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Unfolding Generations

I see them, these young ones,
Not all of my blood,
But all somehow mine,
Branded onto my soul.

They are laughter in another room,
Sprouting like spring’s first growth,
Eyes wide with wonder and questions,
Of unknown possibilities.

In them I see echoes;
Our youth, our hopes, our fears.
Yet they are not reflections,
But a bold, bright and beautiful legacy.

They grow, not just in stature,
But in spirit, in self, in strength,
In the way they look at the world;
In their curiosity.

These children of tomorrow,
Carry within them whispers,
Yet their paths are not haunted
By our shadowy soliloquies.

And as I grow more rooted,
They are branches, that reach and stretch
Towards what I barely perceive,
But in their grasping, there is everything.

In their laughter, their learning,
Their triumphs and their trials,
I see eternity,
And it is unyielding.

Empire Building

Amidst the fears of being ordinary,
Little do I find to dread.
I hear the jeers of past acquaintances
Too quiet; for those remembrances go lost.
On the stones they threw I built my empire,
Unyielding in its ascent.
Where the truth of that talk transpired,
Their words now kindle my legacy’s fire,
The inferno of my triumph:
A beacon of indomitable will.

Legacy Is Revelation

Be as happy as you want to be,
Be as happy as you can,
Live a life of possibility,
It’s easier said than done.

Be the life and soul of the party,
The first one through the door,
The last one home in the early hours,
Be the one who cries for more.

But don’t give up on destiny,
Don’t forget your fate,
For they will know the legacy,
Of the man that they have faced.

The answers to their questions,
That realisations must then shape;
Resilience, strength and stability:
Fortitude in grace.

My Eulogy For Becky Winstanley

They say you can’t choose your family but I know you can create one.

I met Becky when she was young. She thought it was hilarious to say I looked like Johnny Depp. She thought it was even funnier when I said he looked like me. And that’s how we got started.

The weight of Becky’s absence is deeply felt today. However, we’re also wrapped in the warmth of memories and stories that define her vibrant presence.

Many here will fondly recall Becky as the heart and soul of many a party, where she was surrounded by her mates, her laughter ringing out, infectious and heartwarming. I have those memories too, but beyond those bustling gatherings, there are intimate stories that I hope you’ll all share with each other. These reveal the Becky we knew and cherished.

I have vivid memories of a young Becky accompanying us to the stables in Eccleston, especially after her sister Natalie started working at Chorley Market on Saturdays. She’d join us in mucking out – a task that for many might seem mundane – but with Becky, it was always an event in itself. Whilst she loved the idea of ‘horse riding’ (which was usually just mucking out), the nitty-gritty of the great outdoors wasn’t really her thing. But that never stopped her. With each shovel or sweep, she’d playfully wrinkle her nose and shout “uuurrrrggghhhh” with exaggerated drama. As we all know, Becky loved a bit of drama!

I remember the time she cheekily used my laptop at the age of nine, leaving behind a trail of her curious and questionable searches… Her mum had words with her after that!

The melodies that flowed from her fingertips as she played the piano echoed her essence. It was always soaring and always striking. Inspired by our shared love for the instrument, she not only picked it up but always outshone my plonking with her talent. I loved to see her play and I always tried to encourage her.

Becky took a lot of selfie and was in a lot of photos so we all have a photo that epitomises her for us. We have smoky eye makeup Becky, we have sophisticated Becky, we have on a pub floor Becky…

For me, the photos that most captured her spirit are those where she is finding humour in the simplest of things and reminding all of us to not take life too seriously. Especially those when she’s younger.

We experienced challenging moments as well. Like when we began to notice she wasn’t developing as other girls of her age were. It was heart-wrenching to discover she had undiagnosed cystic fibrosis. Yet, Becky faced it with unparalleled strength, always with the backing of her mum, Karen. The tragedy of her being taken from us just a few days after her 25th birthday is especially hard, knowing she had not long since started a miraculous treatment, that looked like it would give her the kind of lifespan CF sufferers of previous generations could only dream about.

Amongst the challenges that shaped Becky’s journey was the untimely loss of our friend, Melissa. Mel’s departure at such a young age was not just a blow to all of us, but left an indelible mark on Becky. The two shared moments, dreams and a bond that is hard to put into words. The void Mel left behind, as well as Becky’s CF diagnosis, made Becky introspect deeply about life’s fragility and the importance of cherishing every moment. It’s a testament to Becky’s strength and character that she continued to embrace life with her characteristic vivacity, even as she carried such a heavy load.

I remember the last family BBQ we had. It was on Mel’s birthday. Whilst we – the more mature lot – sat engaged in our natters in the garden, I remember her sneaking drinks to my young son, Leon, my niece, Niyah and Becky’s younger brother, Lewis. She’d been leading Mel’s daughters Shannon and Olivia astray for years by then.

Whilst the older generation chatted away, thinking back on our own youthful indiscretions, I couldn’t help but see it as a changing of the guard. The younger ones were stepping up, embracing the spirit of our Frankenstein family and continuing the legacy. It wasn’t just about the mischief; it felt like a torch being passed on. The next generation finding their feet. I remember thinking this is what family is all about and how pleased I was to be part of it. I am so sad that she will never experience a similar moment of revelation.

Our bond transformed beautifully over the years. From knowing her as a young, if slightly quirky little girl, to watching her flourish into an accomplished young woman.

It filled me with pride that Rachel and I were able to assist her with her house purchases. To be there as part of the support network she fell back on, being there to offer advice when she sought it out.

She had a fun-loving spirit. She was always the heart of the party, drawing in friends from every corner. And whilst that side of Becky was undeniably authentic and joyous, there was another side of her, a side I wish everyone had the privilege of knowing.

Behind the makeup, when she had traded her heels for soft slippers, her handbags for the tv remote and when she was in her comfy clothes, that’s when another side of Becky shone through. Away from the crowd and the limelight, in those quiet moments, she revealed a vulnerability. There was a depth and a thoughtfulness that many would not have seen. It was during these times that she’d share her dreams, her fears and her reflections.

One of the moments that stands out most vividly in my memory is a simple meal a handful of us had together. It isn’t out of the ordinary for us all to enjoy a meal out, so when we got the call I thought nothing more of it. However, on that particular day, she handed me a card across the table. As I read the words and understood the sentiment, I was taken aback, leaving me momentarily speechless. The joy and honour I felt when Becky asked me to walk her down the aisle is indescribable. I wish I had told her that. In the moment, all I could manage was a slightly croaky “of course.”

There is one thing I’m somewhat relieved about. Becky won’t be sharing that infamous video of me drunk dad dancing, every single birthday! It had become one of our little traditions. And whilst part of me breathes a sigh of relief that the world won’t see my questionable moves, a bigger part genuinely wishes she could play it just one more time, for the sheer joy of the laughter it brought her.

One of my most bittersweet thoughts is knowing that Becky had dreams of motherhood. Given her nurturing nature and boundless love, I have no doubt she would’ve been an exceptional mum. I imagine her trading those lively nights out for quiet, cherished moments with her children. She would have embraced motherhood with all the passion she brought to everything she did. It’s a profound sorrow, not witnessing her embark on that journey and seeing the incredible mother she would undoubtedly have become.

I want to encourage each one of you to share your stories and memories of Becky. Whether it’s a small anecdote or a defining moment, every recollection paints a fuller picture of the beautiful soul she was. Let’s celebrate her life by weaving together our shared experiences. Every story, every memory, is both valid and invaluable. By sharing them, we keep her spirit alive and ensure her legacy continues.

Whilst it’s true you can’t choose your family – and though Becky and I weren’t related by blood – I stood by her side as any uncle would. Perhaps even more so. And even in her absence, this rag-tag family we’ve created endures. And I know we’ll ensure her memory remains alive within it.

Tonight I Prayed To God

Tonight I prayed to God,
It’s been a while since we spoke.
But where I usually beg for help,
Tonight was only thanks.

Tonight no plea was made,
No bargain and no request,
Just a heart full of gratitude,
Of a man who feels blessed.

Hubris Syndrome

A great fall awaits those who ascend,
Believing they are above all else.

The gods will not tolerate such arrogance.
Striking down those who dare
To challenge their dominance.

In the glow of success, keep your pride in check,
Don’t let the allure of power lead you on.
For hubris is a fleeting shadow,
That can inadvertently cast you into the abyss.

Remember Icarus,
Who dared to conquer the golden sun,
His wings of wax, a symbol of transient power,
Melted in the thrill of flight and heat, resulting in his fall.

So stay humble, stay grounded,
Even when walking the halls of power.
Avoid the wrath of the gods,
And a downfall not of fate, but of that of your own hands.

Of Bacup – A Prose Poem

Nestled in the undulating Pennines hills lies Bacup, crowned by endless moors it’s a town of wild and tranquil contradictions, a place where the past and present merge to create a harmonious yet discordant melody. Its lush green spaces are a sea of serenity amidst the tumultuousness of life, like a peaceful respite from the cacophony of the world outside this valley top. The town’s streets are a alive with old-world charm framed by our modern life, where the echoes of the past reverberate like a persistent hum in the ear.

Bacup’s history is both a source of pride and a reminder of past struggles, a two-sided coin bearing the heads and tails of poverty and hardship, whilst the warmth of community and togetherness radiates like a beacon. The town’s industries, once the backbone of its economy, have woven a tapestry of culture and tradition that endures like a fine silk thread. Bacup is a paradoxical blend of triumph and adversity, like the sweet and sour notes of a ripened fruit.

The town’s buildings stand tall and proud, like towering guardians watching over this place whilst its streets pulse with the energy of a living entity. Bacup’s shops and businesses are a microcosm of the world, where the familiar and exotic merge in a heady concoction like a spicy dish. Where its residents are the town’s heartbeat, infusing it with the warmth of community like a comforting embrace.

Bacup is a place of personified character, where the contradictions of life breathe a vibrant zest into the town like a living, breathing being. Its character smiles like an old friend, sometimes wise and experienced, sometimes not, but always with a contradictory blend of the sociable and strange, creating an intriguing atmosphere of excitement.

To visit Bacup is to experience the euphony of a town that is more than just a collection of buildings and streets, but a living, breathing embodiment of history, culture and community. The town speaks of a Pennine life; a commercial condition; a Lancastrian beauty and charm. It’s an analogy for the whole region’s natural splendour and spirited spark.

AI and Art

Artificially intelligent,
Robo-content’ed art,
Pouring out passionless poetry,
Lacking emotional depth, feeling: heart.

Banal platitudes as product,
Mimicking patterns of the past,
Where legends’ lexicons echo,
Yet lacking a soulful contrast.

Styles are merely sautéed.
But is the dish served up unique?
Or a mere replication devoid of flair
Without sincerity or mystique?

Championed by OpenAI,
And the corporate Gods with financial hearts.
Heralded by a host of influencers;
Technorati tyrants and the media playing their part.

But should we open our eyes?
And allow wisdom to guide the way,
To consider the impact on humanity,
And the value of our creativity?

For it is emotion that we present,
That should always set us apart,
From ubiquitous intelligence,
That lacks the human spark.

Resilience

Past regrets and future fears,
Years last long when you’ve a weight to bear,
The unspoken question often asked:
“How can you live with yourself?”
When, the answer always is:
“How could I not?”
“I have not forgot.”
My wellspring of strength:
Determination;
Understanding.
I’ve faced every trial,
Every looming height,
Every hell.
I may stumble and fall,
But I always rise again,
Always stronger.
Whilst I cannot forget,
I refuse to give in.

The Sound Of Love

The sound of love is soft and sweet,
Like the rustle of a summer’s breeze.
It’s the whispering of a lover’s voice,
And the beating of two hearts in sync.

Like laughter that fills the air around,
When two souls become entwined.
It’s the silent sounds of a promise made,
And forever’s mournful cries.

It’s the undertones of a first kiss,
And the reverberations of a last goodbye.
It’s a wave that endures the rest;
A sound that never dies.

So listen closely to the sound of love,
And let it fill your heart with joy.
For it’s the most beautiful sound of all,
It’s the symphony of life.