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Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Put the flags out,
gather in the streets,
throw words,
throw poems,
in a riot of joy.

Light the beacons,
feel the comfort of fires,
the mustiness of the old,
the fresh-ink of the new,
the books, the pamphlets,
pages turned by tongue-wetted fingertips,

a new Poet Laureate
to excite and enthral,
one city, one Belfast,
poetry for all.

Put the flags out,
don't drown - 
wave, wave, wave.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Kay Burley was top girly,
Simon McCoy, top boy,
all the blah and all the blether,
the mixed fortunes of the weather,
standing outside the Lindo Wing,
waiting for news, anything,
the stalwarts stood their ground and guessed,
some viewers annoyed, many impressed,
and after all the long, long wait,
there they were, Wills and Kate,
ending all the speculation-hooey,
presenting Prince George Alexander Louis.......


From the book Juggling Jelly


I had a bow and arrow
Made of jelly,
The target up ahead
Was jelly too,
It was tricky pulling back the jelly string
But that’s what
Every archer has to do.

The bow and arrow
Wobbled left and right,
I thought to hit the target
Was a cinch,
I mustered all my expertise and skill
And the arrow flew
At least a half an inch.

Friday, 26 July 2013


The bulb pops and the light has gone,
a good moment to lose my mind in the dark.
My eyes are useless, so I close them,
promoting my ears to primary sense
and I listen to timbers and hinges,
a distant wood pigeon and echoes of the harmless.

My head is empty of worry and fear,
I feel my shoulders ease to rest.
I have nothing left to weep for,
nothing and no one to take care of,
nothing to protect in this welcome gloom,
nothing, nothing, nothing in the room.

Friday, 19 July 2013


I am available to review various aspects of the arts on a freelance basis. Please contact me via or 07595 660085.

Here's a list of some of the book, radio, television and theatre reviews I have written, mainly for Tribune magazine (now deceased):


April 2009
Consumer Kids: How Big Business Is Grooming Our Children For Profit by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn

June 2009
Trucking Country: The Road To America's Wal-Mart Economy by Shane Hamilton

September 2009
The 86 Biggest Lies On Wall Street by John R Talbott

October 2009
Driving Like Crazy by P J O'Rourke

January 2010
Sarah (Palin) From Alaska by Scott Conroy & Shushanna Walshe
The Killer Trail by Bertrand Taithe

May 2019
The Age Of Instability by David Smith

September 2010
What Did The Baby Boomers Ever Do For Us? by Francis Beckett

October 2010
Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

November 2010
Black Diamond by Martin Walker
Black Madonna by Peter Millar

January 2011
Dead Man Wins Election by Phil Mason

February 2011
Big Brother Watch edited by Alex Deane

June 2011
Spedan's Partnership: The Story of John Lewis and Waitrose by Peter Cox
Captain Cook: Master of the Seas by Frank McLynn

July 2011
Deadly Waters by Jay Bahadur 


December 2009
The House That Jazz Built; Classic Serial: The Complete Smiley

January 2010
Desert Island Discs
The Chris Evans Breakfast Show

February 2010
Bob Harris Country; The House That Chekhov Built
Jazz in the City; Living World

March 2010
I'm Still The Same Paul (Robeson); Today

April 2010
Radio 5 Live
Book Of The Week (Just Kids by Patti Smith); McAuley & Co

May 2010
The Carhullan Army; Great Lives; Weekend Wogan
When The Dog Dies; Morecambe and Wise - The Garage Tapes

June 2010
The Other Guantanamo; Sounds of the Sixties; Mornings with Simon Bates
BBC Local Radio
The Reith Lectures

July 2010
Down The Watta; The Marx Brothers In Britain; Simon Mayo
Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service; I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue; Country Afternoon With Hugo Duncan

September 2010
Book of the Week; Patrick Kielty; Humph Celebration Concert
Afternoon Play: Pythonesque; Radio 4

October 2010
Chris Moyles; The Reunion
Drama on 3: The Great Game; Radio 3

November 2010
Peggy Seeger; Ramblings; Today
Neil Diamond; Woman's Hour; Wake Up To Money

December 2010
The Moral Maze; The Things We Forget To Remember; Today
Great Lives; I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Into Here; John Lennon

January 2011
Today; Val Doonican

February 2011
Victoria Derbyshire; Radio 5 Live
Hawksbee and Jacobs; Desert Island Discs; Chris Evans

March 2011
Nick Ferrari; Radio 4; Song Stories
The First Time with Adam Ant; The Saturday Play
The Late Show with Stuart Bailie; The Reunion

April 2011
Churchill's Other Lives; Hefner, The Original Playboy

May 2011
2011 Sony Radio Academy Awards

June 2011
Dylan's Women
Afternoon Play; A Monstrous Family; Today

July 2011
Meet David Sedaris; Don't Cry For Me, Maradona
The Reith Lectures 2011
Four Thought; Richard Madeley

August 2011
Satchmo By Satchmo; Desert Island Discs

September 2011
The Reith Lectures 2011
Sir Jimmy Young At 90; The Nolan Show

October 2011
The Man With Many Names (Brian O'Nolan)
The Thing About Hank (Marvin); Tonight

November 2011
John Peel Lecture by Pete Townsend

December 2011
From Festonia to Belgravia - The History of Squatting; Richard Bacon; Night Waves
Ted Hughes - Memorial Tones; The Verb; Steve Wright In The Afternoon

January 2012
The Quest For Donal Q; Poetry Please
Brother-in-Lawford; The Radio Wales Phone-In 


February 2009
Terry Pratchett; Living With Alzheimer's; Who Do You Think You Are?
Minder; Cutting Edge: Killer In A Small Town

April 2009
Willie's Chocolate Revolution; CSI

June 2009
The One Show

July 2009
Imagine: David Hockney - A Bigger Picture

3 Vietnam War films - FTA; Sir! No, Sir!; Winter Soldier

June 2009
The Revengers

March 2010
Maggie's End

Monday, 15 July 2013


Political debate in Northern Ireland circa July 2013.....

It was you.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
Wait a wee minute.
Wait a wee minute yourself.
Catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
No, you catch yourself on.
Until sense kicks in
Or eternity strikes twelve,
Whichever comes first......

Sunday, 14 July 2013


I have the right to protest.

I choose to stamp on a police Land Rover's bonnet,
to shout and taunt and swear and spit,
to sing an anthem, to wave a fleg
and if I fall off and break a leg,
I'm entitled to compensation.......

......skewed state of the nation

Saturday, 13 July 2013


After 12 July 2013 trouble in parts of Belfast......

Community's a mystery thing,
It's touted here and there
To illustrate togetherness,
Of spirit, love and care.

But when the dream is shattered
By riots, unrest and bricks,
We see true colours of mischief,
Deep feelings and usual tricks.

Let he who threw the first stone
Get ready now to duck,
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a claw,
who gives a flying fuck?

Community's a mystery thing - a myth -
We're all in this together,
Presidential wisdom and poetic words
Are soon reduced to blether.......


Friday, 12 July 2013


What's that? A lunch box? 
Panic in the class! 
Which imbecilic fool
Brought a packed lunch to school?

What were their parents thinking,
For what do parents know?
The Lunch Box constable has decreed
That packed lunches have to go.

Time to put in a call,
Step back, step back, oh my God,
Emergency with the utmost urgency,
Call the Lunch Box Disposal Squad.

Emergency, emergency, emergency,
We've a plague of the Devil's food,
Bread and cheese and biscuits,
Stuff like that not judged to be good.

The Lunch Box Disposal Squad,
with their lunch box disposal means,
takes aim at the box of goodies
and blows it all to smithereens.

A triumph for education,
if you want lunch kids you'll have to buy it
for Nanny knows what best for you
and will now control your diet.

Thursday, 11 July 2013


From my book "Juggling Jelly"

There's a monster in the cupboard,
I hear it breathing in and out,
Waiting to grab a hold of me,
Of that I have little doubt.

Some days it's cold and frosty,
The days when I need my duffel,
But on reaching in to grab it
I swear I hear a shuffle.

Just like football strikers,
I have to be quick on the bounce,
In and out in seconds before 
The monster has time to pounce.

People say I imagine it
And urge me to stop my bleating,
Saying the noise and creaks and gurgles
Are from the central heating.
(Yeah, right!)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


"All my life's a circle......" Harry Chapin

It could be a lake, a flat-earth water space
with edges to dare the intrepid to go beyond,
or for the meek to stop an inch before,
a circle, not pure and planed like curved wood
but a ragged, rough free-hand pencil drawing,
a corral of experiences and memories,
a place of commas, full-stops and capital letters,
pauses, shocks and new beginnings,

a lake where a ripple heads towards the circumference
not knowing if it will rebound or spill over
into someone else's space.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013



From 9 July 2012:
Based loosely on the format of the song The Scottish Soldier...........
There was a player,
a Scottish player
who came across as dour
on the tough tennis tour,
he’d grump and smoulder
with good broad shoulder
he fought in many a set
and sometimes won.

His chance at glory
was the Wimbledon story,
a battle glorious, a tad laborious,
he lost the prize, tears in his eyes
but won the hearts of all who cheered him on.

You see his driving force is to find the guts,
no ifs, ands and buts, just a sportsman’s guts,
and when he wipes away that final tear, have no fear,
he’ll have next  year,
to fight in many a game and fight to win.

From 5 August 2012
There was a player,
a Scottish player
to the Olympics came
to play a tennis game,
he proved much bederer
than Roger Federer,
he toiled and lo behold,
he won the gold.

His chance at glory,
great GB story,
sublime, victorious, perfect and glorious,
he claimed the prize, joy in his eyes,
another legend, London 2012.

From 11 September 2012
There was a player,
a Scottish player,
no more an also-ran,
he won a Grand wee Slam
there's no more mopin'
he won the Open
by beating Djokovic,
he fought and won.

After years of frowns,
of ups and downs,
this is the best of years,
triumphant smiles and tears,
he scotched the doom,
erased the gloom
in this his purple patch,
game, set and match.

From 8 July 2013
There was a player,
a Scottish player,
who was no simbledon
'cos he won Wimbledon,
he is the best,
he beat the rest
and the last thing he deserves
is a stupid poem.

and celebrations
with or without Sir Cliff,
Andy reached the final tiff,
it was no shock
he knocked Novak's block,
with Lendl in his camp
he's the Wimbo champ.