Sunday, July 26, 2020

Two trochees short of a Limerick

My name is two trochees.
If you don't know that's okey.
My knees are gouty,
So religion is outy.
I can play any tune I know
But I don't know any tunes.
Let's go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Night on the High Street

The yellow arm of a crane,
big as an airbus
on the pulverised tavern.
Lemon tenement windows.
Lemon of the fourth floor.
Lemon advert on a yellow bus.
And lit out by the all-night shop,


night street

Night: pub partly demolished (The Spotted Dog)

Day: crane over The Spotted Dog

Monday, July 13, 2020

Gone mad here counting*

Over the past sixteen years, I have been instrumental in publishing 139 short stories by 113 writers, not counting myself, from Bosnia, Canada, China, England, India, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, USA and Wales.

The last few were online and the rest were in 11 anthologies. I also co-edited two anthologies of poetry. Sales have been very poor but the writers I picked have gone on to win all the major prizes for short stories and some of them are now big names.

Link: Index of contributors to the New Short Stories book series and Story of the Month

* With a nod to The Onion Eaters by J.P. Donleavy

Two Poets in Lockdown

"Was that Mr Whippy or an ambulance?"
"Won't know till they play their tune."

"Everything is wrong in my underpants."

"I'd rather be stabbed than eat a cream bun."

"Your thumbs are working like flies' legs."
"Flies being dumb can but wave."

"Stop poeting me."

Monday, July 06, 2020

The Reforms We Need

"Feeling that rejection in society, it's horrible" 
Senator Eileen Flynn

The reforms we need to make 
are in our own minds 
and hearts. We need 
to pull out the bindweed 
of racism from our lungs 
and drink deep 
from the cooling elixir 
of love, till our thoughts
are like a mountain spring 
bubbling clear 
into the dirty world. 

The quote is from the Irish Times on the first Traveller woman in the Irish Oireachtas.

Friday, June 26, 2020

In Wormwood Scrubs Car Park

There's no such thing as waiting (W. Herald)

Spare a thought for inmates,
inpatients & chauffeurs,
eunuchs in harems,
call-handlers and gofers.
The wilderness waits at noon,
the firmament by night
but our lives are eked out
under fluorescent light.

Wormwood Scrubs Park yesterday, view towards hospital

Someone sleeping in the shade

Wormwood Scrubs Park

On chauffeur duty, what else is there to do only compose rhymes?

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The scene today (Sunday)

View of empty roadbridge
Wood End Road - beautiful S-bend

Same road a little further along
The entrance to Harrow Cricket Club is ahead, left

Chiltern Line east from the railway bridge
Summer trees & clouds along the Chiltern Line.

It's perhaps banal to some but this back road near my home makes a pleasant walk and some of the views are lovely.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Giving up?

Update: since writing this, I have resumed work on the novel.

I am not a novelist. I've wasted good ideas for short stories by trying to think of them as novels. However, if I revisit them, and I have about four I think I started on, maybe I can rewrite them as long short stories. I'm very down and depressed. Hardly an hour goes by that I don't spend partially in contemplation of throwing my hat at it all. 

I wish this coronavirus would go away, it's so worrying and depressing. So much anxiety, fear... We're shielding each other here. A ticklish throat, random cough at night: is this it? Are we goners?

Then sometimes interludes of welcome respite in the garden. I wish goldfinches would slow down so I could have time to get my binoculars and have a good look at them. They flit to the bird bath and are gone in an instant. I'm going to go for a long walk today, my 3 mile walk. I've been taking the 1 mile route most days or staying in all day. Meanwhile here's Donny...

Giving Up by Donny Hathaway (Spotify)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Snaps and claptrap

Weeds are good. I like them. We have to stick together. The camera can't quite capture the delicate primrose colour exactly.

Primroses growing wild in the back garden
In other news, our lemon tree has been freed from its greenhouse prison to romp about in the sunny outdoors. It is bedecked with flowers like jasmine only more grown-up and sensual. The one lemon is still a work-in-progress, hidden by two sentry leaves and lots of tiny lemons have got started and are hoping to hang around a bit longer.

Freed lemon tree gambolling and frolicking in the open air

Friday, March 06, 2020

If life gives you one lemon

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

My all-time Spotify yearly "top songs" in one playlist

I copied the songs presented to me by Spotify as "Your Top Songs [year]" for the past number of years. They started with 2016 and I created this in 2020 with the songs from 2016 to 2019. The same songs recur from year to year but only one copy goes into this playlist. If they do another one for 2020 I'll add the tracks from that too. Here is a link to the complete playlist.

Flying update

As this is a blog, I feel I ought to report what's happening with me, at least once in a while. I'm trying to make progress with a novel I started on more than a year ago. As part of this, I'm taking another workshop course at City Lit. It's the highlight of my week and I'm getting great feedback, encouragement, and discovering that there is so much more I need to do. I know it's often said that you shouldn't workshop something till the entire first draft is finished but I am worried about the foundations I'm laying with the first few chapters and I don't want to "go off half-cocked." A friend from my local informal workshop said about my work-in-progress, "I think this one has legs." That's why I chose to press ahead and try to complete it and why I'm doing all I can to do so. It's fascinating to see how others are getting on with their writing and I learn something new every day, in the process of giving and receiving feedback. The course is called "Advanced fiction writing workshop" and our tutor this time is novelist Mary Flanagan, whose comments and notes are both charming and insightful.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Thanks NHS, 10 years younger & faff-less writing

I'm very grateful to Dr El-Husseiny and all the team at Charing Cross Urology department for giving me back the ten years younger that I feel. To the jolly Caribbean night nurse, you are gold, cheering-up the ward of men with tubes where no tube should be.

And I hope the worried Londoner who talked to me by name, is okay. He was so worried and I said I was the same before but I could have said more as I left. Others too. It's a world apart. We were there for prostate reduction operations. There was a man older than the rest who was fairly quiet and another young guy who was shouting and moaning but he had other complications, probably a different operation, I think.

That was some months ago now. It's been fascinating, becoming "ten years younger." Once I'd recovered from the operation and started feeling like this, I thought it's like having part of a life to live over. What I didn't do for the past ten years and should have, I now must, or will it just be the same again?

So I'm doing some work on a writing project, instead of faffing around, noodling, doodling. But it's tricky, this "being serious" malarkey. There's a danger that my, though I say so, light & breezy text is at peril of becoming dull by having to make sense. But I hope if I rebuild on better foundations, which I am doing now, that normal service will be resumed, and light breezes shall blow again. I don't know if this is of interest to anyone other than me but no matter!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

My most-played Spotify tracks of 2019