Monday, 31 January 2011


maybe one day in the not-too-distant future
our descendents will look back
and recount a weird and wonderful story
of how we were persuaded to spend money we didn't have
on things we didn't need
to create impressions that wouldn't last
on people we didn't care about
or worse didn't care about us
while trashing the planet in the process

Sunday, 30 January 2011


A chain with a missing link
A page with a blot of ink
A poem with a vacant line
A couplet with a missing rhyme
There's a hole that can't be filled
An empty space on the windowsill
A trust that we can't rebuild
A hole that can't be filled


As wide as the sky
As bright as the sun
As cool as the breeze
As soft as the moon

As endless as time
As deep as the sea
As warm as a smile
As high as a peak

As sharp as a thorn
As fragrant as musk
As brave as the dawn
As enchanted as dusk

As burning as rage
As calm as a dove
As wise as the sage
As pure as love

Thursday, 27 January 2011


for the last several months
i have withheld my labour from the market
i have declined to pay war taxes
which finance mayhem in faraway countries
i have rejected the employ of remote and cold-hearted institutions
where cost trumps value every time
in short i have withdrawn from the fray
i have read
i have listened
i have reflected
i have meditated
i have been a family man
i have taught myself piano
i have written poetry and songs
i have disappointed messrs osborne n cameraman
for my activities have been of no economic value
i have therefore run my financial resources low
and made myself unpopular with wife and bank manager
i admit temporary defeat to keep the bailiffs from the door
but my protest is far from over

Friday, 21 January 2011


i've recently had the pleasure of discovering
a substantial online archive of the man's investigative journalism
what a pleasure it is to read his words
to listen to him speak
to watch his documentaries and interview
the difference between pilger's work and the mainstream
it could not be more stark
instead of hatred and contempt we find compassion
in place of arrogance we find humility
instead of confusion we find clarity
in place of a lack of joined-up thinking we find coherence
instead of ignorance we encounter deep wisdom
this australian truth-speaker should be a national treasure
that he stands on the margins speaks volumes for our democra$y

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Brick by brick
Stone by stone
Prayer on prayer
Hope on hope
Pier by pier
Arch by arch
From the plain
A cathedral rose

The people united by a common goal
A building buttressed by uncommon soul
Cathedral rise!
Cathedral rise!

Wall by wall
Bay by bay
Hour by hour
Day by day
Up and up
Towards the sky
Above the city
It soared so high

The faith in their labour rested on a keystone
The windows of stained glass their creators unknown
Cathedral rise!
Cathedral rise!

No one coerced
No one enslaved
No one unwilling
No one afraid
No one imprisoned
No one suppressed
All divinely inspired
To surpass their best

Brick by brick
Stone by stone
In a hundred years
A cathedral rose

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


it has developed into a kind of routine
we meet as usual just before noon
on neutral territory
in the railway station concourse of a yorkshire town
we exchange the usual banter
and pull out of the station
heading uncertainly uphill
to where we intuit the centre of town to be
the conversation struggles into gear
as we struggle uphill
our exchanges following the contours of the topography
the opening out of the public spaces
the respite of the landmarks
the twists and turns of the streets
we pause momentarily beside a grand fountain
in the middle of a civic square
we get lost up blind alleys
we go round in circles
we lose our bearings
we are like wandering hobos
we have no particular direction nor destination
we seek out no sights or visitor attractions
we simply follow our noses
the wind adds to our sense of dislocation
blowing us this way and that
more than once it whips my hat into the air
though thankfully the rain holds off the time being
occasionally we venture indoors out of the elements
lunch finds us ensconced in the blue moon cafe by the cathedral
an atmospheric veggie/vegan haunt
under carved white plaster arches bearing the high ceiling aloft
over our food we talk about ideas and theories
the books we have read
the documentaries we have seen
the ideas we have experimented with
after further perambulations
we duck inside a cafe
and finally stumble upon and through water stones
just before closing time
suddenly we find ourselves back in the station concourse
shaking hands and parting
until who knows when
(the summer?)
as we head our separate ways through the bustling evening throng


The storm clouds gather
The rain prepares to fall
A cold wind howls in the trees
It chills me to the bone

Darkness descends
Hope comes to an end
And as far as the eye can see
There are angry clouds glaring down
And as far as the eye can see
There is no light
There is no light

A world drained of feeling
Just a dull gun metal grey
Like a bleak winter landscape
All its colour stripped away

Fear descends to stifle protest
And as far as the eye can see
There are angry clouds glaring down on me
And as far as the eye can see
There is no light
There is no light

There's no conversation
Only a monotone
A voice that barks out instructions
Delivered through a megaphone

Silence descends to muffle dissent
And as far as the eye can see
There are angry clouds on the horizon
And as far as the eye can see
There'll be no light
There'll be no light

Sunday, 16 January 2011


it is eleven o'clock on a friday night
h and i have read a bedtime story from the shirley hughes anthology
and we have put the lights out
and done back scratches and foot tickles
when suddenly the telephone rings
mrs f, who's just got in, answers it
'who...? dave...? sue...? student...?'
groggily i grab the bedside receiver
to my dismay
i realize it is one of my refugee nurses
she is applying to do a nursing course at university
and yesterday i improvised a reference for her
handwritten on her application form
based on very little concrete knowledge
extolling her reliability and time management
midnight tonight is the application deadline
the problem is she wasn't allowed to submit a paper application today
it would have arrived too late
so she has to complete the form again online
which means she needs muggins to write the reference again
before she can confirm her application
i do my best to conceal my frustration and assure her i will help
best buddhist reassurances through gritted teeth
i drag myself out of bed, turn on the laptop and consult my ucas massage
i follow the instructions and get it all sent off by 11:30
all will be ok - torch wood!

whatever happened to progress?
to the idea that life would get easier and better?
all technology seems to do is speed everything up
raise expectations
place new demands
erode the barriers between public and private
i'm not blaming my student
she was only acting on advice
but it comes to a pretty pass when a man can't get to bed
at eleven o'clock on a friday night without interruption...

ps: for teschnological reasons unknown
she didn't get the application in on time

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


You must learn how to obey
You must do as you are told
You must follow my instructions
And submit to my control

Hide your emotions beneath a layer of chrome
Lock up your pain inside a heart as cold as stone
And be my robot

I will teach you how to think
I will show you what to do
I will programme your desires
I will watch your every move

Process my data with your rapid memory
Store my commands safely inside my circuitry

And be my robot
My binary friend
Be my robot
A slave to my ends

You'll be a hard-wired machine
A technological dream
It's all within your grasp
If you'll be my robot

I will help you pass the tests
I will get you better grades
I will praise you if you pass
I will curse you if you fail

I will protect you against a viral attack
Install a firewall that no villain can hack
If you'll be my robot


my morning train dash to aston
finds me among the metro readers
in the absence of any superior reading material
or other interesting activity
most of my fellow commuters turn to this freebie
which is picked up from the stand
briefly perused
then abruptly discarded
usually left folded in two on a seat for another passenger
or for the mythical cleaners to bin
the metroland readership is fodder for an endless parade of ads
inducing its audence to fulfil their duties
as consumers of luxury goods, hi-tech services and processed food
it's all there
the competing broadband and mobile packages
the sporty cars
the souped-up laptop computers
the "free" 40-inch toshiba lcd hd tv(!)
the cut-price airline tickets
the new hollywood film release
the online gambling sites
the breakfast cereals
the bottled water
and the asda "fridge-fillers"(?!)...
interspersed among the ads
are bite-sized chunks of syndicated snooze
dumbed down by the metrohacks
typical headlice:
"america united in grief" (over gabrielle giffords)
"growth threat to recovery" (nothing matters more than economic growth)
"tweet fa!" (footballers discovered sending rude massages on twitter)
such is the meagre daily diet in metroland

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


for the second year running
a card slips through or letterbox
a card that's not addressed to us
'christmas blessings' it bestows on the front in gold letters
above a depiction of the adoration of christ
and a quotation from luke 2:7
"and she brought forth her firstborn son
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes
and laid him in a manger
because there was no room for them in the inn"
inside a printed message
courtesy of the copywriters of hallmark cards
the only personal element is 'from ruby and russell' handwritten at the bottom
it reminds me of the cards i used to receive from my nan
at birthdays or christmas
even when i had travelled to the other side of the world:
'To Dave...Lots of love from Nan'
this envelope is addressed to 'barbara'
that's old mrs j
our landlord's mother
who used to live here until she passed away a couple of years ago
ruby and russel unfortunately remain unaware of this fact
although they are presumably neighbours
as the envelope is hand posted
it makes me think of the stories you here
about some old person or other
without friends or relatives
who dies one day
and is only found a year later
by the electricity meter man
who notices a rotten smell wafting through the letterbox
i consider how many of our immediate neighbours i can name
i'm not doing so badly on this side of the road
there's catherine, andy, james and emma at number 23
the chinese neighbours next door at number 25
edwin and ella the other side at number 29
then the suttons just round the corner in corvedale
i also know a few other people who live a bit further down the road
the amrits who have been there for donkey's years
since i was a kid
a couple of families with children from h's old school
we've also met the people in corvedale whose gardens back on to ours
but across the road i draw a complete blank
although our houses exchange extended gazes
we're lucky if we get a brief glance from these neighbours
let alone a conversation
this is despite the fact that one family has two young kids
i get the feeling that we must have done something to irritate them
although i'm not sure what
a car alarm going off in the middle of the night?
just once i picked up an empty plastic wrapper fluttering in the breeze
addressed to a mrs preston at the house number directly opposite
but i can't verify the name
good fences make good neighbours so they say