Blog Archives

Northern Hands

I have northern hands. They are my grandfather’s on my mother’s side: squared off, sturdy, safe?

I see my grandad spinning a knife on the polished dining table after tea – the bone handle spinning, silver plated SHEFFIELD slowing, slowing, ready to point out the person who would be doing the washing up.

My grandad always did the washing up. And peeled the vegetables.

I do the same, but I don’t spin a knife.

I have his hands and they are northern, Lancashire hands, worn in with the good earth and the pit dust of somewhere like Newton-in-Makerfield. I have the hands that he was yet to grow into as a boy, walking through the Queensway Tunnel under the River Mersey with an uncle the night before it opened in the summer of 1934. I have the hands that dovetailed joints and played ludo and grew vegetables and wrote a PhD about the infinity of numbers. I have those hands, and the stories that lie in them, and I’m grateful.

My daughter's hands

My daughter’s hands

My mother has them too.

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I found a ring in the sand

Only a quarter of the upper edge was showing. For a moment, as I thought to pull it out, I hesitated, wondering if all I would find was the rim of a glass bottle – the shoulders all shattered and deadly, ready to cut me.

It was a ring for a reason, from the inscription. Next to the ubiquitous eBay white metal stamp 925, an Uzbek woman’s name, with love…

I imagined the man. He stood one night, bankrupt, smoking furiously on the deck of the casino. The wooden platform is cantilevered out over the dark waves which slap beneath the soles of his feet. In the grip of some nameless betrayal, he yanked the ring from his finger.

As I pulled it from the sand, I was reminded of the cabin by the lake in Michigan, where I said, if I really was someone, then I too would throw my most treasured possession into its half-frozen waters and walk away without looking back as if none of it had every really happened. Turns out I wasn’t someone.

Don’t most rings turn out to be like broken bottles in the end?

Snow (Hey Oh)

an excerpt from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lyrics:

Our sad tree

“Hey oh listen what I say oh
The more I see the less I know, the more I like to let it go…hey oh whoa
Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder
Where it’s so white as snow
Privately divided by a world so undecided
And there’s nowhere to go
In between the cover of another perfect wonder
Where it’s so white as snow
Running through the field where all my tracks
Will be concealed and there is nowhere to go”

We hope here in Southend where we have no field that A-M and EP (aka LS & DHC) will oblige us by running in theirs and sing the song