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.

 

 

 

The best songs to me — my best songs — are songs which were written very quickly. Yeah, very, very quickly. Just about as much time as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it.

— Bob Dylan

Latest article

Unexpected consequences of wrong food

I may be wrong, but I suspect that if I was walking in the city somewhere, minding my own business, and a building fell on me, my wife would attribute the resulting fatality to my not eating the right food.

I know I am not eating the right food, because she tells me so quite often. She herself is eating the right food, which is why she looks about 20 years younger than me and is beautifully formed. No building would dare fall on her. If it tried to, it would undoubtedly miss.

It so happens, sadly, that I like food that is not right. In fact, the way you can tell which food is not right for me is that I like it.

I am not beautifully formed and would like to weigh rather less – an inviting target for a psychopathic building. But I have this strange feeling that if I go over to the bright side and stick to food that is good for me, I will not like it, get bored quickly and probably die (possibly of starvation) way before the building starts to look unsteady.

I am not a particularly fussy eater, but I once had lemon curd tart at school. I didn’t know what it was, went home and told my mother we’d had Vaseline tart, which I think was fairly accurate, taste-wise. I still don’t know what they do to lemons, which I love as a fruit (in small bursts), to make them taste so off-putting when they appear with meringues or drizzle cake. Or tarts.

As for couscous, hummus and tofu, I have doubts as to whether they are really meant to be edible. I could say the same for beetroot, and what is the point of vinegar, except to ruin perfectly good fish and chips?

While I am on the subject (or adjacent to it), pasta, rice and vegetables are not meals: they are things to have with meals, preferably in smallish quantities. This is not as widely known as it ought to be.

I would not like to give the impression that my wife is single-minded. She is funny, clever and laughs a lot, often at herself. So I don’t really mind what she says about my food.

Anyway, there is a slight chance that she would put the building death scenario down to my not getting enough exercise. This would obviously be harder to believe, because if I had been getting less exercise at that precise time I would not have been walking in the vicinity of the fatal building.

Still, I would not dismiss the possibility entirely.

Latest poem

False Bay

Water kills by volume
filling space, forcing out air,
extinguishing breath

but also by weight

and as I sit alone for a snatched moment
on beige bleached rocks
strung out like forgotten connections

and watch the False Bay breakers
heave and hurtle their way in

I see an infinite weight out there
thumping the table
like a beast aroused, flinging itself
translucent white, blue-green mirages,
driven from the south
irresistible

and I see how fragile the truth is
easy to drown
even easier to bury

 

> A poem from South Africa, ten years ago