Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Posture imposter
Yoga poser
Arch deceiver
Cat's back
Swan song
Wolf pack
Cobra sprung
Shed my skin
Skin my fur
On a wing
On a prayer

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Imaginings of the past

We had been walking for seven sunrises when the walled city at last came into view, stretched out expansively below us on the edge of the dusty plain. It was an impressive sight, the setting sun casting long shadows in the sand. We laid down our burdens, tethered our beasts, and set up camp for the night. Lembo and I took some gourds down to the waterfall to collect fresh water. We knelt beside the stream and splashed our faces with the cool water. We took off our threadbare leather sandals and sat for a while in the gathering twilight, bathing our feet in the shallows and soaking the dirt out of our cracked blistered skin. Our shoulders ached from the heavy load we had carried many a league from the wintering grounds. It had been a long, exhausting, dangerous journey, and its end had come none too soon.

Back at the camp, meat was already roasting on a spit and the group’s spirits were higher than they had been for some time. Hannibal sat alone by the hearth, apart from the other travellers, his tanned serious face illuminated by the firelight. He stroked his beard, seemingly lost in thought, as he stared into the flames. ‘There’ll be rich pickings tomorrow,’ he murmured quietly.

A cry went up from the look-out behind us. Lembo and I and some of the women rushed to the top of the slight rise just in time to see a sea of tiny lights sailing silently into the sky above the walled city like a swarm of fireflies. It was a breathtaking sight. ‘Paper lanterns,’ cried Uma, ‘the Moon Festival has begun!’

We rose at dawn, packed up the camp and headed for the walled city. As we approached the huge east gate, flanked on either side by tall turrets manned by archers, every one of us was fearful, terrified of being apprehended by the guards. All except for Hannibal, who appeared as cool and immovable as stone. In our scruffy robes, dirty and frayed from the journey, we looked more like mendicants than merchants. But at the gate Hannibal pressed something into the hand of one of the guards and we were waved through into the jostling crowds of the city.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Memories of the future

Centaur tapped lazily at a small white icon on the screen of the Cloud, lay back on his pillows and waited for the pharmaceuticals to take effect. He didn’t have to wait very long. Almost instantly, a rush of pure pleasure coursed powerfully through his blood stream and into his brain, a flood of ones and zeroes digitally simulating the effects of pure heroin. After the initial rush had abated, Centaur lay there in a dreamy daze, musing absent-mindedly on the safely mediated wonders of the Cloud. In the bad old days, he had heard it said, people used to spend large sums of cash on such pleasures, risking the perils of a contaminated needle, a criminal record and the untold horrors of addiction. But the Cloud rendered all of these inconveniences quaint relics of the past. Centaur drifted off into a relaxing haze.

When he woke several orbs later, he was feeling pleasantly aroused. He reached out for the Cloud on the bedside table and tapped again at the screen. Toggling idly through a series of avatars, he found the one he was looking for. Tonight he would summon Elektra. He had missed Elektra’s charms lately. Centaur dropped the Cloud on the bed, closed his eyes to the brightness of the room and found himself sitting in the garden of a Greek taverna. It was a sultry Mediterranean evening. Cicadas buzzed among the trees. Birds issued fluty calls. The air was heavy with the perfume of exotic flowers. The table was lit by a solitary lantern. Elektra was seated opposite him, wearing a long flowing dress of purple silk. Her honey-brown hair was tied up in a bunch above her head, emphasising her long, brown slender neck. Spiral-shaped earrings dangled from her lobes. Her almond eyes smiled sadly at him as her lips began to move. ‘How could you neglect me for so long, Centaur?’ She wore a fragrant scent, which teased his nostrils. The overall effect was so intoxicating he couldn’t take his eyes off her. At that moment waiters dressed as satyrs appeared from the darkness armed with plates of food: dolmades, hummus, and delicious flat breads. One waiter filled the couple’s silver goblets with blood red wine. ‘Never mind that. Let’s eat,’ Centaur murmured, taking a deep draft from his goblet and for the first time noticing the spangled stillness of the starlit sky. They ate in silence. The meal over, their stomachs full and their minds gently intoxicated by the wine, Centaur and Elektra strolled hand in hand down to the plunge pool beside the stream. Slipping off their clothes, they bathed gratefully in the clear waters. Elektra was an eager lover, taking him to heights of ecstasy that he could scarcely have imagined. Afterwards, they lay exhausted for some time on the bank of the stream, their bodies entwined, gazing up at the blinking stars. Centaur couldn’t remember falling asleep. It wasn’t until the Cloud’s insistent bleep roused him from his deep slumbers that he realised he was back in his room in Century Towers.

Friday, 28 June 2013


The Sense Filter

On the terrace outside, Griffon tuned up doggedly as the traffic sped by along the dual-carriageway. His recent acquisition of an electronic tuner barely seemed to make the process any less laborious. As he adjusted his capo and twiddled stubbornly uncooperative tuning pegs, navigating the murky microtonal waters between D sharp and E, his mind was on the gig ahead. As usual, he felt under-rehearsed and under-confident, worried about fluffing his words and muffing his chord changes. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and without a band behind him to bolster the arrangements, he often felt exposed. There was nowhere to hide when things went pear-shaped, which they frequently did. That said, experience had taught him what to expect from this venue. A third of the audience would spend most of the set chatting away to their friends. Another third would be mostly texting. Of the remaining audience members who at least gave the impression that they were listening, Griffon wondered how many were actually paying him their full attention. He consoled himself with the thought that whatever he sang and played, it would always be filtered through the senses of each listener and experienced uniquely. That was the great wonder of art, he mused absent-mindedly. It was as if each individual had his or her own personal frequency, just like a tuning fork. What resonated perfectly with one person left another completely unmoved. Griffon sometimes thought of his songs as a mirror held up to the world – or even the wider cosmos – reflecting back what it saw before it in words and music. What got reflected back was unpredictable. Sometimes it was beautiful and magical. Sometimes it was ugly and cynical. Sometimes it was hazy, kaleidoscopic or fragmented. Compounding this filtered reality, each member of the audience carried their own mirror, cracked, flawed and imperfect, which refracted and distorted the original image, often to such a degree that it was barely recognisable. That seemed an inescapable, but oddly reassuring reality.

‘Hey.’ Griffon glanced up and glimpsed Megan as she sashayed past him and disappeared into the gloom of the bar. The coolly polite response to Griffon’s support set would almost certainly be in stark contrast to that elicited by Megan. Megan was the one the crowd had come to see. When Megan sang, everyone suddenly sat up and listened - as if a magic spell had been cast upon them. Phones would be hastily put away. Conversations would abruptly tail off. Megan possessed the kind of charismatic stage presence that held the audience’s rapt attention. There was something about her voice that demanded to be heard. It wasn’t power per se, although she could certainly summon enough steel when she needed to. Neither was it pureness, even though her voice had a distinct fragile, crystalline quality. It wasn’t exactly a sweetness or a roughness or an earthiness. It was somehow all of these qualities at once, her voice modulating effortlessly between subtle emotional nuances. Megan’s voice melted hearts. It seemed to resonate with everyone’s different frequencies at once – as if she was able to set a myriad tuning forks vibrating simultaneously. As if she could bypass the sense filter and mainline straight into the bloodstream. Meanwhile, her fingers struck the piano keys with a sureness and deftness that Griffon could only dream of matching on his own instrument. Megan had the X factor in spades. And no matter what happened, she always managed to surf the waves that threatened to drown other performers. Griffon recalled an acapella set one night that had floored the audience after the bar’s keyboard had been inexplicably loaned out for the evening. A sore throat only added an alluring huskiness to her voice. And Megan had just the right putdown to subdue the occasional heckler: ‘Look at the tits on her.’ ‘Yeah, and they’re not the only tits in here tonight, mate!’

The bar was slowly filling up. It was time for Griffon to go on.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


it is our time in eden
three nights camping with hannah woo
on the banks of windermere
at the summit of a small hill in the woods
we pitch our tent among the bluebells
the air is thick with the scent of wild garlic
h is anxious to explore and i let her loose
our night is punctuated by the hoots of owls
bats flit silently among the treetops
we are woken early by jackdaws and songbirds
while i make coffee and cook porridge
h queues for freshly baked croissants at the shop
later we go for a barefoot walk by the lake
h makes a long daisy chain
and relishes ascending an outdoor climbing wall
at near sawrey we find a congenial pub
serving mouth-watering pints of brodey's prime
and drive home through an enchanted dusk beside esthwaite water
the next day we are out on the lake in a canoe
h finds it difficult to reach the water with her paddle
and i do most of the work
but she acquits herself well
we hike up from grasmere village to easedale tarn
in the footsteps of wordsworth and coleridge
there is great rock scrambling to be had above the tumbling waterfalls
back on terra firma we dine at the best pub yet
the kings arms in hawkshead
where pints of lancaster red accompany an apricot nut roast admirably
our final day fins us out on windermere again
in bright sunshine

this time we share a kayak and our fortunes are reversed
h can paddle much more easily
but the low seating position does nothing for my creaking joints
and the headwind makes it tough going
a few moments of frustration flare
as h tires and i need a breather
oars are banged meaningfully against the hull of the kayak
i am obviously slacking
but we eventually make it back to port
with nothing more serious than damp bottoms
a postcard home to grandparents reads:
'i am being a wild child'

Friday, 24 May 2013


I hear the whistle of the wind
I feel a storm is blowing in
There's something brewing

I see the banks are going to burst
I fear the floods will do their worst
There's nothing doing

You curl up in a ball
You stumble and fall

Dry your eyes
Don't shed a tear
Hold me close
Hold me near
For here we stand
And here we fight
There's something brewing tonight

I know it's going to be so hard
I suppose I'm afraid of losing heart
Something's brewing

You cuff me with your paws
You cut me with your claws

Dry your eyes
Don't shed a tear
Hold me close
Hold me near
For together we stand
And together we fight
There's something brewing tonight

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


caressed like rosary beads
precious devices
borne heads down
relentlessly monitored and prioritised
dominant theme
the self
my needs

Monday, 6 May 2013


yesterday i complete the artwork
and burn the master of the new cd
it's always a satisfying feeling
to hold in my hand that first copy of the finished artifact
my best shot at beauty, personal expression and creativity
to transfer it from its cardboard sleeve to the hifi downstairs
to turn the speakers up nice and loud
and to finally hear the individual songs played in sequence
within the context of the whole album
to hear one track melt into the next
sometimes seamlessly and almost imperceptibly
sometimes in complete contrast to what went before
the whole experience feels like crossing the finishing line
at the end of a marathon
a strong sense of exhileration mixed with a slight tinge of slight regret
'if only i could have have nailed that vocal better'
'what a pity that arrangement didn't quite work out'
oddly the hifi system seems to pick up flaws
that my computer monitors and headphones don't
it's like an external critical ear
a magnifying glass that detects the flaw in the diamond
i have learned to live with this
my perfectionist streak has struggled to accept the concept of 'good enough'
but i'm getting there
another oddity of the recording process
is that rerecording vocals doesn't generally work
songs can go through almost complete remakes in terms of arrangements
but a vocal seems to be a vocal
i've discovered that there are just some songs that i can sing
and others that i can't
at least with my raw untrained musical voice
it's something to do with the register and tessitura of the melody
and the necessary balance of power and delicacy
try too hard and it sounds raucous (not quite the word i'm searching for) or strained
hold back too much and it sounds wimpy and half-hearted
but there's also the mysterious factor of texture or timbre(?) that i can't pin down
a kind of difficult-to-fathom warmth or tone
some songs i can nail on the first take
'relationship' and 'remnants' fall into that category
others i'll never really be happy with
in a band situation i guess they'd fall to someone else to sing
if i listen back to previous albums
the vocals are always the number one weakness
although they have incrementally improved over the years
(aided by a developing awareness of production values
reverb, equalisation, compression and the like)
the first few albums are fatally compromised in this respect
(also by the rather synthetic drum sounds that i used to use)
the timescale of this album is interesting
ten years ago when i was learning the ropes
'mustard seed' took two years to record
in complete contrast i've dashed this one off in just a couple of months
a real sprint
and hot on the heels of 'coming home'
which itself took only around five months to complete
this record is a curious hybrid of five brand new songs
plus half a dozen left over from last year
and one that was kind of hanging around unloved
in a notebook from three summers ago
and needed some work to bring it up to scratch
although it seemed very prescient
as for the album title
right until the very last minute
i was going to call it 'ideology'
(partly in homage to ball and dagger's insightful book)
when suddenly as i was designing the sleeve
the obvious hit me in the face
'the sleep of reason'
what a lovely ambiguous title
courtesy of senor goya of course!

Sunday, 5 May 2013


'i can play four musical instruments'
she announces proudly to the circle of children
(she's forgetting the choir)
she's been having lessons on violin and piano for a couple of years now
working her way through the grades
mostly classical stuff
a little popular and jazz
she's played in the school orchestra at the conservatoire
now she's learning the entertainer on piano
a mark of pianoship in my humble opinion
she's auditioning for the city's youth orchestra on violin
britten's young person's guide to the orchestra no less
the trombone is a new thing
she has weekly lessons at school with a few other kids
she wanted to play an instrument that made a loud noise
something that packed a punch
she seemed to pick up the mouth position almost straight away
she also has the requisite lung power to blast my ears
(and annoy the neighbours)
unlike the struggle with the piano and violin
no one has to ask her to do her trombone practice
within weeks she was improvising her way through a live performance
back at the conservatoire
i bought her a three quarter size classical guitar for her tenth birthday
i was confident that she would reward my investment
but this is going to be her dabble instrument
she asked me how i play my songs
i showed her a few chords to get her fingers moving
a basic right-hand strumming technique
a simple fingerpicking pattern
and she was away
she can sing and play yellow bird (high up in banana tree)
she likes picking out the augmented pattern of my song coalesce
which i find tricky to play myself
i am even showing her how to play back to the old house by the smiths
no pressure
no formal teacher
no weekly lessons
let her find her own way
explore her own avenues
just as i did at her age


Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
There’s a bug in the room
There’s a fly on the wall
At the flick of a switch
At the stroke of a key
Under the eye of the clock

Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
Beneath the buzz of the telegraph wire
Beside the fly on the wall
By a trick of the light
By a sleight of the hand
Like a man who is trying to see
With his head in the sand

In the eye of the storm
In the blaze of the sun
Without a ghost of a chance
Twenty billion to one
In the lap of the gods
On a wing and a prayer
On top of the world
In the depths of despair

Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
A fly on the wall
Beneath the buzz of the wire
By a cruel twist of fate
It’s never too late

Friday, 26 April 2013


working on a new song
the burning cliff
looking for a killer riff
one to give meister keith richards a run for his money
i begin by tinkering with one of my favourite bits of johnny marr
the opening to what difference does it make?
an A chord that shifts abruptly to C and then D
suddenly i find myself playing around with the paperback writer riff
(an all-time classic)
which never moves out of A but holds the attention like a magnet
finally i accidentally stumble upon a solution
instead of picking a seventh note a la paperback writer
i switch to a major seventh by raising the g a semitone to g#
not so obvious
kind of hidden
but oh so effective
this is much tougher to play
necessitating a deft repositioning of the fingers
midway through the pattern
it takes a bit of practice to get it right
never my strong point
but it grounds the song
and boy does it rock!
somehow this one little note takes the riff to another place
which also echoes the melody and chord structure of the song
but i shouldn't be surprised
for as mies van der rohe once said:
the beauty is in the detail

Thursday, 25 April 2013


elephant bird
giant ostrich
hunted to extinction
your aborted child
auctioned off to the highest bidder
lumbering mammal
you didn't move fast enough
lying by the roadside
black and white
and red all over
disease is spreading from farm to farm
and your children must pay the price
no matter what the scientists say

Sunday, 14 April 2013


Beneath the burning cliff
There’s a smouldering beach
Where ancient creatures are washed up on the shore
High above the sea
Lives an old alchemist
Who takes blank canvases and turns them into gold

Where Heaven meets Earth
Where time stands still
On the burning cliff
On the burning cliff

On top of the hill
Is an enchanted garden
Where a boy sits petrified afraid of growing up
Beneath the spreading boughs
A child rocks in a swing
Soon she will clamber up her stairway to the clouds

Comfort to the mind
Balm to the soul
On the burning cliff
On the burning cliff

Hestia cooks up a cauldron
Poseidon brews up a storm
Ptolemy clings to old certainties
Copernicus squints at the Sun

An orange sunset glows
On a shimmering sea
Unwelcome strangers are pelted with small stones
A revolving gaze
A two-headed tree
Giant oil jars overflow with wine

Where Heaven meets Earth
Where time stands still
Comfort to the mind
Balm to the soul
On the burning cliff
On the burning cliff

Sunday, 24 March 2013


day two and we quickly run into an engineering problem
the overnight frost has turned the texture of the snow from sticky to crumbly
swiftly the woodle improvises a solution
she fills a mould with snow then disappears inside
to fetch a large bowl of water to pour on top
i am full of admiration
the water diluted show is even stickier than before
slowly we add more layers to our structure
we specialise in our chosen roles
woodle is the blockmeister
fashioning ice blocks out of snow and water
i am the ice sculptor
stacking new blocks ever higher and filling in the cracks
our snow house is becoming so tall that it now resembles less an igloo
and more one of those patio chimineas
as woodle's energies diminish
i dig deep and drive the operation on
demanding the last couple of blocks that will crown the roof
finally all is complete and we collapse exhausted inside
we have built ourselves a snug snow cave



the first layer is the toughest
it takes ten and a half large blocks to complete the circumference
but each succeeding layer becomes easier as we slope inwards
the snow is perfect
plentiful and sticky and easily compactible into strong blocks
we take turns making and stacking blocks and filling in the gaps with mortar
totally engrossed in our work and proud of our achievements
as the light gradually fades
windows prove something of a challenge
we are over ambitious and the first lintel we construct collapses
we hit on a taller narrower design organically fashioned into a graceful arch
it occurs to me what an ideal building material snow is
for children to learn about construction and engineering
it is safe and mouldable and remouldable
it teaches the principles of compression and loadbearing
spanning and vaulting
even cantilevers can be built in
as night falls we are five or six courses up - about four feet
more snow forecast tonight
tomorrow a roof!

Saturday, 16 March 2013


the ides are come...
but not yet gone
it is around two o'clock in the afternoon
and i am starting to feel more than a little rough
my late lunch of carrot and coriander soup is producing mysterious hot flushes
outside i shiver in the chilly march air
by the time i arrive home from the factory
i am feeling weak and disorientated
by eight i am tucked up in bed
the night is full of strange nightmares
churning repetitive dissonant thoughts
then some time in the wee small hours come the runs
and the bottom quite literally falls out of my world
i am battered by waves of nausea
going to lie down again fends them away
but further dashes to the bathroom ensue
as my system flushes itself clean
beware the ides of march

Friday, 15 March 2013


She stands so tall with her head in the air
The girl in the fountain
She dances in the spray without any care
The girl in the fountain

She waits by the gates of the factory
I count down the hours till I'm going to be free
She waits for me
The girl in the fountain

She makes an immaculate study in bronze
The girl in the fountain
She breaks herself free of coventional bonds
The girl in the fountain

She teases all the boys with her airs and graces
She stands unmoved by their amorous gazes
She amazes
The girl in the fountain

Throw her a coin
Make her happy
Close your eyes
Make a wish
Time to wake up and smell the chocolate
Such an innocent pleasure

She stands so tall with her head in the air
The girl in the fountain
She dances in the spray without any care
The girl in the fountain

She waits by the gates of the factory
I count down the hours till I'm going to be free
She waits for me
The girl in the fountain

Thursday, 14 March 2013


tugging at the bonds and chains
of the past and the future
searching for the NOW
getting in touch
making contact
admiring the silhouettes of winter trees
the subtle control of birds in flight
the shifting shadows that hide from the low-angled sunlight
detecting the breath of wind upon my cheek
the blood pumping in my veins
the muscles straining in my body
the emotions swelling in my heart
the thoughts flowing through my febrile cerebral cortex

Monday, 11 March 2013


Winding through these sleepy hills
Don't know which way I'm facing
The mists descending thick and fast
Can't find my destination

Ideas and ideologies have fallen in my lap
Conflicting messages
Must take care to mind the gap

I need a compass in my head
I need a blanket on my bed

Saturday, 9 March 2013


I'm a hopeless romantic
I still believe in love
And even in these cruel times
I can't give up on love

Well I don't have much money
I'm not in property
But my heart is beating strong
It doesn't miss a beat

Teardrops fall
Duties call

Well I don't have a Smartphone
No fancy gadgetry
And a walk in the moonlight
Is my kind of poetry

Just a hopeless romantic
All alone in the world
Such a hopeless romantic
It feels so absurd

You can call me old-fashioned
You can call me naive
But you can't crush the spirit
That's what I believe

I'm a chancer
A romancer
Asking questions
Looking for answers
Oh - such a hopeless romantic!


it is the second occasion
on which i have tried to bend the local landscape to my will
earlier we have reached the banks of the muddy avon
where a towpath snakes away promisingly into the distance
i ask a pair of old men out for a morning walk
if we can follow the river's course to clifton
instead they point us through queen's square and up past the cathedral
where we stop at a music shop
i enquire about their range of guitars
and try out a fender telecaster made in mexico
funny how i can never think of anything to play in these places
following our noses
we ascend the steep flank of brandon hill below the cabot tower
views over grey misty somerset
there is a genteel feel here among the georgian terraces and greenery
kids with shiny painted go-karts
and a superior play area
as we the top the crest of the hill and begin to descend
i stop a middle-aged couple to ask if this is the way to clifton
the man pauses for a moment
then with a thoughtful expression delivers a response after my own heart
'it could be' he says mysteriously
we emerge from the park on jacob wells road
at the foot of clifton hill
right outside the hope and anchor
one look through the large inviting front windows are enough
lined up along the bar are four or five ale pumps
the bar itself is bedecked with bundles of hops
the friendly barmaid humours my banter
and we find a corner table to pour hungrily over the menus
veggie burger, felafel and pints of caramely kingstone ale hit the spot
now it is time to lose ourselves in clifton village

Friday, 8 March 2013


i make no great claims for my work
if i write or record a song that satisfies me it gives me a buzz
if my words or music resonate with others so much the better
but i do think that art should not be underestimated
for it has the power to move the soul and awaken the spirit
a novel concept in a culture that thinks with its head
whose body oftentimes acts predominantly as a mode of transport for its brain
i guess we all have our personal fortes
some possess the power of oration
the capacity to move others with their firey rhetoric and charisma
others have the gift of rationality
the command of unimpeachable logic and argument
as for me
i have been seduced by a different bedfellow
a lover who entrances with her emotional caress
who bewitches with her beauty
enchants with her poetry
charms with her whimsy
she is an artistic savant
a mage of metaphor
a playful lady
not averse to occasional deceit
in the service of her creativity
while pursuing the utmost integrity in her dealings
this muse of mine is my guide
she lights my way
and i humbly follow

Thursday, 7 March 2013


a late night
video making
fortunately a late start too
alone in the house
i put on remnants
turning it up nice n loud
the soundtrack to the morning shower
i was working on this track exactly a year ago
the song was a milestone
it took no prisoners - musically or lyrically
it was the heaviest thing i had ever recorded
an abrasive and ominous backing track of saturated multitracked guitars
energised by a sinuous overdriven lead riff
and an emotionally charged no-holds-barred vocal performance
captured on the very first take
a few rotations of this track
and i am nicely set up for my journey to the factory
it is a cold damp affair pedalling through sheets of heavy drizzle
yet energising nonetheless
twenty minutes later
i arrive sodden and dripping at the factory
where like the droplets of rain on my waterproofs
the energy quickly evaporates
the barbed comments
the listening walls
the omnipresent flicker of computer monitors
all suck up my energy
corridors and staircases that echo with an empty silence
somewhere far away
behind blank fire doors
staff are tap tap tapping at their keyboards
i doubt if i will see most of them today
the massed ranks of automobiles assembled outside in the carpark
are the only betrayal of human presence
waves of alienation and disconnection batter me
as the reality of high-tech wage slavery kicks in
a subtle bludgeoning over the head
with a very blunt instrument
does nobody else feel this way?


Oops - technical problems...just click on the dodo!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


he reels at the explosion
dizzy and disorientated
staggers momentarily in the aftermath
shattered fragments
scattered shrapnel
a molotov cocktail of anger confusion and fear
a feeling of betrayal
a punch in the guts
an undermining
ripples of resentment
torrents of tears
cascades of curses
blood in his ears
a red mist descending
the room shrinks
glows red
a meltdown
the muscles in his neck and shoulders feel tight
his temples throb
brain pressed against cranium
arteries narrowing
stress hormones flooding his bloodstream
whatever the chemicals are up to
he doesnt like it
shallow breathing
hackles raised
up come the defences
fight or flight
something has to give

Monday, 4 March 2013


holding hands
we look out of the picture window
across rolling warwickshire fields of sheep and pasture
we talk of cabbages and kings
and other silly things
who is this chap called henry?
and what is he doing in arden?
(henley-in-arden, get it?)
just outside the station
she picks up a funny lump of concrete
little stones held together by dusty cement
an unlikely treasure
to be taken home later
and smashed to pieces with a hammer
we stroll into town
mad fools among the throngs of earnest sightseers
the pub is crowded for sunday lunch
but we get lucky and audaciously nab a table
she tucks into her bangers and mash with gusto
and downs her happy monkey smoothie in one
while i happily quaff my pint of st davids ale
at the museum of mechanical art and design
we press buttons and set off movement sensors
setting in motion all manner of weird mechanisms
her favourite is an old-fashioned circus scene
where a cannonball is fired through a hoop held aloft by a dodo
into the mouth of an eagerly waiting crocodile
we make our way down to the river to see the swans
crossing the avon on mediaeval stone bridges
heavy with age
on the train home
we interrupt the silence of the crowded compartment
laughing and giggling at outlandish peppa pig plot lines
mr panda's head lopped off by a stray helicopter rotor blade
henry hamster electrocuted after sticking his paw in a socket
a mad day out indeed

Saturday, 2 March 2013



Where did they go
Those magnificent beasts
Hunted down and slaughtered
Those magnificent beasts

Where did they fly
Those magnificent birds
Fallen from the sky
Those magnificent birds

A fading memory
An old photograph
A defunct taxonomy
An epitaph

Where did they swim
Those magnificent fish
Stolen from the sea
Those magnificent fish

A fading memory
An old photograph
A defunct taxonomy
An epitaph

Where did they go
Those magnificent beasts

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


only one child
not two
only pretty
not stunning
only bright
not a genius
only five days a week
not six
only comfortable
not wealthy
only enough
not plenty
only a recent model
not the latest
only rented
not bought
only a job
not a vocation
only wales
not italy
only mild
not warm
if only
then what?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


to tell the truth
i am none to keen on the concept of the music video
for me the whole point of creating music
is to transport the listener to another world
one of their own imagining and emotions
inspired by but independent of the song itself
in this my ally is the twilight domain of metaphor
that shadowland of unpredictable images and emotions
working in tandem
with the emotional language of melody harmony and rhythm
i have no desire to bludgeon the listener over the head
with my own preconceived agenda
or to ram a message down his or her throat
there may be an underlying conscious intention for sure
but who knows what role that other levels of consciousness might play
in the conception incubation and birth
of the creative and performative process
in sharp contrast
the music video is liable to tell one what to think
to impose a narrative or relationship that does not really exist
it is a blunt blunt instrument
to one who paints pictures with sound
so why bother?
the simple answer is that it is the easiest and cheapest way to self-publish
to disseminate the fruits of one's labours to a wider audience
so i have been playing around with some freeware
and experimenting with simple stills
but there is a ghost somewhere in the machine
it was there at the end of lunatic driver
putting the climactic sequence of images oddly out of sync
now it strikes again at the beginning of automaton
where it cunningly transforms the first still
into an almost subliminal image
thereby sending the rest of the video a few seconds out of sync
the weird thing is
it actually works!
at least some of the time
the advancement of the images acts almost like a serendipitous syncopation
freeing up the connection between sound and image
inducing a disconcerting but pleasing dissonance
between the aural and the visual
perhaps the music video can occupy the same twilight zone as the music itself
perhaps that ghost needs to be embraced and nurtured


Monday, 25 February 2013


last summer's olympics passed me by
the media infatuation with 'team gb' was completely lost on me
its glittering gold medal-winning celebrity athletes made no impression
the obsession with competing to win
the hallmark of modern industrial civilisation
hijacked the whole event
(along with the corporate sponsors)
for the olympic spirit is not about triumph but about taking part
among the thousands of athletes
few won a medal
most were also-rans
disappointments by the impossibly high standards of winner-takes-all
but this attitude is pernicious
beginning in the nursery and weaving its way through the social fabric
competition trumps cooperation
the power of self subordinates the common good
human is pitched against human
humanity is pitched against nature
it is the guiding principle of our age
meanwhile out there in the real world
the gap between rich and poor grows
natural resources are inexorably mined and polluted
and an international climate treaty remains a hazy mirage
the challenge is olympian


the family sits watching a film
what is your purpose in life?
one of the protagonists asks her friend
she deliberates briefly
then decides
your purpose is to fix things that are broken
what is your purpose in life?
i echo to the room
there is silence
mom reflects for a moment then answers
to raise my two sons
very laudable i say
but how about over the last twenty-five years?
the woodle's purpose is quickly identified
to provide comedy and entertainment
but the others remain silent
what about you?
says mom
my reply is swift
to create art

Sunday, 24 February 2013


as i draw into the station
much steam is being let off
huddles of disgruntled passengers
stare up myopically at inscrutable monitors
or cuss the glib recorded announcements
maddening in their affected robotic concern
there are no trains
there will be no trains for the forseeable future
there is an equipment failure
somewhere down the line
an outage
a shortage
a power vacuum
wrapped up warm in my furs against the harsh winter cold
i desert the drafty platforms and the uncouth concourses
manoeuvre my way out of the car park
and lurch down into the pit of selly oak's stomach
sticking to the pavement
foiling the over-eager traffic lights
i nonetheless stay vigilant for straying pedestrians
soon i am warming to the task
as the vistas open out into leafy edgbaston
and the pavement becomes a bona fide cycle path
ten minutes later i am dropping down into bristol street
where i stop at the door of the diskery
to check out upcoming gigs
getting lost in the underpasses
i reemerge and climb steeply past the post office vaults
resonant with memories of wintry ale and banter
at the central library
i fare little better than at selly oak station
all the books are boxed up for the move to the new building
and it is with a 'one of those days' sinking feeling
that i descend into the bowels of paradise forum
forging now down new street past steely street executives
to my chagrin
no - muji does not have any cardboard cd sleeves in stock
have i tried on the web at all?
asks the not overly employment-hungry assistant
finally i strike lucky
there are no polo neck sweaters to be found
but there is just one pair of unripped boot cut jeans in my lanky size
and they fit like a glove!
relief - in spades!
meanwhile a celebratory black americano
awaits in the bookshop cafe
the caffeine and warmth reanimates
while my literary companions ball and dagger
state the following:
an 'adversary' culture of left-leaning intellectuals
and assorted malcontents
poses a greater threat (to the neo-cons of the united states)
than islamic terrorism
i like that
the idea that assorted malcontents
those of my ilk
could threaten to bring about power failure

Friday, 22 February 2013


looking down from my eyrie
under a moody grey sky
nothing is black and white
criss-crossing paths weave a confusing pattern
irregular triangles and polygons
hasty decisions on a tired architect's drawing board
shuttling denizens navigate these arteries
as february bites
they hurry and scurry
past empty benches
their plaques unread
how i got here i don't know
tall poplars punctuate red brick and neoclassical curves
a mermaid flounders
stranded high and dry on the library frontage
inside the dust falls and gathers
across the square
revolving doors spill out puddles of arts undergrads
like me
on their way to somewhere else


Thursday, 21 February 2013


you hunt me
and you kill me
you murder my children
you lock up my brothers in tiny cages
you conduct your cruel experiments
you dig up my home and my hinterland
and cover it with inpenetrable grey tarmac
and buzzing power lines
you come with your guns
your gas
and your poison
with your euphemisms and your metaphors
killing is culling
or worse still
it is management
or even development
you are so clever
and yet you are so vain
your arrogance knows no bounds
you choke on it
you outwardly prosper and thrive
and yet you are dead inside
you tap and stare at your little screens
but see nothing
all things must pass

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


pedalling to the factory
where the bones of language are reconstituted
harborne lane vexes
its casual ugliness
its traffic blight
its lack of care
shell petrol garage
measures out the price of environmental carnage
in the niger delta
i am singing the song of the moment
brother wolf
softly under my breath
as i pass a fellow traveller
tracksuit bottoms
head bent
low under his breath
the grunt erupts with sudden violence
shut the f*** up!

all they will find is his bones
licked clean


a key turns
the mechanism engages
cogs and springs stir into action
wheels revolve
a train of events is set in motion
the automaton jerks back into life
what it will do
who can tell?
its eyes are impassive
the polished head balanced serenely
on the slender neck
the limbs stiff but purposeful
the hand poised to write
the lips poised to vocalise
the senses reawakening