This is the archive for Dave's Articles and Stories - at the moment individual pieces are shown below. 

However, as the number of pieces grows they will be organised into collections.

Dec 8

Bird Song

He wondered if anyone ever listened to bird song in the city any longer. It was just lost in the general cacophony. Indulging in listening steals valuable minutes from an overloaded day. Who knows a thrush from a blackbird by its song? Why even the most common chirpers and twitterers like the sparrow and starling, who provided the soundtrack to his childhood, had disappeared. Occasionally crawling home in the early morning, winter or summer, some sodium-light inspired blackbird has stopped him in his tracks. Perhaps it was just the excess of alcohol that heightened his sensitivity to its piercing night-time call. Perhaps it was that Beatles song.

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Dec 8

Landslide

    mining gear         

I was always terrified of change. In fact I was always terrified of everything. The dark, water, being alone, being in crowds, relationships, loneliness. I masked it all and developed the persona of a cool, quiet guy, unruffled, calm. But beneath the surface I was paddling away like mad. Caught in an endless debate of should I, shouldn’t I? I was terrified of consequences, thinking they would be invariably bad...or troublesome....or maybe just unpredictable.

Perhaps I was a control freak as they say. Couldn’t handle the unexpected so forestalled it by anticipating the worst. Strange, by nature I never thought of myself as a pessimist. Always full of good advice to others to look on the bright side, always telling them that things would surely get better.

Only later did I twig that part of it came from my mother who was permanently tuned to the awfulness of life, whose Methodist upbringing induced guilt from any enjoyment; who had a Hindu’s belief in the inevitability of fate and karma, and the inevitable price that was to be paid for pleasure, egotism, or selfishness. She was a good woman believe me and I don’t suppose she anticipated that her own fear of the unknown, would be my legacy from her. Not that it was the only one. Although my father read avidly, I have no doubt my early love of books and sensual addiction to the scent of must and lavender polish of our local library was down to her. Strange that our mutual and vicarious escape into books was comforting rather than frightening; those fictional or historical worlds were never going to impinge on ours. In fact we lived in a bubble immured from the physical realities of a strange world beyond. That real world may well have been on another planet.Read more

Dec 8

No 9 Dream

Walls and bridges

 

No 9 DREAM

He saw a ghost today, oh boy. He’d stopped at the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Stubbins Lane where it joins Rochdale Road. A slim woman walked across, and half turned to the car as if to acknowledge him. He flipped. By the time she had continued to the other side his head had flooded and he stared at her disappearing back before she took the next side street. He’d know that walk anywhere, that profile, the half smile. He didn’t notice that the lights had changed. Someone peeped breaking his reverie. Self consciously he crashed the gears and drove on towards Cheetham with one side of his brain screaming “turn back”. The other said “don’t be stupid”, she’d be sixty now”. That girl couldn’t have been more than thirty.

On Cheetham High Street he stopped at The Craven Heifer. Not a place he usually drank in. It wasn’t the drink he needed. Sitting with a Guinness he wrote a note to himself and tried to get things in order. She had had a pale moon face framed by straight blonde hair and fringe, very late sixties, and strong honest blue eyes. His first impression on meeting her? Read more

Dec 5

The Pig Man Cometh

pig-snout

 

Marjorie Peake was a “big girl for her age” as they used to say. Not fat but big boned, and brassy to boot. Every other kid at their end of the back street had due respect for adults which amounted to not speaking until spoken to, but Marjorie was not shy in coming forward. Unlike the rest she did not live on the two streets which shared a back entry but came to spend her days in the care of her grandparents because both her parents worked.

Her mother was an invisible figure but her father was renowned and respected. He was a butcher, or more exactly, a slaughterman at the abattoir in town. The children could scarcely imagine why their parents spoke of him reverentially with “Abel this” and “Abel that”, as he was coarse of voice, never wore a collar and tie and always wore wellington boots.

To the boy, Abel Peake’s main attraction was not his garrulous daughter but to the fact that he kept a pig up by the single track railway line that ran from the Colliery at the foot of the bank to the coal yard at the top. On Sunday morning straight after mass and before going to the pub, his father would trail him over the dirt tracks and shattered fields of his own childhood in an ostentatious act of parental duty, and they would wave to the puffing billy that chugged laboriously up that substantial gradient, fully-laden, or careered downhill, its empty wagons rattling in abandon.

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