If these were the only three sunny days we get they were great weren’t they? So I thought I’d write them down so I can remember them, later on. When the weather goes back to seeming like it’s colder than it used to be and it rains most days.
It’s Saturday evening as I’m writing, going dark now but the daytimes here in Liverpool have been sunny since Thursday. Warm days of less clothes and crowds in the parks. Though not yet in The Mystery as I set out for the day. Continue reading “In Liverpool: Those Three Sunny Days in April”
We’re piecing it together now, The Mystery Literary Festival I wrote about on here a few weeks ago. A group of us have met and a couple of us in the group have then gone about talking to people. So we know when it will be now and soon we’ll be able to tell you other things, like where it will take place, what it might be about and how you can join in.
In the meantime we’re sorting out the sort of details you need when setting up something like this, its own presence if you like.
So soon The Mystery Literary Festival will have its own website. But in the meantime I’ll be adding information to this page, now and soon. Continue reading “Announcing: The Mystery Literary Festival”
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the word ‘fun.’ Although my general aim in life has always been to make the world a better, fairer and kinder place if I could, the talking up of ‘fun’ that often goes on amongst people with apparently similar aims has often looked like no fun at all.
The forced joining in at social events, for example, has always mildly terrified me and sent me looking for the nearest place to hide. Start up fancy dressing, the conga or that game where lines of adults pass balloons along between them without them touching the floor and I’m gone. Hiding in the kitchen or out the door and on my way home. “It’s just a bit of fun” I get told by people who are obviously a different sort of human from me.
I’m not and never have been one of life’s joiners in.
Then related to the party games fun is its dread corporate relation ‘the away day.’ Continue reading “For The Fun Of It?”
There is magic all around us. Stories waiting to be told. In every park & street the future is waiting. Listen, while I tell you a story called “The Mystery Literary Festival.”
In Liverpool there is a park called The Mystery. No map will tell you where it is but everyone knows it’s called The Mystery. And in 2018 they know it’s where the first Mystery Literary Festival happened.
Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.
The idea came from The Beautiful Parks Project in the autumn of 2017 when a woman with the grown up daughter said ‘Why is there no Mystery Literary Festival?’ And so there was. Once two passing strangers, one of whom was also me, stuck up their hands and said ‘If no one else wants to run it then we’ll do our best, having never done such a thing before. It will be a laugh and a story in itself.’
Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.
So it was announced, and here I am announcing it, that The Mystery Literary Festival would be for everyone who likes a story. And that would be more or less everyone, right? Continue reading “The Mystery Literary Festival: Soon”
I loved everything about this book.
There, that’s the criticism out of the way, now let’s get down to details.
It arrived as one of many I’d laid in for the quiet days as work was put down and Christmas waited for New Year. I didn’t pick it up to read first or even third though. Attracted as I had been to the glorious cover I worried a little about ‘dreamily poetic’ in one of the review quotes and also had a sense I was going to find bleakness within its pages. After a difficult year I wasn’t immediately ready for bleak. Continue reading “Elmet: “Having already got out all our words for the day””
A second meander around some nearby bookshelves, which are almost ready for Christmas.
I’m almost ready for Christmas here. To my partner Sarah’s amusement, once I’d finished my work on Friday, I went down to the Oxfam shop nearest to where we live and did what she calls my Christmas shopping. Mostly second hand books, and quite a few. Enough to see me through the quiet days when, like the majority of us, I’ll pause from my work and enjoy myself. Which in my case means I’ll be reading.
Not all the time of course. There’ll be some talking, quite a lot of walking around, some writing maybe, and of course quite a lot of music. But to quote Devon Sproule, one of my favourite songwriters:
“I’ve got the bookshelves loaded”
So all is calm, all is bright and, as I said, I’m almost ready for Christmas.
Not that I’m not reading already of course. It’s been the weekend and so the first of Friday’s purchases has already been read. Much like ‘Stoner’ by John Williams, the last secondhand book I wrote about on here, this one is an apparently quiet story about a seemingly unremarkable life that’s not so unremarkable at all. Continue reading “For the Love of Secondhand Books: A Continuation”
In the evening of the day, all work done, we sit down and we talk.
Maybe it’s because we’re in the dark time of the year, when the evening seems to last for half the day, that’s made me so conscious of evenings? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a book? A bit of both probably.
Anyway, have you ever thought about how many evenings you’ve spent talking with the significant person or people in your life? Or about how much all the conversations you’ve had over all of those evenings with these people have contributed to who you are and the life you’re living? Well I have, and ‘a lot’ is the answer to both of these questions.
Evenings are the focus of my thinking and the title of what I’m writing here because they’re the time my significant person and I mostly spend together, our different jobs of work done for the day. We’ve been together, Sarah and I, for 25 years or so now and, minus time spent away working and on a few separate holidays, sea kayaking for example, that all multiplies up to about nine thousand evenings we’ve spent together.
Nine thousand evening of conversation. Continue reading “Nine Thousand Evenings”
Yes, I’ve been reading. But we’ll come back to that.
When I got talking to people in Granby in Liverpool, about seven years ago now, they asked me to help them get over a very specific problem:
“We all know what we don’t want. We don’t want our houses to be knocked down. So we’ve got very good, over many years, at opposing any and all plans to do this. The trouble is though, we can’t agree between us on exactly what it is we do want. So could you help?”
I said “Yes, maybe” and we began to work on something together, loads of us, that has largely worked. Not perfectly and it’s not finished. But we moved beyond that skilfully confident “no” to a curious and more friendly “yes,” and in so doing changed a piece of the Earth very much for the better.
What I hadn’t realised until this week was that in learning that lesson in Granby, that yes is stronger than no, we were beginning to learn something that may yet help to create a better future for the whole of the Earth, if we could be fairly quick about it. Continue reading “Moving beyond ‘No’”
It’s a perfect example of what it is, a secondhand book. It’s got other well used books on its cover, it’s on a ‘vintage’ imprint and I bought it from a secondhand bookshop.
It is also, by the way, a perfect book. Tom Hanks says it as well as I ever could in his review quote inside the cover:
“It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across.”
Read that aloud, please, in your best dry, wry and enquiring Tom Hanks voice and I think you might both get the idea and want the book. Which you can have any day soon if I give you its catalogue number: Continue reading “For the Love of Secondhand Books: A Digression”
Sarah has gone away, sea kayaking this time, and I’m alone again. Not lonely though. I find I rarely get lonely. Which is just as well as I find myself alone a lot.
Usually I’m alone here in this peaceful house. This house where I’ve lived for twenty six years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. A typical Liverpool three bedroomed terraced house that I’m appreciating so much while there’s only me here to keep it company. Bay windows top and bottom at the front, no carpets, sparsely furnished, gently coloured and a small yard at the back leading on to the entry, alleygated in recent years.
Sarah moved into the house a couple of years after me, so I never think of it as mine and have few memories left now of the brief time I lived here on my own. Though I do have the feeling that I was lonely here then but for the twice weekly stays of my young daughter Clare. Memories when Clare wasn’t here of cold evenings, with nothing much to do when my dishes were washed up after tea.
It’s been a good house though, and I’ve been happy here. Continue reading “Alone in Silence”