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 five poetry books: Mist and Fire (2003), Off the Map (2007), Running with Scissors (2011), Stillness lies Deep (with Joy McCall, 2014) and Iona: The Road Ends (2015). The last two also contain my photographs. I am a member of the poetry group Chronicle.

  • 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. 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.

 

 

 

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

45mph – the speed of death

I have to admit that I can be impatient. Fortunately most of my friends are patient with my impatience, but sometimes it spills over and reveals itself.

To an extent it’s always been there, but it’s been getting worse since I became aware that the years ahead of me are fewer than the years behind. Much fewer. The fact that my grandson has reached his 14th birthday is a factor. How long have I got? Can you speak a bit faster?

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing things that are a waste of time. I do those things, of course, but I don’t want to.

I resent filling in forms, or attending meetings that go through everything “line by line”. I know some people enjoy it, but I don’t. I shall have to fill my tax form in soon, and I’m not looking forward to it.

Why does software take longer and longer to load? Is it me?

Getting from place to place becomes more and more stressful. My train from Coventry to Euston was held up by 28 minutes last week. That’s very nearly 50%.  And have you noticed how the police grab every opportunity to close roads for as long as possible? Even after relatively minor accidents?

Don’t even get me started on Transport for Norwich, who not only delight in imposing as many roadworks as possible on the city at the same time, but manage to find contractors who work infinitely slowly. Why?

I have worked out that if speed kills, the speed of death is about 45mph. Twice in the last couple of days I’ve been in a queue behind drivers travelling along perfectly serviceable A roads at that speed, and I can tell you that it’s murder.

It’s not totally their fault. If only the second in the queue was able to summon up the nerve to overtake, the problem would disappear – slowly, perhaps, but it would disappear. Unfortunately, no-one seems willing to overtake nowadays. Have they forgotten how? Or do they really think that a slow-moving queue is safer?

Last time this happened, I dropped back to avoid the mind-numbing boredom of travelling at that speed on a road designed for 60mph. Why didn’t I overtake? Four cars at once was pushing it a bit, even for me. I’m not so impatient that I want to die straight away.

Latest poem

Momentary mystic

I sit in an optician’s chair,
tested by the flashing of lights,
trying to see more clearly,
but it is no use: I remain addicted to the illusion
that life is fine as it is

finite, filled
with stories of demons,
mystery beating in ancient blood:
but there is unexpected trouble
in paradise

I shout at the sun, suddenly,
and slide right past
the fundamental point

Then, like a moth trapped in a window,
wings outstretched,
I realise that touching the floor
is not a dream

A momentary mystic,
misfit in this wavering world,
I am touched by grace again
and the joy of returning

God passes into me,
and I into him:
we empty ourselves
through the narrow, incomprehensible gate

 

This is a poem I wrote almost exactly five years ago.