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.

 

 

 

If we were less arrogant we might see ourselves for what we are – children sent on an errand, who first forget our instructions and then realise we have forgotten the way home.

— Lindsay Clarke

Latest article

The Pastons are coming. Oh yes they are!

This is Paston Year. You may have missed the announcement as the bells rang to usher it in, or maybe it was drowned by the sound of fireworks.

Perhaps you don’t live in Norfolk. Well, that is your bad luck. Norfolk has everything except mountains. Mountains, glaciers, penguins, deserts and … OK, the world is full of things that Norfolk doesn’t have. But we do have a beautiful coastline, lovely countryside, the Broads, a fine city, Keith Skipper and a very relaxed way of life. Oh, and the Pastons.

Exactly 600 years ago the first Paston Letter was written. The country at a literary level  was still steeped in French and Latin at the time, and the Paston Letters were among the first written in English, mostly in the 15th century. They were preserved in what might be described as a miraculous way – lost and then found, dispersed and then gathered together.

The Pastons themselves rose from being yeomen farmers in remote North-East Norfolk to court favourites during the time of the Wars of the Roses and beyond. They were often lawyers, and they married very astutely, gathering land and money, power and influence – often in the face of stiff opposition. Eventually they became Earls of Yarmouth and then – out of the blue – they lost everything. It’s a compelling story and one that will be told in many ways this year.

I have to confess an interest. I am a trustee of the Paston Heritage Society, which, together with the University of East Anglia, has been awarded a substantial sum by the Heritage Lottery Fund to run a three-year project involving nearly a dozen centres in the county.

This year the emphasis is on an extensive exhibition at St Peter Hungate Church in Norwich, which was the Pastons’ parish church when they lived in Elm Hill, perhaps the most picturesque street in the city. There will also be a prestigious exhibition at the Castle Museum – an exhibition shared with Yale University in America. It centres on the mysterious painting called The Paston Treasure.

If you are interested, you can read all about this elsewhere, primarily on the Paston website and Facebook page. You can get involved. In fact, please do. I mention it here because it is one of those important and fascinating things that sometimes don’t get the publicity they deserve.

You know – like Norwich City.

Latest poem

Cringleford

Dead wood in the pool below the weir,
mud on the banks:
above the rushing fall, still water
beneath the concrete road

where my mother, who saw the first car
drive up Eaton hill,
never felt at home

Water is like memories:
sometimes still and deep,
sometimes rushing through
bearing dead wood,
old lives, flowing into uneasy corners

Her birthplace is buried now, and so is she,
quiet on a brambled hill
three miles away,
and where she ate breakfast
I buy foreign food

But this was home for her:
she would have known that bridge
and those cottages:
the way the river ran:
unnamed paths and
the churchyard where her husband’s brother rests

And like those old houses,
she won’t let go:
a swollen, generous stream,
she keeps returning

> Cringleford is a village just outside Norwich. It adjoins Eaton, now a Norwich suburb, which was a village itself when my mother was born there in 1911. This poem was written ten winters ago.