Sunday, 28 February 2010

My Random dog...

I can’t say that I’m a fan of dogs, I’m more of a cat person, and dogs on the beach aren’t my favourite things. I hate the way they run around yapping at seagulls, charging into the sea, shaking the wetness off of them and all over you, running up to each other and sniffing or fighting. No, I’m no fan of dogs.

My type of dog wouldn’t do any of those things. My type of dog wouldn’t do much really – apart from keep me safe.

So here’s my type of dog, I call him Random, I think you can probably guess why. Ugly old thing isn’t he.

As I mentioned he doesn’t do much, just stands guard for me, wards off intruders. He fixes them with his stony glare and keeps the bad at bay. He’s a good solid chap, well balanced, rock solid, not about to lose his marbles running around in circles barking at the wind.

Random’s not a stroking dog, Random doesn’t like being patted – and he won’t run for a stick, or beg, or play dead. Random is his own dog. He’ll barely even wag his tail to order, not like some.
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I like Random. Despite his flintiness there’s something about him, something comforting. Good dog Random, good dog.

I wonder which is worse, his bark or his bite?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Puss in books...

Who says cats can’t read?

I like nothing better than a good book. Adventure stories are my favourites, something like 'Moby Cat' – and then there’s the classics, 'A Tail of Two Kitties' is one of my favourites and of course science fiction, who could forget 'The Paw of the Worlds?' Sometimes I read Mistery novels and once a romance. I didn't really get on with that - too much bodice ripping for my liking.

Still, I’ve always got my nose stuck into some book or other, I’d go as far as to say I’m a real bookworm – not that I’m at all wormlike but that is the correct term I believe. It’d be more accurate in my case if it was bookcat or bookkitty, but then we academics can’t have it all our own way.

This book is very interesting, it’s a story about a gentleman cat burglar who steals from the landed gentry, robbing them of their jewels and money and never seeming to get caught. Not at all like me! Whenever I try to hissing snaffle anything – a piece of fish, or some cream, or a sausage - I always get hissing caught and Hisfault and Foodies are always shooing me away from something or other. Don’t they know that sharing is a good thing? Perhaps I should write a book about them. Now what would I call it? How about 'A Passage to Idiot' or 'The Odd Couple' - no that one's already been done.

Oh well, back to my reading… thing is, after a line or two I always begin to feel sleepy… I’ve been reading this book for six weeks now and still haven’t got past the first chapter.

Oh well… There’s plenty of time for reading later, after all this books not going anywhere and neither am I… z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Mountains, snow, and wiper blades...

Winter was back this weekend in Wales. Snow adds something to mountainous scenery, height, depth, an alpine look. You feel that at any corner you might come across a group of yodellers or a chap in leather shorts blowing on an Alpine Horn.

Take a look at the pictures and you’ll understand what I mean. Driving home on Sunday my daughter Holly took these fantastic photographs from the car as Gaynor drove them home after a week long holiday. It must be catching this taking pictures from the car thing - it's a bit hit and miss, with the motion blurring and bumps, but when it works the edge of a wiper blade adds a little extra interest.

Anyway, Holly's photographs are great. Austria? Switzerland? Italy? No North Wales.
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Is that an Alpine Horn I can hear?
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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Contrails...

A good clear day, cold and crisp and blue, the air full of ice and the condensation trails made by aeroplanes weaving to and fro across the sky.

Contrails, as they’ve become known, are the artificial clouds made from the trails of condensing water vapour caused by the cooling of the exhaust fumes from aircraft engines as hot gases hit the surrounding air and cool. Usually they are a cloud of microscopic water droplets, but if the air is cold enough the trail can be made of tiny ice crystals – like today.

Just think, less than a hundred years ago there were no contrails. These straight, linear, clouds were first noticed in the 1920’s when experiments in high altitude flying began. A hundred years ago they would have been just another unusual cloud, now you can’t look into the sky without seeing one.

Yes, these days they are inescapable - and sometimes they even spell out your initials (well mine anyway!)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A stone in Criccieth…

And there it was as though it belonged there. Not big, nor small, but big enough. Alone and one, singular in the snow beneath the tall, dark, trees

I’d read a passing reference to it on a site. ‘The stone stands in a field just outside of the town and is visible from the footpath although it stands on private land. Visitors are not welcomed.’

Private land. It certainly looked private, private and secret despite being visible from the road. I’d seen these things before, many times, and I knew just what it was. I could easily climb the gate and walk across the snowy field towards it, get closer, close enough to touch, close enough to lay my hands on so that I might feel its oneness.

‘Male or female?’ I wondered as I quickly walked away leaving it to its self. It’s hard to tell the sex of these things, even harder to tell the dark ones from the light. I didn’t want to take the risk. Best leave it in the field with the snow and the tall, dark, trees.

Best leave it in its natural state – alone, all alone. Vistors are not welcomed.



Monday, 22 February 2010

Light on a hill....

Driving home, the other side of Caernarfon, accelerating fast up the hill in the overtaking lane I saw it coming in towards me. Light, the strangest light - moving, swirling, shape-shifting, like oil in a glass of water - and a strong wind gusting, whistled up from nowhere.

I had to have a picture.

So, stopping the car in the lay-by at the top of the hill, struggling out and into the turmoil, blown and buffeted by the wind that cancelled the sound of the speeding cars with its thrump, thrump, thrump, I captured these images – they almost, sort of, do the thing justice. Purple orange light, the light you get just before the storm arrives, but moving, swirling, shape-shifting. And in the ninety seconds that I stood just watching, I felt the temperature take a dive. Then it hit, the ice, slapping my exposed face with its bite. Not rain, or snow, nor sleet, but shards of ice – an ice storm accompanied by rumbling thunder and wide orange-yellow flashes of sheet lightening high above the screaming trees.

And then a thought - suspiciously I looked around. Was she here? I couldn’t see her, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be close - behind a tree, beyond that hill. The thing is, you can never be sure with the Ice Queen, she may be beside you without you knowing - invisible. So quickly, so as not to let her into the car, I carefully climbed back in and drove off and down the hill to the ice-free safety of the roundabout below.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Snowdrops...

A magic find. A secret.

Snowdrops, a whole spinney full of them. Hidden away by the side of the Criccieth road I came across thousand on thousand and, looking around to check nobody was watching, after all the sign did say ‘Private – Keep Out’, I clambered the gate and stepped into a wonderland of glowing white and delicate spring green.

Spring green. Maybe soon, but despite the snow and ice the snowdrops made it through, there’s no discouraging them.

Friday, 19 February 2010

A message from Misty...

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So here I am in Wales. I've been here all week on holiday, half term for the Whirling Dervish Girl Thing. I'm having a nice rest, I hissing deserve it, it 's such hard work when I'm at home what with all the sleeping, eating, sleeping and eating.

Here things are different. When I'm here I just take it easy. Sometimes I sleep on the stair, sometimes on the chair, in my tent on the landing, in front of the fire on the rug, in my box, at the end of the bed, and sometimes here - on the top bunk in the WDGT's bedroom. I like it in here, it smells of flowers and fluff.

Oh well, all this relating has tired me out. Time for a cat nap I think.
Sleep tight.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Gums, pastilles, Kennedy, cowboys, green ones and questions…

Okay so which did you prefer, Fruit Gums or Pastilles?

Do you like the hard, round, bumpy gums that stick to your teeth when you simply can’t resist the urge to chew, or do you prefer that sugary cushion of soft pastille that squidge in you mouth as you chomp them – and again, how can you resist the urge not to chew?

Six year old me was eating a pastille when news of the assassination of J.F. Kennedy came through on our black and white telly back in 1963. How do I know? Easy, my mum was doing the ironing. She always ate pastilles when she was doing the ironing and she passed me a pastille as the news was announced – a yellow one (she didn’t like yellows).

I’d never admit that to my friends at the time though. No, not the ironing or Kennedy. The pastille thing. Only girls, wets, and Red Indians ate pastilles in our road. Boys (big boys that is) ate fruit gums - just like the cowboys.

I noticed recently that there are more green fruit gums in a packet than any other colour and very few red and black ones. Why is that? Green are my least favourites both in gums and pastilles and I’m sure that there used to be more of my favourite blacks in the past. Is it the price of blackcurrant juice I wonder?

And why do they make fruit gums into silly little fruit shapes when they put them in boxes rather than keeping them round and bumpy? They simply don’t taste the same as miniature fruits and the boxes of pastilles are just pastilles, the same as the ones in the packet - even though they don’t taste quite as good from a box.

And why do I still stand in the shop hesitating on whether I should buy gums or pastilles and usually ending up buying both? Perhaps that’s it! Perhaps that’s why Rowntree make both gums and pastilles and put them in paper wrapped tubes. Maybe they do it to make us indecisive and hesitant, forcing us to buy both so that they can make even more money.

So many sticky questions…

So which is it for you Rowntree’s Fruit Gums or Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles? Cowboys or Indians? And what were you doing when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Frosty morning....

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, frosty morning, up with the lark, off to there and back, cold with iced windscreen, fog and dark and bleary eyes... why oh why?

Stepping out at the services to pick up a coffee and opening my eyes properly and wide, the fog lifting slightly, then all around - hoar frost etched... the trails of fairies? Or was it that the moon had touched our world and remade it out of moonbeams.

So white and still and clean.

Cold, cold, cold, and on looking up I saw the warming buttermilk sun - and on seeing knew that soon this moonbeam world would be gone.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Roundabout stones...

Drive through and out of Caernarfon, out along the Porthmadog road, past Tesco and McDonalds, away from the white stoned castle and you'll come across these.

Standing stones, a large and perfect circle. Solid, upright, real and proud - standing stones. Ley lines and sacrifice, solstice and dawn, druids and mistletoe - standing stones. A wonder to behold... on a roundabout.
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Yes, these standing stones standing firm on the roundabout on a busy main road are real but not ancient, magical but not mystical. These stones weren't dragged to this place on wooden roller, pulled hand on hand by skin dressed dead hunters, but lifted on JCB by fag-smoking workmen wearing hi-vis and helmets in modern imitation - reverence, homage?

Or maybe just a tourist attraction.

But wait - what's that I feel? Ouch, it hurts a little! Could they be real? I think so, I feel something each time I pass. Still mystical in moonlight, awesome to behold, an echo of a more connected past... and on a ley line. Yes, on a ley line - I know, I feel it calling each and every time I cross.

Monday, 15 February 2010

There and back again...

I’d always ask him where he was going.

There and back again.” He’d usually reply in that obviously cryptic way he had.

These days it’s me that’s the ‘there and back’, I travel a lot, there and back mostly. I don’t mind, I enjoy the motion. There and back is fine, it’s the in-between that’s harder. As I said I enjoy the motion, every time there’s something new, different - things always happen on the 'there and back' - if you keep your eyes open and look. Not a story, nothing as grand as that - more of a list.

So here's today’s list.

There…

Mist three feet over the fields, a cows head poking through. Four swans, high overhead, silent to me, a steady swup, swup, swup outside I guess. A small clump of snowdrops (only four or five blooms) poking through the stubby grass in the central reservation. Backed up traffic. A tattooed white arm reaches down from a van to pass a black man a cigarette - obviously strangers as the van drives off, obviously an act of kindness. A mouse eating a squashed tangerine just out from the gutter, I swerve and miss…I think. My catkins, first of the year! A red heart balloon tangled high in the blackthorn hedge. Lost? Escaped? Set free? Discarded? ‘Reality’ it says on the side of the lorry (‘used to be a friend of mine’ I mumble). A covey of partridge startled from behind a hedge, flying too low. Was it six or seven? Seven – like habits. A white carrier bag caught up in the swell of the traffic haunts the night-time cars like a ghost. ONE-ZERO-SEVEN. Wow a space rocket! The hotel from a fifties ‘B’ movie descends lighting the horizon with its glow. A final murder of flapping black crows flies to roost, last light, bad omen, ill luck. And finally… that hole in the sky – oh, I wish I could escape into it

… and back again....
Home... until the next time.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A wet and dismal Sunday in Wales...

Sometimes things go flat. Everything seems grey, colourless, even a little hopeless. The beauty of the world deserts you, masked by dank, damp, drear or simply forgotten in the mix of mess that is going on around you at the time. It's so easy to lose sight of the mountains, so simple for the horizon - the line between the sea and the sky - to blur and meld into lump, almost all to easy for the greyness of the uncertain mist to numb imagination, soak and diminish belief.

Far too easy to lose your way, sight of what's there, what's important.

Look harder... the mountains remain behind that drizzle, the sky is blue above those dead man smudges of grey, the sea is green and blue and black and brown and indigo - look hard - it sparkles with the sun.

Storms will come, sun will shine, clouds will cast their shadows on the hill. The light WILL change, it always does...

It won't be grey forever.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Cat on a cold slate roof...

‘It looks a long hissing way down. A long way down and… steep!

Steep with a potential tumble at the end, it might be fun though. Perhaps I can make a parachute like Da Vinci did, I heard the Whirling Girl Thing talking about him, apparently he does home work. Who is Da Vinci anyway? Does he do Pizza? The WDGT loves pizza. No, he probably come to your house and makes you a parachute.

Just look at that sky. If only I could get out there. Sometimes there are birds, they sit on the gutters and tweet, taunting me; ‘tweet, tweet, tweet’ they go, if I could get out there I might be able to creep up and catch one – that’d stop them hissing tweeting.

Hisfault tweets apparently – not that I’ve ever heard him, but that’s what Foodies says; ‘Stop tweeting!’She shouts. Once it made him drop that buzzing box that he carries everywhere and sometimes sticks against his ear – hissing idiot!

What’s that over there? There in the garden. Is it one of those jumpy things with the long ears - babbits or wabbits or jabbits or something? I’d love to catch one of those. What fun we’d have playing leapfrag. I’d let it jump and then I’d hissing leap – what fun, what fun, what fun – you’re a dabbit and I’ll be the frag - come on jump, jump, jump!

If only this hissing window was open I could get out onto the roof and take a look. It looks a long hissing way down. A long way down and steep - steep with a potential tumble at the end, it might be fun though. If only I could get out there. Sometimes there are birds down there. They sit on the gutters and tweet. If I could get out I might be able to creep up and catch one – that’d stop them hissing tweeting?

Oh no, not again! STOPPPPP! I HAVE TO STOP REPEATING MYSELF. I blame the meow thing. Meows are so repetitive that sometimes they slips their way into your conversation and you get repetitiveitiveitive - very much like Foodies (or so Hisfault says), I wonder if she meows?

Look there’s one there now. There by the gutter… oh why isn’t this window open!

Right, time to make a parachute. Where’s Da Vinci when you need him, not doing home work here that’s for sure - now where’s that Whirling Girl Thing’s funny pointy vest?’



Thursday, 11 February 2010

Austin A35

I was in Porthmadog last Saturday, driving around the side streets that keep turning, squeezed smaller and narrower, growing shabbier with ever more abandonment at each turn until eventually they run out of road and end up salt marsh wilderness.

I was looking for Eric’s – the place where I’d been informed at the cafĂ© that I could get my tyres done. Unfortunately (in echo to the words of Humphrey Bogart) I was misinformed… informed… formed… ddd - and when I eventually found Eric he couldn’t do my tyres, he didn’t even have them in stock.

Turning down a small track looking for the other tyre place that Eric had suggested might have my tyres in stock (they didn’t though) I came across this poor thing – an old blue Austin A35 saloon just like the one Ju-Ju owned back in the seventies, the one he used to let me drive sometimes - despite me not having passed my test.

Ju-Ju’s Austin was twenty years old when he acquired it from his car dealer dad and this particular model was made between 1956 and 1959, my friend Andy Lloyd the car expert told me this so it must be true - meaning that my abandoned pile of tin must have been over fifty years old – as old as I am, and as rusty and ramshackle as I feel most of the time these days.

Ju-Ju and I had some wild times in that car - at least they seemed wild for two seventeen year old schoolboys. We once drove all around town dragging a rubber rat on a string behind us until the police stopped the car and gave us a good talking to - another time we set out on a weeks camping holiday to Hastings, only to drive home after a measly two days because we ran out of money and couldn’t afford the pitch fees - our money all spent on beer.

That’s me in the bottom picture driving around the old cattle market on the Aylesbury road. The photograph was taken on a beautiful hot and sunny August day as they (Jed and Julian - Ju-Ju) overtook me by the auction shed in Jed’s old green Triumph Herald. Jed was Julian’s brother and drove the Herald while Ju-Ju (in charge of the Kodak Instamatic) hung precariously out of the window to get this shot.

They almost got all of us killed when a cattle lorry reversed from behind the auction shed immediately in front of them as they began to overtake me. They just managed to pull in front of Ju-Ju’s old A35 just in time and narrowly missed the lorry.

Only just in time, so long ago, and all over now. Wild times indeed. Dusty memories and fading photographs of dead young men in old rusty cars.

So, there, for a moment, solitary standing in front of this other A35 left gutted and rusting in the backstreet debris of Porthmadog where the side streets get smaller and narrower, shabbier, and more abandoned as they run towards a wilderness of salt marsh… I remember the sunshine.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Facing up to it...

Sometimes all you can do is put on your best brave face and simply get on with it. Just face up to it. Face forward and march - one foot in front of the other - until you get to where you are going. You know that you can get there if you try, all you have to do is set your direction.

Talking of direction - I found this funny chap on the beach at the weekend. He just appeared out of the sand and lay there looking at me. He didn't say much. He didn't even wink. I'm still trying to work out what his expression might mean...

Any ideas?

Monday, 8 February 2010

My mood...

I went for a walk on the beach on Sunday afternoon. A nice sunny day, the light bright on the sea. Even so I wasn't in the best of moods - things are... well things are 'thingy' in some areas of my life at the moment.
Only one thing for it.

Make my mood into one of my creatures and leave it on the beach. Leave it on the beach and walk away from it. Forget it, move on, leave it behind. So, that's what I did. It won't stay away mind. It'll seek me out. Turn up, flap its flutters at me, gnash its rubber gloved bill thing, flutter those red poppy eyes, swish and swash that black plastic tail - turn and bite me again.

That's the thing with moods - you can shrug them off but they'll be back. They simply won't be shrugged - nasty little things.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Imagination stone...

Driving from Pwllheli towards Porthmadog as we do most Saturdays we pass through the village of Pentrefelin. Not much happens there, there isn’t much to see – try Googling it and you’ll see what I mean – but each time we pass through we pass a tall, thin stone pedestal planted into the pavement by the side of the road.

I can’t remember when I first noticed it. Not that long ago, a year or two, maybe three, and it’s very easy to miss as you drive by - it’s so tall and thin and natural. I’ve been meaning to stop and take a closer look since first glimpse - but the thing is it’s on the main road and there’s nowhere to park with ease. Last Saturday I found somewhere – in the entrance to a drive, so not exactly ease - and I walked back to take a closer look.

The grey, lichen spotted, natural hewn stone stands about twelve feet tall. It’s very narrow - becoming a little thicker at ground level - and angular, almost square, but not square enough to be mason-made. At some point in its history it has been decorated - somebody has carved the date 1721, a square even cross, some letters (maybe initials), and a second date 1812 roughly into the stone. Over the years it looks like it’s been a target for locals with a tendency towards graffiti.

What is it? I’ve no idea and neither has Google, it could be anything - an ancient standing stone, a pilgrim marker, a headstone, a memorial to some ancient battle, a pillory stone for witches to be bound to and stoned (perhaps even worse), a way marker, part of some long vanished structure, maybe even the trunk of a fossilised tree. I just don’t know and I think I like it that way. If I knew it would be a single thing, this way it can be any number of things, anything my imagination wants it to be and I can change its purpose as often as imagination wills.

Yes, I like it that way. Today it’s the village kissing stone – the place where village maidens come to tryst with their beaus.

Who knows what it will be tomorrow.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Misty has asked me to publish this letter on her behalf.
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Adoring public

Firstly I’d like to say sorry for my outburst last week. I don’t know what came over me. Maybe not being nominated for a single Oscar or even a Grammy had something to do with it and not getting a sniff of a Golden Globe or a whiff of an Emmy, didn’t help my mood much which (particularly at this time of year plagued with SAD as I am) is at best variable.

Even so, as Clarence the lion always said, you must always put your public first (and leave the Gazelles for seconds), so please accept my humble apologies. It is impossible to defend the undefendable, but in my defence that hissing Foodies woman has been feeding me turkey in a rich jelly morning, noon, and night and Mu-Mu knows what chemicals it contains. I’m bound to be imbalanced by all those colourants and additives. According to the can it even contains 2.5% ash and I didn’t even know that turkey’s smoked!

Still that isn’t really an excuse for my inexcusable outburst so I won’t use it as such. Although, I have had a few emotional problems recently as a result of that whirling dervish girl continually playing raucous music at full volume whilst spinning around and around on the spot. It’s almost impossible to sleep through it and I get quite upset if I don’t get my full 23 hours a day. I’ve asked that hissing Hisfault to shut her up or at least get me a pair of ear muffs but all he does is smile down at me in that inane way of his and pat my head like a dog!

It is making me TENSE! It is making me TERSE! It is making me very hissy-hussing FURIOUS! No wonder I’m so hissing VOLATILE ! I need a nice long course in ANGER MANAGEMENT or at the very least to catch a nice little mousey to take my ANGST OUT ON! - but this hissing bell stops that DOESN’T IT!

But then (deep breaths, count to ten) that isn’t your fault is it? No, it isn’t my adoring publics fault at all. I really shouldn’t take it out on you. After all you (well at least most of you) are not only my followers, my fans, my devotees, but I also regard you as my friends. I love you all (well almost all)!

There is a myth that cats never say sorry. I think you’d agree that this letter proves that nothing could be further from the hissing truth. On behalf of the nominating bodies of the various aforementioned societies, Hisfault, Foodies, that whirling dervish girl thing, the company who make my cat food, and the time of year, I unreservedly apologise and send you each my deepest respect.

Misty

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Just the snow...

I stopped at the Hartshead Moor services to dial into a telephone conference on my way back from Scarborough last night. It was snowing heavily as I parked up in front of a stand of snow covered wintry trees. It was still snowing a half hour later when I took this picture by the light of my headlight beams. It was cold outside the car as I photographed the trees and I was relieved to get back into the warmth of the car. As I sat there preparing to drive away he came to me again, my friend Ju-Ju. He often pops into my thoughts - but last night he was very strong. Perhaps it was the snow, or the trees, or the headlights, or the sound of the engine, or the cold, maybe the heat inside the car - but for a second or two he popped into my mind as I put the car in gear to drive away. I thought about him now and then as I drove along the long, snowy M62 back to Manchester and then, last night, he came to me again in that dream. Only this time it was different.

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It is warm in his car, far too warm. The heating is right up - Norway can be a cold country. He’s sitting in the driver’s seat looking out of the windscreen. He’s older, thinner, but he hasn’t changed that much – at least outwardly – he’s still Julian. The car is surrounded by tall trees. It’s getting dark. He speaks first.

“Oh you’re here again are you? Sorry I can’t offer you any vodka, I’ve drunk it all as always. How’ve you been - okay?”

“Yeah fine thanks…you?” He shoots me a strange look, a kind of half-smile. His face looks crooked, ironic. That’s such a stupid response from me. He’s in a car full of exhaust fumes and he’s drunk the best part of a bottle of vodka – how would he be? Why do I always ask him how he is? I know what he’s going to say next.

He says it. “Remember playing darts at the Bells? How did we get away with it? And in our lunch break. We were only fifteen. Three-o-one, double to finish and half a pint of bitter - remember? Remember old Charlie?”

“Yes Ju-Ju, I remember. Who usually won?” I always ask that.
“You”
“I thought you usually won.”
“No, it was definitely you. Want some music?”
“Why not – what’ve you got?”
“You’ll know it when you hear it.”

He puts a CD in the player, the sound of synthesisers rise above the purr of the engine and The Human Menagerie kicks in. I look around the car. Where’s the hosepipe? Oh there it is taped through the rear window He leaves nothing to chance. I look around the floor for pill bottles, there are a couple tonight usually it’s only one.

He’s not singing, just hums along, tuneless as always. Usually he sings along – Mr Soft, sometimes Judy Teen, depends on the album, but not tonight. We sit in the silence of friends watching the pine cone laden branches wave in the breeze and listening to Steve Harley’s melodious warbling. He was such a big Cockney Rebel fan. It’s getting darker. We must be very deep in the trees. It’s totally silent. No traffic noise, no planes – just dark. Heavy silence and the comforting sound of the breeze. Nobody is going to find us here. He grips the steering wheel hard, his knuckles turn white with the effort.

“Why do you come?” Always that and I always give the same answer.

“I don’t have a choice. The film starts running in my head and I’m here again.”

“I always was your entertainment.” Always.

“You were my friend.”
“And your entertainment. Remember that time on the hill?”
“It was only a joke, we were young. You didn’t mind.”
“No, I didn’t mind. I never minded did I? Heard anything from Sash?”
“Only Facebook. We message about you sometimes.”
"I'm surprised you remember me".

We remember him.

The film continues to run. We listen some more to Cockney Rebel like we used to when he wasn’t dead - and like I’ve listened so many times since - in the film in my head - but never in the real.

Ju-Ju I need to ask you something.” Here it comes - the big question in a small word. It is such a hard word - so small, but so hard. I let it sigh out of my mouth. I'm not looking at him as I say it.

“Why?” I look towards him. His chin is on his chest. It always is when I look towards him after asking the question. He’s asleep this time. I can hear him breathing. Sometimes, the really bad times, I can’t and then his skin is titanium white - as white as boiled bone. I'm relieved. I prefer it when I can hear him breathing - not that it’s ever changed anything. ‘Death Trip’ is playing softly on the CD player.

"NOOOOOOOOOO! I'm Not Letting You Do This Any More!"
And then I grab him, open the door, drag him from the car and slap his face until he wakes up coughing and spluttering. This has never happened before… I’ve saved him!
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Last night at 4.32 am, around the time he died all those years ago, I woke up and realised it was just another version of the dream. Nothing had changed at all.

Well, not quite nothing. I’d saved him if not in life then in my dream. Maybe I won’t dream him again? Don’t know how I feel about that.

It was probably the snow.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Sunrise A64...

Another sunrise? Well, I make no apology for yet another sunrise picture. This was taken on the A64 around York this morning. It was spectacular and lasted for ages. I pulled into a lay-by, stopped the car, snapped off this picture and simply watched the beauty of it all for a few minutes, traffic roaring noisily past as I did so. It was almost as though for one short moment looking up at those wonderful linear clouds, shimmering with colour, aflame with the reflection of the rising sun, that my life was my own and I could do anything I wanted with it. Oh, for a little more time… but no.

So back in the car and spotting the gap and I pull back out into the traffic. Scarborough here I come.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Penny for them, not quite...

My favourite British bird in the Wren, tiny and darting and everywhere and nowhere all at once. Perhaps that is why I like farthings so much.

Hard to believe that farthings were legal tender when I was born, they were though. The farthing was legal tender until 31st December, 1960 although the very last ones were minted in 1956 the year before my birth.

I was given £1 worth of farthings as a christening present by my great aunt Audrey, all 960 of them. Yes there were 960 farthings to the pound, they were a tiny sum of money. So tiny and annoying that in 1953 the Times reported that a bus conductor refused to accept eight farthings for a two penny bus fare, and that a newspaper vendor had become abusive when offered six farthings for a newspaper; even though the farthing was still legal tender in sums up to one shilling at the time.

I kept those farthings in an old wooden money box for years. I still have a few, but not all of them. I guess that they are down the back various settees and under the floorboards of the variety of houses I’ve lived in over the years.

If you’ve never seen a farthing the current penny coin is almost the same size as the last minted farthings but is worth 9.6 times as much.

I wonder what a farthing could buy today?

Monday, 1 February 2010

The place where the rainbow ends…

More rainbows this weekend - and snow, hail, sleet, rain, thunder, even a little sunshine - a real mixed bag of weather.

Standing in the stable yard looking up at the rainbow that had just appeared against the dark grey sky (more rain, snow, sleet, or was it going to be hail?) I glanced down and saw another rainbow on the concrete beneath my Wellington booted feet. Was I standing on, as my Uncle Charlie once told me, the spot where the rainbow ends? What a wonderful idea, but no this was diesel from the tractor probably. Still that’s what old Charlie used to tell me, the rainbows in the puddles were the spots where the rainbow ended or sometimes sprung up from. We used to stand, man and boy, staring into the iridescent puddles trying to work out which – ‘start or end?’

Stood remembering I wondered, not for the first time, what causes this miracle to happen?

Here’s the scientific answer - the reason that petrol appears colourful when it contacts water has to do with the relative density of the materials, both optical density and mass density. Petrol, as a liquid chemical, has a significantly lower mass per volume, or density, than the water it sits on top of. This causes a very thin film of petrol to spread out onto the waters surface. This film is so thin that the distance between it's top and bottom is something approaching the wavelength of the visible light spectrum. So, a film of petrol on a body of water will appear colourful, because each particular area of the film is not a uniform thickness.

On balance I think I prefer Uncle Charlie’s explanation. Yes, I’ll stick with that – the place where rainbows start from or where the rainbows end.