Sometimes I write stuff . . .



"Pigs do fly, but usually only when it's raining. Not many people look up when it's raining."


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       If there were any justice in the world, everyone who works for the Inland Revenue would be obliged to spend two weeks of every year in a room with a box of paints and a canvas.

They would be required to produce a self-portrait of professional standard.

       They may employ professional help with colouring and framing, but the drawing must be their sole responsibility. If it is not deemed sufficiently accurate, there will be penalties.

       There will be a deadline and, if the work is late, there will be a fine of £100 per day until its satisfactory submission.

       This is only fair.



        There was once a wise old man, and a foolish young man, who said to the old chap one day, "How do you do it? How do you get to be a wise old man?"

        The wise old man looked at him and said, "Two things: don't die, and don't argue."

     "There's got to be more to it than that!" said the youngster, to which the wise old man replied, "Yes, you could be right."



An Artist's Statement . . .


        Painting is an expensive habit, which I can ill afford.

I was introduced to it as a child but, if anyone ever warned me how dangerous it was, I never listened. As a teenager - and by then firmly hooked - I still did not realise how serious it was. I was not prepared to admit to being an artist, though many people told me I was.

        By the age of twenty four, I finally stopped denying the awful truth – I was a confirmed paint addict.  Any paint would do: watercolours, acrylics, oil paint – anything just to get that buzz – even household emulsion, if nothing better was available. All I could think about was, “where is my next painting coming from?” I find it difficult to understand people who don’t paint.

        It began to affect my health seriously; I would spend days on end in my room with a painting. I couldn’t hold down a steady job, and girlfriends grew bored or scared and drifted away. Running for a bus left me gasping for breath. All my money went on artists’ materials. I found myself using artist’s jargon all the time, and mixing with unsavoury elements of society. I would do anything for a new and bigger painting. At one time a 52foot long mural only lasted eleven days before it was all finished, and I was left looking hungrily for my next commission.

        Many artists start on pencils and wax crayons, but it’s not long before harder stuff is needed to get a high. I have tried many times and many ways to kick the habit, but I have always gone back to paint. It has often made me a loner and an outsider to civilised society.

        I’ve been on oil paint for many years now, and I don’t think I’ll ever be free of it. Still, I reckon it’s better than going to the dogs.



If I may paraphrase Lawrence Lessig . . . 

It might be crazy to expect a high government official to speak the truth.

It might be crazy to believe that government policy will be something more than the handmaiden of the most powerful interests.

It might be crazy to argue that we should preserve a tradition that has been part of our culture for centuries.

Sooo, I'm probably crazy.



Some Poems . . .  



'Bargain Hunting'


November leftover bargains in the Autumn Sale.

Priceless morning sun seeping through leaves

Pinned on velvet shafts of sunlight

Lightly climbing the still, pinioned mist.

Delicate, frosted, precious sun.

Dawdle while stocks last.

The small bird on the reduced branch shivers.



'A Farewell to Andy' (22 September 2011)


I’d rather be almost anywhere than standing here,

With friends and family of my friend but without him.

I hate to think of his laughter gone and his eyes now dim.

Though at last he left this life with no trace of fear,

Despite my faith, I must ask God, “Why?”

It seems all wrong that such a man should die.

As near as may be to an honest man he was,

And earth has more need of men like him than heaven does.



'All Right Now'


 Earlier this evening I had an

Incredible upsurge of an

Overwhelmingly powerful sensation of

What it actually means to be a poet,

But I'm all right now.



'Winter Solstice'


 The voice of the owl intoning footnotes to the year here at Solstice and embers bright at my feet I open my coat to the fire in the wood at midnight.

Ash trees charcoaled against the sepia sky slight moonlight seeping through thin cloud no stars tonight but sparks ascending starward.

Crisp quick footfall of fox in dry leaves softly just beyond sight amongst the Hollies.

Ivy twigs pop and sizzle the song of sap in timeless Yule-time logs so close at

the chiming of the year.

Once more I witness this World's moment with a seasoned smile and thanks as

Oaks conspire in the timely dark.



'Rev. Spooner'


  Dr Spooner was seldom flustered

But his words couldn't always be trusted

And, though his demeanour

Was that of a dreamer,

They say he was meener than kustard.  





 I like my skin it keeps me in.

It fits me fat it fits me thin

Without it I would need a tin

Or box or bag or empty bin

To keep the rest of Alan in

And when I think it underpins

So much my ears (those flaps of skin

Around the holes the sound goes in)

Oppress my brain and I begin

To think I'll need another skin

-full. Mine's a pint, Thanks.

(written before I eschewed alcohol)  



'Moth and Flame'


  The moth Fans the flame.





His tiny hand holds my finger

No thought of who or why he

Talks in scribble to his plasticine

While his giggle runs round the room

Barefoot through my heart.  





 Exploring the landscape of your face

Traversing ridges near the bluff blush

Over the brow, shouldering the eye sky

And handsome foothills smiling

Skirting the lip of the gorge

And only a mile away

An arm of the river where tears still

Sometimes flow around the headlands.



'Chance'd Be A Fine Thing'


Chancing on your hair in sunbeams

On my pillow and a smile with Love in its wake,

Whisking your risky curves into a snug where dreams

Are always a good thing.


Sharing a stroll through green

And moonbeams and dew between toes

Letting all the world slide by our gaze.


Dancing a step only we know

And drinking each other's dreams

Between stars and stones and willow leaves.


Picking fortune's pocket

For the small change of ecstasy

As the world forgets and we discover

What matters beyond if and why

And even yes.


Chance'd be a fine thing.



'Summer Dawntreading' 



Light enough already to walk through the woods and out onto the top field.

Insects buzzing past my ears and butterflies, as well as moths, flitting.

So warm in just a shirt not even tucked in at the waist.

Just the suggestion of a breeze and equally slight dew between sandalled toes.

Mystical, majical dawn.

Pink in the north east with delicate etched patterns of soft grey.

A large stand of wild angelica lends pungent scent to the brightening air.

A pheasant panics, crests the hedge behind me and descends heavily into the ripening barley, yards from where I stand awaiting the returning sun.

An inch above the horizon an airliner slices a tiny angry cut like a livid wound in the hanging grey haze.

5am and a cherry-coloured sun heaves itself over the horizon through ragged, damp shreds of limp cloud losing the battle with the light.

A heron wings languidly over my head, crying like a buzzard with a sore throat and a hangover.

A crow sits on the telegraph wire - swinging his legs, my mother would say - turning his head to watch me by - dawntreading.

I recall a similar dawn I once trod, during my student days in Bristol, nearly forty years ago.

Then there were seagulls too, in rose-drenched mist and uncrafted youth.





They tuck you up, your mum and dad,

They're meant to and they do,

Forgiving all your faults so bad,

In cozy beds made just for you.


For they were tucked up in their turn

In old-style beds with brass rails

By full-time parents who had learned

To tell magical fairy-tales.


Man hands on love to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Join in fairly if you can

And pass some on yourself.





  Look at a person's hands

Not the love-line, lifeline, instead

Look at the head of the arm

Of the body that understands

Hands have no tears to flow.


See the sun hanging over my life

See my life lying beneath the sun

See my truth told truer than before

In smiles and frowns that cannot lie

Though hands have no tears to flow.


Look at my hands, though not old in years,

They show a life no other feature told

Of love to heartbreak, joy to tears

And fears that still refuse to go

Though hands have no tears to flow.  

(written at the age of sixteen.)  



'A Death in Orkney'


Magnificent Brodgar stones striding round their circle

astonishingly luminous in bright indigo night.

I climb one gaunt cracked slab better to view

the surrounding mounds of ancient tombs

still sinking slow with their aching cargo

in a cold sea of dark rolling heather


last year's dead grasses still foaming frozen

in the breathless dark - spindrift fixed

on pale faded waves beneath this startled sky

Sagittarius slinking home in the west.

So still under starlight the stones standing

floodlit by moonbeams a chorus of clamouring curlews

eerily gregarious in the dark with geese

and gulls by the immobile mirroring lochs.


Stiller now my mother than I have ever known her.

Happier now in memory than she would ever guess.  





 I have yet to see

An ugly tree.




(written for May Day celebration 2003)


the flames rise

hot air rises

sap rises

spirit rises


  we are in the cycle of the year

rising with the Spring of the year

flashes to ashes flames to purify

they divide and they unite

crooked and sacred

they destroy and they create

crooked and sacred


we are in the cycle of the year

rising with the Spring of the year

each of us has given a ribbon

each of us has taken a ribbon

and we have woven them together

crooked and sacred

interweaving and uniting

our energies and identities

crooked and sacred

the interweaving ribbons

have joined their energies

honour their union and individuality

crooked and sacred

each of us has let go and has come away renewed

honour our union and individuality

crooked a nd sacred


 honour each other

honour yourselves

you are part of the cycle

now you are full of the power of your potential

in this moment you are potent

crooked and sacred