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

Man in a room

Once upon a time, a man (though he could have been a woman) lived in an enclosed room. He had everything he needed. It was a large and exciting room, and there was plenty to keep him occupied.

Being an intelligent kind of guy, he investigated every part of his environment and became an expert on it. He developed ways of working out what it was made of, and even where it might have come from – assuming that nothing had changed in the way things worked since the beginning.

He decided that it was very, very old and had come into existence by chance. He invented a theory to explain how this might have happened, although it was not entirely convincing. However, as he pointed out, there was no other theory.

It was suggested to him that perhaps there was something outside the room, but he found this was an unsatisfactory idea, because it could not be tested. In fact, he felt that people who thought such a thing possible were in some way mentally deficient.

He examined the room in great depth and worked out what would happen to it eventually.

He knew that after he was gone some people would find out more about the room, and that was fine. Eventually everything there was to know about the room would be known.

Some people said there were things in the room that he could not detect – perhaps things that could go in and out without his seeing them. He thought this was stupid, because if he had no experience of them, they could not be there.

He wrote many books about the room, and they explained many things about it. But none of them explained why it was there, or why he was there. Or who he really was.

He did not think these were good questions.

One day his room exploded. Nothing survived.

Latest poem

Never going away

(for David Holgate, 1939-2014, musician, sculptor, master letter-cutter)

The letter is the music
carved like jazz into Welsh slate,
the bass notes
not too hard and flat,
rubbed down again,
until the skin is soft enough to bear it –

until the message swings and sings,
digging into the past with passion
then surfacing again
touching the apple
and the cathedral,
inside and out

Just making things, he said,
doing things properly,
in the spirit

I see him catch beauty in a trap –
catch its essence, like prayer,
then set it free,
leaving his fine, exuberant mark,
never really going away