Friday, 19 October 2012


When I saw Leonard Cohen the other week I was really taken with the architecture of the space. The plaza was built for the Olympics and in the dusk, to me it looked like the cover of a late 1950’s or early 1960’s science fiction paperback: an earthly paradise controlled by emotionless robot brains or an alien world that is an untouched Eden – until humans arrive... that sort of thing. What do you think?

I spent this morning recording the sound files to go with my poems in the six poet anthology Oscar Sparrow is at present compiling. I never find the recording process easy. I either, speak to slowly and sound strange or, I speak as fast as I can and sound strange and in a hurry.  The interesting thing about this batch was that me and my trusty sound engineer stopped two thirds of the way through and when we restarted an hour or so later I was even more hopeless. There is something to take from this, when you are on a roll stick with it. I shall give you more information about the anthology nearer the time. I know the work of three of the poets and I can assure you it will be an excellent read.

Alison’s post on Tuesday made me think about what defines the different seasons here in rainy Somerset and I thought onions. Autumn for me means that I do two things, one is that I make a batch of vegetarian mince for the Mince Pies we make bake each Christmas. This has to be made to my Dad’s recipe, no other will do and shop bought ones are never as nice. The second thing I do is pickle onions.

Again shop bought ones are always a poor second choice, they taste too much of vinegar. So I thought today I would share the recipe for making pickled onions that I got off my brother-in-law many years ago.
o  Choose small pickling onions, this is a matter of personal taste, you may like big ones but I think small onions taste better.
o   Peel them, then place in a bowl and cover with lots of salt. Keep turning them every so often.
o  Leave for two days. The salt draws the moisture out of the onion and helps to preserve them.
o   Rinse the onions to wash off the salt and dry on a tea towel.
o   Place the onions in a sterilised jar.
o Fill the jar at least one third full of sherry, the cheaper the better.
o   Top up with pickling vinegar.
o   Put a seal of greaseproof paper on the top of the jar then the lid- this will stop the vinegar from rusting through the lid.
o   Leave at the back of a cupboard for at least four months. The sherry will impart a sweet flavour to the onions. Enjoy for the next year, until the next batch is ready.

If you happen to live a in place where you have onions to pickle then try this recipe, you won’t be disappointed.

Today when reading the poems for the anthology I was reminded of the importance of reading your work aloud when you are creating. It’s even better if you can get someone else to read it for you, because then you can concentrate on listening to what it sounds like. After all poetry was originally an oral tradition, and still is in some places.


If the mean cats (half cracked,
Propped up by technology,
And long blue lines of truncheoned force)
Showed you the tools,
As they had Galileo,
Would you eat your words,
Recant what you had said?
Or tied to the metal frame of the bed,
Soaking wet, still scream It’s true,
As surely Galileo knew.
Nine blind years they granted him,
He left to murmur: It does.

This is another older poem. I thought I’d include it here because I suppose it fits with my first idea of the science fiction book cover. There is trouble in this paradise type thing. Galileo was accused of heresy. Of stating that the earth had the audacity to circle the sun rather than being the centre of the universe. The Inquisition is alleged to have shown him their torture devices at which point he recanted. I would have too. I am not sure that I believe the story that he left mumbling it does, I think that is an invention myself. Galileo went blind because he had damaged his sight staring at the sun through a telescope.


Driving blind,
Their emotional compass directs
This envelop of steel.
They drive to reach a solution,
Salvage their marriage,
For the third time his fist
Hits the steering wheel,
She wonders why anger
Is this man’s most complete emotion.

Oblivious of the signs,
Suggestions of how to proceed,
They cut up other cars,
And continue through the day.

Again, an older poem. Mostly reportage. I was driving once and was cut up by another car with a man driving who was arguing with the woman next to him. It seemed too good an image not to use. Have you ever been directly inspired by an event?

I am off to The Bristol Science Fiction Convention tomorrow on behalf of Corvus Press. Perhaps I’ll see you there.


  1. Those are amazing pictures!

    I've been directly inspired by events, yes; stories are collections of experiences, and we all have those.

    1. I suppose we disguise our experiences to a less or greater degree when we turn them into stories. Although I suspect some authors pillage their lives whole sale.

  2. It does doesn't it. The eventual triumph of truth regardless of mankind is a great comfort. Love the poems and juxtaposition of onions and Olympic splendour.

    1. Truth will out we are genetically programmed to mess up when we try to keep truth hidden.

  3. I always read my work out loud too - especially convos...danger of being too wordy. Loved the Galileo poem--staggering how he was forced to recant the truth. Now there's an idea for our time!!! (BTW I have poetry on my blog this week. Just saying)