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

Going round in circles – with a stick

Thank you to the two people who responded to my few paragraphs last time and said they would like me to continue with the story. As this is a surprisingly high number of people even reading my posts, let alone responding positively, I am going to give it a shot. But that will take some time. For now, I am going to tell you about talking circles.

Most talking goes round in circles, of course. But occasionally someone gets excited about traditional ways of discussing things, and even more occasionally that person will set up a talking circle. More occasionally still, she will persuade other people to take part.

I took part in one of these the other day. I don’t know why, except that the person who asked was very persistent. (While we’re on that subject, can I remind all young people, particularly my grandchildren, that being persistent is the key to success: being talented is helpful, being lucky even more so, but being persistent is absolutely vital. You won’t believe this until you’re my age and regretting everything you didn’t do, or try, or finish.)

Anyway, we were sitting round in this circle, like Native Americans. That was the easy bit. If we wanted to speak, we had to pick up a stick, which someone had found on a beach. I don’t think the beach is essential, but apparently the stick is. You can’t talk if you don’t have the stick.

You can’t pick up the stick unless you have something to say – unless you are keen on meditation, in which case you can pick up the stick and think for a while, presumably because you have a burning desire to say something, though you don’t know what.

I don’t think that was in the rules; that’s just what happened. Incidentally, isn’t it strange how many people who love silent meditation can’t stop talking, or wanting to talk?

Anyway, this went on for some time, and some of what people said was quite interesting, though I suspect not in the way the person who organised it wanted it to be. Still, it was a circle, and the people on the circumference just went round and round, like bicycle wheels but without the helmets.

There is a flaw in all this, of course, and it’s not punctures (though I suppose that could happen). The main flaw is that the people who like talking talk, and the people who don’t much like talking, or can’t reach the stick, remain silent. The stick had a definite attraction to certain people, like a magnet.

That was all right for us, though, because we were told that what was really important was listening. Presumably in that case picking up the stick was self-sacrificial, because then you had to talk and couldn’t listen.

I hope I’m not making this sound complicated. The other important thing is to set a time when you have to finish. We did that. That worked well.

Latest poem

Into the sea

Here where the road ends
(So long, Mary Ann)
the blood-red moon
shadows the thin lighthouse
and I am faced at last
with that long-approaching menace,
unable to answer questions
because your face is blurred

Back in Ward 14B
they go below your fragile skin
refusing to divulge key information
depriving you of your liberty
in case you make a run for it

making allegations
using foreign language
sucking your bright
life out and spilling it
into the sea

There is no more road:
the cliff edge cracks, revealing
poison beneath –
grey rocks dumped there vainly
for protection

None of this was our fault:
we played on the beach as well as anyone
though you never liked touching sand,
and the sea could not be trusted

Look for a new road –
one that leaps from the shore
and into the horizon:
there will be a sunrise,
and it will fit us
surprisingly well