Monthly Archives: March 2015

A view through a dirty window

I don’t know about you, but I think the watermarks on the glass add a certain something…

My path to work this week goes directly underneath this Ferris Wheel on roids. High winds meant I was nearly blown away like Dorothy (minus Toto – who remains in Essex annoying the life out of those charged with his care). I suppose spending Easter in Oz would not be too bad, but I think I would have doubly regretted not taking my coat. Still, it is April tomorrow, and I am SICK OF WEARING A COAT. In total defiance of the jet stream, I am wearing a linen jacket today. So there. What’s good enough for the Oompa Loompas is definitely good enough for me.


This is what happens when you sleep by The Beatles Experience – you get all like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

I am in Liverpool

There is a view. I am sleeping opposite the Liverpool Eye and next door but one to The Beatles Experience.

I won’t be going to those attractions though. I did consider buying a ticket for Paloma Faith tonight, but won’t be going to see her either.

In the meantime, I am listening to young people get very worked up indeed over what is basically semantics. It’s quite interesting, but probably futile. The amount of energy generated at a conference is quite astounding, but I can’t quite help but wonder what the impact of all that might be.

Tomorrow I will aim to manage a picture. Too blustery and wet for photographs currently.

Everything’s gone wibbly

In the world.

Going to spend today looking for some straight stretches.

Copy of IMG_20150208_115644

The Week So Far…

Seizures in the music room
Vomit in the red waste paper bin
A homeless man arguing to use the toilet
And brace of sore tonsils
Not to mention the most annoying noise
In the world
Coming from the driver’s side front wheel

An inconvenience of signatures
Is nothing
Compared with the loss of
One Young Poet
Who communicated by blinking
And the debris of lives
Scattered on grubby mountains
For online vultures to pick


Roosevelt at Aston University, Birmingham

Me and England’s second city have ishoos.

The traffic is one. Always getting lost in and around its environs is another.

Yet, I took it upon myself to visit last week, on business. I left early and fairly zipped round the M25 to the M1. There the traffic was light until we entered a zone of road widening or some such, which involves miles upon miles of motorway being narrowed into tight little lanes that make my teeth sweat.

After that experience, the M6 was, for once, unbounded joy. And then, 10 minutes from my destination, I went wrong and the sat nav added a vicious little half an hour extra to my ETA. There is nothing to be said about that lost time, except that there was congestion, slow-moving traffic, and air quality to rival that of Beijing.

Aston University is a pleasant city centre campus. After visiting a number of their car parks and having an unscheduled wander around their science department, notable for discovering that copper kills bacteria, I’ve nevertheless asked my girls to cross it off their future UCCA lists. I would, however, commend to anyone their rather marvellous 1950s buildings. They are like the old grammar schools on steroids – think acres of parquet and Philip Larkin windows.

This photo was taken in the modern Business School,which doubles as a hotel and conference centre. Lunch was good, but as if to offset the soaring grandeur of the older campus buildings, the ceilings in this gaff scraped my cranium.


On Mothering Sunday

As Archie, one of the characters on the Fast Show, used to say: Mothering? ‘hardest game in the world.’ To all mothers doing the most important job in the world… attempting to populate the whole world with reasonable, rational, empathetic and compassionate people… you can never really have a day off in your heart, but, today, at least take a moment to enjoy your flowers.

Fathers, we big you up in June, so don’t feel sore.

2015-03-15 10.05.32

The Negative

The mind is primed to take account of the things that go wrong, the things that catch us on the hop, the things that might have been done better.


Because the emergent homo sapiens who did not was in danger of dying out tout suite. Whether it be poisonous berries, sabre-toothed tigers, or a neighbour with a club – the man, woman or child who failed to take note of the thing that went not so well was a weak link in the evolutionary chain.

So, when things go ok, I cannot help but think how they might have gone better. I don’t mind admitting: it’s a bit of a pain. I stop to smell the flowers, but my mind wanders off to risk assess the thorns.

My mother tells me that sometimes ‘good enough is good enough’ and in many ways she is, of course, completely right. It’s just that it’s never quite good enough for me.

I don’t expect the world to be perfect, and I certainly don’t expect me to be perfect, but there’s always a sense that there’s improvement to be had in anything – if you are willing to look for it, and work for it.

By that rationale: muscular prose that swaggers onto the page I could aim for, but a clean and tidy home is most unlikely in this particular lifetime.

onwards upwards

The image is found on the staircase wall of the local Celtic Club which I occasionally lurk in.

Happy St Patrick’s Day *scuffs heel because I didn’t get a Guinness*

Spring: The Ungive of Snow Bones

I have blogged about spring before – it happens every year after all. I have walked plenty this week, and seen much that is new after the dank, dour months of a brown winter: tight-budded pinpricks studding the hawthorn, a lone bee and butterfly brushing against cream walls, both discombobulated by the sun. A battalion of birdsong firing over the rooftops and this unnamed tactile splendour: a catkin that’s been down the gym.


And yet, as the snowdrops bloom with all their puny might, with the blowsy crocuses and uniform daffodils following hard on their delicate white heels, I ¬†always think of the Fran Landesman lyric, that spring can really hang you up the most. The Landesman lyrical sentiment is taken from the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The words speak of change, which many of us are hardwired to resist although we generally seem to do worse, psychologically speaking, with external circumstantial changes, not directly within our control. Every year we are aware that spring, a change, is coming about this time – and we might feel, for the most part, that the seasonal change is welcome after months of short, dark days. So what of Eliot’s Waste Land?

For me, it is stark reality of bright light on the ‘dead land’ that unsettles. The sunscald in what once passed for a garden, the illumination of winter dust suddenly strewn everywhere… the fear that spring will, this time, undo us. These tensions provoke action. Spring cleaning and gardening for some, artistic productivity in others. Busyness will save us from the memory and desire, stirring, we hope.

Yes, April is the cruellest month. Be sure to enjoy March whichever way you can.


The title of this post is inspired by a new book about language and nature titled ‘Landmarks‘ by Robert MacFarlane and published in hardback this week.

N.b. This post has given me terrible trouble what with dodgy punctuation and big ideas gone astray. Apologies if it does not quite cohere.

What’s Yours?


Whenever you submit a piece of writing, there’s often the requirement to ‘tell us a bit about yourself’.

Where does one start: reformed gambler, all-round lunatic and ragester; or mother of two, English tutor, likes tweed? Then there’s someone who was pulled over by the police at 4 a.m. on the M4 doing in excess of a ton, pulled out of a hedge by rozzers in N4 for brawling – let go with a warning, or the person who skid landed at the feet of two bobbies on the beat on the Isle of Dogs, when my bolting steed came down.

Which version of the self do people want?

This morning it’s: a 45 year old who likes passion fruit and hasn’t washed her hair since Saturday.

Disembodied Dolls’ Heads

I saw these in a local charity shop last week. I have applied a negative filter to amp up the general spooky nature of the collection.

Babies, generally, scare me. These, the more so.