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.

 

 

 

We are none of us infallible – not even the youngest of us.

— W H Thompson

Latest article

Houseago exposes new newt atrocity

Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago, 87, the legendary activist and newt-chaser, has emerged from hiding to attack plans to cripple and exploit motorists in Norwich and elsewhere.

Mr Houseago was once voted the person with the most influence on Norfolk life, narrowly beating Richard “Volcano” Meek, the admired explorer, into sixth place. With the assistance of his former fiancée, Dorothea Goodchild, he conducted a long and genial campaign against the influence of newts on town and country planning, accusing them of conducting a “divisive and deceptive propaganda-driven attack” on the Norfolk way of life.

He is now concerned that one consortium of great-crested newts is making a comeback, sometimes using the name Transport for Norwich, and sometimes the name of a former Leeds midfielder who prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

He says the newts want all of Norwich, even those roads that are closed – which is most of them – to have a maximum speed limit of 20mph. This is because 20 rhymes with “plenty”, which Mr Houseago describes as “the most unfortunate linguistic coincidence this century”.

He adds: “It will soon escalate, or possibly decelerate. You mark my words, we’ll soon be regaled with ‘Ten is Zen’, and some other so-called genius will be made an MBE.”

Comet-chaser and whole food chef Len “Kissme” Hardy, an old opponent of Mr Houseago, denied that the 20mph project was pointless and a vanity project. He also claimed that public consultation was carried out in order to find out what people wanted, but this suggestion was discounted as “far-fetched” and in some cases “ludicrous”.

Mr Houseago, in a burst of research-led thinking, pointed out that Manchester City Council had abandoned a plan for a city-wide roll-out of 20mph limits because it wasn’t having the anticipated benefits. But Mr Hardy retorted that Leicestershire County Council, which was nearer and therefore more likely to be right, wanted more average speed cameras, regardless of whether they were needed or not. Unfortunately the DfT did not think this was a good idea.

Mr Houseago said it just went to show that even the DfT could be right occasionally.

Meanwhile a newt representing Twenty’s Plenty said there should be no need to ask people whether they wanted things, because newts already knew what was best, and it was a waste of time. “That’s typical,” said Ms Goodchild from her almost inaccessible home in the centre of Norwich.

Latest poem

Grinlow Hill

Footprints in the snow give us away
as we climb through the overarching woods
and up to the temple
with ice on its steps

Like echoes, light rays bounce
off thin surfaces,
the scarred and sacred skin above the caverns
where jewels are stored

And there is no way of telling
what lies beneath –
what we are trampling on,
dreams or deep designs,
nightmares or living water

They wait to swallow us
but we fail to submit
tiptoeing too fast and carelessly
across crisp country,
giving no thought
to the treasure below

seeing only the view from the summit,
the naked tower so easily destroyed,
the beckoning finger,
the sword in the frozen lake
far, far away

 

〉Part of a new Lent project: poems about hills. Grinlow is in the Peak District, above Buxton.