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.

 

 

 

If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery.

— Leonard Cohen

Latest article

Ways to improve the Olympics

There is no such thing as a level playing field. In view of that, I would like to make suggestions for the next Olympics. You may find them controversial.

First, I suggest we ditch the whole anti-drugging industry and let people take whatever drugs they like. This may seem radical; so there is an alternative.

We could carefully measure every competitor’s body chemistry and bring it up (or down) to a uniform level. Clearly some people are born with an advantage, be it extra testosterone or a particularly athletic metabolism. Some are exceptionally tall (basketball). How can this be fair?

Also, some people are temperamentally suited to getting up early and running uncountable miles in the cold of winter, doing press-ups and generally getting out of breath. Others are not, and so are prevented from reaching Olympic levels.

Some people are also more inclined to self-centredness and so can put their demands as athletes before the needs of their families. This must be put right, perhaps by insisting that all athletes spend a certain number of hours with their families each day.

Some athletes, it has been noted, are able to answer interminable inane questions from sports commentators without ever punching them in the mouth. Most of us are innately unable to do this. Maybe some courses would be in order.

Once these reforms have been put in place, we can tackle the events themselves. The most urgent need is to ditch any event that involves a judge of performance.

It was obvious at Rio that quite a number of such judges made bizarre decisions, particularly (but not solely) in boxing. This could be avoided quite easily by sticking to sports that rely on clear measurement of achievement, such as running, jumping, swimming, shooting and so on. We could add chess. Obviously that would be a good thing.

I realise this would mean dumping gymnastics, diving, trampolining, synchronised swimming and a number of other questionable activities, but if necessary they can have their own Other Olympics. We could call it a Circus. (I am not belittling circuses: on the contrary, I went to one in Yarmouth a few weeks ago, and it was brilliant.)

To make things totally fair, I think we should all have gold medals, regardless.

Latest poem

Ancestor

I am lost in here, beneath the brambles and the weeds
My grandson’s grandson looks for me
He wonders what sort of man I was
if I was somehow like him, searching

He could hunt down the histories, line by line
but like me he is impatient
darting from one part of the graveyard to another
straining to read the  collapsing inscriptions

hoping for inspiration, fate, some kind of
inner knowledge or
voice from beyond

He could track me down perhaps
from documents and records
but he prefers to travel graveyards
and I am here, really I am

lost in the thorns
hidden for years
shapeless
removed

The sun is going down
He is not far away now
We are much closer
than he would dare  believe