Poems, memoirs etc., August 2016 onwards

Country conversation

Posted 21 Oct, 2017
So, you were born and raised in Yorkshire, in England, in the UK, currently in the EU.
What is your country?

My country is England.

Not the UK?

No, that is the union between England and our friends the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish.

Not the EU?

No, that is an economic area that we signed up to. And we’re leaving.

What about Yorkshire?

Ah, that is my heritage that best defines me, but it is not my country, even though its population and GDP is substantial, exceeding those of many a country.

So, no independence for Yorkshire then?

Indeed no. But why this curiousity? Where do you come from my friend?



With the British gone

Posted 18 Oct, 2017

With the British gone

With their democratic ways

Their moderation

Their fair play

Their justice

Their culture

And their steadfastness

Fear not for their future

But fear for your own

Fear your own psyches

Fear your own histories

Democracy treading water in a sea of bureaucracy

The Token
Posted 15 Oct, 2017

Who the hell are you

To tell him how to feel

To point a shaming finger

Telling him to kneel

He is but one soul striving

In a world that’s sadly broken

A faithless mongrel barking

Searching for a token

So give him time to live

To learn and find his way

He cannot know his truth

Whilst others hold the sway

Care home visitor

Posted 25 Sept, 2017
Sat in his high backed chair 

Greying eyes stare through the patio window

Cosily warm but cold winter outside

He watches anxiously please be there

His only friend now in the world beyond his room

Suddenly that darting form appears

With tiny clawed feet clutching a nut stolen from the bird table

Zigzagging across the moss laden lawn

Then standing proud in photographic pose

Puzzling at his own double glazed reflection never knowing of his watcher

The old man sees his friend and smiles

It is enough for him this enduring connection

Alone now amongst his fellows with past days fading

Tears come to him he knows not why

As his one friend scurries away to woodland

Mi dad

Posted 5 Sept, 2017

For all ‘is faults
Mine anall
Mi dad wer mi dad
Allus will be
N’ matter what wer said
N’ matter what wer done
By me or by ‘im
That’s the way it is
Can’t change nowt

On the tightrope
Posted 21 August, 2017

Stepping incautiously
Swift hands balancing
Supple legs bending
Moving at speed
Danger an adventure
Fear unknown

Inch by inch
Too high too high
Stiffly halting
Keep that balance
Take no risk
Fear consumes

Young versus old
Dreams versus experience
It matters not
The fall is certain
The journey short
The journey long

View from the castle keep

Posted 16 August, 2017

Gaze down upon the village
From the medieval keep
See the church and the graveyard
A perfect walled square
Filled with a thousand deaths
Then look to the right
The identical square
With new graves at its corner
As a postage stamp on an envelope
Waiting to be filled
With another thousand deaths
A symbol of our transient being
The impermanence of life
Viewed from a castle keep set in stone


Posted 8 February, 2017

Count the pebbles
One stone two stones
Three and four

Have I fulfilled my promise
Little of worth my demon
Success no gauge

Five and six
Seven and eight
With heavy heart

Have I loved been loved
Little to show my demon
Withered flowers at my feet

More and more
My body laden
Step into the water

The man who would be…. (1)
Posted July 27, 2017

He lived alone on the outskirts of the city, his small cottage facing out into the English countryside. On that bright summer’s morning he got out of bed and wandered to the bathroom, scratching furiously behind his right ear. An irritating itch! He filled the bath with warm water, knelt next to it, and, naked, gazed at his own reflection before plunging his face below the surface. Standing up, he shook his head vigorously from side to side for at least thirty seconds, water spraying everywhere. ‘That’ll do,’ he thought as he smiled to himself before walking downstairs and out into his sundrenched herb garden. Looking around, he took a huge deep breath. His nose and lungs took in the multifarious smells.

‘Grr…eat to be alive,’ he shouted to the world, before running across his perfectly turfed lawn to retrieve the football that the boy next door had kicked over the fence in error the night before. Just at that moment, Dorothy cycled past the cottage on the winding lane that led down to the lake. She looked over the garden fence at him, smiled as she always did, then screamed and pedalled off frantically as fast as she could. Glancing down, he saw his own predicament and rushed back into the cottage to put some clothes on. ‘Good grief!’ he barked.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal followed by a bowl of water.

Echo Chamber
Posted June 13, 2017

Join the social network
Listen to your views
Belief and prejudice confirmed
Enjoy accept fake news

No need for you to change at all
The echo drowns out thought
At one with your herding instinct
And a vote that can be bought

A Place To Pray
Posted June 1, 2017

Small bird nesting
On a vaulted ceiling
Lady watching
In this place of healing
Quiet as night
In the noonday sun
A place to pray
For everyone

What is it?
Posted 26 May, 2017

What is it?
About democracy
That you hate so much
The idea of consent by all
The strong the weak the rich the poor
The man the woman the old the young

What is it?
About happiness and freedom
That you hate so much
The joy on a child’s face
The bond between lovers hand in hand
The infinite possibilities in life

I do not understand such hatred
I never will

For Edna O
Posted 11 April, 2017

You look in the mirror and see
An old lady of letters
Faded cloth in the brightest of sunlight
But no
Wrong so wrong
That sensuous look
That beguiling voice
Is permanent ink
Just like those country girls
And that word you taught me
Blessed goddess writer

Are online petitions a good thing? (M and B)
Posted February 5, 2017

I took a look at the online petitions that people are signing up to, Bernie. You know, about Trump coming or not coming to the UK. Seems too easy to me. Getting government to debate an issue is just a hundred thousand barking clicks away. It’s just more facebook twitter generation stuff, hardly a result of serious thought and debate, surely. For me, we have a representative democracy. We elect MPs to think stuff out for us cos we’re too busy living life , raising kids, doing a job and following the football. Online petitions seem too trivial. You know, do you like marmite? Decide in a second and click. What do you think?

Strangely, Mike, I’ve been looking at the petitions online too. You won’t like this, Mike. There’s over two thousand petitions you can sign up to in an instant. Great fun! People’s democracy, no thought needed. So I signed up to loads.

I don’t think we agree on this one, Bernie! What the bleep have you signed up to in your clicking frenzy?

Thought you might ask. I’ve got a little list.

OK Gilbert, or is it Sullivan, give me some examples.

Huh? Well, I quite liked these five.
1. Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the UK.
2. Donald Trump should make a State Visit to the UK.
3. Give status to police dogs as ‘Police Officers’.
4. Ban all non-recyclable packaging.
5. Protect grouse moors.

Mmm, bit of logic missing regarding Trump. And interesting about the grouse moors. I don’t think either of us has ever been on one. And no more plastic bags for you then. But regarding the police dogs, I definitely agree, even though it’s obviously the most barking petition!

Note: All petitions above are genuine. The UK – a true democracy!!

Bathmophobia (M and B)
Posted January 29, 2017

Well, Bernie, did you see that Donald J suffers from bathmophobia?

Can’t believe that, Mike. He always looks so clean. And shiny, and a touch orange, with rather impressive hair.

Bathmophobia is the fear of slopes, gradients and steps, not baths. It’s the reason that the President and our Prime Minister held hands, according to the White House.

So, what if David Cameron had still been Prime Minister?

Good grief, that doesn’t bear thinking about! A diplomatic gaffe of the first order! Thank goodness Brexit happened and Theresa took over. Man woman fine but how will Donald cope in future. Merkel? OK maybe but doubtful. But what if Trump ever gets together with Putin? Steps could be a deal breaker. Putin is a man’s man.

Mmm, that could be rephrased I think. Anyway, it means Putin would have to meet on the flat.
Certainly not on the Russian steppes then!

Optimistic? Surely not! (M and B)
Posted January 20, 2017

What a year 2016 was, Bernie! Brexit and the Donald. Wish I’d had a bet on. Would have won a fortune. Even more staggering if you add in Leicester winning the Premiership!

Yes, Mike,very strange. And…. I wanted Chelsea to win the League of course. And I voted for us to stay in the EU. And if I was American I would have definitely voted for Hillary.

So why aren’t we depressed?

Good question. Well, maybe it’s the ‘kick up the bum’ theory.


Well, Leicester winning takes away the complacency of the big clubs, like Man U, and gives hope to the smaller clubs, like Burnley or Arsenal.

Arsenal! OK, I get it. And coming out of the EU should focus the 27 other members on reducing their smug self-centred attitudes in a global age and give Britain the democratic freedom and impetus to take back control of its borders and laws and create wealth for all its citizens, especially with Mother Theresa in charge. And having Donald Trump as President? Well, who knows? But he will be his own man. I think he’ll be a good deal maker and make gut decisions, unlike Obama who turned out to be a procrastinator. The US has been fading of late on the global stage. Donald may well reverse that trend. He’ll certainly rattle a few cages. And, internally, he’ll spend. I do think he’ll try to help the little guy. Could be another Reagan.

Agreed, so after all the things that I felt went wrong in 2016, I’m feeling really optimistic for 2017! Everybody needs a kick up the bum sometimes.
Of course, the EU won’t change. Bunch of overpaid civil servants who talk a lot but couldn’t run a temperature, let alone the Eurozone.


Scottish Referendum (M and B)
Posted January 17, 2017

So, Bernie, Mother Theresa says Brexit means Brexit means a big no to membership of the Single Market. What do you think? Not gone down too well with Lady MacBeth. She’s very whingey, threatening a second referendum.
Single Market, Mike, definitely not. We need everything simple. No chance of unanimity from 27 EU countries. So many basket case economies. As for Scotland, it does need sorting out for good. A second referendum must happen.
Really? But what if the Scots vote to leave the UK so that they gain independence to be in the EU?
Well, for the Scots to decide to swap the UK for the EU seems barking to me. But that’s irrelevant anyway.
How come?
Well, the point is that if we have a second referendum then we can vote to get rid of Scotland out of the UK, repoint Hadrian’s Wall, and spend more money on Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s called infrastructure investment. And I’m fed up of Lady MacBeth. Out damned spot!
Mmm, don’t think that’s what she meant about a second referendum. But, well sorted, Bernie.

Pen Y Ghent memoir
Posted January 16, 2017

When I was ten years old I had three or four A4 sized quiz books that I particularly enjoyed. Each had twenty or so pages on which there were twenty questions on history, geography, science, famous people, books, etc. I tried very hard to learn all the answers and, to this day, retain an inordinate number of trivial but often interesting facts in my head, for no good reason.
In one book, on one page, there were questions on geography, including, at the bottom, ink pen sketches of three mountains. One was Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 29000 feet. Another had a strange but distinctive shape that fascinated me. It was named on the answers page as Pen y Ghent, a most peculiar name indeed. I grew up knowing that Pen y Ghent was ‘merely’ a hill in Yorkshire, approximately 2300 feet in height, one of the famous Three Peaks. I vowed that I would climb it one day.
This Christmas my daughter gave me a magnificent present, a weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales. And so, fifty years after my Mum buying me that quiz book, and two days ago, I finally climbed Pen y Ghent in glorious winter sunshine with marvellous views. What a fabulous place!

Why Donald won
Posted on January 6, 2017

So, Bernie, it turns out that it was Putin who defeated Hillary and got Donald elected, not the millions of Americans who voted Trump. Which is probably a good thing really, cos the Hillary voters know that the Trump voters were either stupid, racist or women-haters, apart from maybe the Latinos or women who voted Trump, but then they must have been stupid of course.

Baffling, Mike. But Putin couldn’t have got Trump elected, could he? No matter how many Russian teenagers he employed to hack Democrat data! Anyway, I thought she lost cos she shouts.

How do you mean?

Well, when she was holding a rally she just shouted. You see, when she shouts, there’s no intonation, no expression in her voice, no light and shade. She’s awful. Can’t project her voice. But if she talks quietly then she gets her message across really well, apart from that smile. I blame her advisers, or the guys who bought the amps and speakers. She needed a quieter voice and bigger amp.

Mmm, reasonable points, Bernie but…. anyway, blaming the Russians is crazy territory. And the security people making a big thing of it when they themselves scuppered her! Hillary did do dodgy stuff with emails and, frankly, to me, seemed past her sell-by date. Even so, she should have walked it! Like you, I blame the Democratic party itself, for not mounting a credible campaign and not giving their main candidate their wholehearted support. So, we sort of agree, except perhaps on the speakers and amplifier front.

But, in the end, Donald actually won, a non-politician winning against the odds, defeating professional politicians, people used to fooling the rest of us and getting away with it. So, well done Donald, and let’s cross our fingers for the next four years.

And let’s all stop dis-Putin the result!

Nice one Mike.

Visitor In Winter
Posted on December 20, 2016

Sat in his high backed chair he stares
Greying eyes through the patio window
Cosily warm but cold winter outside
Watching for his friend
All he knows in the world beyond his room
Then he sees his neurotic visitor full of life
Tiny clawed feet clutching a nut stolen at the bird table
Now zigzagging across the moss laden lawn
Standing proud in photographic pose
Puzzling at his own double glazed reflection
Never knowing of his watcher
The old man who sees his friend and smiles
Enough for him this enduring connection
Alone amongst his fellows

Obese with Mike and Bernie
Posted on December 5th, 2016

Excellent pint this Speckled Hen, Bernie. Fancy another?

Not sure I should, Mike. Saw the Doc today for a check up.

Everything OK? Not like you to miss a free pint.

Yeh, I’m fine, but he measured my BMI?

Really! Bit personal that, Bernie!

My body-mass-index! It was 29.

Oh, is that good?

Apparently not. He said I’m verging on the obese. I could end up with diabetes so I should cut down on calories and sugar intake and….and beer!

Your doctor has no idea, Bernie. I’ve known you for years. Yes, we have a pint or two, and a couple of pies at the matches. And fish and chips. And the odd curry and pizza, along with a bottle of Coke. And that means that you have what you might call a varied and balanced diet. It’s common sense. No, your doc doesn’t really know you well enough like I do, Bernie. Your problem isn’t that you’re obese. Your problem is that you’re fat.

Oh, thank goodness for that. You’re right, Mike. Another Speckled Hen would go down very nicely indeed.

The closing of the coffin lid (2)
Posted on December 5th, 2016

Mark your book from page to page
With care for others too
Plot your path with time engage
A life to suit your view

Dwell not yet on written chapters
Enjoy your paragraph today
Live a life that’s full of rapture
Fall in love and find your way

Accept the final line is penned
Not by you but those you know
Find the grace to be a friend
To those who gaze up from below

No-one ever sees the ending
The closing of the coffin lid
Come to terms with judgement pending
But not just yet with chapters hid

Conversation about God
Posted on November 21, 2016

Suppose I could prove to you that God exists
But you cannot, no-one can
But just suppose I could give you actual proof
Well then I would believe
No you would not believe, you would know
And what is your point?
My point is that you would have knowledge but no faith
So that is why I cannot know
Yes that is why

Donald Trump and the Brexit effect
Posted on November 9th, 2016

Went to bed being told that Hillary was a cert, woke up to find Donald had stormed to victory. Just like on Brexit night over here, Bernie. How come?

Well, Mike, I think that the cosy arrogant elitist media is clueless. The chattering classes just chatter between themselves. They don’t get it. They don’t understand that if you have nowt then you want change. That if politicians have changed the culture around you, have changed what you see in your street, have taken away your job security, your hope of a better life, then you will react. And you will look for an outsider, a charismatic, no matter what frailties he may have. You see, Trump doesn’t sound like a politician. He just sounds like a bloke trying to make his point, struggling to get the words right. And on his own! No razzmatazz, no political machine hiding his flaws. Just like Nigel Farage and Brexit over here. A guy on a mission, not like the people he represented, but understanding them.

Wow, Bernie, is that what’s called a diatribe?

I hope so Mike. Hell, you gotta believe in democracy, it’s all we’ve got! But those chattering classes, well, they only think they believe in democracy. The democracy of the educated, the democracy of the haves, the democracy of the middle class. They don’t really give a monkeys for the have nots, for those whose culture and way of life is threatened. They only pretend. The media needs a clear out. Dinner party democrats!

Two diatribes methinks!

Posted on November 10, 2016

Believe in our democracy
Accept the will of others
Like you I have but one vote
Not all of us are brothers

You may regard yourself as bright
While others clearly dim
Views demand perspective
You are you not him

Despair is born of sudden fear
Of having no control
Keep faith with nurtured values
The future is the goal

The coat of paint is paper thin
With bigotry beneath
Have your say and have your view
But born of true belief

Oh no Brexit again
Posted on November 6, 2016

So Bernie, when we voted in the Referendum did you understand the question we were voting on?

Yes, it was a simple question and I’m not thick.


Yes, on my first point, less so on my second.

So, 33 million voted and 17 million said they wanted to leave the EU. A majority to leave methinks.

Correct. And our representatives, 650 of them, called MP’s, should represent, and should represent the majority view.

So what about the 3 judges who have said that Parliament must decide about invoking Article 50?

Ah, but they were obliged to look at the appropriateness of the Royal Prerogative, dating back to 1610 I believe, and not the appropriateness of Brexit.

What! I don’t follow you.


Hillary and Donald, not for Mike and Bernie
Posted on November 3, 2016

You see, Mike, years ago, as you know, I worked on nuclear stuff in R and D, and the work was secret, subject to the Official Secrets Act. If I’d sent an email to someone outside the company about what I was doing, I’d have been sacked on the spot and never been able to work again. In fact, I could have ended up in jail if I breached the OSA.

Yeh, and where I used to work, if I’d said or done anything improper regarding a female colleague, I’d have been disciplined and most likely sacked too.

And the wife would’ve killed you!

Good point. Anyway, who would you vote for in the American election, Bernie?

Obama, Mike.

He can’t do a third term. He’s not running. You know that, Bernie.

Yip, but I’d still vote for him!

Allegorical farm memoir
Posted October 22, 2016

Potato pie a mound
Tons covered in straw
Hiding from the winter frosts
Rats below
Safe in their haven

In springtime sunshine
Men peel away revealing
Rats in all directions
Running screaming
Screaming running

Clang clang shovels clouting
Clouting killing crushing hundreds
Severed limbs decapitating
Screams of death and terror
Then silence

The crop is cleansed
Men in unison talking smoking
While the guardian sheep dogs watch
Standing still and proud
Ready to go home

24 hour news
Posted on October 16, 2016

Twenty four hour news
Keeps on giving the blues
Trivial or dire
Newsreader higher
Proselytizing his views

Cat in the hat obscene
Overriding importance on screen
Politicians debate
On how to spread hate
Faces and gestures serene

Voices and image intense
No news today nonsense
Calm down be quiet
No need for a riot
Why don’t you sit on the fence

Locker room chat
Posted October 11, 2016

Those dodgy comments from the Donald Trump about women. You still go to that gym of yours, Bernie. Do you get into locker room banter?

Certainly do, Mike. Part of being a bloke. Before the five a side match usually, when we all feel fit and thirty years younger. Not after of course. We’re all too buggered to even breathe. Paramedics on standby!

So what do you chat about?

Football of course!

Ever talk about women?

What the hell for, Mike? We always talk about football. Football is life. It’s why we’re here. Chelsea versus Arsenal. Why would we talk about women? The wife would kill me! And my daughter, well, worse still, she’d give me that ‘how old are you, Dad?’ look. No, football is life and football is safe and women haven’t a clue about it.

Good point, Bernie. And they’ll never understand the offside law. The number of times I’ve tried to explain it. Women are clueless.

Yes they are. But lovely though.

Steady, Bernie. Time for another pint.

Hillary and Donald
Posted October 10, 2016

Hillary and Donald, Mike, so strange. Donald, to me, seems like an ego-driven guy, full of gaffes and dodgy bloke-like behaviour. But, a President? And Hillary, well she seems to me to have achieved very little. Yes, she’s been around a long time but, for instance, with Obama, well, they’ve been a disaster internationally. Done bugger all to help in the Middle East, allowed chaos, war and anarchy, and have promoted Putin back to global influence. And, that smile!

Mmm, see where you’re coming from Bernie. U.S politics looks dysfunctional to me. So does ours of course but we’ve got Mother Theresa, Mrs T Mark 2, got bless her. But, going back to the States. I was talking to a tourist down the market. Nice guy from Maine, Cabot Cove I think. He said that they try electing a good President, like Obama, but then find he can’t achieve change cos of ‘the system’ in quotes. For me they seem to have two candidates, one off the wall and one just there to look after the status quo. Tough choice, or is it no choice?

Are you sure about Cabot Cove? A dangerous place I think? Lots of murders.

Really! I thought Maine was like New England, pretty in Autumn. Murders? Have you seen a documentary on Cabot Cove?

About 150 I think! Just love Angela Lansbury! She’s English really.

This conversation is getting very strange, Bernie. Mine’s a pint!

Posted September 17, 2016

We protest
On your behalf
You are not rich
Or you have no home
Or you are not middle class
And because
We are rich
We have a home
We are middle class
And because
We are protesters
With time
To protest
And feel good
About ourselves

The Falling Man
Posted on September 9, 2016

Unfathomable dignity
The falling man
Seconds ticking by
That meeting with eternity
On such an ordinary day
That none shall forget

What is he thinking
As he leaves this world
Besuited incongruous
Trapped in time
For all to see
Sculptured in flesh and blood

Walking Through
Posted on August 23, 2016

Walking through a black etched doorway
Eyes slowly opening focussing searching
Ghouls and ghosts and demons crimson
Fearsome creatures born of myth
Ripping tearing devouring flesh
Agony in the throes of death

Waking instantly dead of night
Relief reality nightmare over
Heart still racing calming slowing
Out of bed stumbling reaching
Eyes slowly opening focussing searching
Walking through a black etched doorway