Grandad and Caterpillar Soup

It was a room of cloying Granny hugs and cheek pinching aunties wiping away big sobbing tears. It was the best room and on the large pine table Granddad lay still, tucked into his satin lined oak box quiet dead in his Sunday best bib and tucker.

The room was dark and stale. Full of heavy furniture and heavy hearts. He wasn’t old but then, to me at the age of three he seemed positively antique. All leathery and worn out with too much fresh air and hard physical work.

I was lifted high for my peek.

“Give the lad a look!”

I tensed my body like a plank, as toddlers do, and cried for my mother who was crying for her dead father.

Uncles chatted softly and I was the subject of too much Uncly head patting.

I wriggled free and darted from the best room and it’s dreary cold gloom and ran towards the bright outside light and clean air, alive with promise and free from death’s grimace.

I escaped into the orchard to eat until fit to burst, the green unripe pears squirming in my tummy like wriggly caterpillar soup.

A search party of older cousins dragged me back to the old house. My mother fussed and cleaned me up. Spitting into a hankie to wipe my face clean of pear juice.

Then all the women and snot-tripping younger children lined up in front of the house like servants for a photograph as my Dad and Uncles carried Granddad out.

His coffin was closed. I never did get that last peek. I remember him on the tractor and of hay fights in Summer, not a corpse in a box in a dank room.

We watched the hearse creep along the lane and down the Glen until out of sight past the rhododendrons where the foxes lived.

Then, Granny led everyone indoors to make mountains of sandwiches and kettles of tea in readiness for the returning men.

#FP The Fly, the Trout and the Chelsea Pout

The fly
plops into the river
to lie abob the water

The trout
scoots and flashes
and espies the fly

The fly
caught in between
the layers struggles

The trout
drives and kicks
with mouth agape

The fly
whispers a prayer
and waits for the strike

The trout
keen eyes fixed
speeds prey-ward

a fly demise and
a contented trout

In a swish Chelsea surgery
Miranda and Charlotte
arrive for their collagen fix
and leave with a trout pout

another fly
plops into the river
to lie abob the water

#FP LA La Land

In between my many scheduled trips
to the crazy Friday world of La La Land

(to visit Kizziwiggleboo and you too)

I live in ‘Real Life’ with my wife and
other tender flesh and blood creatures

(including several children and a jazzy Gnu)

any hoo


Chitterlins at St Andrews

The chitterlins
low flitting flight
picking insects
left and right
hugging the 18th green like
a running chip erratic with
sidespin, check and bite.

In the stands,
a wafer biscuit
is grabbed from
a child’s cold mitt
by a swooping gull with needy eyes
and grasping talon feet like a
true rolling putt unerringly hit.

In truth, I didn’t get to
watch much golf at all.
My trip to The Open
was a crazy carnival
of avian antics and passerine acrobatics,
with an occasional glance at the scoreboard:
but the golf nuts seemed to be having a ball!

Fly. River. Pizza.

Beside the old brick
railway bridge,
tired and
and old

young men,
tattooed and bold,
strip to the waist
and jump with aplomb
to water bomb
the cool waters beneath

emerging half drowned
and coughing
with cigarettes
still clenched
between their
nicotine stained

Their ditsy molls,
all tits and piercings,
sprawl across
the towpath
singing and
drinking cheap
wine by the neck.

Laughing like
shrieking starlings at
their boyfriends’
childish bravado.

I am completely ignored
as I am much too old
for their carefree world.

(which I am paying for)

They are
flesh and blood.

They are the
misunderstood yoof
who live for each moment.

Each moment a throwaway
a swig,
a kiss,
a cigarette.

A sunny carousel of


In an instant
the mood thickens as
fists fly in a blur
of white knuckles.

The demon drink
spurs on the lads
and taunts rain down
like clumped fists,
as their wretched molls
flap around with
wails and flailing arms.

A wonderful melee ensues.

A riot of
slaps and shouts,
ripped Fred Perrys
and well aimed clouts.


As quickly as
it started,
calm descends
as a spotty yoof
on a moped arrives
with pizzas and coke
for the yoofs
and their molls.

Smiling faces
slobber over
filled crust
and coleslaw dips
washed down
with litres of
caramel coke.

I roll
another cigarette
and enjoy my
riverside smoke.

Pizzas devoured,
dips dipped,
coke guzzled,
cartons and bottles
left where they fall
on the path,
in the river
or casually tossed
over the allotment wall.


As they lie sated
with empty calories,
dull brained
and content,
they pair off to snog.

watch as the flies
descend on snippets
of pizza escaping
on the running river.

Pepperoni topping abuzz.

Fly. River. Pizza.

My Amber Tea and Me

amber tea
and me
Sunday morning
tea drinking
and chilling

balled up and
content to sup
from my favourite cup
legs curled under
on a battered settee
with my favourite tea

The perforated little bag
of black leaf goodness
brought to life by
boiling water kisses and
a splash of cow juice

an unpretentious little number
to jolt me from my Sunday slumber

nothing fancy
like Earl Grey or
Orange Pekoe
or frightfully hip darling!
like lapsong souchong
or, god forbid, green tea

a good

pick me up
to start the day
and set me up.

I know!

I think I’ll have another cup.

My son

I found this old poem, written many, many years ago, tucked under rubbish in a drawer and thought ‘this is a little bit of lost history’ it brought back a flood of memories (and more than a few tears).  Memories of a simpler time. A time in Northern Ireland of bombs and guns and senseless death and religious bigotry. So here it is. A little bit of my past.


As a boy I played with pedal cars
and watched Lassie in black and white.

My sister was two years younger than I
yet we played happily together in a yard
mottled with crazy paving.

My mother was jolly and wore bright dresses.
My father was stern
and not afraid to use the belt which
hung like a voodoo charm from a nail
at the back door.

My sister and I lived for each childhood moment.
Each tumble,
each game of tag,
each chase around the yard.
It eased us through an enchanted time.

Later, as a primary school boy
I played in the lush meadows which
surrounded our council terrace with
Wallace, Midgie and Trevor
flattening the tall summer grasses
as we advanced on our bellies
wooden tommy guns at the ready.

I remember playing grocery shops
stripping the bright seed heads of
ripened grasses and layering them
in tins and jam jars.

We pulverised lumps of sandstone
and made shifting dunes which
shone like magical beacons in the
afternoon sun.

I remember sacred places like
Johnston’s rocks and the Eagle’s nest,
secret sanctuaries where we whispered
about lost treasures and made
pledges of honour.

We climbed trees reaching the topmost
sapling branches and creeping to their ends
bent them earthwards
then jumped, the spindly growths
ripping skywards with a piercing rasp
like Mrs Oliphant’s whip.

I remember our fathers playing football,
it was captain’s pick
and our fathers were prized team mates.
They ran around our tiny pitch like teenagers
and goals were greeted with
Brazilian bravado.

Jock Murdoch watched from the side lines.
We were afraid of Jock.
He leant heavily on his stick
a growling Alsatian dog at his side.

I was still at primary school
when images from Londonderry
filled the television news.
I remember Gerry Fitt,
a small wiry balding man with
black prescription glasses, who
confronted the police with his banners
and demands.


I am my father’s son.
I reflect his geneology.
We are not close
yet we respect each other.
I was born into a dying age
of unseen, quiet, yet happy children.
An age of carefree immaturity.

My son is a free spirit.
He is a tender boy,
small for his age
yet fights his corner
like a terrier.
He is the spit of his Grandfather,
the same thin wiry gait
and mischievous grin.

He is made of soft stuff,
eager to please
and fit in.
Brought up to accept people
for what they are and
not what their parents
want them to be.

At the caravan last weekend
a fresh faced girl of nine or ten
asked my son

“Are you a Catholic?”

“Of course I am” he said.

My son is a Protestant.

Why we should leave Mondays well alone.

As Mondays go, it hasn’t been a bad Monday although I’m not convinced that Monday deserves all the bad press it receives.

Then again, maybe it does. Bob certainly thought so.

Perhaps if we renamed all the days (if Monday blues are linked to the word itself) or agreed to periodically juggle the days of the week so that Monday was occasionally Thursday and Saturday sometimes switched with Wednesday? Or even Tuesday?

Why not go the whole hog and divide all the hours of the week between Saturday and Sunday.

Eighty Four hours each.


Eighty Four is part of Nineteen Eighty Four. And Nineteen Eighty Four was a time of perpetual war and government control under the watchful eye of Big Brother (not the Endemol one).

So, perhaps not.

Maybe Mondays should be a celebration of the new week? A chance to start anew with a positive outlook and hope for world peace and togetherness?

I thought not.

What if everyone in the world took a super dooper sleeping pill at Sunday bedtime and slept until Tuesday morning? But then who would look after machines and stuff that doesn’t sleep?

(Careful! Becoming a tad Orwellian again!)

And if we all took sleeping drafts on Sunday night, what would Australians do? Because my Sunday night is midweek lunchtime in February for antipodeans, or some such time of year.

(And their seasons are upside down too, but that’s for another time.)

What a palaver! (Not cake. That’s a pavlova.)

So, for the sake of international sanity and to preserve order and avoid spurious rioting, I have to concede that the best thing we can do is to leave well alone. Just get on with it. Man up. (Woman up too.) Tolerate Mondays as best we can.

And after all: Monday brings us one step closer to Saturday.

Saturday. It’s got a nice ring to it.




#fieryverse A Toothpaste Demeanour