Friday 30 October 2020


Am I the only person who finds this new style blogger format difficult to operate? Every time I write a post I struggle with centring the first image. Much distress is caused. I have to confess I am a person who never reads instructions believing that I can pick it up as I go. Perhaps I need to start...
I contacted my MP yesterday to ask why if he had had a change of heart about voting against free school meals for children in the half term holiday. 
I have to say his reply was swift, but written some time ago as it included the line:

Turning to yesterday’s vote on an opposition motion calling for the provisions made in summer to also be extended into the Christmas School Holidays.

I think I have received a circular. Still as they say in Widnes "owt is better than nowt". Voting to feed children would be better than them going hungry.

The origin of this post's poem is that I was thinking about people sharing a silence because they did not need to speak, because they knew one another so well words were unnecessary. Thanks must again go to the Secret Poets for their insights.

if he had stayed in this village,

and lived out his life amongst these men

he would be sharing their silence

but here he is talking

about people and places of which

they know little and care less

wordlessly judging him

by their own lived experience

that’s how it always goes

now his father is dead

the last link severed

he will not return

for him there would be no

sea captain’s homecoming

with money and tales of the sea


he would be like Lot

and he will not look back

I had no idea how it would end when I started. I was going to title the poem after where ever it was Lot went to after he fled Sodom but decided that would be too abstruse even for me. Suggestions welcome as ever. Titles are always difficult.

I've been painting a bedroom this week, this is not a photograph of what it looked like, can't remember where I took this. 
Anyway I've been listening to lots of David Bowie on the mp3 player as I have painted. So here is a slice of nostalgia.
I sent this video to a friend and they asked what exactly a bipperty- bopperty hat is? I have no idea.

Until next time.

Friday 23 October 2020


I write my posts a couple of days before they go live and usually I do not change them. I check for mistakes the day before, but that's it.

This week however, I am adding a comment to express my disgust at the cabal of poltroons that allegedly govern us. 
You may have heard of Marcus Rashford's campaign for free school meals over the half term holiday. Sounds reasonable, you may think, in this time of pandemic and hardship, but not for our government. 

No. Instead we had the woeful Paul Scully turning the debate into a chance to attack the opposition by claiming that many children went hungry under previous Labour governments. Nice one Mr Scully. It appears it is more important to score a political point than feed starving children. Two wrongs obviously make one right for you.

On Wednesday the Bill to feed hungry children was defeated by 322 to 261. I hope those who voted against can sleep at night and look at their reflections in the mirror. 

Normal service will now be resumed.

Here is another poem that popped into existence with not a warning. 

Honestly I got the first line and the rest wrote itself. It was one of those poems that live in my head for a couple of days before being written down. I always write out drafts longhand. It helps me to get the feel of the poem. Rarely do I compose on the keyboard.

When I'm rewriting the poem I always refer the the original draft as I think that helps to keep me from drifting, or diluting the essence of the poem.

On the road to Jericho

we bitched about the gig,

hunted out mouthpieces

long unused and dusty.

On the road to Jericho

we raked over old grudges,

squabbled about the set list.

Unspoken fears every step of the way.

By the second tune

we knew the notes to play,

the size of the walls no longer mattered.

That last day, the seventh,

almost made the previous forty years make sense.

The only line I am unsure about is the last line of the second stanza. I'm not sure that it works. 

Next year will be ten years of Magpie Bridge! It doesn't seem that long. I shall be unveiling some surprises as the year unfolds. 

I have been listening to Leyla McCalla  a lot recently. I was first attracted by her recordings of Langston Hughes' poetry- superb. 

Here's Money is King from her latest album The Capitalist Blues.

Here's Heart of Gold, the lyrics are taken from a poem by Mr. Hughes. 

Until next time.

Friday 16 October 2020


The term honey trap relates to the act of luring an individual into a compromising situation and then blackmailing them. I know the term from watching too many spy films. Apparently it was a favourite tactic of the Stasi.
I was recently discussing the poem with the Secret Poets who were of the opinion that the poem is broader than the cold war terminology. I was not as sure. I shall leave you to decide.

honey trapped

someone is always alert

on the lookout to turn the weak

to inflame their hidden desires

a chink

a crack

a vector to the soul

and so they are compromised

then asset stripped

run through their upside down lives

mouths full of ash

I do know that the poem is complete, but it shall be going into the drawer for a couple of months anyway, just to make sure.

Here's the marvelous Palooka 5 and their new tune Possession of the Surf Tsar. Honestly this band gets better and better.

Until next time.

Friday 9 October 2020



To start with this post here are four lines I wrote yesterday [in my head] while driving to the shops.

the boat will not set sail today

the waves run too high

a slowly rising red sun

into a mackerel sky

 Originally I wrote herringbone sky but on checking the phrase appears to be mackerel sky. I will leave you to decide which is the more effective. 

Now a revised poem. When I showed this to the Secret Poets there was a general agreement that the poem could not decide what it was saying. I hope this revision makes that clearer.


On wet days, before he truly went blind,

my father in half moon spectacles,

would get down his maps,

unfold them on the kitchen table,

his fat finger tracing familiar trails,

he would one day take,

over this mountain, across that moor.

He talked the big picture but noted the details,

in the crevasses of the folds.

I dreamt my own dreams.

The end they said, was a cigarette,

of course I arrived too late,

after the fire, those all consuming flames

that ate my father and his rooms.

The day after I raked through the ash,

not expecting to find anything

and I did not.

These days I use a phone screen,

reduced to letting an algorithm to dictate my route,

which takes no note of altitude or contour,

battle site, henge or tumuli.

This poem is now being put away, for a goodly amount of time. When it is looked at again, in however many months, I am sure it will highlight its own flaws.
I recently bought an LP by Aziza Brahim on spec and it has proven to be excellent. 
Here she is singing Hajad Jll.

Until the next time.

Friday 2 October 2020


I have been contemplating the wallpaper in the bedroom where I write.

Since we moved into this house, thirty six months ago, we have been slowly renovating it. Now my gaze has fallen on the blue rose wallpaper of this room.

Prompted by an #iamallstories exercise I wrote this week's poem. I think that is all you need to know prior to reading

They chose blue rose wallpaper for this room,

never knowing five years down the line

too big, too empty, crowded with memories

the house would be sold by the one left alive.

When they had sat in the freshly tiled kitchen

breathing the newness in, satisfied,

drinking instant in the cups they used for coffee,

could they have realised that after the sale

the new people would change nothing,

content to live in a house that slowly stopped working,

unheated and unloved until they moved too,

because that’s what people do

so here in my turn I contemplate blue roses.

Some poems require the reader to have specific information in order to understand then poem, others, those inspired by a painting or photograph require the reader to know the image but this poem just is. 

Before Christmas the room will be decorated and the blue roses will be no more...

Here's Laura Gibson. I was listening to La Grande the other day, first time for ages. I'd forgotten just what a good writer she is.

Here's a live session from last year.

You can order her fine new album here.

This, I think, is my favourite song by her.

Honestly is it that long ago?

Until next time.