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

Why don’t they do it in the Rosary?

I may have mentioned the Rosary cemetery. When I “took my exercise” there during the first lockdown, it was almost always deserted. Now, word seems to have got round, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because thousands of people are reading my posts. Perhaps people are getting so bored with their daily street walks or the overcrowded riverside gangways that they’re looking desperately for somewhere different that can still be described as “local”. Eventually they stumble on the Rosary. They strike lucky.

As we ease into spring, the Rosary is probably at its best. New blankets of crocuses appear every day, among many other spring flowers – snowdrops, primroses, daffodils. You know the sort of thing. Pretty irresistible.

However, unlike many others, I don’t think our appreciation of this phenomenon has suddenly arisen because our lives have slowed down, allowing us to appreciate nature more. Either you appreciate nature or you (inexplicably) don’t.

Most of us love nature, and we don’t go out of our way to ruin it. As I tiptoe between the graves, I try hard not to tread on any tiny shoots. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Nevertheless, there seem to be people who are so focused on themselves and their own convenience that they really don’t care about their surroundings.

I’m not talking about the highways department. I’m not talking about car drivers, or dog walkers, or climate change deniers, or anti-vaxxers or secret huggers, or elves and fairies.

I’m talking about ordinary people who could have an immediate impact on the environment by simply refraining from one activity that has a huge negative impact on city streets and country verges. I am referring, of course, to dropping litter.

Do you actually know anyone who drops litter? Nor me. But it happens on a huge scale, all the time. The Rosary seems to be an exception, and I wonder why. What sort of people don’t go there? People who regard cemeteries as gloomy and forbidding places? People who aren’t impressed by trees and flowers? I was going to say dog walkers, but that’s just me being prejudiced. Maybe it’s people who just don’t notice their surroundings, or are frightened by the whole concept of death, or by the invisible “big picture”.

Somebody left an embroidered notice on one of the seats in the Rosary. It reads: “Not to ruin the ending for you, but it will all turn out ok.”

It is this kind of optimism – some would say reality check – that makes us look round at what I like to call Creation, and want to enjoy it. You don’t have to call it Creation to enjoy it, but it seems to help.

Latest poem

Offshore

you lead me to pasture
across the soft sands where
I do not want to go

where the water is not still
where tides flow in and out
but the pathway is right

I see the pasture ahead,
the island shaped just for me
beyond the valley

yes, I am comforted:
I run towards the future

it is your island:
I will stay there
with you