seat, we were struck with:

'You two are the worst parents I've ever had!'

Dad turned to me, observing, 'Seems you're Dad, too'.

'It was a beautiful moment', I agree.

A few minutes later, sitting on the doorstep of home (having peeled himself from Dad's car), The Boy accepted a glass of water. As a concession that was by my design and at Bio-Dad's despite-himself approval, it made for an awkward moment. I could feel Bio-Dad calling upon more reserves of patience than he knew he had. Quietly patting down The Boy's talk of 'I'm staying here, tonight' - he offered no real resistance - I kind of wished he was, but was also glad that he wasn't. He's been my little rock, of late. He scored his first competitive boundary (four runs), last weekend, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Greek god of irritating grammar and nuisance punctuation?
UPDATE (5 seconds after originally posting): I guess this is the kind of post that Twitter is for swallowing up.


On Tuesday morning, I awoke to the sound of Nadine Dorries being interviewed on Today. That was the audio equivalent of watching a chaotic pitbull harass innocent parkfolk - not a good start to any Tuesday.

Wednesday has been better.

Thursday addendum.

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's like we've been on a car journey for quite a long time - a long journey - with not much to look at along the way, a destination that is only vague - we've heard of the place - let's call it Philadelphia, but we've not seen any pictures or know quite what to expect. But we're pretty sure that it's worth travelling to. Long journey.

We've travelled so far, there can be no turning back. Well, there can, but that would feel really shitty. Extremities aside, the attitude has got to be: no matter how many punctures, breakdowns, false dawns or whatever elses present themselves, we're not quitting this journey.

I'm not driving - which is unusual. Often, I enjoy driving - the motion, the choice words from the radio, a degree of peace. But right now, I'm not driving. Well, I kind of am - but in a sort of reaching across from the passenger's seat sort of way - and maybe not so much driving, as keeping us on the road. On-rushing trucks.

For the past few months, next Monday was the date that we were to get to Philadelphia.

Was the date.

It seems that the journey is to continue. Whilst we can't say exactly how far we've still to travel, my guess is that we're still a distance from the interstate line. We're low on gas, and the air conditioning is on the blink.

We're all being stretched, moreso than this metaphor.

And so, as I dare to take my hands off the wheel, I look sideways for something that warrants this kind of single-mindedness. Dust whipping up, run-down factories, a broken-down long since forgotten car that was someone else's journey. Then I stop looking so hard, and what was right in front of me comes into sharpest focus again*.

So we push on, cos we've got to.

One dares to dream, cos one's got to.


All without the pectorals, of course.

* The Boy and I had been playing Top Trumps (cars - bloody cars!) one evening, a week or so ago. His chirpiness was just what I needed. In the sound-bite, above, he finds much amusement in having dropped one of his cards and caught it between his toes.

Friday, June 05, 2009


I had toyed with posting about voting in the European Parliamentary election (the invisible election?) - about my experience of looking over the list of parties and candidates (the vote-splitters; the known and the no-face politicians), and the rationale (if I could raise the status of any one party in the UK, who would that be?) that led to me voting for a party (Green) that I'd never before voted for... but I won't. Instead:

Shane: Politics, eh.

Emma: Mm.

Shane: So what have we got?

Emma: Quite of few young, big-boobed beauties. There are the gays, a few internationals, one or two normals, a geordie - gay... you know, the usual. Oh! And a really nice young Brazilian lad.

Shane: Worth watching?

Emma: It will be, in bits. Eventually. First few weeks are usually too noisy - wait 'til they settle in and settle down.

Shane: Ok.

Emma: I think you should go on Big Brother.

Shane: You say that every year.

Emma: You should!

Shane: That would be hideous! How would I get on with ANY of the people you'd typically get on that programme?

Emma: I think you would. I think you'd be rubbish at the getting excited and all of the shrieking, but that's why you'd be good. You'd just be... y' know, not bothered.

Shane: It would be hideous. I'd end up in a conflict - on national television, with either a massive muscley male - hideous, or some totally ditsy blonde thing - equally hideous.

Emma: You wouldn't. You'd rise above it. You'd float about and you'd talk to everyone. Then they'd all vote you out and you'd be back here in less than a fortnight.

Shane: (a bit offended) D' y' reckon?

Emma: What?

Shane: D' y' think I'd be got rid of... quickly?

Emma: I don't know. There'd only be one way to find out...

Shane: Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. The humiliation! Just applying... before getting anywhere near to being on the tele'. Not a chance.

In the way that Huw doesn't concur with lofty disinterest in football, I hold the same view regarding Big Brother. As people discuss the programme - a massive and shifting cultural phenomenon since it first aired, the real value of the show becomes evident. In person, in-the-flesh, as part of life here on Earth, I have learned much about relative strangers, as I've listened to their views on the empty, the vacuous and the banal. Because, of course, them there - their - views, can be far from empty, vacuous or banal. Racism, sexism, politics, the value of time and energy, sexuality, relationship-formation, conflict - how and how not to resolve it, and much more besides. Big Brother has it all. And so, Big Brother is as sharp as the minds that watch and listen to it. So yes it will be tremendously dull, but it'll also be as sharp as... well, you and I...???

(Whispers) The thing is, I don't really care that much - you know, enough to actually vote, but there is something that can be pro-social about it all. I think that's what I hold onto.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----
And for anyone who got this far down the post: a treat! A shot of the performance artist, Ron Athey - a very nice man. We once chatted about an atmospheric violin soloist. As I typed the title to this post, Ron came to mind.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Not so much a rocket from the crypt, as an echo from the everyday.

For S:

This past weekend, The Boy and his Dad had a chat about swearing.

Alex: Shane.

Shane: Mm?

Alex: Right, if I said 'I'm gonna kick your ass' -

Shane: Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Alex: - so that would be swearing?

Shane: Yes to that. Swearing not good.

Alex: Okay-. What about - if I was talking to myself - what about 'Now I'm really pissed off'?

Shane: Definitely more swearing, there. No doubt about it.

Alex: (mock contemplative, suppressing a smirk) Mm, so Daddy was right, then.

And so, there came clear and direct Cultural Learnings from The Boy's viewing of HellBoy II (one of Mummy's more curious spending decisions, of late - we'll put that down to stress).

A little later:

Alex: I got told off by Gail (aunt), this weekend.

Shane: Why?

Alex: Well, you know in grandma's garden, the wall at the bottom - before the bushes and trees and things?

Shane: Yeah.

Alex: Well I was walking along the wall, and I sort of fell backwards into one of the bushes and scratched myself - see... (shows scratches on leg and back)

Shane: Sounds a bit harsh. She would've asked if you were okay, though?

Alex: I didn't get told off for falling off the wall... I got told off cos I said shit as I fell.

Shane: Ah. Another swear word. You would have to get told off for that.

Alex: But you say it.

Shane: Er... no I don't.

Alex: Yeah y' do. I told Daddy that y' do.

Shane: Oh, f-... what did y' want to go and do that for?

Alex: So I wouldn't get told off.

Shane: That's... no. No. You have to learn to not use words... like the swear words. And learn to stop imagining that you've heard me say any of them.

Alex: (pause) Y' do, though.

Shane: Sometimes - and this may catch you by surprise, here... sometimes - rare occasions, very rare indeed - I'm not perfect.

Alex: (slowly gets the point) You are so ridiculous.

'Perhaps', I thought, relieved at his having not just replied, 'Bollocks!'.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


On Friday evening, I acted against my own prejudices, I stepped into the unknown, I watched men fiddle with balls.

On Friday evening, I engaged with the world of village cricket.

It was really rather pleasant.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The British Artists' Football Tournament:

Saturday, 23rd May, 2009.

We played well - won 4, drew 0, lost 2, during first phase of the tournament. Both defeats were to the eventual finalists, 0-1 and 0-1. The wins were 3-1, 2-1, 6-3 and 3-2. I scored twice (one back heel, one outrageous first-time lash - following good team play down the left and a quick squared cross). Largely, though, I played a defensive, sweeperish role. In the semi-final, we drew 0-0 against Eastside Projects (Birmingham), then lost on penalties (*whispers* though I scored mine - hard and low). And so we were knocked out. We call that an honourable exit - for self and team (AirSpace). It was pleasing to hear newfound and amusing support from the sidelines. As with all teams and most players, our attitude was good, '...appreciate the effort that others have put in to making the day happen, now get on with it and play fair'. The tournament was won by another Birmingham team, 'Jibbering' - a collective of street artists and DJs - they played well, and used their squad intelligently. As we drove back up the M6, the mood was good - we'd done ourselves justice.

Number of teams who participated: 7
Number of teams who failed to show: 3
Number of instances of dissent / bad attitude: 2
Number of my legs experiencing thigh strain (Sunday - Tuesday): 2
Best kit design of the tournament: AC Tortured Birmingham (white polos, with AC-style logo)
Best team name of the tournament: Real Worcester
Number of natural left-footers in our team: 2
Number of miles to venue: 42.7
Mark out of 10 for satisfaction with the day: 10
Minutes delayed in getting to venue (Bank Holiday traffic): 20
Number of people who've seemed interested in my in-person reportage: 3
Number who haven't...: 3

There was a photographer on site for the whole tournament, though I have yet to get access to their handiwork. Thus, you'll have to imagine it... no no no, more attractive than that, surely.

Embodied by self, Saturday was a good day for north east football(ers in exile).

Sunday wasn't.

[ - Photographs may follow - ]

Friday, May 22, 2009


I'm feeling a bit nervous - got a football tournament tomorrow, which offers three possible outcomes:-

A - Creditable display by self and team (have been trying to pace physical exertion this week, for fittest finest preparation), leading to feelings of contentment.

B - The whole thing is a badly organised shambles (teams from all over England will converge on the West Midlands for it), leading to feelings of frustration.

C - Our team just doesn't gel on the day (we bomb), leading to feelings of frustration (variety II).

Aim: Eat well, sleep well, be sure to take footballing brain as I leave the house in the morning.

If Tuesday's training session was anything to go by, we just might be ok.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Alex missed school today - truly, a heavy cold, albeit with exaggerated symptoms.

After lunch:

Alex: I didn't much like the tuna mayo.

Shane: I thought you liked that.

Alex: Well, I do, but I added some raspberries** and it wasn't good.

Shane: Tuna, mayo and raspberries...

Alex: - not good.

Shane: Mm.

He'll be back at school tomorrow, and so I'll not be setting number quiz challenges, justifying jigsawing 'down-time', or contriving logo design work* for an eight year old. I will miss him, though. His singing about not being allowed to play on the Playstation or to watch any more television - all to the tune of Eye of the Tiger, well that was the high point of the day. I believe the term is 'LOL'.

* We support creative endeavour...
** Up to a point.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I've changed my mind.

That series of reflections that I was going to post (about reacquainting with The Artist), well they'll have to be sidelined - perhaps to be revived and immersed, veiled or otherwise fronted, in future blog posting, or some such. Now is not the time to write of those reflections. Ongoing dialogue is shifting what and how I understand of my meeting with The Artist, of what we did and what we didn't talk about. Trying to write about this would be hard, and trying to read that would be really frustrating.

And so, more learnings.

Apologies for the obliqueness - episodic and thematic. Maybe one day I'll start writing really crisp, no-holds-barred, let it all hang out type stuff. One day, maybe.

In the mean-time, just be glad that I'm not clubbing you with poetry.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Oh, forgive me. It's just that, well, I've had a week or so of being all in touch with my feelings. I think this comes from peak, or rich, emotional experiences.

I've embraced the past, I've stroked the head of a dying old bird, and I've come to understand things that I hadn't realised that I'd misunderstood. And so it goes.

Where am I going with this? Where indeed. Ah yes... For this month's posts, I'm going to pepper you with tiny extracts - dialogue, oddments of reflection, insights, and the stuff of general gaping, that came from my meeting with my old pal - The Artist, as mentioned previously.

As a starter, I'll say that we met up in Manchester - last Saturday - a warm, sunny day. We met at eleven on the dot, in the top floor cafe of Afflecks Palace, where we drank earl grey and ate toast, before moving on to the first of a few pubs. Approaching from the right (I hadn't spotted the second entrance to the cafe), The Artist called out my name and offered an open hand. I smiled, chorused back his name, and opened up for a hug. Already, 15 years on, things had changed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I'm becoming reacquainted with a friend from the past - one of those ones that you should never lose touch with, and that you did kind of seems bizarre. To me - not on Facebook, blogging under a pseud' - this is a big deal.

Related, there has been emailing. I've received the gift offer of a pastel drawing of my sister that was done in 1993, when she was a small 8 year old - it's her 24th birthday today (the gift offer came from the old friend, An Artist).

It seems that a meeting - in Manchester - will follow. Men will hug.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Particularly Relevant to the Beautiful People.

Perhaps overdoing it on the Take-Opportunity-To-Get-Away-And-Relax-Goddamit-Relax front, my return from the north east was but a stepping stone to a dive south (just don't even go there, sniggerers).

On Saturday morning, I took breakfast at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park - with its leafy green outlook to the west. Deftly egg-dipping a hash brown, I was roused by an unusual bird call. And thus, I spotted - clear as the blue sky - my first ever wild ring-necked parakeet. There were many of them. And later, a trio came and perched in the tree of a property next door to where I was staying.

It's good when the Red Deer faces competition for my weekly 'Most Favourite Bit of Nature' prize.

Other observation, of human nature: In the cosmopolitan centres - Manchester, London, Stoke-on-Trent, it is easy to feel surrounded by the body beautiful. On fine sunny days, the work that goes into the body beautiful is there to be seen - the doggedly determined clomping round the park, the gritty extra lap on the 21-speed racer, the comedy of the power walk. Maybe it's because much in their lives is taut, and edgy, and competitive, and all a bit brow-furrowing, but a lot of these Body Beauties look like they ought to relax a bit. Look at the ring-necked parakeet or the red deer, their's are paces that seem to be much more well-adjusted - culturally-speaking.

I'm also liking deadwood - it's likely to be a contender for this week's prize. Never to be overlooked, though, is the mid-evening goldfinch rhapsody.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keepin' On

Alex joined his Dad on Tuesday, so I took the opportunity to visit the clan up in County Durham. Meanwhile, Emma continued to fend off the rockets and shells of writing hard stuff, and of herself. County Durham seemed like a safe distance.

The Wexford siblings converged on the parental home and, as ever, I enjoyed the ferocious banter and acidic put-you-downs that we count as love.

As sister and brother discussed music festivals that did and respectively didn't interest them, I recalled something utterly inconsequential that I thought might interest them.

Shane: You know Neil Tennant?

Sister: Mm.

Shane: He's got a house in County Durham.

Sister: How d' you know that?

Shane: He mentioned it in an interview that I listened to. In fact, it's an interview that's upstairs right now - on the iPod that's under my pillow.

Sister: Hold on! You've got an interview with Neil Tennant - from The Pet Shop Boys - under your pillow?

Shane: Yeah. It was from Front -

Sister: Other Brother, Shane's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow!

Brother: I did wonder, like.

Shane: It was from Front Row.

Sister: Mutha, (pointing) that one's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow.

Mother (distractedly): It's 2009 - each unto his own.

Shane: Hold on a minute. I just -

Sister: Fatha - Shane's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow.

Dad: Who's Neil Tennant?

Sister: Never mind.

It amused me.

It was also amusing to hear that an old familiar of brother and I was currently appearing on The Apprentice. Sister crossed paths with (not so) young (any more) Phil, in Durham, at the weekend. A nice lad.

And apart from foregoing Porto versus Manchester United (0 - 1), in order to take in Durham City versus Woodley Sports (5 - 0), the only other item of note concerned maternal grandmother.

I've got used to the further extensions of frailty that the old bird exhibits - each visit presenting new expressions of vulnerability, fallibility, fading - very much reminiscent of her husband's end of life. Entering the second week of a stay at Bishop Auckland's General Hospital, the violence of grandma's Parkinson's Disease - the tics, the strains, the jolts and jerks, they seemed to show no mercy. Memory was playing tricks, too. I felt like I was talking to the echo of a person.

This morning, on the drive back to the Midlands, the subject of jolts and jerks, tics and strains returned. Would I like to join Alex and his Dad at a local theatre, to watch Thriller Live - this evening. It was one of those questions where what the boy wants to hear, is probably the best answer. So here I am, jaded of an early Thursday evening, waiting to Beat It. Meanwhile, I hear another shell fall as Emma grinds on. The theatre seems like a safe distance.

Friday, April 03, 2009


On the phone:

Dad: ... aye, there's a load o' people 'round 'ere that's died recently - not old either.

Shane: Mm. It's these hard northern men, and their hard northern lives.

Dad: (sagely) Aye.

Shane: With their hard northern kids, and their hard northern wives.

Dad: (pause) I dunno about that bit, like.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


It has been a week for challenging people.
But today, today could be really difficult.
I'm told that the mindset should be about just getting through it.
But no, elated or deflated - it's going to be one of them.
Hopes versus reality, me versus myself - one of them.

--- Update (23:03) ---

Getting up at 5:40am, that felt raw.
Leaving the house, calm descended.
Mid-morning, the going was good.
Late afternoon, suns were shining.
Me versus myself - I won.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


This past weekend, Emma and I headed south on a long ago booked trip. In the here and now, the timing wasn't great.

As we made for the station, the city rose to clear blue sky. That afternoon, the Britannia Stadium would bounce to men, women and children singing 'Delilah', a song that features the line 'I put my dick in her hand, and she laughed no more'. Where to begin, where to begin... Perhaps best to not begin at all.

The paltry offerings in the station's Virgin Lounge ensured that we were at the platform well before the 10:12 to Euston rolled in from Manchester.

What would our trip feature. Healthy-living and broadsheet analysis?


Approaching midday, Tottenham Court Road was as clear as the Potteries had been. We made our way directly towards Monmouth Street, off Shaftsbury Avenue, in the hope of an early check-in. Staying at the Radisson Edwardian Mountbatten ensured that this trip into the capital - my second in three days - could pass without need for bus, tube or taxi - a quiet victory for good planning (and liberal dolings of sterling). In terms of cultural tastes, this was very much World of Emma, just shy of Wince of Shane.

In the thrall of the techno-snacks, I forgot to take pictures of things like the main fixtures and fittings of the gaffe. But instead, I did get a sign on the discreetly located 'Interactive Minibar'.

Touch those Pringles and They Will Know.

Saturday afternoon was spent in and around Neal's Yard - small boutique shops - green teas, sitting in the sun, sauntering. That was after we'd taken lunch in Covent Garden - some bistro in a cellar - good food, but really not the day to be underground.

Back at the hotel, brief lounging, a change, and out for dinner - to Soho's Bocca di Lupo. I'd remembered Matthew Norman's review. This paid dividends.

Sitting at the bar, overlooking the main hubbub of food preparation area, good choreography came to mind. Welcoming the ethos of good, simple food, prepared well, Emma opted for a red prawn risotto.

I chose the grilled sea bream.

And then, the main event:

Priscilla - Queen of the Desert, at the Palace Theatre.

This was our first visit to this theatre. I knew that we were heading for good seats, as we headed up the stairs to Dress Circle Row A.

The curtain hid an incredibly clever, albeit mechanically simple set. Reviews have not made enough of this - despite their generally holding the show in high regard.

Though no further shots can be shared (I'm sorry, I dared to forget myself), all praise for costumes, cast, script-updating and direction is justified - a big successful production. No sneering rejoinder to be added, here. Whereas Abba were heavily referenced in the screen version of Priscilla, Kylie was now the wholly lauded - an entirely bearable shift - especially with Mamma Mia (((shudder))) playing just round the corner.

Overlooked in many of the reviews - something that is easy to understand amid such high campery, has been the matter of Priscilla being underscored by two fairly weighty relationship dramas. Within the first 5 minutes of the show, I was welling up at the clearly signposted Father-Son denouement that we were headed for - Jason Donovan's Tick (Mitzi) is off to meet his son for the first time. His drag act trio's provision of a stage show for his wife's (yes, wife's) resort hotel is the hook for the group's road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs. That's the story. But also, the ageing drag queen - Tony Sheldon's Bernadette - charts a course that is, at its heart, about accepting oneself, showing trust in others and redirecting the lifecourse. As I write this, I'm feeling partisan. For reasons that I can't fully unpick, or neatly clarify, Priscilla is a production that touches me.

During the interval, Emma waxed lyrical about the show - the scale of production, its values, the audience. This was all pleasing - the whole trip was very much a one-off, designed to please. Smiling, she then queried:

'Does it not make you feel even a bit gay?'

Amused, puzzled, appalled, I gently queried.

'What do you mean?'

'I mean, the whole thing. It's fairly amazing, isn't it.'

'The costumes, the dancing, the set design, the dialogue, the easy affection and charm, the barbed wit - garish, but all attractive. I'd love to be able to sing and move like some of those people on stage. But as for wanting to put specific bits of my body anywhere near any other men's bodies - even those men's bodies, well, that's a kind of gayness that doesn't appeal. But thanks for asking.'

Seemed a reasonable enough response. She wouldn't have asked if she'd have thought there was the possibility of any other kind of answer.

At the standing ovation, I noticed the four occupants of one of the boxes - two men (in their 30s, together), and two older women (both in their 60s). I gauged a mother and friend, plus son and his partner. The son figure hugged both of the ladies, whilst partner leaned in to ensure that a good evening had been had. It looked like an important moment.

Dodging the boas, the mincing and the people like us, we strolled back to the hotel, and thus turned into the straight that would lead us back to the West Midlands.

Sunday breakfast was as it should have been - hearty, if a little too neat.


Only 5 / 10, for presentation there.

Shane's (Part I):


I didn't picture the rest - what kind of weirdo goes around taking pictures of his breakfast.

Back out into the streets, Emma managed to turn the short walk back up to Euston into a mini research exercise. Over-riding my disdain for such gross opportunism, I played along as best I could.

Obscene, unsightly, gratuitous and ghastly - the lot of them.

If there is a grindstone, then now, we are very much back at it, but still we may daydream (a link for added non-gayness).

The word from above is that (work) things should get easier in late June, and at such a time, then this kind of trip should occur more casually. If they don't, then I shall just have to bugger naff off on my own.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Throughout Friday, I witnessed attempts at being 'funny for money'. Yes, Comic Relief. With many a motivation good and proper, it's hard to be (publically) critical - try as I might.

Let us turn back the clock.

It is evening, almost 9pm. We are wound-down, following a tough week. We are watching BBC One. Alex is curled into his mother's arms, and I'm wondering about the costs and multiple revenues of this television production.

A genuinely moving short film ends with the narrator stating:
'It is your continued support that enables Comic Relief to keep on helping these children of alcoholic parents'.

Contemplative silence. Broken, thus:

Alex: What about chocaholic parents?

Emma: (stifles laugh)

Shane: Hmm. I don't think it's quite as tough for those with chocaholic parents.

Alex: Mm.

It's the funniest thing I've heard all day. I promptly donate.

(I did also enjoy the short film from Outnumbered. Claire Skinner, as the mum, is really good.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Yes, alarm.

Shane: Blah blah blah workish blah blah blah.

Emma: Mm. Or maybe, something a bit more Web 2.0?

Shane: 'Web two point oh'?

Emma: Mm. (pause) What?

Shane: Where did you learn to speak like that?

Emma: Like what?

Shane: 'Like Web 2.0'.

Emma: I read things.

Shane: Well, what are you on about?

Emma: Y' know, new technologies, new media, new ways of communicating - Facebook, Twitter, 3G technologies -

Shane: Whoaaaaaaa! Just calm down for a minute, there!

Emma: - You know you're going to have to.

Shane: Och och och and och!

Emma: Am I right?

Shane: Maybe.

Especially spurred on, I think, by Stephen Fry's everywhereness and his prosthletising about the many merits of Twitter, people who I would not have imagined playing along with such sports, have been. (*whispers* And yes alright so maybe it does look a bit fun). But do I really want to start something that I really don't think that I'd sustain? And isn't it all just going to turn out a bit Facebook. And - most pertinently - what is it that people are getting out of all of this? I mean, really getting out of it. Apart from the warm glow of feeling connected - in an acceptably mundane sort of way. I mean, apart from that, what is it?

I'm feeling archaic, like a bit of a dinosaur, like the sort of person to whom the idea of public lists of his friends or 'followers' would feel odd. What about the uncouth and the deranged - the ones not on the list? Now, if Jesus were alive today... well, 'whale of a time', he'd lap it up - fish to water, duck to pond, Hart to Hart. But I'm not Jesus.

(blog posting interruptus)

I've just watched a short film, 'Twitter in plain English', on the Twitter site. It was... it was... it was really nice - when Carla discovered that Steve had a passion for baseball, and when she discovered that Julia was reading a new investment book, and when everyone - yes, everyone - discovered that Carla - herself - had a new passion for Van Halen!

Too good, just too good. I felt all warm inside. I want that feeling. I want that feeling that Carla had.

Perhaps when I've got a moment one weekend.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Home-time: a two minute walk from the front door to Alex' school.

It's blowy, not quite a gale. The hedge reminds me that it needs cutting back. 'I know, I know', my eyes tell it. Wisps of litter - toffee crisp, regal, lotto - pirouette down the road. This heralds the main act: The Considerate Drivers - the ones who ignore the parking notices. Whirring past, there's good reason in those darkened windows. I ponder the kinds of mindset, lifestyle and plain idiot that will again overlook instructions to not block children's sight-lines. Having passed the turning for the canal, I'm well-placed in today's 3:15 chase. Fat dawdling women lumber up ahead, we call them 'The Coats'. They'll bunch up at the first gate, for single-file procession down the ramp. Better for me to take an outside line - hit the main gate, approach the waiting area from the far side - avoids the crush - social, psychological. The tall thin woman with the pushchair, she takes the same course. I wonder whether the tiredness in her general air - that same tiredness that she's been carrying for at least four years now - is just about the kids. I once asked her about her previous life: 'Scientist'. You could have knocked me down with a chocolate-bar wrapper. Waiting, the Chinese man - older than he looks - is in his usual spot. I like him. He once tried to convince me that everyone should try EuroDisney, 'at least once, just for experience'. I meant to nod - polite, like; but all I could do was crunch my neck in a bit - tortoise-like. Within earshot of the school, the excited clatter of putting-away-time slaps me awake. It's the sound of brace brace for Act I Scene I of the next 12 days. The scientist proffers a smile. I raise a half-smile. I imagine an anthropological study of school drop-off/pick-up times, I see a mainstream film of lives that cross but don't cross - people you know but who you don't know, it all feels so transient. A bell cuts through my reverie.

I just received an e-note to say that my American friend, Gene - OldHorsetailSnake, has died. I never met him. This, I regret. A lady called Vicki writes, '...politics, the environment, his running fashion commentary and his love of dung beetles were regular themes'. A natural born educator exits blogstage right.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


A ten minute drive from the southside to the city centre.

Pulling up at traffic lights, I clock two bikers in the rear view mirror. Driving side by side, they're coasting to a halt. I notice that they're chatting. Assuming that it's a man and a woman - partners, lovers, petrolheads - it's an image that strikes me as quite mundane, but beautiful all the same. As they halt, I notice that it's two men. The lights go green and I take a right, up Stoke Road (above).

Passing the college, a couple of young women look like they've just left one of their Beauty Therapy classes. The uniforms may be crisp, but the deep orange trowelings of their own make-up brings to mind the young man who said that he'd be joining a construction course. 'Make-up'. Make what up. The objective of this course, is for you to become expert in helping other people to look minimally idiotic. There will be occasions when this proves to be an objective too far.

Through Snowhill, it makes a pleasant change to note a lack of emergency service vehicles.

Curving towards the city centre, the junction with College Road ahead to my right, I note St Marks church. There's a bus shelter with a shatterproof plastic 'window' in it. Therein, there's a great big hole. I think a wordy thought about 'holy' and a possible photograph - one that I won't return to take.

Thick traffic, where to park, time to concentrate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


(All images taken with a not-top-of-the-range phone)

I went up north this past weekend.

On Friday morning, on a whim, I decided to take the M6 route - up to Junction 38 (Tebay Services), then across (A66), then Barnard Castle, Raby Castle, the Aucklands, on and in. The A50 > A38 (skimming Derby) > M1 > A1 > A167 alternative just isn't the same without those big industrial chimneys near Sheffield.

Listening to: The Quiet Curse of Demolition, by Everywhere Looks the Same.

It was somewhere in the low 30s junction numbers that the horizon really began to change, and the simple raw beauty of the Pennines caught me by implausible surprise. I'd driven this route dozens of times, albeit not at all in the last few years.

Approaching the westerly-most reaches of Durham, through fog, there they were - snow-flat-capped hills. Had I been holidaying with a lovebird, then maybe a lay-by, a stretch and chill deep breaths would have been on. Instead, the herbal tablets, the CD changer and I cracked on.

Listening to: Somewhere Bound, by Kirk Merrington for Lunch.

As with Terence Stamp, grey but gorgeous nonetheless.

Not many miles from the family home, I was taken aback in Tindale. Even here, the architectural equivalent of impetigo did its thing.

Amongst family, I forgot about pictures and blogging and all else. I sat back and laughed along to the sweet ferocious banter of the other Wexford offspring.
Prior to Saturday's football trip, sister and her copper girlfriend, their dog and me, went for a walk by the rec' in Kirk Merrington - near to where the last grandparent lives.
Over to the south east - some 30 or so miles away, Roseberry Topping dominated the horizon, just as it had on the Sunday afternoons of my childhood. To my right, a small dog wrestled with a tennis ball at the feet of copper girlfriend.

Though I'm not really a dog person, I did quite like the hound's mindless zest.

The playground, where we would compete to see who could jump furthest from the swings.

And the roundabout, that I always thought seemed a bit dangerous.

Later, there was the football - a nil-nil draw between Middlesbrough and Wigan - not as bad as it might sound. Middlesbrough were light up front, but otherwise fine. Wigan were generally square of shoulder, and blunt in attack.
Before the game, the ladies settled themselves - Teesside spirit.

After a Saturday evening meal out, at the Duke of Wellington pub, we all returned to the parents' house. The dog - the cute one whose name that I've forgotten - appreciated playful attention. But oh my no my - it posed the pose of a truly mentalist dog - what with its big teeth and glaring eyes.

I wondered how much effort would be called for, in order to contrive an image that would be really spooky.

Really not much effort at all.
My family are nice people - honest. Not like those people who have crazy dogs that eat people or anything. Besides, sister and the copper and the dog live in Gateshead - I reckon it's probably a bit rough over there.
On Sunday, I returned south and west for a testing, stretching week.
Faith - the dog was called Faith.
Listening to: His Body, by Man En Route to Bed.