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.

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.

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Latest article

Just when it felt safe, we caught it

More than two years after narrowly avoiding lockdown in Bethlehem, after mysterious months of mask-wearing, social distancing and excessive ventilation, enduring myriad unintelligible and illogical restrictions, a spell in hospital with a gall-bladder infection and experiencing all the joys of a long low-fat diet – just when it felt safe to come in out of the cold, I caught Covid.

To be accurate, my wife and I both caught Covid, testing positive on the same day. She, being more resilient than I, was over it within a week; my version lingered for another three days. I still feel tired and have minor pains in my back.

Why should you be interested in this? Rumour has it that about seven people out of ten in England have had Covid in one form or another. And that’s the interesting thing – in one form or another. Because nearly everyone appears to be affected differently.

My wife and I both had the symptoms of a very bad head cold, with a few vague add-ons such as peculiar head pains and a certain amount of shivering. But neither of us had the “official” symptoms – high temperature, sore throat, loss of taste or smell. We just felt very ill, and so tested ourselves.

One friend said she felt “fantastic” while still testing positive. Others felt more or less OK. But of course many have been laid very low, with symptoms that go on and on and on, debilitating and more than distressing.

Naturally we know several people who have not caught it. Half a dozen of them have never been vaccinated. Others have had the full range of jabs. We have had three jabs and still caught it. We might ask what the jabs were for; you might answer that we would have been much more badly affected if we hadn’t had them, but that is conjecture. In fact, most of it is conjecture.

In view of all this, it must be right to return to normal life now, or we never will. Even civil servants might risk it.

Latest poem

Nothing is coming

snow sits deep 
on the road out of collingwood
proud in the sun

but here there is only wind:
trees and lovers bowing
to the inevitable

the sound of the climate laughing
as mere humans fold
in half under the weight

of opinion 
and the Sahara edges southwards
leaving the party early

do not look up
nothing is coming
and will be here soon