About

I am a writer who spent most of my working life as a journalist. I used to write offbeat commentary pages for the Eastern Daily Press, based in Norwich, England, and earlier a weekly piece called Square One for the Church of England Newspaper – hence the title of this site. I am also a poet, a walker, a chess player, a driver, a husband, a father, a grandparent, a guitar player, a reader, a TV watcher, a pensioner and a Christian, among other things. I love Norfolk, Scotland, the coast, deserts, rivers, mountains and almost everywhere I find myself, though not necessarily in that order. I like to look at things sideways, wherever possible. I have published six poetry books: Mist and Fire (2003), Off the Map (2007), Running with Scissors (2011), Stillness lies Deep (with Joy McCall, 2014), Iona: The Road Ends (2015) and Waving from a Distance (2017). I am a member of the poetry group Chronicle and edited a recent book on the Pastons in Norwich, which contains directions for a walk, a bit of history and some poems by myself and others. It’s called In the Footprints of the Pastons. Click here for more information on that.

  • Iona: The Road Ends, with accompanying photographs, is available from me by hand for £5, or £6 if I have to post it to you. Contact me at the e-mail address at the bottom of this page. It is also available from Amazon, as is Waving from a Distance, which is a collection of poems written during Lent 2016. The earlier books are also still available from me.

 

I also enjoy photography, without being in any way an expert. Some of my pictures can be found on Flickr, and some are included in Stillness Lies Deep and Iona: The Road Ends.

 

 

 

Latest article

Poetry four times in a week: can it be good for you?

At school I was shy and hated speaking in public. I remember having to give a five-minute talk to my class on railways: the idea of it terrified me, and the execution was even worse. The fact that I knew next to nothing about railways didn’t help. I was on the wrong track from the outset.

A couple of weeks ago and roughly 60 years later, I performed my own poetry four times in a week, to four different audiences. I am not boasting: it just happened like that. But it shows that if you’re born shy, it may not last. This may be good news for someone.

The first performance was on a Friday at Halesworth, at what is known in some quarters as a Poetry Café. Originally this group of mainly Suffolk poets led by Mike Bannister met at an actual cafe – Pinky’s – but it burned down a few months ago. So now we meet upstairs at the White Swan, while pool and darts are played downstairs. So I guess it’s a Poetry Pub.

Yes, I’m a Suffolk poet, though I live in Norwich. The second reading was at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, which is still a Poetry Café, though it’s really a theatre foyer – a smaller gathering run by the genial Ian Fosten, who used to live and work (as a URC minister) in Norwich, which is where I first met him.

At the Seagull I have also been known to sing my own songs, a phenomenon which my teenage self would have viewed with horror.

My third outing in this fearsome week was on the Tuesday at Jurnet’s Club in Norwich, where a Norwich poetry group meets. It’s not a real café either: it’s the ancient undercroft of the Music House, rumoured to be the oldest house in Norwich (it’s on King Street, once called Conesford Street). And it was once owned by the Paston family.

Which is a rather a neat link to my final outing, which was two days later at the Maids Head in Norwich. No poetry café, this, but something much grander. The event was a celebration dinner organised by the Paston Heritage Society, of which I am a trustee, to mark the anniversary of the first mention of the Maydes Hedde in a Paston letter, on 22 November 1472.

For this I not only had to perform but also dress up and, truth to tell, I still don’t like doing that. Between courses we performed a number of poems and some excerpts from the famous Letters – and enjoyed some excellent food and wine.

In all this I steered clear of railways. I don’t know why.

Latest poem

Epiphany

I have an epiphany:
there are no kings in East London

Late on, when the children
have been slaughtered
or at least thrown like gold
into the desert

I see wise men leaving,
having made no deal
even in their dreams
but rejoicing

and a star following,
or maybe a celebrity
getting out

I go back to sheltering the sheep –
the few that remain –
singing sacred songs
and welcoming strangers
in case they are angels

But something has changed:
I am no longer outside
on my own

I head for the future
holding a tiny piece of heaven
in the centre of my hand