Late on a mid January afternoon I’m sat writing in a café near to where I live. It’s ‘the third cafe’ on Greenbank Road, near its corner with Smithdown Road. Newly opened by Carole Fleck, who used to run Greendays off Lark Lane, and already somewhere that makes me happy every time I’m here.
I’ve been happy anyway this week working on my website and blog, so it looks like I want it to and says the things I want it to say. I think it feels renewed and somehow better and I can imagine a younger version of myself wanting to jump around and shout about it so everyone will notice. But that’s not going to happen because the version of me doing the writing here is an older one, quieter now and more reflective, so less inclined to use exclamation marks.
Still I am quietly excited by the newly brightening year, the light gradually returning and the sense of renewed energy and possibilities this always brings. So I’m sat here in Carole’s café writing about the new things and the good things I want to do this year.
Who wouldn’t want to walk along Huskisson Street in the morning?
There’s always somewhere to get to isn’t there? Always something filling up your mind with the things to do when you arrive at wherever? What hardly ever happens in the middle of all this getting on is the quiet voice. You may know it? The wise and caring voice inside your head that says:
‘You know that ‘present moment’ consciousness thing where life happens? Well you might want to take a look at this one, right here and right now?’
Well this morning I heard the voice. While I was sitting on the 86 bus going into town. What it said was this:
The day before Christmas Eve I wrote and photographed a poem called “Letting Go: A Quiet Breath” and the quiet days have continued here from then through to this new year of 2018.
These beloved souls are my three grandchildren: Finn, 3; Theo, 8, and Eleanor, 11. In the park with their parents, Simon, with Finn on his shoulders and my daughter Clare, who took the beautiful photograph.
A little later I’m on the other side of The Mystery, gazing up at the Moon.
The evening passes in quiet thoughts of what was good in 2017, what didn’t really work out and what might change as the year gets called 2018. We call these new year changes resolutions, but of course some of them are nothing of the sort. While we can all change stuff like what we eat, how much we run and, maybe, the work we do, much else that we’d like to happen is in the realm of wishes and dreams, like always.
Still, we can all change some of what’s immediately around us, so this morning finds us back at Sarah’s allotment, where we’ve spent several of these quiet days.
Three days of quiet Christmastime on Sarah’s plot of Liverpool land.
This has been a clearing kind of year for Sarah and I. Our sequence of Clearing posts back in October and November recorded a time when we were clearing things and activities from our lives to focus better on what really matters to each of us in our different ways. And the news from here in Sarah’s shed on her allotment at Greenbank Lane Allotments this Christmas Day is that we’re still clearing.
Sarah’s been gardening this plot of earth now since 2001. Over these sixteen years it’s been her passion, her joy, her refuge and her sanctuary. Others have helped over the years, hi Bren, hi Gemma and even me. But this is Sarah’s place and over the last few months, along with so much else, she’s been clearing it. Continue reading “A Christmas Clearing”
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 a long ago tale of suffragette struggle but a dystopian story from the Liverpool City Region today, expressed as a heart warming seasonal song, via The Handmaid’s Tale.
Much more of the song later, first let’s talk.
Now I’ve got no particular problem with men. I’ve been one, at first a boy version of one, all my life. Furthermore I’m perfectly happy being who I am. Having said that, I’d never try to run anything or take any important decisions in my life without asking the women that I know. This would feel not merely wrong but also deeply unwise and self-defeating. Ignore half the people I know with all their knowledge, opinions and feelings? As if.
Which brings me to the problem I want to write about. Devolution to regional city authorities and the exclusion of women from nearly all of their leadership groups. There’s a good article here at the New Statesman you might want to read for the full national picture on this. In summary, all of the head elected jobs as ‘Mayors’ in the devolved authorities are held by men. Then the article shows figures of 94% men having a vote in their running, with just 6% women.
In the Liverpool City Region, yes I’m mainly writing about Liverpool as ever, the percentage figure for men has been rounded up to an easy to comprehend 100%. Yes, no women. A City Region of around 1.5 million people, and therefore around 750,000 women, being run by a small group of men. Continue reading “Votes for Women? Liverpool 2017”
A question from a friend and then writing all this brings me to the realisation that I’m perfectly fine with Christmas. A harmless old tradition that brings people together around sparkly lights and a warm fire. It’s the shopping I can’t and won’t abide.
This morning my friend Barry threw a question out to the social media world that brought the ghosts of many Christmases past crowding into my thoughts:
“Asked to think of something I might want for Christmas to ease the shopping burden on family. I have about 20 unread books on my shelf and access to more music than I could listen to in one lifetime. What else could I ever need?”
Before my memories crowded out his question my instincts sent him this simple answer it had taken me years of my life to arrive at:
I’ve thought about this a lot & in the end time is the gift I ask for & the gift I give myself. Time to listen, read & be with those I love.”
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.
I’ve loved using this space I have to write more deeply these past few months. To change the balance between words and pictures on here and have more to say. I’ve particularly had more to say during this time for the reasons many of us will have more to say during times in our lives when we are ill or things generally are not going so well. From late July onwards things did not go well for me and I found myself, to my own relief and slight surprise, trying to write my way through my own doubts, illness, depression and unhappiness. It’s turned out I had a lot to say.
Now, come this weekend in early December, things are much better. Through the love and help of friends, the passing of time and perhaps the writing, my life is in a better place. So I’ve decided to write from this better place. For myself as much as for you who might read this. So I will remember, the next time depression darkens my door, that happiness, sometime soon, can always be a tangible possibility. Continue reading “A Weekend in Early December”