Friday 28 July 2023


I've just been trying to find the origin of the phrase the jig is up. I know it from the Sherlock Holmes stories and assumed it was from Shakespeare, most things are. Holmes' usually begins an investigation with the phrase the games afoot, which is Shakespeare from Henry IV, but the jig is up is apparently 15th century, a jig being a dance and when it stops you have to face the consequences. 

the jig is up and he knows the jig is up

and he must march smiling into his future

the certainties now uncertain

his pit props so much matchwood

this is everyone’s experience

but he had deluded himself he was special

had kidded himself for far too long

the piper walks over

demands his payment

The poem is a draft. My wells of creativity are rather dry at the moment. But here's one I've been toying with for sometime.

Where Have All The Plastic Flowers Gone?

the ones my mother got free

with each packet of Daz

the ones she said brightened up the place

the ones woven into a circlet

you wore to that festival

the year everyone was wearing them

the ones we put on the grave in winter

to bring colour in the gray season

placed in a yellow plastic pot

just where have all the plastic flowers gone

every sun faded petal

every split stem

every deconstructed bloom

they’ve gone nowhere

they bulk out the landfill

and that my friend is just one of our problems

To be honest I don't like the ending, I think it's too telling, but sometimes when I put up an unsatisfactory poem it prompts me to redraft it.

I've been listening to boygenius lately, I got into them through the Copycat Killer 12 inch. They're touring next month but sadly nowhere near me.

Until next time.

Friday 21 July 2023


My poetry workshop at Tropical Pressure was well attended and I would like to thank all the people who turned up and made it so successful. It was really good fun and I was impressed by the quality for the work produced. Thank you.

The festival was excellent, as it always is, though the Thursday night/Friday morning was a little damp. I saw some excellent acts and would like to thank Jill Dunn and all the other people who worked so hard to make the festival such a success.

Here's my draft of the poem I wrote during the workshop. I should explain that the talking pipe was an overflow pipe at Pex Hill in Widnes. Back in the early 1970s we used to go up to the top of the quarry after the pubs shut and look out over the town.

the landrover complained

backfired up the lane

it’s mixed petrol shortage diet

but we are here now

under a black sky 

no moon tonight

and Kenny calls down the talking pipe 7

it answers in booms

that echo around our ears

the lights below seem to flicker

as if Widnes is about to answer

this moment will never be repeated

This is a very rough draft. interestingly the last line came first along with an image of the talking pipe and Kenny, who sadly is no longer with us, shouting into it. Watch this space for a revised version. 

I shall leave you with Alogte Oho and His Sounds of Joy who closed Saturday night's music with a barnstorming set.

Until next time.

Friday 14 July 2023


I'm at Tropical Pressure this weekend. On Sunday I'm running a poetry workshop and I'll also be reading around the site. Report to follow next post. To prepare for the festival I've been reading at events but since the pandemic live poetry in Torquay has been thin on the ground. Here's a revised poem that I realised didn't work as well as it could once I began reading it to audiences. You can read the previous version here.


I had a plan

once the sapling took root

I gave my hats away

though that winter was cold

my bare head and thin trunk

shivered in the cutting wind

increasingly doorways become problematic

do I bow or do I stoop?

as my branches spread

narrow entrances were impossible

so I have to shout through the window

when I want bread from the baker

I drive with the sunroof open

increased petrol use wind in my leaves

in preparation

I ate for two in autumn

my thoughts sluggish this second winter

as the tree on my head slumbers

I've changed the fourth stanza, it was too bald when I read it live. Here's another poem I've revised for similar reasons. The last stanza sounded inelegant when read to people, you can read the other drafts here and here.

a love story

it was love at first note

the wind and the bass solo eloped

straight out of the window of my car

[I was crossing the bridge at the time

but this is their story it is not mine]

seven miles out bopping on the sea

gently held in the breeze

the notes rearranged as they please

delighting the dolphins with their atonality

I cannot stress the importance of reading your work out loud, especially if you can read it to an audience and listen to theirs and your reactions. Here's a link to a post from 2011 that offers 10 Top Tips to aid your writing. These have not changed in the interim.

I leave you with Juanita Euka, who is on Saturday.

Until next time.

Friday 7 July 2023


When I was recently in Inverness I noticed that, as I went to bed, the moon was vying with the street light in the pre-Solstice twilight. It set me thinking about different lengths of times, light intensity and the solar year. This is what eventually emerged.

The Moon and The Street Light


different lengths

the permanent and the passing

the moon plays the long game

content to be out shone

[in the short term]

we observers

whose time is nearer to one than the other

take it all in

too consumed by our mini-dramas

I hope I have captured that moment in time. I often think I am writing about witnessing entropy. I blame those 1960s science fiction authors that I read as a teen.

We can all observe entropy in action by observing the tory government mismanagement of the country. The NHS is 75 years old this week as our complacent government starves it of funding. History will judge this government, but enough of second rate clowns.

Here's Novos Baianos with Misterio Do Planeta. I've been listening to their album Acabou Chorare lately and it's superb.

Until next time.