A week and a day in St Tropez

with her bright yellow coat
and black shiny bag
she was waspish.

she buzzed and fussed,
pink gin in hand, her
sparkly phone vibrating.

she was electric. eclectic.
wonderfully eccentric.
i fell instantly in love with her.

we eloped to st tropez.
it lasted a week and a day.
then she left with a beatnik.

his name was george.
he played guitar, tantrically.
i went home to my mum, despondently.

i never saw her again.
i don’t even know her name.
the waspish girl with the yellow coat, black shiny bag and sparkly phone.


bilberry picking

the moor sleeps.
bogweed and heather topped.
mist rolls over her like cream floating on coffee.

footsteps bounce
on marshmallow sponge.
the turf drinks deeply when it rains.

a chink of sun
flutters amongst the bilberries,
as pickers, fingers blue with juice, warm up.

my pail is full.
overflowing with super berries, jewelled with dew.
my tummy is plump. i’ve eaten as many as i’ve picked for you.

my steps are heavy.
the sucking peat bites. i hike back to car and home. 
leaving the moor to forget me and sleep fitfully alone.

Popping fish bubbles

i live by the river.
we nap together
and hang out
with the cool breeze
that ruffles
and cools our skin.

she is an old lady.
pocked and scarred.
we share our age
and rage about
anti-ageing creams
and flimsy dreams.

snake oil.

she is gentle.
caressing her banks
with nimble fingers,
but when she cracks

each day is different,
down by the river.
as squirrels whirl
in the trees above
there are fish bubbles to pop
atop her rippling back
as mallards cruise by
and noisily quack.

she is older than me.
wiser. full of history,
full of stories
of life and death and hope.
she is taken for granted
but she shrugs
and carries on,
and as night falls
she whispers and sings
the most delicious of songs.

the day the shit hit the fan

tv dinners

tattered jeans
grubby vest,

sofa nest.

into the fabric.
they became as one.

he hugged
a bottle
of vodka
his lover
for tonight.

darkness came
like a blanket.
curtains drawn,
in his room.
in his mind.


closed to the life
she chose to
leave behind.

tv channels,


his mind with
blame filled
vodka memories
of life the way it was
before the shit
hit the fan.

of life before the storm.



a well fed mouse
and scurried.

their eyes met.
he knew this mouse.

friendly mouse
in his house.

his friend,
the mouse,
in their house.

this empty shell.
his private hell.

his choice

tears at bedtime

after the storm,
he drowned in debt.
swam through bills,
subsisting on dreams
and vodka and pills.

sharing pizza crusts
with his pet mouse,
in this house.
this lonely house,
their house,
his home,


Searching for ducklings

Every morning I search the river for ducklings. From an unobtrusive, non-invasive distance, I hasten to add. And using my eyes. Certainly not camouflaged and wearing thigh-high wading boots, trawling the river and poking the undergrowth for possible hiding places, although I’ve seen the police do it on telly when they’re looking for escaped convicts.

Always approach escaped convicts with caution and pepper spray.

Imagine living in a pretty little chocolate box village, one pub, Bloom of Britain awards, strange indecipherable accents, lots of old men called Cyril…. with a maximum security prison, all concrete and razor wire just a mile away at the end of a heavily fenced road when….SUDDENLY! sirens are wailing and dogs are rushing hither and zither like slobbering, rabid mad things desperate to sink their teeth into an escaping convict’s fleeing arse. Terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. And lot’s to talk about in the local after all the commotion and mayhem over a foaming pint of Bogwater bitter and a packet of ferret scratchings.

Any hoo. Ducklings. Not a sight of any this year. Not a one. Not a sausage. Not that ducklings and sausages are in any way related unless, of course, we’re talking about Farmer Thistlewood’s famous duck and camomile sausages (ducky with a medicinal aftertaste). He also makes a fantastic nettle, ground magpie and blackberry compote. Brilliant with a dollop of Mrs Bethroody’s special recipe caterpillar ice cream.

Any Hoo. Back to ducklings.

I so look forward to the busy little imps darting along the river like yellow whizzy nutjobs. It wasn’t a duckling, but we thought we saw a moorhen chick on Saturday morning but it turned out to be a twig caught in an eddy.

Eddies are peculiar things.

As a child I was lucky to have innumerable siblings and cousins who would gang up on other kids, strangle them slowly with lengths of baler twine before burning them on ceremonial funeral pyres. Sorry. I digress. I had lots of siblings and cousins and my maternal grandmother had a large farm with a wood and a river. We were almost feral, spending every hour of every day building treehuts in the wood or swimming in the river. However, there was a whirlpool (not the washing machine kind) which is a type of eddy, just below a bridge. Older cousins would scare the younger ones with tales of being sucked down by the whirlpool and spat out at the other side of the world (which was upside down of course) and therefore, falling off planet earth to float away, lost forever in time and space.

We never swam below the bridge.

The ducklings are late this year. Perhaps there won’t be any ducklings to be had. By ‘had’ I’m not implying that I hunt down the helpless little creatures for the cooking pot or to smother them liberally with superglue and incorporate them as accents of yellow in a creative decorating scheme, although yellow is a vibrant sunny colour which, used sparingly, can enliven even the darkest corner of a dull north facing room. Red or brown are absolute no-nos and their inclusion in any room set is pure folly. I once painted a study bright red and it resulted in a prolonged stay in a convalescence home, life-long gingerphobia and a fear of saffron threads, benign as both may be.

I am darting from subject to subject like a ditzy duckling.

There is always tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. There is still time for lines of ducklings to suddenly appear. Magicked from egg to water. Cuteness personified. I’m glad I live beside a river and not in a red house beside a prison with escaped convicts and sirens and cousins and whirlpools and falling off the world to worry about.

Oranges. Mmmmm.

lunchtime mediocrity

i am staring into an abyss
that is this ham sandwich.
this irrevocable descent into
lunchtime mediocrity
and workplace anonymity.

Dizzy Gillespie bebops in my ears
Dee Gee Days, Lady be good as
little people jostle and bustle,
eating little people meals,
lunchtime meal deals. sad life meals.

and i am at one with this chair.
at peace with this table.
metamorphosed into a casual diner,
a suit in a sea of polyester hoodies,
a man with a ham sandwich.

and if i squint, the world becomes
black and white. a world of contrast.
of day and night.colourless, insipid and dull.
my table is a mess of light brown crumbs.
my brain is a mess of fudgy thoughts.

a mother sets her screaming brat
into a kiddy ride that blasts
electronic noise. aural pollution.
an affront to my middle aged senses.
i mutter like a grumpy old man.

i’ve picked the ham from baguette.
extracted protein from carb,
millions are starving and i offer
bread to the lunchtime bin. perhaps
i should fatten up instead of staying thin?

coffee keeps me keen. sharpens my angst.
a sip to open my brain, to open my mind.
i have finished my repast at last,
thrown my net over this lunchtime treat
said my peace, acquiesced to convention.

i will return tomorrow.
same time, same seat, same table.

same sandwich.

the early morning train to El Paso

on the early morning train again
with funky Ben and sleepy Germaine
squinting in the morning sun as we
hurtle past Luton on the London run

a man called Stan
(who has a poodle called Charlie)
is discussing the virtues,
or otherwise, of super noodles and
other things edible and synthetic
with a chap called Norris who looks
like a small hairy rhinoceros.
their conversation is quite pathetic.
the track rushes by. i imagine
their tangled bodies crushed
beneath this early morning train
never to reach Paddington alive,

but what of the consequences?
the aftermath. the legacy.
i could run from the cops, the fuzz,
the filth, the old bill. buy a ranch
in El Paso, raise conifers and corn.  drop Peyote,
howl with the coyotes….

the train stops.

a line of liquorice allsorted commuters
jostle and bustle and rush and curse…

a conductor points to something clinging
to the steel wheels. it looks like a body….