Blog

With poetry per se on hold for a time, I thought I’d set a blog in motion and see what happened. I’m taken by the transient nature of the thing, the catching at a thought, the fleeting response to an event . . . it has its own challenge. A poem is for always; it takes more out of one; and yet writing this too may have a touch of the impulse that made me for sixty years a poet. To wait, to wait; to meet the tide of an idea; to surface with the words on a theme of the moment – it all seems a natural step on. I hope there may be something for everyone here, or that there will be in time. Please feel free to comment as you will.

PS  In the event this became a journal of reflections with some entries less thoughtful than others. 100 posts over 8 months may add up to a record of interest here and there to some. Perhaps overall it can be taken simply as a varied reflection of experience.     

Finale

Finale

It’s been a journey. A century of blog-observations, and each typed into a laptop…

Mare noctis

Mare noctis

The sea of night. Night and the sea. I am blind, blind. It runs right through me…

A vote of thanks

A vote of thanks

I seem to have given up cycling. Perhaps if I live in a less crowded area I shall get back in the saddle…

The ad fad

The ad fad

I get tetchier about ads as the years go by. A crashing sea of meaningless disinformation…

Chas

Chas

I wonder in whose arms you are tonight
I wonder does he think he’s doing alright…

Kali

Kali

It is how women are known to men that has posed such a barrier to their freedom…

Kali

Kali

As people we make gods, and they can inform the person…

The human dimension

The human dimension

A final voice from a classroom of the past. Fifteen or sixteen years old, fifty-three years ago…

In Ashdown Forest

In Ashdown Forest

In Ashdown Forest, two days after the centenary of the first birthday of Christopher Robin Milne…

If we are free

If we are free

. . . of the gaping scythe of Covid . . . then Hallelujah!

Ballad of the Books

Ballad of the Books

They gather on my shelves like crows
in mocking, gleeful disarray…

A new game

A new game

It could go one way or the other. Now in solitary control of Afghanistan, have the Taliban an opportunity…

Durga

Durga

Since leaving India I have missed Durga. Kali is ever-present, in the perfect storm of her being…

Old and new

Old and new

What was it when I went to India for the first time in the summer of 1990…

At Lagwyne Cottage

At Lagwyne Cottage

‘Lagwyne’ or ‘Low-lying Sepulchre’ survives in a number of place-names…

At the Clifto

At the Clifto

At the Cliftonville pub in George St., cross-wording with my son…

S.W.A.T.

S.W.A.T.

It doesn’t take long for the Special Weapons and Tactics unt of the Los Angeles Police Department to…

The Olympic flame

The Olympic flame

So many must have had the same thought. A frail shell, bristling with internecine rivalries…

Time

Time

Stephanie Martin was the same age as Paul and Adrian (see last two entries) but had been made to…

Pet-Hates on Nightingales

Pet-Hates on Nightingales

In the same class as Paul (see last entry) was a quite extraordinary young man – or at least young mind…

A Rubbish Heap

A Rubbish Heap

Coming up to O levels, in a class I taught at the outset of my career, was a lad…

Freedom Day

Freedom Day

Two days before the “off”, in delightful mid-July weather, it’s as if the shackles are off already…

On the run

On the run

A photo was unearthed recently by a family member that took me back to my running days…

Ballad of the Tins

Ballad of the Tins

Of simple things I sing,
fresh air, a quickening breeze…

Tagore and Gandhi

Tagore and Gandhi

Romain Rolland, a French writer and public figure of far-reaching humanist sympathies…

Tagore and Gandhi

Tagore and Gandhi

On the public level Rabindranath was at the spear-tip of the force of change…

Rabindranath

Rabindranath

His life was pierced by a searing ray of tragedy and love…

Rabindranath

Rabindranath

Who he was, what he did. One is blindsided by the latter…

Rabindranath

Rabindranath

One day, I hope, a film will be made about the life of Rabindranath Tagore…

The ball-game

The ball-game

We spend our lives running up against a hoarding, a larger-than-life…

Busker

Busker

We got him from an animal rescue centre, a lively-looking character…

Halo-virus

Halo-virus

A virus seethes on Earth. Its symptom is unmistakable…

The first days

The first days

Why am I driven back a half-century, to what seem now like the first days…

Whiff-whaff

Whiff-whaff

I’m bushed. Boshed. Bashed. An hour’s table-tennis and I know I’ve been in a fight…

Little Gidding

Little Gidding

‘Midwinter spring is its own season’ begins T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’…

Uncle Simek

Uncle Simek

A few years ago I received a bequest from someone I had never heard of…

Unholy Places

Unholy Places

In 1992 a large Hindu mob tore down the nearly 500-year-old Babri Masjid mosque…

A Wild Flower

A Wild Flower

To see a World in a Grain of Sand – And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…

Tantum religio…

Tantum religio…

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. ‘Religion has talked so many into such evil.’

Techers

Techers

Of course in the current situation money does matter and an extra fillip is needed…

Techers

Techers

I am not usually obstanat but I protest to being like a monkey in a cage…

Leaf burst

Leaf burst

This time, this time
let us applaud it
in spirit, too…

The train set in the attic

The train set in the attic

A dead ringer for the Mekon, Dan Dare’s arch-adversary in the Eagle comic of the ’50s…

Manchester United

Manchester United

There they go. The dilettantes underperform again. Airily passing the ball around…

George Street

George Street

Tenderly it comes to life. A seagull perches on a shop-sign to survey the scene…

Those dancing chips

Those dancing chips

Lift-off. In space. A familiar flight with familiar forces pinning one down…

The living stream

The living stream

First I must remorselessly strip any religious connotations from the…

The Spectator

The Spectator

It’s a good title for a magazine, as ‘The Observer’ is for a newspaper…

Is it even worth saying?

Is it even worth saying?

In ‘The Spectator’ each week are one or two short poems and a verse competition…

Election Special

Election Special

Following last week’s “Super Thursday” democratic reckoning, the air is currently supercharged…

The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses

Rushdie was in hiding for years after the fatwa was issued and received sustained protection…

The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses

A savage episode tore across the face of Western culture a generation ago. Salman Rushdie published a novel…

Saraswati

Saraswati

She is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and learning, of music and the arts, of the graces of the mind…

E.B.B.

E.B.B.

Christina Rossetti put me in mind of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose poetry at its best…

Winds

Winds

Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you,’ says Christina Rossetti, and she has a point. Even in a twister…

Clouds

Clouds

If I were to go blind I think I’d like to pause on them, and reflect. They might be a means…

Roads

Roads

There must have been a year of lockdown days by now in England and on most of them I’ve walked…

Words

Words

Words are like elastic bands. With the difference that they don’t break if stretched too far…

Jimmy White and world peace

Jimmy White and world peace

Back in the mid-seventies I was teaching in Balham, South London, and used occasionally to go…

Warhol Immersive

Warhol Immersive

For a few weeks the newspaper picture’s shuffled around on my desk, on top of this book…

Shirley Williams

Shirley Williams

Since Harold Wilson stepped down there have been few leaders of the Labour Party worthy…

War

War

At another school in those early days of teaching I was rocked back on my heels somewhat…

Peace

Peace

I hate Silence most of all, wherever it is I yell, scream and call. . . So wrote Chief Rabbi Kimbal…

Prince Philip

Prince Philip

I don’t know if he knew Norman Tebbitt. I imagine they may have met a few times…

Shiva

Shiva

[continued] Shiva is one of the great triumvirate of Hindu deities…

Shiva

Shiva

It’s fifteen years since I returned from a long stay in India. While there I came to feel attached…

Let bishops fianchetto…

Let bishops fianchetto…

It’s been with me a fair old time now, a knowing silent companion to my competitive…

Dirge against the Dons

Dirge against the Dons

It climbs atop a precipice where lesser minds have tumbled down; it clings on to a benefice…

Sooner or later

Sooner or later

Sooner or later we have to stop condemning people for their thoughts…

The Flower Stand

The Flower Stand

How to describe a breath of pure pleasure, such that a sudden woodland grove…

Day of Reflection

Day of Reflection

I can’t speak for others. The altered experience of so many, across a harshly punctuated year…

Just a Stone

Just a Stone

Just a stone glistening in the wet. As I walk along the shore in a light afternoon mist…

The lights of day appeared

The lights of day appeared

[continued] The third and last poem I received from Orchyd was at the very end of term…

People, people everywhere

People, people everywhere

[continued] At some point I asked Orchyd if she would, in her own time, write a poem with no time constraint…

Storm

Storm

Back to 1967 and my first teaching appointment. I took (what would now be) a Year 10 class…

Meghan

Meghan

I’m naturally far less acquainted with Meghan’s story than Harry’s. Watching Suits a few months back…

Harry

Harry

For me the story’s about Harry. A bewildered boy in the nightmare of his mother’s funeral cortège…

Seasoning

Seasoning

Someone can be known by her way with words…

Fattypuffs and Thinifers

Fattypuffs and Thinifers

It was my first book and I would still say it is my favourite one. An old friend of the family gave it me…

House of Cards

House of Cards

Blimey. An unAmerican expression perhaps but after watching the full 73 episodes…

Forget about God

Forget about God

Forget about God and find a new story. A story that can appeal to the child in us, but that looks more to the future…

Dreams

Dreams

Dreams. What are they for? A digestive process of the mind, as it seems, often including a conscious “chewing-over”…

ROOOT!

ROOOT!

The deep cry echoes out from the terraces. Joe Root deftly guides another four behind the wicket…

In Time of Covid

In Time of Covid

As many millions will have done and many more will do, I need to jot down a thought or two on the bane of the time.

50 Snapping Turtles

50 Snapping Turtles

Three weeks ago it was over but the memory can still flare up of a protracted, nightmarish encounter…

Ballad of the Socks

Ballad of the Socks

Socks – they come in twos, or so the story goes, but mine have different views.

Books

Books

It’s 1967, my first teaching post. I’m covering for an absent English teacher at a girls’ comprehensive school in Islington, London…

Asphodel Long

Asphodel Long

Sixteen years ago she passed away. Just the other day I was talking to my brother on the phone, her other child.

It’s breathing

It’s breathing

It’s breathing, I murmur, as I try to express the sense of oneness with atmosphere and place that seems almost…

Keon Lincoln

Keon Lincoln

A howl, a scream unheard, unvoiced unutterably savage singes the mind’s edge outside the sky hears nothing except…

Two worlds

Two worlds

I can’t help thinking about two worlds. One in which we take an imaginative step forward in some needy area of social life…

What’re they doing to my tree?

What’re they doing to my tree?

Of course it’s not my tree, I half-apologise to it as I raise the blinds at an infernal noise in the street and see two men…