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Tuesday, 28 February 2017


What is it about the “thinking outside the box” people?

Like a lot of business managers, I have been to many meetings and conferences, and been in conversation with colleagues and bosses about life, the universe, everything and all the bs in between.  More often than not, someone will say eventually:  “It’s not rocket science” or “let’s think outside the box”.  It is the latter expression that intrigues me. 

Who owned the first box and who was the first thinker outside of it? What was in the box before it was an empty box that we could climb into, get a mental block and then get out of it to think things through?  When was the decision made to get in and out of a box as a process of contemplation? What happened to the original thinker’s box? When did thinking inside the box become such an untrendy thing to do?  We hear this “outside the box” stuff so often that is has become pretty meaningless, rather like that rocket science blah.  If we all thought outside the box, some guru would start to encourage us to do the opposite.  

We never seem to elaborate on the “think tank” idea by suggesting that people should think outside of the tank, do we?  If we had our thinking cap on, no one suggests we think with the cap off.  The inventor of exterior box thinking thought he was onto something and I wonder if he ever considered thinking about his invention inside or outside of another receptacle altogether – a bin, a carton, a crate, a chest, a basket, a hamper, a cauldron, etc, etc.

To take it to extremes, what about a tropical fish thinking outside the aquarium, or a dog thinking outside the kennel, or a bird thinking outside the nest, or an undertaker thinking outside the coffin or a window cleaner thinking outside the bucket? Okay, I’ll stop this nonsense.

Let’s get rid of the box and just, er, think inside our heads!

Sunday, 26 February 2017


Sunday looking like Monday,
rain bombing the pavement,
grey sky, cold as an assassin,
dulls any hope of other hues
getting a look in.

Today is mostly black and white,
so, roll on the day and bring on

the comfort colours of night.

Friday, 24 February 2017


At that time, I was the only male in the house,
the day my sister's face drained at the sight of the mouse.
Her jaw-dropping, silent-movie gasp said it all
and I heard the panic yell of the "mouse catcher" call.

I slid the door between the kitchen and the living room
and tiptoed to the cupboard for the sweeping broom.
I banged the larder door to disturb the nifty pest,
listening hard for scuffles between the thumpings in my chest.

"Have you got it? Have you killed it?" came my sister's yaps.
"Sssssshhh, be quiet!" I breathed, searching cracks and gaps
for tiny eyes and movements to reveal the hiding place
until, at last, the moment when we both came face to face.

Bangs, clatters and crashes echoed around the kitchen room
but the mouse had no chance against me and my lethal broom.
(Stories of the deadly mouse-catcher must have spread to other mice
for, dear reader, we never had to do the same thing twice.)

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Another day and another storm with a cute name hurtles
across the Atlantic en route to be lead story on the nine o’clock news
presented by Huw Edwards as Eeyore, looking miserable and hopeless
and delivering the words like a lay minister at a graveside.
Storms, nature’s perverse blow jobs, named after old school friends
and kindly aunties, that will test nerves and bricks and allow action reporters to model Barbour jackets and Hunter wellies as they wade in flood water,
pointing to the desperate and the damage, one eye on the camera lens
and the other twinkling to impress BAFTA judges. Huw tells us the news,
the live reporter tells us the same news, Huw and the reporter discuss 
the same news and our eyes glaze and nostrils flare just as they did
when we were six listening to a church sermon about dungeon, fire and sword, 
words spoken by a fat priest with a hangover from a pulpit that creaked
above us, as if God had an itchy arse on a leather chair and was signalling
to Father Fat to shut the hell up and get on with the praise and glory bits.

If macho storms are to be christened, they need macho names, not Gertrude, 
Daisy, Barney, Frank, Nigel, Wendy, Barbara, Conor or Doris (Ewan and Fleur to come, gawd ‘elp us!).

Call them Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Mephisto, Armageddon, Bastard,
Call them anything that describes their baggage of destruction, misery and despair.

And call at least one of them Huw.