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

Take me back to Luskentyre

This would be a good time to be walking on the breathtaking beach at Luskentyre in the Outer Hebrides – assuming the weather is as sunny and (fairly) warm as it is at the moment in Norwich. Last time I was there – at the height of summer – it would have been a real challenge not to distance yourself socially from other beach-users, because there were so few of them.

Of course there might be good reasons not to isolate yourself in Luskentyre. I’m unsure about the toilet roll situation there, not to mention the food supply, and supermarket deliveries might be a problem.

But it’s definitely a good place to get away from it all in these stultifying times. I am fortunate in being forced to stay in a reasonably sized house with a beautiful woman, which is not something I’m desperate to get away from. Others are stranded on their own, or with someone who does not appreciate their finer qualities, or someone who abuses them, physically or verbally.

We do have a garden, and it’s in fine condition, because my wife has been working in it almost all this week. What have I been doing? Well, being a writer means my workload has increased, if anything, and I still can’t catch up. She likes gardening. Honestly.

I do try to get some exercise, and our neighbours, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, who are naturally closed, kindly left their gate open a for a couple of days so that I could take my daily exercise in their empty car park. However, they have now radically closed it, and my garden is not really big enough to get going in. A great deal of intricate manoeuvres are necessary to get from one end to the other, and even if you wiggle your hips, it still isn’t very far in terms of steps, which is what we all measure our fitness in nowadays.

We do have thoughtful neighbours and friends, which means that we are not hungry. Amazon have just delivered some olive oil, so that’s all right. I am expecting some peppercorns later. 

I am also doing what the Government tells me to. I am like that.

But I am paying little attention to the statistics on television or in the paper, because I still believe what my father told me over 60 years ago: “There are lies, damned lies and then statistics.” It wasn’t original to him, but he liked it.

I don’t actually think most statisticians make it all up; it’s just that there are so many unknowns, especially where viruses are concerned. It’s like economic forecasts – they are always wrong, and there’s always a good reason. Really.

Latest poem

Somewhere underground

Somewhere underground
where tree roots and fungi interconnect
where rock falls apart and lets strangers in,
where cities crouch under cities
waiting to re-emerge

a man walks through walls,
living partly in stone 
and partly in air,
waiting for the viruses to leave

He moves out under the sea
and back
unearthing those things he values most
but paying a price,
needing to concentrate

One day he goes too far,
steps forward without thinking
then stops:

losing his grip on two domains,
he finds himself frozen between them
head in air
body in rock
unable to move

Somewhere underground
someone is laughing,
but no-one can hear him