A Weekend in Early December

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”

For the Love of Secondhand Books: A Digression

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”

Alone in Silence

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”

Urban Goals and Holiday Reading

Haven’t been here for a while, to Liverpool Central Library.But two special reasons to come today. First to see a new exhibition of photographs by someone that I ‘know’ in a Twitter sort of way. And second, to stock up with some holiday reading  as I’m taking some time off work.

Photos first then. The exhibition’s by my Twitter friend @UrbanGoals, and is in fact called “Urban Goals.” Turns out that’s not my friend’s actual name though.

Introducing Michael Kirkham.

Who looks, from his photo, to be a boxing referee. This exhibition though is about football. Not the glossy corporate world of Premier League football, but real football in the real places where we live.

Urban Goals on walls near you.

Continue reading “Urban Goals and Holiday Reading”

In Conversation: The power of the spoken word.

Talking with Lucy Adams and Liam Black about life and the living of it.

This blog is all about writing and mostly about my opinions. Writing done quietly on my laptop, here at home or sometimes in libraries and cafés around Liverpool. And I hope my voice makes it through in these words I write. Because I don’t have one voice I use for my writing and another for when I’m actually speaking. Not consciously anyway. But speaking is different all the same as I’ve come to realise lately.

Liam Black 'The Social Entrepreneur's A to Z'
Liam Black ‘The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z’

I’ve become particularly aware of this because of my participation in two podcasts my friend Liam Black has recently published of conversations based on parts of his book The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z.

In each of them Liam and I are joined in the conversations by Lucy Adams of communications specialists Firehouse, who was previously Head of HR at the BBC. And there’s the difference, not the BBC but the conversations. The three of us could have sat in separate places on our laptops, in touch but only digitally, and the conversations wouldn’t have turned out half as richly as I think they have done. Or be half as fascinating as lots of people have been telling me they are. Continue reading “In Conversation: The power of the spoken word.”

Quiet Days in West Cork

Quiet Days - 1Writing this on the Ianrød Eirann train from Kent Station, Cork to Heuston Station in Dublin, after a week of quiet days in West Cork. Well mostly quiet and mostly West Cork, though we began and ended with nights in a hostel in Cork City. Bunk beds and excitable young voices in there, us taking refuge those evenings in the city’s pubs. The Sin É for the music, the history and the new out last year Rising Sons beer, brewed all of 800 meteres away. And the Shelbourne Bar for rare whiskeys we’d never afford and food you could send out for from the local cafés, such a civilised idea.Quiet Days - 2 Quiet Days - 3

Mostly though quieter days of quieter thoughts far along the Beara Peninsula in furthest West Cork, hanging right out into the Atlantic Ocean.Quiet Days - 4

The train here full of Cork voices. Continue reading “Quiet Days in West Cork”

What’s Your Granby Story?

The last Granby 4 Streets Market of this summer season this Saturday, 5th September. And a very special one too.

We are telling the stories of the place now. Listen.

"His good name from 79 Granby Street and his legacy still lives on."
“His good name from 79 Granby Street and his legacy still lives on.”

This is Zeena Mekki telling a story of this week, this century and the last one. The story of a seafarer. The story of a migrant. The story of a refugee. A story of welcome. Of decades and of love. The story of coming home, of being human. The story of her Dad and Granby. Listen.

One story in a book of stories.
One story in a book of stories.

Written and told by the people of Granby. Continue reading “What’s Your Granby Story?”

Being Yourself

Central Library - 1I’ve had a bit of a treat this week. If you know me at all you’ll know that two of the things I tend to go on about are doing the work you love and only the work you love – and the wonderfulness of public libraries.

Well this week I’ve planned an event all about this called ‘Being Yourself.’ And I ran it on Tuesday in Liverpool Central Library. And I’m in here now, the day after. Sending out notes for everyone and writing this. Perfect.

Broadcasting directly to you from the Picton Reading Room!
Broadcasting directly to you from the Picton Reading Room!

The whole event was based on a theory I’ve been testing out for the last 20 years or so: Continue reading “Being Yourself”

Socialist ’til I die

Lately and increasingly I have resumed writing in long hand when something really matters to me, when something needs working out. The slowness of it, the active thinking, from my heart directly down my left arm to the tip of my pen.Socialist - 6

I’m writing in long hand now, sat on the wall of Sefton Park, the Sunday afternoon before the 2015 General election. Sefton Park where I have come for most of my adult life to walk, reflect and think about all the really big decisions. When to invite, when to leave? When to say yes, when to say no. Today I’m here to keep writing until I can decide who to vote for this Thursday.

As you can tell by the title above, several parties and candidates have already been eliminated by the thinking and experiences of my life up to now. I am a socialist and always have been since, I think, my first ever visit to a public library some time late in the 1950s:

“We’d moved to our new house on a new estate, just North of Liverpool. And in one of our early explorations of the new place, called Maghull, I remember my Dad taking me to the Library there and explaining how it worked. That I could pick the books I wanted and take them home. Then after we, or rather he, had read them to me, we’d bring them back. ‘It’s part of how we’ve decided to run the country. Books are important and this is a good way of making sure everyone can read the books they want,’ he said, gently educating his little son in the gently British version of socialism.”

But as you’ll know from my recent posts about The Big Issue and Borgen the kind of socialist I am at the moment has been up for some degree of consideration. Consideration that continues now, sat on this park wall writing all this down. Continue reading “Socialist ’til I die”