A.J. Walker


Photos from a Liverpool Day Off

My one day off this three day weekend and I went into a sunny Liverpool on Sunday to catch a bit of Folk on the Dock around the Albert Dock and popped into the Baltic Fleet to catch some singing there.

Glad I remembered to take my camera with me as it was a lovely day and there was loads of great stuff to see. It helps because this fair city is so photogenic. Here's a few of them. Many more on Flickr of course...



And then I got to watch Liverpool smash a bizarrely poor performing Arsenal 4-0 in the Dispensary with a couple of pints of Rat Brewery 'Lab Rat'.

All in all a cool day on a warm day.


A Different Day Today


Last week I picked my Day to attempt to write a story for, for Shakes' CalenDark and then came up with a germ of an idea - I even wrote some words (really, I did). Today I've changed my mind and chosen another day. As soon as I picked it an idea formed more completely in my mind and it should be easier to write it with the story arc pretty well defined. Of course now I have 'just ' to write the fucker. A month to go: No problem. Err... anyway the aim is to get a couple of thousand words done over the next week - as a minimum. Will report back by this time next week.


Of course this weekend it's a Bank Holiday and that means more time for writing with a three day weekend, right? Wrong. Worked Saturday and working Monday. So only off today. May get a few words down, but main thing was getting this idea sketched out - an achievement in itself. Liverpool being Liverpool there is loads on at the moment. Disappointed to miss the Mad Hatter Brewery Yard Party yesterday, but today I think I'll go and check out the folk festival at the Albert Dock and/or the shanty groups down at the Baltic Fleet for a bit this afternoon.


Then of course there will be a few choice ales watching the Liverpool v Arsenal match. Come on you mighty reds!



Sara walked through the anonymous Salford street laden with stuffed shopping bags, everything ticked off, the meals for the week ahead sorted and some special coffee to make when she gets back; her treat for a morning’s work well done. She looks tired and haggard, worn down by life’s daily grind. The one brightness the white fluffy clouds printed on her thin faded jeans. She says they make her feel good, like she’s walking in clouds if not up on them. Stephen hates them. But he doesn't matter. She phones him when she’s drunk and wants sex. Her drunken lover without love, his view doesn’t warrant a second thought. She used to feel guilt about these calls but not anymore. A woman has needs and he’s happy to oblige if he’s about. And while he laughs at the cloudy jeans it doesn’t stop him providing the service she wants from him. She checks the top of the Lidl bag for the bottle of white plonk, it wasn't on the list but it’s there. She’d give Stephen a call later.


Lost Class Songs of the Days

Class Song of the Day on Twitter (and sometimes on my otherwise rarely used FB page) is now on Day 127 with 'Handle With Care' from the great supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. The Wilburys were one of the bands that made the jump from my cassette to the CD collection and whilst I'm trying to avoid repeating artists on each of this year's #ClassSongsOfTheDay I keep finding songs and artists that I used to have in my collection that I no longer have since the cassettes got binned a few years ago.


It could and should cost me some money to bring my CD collection back up to include artists I haven't listened to for such a long while. Of course I could stream or download... but I'm a person who needs a hard copy of my songs in my hand or on my shelf.

A second hand CD shop or two may take a hammering over the coming months. That said, I'll need some more CD storage...

Dang that music!


Reading and Plans

My reading plans at the start of the year was to read 40 books including the following:


'White Mughals' - William Dalrymple
'Return of a King' - William Dalrymple
'Jerusalem' - Simon Sebag Montefiore
'One Summer' - Bill Bryson


'Macbeth' - Billy Shakes
'The Tempest' - Billy Shakes
'Something or other' - Charlie Dickens
'Name of the Rose' - Umberto Eco

SF and Fantasy

'Gormenghast' - Mervyn Peake
'The Silmarillion' - Tolkien
'The Golden Compass' - Philip Pullman

I'm well on for the 40 having read 32. But of the eleven above I've only read four (
The Tempest, Macbeth, Jerusalem and The Silmarillion). The remaining seven are all a bit to hefty to carry around so I can't see me completing all of these. In general though it's been a great reading year, even if I stopped now. But of course why would you stop?

But FFS my bloody
writing has been really neglected. Perhaps I can kick-start it with an attempt or two on Shake's 'CalenDark'. Once I've blocked that off, or at least given it a good go, I can get back to one or two of the items on my original Writing Plan. There are real life things going on, for this next few months which will take a few days and hours out, so perhaps I'll let the reading go a tad and focus on some writing.


Time and That Angry Hourglass

The news came out earlier this week that Angry Hourglass is no more - even if it is one day ripe for resuscitation - and it is a sad week because of it. POTUS tweeted that it was 'the biggest worsest and most scariest news and probably FAKE NEWS' and then confusing in subsequent tweets threatened 'to nuke the servers holding the AH website' And then blamed China. Like that would help.


Whilst I disagree with Trump on the nuke option (and blaming China) I do agree that it is bad news. My two favourite flash fiction challenges over the last few years have been Flash Fiction Friday (who couldn't love all those dragons) and Angry Hourglass. Both quite different but both had a great community of regular writerers producing some fab stories. Indeed it was the community that met through these two challenges that went on to form the bulk of the Flash Dog Kennels. Back in the day Friday's were for Flash Friday and Saturday or Sunday were for AH and now... well there's Microcosms on Friday if it fits with work and stuff. And of course that is the thing; it's even in the byline of AH 'Time is Short. So is our fiction.'

We struggle as individuals to put in an entry ever week or two and if we don't make it we may be disappointed with ourselves but so be it: our time is limited. Then there's the guys and gals that organise these challenges like LadyHazmat (aka Rebecca Allred). They have to spend time putting the things together each and every week: Putting together that challenge photos/phrases and ideas; Writing the blurb; Organising the judges; Uploading the results; Getting a new judge for next week; coming up with a new challenge; etc... And they have their life - and maybe even writing to do too.

Over previous years I set myself writing goals to 'win' Flash Fiction Friday and then Angry Hourglass. I think the first time I won AH was one of the sweetest moments because the quality was always so high and I had begun to think it was an impossible task. I can't remember who the judge was that week (I think once it may have been Sal?) but whoever it was thanks muchly.

I can only take my metaphoric hat off to each and every person who've been involved in producing and maintaining all these challenges over the months and years and I have nothing but happy thoughts and best wishes for all of you.

Many many thanks to all the Rebeccas (and any none Rebeccas). Angry Hourglass will be fondly remembered by many of us.


Five Years Backwards

Watched a little of the World Athletics Championship on the Beeb over the last couple of days. So much focus of the media has been on Usain Bolt and the Gatling Gun, the wonderful Mo and the few British hopes elsewhere.

I love sport and have enjoyed the drama and excitement of parts of it, but if truth be told it has made me feel quite depressed about the world. Just remember when this venue was used for the Olympics in 2012. I'd not expecting much of the Olympics, wondered why we as a country wanted to host it; spend all that money. Let our athletes go somewhere nice and sunny, have interesting food and cultural experiences to run, throw, dive, ride etc.

But boy I was glad to be proven wrong. It was fucking amazing. It ran like clockwork. Terrorism, low attendance, apathy? Nope. Packed audiences. Wonderful performances. Great coverage. Even the transport system survived. For Britain, right from the wondrous Opening Ceremony through to the Closing, it could not have gone better on or off the stage. Britain could organise the most massive of events, throw a party, be inclusive, welcome the world with a hug - and run around with jangling gold medals. We could organise a piss up in a brewery! Huzzah!!

Fast forward (not backwards) to 2017 and these athletes are performing in the same place in terms of Grid Reference but in an all too different place in other ways.


Watching the Olympics we were filled with excitement - proud of the UK, of what we were doing, of what we could do: looking outward and looking forward. A few years later and we have had a ridiculous vote to leave the EU that the 'leaders' thought they needed to get a mandate for the next generation and box it off.... and lo! a result they (say they) didn't expect and we are left looking to what? To hopefully be okay in maybe ten years or so. And even if we are not okay at least we'll be free to 'make our own laws', 'to control our borders', 'to turn our back on those outside our island shores' (or something like that). To have the right to put our two fingers up to the world.

Basically watching these World Championships I am in awe of individual sporting performances but feel saddened by how (I feel) as a nation we seem to be backward from where we were five years ago.

Damn this stupid world. I think I'll have to stop watching it - and if we end up with only Mo's one medal then it's all David Cameron's fault!

Of course I was wrong about the Olympics being a disappointing failure and there is a chance everything post-Brexit will be hunky dory and surpass everyones bestest expectations but so far the signs aren't good. And when the planning for the Olympics was going on they had years, had a final date and knew what they needed to achieve. For Brexit we have no idea what we want (but it is not what anyone else wants of course) and the clock is ticking. We're on a train to an unknown destination with a driver who's never driven one and is likely to jump off prior to the last station. And to carry on the stupid analogy our ticket is one way, none refundable and is likely to be as much use as a Day Two ticket to the Liverpool Hope & Glory Festival.

At least the football season is back and I can take my mind of other stuff. Come on you red men!

Gathering Pre Brexit Cups in May

Other than the odd Friday Microcosms I haven't written much over the last month. There's no excuses. Well, there are plenty but I can't be arsed using them. Just bloody put some words down fella!

On the day that Liverpool have learned they are to meet the Bundesliga team Hoffenheim in the Champions League Qualifier I'm currently reading 'Here We Go Gathering Cups in May' (edited by Nicky Allt). It is a series of memoir pieces about each of the seven European Cup Finals Liverpool have reached with a different writer for each of the finals:

Cups In May


Nicky Allt,
Tony Barrett,
Jegsy Dodd,
Peter Hooton,
Dave Kirby,
John Maguire and
Kevin Sampson.

It's funny reading the stories of football (and football supporting) past and even more past. Some of it takes me right back whilst it's also an eye opener on how different the events can be for different people in the same place doing the same thing. I'm half way through so haven't got through to the legend that is Istanbul yet, which is the only European Cup Final I've been to (although I also went to Athens for the Final in 2007 but didn't get a ticket or get in (which is not necessarily the same thing)), but it's making me think that I should write my Istanbul experience next as one of my Limited Edition memoir pieces.

Reds (and three Italians) beside the Blue Mosque.

Reading this as the draw for the cup was made makes me want to get on the old Football Special to Hoffenheim, well maybe not. But I've loved going to watch footy matches over in Europe (random matches not Liverpool ones) and met some good people through that; especially through the European Football Weekends crew.
In the Allianz Arena, Munich for an 1860 match (before getting the train to Salzburg for another match).

I'm off out shortly for a mooch and will be with camera for photos, pounds for ale - and a pad and pen for getting some words down.


Remember folks, You'll Never Walk Alone