Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Out of Order

For some reason the last three blogs went out of order. I put the two poems up - then I put Country Roads -2 up. But it sat itself underneath the poems. These blogs have minds of their own.

I was planning on visiting a few blogs but the blog universe seems to be on a go-slow again. Think I'll try again later.


We climb the soulful streets
Of Vejer
Cobbles and dust
And pause by the tight-lipped church
Golden-studded gate of bare-necked wood
The dusty walls hold long forgotten tales
The gabble and the chuckle
Of the market in the square
The dark portraits of the corbijata
The women from Vejer with half a veil
And behind the white walls' glare
Glimpses of hidden gardens

Cadiz Cathedral

Create a space
And decorate with rising arches
Sparkling with a holy light

Spin nets of delicate cobwebs
To catch the falling morsels
Of salt-air-damaged stone

Describe a space
Where organ notes ascend
Are flattened, tapered
Whine a little, bend
Blend with the long and wavering
Squeal of children
Skittering like black and red beetles
Crawling over Catholic stone

Sit in the square
With other tourists sipping tea
And chatter
In the old café

Erect a yellow crane
Tall as the cathedral’s yellow dome
Swing it just so
Where the complicated scaffolding
Will soon support
The Virgin’s procession

Country Roads Two

The gig went well – and it was a swell party. I hoped to have a picture to post but my camera let me down. The flash just isn’t strong enough. Hopefully I’ll be getting a few pictures from other party goers so I’ll be able to put a picture up then. No more band rehearsals now until the New Year.

This week some writing. Hurrah! On Thursday my last school visit followed by a trip to Nottingham for Jill’s works party – have to wear a dinner jacket for that – oh my. Then a free run to Christmas.

Which means it’s time to buy Christmas presents.
So – here’s the question. What Christmas present would you really like? What would make your year?

And what present are you really looking forward to giving someone else?

(What do you mean you don’t yet know? It is almost December for goodness sake.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Country Roads

Well, an interesting week so far. Monday - a Damn Right rehearsal. We’re playing at a party on Saturday – and as well as playing our regular rocky-blues set we’re playing a specially-learned country set for the birthday girl who is going to sing. She lives in South Africa and doesn’t arrive in the country until Friday and so Marie Claire, daughter of the bass guitarist, has stood in. Great voice. Great fun - but I wouldn’t want to be in a country band full time.

Tuesday - a day of infants. Lots of joining in poems. Jill is away at a conference in London. Tuesday evening - stuck in the traffic that is Wembley. It took me four hours to get home and I was fifteen minutes late for my creative writing class. Talk about being rushed.

Today – some writing planned but spent the day “catching up.” Maybe I’ll get some words down tomorrow. Need to do some serious planning or the next few weeks are going to disappear into nothing.

The Things You Are

The keeper of my heart
The healer of my soul
The hit song in my chart
The glue that makes me whole
The walker by my side
The holder of my hand
My student and my guide
The one who understands
The finisher of thoughts
My spokes, my wheel, my hub
The crosses and the noughts
My reggae and my dub
The laughter for my jokes
My wherefores and my wise
My hub, my wheel, my spokes
The blue that fills my skies
Disperser of my gloom
You blow my clouds away
The painter of my room
You brush away the grey
The seas that lap my shore
The rudder on my keel
The peel, the flesh, the core
My hub, my spokes, my wheel
The maker of my dreams
The slaker of my thirst
The miner of my seams
My second and my first
The raker of the leaves
That fall across my path
The one who still believes
The one who makes me laugh
My racing car of fun
The lock that fits my keys
The icing on my bun
Yes, you are all of these

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Northern Children’s Book Festival

Had a wonderful time in the North East. Three schools, the first two in the library at Crook, near Durham, and the third at a very large secondary school in Redcar where I read The Journal of Danny Chaucer (Poet) to three groups of 12/13 year olds. Three hours more-or-less solid reading with a song and a few questions and answers thrown in. Tiring, but great fun.

Also I met up with several other writers staying at the same hotel including Korky Paul. How fantastic is that?

The hotel was quite interesting. We had to wait for over an hour for a meal on the first night which was gruesome when it finally arrived (soggy risotto) (not helped by watching England’s dismal football performance against Spain on the bar’s big screen). An unusual bathroom, too, with a mirror so high that only a tall person could see his face in it and with the shower controls near the ceiling. One of our party, Sally Crabtree, who is a musician and writes books for young children, and isn't very tall, said she had to stand on a chair to wash! The following night we went for a Thai meal which was totally delicious. I won’t bore you with the details.

Wrote quite a lot on the train. Well, not literally on the train – it was in a book. Some more work on the graphic novel. Some poem bits. And a haiku. Well, of sorts. (See below)

But it’s good to be home.

Funny Haiku

Ha ha ha ha ha

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Ha ha ha haiku

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Another Busy Week

Sunday night. And another busy week coming up. A school in Peacehaven tomorrow. A day and a half of writing – did I mention I’m hoping to finish my children’s story? And the Poetry Zone to update. Then heading north on Wednesday for the Northern Children’s Book Festival.
Travelling by train – so a chance to get some writing done. Maybe work on my graphic novel. I’ve got the first draft sketched out. It’s a Faustian tale. Something a bit different for me at least.
Another busy week next week – and them oh joy, a few weeks at the computer writing.
Writing – I like that.

If you had written a best selling book. Well – any book actually. What would you liked to have written? And if you were going to write a book – what would it be?

International Apologies

Such a fuss.
It was a mistake anyone could have made
When the soccer hooligans
Rampaged through the shopping centre
After losing the International two – one
And we shot every last one dead

A simple clerical error, that’s all
Reading rubber bullets for live ammunition
Easily done, when you think about it
You’ve probably done the same thing yourself.
Bought a chicken
When you meant to buy a mop.
That sort of thing.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Oh Dear

Got drunk. Met up wuth Ruichard, me ex-brotherv in law and \nigel,m amn old ffrind and went tro pub tomnpkyat darts,. This is our second meeting. We plan to meet up every three months./Had a really good evening reminiscing and taliking bvaput old times and buit got d run k. It was the extra glass of whisky back ay Richards that doid it. Now the room is spinnoing. I shouldn’ybt have had that whisky;. It’s,mpt really very pleasant. And oi have tonwaitv fornit topnpadsss…..

Peter Piper (Easy Version)

Peter Piper chose a large number
Of peppers that had been soaked in vinegar and spices

A large number of peppers
that had been soaked in vinegar and spices
were chosen by Peter Piper

If it is indeed true
That Peter Piper chose a large number
Of peppers that had been soaked in vinegar and spices

Where are they?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Something Fishy

My brother-in-law’s step-daughter had her bat mitzvah yesterday and we were invited along to the synagogue to take part in the ceremony. The ceremony was very different from the Christian Church type of ceremony I’m used to (as, of course, it would be.) It is centred very much on the veneration of ancient scrolls and the continuation of the Jewish line and family. It was very interesting. And an honour.
At the end there was a prayer for peace between Jews and Palestinians which I found quite moving. It’s one thing to be told that “We want peace” – a statement that so many ethnic and religious groups make which is so often propaganda – and another to witness it from the inside, where there’s no hidden agenda. Where it is truly felt.

Today I’m feeling a bit fragile. I drank too much alcoholic beverage at the party in the evening.

And yesterday Liverpool lost 1-0 to Birmingham. That's a downer. Mainly because Baros didn't play. He was at the synagogue, that's why. (Well, there was someone in the front row with a Baros football shirt on. Although he was a bit young - so it probably wasn't him.)

Maybe today will cheer up. More football on telly. A roast chicken. Not too much to do.

Oh, and I forgot to mention – on Friday we bought four goldfish.
Two points if you can guess their names.


I like the fact that
Poems can be deceptive
You think you’re reading
A free-form ramble
Then you discover that it’s
A pair of haikus

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Story So Far

Another spell of school visits. A bit of a mix up yesterday. They were expecting a pirate. I did a couple of pirate poems and I think I got away with it. I'm at home now for three days so I hope to get some writing done. I’m still working on the children’s story mentioned ages ago. It reminds me of that great Doctor Hook line – What album is this anyway? Ben Hur? Still – it’s slowly coming together.

The Mighty Molecules Story So Far. I’ve abandoned the verse novel idea. Instead I’ve adapted what story I had for a graphic novel. It's early days – but hopefully have found an artist friend of Joe’s to do the artwork. And the music? I’m still going to make the CD – now entitled “Live at Staplecrust Village Hall.” Nothing grand - just a first attempt at digital recording. Not that you’d know it’s digital with all the hiss and noise on it. It remains The Mighty Molecules, a fictional band – but not a young one. (Just a sad old one.) I spoke to James today who’s going to add the lead guitar. James was the guitarist with The Killer Rabbits. (Otherwise known as Anthea Ridgepole Rabbit) (I was Roger 'The Nasty Man' Radio Rabbit.)

I put the keyboards on last week. Hope to have it finished by Christmas. More of that anon.

You can still buy the Killer Rabbits album at

Or to find out who the Killer Rabbits were – here’s the website. (Although you might wish you never knew.)
Visit The Killer Rabbits

Botanical Gardens

Who is the peacock trying to impress
As he fans his tail?
His bellowing horn
Stops the traffic
A group of workers nod as if to say
That’s wasted on us, mate
Although it is a damn fine display

Now, in the little pavilion
Amidst the grass and trees
Of the botanical gardens
A workman
Points and grouts
Points and grouts
The lone peacock lets his tail down
And hoots half-heartedly

Dark-suited delegates
At the Botanical Gardens Conference Centre
Mill about with black cases
And under-arm notes
And lap tops
A confused delegate
Stubs out a cigarette
Gazes across the greenery
He knows where he is geographically
He knows why he is here
But the answers to both these questions
Are not satisfactory

Nature sits awkwardly
Well-ordered, catalogued
Documented, arranged
Shined, polished
The birdsong is louder
Than the traffic outside
What more could one ask for?
The fecund and frilly fauna
Is a coffee-table book.

The peacock and two peahens
Wander across the lawn
The peacock bellows again
And waves his tail around
Life is a hoot
I guess the peahen was impressed once
That first time
She must have thought, “WOOWWWW!!!!”
“Wooooo – What a guy!
Give me some of THAT!”
But that was way back then.

A wandering group of school children
Are also mightily unimpressed
The chatter of the children
Is louder than the birdsong

Artists sit and draw
They perch awkwardly on small stools
Sketchbooks balanced on laps
Look up, look down, up, down
Look this way, that
Peck at their pictures

Mothers with toddlers in push chairs
Still bright and breezy
Full of energy
Eat at the café
Feed the scavenging birds
Maybe hoping to meet Mr Right

The children face their teacher
And listen
The peacock hoots again
Will nobody listen to me?

A delegate wanders through
The warm and humid tropical house
(Please keep the door closed to preserve the heat)
She smiles
I smile back
That’s the trouble with smiling
Once you start it’s difficult to stop

Carob seeds
(I read)
Were the original carats
Or jewellers’ weights
The dragon’s blood tree
Varnished Italian violins
In the 18th Century
Its over use caused its near extinction
The Cochineal beetle
Feeds on Opuntia –
The Prickly Pear

Sarracenia Purpurea
The common pitcher plant
Louisiana New Jersey

I am moved to tears
A flashback to my childhood
Growing cacti in the greenhouse
When it was fun
Just a great thing to do
Gaze at the plants
Something I shared with my Father

My Father’s greenhouse
Is partially demolished now
The glass and iron frame
Was dangerous and my Mother
Was worried it would collapse
And it probably would
But she insisted
We keep the stone wall my Father built

My childhood is suddenly
Focussed in that structure
The balance of those stones
The stone slab
That juts out for a seat
The tiny sempervivums set in the wall

And here the warm, sharp, green scents remind me

But my Mother won’t let me
Grace the stone remains with a new top
I don’t know why
Is she afraid that I’ll be tampering with his memory
Or is she just being ornery?

We never grew pitcher plants
We grew cacti mainly
A few of which
(or their descendants)
I still have
That makes them forty years old

Tears, eh?
A heady mixture of the long ago and now
Or maybe a trip to Kew Gardens
As a child

The peacock and the peahen
Cross their own shadows
And I doubt if I’ll return
To this oasis in Birmingham
This oasis surviving in the middle of a muddle
This oasis in the desert of a modern life