Nature finds its niches in the limestone... Graveyard view on the road from Cahersherkin to Ennistymon... Seamus and Cait... The view from Fanore to Inisheer - West Coast of Clare...
31 May 2008
28 May 2008
27 May 2008
And here are the scenes at Wembley as Dean Windass struck the winning goal:-
Three of my own pictures:-
Victoria surveys the uncouth masses.
"Hull Daily Mail" news vendor in his booth with stacks of souvenir editions.
On the balcony of The City Hall, Chairman Paul Duffen and manager Phil Brown hold the trophy aloft.
25 May 2008
At Kings Cross I was fretting. Watching everybody who disembarked from every train. With no mobile phone, I couldn't easily contact Tony and Fiona who were coming to London from Hull with my precious ticket - now worth the princely sum of £196! (2x£98). Their train had been repeatedly delayed and arrived at the station an hour late. Phew!
Tube to Liverpool St. Scurry to the Travelodge. Back on the tube to Wembley Park. Then out into the sunshine of Wembley Way. The great arch of the new Wembley beckoned us like Mecca - and I don't mean the bingo halls of that name! The black and amber army were on the move.
Yorkshire Pudding with Fiona on Wembley Way
By our turnstiles, I tried to sell Shirley's ticket for twenty minutes but it was futile so I gave up and ventured into our nation's finest football stadium. As an aside, might I just say that it is absolutely disgusting and wrong that a huge swathe of seats on one side of the pitch are essentially "owned" by corporate rich bastards who will often not even bother turning up for games. This is our national stadium for Christ's sake! And these empty seats provide the best view of the game in progress, situated as they are on the halfway line. Utterly disgraceful!
The game itself will be remembered for Dean Windass's fantastic volley ten minutes before halftime. The ball rocketed into the net and sent 37000 Hull fans into a state of sheer delirium. In the second half, Bristol City pressed hard but without a cutting edge up front. I was as nervous as hell, watching the minutes tick away. It seemed as if this was going to be our dream day but with all the misery and disappointment we have known over the years, I feared that failure would be snatched from the jaws of success until the referee blew his whistle and we had won! The greatest day in Hull City's history. The biggest prize in world football. The Premiership! Tears streamed down my cheeks and we hugged everyone around us - shaking hands, kissing, patting backs. We had bloody done it! The Tigers in the Premiership! I do not give a fig that we will struggle amongst the big boys next season. This was our day and nobody will ever take it from us. We are 'Ull! We are 'Ull! We are 'Ull!As I said to Shirley in the morning - her mum's name was Winifred, Winnie - often shortened to Win. Win! It was auspicious and I dedicate that historical game to her memory. May she rest in peace forevermore.
21 May 2008
I have known her for nigh on thirty years. She has always been most kind to me and a very decent person who has always lived within three miles of her birthplace - choosing to live a simple country life, raising a family by the River Trent where the family farm still stands - now owned by someone else. Her husband, Charlie, passed away seven years ago - also a victim of cancer. Neither of them ever smoked or drank. They ate healthily, looked after themselves and took exercise. That's the Big C for you. You never know for sure where it will strike. Thankfully, Winnie is not in pain.
I will be picking Ian up and driving over to The Isle of Axholme to see Winnie tomorrow evening - very possibly for the last time. Shirley remains determined to come down to London for the Championship final but will of course stay with her mother if death appears imminent. The people at her health centre have been great in allowing her as much paid compassionate leave as she needs.
18 May 2008
Dry-stone walls - a little appreciated art form.
I often think of the men who made these walls and the times they lived in when life was slower and survival was harder. I picture them labouring away, arranging the stones gradually like geological jigsaw puzzles in "The Krypton Factor", breaking sweat and stopping to rest, swigging bottles of pure stream water, devouring rough hewn hunks of bread. Their hands gnarled and calloused from years of patient wall-building. Undoubtedly they had no sense of themselves as artists but they have left behind a beautiful legacy the like of which no wire or wooden fence could hope to emulate in a million years.
15 May 2008
Elton John! Johnny Barnes! Joy Batchelor! Graham Taylor! Michael Bentine! Luther Blissett! We gave your lads a helluva beating!
All that lies between us and paradise now is Bristol and our fear. Please wish us well. I will be there at Wembley in my tiger stripe underpants, roaring the lads on. Who are ye? Who are ye? We are Ull! We are Ull! We are Ull! It's only football but if feels like life itself.
13 May 2008
10 May 2008
9 May 2008
Standing on the shore of life’s great ocean
Preparing to cross uncharted seas
Discovering distant islands
Bending your sails to the breeze
Farewell to the class of Zero Eight
Farewell to you one and all
As you exit the old school gate
Go out with your heads held tall.
Perhaps for one fleeting moment
Look back on the last five years
Remember how far you have come
The blood the sweat and the tears
Then turn your backs to the wind
And begin your voyage anew
Greystones* was simply a harbour
Where the system was sheltering you.
The more I grow, the less I know
Once I was eleven
Entering Year Seven
It seemed that school would never end
Always there like a clingy friend
Edale* and homework and stinking lavs
Emos and bullies and gangs of chavs
Caretaker jangling a big bunch of keys
Thank you miss and excuse me please
Comprehension or lunchtime detention
Birth prevention or surface tension
Trudging up the old cinder path*
In the canteen having a laugh
With mates I’ll always remember
- Well at least until September.
- The best days of our lives…
The more I grow the less I know
Leaving Year Eleven
Feels like seventh heaven
Now we’re off to work or college
Living proof of growth through knowledge.
*Edale = Village in Derbyshire famed for school outdoor camps
* cinder path = path joining main school buildings at my "technology college"
When they blow up the school
It will feel so cool if they
Let me press the button
Blasting away the corridors
Where we laughed
And chewed the fat
Exploding the empty rooms
Where we toiled and boiled
Over keyboards and key skills.
It will be so cool
When I blow up the school.
And when the dust has settled
I’ll be sitting in the rubble
Not causing any trouble
Like a funeral
6 May 2008
I remember when I was nine years old. On Tuesdays, after the school day had ended, I would ride on a school bus to the nearby village of Catwick to receive piano lessons from Mrs Maddox. She must have been something of a local entepreneur because she was always baking huge trays of tarts and scones, sausage rolls and vol-au-vents as well as teaching piano to local children.
I hated those trips. Hated the mechanical and heartless way in which Mrs Maddox attempted to teach piano skills. There was no love, no fun, no delight. You had your scales to do and dull pieces to learn by heart - "Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" Where indeed?
Hearing my long distance piano teacher returning in her car, I returned to the dreaded piano stool. However, as soon as Mrs Maddox came in the room she sniffed my offence and was quickly on to the singed cushion. I tried to lie my way out of it - saying I knew nothing about that horrible cushion. Of course, she didn't believe me and ordered me out of her house, saying that I had to tell my parents what I had done and that I wasn't to come back again.
I was confused and ashamed of myself. I just couldn't bring myself to tell mum or dad what I had done and returned to piano practice the following week as if nothing had happened. Mrs Maddox never delivered baking on my time again and later I became a concert pianist - wowing audiences from Vienna to New York. (The last bit is another lie!)
3 May 2008
Bringing in the may
1 May 2008
I have ranted about mobiles in cars before so obviously I was delighted when the Ministry of Justice announced yesterday that 164,900 fixed penalty notices for using mobile phones while driving were issued in 2006. However, the tide has not yet turned. How many more deaths have to happen before the message truly hits home?