Tuesday, 20 October 2009

20/10/09 - another day, another blog post!



Greetings to you all! Its been three weeks but, hey, I've made it back to the blog for some more brainstorming. Some of it'll make sense; other's I'm not so sure about! But we'll see how it goes:
Some random thoughts, coming to you from moi's brain as I type away....
My Open University course kicked off just over two weeks ago. Since the offset of my last dose of studentship, in June 2006, I've mainly worked full-time, has a spell of being "Army-barmy" and got a bit of Glasgow in me.
Please spare a thought and a prayer as I go through this degree over the next four years. A few years back, I didn't get to do it as a full-time student for a number of reasons and, now, everything makes sense as to why that didn't happen. Now I'm ready to take it on and have a full bag of tools which equips me to take this course on.




Its been over a year now since I first met Sarah! It'll be a year in January since we started going out but, yeah: I met her in Starbucks as part of the C7 church's "Lifegroup" bible study. A couple of months later, after a lunch in Walkabout and a Celtic Connections gig, things materialised into something truly amazing. Still is today, too! :-*





Its been ten years - 10 - since my uncle David (McAllister) introduced me to the music of David Bowie. I remember one Friday evening, in June 1999, he brought down all these vinyls of Bowie's from between the years 1969-1983. Such classic LP's as Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Low, "Heroes" and Scary Monsters...
Coming into work the other morning, I had a Bowie track called 'Survive' playing on my iPod - it was the third track on his '99 album 'hours....' which, as a 14-year old, I saved my pocket money to buy and being the first new Bowie release I actually purchased - and, so far, the last! - I still treasure the CD today.
Apparently it won't be long, if not already, when a 40th anniversary edition of Space Oddity gets released and I may just ask Santa for it! Why not...



Glasgow really is a beautiful city, isn't it? Even in the cold, the rain and the hail; there just seems to be an irrepressible charm about it. Now I know that might sound odd but, hey, because I'm not Glaswegian, I have a slightly different take on it all. I don't know.
This morning I met with my good friend Jonathan for a coffee and Bacon 'n' Egg McMuffin (delish, by the way!) and, whilst heading back to 64F a bitter chill came racing down and through the Gallowgate. I'm telling you, it was seriously cold! And, even though its far from the most spectacular of areas, there just felt like an underlying beauty of being there. Maybe it was because I'm away from home and standing on relatively foreign soil. Maybe its because I was with my brother in Christ. Or maybe its because I had just consumed some hot food and drink! Either way, in that bitter Autumn chill, I somehow wasn't complaining to be there.
About two weeks ago, for no real reason other than getting a couple of snapshots, I got in the lift of the Cineworld in the city centre and went straight to the top. I'm scared of heights too! So I got off at "Floor 6", when I'm sure it felt like called Floor 66, and I took a few pictures on my phone. They're not bad pictures, if I do say so myself. Probably not as good as the ones Laura Bridge takes on her camera but I like them; and I like the images they present.





Over the last week or so, the media will have run riot over the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately. Let me just say that, once the tabloids and the telly start to go wild over celebrities, it kinda turns me. The late Boyzone's untimely passing was different though, and I'll explain:
Although I'm no boy-band fan by any means, its no secret that I have a deep appreciation for '90's pop music; and, if its somehow associated with Ireland, I'll give it bonus points. What Boyzone gave to pop music in the closing decade of the 20th century was invaluable: classic songs were re-introduced to a new audience through the tightrope art of the cover version; female fans had new pin-ups to add on to their wall after the apparent break-up of Take That; and contemporary pop journals, such as Smash Hits, would be hits at the newsagents. Essentially, a lot of money was made but it was marketed in a way which benefited their record company Polydor, the list of musicians associated with their work and, not to mention, the Irish economy.

What Stephen Gately contributed to Boyzone was invaluable because he had the right type of voice for their songs. It was quite recognisable and respectable.
One thing I remember was post-Boyzone's own apparent demise and Gately's own coming-out: his brief stab at a solo career. Anyone remember it? A single called "New Beginning"? I think, for me, that stands out because of those two words in the song title; which, by the way, was also the title of his album to go along with it.
Ultimately, there was no follow-up. Its sad in so many ways but I think the saddest thing of all is the fact that there was potential there: a "New Beginning" was do-able.
Was it the second coming of pop music? We'll never no. Its easy to say no but, if marketed the right way, I think there may have been more of an impact than what there was.
As far as talent and "new beginnings" go, its just a crying shame that they so often go to waste. I spoke in the last blog about new beginnings as well. Maybe this is another recurring theme, along with cafes, in this page of mine; I don't know. But, if something good and full of so much potential is alive and well, why let it go to waste?...



If you read the last blog, you'll know I was writing from the Esquires cafe in Hope Street. Well, today I write to you from the iCafe on the Great Western Road! (Brilliant coffee shop, I highly recommend it.) Coffee shops, as you'll know, are great for all sorts of things: catching up with friends; reading a book; studying for courses; listening to music, either on the PA or in the comfort of your own iPod. Not only am I updating my blog, I'm also working on my next book. The follow-up to 'An Irish Memory' will be ready early next year. Don't ask when because bits and pieces like work, uni and, um, another thing.......CHRISTMAS will take priority over it; however I assure you, when its ready, it'll be ready.




That's me for now! 'Til next time....

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Back to the blog! (after all this time)

29/9/09

Greetings to you all.

I thought I'd get this blog back up and running for a couple of reasons: one because I started this page up two years ago with the intent of making a consistent communication via the world wide web to those of you able to access it and, two, because a lot of things in my life have either recently happened, are happening or about to happen which I think require some sharing. As well as giving me the chance to "vent" it! And why not? Everyone likes a story to tell.

You have to know me or have some sort of association with me to have clicked on this page as I haven't publicised the blog link on large posters or mult-million pound dotcom conglomerates or corporations. Communication is something I think I'm relatively strong in but promotion wouldn't be as much. I guess its mainly because I'm not an in your face character or the type to ram who I am proverbially down your throat. However, this is my page and you're welcome to read at your own will!.....


As I write this blog, I'm sitting in Esquires Coffee House in Glasgow's Hope Street. About an hour ago, my gorgeous other-half Sarah and I went to a travel centre to check out flight prices for an impending trip to Australia next year. Sounds great, doesn't it? We started looking at quotes the other night on the net and, put it this way, the good Lord is truly blessing us in ways of planning and getting there. I like to travel and, even though the extent of my travels so far covers multiple parts of the UK/ROI, various European destinations and the sunshine state of Florida, I've always fancied going somewhere seriously far-out. Like the moon. At this stage, the moon doesn't seem that likely, but Down Under to my girlfriend's place of birth and upbringing is perfect. Growing up, when watching soaps like Neighbours and Home And Away, I wouldn't have thought that one day I'd be in that same piece of land. (I was going to say "not that far away", although that's not strictly true!...) I'm really excited about this. Mental note to self: all I have to do now is schedule a trip to see Christiaan in Holland now.....

What is faith? To me, faith is something that requires belief without necessarily being visible. Without giving the impression I'm getting all religious here, lets use a synoptic comparison: believing in something that you can't actually see. Lets say, for example, you wake up in the middle of the night and you want to get a midnight snack from the fridge. For some reason, you've got it drilled into your head that the particular snack you want isn't in the fridge. Maybe you don't even think the fridge is there next door at all! So you keep getting hungry and are too stubborn to do anything about it; even to go and see if your food of choice is in the fridge or if the appropriate cooling apparatus is actually in the kitchen. What are you going to do about it? Starve? Phone out for a takeaway? Tell your flatmate/partner to make somethng for the two of you while lying in bed? What are you going to do about it? Would you even want to believe and, more importantly, be open to the belief that there's a fridge next door with nutritious, ateable items of consumption just waiting for you? I'll let you work that one out.....

New beginnings, new pairings, new unions. Beautiful, right? Some might say yes, until things become not so pleasant. Define pleasant. I say its pleasant if you want it to be. In the last couple of months, I've been to three housewarmings and two weddings. Before that, I hadn't been to one housewarming, ever - even one for myself! - and the last wedding I was at was my uncle's in December 2004. Maybe its a coming of age thing. You know when you were a kid you used to wonder what making adult decisions in adult lives would be like? Its almost as if, now adult life has come about, its like "Ahhhh! Decisions, decisions!" What's the right decision to make?! Fair play to those who've made decisions of the afore-mentioned nature; they're not light ones to make.

30/9/09

At time of writing, I'm in the midst of putting together some birthday surprises for a few close people to me in my life. Do birthdays ever lose their excitement? In truth, I think they do: my 24th was celebrated in Orlando earlier in the year. To say that I actually got to spend my birthday in Disney World and Universal Studios, all on the same day, is like a big rude hand gesture up to millions of children worldwide but, hey, it was my birthday, so ha-ha! :-p On the other side of the celebration theme, I think there's no better than feeling than organising someone else's birthday proceedings. I try to be a generous guy anyway but knowing that someone is going to smile at the thought of what you've put together for them is a great gift in itself. Especially if they're special to you. Even in tough times, where circumstances are neither ideal or what you were prepared for, everyone's entitled to a bit of birthday love!!

I'm going to see my favourite film at the cinema tonight! The Godfather is showing at GFT, and Sarah and I are going to spend a few hours in front of textbook film production. I challenge anyone to find me a better movie combining top-notch acting, music, art direction and production anywhere else in the field of movies. Ok, so that's a slight exaggeration, but if a film means a lot to you, you're going to promote it 'til kingdom come, right??

Ovation vouchers from work came through the post today!! What to buy, what to buy?.... WrestleMania XX seems tempting! Any other suggestions?.....


Have a good day one and all.

dw (dwwray1@hotmail.co.uk)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Monday, 24 August 2009

Poem - Someone Lost

Someone lost is in a corner
wondering where the past is gone.
Someone lost is feeling bitter
adamant they've done nothing wrong.

Someone lost has no direction,
nor can see the tunnel's light.
Someone lost could do with action
in their life, combined with sight.

Someone blind to other's sorrows
needs an urgent wake-up call.
Someone blind to their own failings
thinks they're big but is really small.

Some needing issues sorted
longs for healing, love and care.
Someone needs an ear to listen;
not for folk to stop and stare.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Poem - Following

She would follow him
around the house to
everywhere possible.

Into everyroom and out
again, the child would
sometimes mimmick wher her
dad (and her mum!) do.

No greater inspiration;
no bigger hero, other than
those animated on T.V.

Regardless of what physical
obstacle stood in the way,
she'd instantly find her way
round it; over to him.

A lot I can learn:
for today, my father follows
me. Why can't I reciprocate?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

AN IRISH MEMORY - the book

Its here - my first publication and an achievement in itself! "An Irish Memory" is basically a photo album in written form. Some of the poems wer written in Northern Ireland; some of them were inspired by ongoings in Northern Ireland.

The actual title of the collection came accidentally one evening in Peterhead, Abderdeenshire, when I referred to my own memory as an Irish one in conversation with a few friends. When I stopped to think about it, I knew I'd stumbled upon something almost three-dimensional: a title for a new poem, a theme for a bolue of poems and a statement which can be interpreted in so many ways.

The poems themselves are mini-masterpieces, if I do say so myself:


NORMALLY I SLEEP IN ON SATURDAYS...

This was written in the summer of 2005, round about the time I was considering travelling more and getting away from Ireland, longing to relocate.

EAST BELFAST

A commentary from a period and nostalgic points of view both in one. This came about from actually coming home to visit after relocating and deals with a before- and after- sense of my home area growing up.

AN IRISH MEMORY

A poem of optimism fighting against negativity and remaining hopeful for what is to come, backed up by, and appreciatively acknowledging, beauty surrounding it.

WINTER BELFAST'S MORNING

Analysing the city in a cold December, asking the question if the climate is brought on by the season or relations across the community.

THE WATER WORKS

My tribute to an area in North-West Belfast which I used to pass nearly every Saturday morning while working as a postie and how God was with me every time.

SOUTH BELFAST

A snap shot of various sites such as Queens University, Lisburn Road, Donegall Pass, Donegall Road and University Avenue, along with its respective inhabitants and characteristics.

WHEN FLOWERS BLOOM

The parable of an Irish farmer planting his crop, which subsequently comes into fruition upon a short absence and return to the site in question.

ULSTER SONNETT

A Shakspearean prophecy of a united Ireland conquering all division and joining hands together in the way the emerald isle was intended in its' creation.

PRAYER

Probably the most intimate poem in this collection and the most personal. A true monologue with me speaking to my heavenly father and a plea to develop my faith.

GETTING THERE

Chronicling the experiences of highs and lows, like being on cloud nine and heading upwards slowly, only to watch yourself come down at a similar pace.

Want a copy? One can be yours for the tender price of £3. Get in touch today and we'll see what we can do for you!...

dw :)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Poem - Walk along the Gallowgate

We begin by crossing over from the top of
Duke Street, then another cross of traffic lights
where Tollcross Road and the Gallowgate both
meet: connecting two roads for a long journey
either way, in unity and harmony.

From here, another cross past Springfield Road
is necessary; four out of five ways isn't so
bad, however we only have the one way to
journey forth toward. Rain, hail, snow and
shine. We've done them all and we've met
them all along the way!
The penitents departing
en-masse from mass at the chapel; the biddies
with their daughters, complete with trollies
from the Forge; the jakies standing at the
bus stops, outside and across from the necropolis;
football fans in green-and-white jerseys and scarves,
heading up the way, either for home or for a hot
carry out (and they'll be spoilg for choices in
carry-out venues!); the car-wash dudes at the
old BP garage venue; and, at night, we even
see foxes running across the road! Hiding from
humans, scurrying from being noticed or potentially
an HGV running them over!

Then we see them, just behind where
the main road ascends up a slight hill, but fully
visible for everybody to see; even from as far as
West George Street when its a nice day:
the massive
pair of tower blocks. Comprising of many inside,
high and low, top to bottom. They can see us
walking past, two little dots. Or at least they
can see me! My walking partner next to me
is only visible in another tower of his own,
right next to their own. And they put Him there.
I even put Him there.

We walk along some more together: apartments
being made up; chippies gone for good; mixtures
of kids in tracksuits, builders in construction gear,
men walking their pooches and dormant shopping
trollies left to the side, with rubbish inside them.
The biddies musn't have bins inside! Then again,
neither must half this road's population, for
council workers spend as much time here as
my walking partner, trying to cleanse and rid
this road of desecration, defamation, defecation
and demotivation; in turn blessing it with
determination, definition and declaration.
Sometimes
we have to duck little neds winging stones
from behind the railings of the sports park
next to the school. Instead of a four-lettered
curse, my walking partner covers my mouth, in
turn saying, "Bless you my sons! Go forth
and sin no more". Then the hostel, in all
its glory, stands afresh with odours, images and
sounds of empathy, (in some cases) sympathy,
(more often than not) confusion and (in a twisted
way) curisoity. Perhaps one day, they'll be invited
with the neds and our fellow tower-block
comrades, for my walking partner has passed by
but He doesn't pass them by.

"Are we nearly there yet?" I ask. "Why didn't
we just take the bus?" Like a disciple of the
biblical sort, I didn't fully get it, until a
corner came for me to turn: new apartments
already built, in the shadow of older buildings
with longer histories, more familiar stories, images,
sounds and emissions of their own trademark.
Now there stands a big gate, where fortunate
people in this area have passed through and they
get by comfortably, without a trace of hassle.

My walking partner says to me, "Aren't we going
to pass by them either?" I said. "No need,
they've made their way through a big gate - the
others still have to." He wasn't going to pass
them by: "Bless each one of you, the invitation
is open". I was amazed, somewhat overwhelmed
but more appreciative of it all.
Finally we
pass Bain Street, pubs and other merchants of
a carnal nature. Passionate people going about
their business, interjecting into their community
with support and enthusiasm. Fair play to them!
At this point, the road splits in two....

I turn round to ask another question and
He's gone; out of visual sight. Yet, I can
still feel His presence. He's still holding my
hand, keeping me from danger, acting as my
shield, myhelmet, my immunity from bodily
harm in one of Glasgow's more cinematic
neck of the woods.
"Can you spare some change,
son?" No. "You got a light on you?" No.
"Looking for business?" You're doing this for
badness, aren't you. "They don't know what
they're doing", He says. "Pass by them but
don't pass them by. "This road will be cleansed,
the people have been blessed, and will all you
and me up here." They put him on that third
tower, yet I'm hardly any different.

Should I walk back or take the bus? It
matters not, without slight or major, for
perfection in His eyes is different from mine.