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.