Friday, October 29, 2004

Let’s Write a Poem

That might be fun, mightn’t it? Here’s what you do. There are eight lines.
Line 1 - Write down something that happened this morning. But make it an out and out downright lie.
Line 2 – In the spirit of 1 – write a sentence with a sound in it.
Line 3 – Write a sentence with a colour in it.
Line 4 – Write a sentence with a number in it.
Line 5 – Write a sentence with a character from a book in it
Line 6 – Write a sentence with an animal in it.
Line 7 – Write a sentence with an emotion in it.
Line 8 – Write a sentence to do with the past, present or future.

You might want to go away, write it, cut and paste it. But write it quickly! Go for the first things that come into your head. But by all means do a little work on the finished result. The result may not be great poetry - but hey, it should be fun. Here’s my attempt.

This morning I looked in the mirror and saw a slice of toast peering over my shoulder.
This morning I heard the crack of thunder and the laugh of angels
This morning I picked up my pen and realised, for the first time, it was red
This morning I drank 5 coffees, ate 4 muffins, rang 3 friends, tried to connect to the internet twice and had one regret
This morning dawned yellow. The yellow turned to green. The green to blue. The blue to despair.
This morning a balrog landed on the roof. Got bored. Went away.
This morning Judy, our dog, told me a very good joke.
This morning I woke up with the Blues. That’s right. The whole of Birmingham Football Club were in bed with me.
This morning I saw the future. And there were more laughs in it than I had any right to expect.

Good luck.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The London Eye

I overheard a great conversation on the train today. As we crossed the river at Waterloo two young lads were talking. They were fourteen or fifteen I’d guess.
One said, “The London Eye. Have you been on that?”
“Yeah, well-disappointing. Rubbish.”
“Yeah. It was.”
“If it had gone faster or something...”
“Yeah. Well. It was rubbish.” (Pause) “Good view though.”
“Oh yeah. Great view.”

(In case you don't know - the London Eye is a gigantic Ferris-wheel-like structure erected on the banks of the Thames to Celebrate the Millennium. It goes very, very slowly and you get to see a wonderful panoramic view of London. I've never been on it due to my fear of heights.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I came across this book the other day. Here are some questions from it. I look forward with interest to your responses.

1. If you had to choose the best song ever composed, which would it be?

2. If you were renamed after someone from history, whose name would you want?

3. If you could change one thing about your city or town, what would you alter?

4. If you could arrange for any two singers to record a duet together which two would you pick, and what song would you have them sing?

5. If you could make a film from any book never produced as a film, what book would you pick?

From If (Questions for the Game of Life)
by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell.

Click here to buy the book or for more info

Where You Are

Unexpectedly I find you
In the folds
Of a document
Antique and cold.
In the smell of playing cards.
In a memory.
As I hit the water
Sliding down the slippery enamel of the new bath.
(Who knows what film I was in)
The laughter of your workmates
The scrape of the trowel
Mixing sand and cement on the yard
In the flat cap you wore
Riding your old bicycle
In the winter’s early light
In the laugh and the smile we share
In postmarks and perforations
In the trails of postal history
Thick card boxes and stock books
In the railway lines I followed
Drawn on the beach
Leading me in circles
Sitting in the motorboat of sand
Waiting for the tide to come in

Monday, October 25, 2004


In my lexicon of life
A word was missing
Between lovage and low
I thought I had it printed
On my heart
But no
One small earthquake
And it fluttered free
A bird
I thought it was secure
But it slipped through my ribcage
And escaped

That in my lexicon of life
A word was missing
But then you found it for me
And edited the errant page

Twelve Things To Do With

Posted by Hello

From Yelling Pages
by Michael Leigh and Roger Stevens

Friday, October 22, 2004

Pleasant Sounds

Posted by Hello

by Michael Leigh and Roger Stevens

The rustling of leaves when you walk in the cupboard
Turning the key to be met by a snail
Crows in the conglomeration of pink blobs
The crackling of logs at the picnic by moonlight
The school bell at three thirty
The crash of the ocean
The humming of knees as you stroll through the museum
The thwack of the cricket ball as the crowd starts jeering
The silence of blotting paper
Just beyond Bletchley


The sky is darker by the second
The air thick and threatening
The heat of the last few days
And everybody says
The lawn needs some rain

Room two eleven
Has been prepared for the patient
Four vases of flowers
A fan to push the air around

The room grows darker still
A sorrowful magpie darts past the window
Distant flashes of electric blue
As lilacs and oak trees shiver
Readying themselves for the strike
Strolling nurses in the road glance anxiously up
I eye the scaffolding outside warily
Metal mischief stacked up against the building
And I wonder
As the storm rumbles in from the sea
I wonder
As I wait
As I gaze at the empty bed
I wonder
And I say a prayer
As you lie in the operating theatre
And I wonder
Are birds scared of thunder?

More Railway Fun

That was pretty tiring, I have to say. Ten school visits in three weeks and I have a cold and a sore throat. But a whole week off to write. First priority the children’s story – so close to finished. Then give some more thought to the Mighty Molecules project – which I think I might change significantly. Or even abandon.

A couple of interesting(ish) train stories. First – coming back from Shrewsbury on Virgin Trains (which I have to say are very impressive – especially after the totally crap South Eastern trains) – the announcer gave us very good information about the openings and closings of the Virgin Shop. I particularly liked – We will be closed for the last fifteen minutes of the journey – but this is only for stocktaking.
So – that’s good then. I'm pleased that was the reason.

The second on the way home from London’s Charing Cross. The train is about to depart. Next stop is usually London Bridge. But not this time.

Tannoy: (After announcing all the stops) We do not stop at London Bridge.

(A couple of minutes pass)

Tannoy: This train is fast to Sevenoaks. Passengers please be aware that we do not stop at London Bridge.

(A couple more minutes tick by. The train is very crowded. The train starts.)

Tannoy: We do not stop at London Bridge. This train is fast to Sevenoaks. When we go through London Bridge – do not open the doors.

We all look at one another. Someone says, So, this train doesn’t stop at London Bridge then.
That’s a shame, I say. Maybe I’ll jump out there anyway.

Tannoy: We are approaching London Bridge. The train doesn’t stop here. Do not open the doors.

We all have a little chuckle.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Travelling Poet

Off on my travels again over the next few days including a visit to Shrewsbury. This means no time to blog. Normal service will hopefully be resumed on Thursday, when I'll be able to visit lots of blogs again, say hello and add my two penn'orth.

Next up here - some more of my own poems, I think. Watch this space.

Meanwhile - feel free to add to the Bukowski debate. (See below) I think I might put Roger McGough up as a contender. Can be very funny. Does have a serious side. A big influence of mine.



Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bukowski Blog

Bukowski has cropped up in several blog conversations over the last few weeks.
Having given all my books by him away I treated myself to some new poems. They arrived from amazon last week. Along with a sound effects CD for the Mighty Molecules project – but that’s another story.
For more info click on
The Last Night of the Earth Poems
by Charles Bukowski

the eagle of the heart
Charles Bukowski

what will they be writing about 2,000 years from
if they are

I drink cabernet sauvignon while
listening to
Bach: it’s
most curious: this
continuing death
continuing life

I look at this hand
holding a cigarette
I feel as if
I have been here

troops with bayonets
the town below.
my dog, Tony, smiles at

it is well
to feel good
for no reason;
with a limited
choice to
or with a little love,
not to buckle to
faith, brother, not in the
but in
don’t ask.

I tell you
such fine
in the

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Frog in the Blog Jumps Mainly off the Log

The poem, Silence, I put on Desiderata’s blog a while back. I offer it to you now, Jill being particularly in my thoughts at this moment, as her plane wends its way home, high above the planet.

Three schools done this week – two to go. Tomorrow it’s afternoon only and a performance of Danny Chaucer. Friday a local school. So the three 5.30 starts are done with. Tomorrow I don’t have to get up before dawn. (Hurrah!!!)

(Okay, okay – there probably is a joke there somewhere.)

Today's school was at Morden - which can be found at the end of London Underground's Northern Line. I particularly enjoyed the moment when the train announcer said -
This station is Oval.

It wasn't, of course, it was rectangular, like all the others.

Meanwhile – if anyone would like to post any off-topic comments, questions or suggestions – be my guest. Here’s your chance. Just talk amongst yourselves…


I am writing these words
As she sleeps
Beneath the tulip duvet
That we bought in Ikea

There is silence
Troubled only by the quirky whirlpool
Of my stomach
The dog’s raspy breath
The singing in my inner ear
And my pen, making the softest scratching
As its tip lays ink across this page

The distant rumble
of a late-night car
The hoot of an owl
And the bark of a fox

Beneath the tulip duvet
That we bought in Ikea
She grunts
In a dream

In her dream
She is lifting a heavy weight.
A box of ball bearings, maybe
A load-bearing wall
A bag of slights.
A bag of disappointments
Some guilt-edged investments,

But the task is soon accomplished
And the silences resumes
Where it left off
In the room where we sleep
Beneath the tulip duvet
That we bought in Ikea

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Paradise Mislaid

Jill is still in the States. Having a great time. She visited the Texas State Fair yesterday. Yeeehaw! Me? I’m feeling a bit lonely. A whole week of school visits coming up. I’ll be feeling cream-crackered by Friday. Tomorrow I’m at a secondary school. I’ll mainly be reading from my verse-novel for teenagers – The Journal of Danny Chaucer (Poet)

What it is to be a teenager! Here’s a sample poem –

Paradise Mislaid

As humankind destroys the planet
My thoughts turn frequently to Janet

As rainforests are stripped and land laid bare
I think of Janet in her underwear

As acid rain falls from the sky above
I think of me and Janet making love

What chance has humankind of saving this fair planet?
About the same as I have ever making it with Janet

(Actually her name isn't Janet
but Jenny doesn't rhyme with planet)

For more info or to purchase book click here!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Birthday Presents

George Harrison. The Dark Horse Years. 1976 – 1992.
This was a fabulous present. Six albums – including Live in Japan with Eric Clapton and a DVD of videos and interviews. Some excellent tracks that I missed first time around. Here comes the Moon is particularly splendid. And very Beatle-y. And some excellent videos – in particular Crackerbox Palace and This Song.
They underlined something I’d forgotten. George was a deeply spiritual person. But also
a lot of fun. Those two videos in particular really made me smile.

I had a book, too, which I should maybe mention. This is also a lot of fun (honest!) – although in a slightly different way.

The Humor of Kierkegaard

(Click on link for more info!) As the cover says... "The selections, which made me laugh, illustrate sardonically the contradictions of existence."

Try it!!!

Blue Monk

As always we played late into the night
Exploring beats and rhythms
Cadences and silences
Harmonies and melodies
Running with the ball

The punters had long gone
A drunk slept in the corner
We hadn’t the heart to turf him out
Body draped across table
Sticky with drying beer

I’m off for an early night,
Said Del, the proprietor -
If you can call two-thirty early -
Lock up after
Set the alarm

We played on
Did we not have homes to go to?
Immersed in the rhythms of our own lives
Weaving strands of melody
Untangling knots

The exit door banged open
A chill breeze blew through
Scattering cigarette ends and beer mats
Rattling glasses and optics
Easing the heavy fog of stale cigarette smoke to one side

We were playing a slow song
Blue Monk
Idly following the familiar bluesy path
Sliding around the bass run and the drum pulse
Darting between the cluttered chords

She walked in as though it were daylight
As though she owned the place
And walked across to the sleeping drunk
She sat beside him
Like a mother’s shadow

We reprised the theme.
Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah di
A last statement. A resolution.
A fond farewell to the happy minutes
We’d spent in Monk’s company.

Then, on the final drum beat
As the last few wisps of stale smoke dispersed
The man’s empty body slid from the table and hit the floor
And the woman faded
Like the low hanging note of the double bass

Monday, October 04, 2004

Another Train Event

We have new trains in the South East. They are gradually replacing the trains that have been running since the 1950s. So I was sitting in the new train and we stopped at a station but the doors wouldn’t open. (These are new-fangled electric doors). The guard came along and started fiddling in a control box, situated above one of the doors. Eventually the door opened and people got on. The doors closed and we carried on with our journey.
“Does that often happen?” I asked the guard.
“Yes," he said. “This train is controlled by a computer. And the computer says when the doors will open. The worst thing is when we have to add carriages to the train. Then the computer has to be rebooted.”

The mind boggles.

Neither is the Horse

I’m reading a lot of poetry at the moment.
Here’s some very entertaining verse from a book I bought at the National Theatre bookshop.
It’s called Neither is the Horse and other poems
By Rory Motion
(Huddersfield’s legendary poet laureate)


And so I said to the assistant
“Do you sell crucifixes?”
And she said, “Yes…
Do you want a plain one
Or one with a little man on?”

Well, it made me laugh. More info here…
Neither is the Horse

Think globally, act locally
Think cosmically, act stupidly
- Rory Motion

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Saturday Morning Quiz

Here are a few questions from last week's Guardian quiz. See how you get on.

1 Which school was founded by Walter Gropius?

2 What links the following: George W. Bush; Margaret Thatcher; Shakespeare; Cleopatra

3 Why are jockeys so well adjusted?

4 Identify these three characters whose names differ only in the letters shown.

* I N * * * * *

* P * * * * *

* I S E N *****

5 Who is Tenzin Gyatso?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Here Comes Crazy October

Friday, and the weekend approaches. Not to mention the month of October.
October is going to be frenetic. School visits start in earnest. Three next week, five the following week, and three the week after that. And Jill is off to the States on business for a week and a bit.
She leaves early Tuesday morning, which is, at it happens, my birthday. I’m hoping for the George Harrison Dark Horse boxed set. I’ve a couple of the albums on vinyl but none on CD. I do have the George Harrison tribute that Eric Clapton put together on DVD. Magic!
Then there’s band rehearsal on Mondays and the Creative Writing Class I run on Tuesdays.
Plus several writing deadlines. Today I was hoping to finish the children’s story that I’ve been working on all summer. But it’s still not quite there.
And what news of the Mighty Molecules project? My teenage “lead singer” tells me that he likes the songs but doesn’t think it sounds anything like the music that a teenage band would make. Not surprising really, considering my age. How would someone who’s knocking on 103 (104 next Tuesday) know what a teenage band sounds like? So I’m having a bit of a re-think. In fact, I may well start recording it all again. Hey ho.
But – the weekend first. Lots of relaxation is called for. Saturday morning quiz in bed, a stroll (brisk) in the country, Match of the Day in the evening. And Sunday – much the same. Just got back from a stroll now, in fact, on which we found a dead badger and a dead squirrel. Some distance apart I might add. Country life, eh?