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

Hidden world behind the houses

You’re walking down this suburban street. Technically it’s a village: it has a village green and an old church. But it’s attached to a city ­– there’s no countryside in between; so I think it’s fair to say it’s a suburb. It has a good bus service.

Anyway, you’re walking past these suburban-type houses, and suddenly there’s a track off to the right. It goes between a couple of the houses, and there’s an old down-at-heel notice that says you can get to the river that way.

You give it a shot. You’ve been in lockdown, and you need the exercise. 

A hundred yards down, there’s an old brick bridge – a rail bridge – and beyond it, round the bend, a house on its own. It looks abandoned, but it’s not. Old wood of various kinds is stacked up on one side, and on the other side are several vehicles the worse for wear. The house has two doors and two numbers – 1 and 2. There is a dim light in one of the rooms.

Another couple of hundred yards beyond the house there is a second rail line, but this one has a gated crossing. You open the gates, check that no trains are coming, and walk over. There is no sign of a river. Not yet.

The track continues. On the right are marshes, and a couple of very muddy paths – neither of them passable without a small boat. This should be beautiful country, but instead it seems dirty, with skeleton trees in the middle distance looking dystopian rather than stunning, and ditches brimming with unhealthy-looking water. There is no sun: the sky is heavy.

Eventually a very narrow path leads down to the river. It simply stops when it gets there, giving a river frontage of only a foot or two. On one side is a dilapidated dwelling, scruffy fencing and a large sign reading Private. On the other is a boatyard, apparently closed for the off-season. A few tired boats are moored nearby. The river is quite wide, and empty.

You return to the rail crossing and find a young family apparently train-spotting. The smallest child opens the gate for you, and you thank him. On the other side of the track a cyclist is coming through. You return by a side path, past a cemetery and, as you near a neater civilisation, a local Scout headquarters. 

You have lived within three miles of this hidden, layered world for more than 35 years without knowing it is there. You return to the car and drive home.

Latest poem

British Winter Time

The sky draws a line under lifeless clouds
as if the day is over:
witch-green, layered time
stepping meanly backwards,
hiding the light
behind jailer voices
while meadowed horses wait to be released

and the promised hour is swallowed
by grey land – old hoofprints 
heading plainly for the flood, 
reeds bent endlessly in prayer

across a path too often travelled
into the northern mist
towards the december sea