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

Follow me, I’m a friend of the Pastons

If you saw someone wandering around Norwich on 15 September with about 16 people in tow, it was probably me. To be honest, it could have been any number of official City Guides, but they would have known what they were doing. For me it was a one-off Heritage event, and I had been plunged into it almost by accident.

I am a trustee of the Paston Heritage Society – in fact the only such trustee living in Norwich; so it falls to me quite often to introduce visitors to the various Paston-related sites in the city. (If you don’t know who the Pastons were, I refer you to pastonheritage.co.uk; there is also a Facebook page.)

Recently, as the more alert Norwich-dwellers will know, there has been an extensive  Castle Museum exhibition on The Paston Treasure – it finishes this weekend (September 23). There has also been a more general, highly informative exhibition in St Peter Hungate, which continues until November. One of the spin-offs from this was my walk, which was inserted when something much more exciting was cancelled. I cannot reveal what it would have been. If I did, I would have to kill you.

I was a little concerned about how many sites I could include in the advertised 45 minutes. I was also slightly worried about whether I would be blamed if someone fell under a bus or was flattened by a cyclist, but I did warn them about it beforehand. They were a cheery bunch, and took full responsibility.

One of the problems with the Pastons was that they did not restrict themselves to a small part of Norwich – an area with a 45-minute radius of the Castle, for example. But we did what we could, taking in the main areas, such as St Andrew’s Hall, St Peter Hungate, Elm Hill and those ruins behind the Cathedral. We also slipped by the Guildhall, and stood for a while on Whitefriars Bridge. We ended up in front of the Cathedral after 90 minutes, having lost a few people on the way (all for very good reasons).

So what did we miss?  Mainly the Music House – the oldest house in Norwich, owned by the Pastons in the 16th century and now containing a Paston Room; and Dragon Hall, created originally by their friend, the equally famous Robert Toppes. But other sites of interest to Paston-lovers are scattered not only throughout Norwich but throughout the entire county, from Paston itself across to Appleton and taking in such beautiful buildings as (part of) Oxnead Hall and Barningham Hall.

As relaxation the following day I sat with my wife in St Augustine’s Church, which has nothing to do with the Pastons (as far as we know), but which is the church where I am a member. The building itself is owned by the Churches Conservation  Trust, and the church hall is used for worship. But on heritage days the church is open to visitors, and the experience is always interesting. This year I met someone who was born in the same place as I was – Earlham Hall.

Afterwards I wrote the poem that appears below.

Latest poem

Heritage

Ropes still hang from the tower
but the bells –
too dangerous now –
have been removed

The church is silent:
no hymns have been announced,
old sermons have soaked into the walls
and been plastered over

The star and the king have gone,
taking the money with them
but leaving their souls behind
in memory of the dance

It is heritage day:
an old woman circles the graveyard
and finds the door
to a forgotten room,
full of prayers

The last bus rolls away:
the dust settles

Light blue glass glows
in the east window

He is not here,
He is risen