The joy and sadness of this life ...
It's been an emotionally-charged time, including two frantic, boozy nights with old friends in Norwich, then a long drive back to New Brighton, arriving at well past midnight, too late to go for a nightcap in my local pub.
The trip to Norwich was a stunner. It was like being transplanted back in the happy carefree days of the mid -1980s. And the friends of that era were / are such diamonds.
The morning after I got back, I took a day off work and went shopping in the morning for my mum's birthday presents (box-ticked!).
Then a funeral Mass for dear Celia Hackett at English Martyrs Church in Wallasey Village, followed by a wake in the afternoon and on till late at the Perch pub, New Brighton, where Celia had such happy times.
It was a funeral of the sort I favour. Solemn, sad, black-coated and beautiful in church - then all laughy, chatty and boozy during the wake.
That's an appropriate dichotomy - sadness at a great lady's departure, and a raucous celebration of her life. Respect for the dead is, of course, a most unshakable form of respect for human life, and that is why we are right to turn mourning into celebration, at least for an extended evening ...
Now, while at the wake, a gentleman friend of one of the principal mourners gently upbraided me for not posting regularly on this blog. He, like many others, used to enjoy reading it.
He told me my musings on life were sorely missed. I got a similar message from those old pals in Norwich. One of them commented that I "ought to write a book".
Actually, I have written two books, both novels - one about extraterrestrials living in Liverpool ( 'The Wearons' ), and another about what it means to be a man and a poet, living on the Wirral ('Bad News for Butterflies'). Yes, of course that second novel draws on my own life - with all its comical and philosophical twists and turns!
For the sci-fi novel. I am part of The Brit Writers' Awards Publishing Scheme, so I am hoping to see that published before too long.
The other one I think I shall enter in a literary competition - maybe the Bridport Prize, which I think offers a £1,000 top prize for the best unpublished novel submitted.
Hey, I do have some form now for winning literary prizes! At the end of last year, my poem 'Unpleasant Valley Sunday' (about a district of Chester) won the £50 Runners Up Prize in the poetry section of the annual Sefton Writing Competition.
I was presented with the honour at a glimmering (rather than glittering) awards ceremony in the side room of a Southport hotel. The man who announced my success was none other than a local actor who played Lead Simpleton for many years in TV's Peak Practice. Class!
Also, I am now a published poet. My poem 'The Finished Sentence of Love' (dedicated to 'Posh Boots' - remember her?) is published in The Best of Manchester Poets anthology (Puppywolf Press, £8.99).
And so now, it is as a prize-winning and published poet that I puff out my little chest and announce with pride that The Bards of New Brighton performance poetry night will take place at the Magazine pub, Magazine Brow, CH45 1HP, on Monday 13 February, starting at 8pm. As ever, admission is free, and all are welcome at one of the few non-pretentious poetry nights left in the north-west of England.
Honestly, The Bards (MC'd by myself and by another prize-winning and published poet, Dave Costello) is always a real hoot - whether you come to read your poems or just to listen.
PS Dave and I are often compared to Statler and Waldorf, those caustic auld gits from the balcony in The Muppets.