Mask drying on the radiator

That’s it. That’s the picture.

After I just washed it.

Wearing a mask is annoying. It’s not something you’d choose to do by yourself. Unless you’re, like, Spider-Man or something. It also makes your glasses fog up. Such a drag.

But, it does have a few advantages. It helps protect you from covid, it helps you protect others from covid, in many places there is a legal requirement to wear one (unless you’re exempt), and, when the cold days come, it keeps the lower part of your face warm.

Also, when you’re doing your supermarket shopping, and they play music at the said supermarket, you can lip sync to the song–and nobody can tell.

It was Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. Come on, it’s a tune!

The Materialising Of A Prompt

This is the story about how a writing prompt–or more precisely, a trio of writing prompts–came alive.

One of the blogs I follow is The New, Unofficial, On-Line Writers Guild. It’s relevant to my writing blog, not this one, but anyway, this blog publishes a fictional story every week, plus three prompts. These can be responded to in the usual style of prompts of WordPress. In a post a couple of months ago, the prompts went like this:

  • 1. outside Halifax
  • 2. no god worth worrying about
  • 3. selling truth

I looked at the prompts and instantly, they formed a whole sentence in my mind:

There is no god worth worrying about selling truth outside Halifax.

Okay, it looks like a sentence, you think, but it is a tiny bit nonsensical. And what about it came alive?

Well, not only was it a line in my head, it was a situation I was able to picture quite clearly, and one that I was sure I’d actually seen in real life, with my own eyes. How?

Like this:

Halifax is a town in Yorkshire, or in Nova Scotia, or wherever else, but here in UK it is also a bank. As banks usually do, they have branches in most town centres. So, that is the easily imaginable “outside Halifax” part. As for the god not worth worrying about selling truth, well, street Jesus freaks of all sorts are not an unusual sight here in Manchester. Strictly speaking, they’re probably not selling anything, not in the normal sense, in exchange for money, but they must want something from you, otherwise why would they stand there, shouting their preachings?

I knew I would be able to snap a pic that would encapsulate the three prompts in an ideal form. It was only a matter of time, and luck. And time and luck it was, while out on my lunch break about two weeks ago. Here is the photo:

They’re also standing where the tram lines divide, which, I like to think, adds a dramatic effect. And, of course, in true Manchester fashion, it’s raining.

The lake of fire probably won’t last long around here.

I’m not religious myself, but I showed this to a colleague who is a Christian, and she said the writing on the banner is untrue, because Jesus spreads love, not fear. He is all about forgiveness, not punishment. It certainly seems like the wrong message, even to a heathen like me.

It’s really… not worth worrying about. And I’m pretty sure it’s not the truth. What would some dude with an umbrella standing in the middle of Manchester know about it, anyway?

So that’s it, that is the story about how a trio of writing prompts came alive. Thank you for reading.

Beware of the Headstone

If you have glanced at my blog before, you will know that I’m always into seeing any unusual sign. I spotted this one on my Easter Sunday walk in Prestwich (area of Manchester), at the St Mary’s church graveyard.

Imagine being killed by a falling headstone

It’s not a joke! The graveyard is quite old and there are fallen headstones; you can see a leaning stone cross on the left there, with a background of daffodils. The more recent deceased have their resting places on the right side of that wall, on a little hill under the trees. This leads to Prestwich Clough, a little piece of land of woods, which I have enjoyed having a wander in on previous occasions.

Random and Weird Phone Shots – Subscribe To Their What?

I was walking down a street–Peter Street, to be precise, in this our city of Manchester–coming back from Castlefield (see my previous two posts) when I spotted this:

Impossible is, according to their description on Google “Whimsical nightspot with a theatre and gin bar, serving Asian street food–inspired pub grub”. As all similar places are now, it’s closed, because you know.

It’s funny and sad at the same time.

One day, this too shall pass.

Or I bloody hope so.

Let’s Try It Again… 2020 Recap

Okay, so the previous post was stupid. Let me do it again, better.

In terms of my photography, overwhelming majority of pictures taken in 2020 were with my smartphone and always in my area. This is the first time since 2016 that I haven’t made any trip outside Manchester. None of this mattered, in the end, as I took the best picture in my life with my phone a street away from my home!

Squirrel in Heaton Park, from September

The year started with storms, I remember there were two or three and they always happened at the weekend, so that that was no going anywhere for me. After that–well, you know. At first it was, need toilet paper? Pasta? Bad luck, mate.

It seems incredible now, but I did go to a concert this year. As in, a live performance by a singer. It was Halsey in Manchester Arena and it was back in March, before the first lockdown. Probably wasn’t very responsible, but hey, nothing happened.

My most streamed song of 2020 was the suitably titled Doom Days by Bastille (my inspiration for the short story The Journal). I also listened to the two albums Taylor Swift released this year, Folklore and Evermore.

It will be a while before live shows are back again. I also had a ticket for Phantom of the Opera, which was supposed to run for two months in Manchester, but like everything else, it was cancelled. Arts have really suffered with this and it’s not like the government cares; instead of supporting them they tell people in the industry to retrain. But don’t touch sports, oh no, not our precious sports, and even more precious football. Heavens help you if you anyhow endanger our football and our obscenely-paid footballers!

So what was I saying, oh yes, the annual recap… this year we were all staying at home and our new best friend was the streaming services. I remember that Disney+ launched here in UK just at the right time for lockdown.

Linda watches Star Wars

One of the TV shows that got much praise this year was Mandalorian. I’ve not watched it (yet), I’m not in the Star Wars fandom (they do have the hottest Latin actors though, Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal), however as I got myself a 12-month Disney+ subscription, I did watch the new trilogy and Rogue One. I liked Rogue One best, fabulous movie and might be one of my very favourites. As for the new trilogy, well, my first thought when I woke up the next day after seeing The Rise of Skywalker was: this should have been Finn’s story. John Boyega was right.

Star Trek premiered the Picard series and now we’re on Season 3 of Discovery, which has so far been the best. I thought the tone of Picard was a bit off, as if the writers were anxious (they probably were), but this can be easily overcome in future seasons.

This was also the first year in however-long that we had no Marvel movie released. We’ve been waiting for that Black Widow forever! But it’s good to have a bit of a break and hey, there’s still time to get into it, folks, if you haven’t done so!

Being at home and doodling

I doodle sometimes, I have almost filled my little A6 sketchbook. I once had a phase where I was drawing castles, and it seems I’m back in that phase again.

Tragically, I’ve not done as much reading as I should have done. I picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and it took me three whole months to get through it. Such a slog, also the title is a lie–she doesn’t really steal books. Spoiler, I guess, but who cares. It tries to be interesting by having Death as a narrator but it reads just like any other third-person limited POV, with a “I collected their souls” inserted here and there to keep up the appearance. I swear I’ll never read Holocaust fiction ever again. I’d rather watch a good documentary about it.

But on the other hand I rediscovered my love for Sherlock Holmes and even dedicated a post to the famous detective, which at 2600 words is my longest.

Another thing that happened in Manchester was, the big concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens was torn down. There is still a concrete wall, but that can’t be torn down because there is a coffee shop and a restaurant on the side of it. People hate them, I know they’re ugly, but for the purposes of my Gloomscapes series, I don’t mind a bit of brutalism. I’ve seen articles online calling the wall “Manchester’s Berlin Wall” and I’m like, can you just not. Nobody is getting shot crossing from Portland Street to Primark! Please. If there is criminal activity or drugs going on in Piccadilly Gardnes, that’s hardly the fault of the wall.

I end with one of my typical phone shot of something random or weird, Sam Call Me written by chalk on the gate to my local park. Well, there is a certain Sam that is close to my heart, so you can say that the picture is not as random as it would appear on first sight. I mean, not in real life, it’s the actor Sam Claflin, lol.

And that, my friends, concludes my second 2020 recap post.

Hand Sanitiser Tied To A Tree

You can’t get more 2020 than this picture.

Of course, you find hand sanitisers at all sorts of places these days but what’s funny about this one is that it’s installed there temporarily. As you are no doubt able to observe, these are market stalls. Markets in Piccadilly Gardens only open Wednesday to Saturday (maybe Sunday, but I have no idea, I’ve not been to town on a Sunday in years). So when the markets are not there, neither is the hand sanitiser. I just love it so much.