Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New James Bond

As a massive fan[1] of James Bond[2], in 2016 I will be really looking forward to discovering who the next James Bond is going to be[3].

With that in mind, here is my list of candidates for the role:

1 Jason Statham. England’s finest actor[4] since Lord Olivier.

2 Eddie Izzard, England’s finest transvestite since the Widow Twankie.

3 Hermione Granger[5], England’s finest snotty little brat.

4 Jeremy Corbyn[6], England’s finest leader of the Labour Party who’s going to be out of a job soon.

5 England’s finest up and coming actor who can say that his ‘interpretation of Bond will be far more gritty, realistic and in keeping with Fleming’s original character.’[7]

[1] If by ‘massive fan’ here we mean ‘someone who couldn’t care less about, and who hasn’t seen the films of...’
[2] Forward-slash Peregrine Carruthers.
[3] Six months after everyone else.
[4] If by ‘actor’ here we mean ‘a man who can beat the shit out of everyone in the room, even if they are armed with machine-guns, he is armed only with arms, and they outnumber him at least eight-to-one.’
[5] If by ‘Hermione Granger’ here we mean ‘Emma Watson’.
[6] Who has been very quiet since the heady days of ‘Steptoe’.
[7] If by ‘character’ here we mean ‘embarrassing anachronism’.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Desert Island Statistics – a New Game for the Mammonfest

Here’s a new Christmas game for people who have grown bored of charades, i.e. pretending that you have a perfect family life: Desert Island Statistics!

The rules are simple.

1 Click on the Desert Island Discs Website:
2 Type in the name of an artist or song.
3 Be amazed at how few/many people have chosen your favourite-

The game ends when one person takes umbrage over some sneery remark about ‘lowest common denominators’ as they learn, for example, that 11 people chose ‘Imagine’ compared to only 1 person, Sir Bradley Wiggins, choosing ‘The Queen is Dead’ (thus ‘proving’ that Sir BW is at least 11 times cooler than any given ‘Imagine’ drone).

Peace and calm can be restored by collectively laughing at the number of people who chose to listen ‘Dancing Queen’ for the rest of their lives, instead of, say, an actual song (although this could cause more disharmony than the film ‘Mama Mia’ in some households).

Monday, 21 December 2015

Father Christmas is Real

My sons were always totally dismissive
of sitting down to write a yuletide missive,
addressed to some red-coated, bearded fraud,
who still delivered presents when ignored.
They thus arrived at this robust conclusion:
belief in Father Christmas was delusion.
   And so, each year, with silent steps, I’d creep,
and place on beds of children not asleep,
those bulging stockings full of Christmas tat,
then make large disturbance. What a prat.
And as they lay awake inside their beds,
this thought went running through their little heads:
this Father Christmas chap was just their Dad,
a role at which he was uniquely bad.
   But now they’re old enough to learn this fact:
the clumsy Father Christmas was an act.
Throughout their growing up I did conceal
the fact that Father Christmas is quite real,
but wouldn’t visit here to fill one stocking,
because their bad behaviour was so shocking.
   This truth may come to them as some surprise
and make them less world-weary and more wise.
I know they’ll probably find it quite unnerving
to learn they were completely undeserving
of all that jolly childish festive stuff,
and, knowing them, they’ll storm off in a huff.

(Christmas 2008)


bright butterfly flaps
its eco-Armageddon
wings and mankind ends

(See: for an explanation; well, I say 'explanation...')

The Campaign to Stamp out Butterflies

On Radio 4 last week, we heard a representative from the Society of Stuff to do with Butterflies explain how some of Britain’s butterflies are in decline. Now, I don’t know a great deal about butterflies but I do know that with the mere flap of a wing, they can precipitate a hurricane off the coast of Florida, a bush fire in Australia, or the melting of the Martian ice-caps. Clearly these meteorological bruisers are more responsible for climate change than anyone would care to admit. 

However, the only mention of butterflies in Paris was from David Cameron (of all people, eh?), who gets butterflies every time he sits next to the Danish PM, and she wasn’t even there (probably). But was there any mention the butterflies in the Paris Treaty? No.

Apparently they were too busy eating mango fingers. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Paris Bullshit Bullshit Climate


Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

President Bullshit of Bullshit, "Bullshit! Bullshit bullshit bullshit. And next week, we're going to reconvene in order to sort out FIFA, bullshit bullshit."

Prime Minister Canute added, “Previously all completely bollocks bollocks bollocks. Bullshit a brave and bold new direction.”


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Intelligence Quotients

Low Haiku

He asked me what my
haiku  was. ‘A poem,’ I
said, ’but it’s not mine.’

Slightly Above Average Haiku

I asked him what his
haiku was about. ‘About
a hundred and ten.’

High Haiku

‘I say Haiku and
you say I.Q. ‘ Etc., etc. ‘Let’s
call the whole thing off.’


Why, oh why, oh why, oh why,
   oh why, oh why, oh
why, oh why, oh why, oh why?

Deductive thinking a la Cameron

Everyone who objects to the proposed war in Syria is a terrorist sympathiser
All pacifists are against the proposed war in Syria
All pacifists are terrorist sympathisers

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

On your Marx...

John Lennon, who wore glasses and was therefore clever, once said that he had been an ‘instinctive socialist’ in his youth. I know what he meant. During my adolescence, my own instincts led me to join CND, give up meat, be sympathetic to feminism, and wear a Friends of the Earth t-shirt. As I was too busy learning the guitar solos from ‘Sultans of Swing’, I never got round to reading any of the literature. I still haven’t[1].

So, a few years ago when my aunt explained to my oldest son that I had been a Marxist in my youth, I was quite surprised[2]. I’d never been moved to read anything by Marx[3], mainly for his lack of guitar solos but also because of Communism, which I instinctively felt was a bad idea. I suppose my aunt had looked at my list of right-on credentials and concluded that I must have been a Marxist.

This revelation passed without comment from said son, who has a philosophy degree, has also read The Communist Manifesto[4] and knows better than to take his father too seriously, but it did make me wonder about any future conversations between my aunt and my brother’s children. My brother voted Tory in 1987, viewed my meat-free-peacenik-treat-women-as-equals-etc with disdain, and landed a job in London which had absolutely nothing to do with altruism and everything to do with earning a lot of money, and I fear that she thus may have jumped to another conclusion and will explain to my nephews that their father was a Nazi in his youth.

There was going to have been a point to this piece of scribbling, but I got too far away from it, so will leave it for another day. As compensation for wasting your time here's a new definition of Marxist for you, based on my own experiences:

Marxist, noun: sanctimonious dunderhead, usually ignorant [esp. of own status].

[1] Much.
[2] I didn’t say anything, though, as I’m instinctively a deluded peacenik and I hate conflict.
[3] The truth is that the closest I ever came to Marx was Marks and Sparks (or Mencers and Spencers as I prefer to call them).
[4] The closest I ever got was Animal Farm.

Monday, 23 November 2015


It is the battle of Waterloo, and Major Peregrine Carruthers is talking to his batman,
Private Humphreys. They are waiting for Blucher’s army to arrive.

‘I say, Sgt. Humphreys: what’s that smell?’
‘I believe it’s more of a whiff than a smell, sir.’
‘Yes, but what is it?’
 ‘It’s grapeshot, sir.’
‘A whiff of grapeshot, eh? Is that good or bad?’
‘On the whole, it’s not that good, sir.’
‘Not that good? How so?’
‘Well, it’s a bag full of metal balls fired from a cannon; the bag explodes all over the enemy, killing them.’
‘Nonsense, boy! You can’t get killed by a canvas bag!’
‘I believe it’s the metal balls which do the killing, sir.’
‘That would certainly make more sense.’
‘Indeed, sir.’
‘Well, we’d better be leaving then, hadn’t we?’
‘Really, sir? Shouldn’t we stay and fight?’
‘You may be a brave and fearless warrior, Humphreys, but that’s no reason for me to hang about getting killed. Look around you. There are thousands of soldiers. I won’t be missed.’
‘But you can’t just run away at the first whiff of grapeshot!’

John Humphreys on R4 this morning complained that the British-trained Iraqi Army ‘ran away at the first whiff of grapeshot.’ His interviewee, rather than saying, ‘Well, wouldn’t you?’ just carried on blah-ing (as is usually the case on Today, where the rules state that the interviewers must not listen to the answers of the interviewees and the interviewees must not answer the questions). He is, to coin a phrase, ‘Coward-shaming’ the Iraqi soldiers. What he meant to say was this: ‘at the first sign of the murderous psychopaths of ISIS, armed with Kalashnikovs and beheading swords, and drooling at the thought of filling more mass graves,  the Iraqi soldiers deserted.’ 

It is surely the pinnacle of crassness to call ISIS a ‘whiff of grapeshot’ and it left me wondering if Mr H would have stood his ground in the face of such... whiffs. 

Monday, 12 October 2015


This is a free advert for Morrissey! Buy his new novel, 'List of the Lost', and you'll encounter these alliterative, assonant, repetitious and rhyming delights - just like the title itself!

Page 1

 ‘...yet hidden behind the musculature that will fall in time at life’s finishing line.’

‘At such an avoidable call they shall be minus all...’

‘...calmly narcissistic ass-to-the-grass...’

Page 2

‘Imperishable, they train insatiably; companions in pleasure and passionate in sentiments, they are the living picture of the desired physique and the voluntary affection amongst friends that survives time.’

‘...yet here was a foursome to whom no outward event could dent flesh or expression.’

Page 3

‘...the erotic reality of the deltoid deities who have no inhibitions in bodies fully occupied and enjoyed.’

‘Heatedly, the four gather daily, minus boos and taboos...’

Page 4

‘Electrons from me need electrons from you in order to become electrons.’

‘Our four favoured athletes have the task of relaying in relay and can therefore knock aside bothersome border boundaries...’

Page 5

‘Second by second the body is ponderable, ponderable, ponderable in any reflective surface.’

Page 6

‘...whose shaft of speed leaves sparks...’

‘In the heat and the heart of the moment...’

‘....Mr Rim’s glib jib he repeatedly mumbo jumbo’s his muttering mantra....’

‘Light rain taps their faces like uncommitted kisses...’

Page 7

‘ June approaches like a meteorite...’

‘Somewhere alone within the hole of the soul...’

‘...who very quickly found their way back before any serious habits and hooks took the last of their luck or led them knuckle to knuckle with the machete of justice.’

*Sorry that they only go to the end of page 7, but I had to gouge my eyes out for fear of reading further*

Monday, 24 August 2015

Left Behind

for AO

During a brief online exchange
with a friend and fellow poet
whose courage as a writer
far exceeds my own

I use one of the few weapons
at my disposal:
some smartarse knowledge of other poets
and the things they may have written

Paul Valéry once wrote I write,
poems are never finished
only abandoned

which opens up the possibility
for me to bring the conversation
down to my level
where I feel more comfortable

A quote I quip
which I thought worked better with ‘homework’
but, you know, twenty-plus years of teaching
can do that to a man

Which is one of the reasons why,
I now realise,
when his  extraordinary images

my daft playthings
will have been forgotten
like the silent laughter
of my long dead audiences   

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Tone Deaf Sonnet 1

I shake in his lives.
When can you see the life –
not short, nor long, nor eternal, but fair?
Summer’s gold is dimmed.
Men shall fade and you can brag all of this,
or rough the summer’s fair complexion.
Eyes shall breathe in.
Every so often your darling gives his untrimmed possession to eternal 
Compare that sometime date to time lines; to grow as a day buds.
Do temperate summer winds wander by this long shade of you?
Or shall you lease, and owe, and sometime lose?
May shines too hot and more, of course, from nature’s fair eye.
You are a lovely changing heaven.
And so, too, his death declines you.

The Lawnmower Party Manifesto (Unfinished due to lack of)

The Economy

‘Nobody really understands economics’

·         Taxes – We’ll double taxes for people who talk about cars and rugby;
·         Deficit – We’ll reduce the deficit by making it smaller (like this – deficit);
·         Debt – We’ll send the debt into outer space;
·         Banks – All bankers to be sacked and re-employed as food bank volunteers, while all food bank volunteers are to be re-employed as bankers – the poor will have a fight on their hands but at least the banking system will be the envy of no-one.


‘Education is what happens when you’ve completed your education’

·         Close down all schools and convert them to giant playrooms;
·         We’ll abolish tuition fees and replace them with Cafe Nero vouchers;
·         All faith schools to be turned into assault courses;
·         All English universities to be moved to Scotland.


‘You’re alright so long as you have your health, and a few other things, obviously’

·         We’ll introduce a ban on the smoking ban;
·         We’ll hide the NHS underwater.

[This 'Manifesto' was supposed to go out before the Generally Depressing Election, but didn't, because it wasn't finished, due to reasons. I didn't realise that I had written it until I stumbled across it this morning. That happens when I peer into the folders of my computer.]

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Unimportance of Words

The question which I’d like to ask is, ‘Who
could trust you now?’ You vandalised the truth;
devalued honesty with weasel quotes
not worth the paper they were printed on.
O! foul new world that has such liars in it.
You thought that this was - what? - acceptable
behaviour from a man who preaches virtue?  
Here, take this gun and do the decent thing. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A Prediction

‘When I am old, I will wear purple!’
– A Warning, Jenny Joseph

When I am old, I will degenerate.
My joints will moan and bitch, and getting out
of bed will be a trial. All those years
of healthy eating, going to the pool,
and cycling to work will so have been
in vain. You can’t hold back the foetid tide
of geriatric decay. Sixty isn’t
the new forty, despite the narcissistic
delusions harboured by arse-brained journalists.
Mealtimes will be a bowl of pills: there won’t
be room for any real food. The day’s
greatest adventure? Making it as far as
the television room, where, slumped in front
of Netflix, sleep will interrupt the narratives.
The melancholy strains of afternoon
will kill my spirit further, when I see
that yet another day has somehow slipped my
grasp. I’ll wonder how I ever got so old
so fast. The night will bring its old regrets,
and sleep will be my practice for the grave.
Did someone call my name? No? Never mind.
When I am old, I will die...

Saturday, 25 July 2015

and not twigs.

It took him twelve round months
to spin a nest of tables out
of hazel wood, oak, and the spaces
between the weft and weave of time
inside his wordless wooden heart.

And on the night that it was finished,
a family – of mouse and bird
and cat – lay down inside the nest
of tables, making it their home;
as unexpected as that seems.

Your protestation – ‘Mouse? Bird? Cat!
What sort of family is that?’ –
fell flat upon my ears. And yet
you never questioned that a nest –
a nest! – might be made from tables,

Monday, 20 July 2015

?what was that you said about being absent-minded

absent-minded poet
?where mobile phone
pockets bag car
bedside table pile-up
rest of house nowhere
absent-minded poet
landline phone
seconds later
ring-tone erupts
in left hand
forgets why needed
in first place
hilarious facebook post
!87 people like this
tells story repeatedly
to anyone
with ears
months later
pulls same stunt

?what was that
you said
being absent-minded


when in middle of
patient poet
ought write poem
but morphine
thought flow
as wont to do
patient poet
forgets where
poem heading
instead starts
scribbling some shit:
kittens clouds
govt. should have
minister for lamp posts

Friday, 26 June 2015

Born Middle Aged

While most children spend most of their childhoods (the waking part)
   variously complaining that something isn’t fair, fighting with siblings,   
   shouting at parents, and generally being one way or another permanently
By contrast, I had a brother who was born middle-aged.
Now, no doubt some of you might start thinking, ‘Oh, I had a cousin like 
   that; we used to call him Captain Sensible,’
But I would have to stop you right there, for the level of juvenile midlife
   behaviour displayed by my brother was incomparable (as well as being   
   utterly incomprehensible).

For example, once, when I tried to goad him into a full-on dramatic and
   infantile retaliation,
He simply reminded me of his solicitor’s most recent legal communication.
‘The key phrase,’ he said, barely looking up from his Times crossword, 
   ‘starts with the word  restraining...
Now, enough of your foolish and puerile feigning,
Run along while I solve seven down:
Synonymous with younger brother, five letters – clown.’

For his sixth birthday, I rashly bought him a cute, cuddly teddy.
He just looked at me wearily, sighed, took his glasses off, rubbed his eyes, 
   and said, ‘What? That time of year already?’
The thing is, because he liked things to be ‘really straight’,
His transitional object to date
Had been a set square,
And I had naively thought that a teddy bear
Might be more suitable.
He unwrapped it and then sat there, his expression inscrutable.
‘I’m sure it’ll be very useful and it is just what I have always wanted,’
 He eventually said, before placing it in the wastepaper basket.

My brother’s middle-aged childhood seemed to be an endless
   merry-go-round of:
Advising father about his pension,
Taking inhibitors for his hypertension,
Talking to ‘young people’ with complete condescension,
Spending Saturday afternoons cleaning the car,
Being snooty about music with ‘the electric guitar’,
Writing letters to the local journal,
In the hectoring tones of a retired colonel,
Using words like ‘preposterous’ and ‘infernal’,
Insisting his milk be at least semi-skimmed,
Keeping the edges of the lawn neatly trimmed,
And his favourite treat:
Pruning the wisteria while listening to The Archers’ Omnibus Edition.

You’re probably expecting me to say, ‘And then came the Midlife Crisis,
   which turned out to be adolescence, after which he started hanging out 
   with other teens;
He even started experimenting: with the idea of wearing jeans.’
But my brother wasn’t cut out to be that unconventional,
He stayed middle-aged and continued to view us childish children as
   dim and one dimensional.

I think it must have been a really tough gig, being naturally self-disciplined,
   when all the other children were naturally self-naughty;
Adults always saying that you’re seven, going on forty;
And years later, when everyone’s forgotten,
Along comes a younger brother with some wholly misbegotten
Poem... reminding everyone.
I fully expect the last laugh to belong to my sensible sibling:
While we enjoy our ‘second childhood’, all senile and dribbling,
He’ll be gleefully running around, experiencing the new found freedoms...
   of his first childhood.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Poem-a-day Parts One-Five

'Day' 1: About a week ago, William nominated me for the poem-a-day challenge. I would like in turn to nominate Thomas Cromwell. My first poem is from the Unsentimental School of Verse and is called 'The Flower'. It's not a good poem, but then, why should it be? No bloody flower's ever written a poem about me. I may do these in quick succession. Perhaps I should have written another poem about cats.
The Flower
It’s not my normal subject matter,
the flower. Usually, I’d shy
away from trying to scratch some lines
on such a thing: it holds no interest
for me at all. A flower’s just
a flower. Don’t misunderstand me:
I like their colours in the spring
and summer months, but mainly, when
they’re there, I do not notice them;
I do not miss them when they’re gone.

'Day' 2: Well, I'm now on day 2 of the poem-a-day challenge. I would like to nominate Judas Iscariot as the next poet. In the meantime, here's a woefully short permutational prose poem called 'Leftover Soup'.
Leftover Soup
I remain indifferent to your indifference. It leads us all to a better understanding of tintinnabulations. Let me show you how to order pizza using carrier pigeon. The last to arrive always spoils the party.
I remain indifferent to your Empire-building obsession. It leads us all into not-quite-blind-but-certainly-short-sighted-alleys. Let me show you the shortcut which will get you even more lost. The last instruction made about as much sense as a dolphin speaking Polish* (*like normal dolphin, but without the vowel sounds, capiche?).
I remain indifferent to your political opinions. They lead us all to conclude conclusively about your lack of sanity. Let me show you with this diagram. The last figure, although it looks rabbit-shaped, is, in fact, a hare (a hare Krishna).

'Day' 3: I made it as far as day 3 of the poem-a-day challenge. I now nominate any passing clouds who wish to identify as poets. The third poem looks like a stylistic mash-up of the first two inadequate poems (mainly iambic tetrameter meets repetition), but that's just coincidental. It's called: 'I Ran Out of Words for the Final Stanza (But At Least I Kept the Meter Going)'.
I Ran Out of Words for the Final Stanza
(But At Least I Kept the Meter Going)
You said you had no need of friendship –
until those big boys came along,
then you were all, like, ‘Save me, save me!’
It really was pathetic.
You said that things are never real –
until they repossessed your house,
and you were all, like, ‘That’s my house!’
You’re such a hypocrite.
You said that arguments were futile –
until you won one (quite by chance)
and you were all, like, ‘Ar-Gu-MENT!’
That way you turn the charm on.
Blah BLAH Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH blah –
Blah BLAH Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH,
BLAH blah blah BLAH Blah BLAH Blah BLAH.
Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH blah

'Day' 4: The penultimate day of the poem-a-day challenge. I neck-nominate Ronald McDonald for the Poetry Ice Bucket Challenge. As for the poem, it's a thing called 'je suis dystopia' and does not do justice to the title. As for the way it just stops. I mean, really. Is this the best I can do?
je suis dystopia
has eight facebook friends
and their horses
mad frank
status update
armageddon it
four people like this
four horses like this
has created an event
7 billion people are going
ask dystopia
for a music recommendation

'Day' 5: Well, I made it: the poem-a-day challenge in less than an hour. For my final nomination, I would like to nominate Switzerland. For the last poem, and I use the term incorrectly, I have written a haiku. It may be the wrong season, but at least it mentions a season (in the title). Also, in Japanese, they don't have to have 17 syllables and are written on one line, so just what we think we're doing when we're writing haikus is anybody's bloody guess ('being lazy' is mine). It's called 'The First Haiku of Spring' and it goes like this:
The First Haiku of Spring
cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck-
oo, cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck-oo,
cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Becoming Spring

A ghostly breeze, bone-chilled from Winter’s shadow,
crawled past as I exhaled, and stole some warmth
from human breath, which gave it thoughts of Spring.
‘Ha! Spring does not exist for Winter’s friendless
breezes,’ the lifeless landscape sneered; but as
it spoke, that Winter’s shadow grew quite faint
and disappeared to nothing, while the Sun,
obscured behind a shapeless cloud for such
a time that I had quite forgotten her
existence, showed her face and blew a kiss
of heat towards that breeze which once was ghostly.
‘Remember this,’ she said, ‘in every breath
of human life, there lives a thing called Hope.’
The warm and friendly breeze was charged with joy,
and flew across the land, becoming Spring.


I ponder on the things in life I’ve lost,
And wonder at the quite preposterous cost
Of being such an absent-minded fool,
First losing ‘things’ then losing poise and cool.
The countless times I’ve groaned with tortured frown:
'I can’t remember where I put it down!'
Well, maybe had I kept my mind switched on,
I might still have some treasures long since gone.

A Waterman, that special pen
My mother sent with me to school,
That radio I bought aged ten,
That watch I left beside the pool.

That trilby hat, an affectation
Black and sleek, which once I wore
When trying out sophistication;
Just that once and never more,
(I took it to a Jazz Club, left
It on the hat-stand by the door).         

That old guitar, I lent in haste,
To someone whose address went stray,
Some brand new shoes and, what a waste,
That watch I lost on holiday.

That Bible bought for me by Dad,
When I was only eight-years-old,
Another watch (oh well, too bad);
Initialled cuff-links made of gold.

I’ve lost my favourite teddy bear,
I’ve mislaid clothes and socks galore,
I’ve lost the odd watch and, I swear,
Enough loose change to feed the poor.

In years to come, I’ll lose my mind,
And doubtless lose my hair as well,
I’ll lose my sight and end up blind;
Once dead, I’ll lose my way to Hell.

Most things we lose are rarely missed for long,
Forgotten like the words of some old song
Whose tune you half-remember, if at all;
Things come, then go, but where? We can’t recall.
When life is lost and nothing’s left to lose,
Not pens, not hats, not watches, bears or shoes,
We’ll sing that song at last and gather round
The souls of all the things, once lost, now found.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


You said you loved me more than cake –
   I doubted your intentions.

You said you longed for me the way
sandpaper longs for knuckles –
   I wondered what this meant.

You said you’d wait for me until
the stars themselves had vanished –
   I thought this quite unlikely.

You said that you had carved our names
across I won’t say where –
   I hoped you used a mirror.
I said I did not need the promise of the moon –
   you said I couldn’t have it ‘anyway’.

Friday, 1 May 2015


You yearn to pulverise a bag
of Walker’s cheese and onion crisps
with your bare fists, shouting, ‘Take that,
you bastard cheese and onion bastards.’

The first blow proves to be decisive:
the bag explodes at either end;
the crisp diaspora has spread
too far. This isn’t good enough.

You’d only got as far as ‘...that!!!.
You find the packing tape, repair
the bag, replace the crisps, then wind
the tape around the bag some more.

The second, third, fourth, and fifth blows
prove far more satisfactory.
The strengthened bag’s resilience
impresses you. You get a hammer.

Not wanting to destroy your kitchen,
you take your bag of crisps outside
and place them on a Black and Decker
Workmate, where they await destruction.

You hammer crisps and swear out loud
all afternoon till all that’s left
is your undoubted mastery
over a bag of Walker’s crisps.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

an extract from 'Own Up'

a list of some of the people who have never started wars, from 'Own Up', a performance poem which is part of the 'How Do Wars Start?' show...

street artists,
church wardens, `
an acrobatic troupe,
a chart-topping group,
a collection of bored and pissed off housewives,
pop singers,
cab drivers,

Nice Weather for Harbingers of Doom

You, with your bloodshot laugh and your whisky-marinated dreams. Always disappearing behind somebody else’s big idea. Don’t call us; we’ll call you (deal?).

You, with your menu of friends and your over-elaborate pariah-complex. Always appearing for the sake of appearances. Don’t look now; here comes a busful of uncertainty.

You, with your belligerent disco-shoes and your bag of Sunday Night Fever. Always turning up at the wrong place with the wrong assumptions. Don’t stop; the music will fall off a cliff.

You, with your squeaky new candelabra hat and your matching nightwear. Always embarrassing me. Don’t; really.

You, with your, ‘I’m staring into my Destiny’-face and your seventh favourite mirror. Always the odd one out in a roomful of well-drawn expressions. Don’t believe everything you see in portraits; apart from the frames. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bull v Comet

Perhaps it is apocryphal:
how Pope Callixtus (number three)
had Halley’s Comet excommunicated.

Poor Haley’s Comet: barred from taking
the sacraments (you know, like marriage)
and limiting its status in the Church.

One wonders how a comet is
supposed to change its attitude;
repent; and then return to full communion.

One wonders at the ignorance of Popes. 

Men in St Swithun's

23rd April - thank you Adrian et al

When Men in General played St Swithun’s Hall,
The audience joined in; they sang and laughed.
They’d come along to have a LitFest ball,
When Men in General played St Swithun’s Hall.
Although they were, in general, somewhat tall,
To mitigate this fault they were quite daft.
When Men in General played St Swithun’s Hall,
The audience both sang and clapped and laughed*.

(*yes, both)

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Multiple Choice Test

Unhappiness and misery are choices.
‘I do not choose to be unhappy, though,’
you claim. A seven-second silence passes,
allowing you to frame some yesterday
and hang it on this conversation’s wall.
‘You see,’ you say in triumph. ‘Look at that.’
I do not look; I know the form already.
Know what? Deep breath. Move on. Smile for the camera.
Remember to make a wish as you start to cut.

Nice Try

Nobody told us anything useful. Those with influence and a weak grasp of semantics endlessly fashioned statements from car-crash ideas. Meanwhile, everyone watched TV.

Nobody told us that things would get worse before they got even worse. Those with influence cultivated shrines to their own vanity. Meanwhile, everyone ate far, far too much.

Nobody told us how to write a poem. Those with influence promoted this ignorance. Meanwhile, everyone got off on their own brand of computer-generated violence.

Nobody told us where to find Jesus on a Tuesday afternoon. Those with influence secretly doubted the existence of Tuesdays. Meanwhile, everyone forgot the words to their favourite Easter Egg.

Nobody told us about the deliciousness of mediocre supermarket ready meals. Those with influence pretended to chop the vegetables. Meanwhile, everyone dined on horsemeat surprise.

Nobody told us how to erase a past. Those with influence placed gold coins on the eyelids of their deceased indiscretions. Meanwhile, everyone bypassed the super-injunction by storming Twitter with pitchforks and moral outrage.

Nobody told us that the Queen’s Garden Parties included a section for naturists. Those with influence left their invitations on the mantelpiece to impress the visitors. Meanwhile, everyone bought corgi-flavoured lollipops from the overpriced gifte shoppe.

Nobody told us because nobody knew. Those with influence wasted their entire lives in the futile pursuit of holding on to their influence. Meanwhile, everyone went back to watching TV.

dangers of staring at ceiling

horizontal poet
stares at ceiling
for inspiration
writes poem
staring at ceiling
by efforts of
World’s Most Demanding Job
horizontal poet
falls asleep
on chest
horizontal poet
rolls over
impales self
on pencil
horizontal poet
for pencilectomy
pen is mightier than sword
post-op horizontal poet
to unimpressed nurse
convalescing horizontal poet
stares at ceiling
for inspiration
writes poem
dangers of staring at ceiling

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Generation Gap

There will be rust and bricks for all.
All art will cease to matter.
Taking offence will be a virtue.
We’ll stand beside the smashed glass front
of England’s last remaining High Street shop
and smile like idiots whose senseless adoration of the ego
is captured in an endless rash of selfies.
Of course I’d love to see another photo of
you looking studied, you fascinating child.

There will be bones and phlegm for all.
The virtue of the stupid
will be the latest must-have fashion item.
Love will be redacted from all novels, plays and poems,
and nobody will notice.
We’ll paint this land with blood and concrete;
half-sing its  National Anthem,
with flecks of spit, sandpapered fists, and bloodshot eyes.
As eloquent as like, whatever.

There will be petty cash and canned laughter for all.
Monochrome will be the new black.
Lack of self-awareness will be the new black.
And while we wait,
the ironed-on expressions of the surgically-enhanced
will provide a message for the world,
for those who care to read it.
Our best intentions will mean nothing in the end.
That wasn’t it.