Tuesday, 28 February 2017


I'm not sure if Facebook is the place to place my poetry. If I don't put it there though where does it go? There aren't exactly thousands of publishers queuing for the rights of my poetry flow. Does anybody even read poetry anymore? Does anybody read my poetry? I don't know. What I do know is that the words and ideas need to be somewhere other than inside my head. If I don’t get them out I think that my head is likely to explode.


You're seen the permanent smilers,
the clowns,
the jokers,
the happy hopers,
the ever cheerful,
never tearful,

the joke sharers,
so quick to giggle,
the big grin wearers,
that ever smiling woman,
that hearty guffaw of a bloke.

Take a look beyond their happy,
are they trapped inside their own joke?
Is that sadness beating their hearts?
A flick of fear in the eye?
They are the ones to worry about.
These ones that never cry

Aside: The painting of the clown is one I painted a few years ago. Today I discovered that it's been borrowed by an American playwright - Tony Yajko - who resides in New York to illustrate his avant-garde play Bloody Strange.

You can read 'Bloody Strange' here.


Auntie Peggy wondered if Santa Claus could actually bloody read. 
She was sure that her Christmas list had clearly stated dildo.

Monday, 27 February 2017


Uncle Paul used to be in the navy. On wet days he would get out his 
dressing up box so that we could all play his version of pirates.

Sunday, 26 February 2017


Going around to visit Uncle Neville could be quite unsettling. 
He didn’t have any curtains and there were always 
test tubes lying around everywhere.

I want a coffee…

I like my coffee to taste like coffee. I don’t want it flavoured with anything. I don’t want raspberry coffee or vanilla coffee or maple syrup coffee or peppermint coffee. I don’t want it sprinkled with chocolate dust, gold dust, cinnamon dust, or malt dust. I don’t want flavoured sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, sea salt, coconut oil or butter. I don’t a want a pear juice, apple juice or cranberry juice coffee. I don’t even want milk or sugar. I do like a little rum, brandy or bourbon on a cold day, but generally I just take my coffee as it comes. Just coffee. I don’t want it frothed, I don’t want a heart swirled on the top or a cute template dusted Teddy Bear. In fact, I don’t want a picture of anything on top of it and no, I don’t want a bloody Cappuccino. Neither do I want an Affogato, a Bicerin, a Breve, a Café Bombon, a Frappuccino or even a Yuenyang. I want a coffee, a black coffee, call it a bloody Americano if you must, but just give me a coffee. Listen I don’t care about your expensive coffee making machine, I don’t care that it cost ten thousand pounds. I'm not interested that it can make coffee twenty different ways and makes noises that sound like a bad case of the flatulence. I don’t even care that it was imported from Italy and designed by a man that used to design Ferraris. I just want a coffee in a cup. Not in three chemical beakers deconstructed into its parts, not in a jam-jar or a ramekin or a champagne glass or a hand-turned wooden beaker. I just want a cup of coffee in a cup or even a mug if you don’t have any cups. I don’t want it iced, or filtered through rose petals, I don’t want it with an ice cream float or a flake or even the teensiest little bit tepid. I want it hot and strong and black and steaming. I don’t care that you trained for five years and making plain coffee is beneath you. I don’t care that you like to be called a Barista and not a waiter or waitress. I just want a coffee and preferably not one where the beans have been eaten, digested and excreted by a Palm Civit - and no I'm not impressed that it’s come all the way from Sumatra. I don’t care if it’s from Italy or France or Japan or Ethiopia or even bloody Vietnam. Listen coffee is a drink. Not an experience, not an art form, not a mission, and certainly not a performance. It’s a drink. I just want a coffee and preferably one that costs less than a fiver. 

Don't worry. I'll go home and make my own.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Halfway to china...

Halfway to china

Anyway, let's drift away
Where should we go?
Tunbridge Wells? 
The Orinoco?
Set up home in the country?
On a radioactive beach?
Or how about a council house?
A few square feet of peace.

Under the sky in a tent,
inside a rainwater vent,
They’d never guess
Where we went.

So let's drift away
It can be anywhere you choose.
It doesn't need to be in a boat.
We don’t have much leak to lose.
Escape in an old carpet.
Hide in a bottle of plonk.
Go anywhere and not come back.
Like a couple of mismatched mugs,
but not broken.
Just a pair of Toby jugs.

Anyway, let's drift away


Mildred clearly didn’t understand how taking measurement 
really worked. Even her friends suspected that fart speeds were 
measured in knots and not in feet and inches.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Old leaves...

As Madonna once sang: ‘Life is a mystery’, and she was right and perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of all is what those blokes with blowers are actually achieving by blowing leaves about from one gutter to another. I passed one today moving his blowing machine from side to side and making the leaves move about busily but not disappear which would have been a far better solution. Maybe a flame thrower would have been more effective.

Of course, back in the old days, so fondly remembered by anyone over… let’s call it fifty, a chap in council overalls with a push-cart, a broom and a shovel would have collected the leaves and them burnt them in the nearest available council owned space. Private citizens would have spent the weekends sweeping up their own leaves and then burning them in piles in their gardens. Of course this, in this world of smoke free zones, is no longer acceptable behaviour so instead we have hordes of paid by the hour ‘gardeners’ pretending to sort things out but really just moving the leaves to next door’s drive or gutter.

Of course this is an excellent business model as they can then get paid all over again by blowing the leaves somewhere else and charging again, and so on, and so on. It’s kind of a leafy perpetual motion machine or at the very least a way of printing their own money. But I miss the romance of the smell of those piles of burning autumn leaves and the smoke hanging in the air.

Suddenly it struck me that the autumn leaves – because surely this is what they were – should have been long gone as it’s very nearly spring. Had this chap with the blower imported the leaves so that he could continue making money out of old rope? (Well old leaves if not old rope). And then it struck me further: where did the old leaves go anyway? Nobody bothers to sweep them up anymore, preferring instead to employ young men with blowers to idle away their time achieving nothing by blowing them about for months.

Just where do all those old leaves go?

Yes, life really is a mystery.


The invitation to grandmother’s funeral 
had been subject to a typographical error. 
It should have read ‘black hat required’.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Invisible scars...

She had tattooed her arm
to stop the cutting,
perhaps by making it beautiful
she might find some peace.
Razor blades are not ink.
Scars a desperate art.
The cutting, the only way
to make her forget, not think.
She liked the sleeve.
A bird, black hearts, two fish,
an almost quote from Lao Tzu:
‘The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single wish’.
Not a single step.
That was so hard to take.
It sat there speaking wisely,
traced red on chicken skin bicep.
Too many forced steps,
her life a trap,
a scared lemon squeezed,
no time left for any of that,
not going there again.
That is what her adornment was for,
a covering of her past.
She picked up her bag,
shrugged off the door,
she was shedding him at last.
Shredding him at last.
At the station she caught the train,
South, then west for hours.
A little travel for years of pain
that was now her past.
And as she sat she considered
if her thighs and breasts and arse
would be peonies, runes, or stars,
symbols to bring her healing
and hide her invisible scars.


All the girls agreed that Aunty Lydia’s turd was easily the winner.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


Cousin Geoff was always a bit different. 
My mother thought it was his choice of earrings, but I wasn’t so sure.


Uncle Terry was a great guy, but sometimes it was if he 
just didn't want to be part of the family...


My cousin Steve and his friends didn't really fit into the KKK.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Boadicea and Bader...

It’s the twenty-first of February one of those unremarkable days that pretty much go unnoticed. It’s no Candlemas Day (Feb 2nd), or Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th) and it certainly isn’t Leap Day (Feb 29th once every four years). So all in all it’s not much of a day at all and the grey damp weather does nothing to add to its lack of importance.

Of course every day becomes important sometimes. Things happen to even the most unimportant ordinary of days, even February days.

In 1431 Joan of Arc was accused of heresy in Rouen. That didn’t end well. Three hundred years later in 1741 Jethro Tull – the inventor not the musician – unveiled the seed drill and saved the backs of hundreds of thousands of farm workers. Mind you, he doomed a lot to impoverished starvation to boot. In 1804 Richard Trevithick demonstrated the first steam train in South Wales. In 1910 Douglas Bader, the flying ace, was born. He went on to lose both his legs in a daring flying accident but still managed to shoot down twenty German planes in the Second World War despite his new legs of tin. In 1952 we all became anonymous when Winston Churchill’s government abolished identity cards. In 1961 The Beatles – a new-fangled beat combination band – appeared for the first time at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. In 1998 Boadicea turned up; buried under Platform 8 at King’s Cross railway station. And just last year on this day Mevagissey council in Cornwall had to abandon plans to name a thoroughfare Hitler’s Walk as a result of a protest by town residents. Both Douglas Bader and Winston Churchill would have approved of that, Boadicea too probably.

So, maybe February the twenty-first isn’t as glamorous as Valentine’s Day, but it’s had its moments. I wonder what the next one will be? 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Plastic b(ol)locks...

There was once a world where Legoland did not exist. I know, what a terrible thought. In this time long ago Lego was not a cult for fifty-year old men to worship the latest Star Wars model or collect superhero figures. This was a time when Lego was just a series of plastic blocks which were the nemesis of vacuum cleaners and stockinged feet all over the land. A time when Lego was only a step up (or down) from the humble wooden brick. Alas those days seem to be long gone now and these days the mighty Lego reigns supreme with its own kingdom.

You may have noticed from this that I’m not a Lego fan. To be honest I’ve never really got Lego. I remember playing with it as a kid and having a little fun making things – usually shapeless masses of coloured bricks that I’d call a monster - but somehow building with Lego seemed so limited. Small coloured building blocks that clipped together one at a time to make things. Ooo Yippee. Yes, you could make anything that you wanted, just as long as it had corners and was pretty uniform in shape, but it was the sculptural equivalent of the Etch-a-Sketch and organic it wasn’t. Making a Lego banana was quite a challenge.

The Lego I remember didn’t come with instructions, you just made stuff from those tiny pieces of brittle plastic that came in a pretty limited variety of block shapes – twos, fours, eights, singles etc. I remember the platforms, which were useful for starting the build, and windows, good for building houses (yawn), but the Lego with all those stupid characters that so many people rave about today was still decades away contained within the nightmares of some clever yet-to-be-born marketing people somewhere far away in another universe.

From what I understand the Lego experience isn’t about building stuff these days anyway. Making your own unique blocky statement isn’t really the point any longer and using your imagination without the need for instructions isn’t the name of the game. Parents all over the country don’t have to ask: ‘What is it?’. They can tell what it is from what it says on the box and the instructions. Lego has become just another model making kit, not so very different from a bit of Ikea furniture or the contents of a Kinder egg. The Lego sets of today are no more than uncomplicated jigsaw puzzles with all of the decisions about where to place the pieces taken away by those bloody instructions.

I’m overstating the case I know, but it’s yet another example of a company selling their souls and the souls of our children by changing direction to make lots of money and killing creativity in the process. Lego sell sets now, not a block building experience. If you lose a piece you are screwed, if you lose the instructions you are screwed. To be honest it’s probably better not to open the boxes just in case something goes missing because you are screwed when that happens. Gone are the days of my old shoeboxes full of random Lego pieces just waiting to become an unrecognisable cubist masterpiece of pure downloaded consciousness. Lego is just another thing to make and put on a shelf, not an experience.

I always found Lego limiting anyway, not flexible enough to satisfy my creative indulgences, glue and papier mâché suited me far better. But then, I didn’t really like Airfix Kits either. I’ve always hated following instructions. I don’t think there will too many potential da Vincis playing with Lego, mind you da Vinci was pretty mechanical; he’d probably have liked it and it would have been the ideal Christmas gift for the young Piet Mondrian. Lego is a recipe for conformity. Dali might have done something with it though; twisting and burning it until it melted to his will.

I read a comment from a teacher about Lego somewhere. She said it was a really good tool to train children to follow the rules, keep to an agreed process, and end up in with the expected result. She meant it as a good thing.

And with that awful thought I will finish.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A day at the beach...

A day at the beach

Where are all the deckchairs for a shilling?
lines of striped relaxation
away from the factory line
the damp of the town
sitting on a rainbow
instead of grime
Where are the shoulder monkeys?
sharp teeth above and beneath
smile for the birdy
‘five bob please’
and the Punch and Judy
that policeman
the ghost
and the stick beaten baby
and the hurdy-gurdy
the swing boats
the sandcastles
the pots of tea on trays
sandy egg sandwiches
the nearly sunny days
skirts tucked into knickers
jump over the waves
the flannels and blazers
the heads in the newspaper lazers
the cricket bats
the film star sunglasses
grans in their best hats
knitted trunks round our arses
the headscarves and pearls
and see-through plastic sandals
the lumps of tar
old towels to surround us
the jellyfish
the starfish
tiny fish caught in a jar
the new-born babies
in pram shade oases
a cousin’s appendix scar
the betting slips
the quick dips
the coldest of seas
‘full of disease’
our nan said
and the donkeys
slowly padding along the beach
over and over
Doris and Clover
with hanging sad heads
and a sweet stick of rock
then home in the car
a push to get it going required
but back by ten o’clock
with the salt sweet seaweed air
and up at crack of dawn start
we came back tired
sand in our hair
from our day at the beach.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

A date with reality…

TV seems to be preying a lot on my mind recently. Well, as I said yesterday there’s so much of it. Sometimes I think that the whole world has turned into a reality TV show. It used to be TV that aped life. Saturday night dramas were about real issues, gritty, set in the real world; Play for Today, Friday Night Theatre, Saturday Playhouse. These days it seems that the world we live in imitates a reality TV show and we all know how fake and staged they are.

The boundaries between reality and fiction have become very blurred and I for one am no longer sure what is real and what isn’t. We have lunatic politicians tweeting a version of the world that only exists in their own minds, alternative facts, fake truths, fake lies and they are shamelessly spoken of and readily accepted as reality by too many people, we are lied to and manipulated, are expected to vote around those lies and World Leaders perform like gameshow hosts, pouting and stamping on international TV in caked-on make-up against CGI backdrops of things that never happened to anyone ever.

It’s as if TV and the internet have become the real world and everything we see and hear is potentially or actually a lie. It isn’t helped by the uncovering of cover-ups that our institutions – the police, the church, sportsmen, entertainers and of course our politicians – have been lying about and getting away with for years. It doesn’t help that the media doesn’t simply report; it interprets, comments upon, takes positions, or simply follows the orders of corrupt owners and directors in a world where everyone and anyone can put out their own version of the truth and reality.

What do we really know for sure any more?

I was sitting in my car watching the shadows of the clouds move across the sea this afternoon. It was cold outside, but inside the car I was warmed by the winter sunshine. A ‘one-legged’ heron stood - not really fishing but gazing - by the edge of the water. Gulls sat on the pebbles on the shore, occasionally flying into the air for a minute or two before landing again. The occasional wave appeared in the calm sea almost from nowhere rather splashily breaking just as it reached land. The breeze, not quite a wind, stirred the marram grass and the wire rigging of the yachts in the boatyard hummed and clinked a sharp jingle of tinny music behind me.

It was quiet and peaceful and the show all around me was honest and natural and not put on for my benefit or to feed the egos of the birds. The waves didn’t break to order, nor did they claim not to be breaking or to be anything other than waves made of seawater. The clouds didn’t care if I watched them or not, they just got on with blowing about. The heron didn’t want my vote, he had no need of it, he just wanted a fish to swim by. Nothing in the landscape gained anything by my being there and it didn’t try to influence my opinion by making things more dramatic or vital than the really were.

It was real.

Reality still exists if you know where to find it.