Monday, 10 December 2012

Santa's Last Day

Two in the afternoon and Santa was weary. His back was playing up from sitting on the same uncomfortable stool all day, his head was spinning and ached mercilessly from the incessant chirpy music, his chin was sore from inquisitive kids tugging at his beard to see if it was real – of course it was – and most of all he was totally, absolutely, sick of those whining little kids, and worse still, their parents. What a place to spend the last few weeks before Christmas: in a grotty grotto in a large cheapskate department store, but, like every one else these days, he needed the money, even if it was minimum wage.
So here he was with an annoyingly precocious boy on his knee. This horrid little snob, in his pristine school uniform, was holding up a long queue of disgruntled parents, with even more disgruntled children, as he recited his interminable list of overpriced demands. His smug middle class parents looked on, with grinning superiority, as snobby junior took another deep breath, fixed another look of concentration, and continued:
“An Action Man, a train set, a Scalextric, a fire engine, a bow and arrow set, a PlayStation, a cowboy's outfit, an iPod, Lego, a laptop – a proper one mind: no less than 8 Gigs of RAM – a toy garage, some cars to go with it, a Barbie Doll-”
“A Barbie Doll!” exclaimed Santa.
“Santa, dear-oh-dear, your not sexist are you.”
“Course not, no, course not, don't think that lad. Just… Just…”

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

As a Discarded Toy

A blaze aches in my broken shoulder
My dress torn, covered in dirt and mud
Fat and putrefaction bath my once stylish hair
Useless and forgotten
I sink, lower, cast aside
And I suffered, did I suffer!

Some, some
Can ascend and fly
Like a bird of prey
Swooping on those
Dying among the garbage below

I've despaired since being made
Looked down upon by everyone
As a plastic doll, a cheap plastic doll
Never treated with respect
Or assumed to have a mind
Always a despised artefact

Some, some
Can cry and sing
Safe in their cloistered grandeur
Despising those trite
Playthings of yesteryear

I'm broken, torn apart, cut
Never worth repairing
Forever at the back of the cupboard
Always that unwanted gift
That last minute birthday present
Always the discarded me, the forgotten me, the ineffective me

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Market Trader

I have a poor market stall
Selling oranges to the forlorn
They're juicy, succulent visions
And you can try one if you would
A one-off offer only available today

These oranges are a possible happening
A bright vision of equality
An appetising ripeness among the despair
Don't look on with bitterness
Or plunder pillaged desperation

The oranges come from the future
The oranges come from a possible
They're sun filled experiences
And you could try one if you like
A get-one-free special only for today

Hitherto the market has been declining
One thrust might have been our demise
Our graves already dug among the detritus
But a new fresh batch of oranges
Opens the faintest possibility of ascent

Why don't we make a world of oranges?
Everyone growing or trading fruit
A cultural of equivalence
Full of the aroma of promise
Where everyone tastes sweetness

You could join us selling oranges
Or some other delicious fruit
We could make the market thrive again
Becoming a delectable exotic vision
And spreading to neighbouring towns

Friday, 20 July 2012

Bright, Bright, Afar so Bright

As miniature suns shine
Dazzling in the night
Forcing their brightness upon you
Expecting, demanding, you shine back
And when the day emerges
The disgusting stain remains

The sickening flames of neon
Gaudy monstrosities of illumination
A vandalism of electrification
You cannot close your eyes
To the intimidating luminosity
Of the thuggery of neon

The neon lights the skyline
Like some discordant graffiti
Scaring the mind, abusing the body
Born again in ineptitude
A deathly silence of lies
No gift too trivial to discard

This procession of tackiness
Sanctioned by wealth and greed
Far more sickening than any spray can
More disgusting than any youthful scrawl
With no little army of street cleaners
No cavalcade to remove the repellent

If it was any worth there'd be no need to advertise
And with such flagrant a disregard for truth
Presenting one side only of an argument
Means always disseminating lies
Or deliberately indulging in fraud
And with no rain will wash away this vengeful stain

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Never Ever

We now meet trembling with boredom
Nothing to say, all dull inanities
And depart desiring a forgiving lobotomy

We never ever were, are, nor could be

What was it with that red paisley scarf?
An unfashion statement?
A shallow mask for a shallow mind?

I never ever was, is, nor could be

I think I've had enough of your inconsequential ways
Your noisy inhospitably booming incredulity
Your trashy pop songs and superficial movies

You never ever were, are, nor could be

All we have left is a complete waste of time
It would be a kindness to forget that dull monotony
And destroy our tedious times, it all adds up to nothing

Because it never ever was, is, nor could be
Because it never could be, could be, never ever could be

Monday, 16 July 2012


I can remember you the shy girl back at school
Sitting at a desk nearby
Not saying much, always quiet
Skinny, gawky and with so beautiful black hair
Always overshadowed by your so called friends
Me all afraid to say anything at all

I can imagine your life
Spotty, sitting at a lonely checkout in Tesco's, bored
Marrying young and pregnant
A husband that takes advantage of you
A husband that maltreats you
One tooth chipped where he hit you that time
And still taking advantage of your sweetness and lack of confidence

Would I have taken advantage of you?
I hope not, I do so hope not
I could have, should have, offered you better then that
You will forever be a memory of a beautiful possibility
Something wonderful lost forever

Have I got you right?
Probably not, I hope not
But I will always miss what we never had

Sunday, 15 July 2012


The torrent crawls bringing raucous music

One day for live performances, bootlegs
The torrent stalls
Frustration is the greatest hits

Frozen for collections
A tempting flurry
The ratio disappointing, blocking
Chasing hours for rarities

The torrent crawls hanging on 99 percent

A little poem written, a few years ago, during the frustrating and long wait for a torrent download on my computer to finish. Was the wait worth it? NO! The artist appeared intriguing; but the try-before-you-buy download only proved them boring and the files were quickly deleted.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Distant Conversation

An intermittent conversation occurs between two ladies, somewhat aged, in a covered market café near the centre of a small town. They are sitting at a small round table near the counter; a few thin bags of shopping are around their feet; the other tables are largely empty. It's a cold spring day and they've kept their thick coats on. Each lady is picking at her meal, beans with two slices of toast, and occasionally sipping from a mug of tea.

Quiet words come from one, admonishing the other.

Quiet words from one, admonishing the other.

Omitted words from the other, the younger.

They sit, finishing their mugs of tea. The café is almost empty – the tables wiped, the chairs all neat – and waiting to close on this tranquil late afternoon.

One woman, the younger, slouched back in her chair, is quietly humming a discordant tune; an imitation of some forgotten pop song.

One woman, the older, fiddles with the cutlery on her empty plate and scowled disapprovingly.

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Clear Nocturnal Sky

I walked through the vacant city streets
Among the cold and desolation
And saw freckles of fascination
All incandescent speckles of mystery
The luminosity seeming to drift away
As I tried to clasp upon it

I walked onward though the devastation
The loneliness of broken lives swimming all around
I gazed upon tiny smudges of enchantment
All above me this spellbound sea of stars
The brightness apparently superficial
So far away to be unreachable

Now lying in my bed, the curtains open
Eyes shut in the darkness
There I see within the stippled granules of stars
All burnished bright I know their form
The flecked candescence of the unknown
I've caught them, I have them, they're inside me

They're internalised to my being
They're lustrous within
They're all I want or need
(With eyes averted to the horrors just outside)

Thursday, 12 July 2012


You dissolved
Into a desire
So I melted also

You beaconed to
Another world
And suggested I depart
The humdrum

You unfastened the
Entrance of desire
And I meekly followed

You unbolted the gates
To my inner being
And I willingly
Pulled them asunder

New vistas opened up
And before I could grow familiar
You declared you were departing

You'd dissolved into another desire
So I my life froze

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dark Shadows

The darkness envelops
The cold bites

It's just the way the shadows fall

The stifling blackness almost complete
Here discarded among the detritus
Abandoned outside the city

Unaccustomed to the annihilation
Listening through the anxiety
As the unknown bodies crying

It's just the shadows of regret dancing

Fear enfolds
Nothing remains
The lurid illusions multiply

A thin moon flickers through misty clouds
I struggle onward, forlorn
Towards an unknown allegiance

It's just the sorrow among the shadows

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Rejection, rejection
Always rejection
Is that all you have – renunciation?
And I did so adore you


Did you experience it also?
Did you understand the faithful?
The intense, demonstrative
It's you that's disgraceful

And then remembrance:
The provocative contact
The manner of your embrace


Splutter, splutter
Forever your splutter
Is that all you possessed – verbiage?
And that forlorn inclination


Now trepidation, the anxiety of innocence
The concern for impression
Now doomed to oblivion

And then memory:
The incendiary connection
The rousing of your acceptance


I renounce, renounce
I renounce you

Monday, 9 July 2012

Florescent Nocturnal

Such brightness I saw at midnight
The emergence of another
Looking back in envy
Pervading the breeze with desire

Your soft folds envelop me
Covering the sensation of your contact
Then the pure dreamlike instant
The moment of utter elation

Let me look upon your lovable significance
Let me delineate the sweet suggestion
Let me survey the expression
Conveying your meaning to my existence

The hour ends in dissolution
With an impression so enlivened
Something always of remembrance
Enveloped in your grace

Too soon you rise and
Slowly glide into absence
The aroma of joy still hovers
How I ache for you to persist

Let me look upon your angelic essence
Let me trace those sweet tremors
Let me watch the effervescence
Effuse your substance throughout my being

Eyes closed, remembering
I long for your recurrence
Opening my eyes in the darkness
Lonely inattention is what I acknowledge

Alone now at sunrise
The dead day all non-existence
Awaiting another night of apparitions
Only then can I experience your ambience

Let me await your angelic essence
Let me await those sweet tremors
Let me await the effervescence
That gushes around my very being

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Are you ashamed
Of me? So,
Do I not live up to

I'm proud of you
So why
Are you
Mortified by me?

Your embarrassed
By me, so
Stop demanding
I follow.

Your humiliated
By me, therefore
Hack from my soul
What you will.

Depart forever, if
Your so
Of me?

Friday, 6 July 2012

St Oswald’s Church, Liverpool

Earlier this week I set off to have a look at St. Oswald's church in Old Swan. When you glared at the map it does not seem that far from Liverpool Lime Street station. In times past I would happily have walked this sort of distance – I often walked from Toxteth to Liverpool city centre. On this day I was exhausted long before I made it to St. Oswald Street. Along Edge Lane you could see the St. Oswald church tower beckoning in the distance and all to imperceptibly getting closer.

Normally I don't have much time for either church or religion, neither mean more to me than a vague curiosity value. So why this trip? Later this year I am starting an Open University module that consists of a rapid romp through the arts. One topic is the architect Augustus Pugin [ ] so it seemed a good idea to have at least a peek at one of his buildings; a peek all close up and personal. St. Oswald was built in 1840 and only the tower remains of Pugin's original. Here are a few photos I took on the day.

Overall I was a little disappointed by the church. With what I'd read about Pugin I was expecting some stand out architecture but what I saw was little different from hundreds of other such buildings. It was pleasant enough as architecture but little more; it must be enthusiasts that put all that effort into writing such books and like – only to disappoint the amateur like me. Still I'm glad I've seen it. The church was locked so I didn't get to see inside.

On leaving the small churchyard you could see the Victorian graves, the neatly cut hedges, you walked under the shade of a thriving tree; behind you was the empty locked church with its about to crumble façade; ahead was a small archway, adorned with moss, leading out onto the empty pavement; in the distance was the low hum of Edge Lane and the traffic making its way to or from Liverpool; just below this hum you could almost hear the chatter of a few local sitting outside a nearby pub. But there, across the road, dominating everything, was the aggressive utilitarianism of a Tesco superstore; it rammed its functionality and commercialism in your face. At this time of day a steady trickle of traffic meanders in and out and all the surrounding pavements and walkways are forced to conform to its monetary demands.

Was Catholicism, or indeed any church, any less demanding of uniformity? Probably not. But even a lifelong atheist like me cannot help feeling a little twinge of nostalgia.

I got the bus back into Liverpool – I was now minimising the amount or walking I needed to do – and onto an all-day-breakfast at a little café. Frankly this was the most enjoyable part of the day.

Can You Imagine?

Could I imagine you?
Striding, tempting
More than another’s
Vain enticement

Could I anticipate you?
With so zealous a fortitude
Greater than others could
Ever foresee

Should I envisage you?
So desperate as being
Unable to endure
Separation from you

Could I perceive you?
So despairing
As if to wither
Apart from you

Did I imagine you?
And the fearful
Ineptitude of these
These impossible lyrics

Could you also imagine?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hinder Us Not

We need no assistance
We shall to set ourselves

We refuse your help
And will educate ourselves in our

We renounce your pretended support
And the hidden
Chains it brings

You can watch from afar
Festering in your own

Our struggle for freedom
Shows how we all can be free of your

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Will You?

Please remain
Remain constant
Constant in us

Do delay
Delay awhile
While I compose myself

Detain yourself
Myself in admonishment
Of my misdeeds

Here loiter
Loiter and renew
Renew our feelings anew

Please linger
Linger with me
And I with you

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Stillness in the Wilderness

A calm is every last dream of recollection
A calm surrounding my distant being
Nevermore making any noise
Nevermore uttering any tidings

Inhibition is my whole existence
Nevermore to be acknowledged
I exist in absolute inhibition
I am my infinite inhibition

Stillness is my disgruntled acceptance
Stillness perspires into my deepest psyche
Nevermore desiring any tidings
Nevermore accepting acknowledgement

Monday, 2 July 2012

This New Wine

The bottle pops open
The fresh aroma fills the air
The camaraderie fills our lungs

And that longed for union:
Do they gulp or do they retch?

What will be the response:
To this syrupy draught
To drink deeply
To imbibe with gusto
To swig it down
Or sip so sweetly?

The liquid spills into the glass
Wetting the sides
Sparkling in the dim light
And the most beautiful of fluids
Touches their glistening mouth

And that anticipated delight:
Do they gulp or do they retch?

The moment is almost upon us
To answer that deepest question
Of our unity, of our conjunction

And that quandary all must ask:
Do they gulp or do they retch?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Dryness of Language

Still, derelict, non-existence, words
No words to tell you how
No words to feel

Silent, neglectful, inconsequential, words
No words to tell you what
No words to tell of the pain

Tacit, negligent, unimportant, words
No words to signify the failure
No words to express the hatred

Inaudible, remiss, immaterial, words
No words at all to convey the loss
Of what might have been
Of what should have been

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Stay Awhile

Here, sweet,
Sweet vision,
With me,
Will you remain awhile?

Here, beautiful,
Beautiful dream,
Alongside me,
You shall always be cherished.

Here, wondrous,
Wondrous image,
Resides your home,
Your very belonging.

Here, marvellous,
Marvellous vision,
Can you remain,

Friday, 29 June 2012

Spheres and Circles

Topsy-turvy we stumble
Spinning as we go
Stretching out
But grasping naught

Helter-skelter we cascade
Our quarry just out of reach
Forever hunting
Never catching

Haphazardly, madly, running
Knowing not what we seek
Chasing a vague desire
For something better

Thursday, 28 June 2012

One Millennia Too Far

With these millennia of inactivity
Must we linger
Or must we make do?

These millennia of anxiety
Full of hurt and wretchedness
Must we plead forgiveness?

Waiting millennia of ingratitude
For that ephemeral moment
Of feeling

These millennia of putrefaction
Must they remain
What must we expect?

Must we linger
Or must we make do?
Fearing these millennia of trepidation

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Stolen Treats

This is not the time to be despondent
Simply make do and subsist
This strange episode is transitory
This rainy summer

Eschew depression my friend
Annihilate your desire
The sunshine is ephemeral
This rainy summer

Here we all long linger
Here all are wrong
As speech defames our sight
Joy is a solitary misdemeanour

This rainy summer
Make melodious song
So existence is renormalised
So our psyche is everything

Assembled on dirt
It could well dissolve
This temporary microcosm
This rainy summer

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Shoot high
We are told
For the stars
Distant galaxies
Forbidden heights

And you may
Rise just a little
Above your assigned cesspit

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Wasteland

This perverted wasteland
Full of buzzing flies
This perverted wasteland
Singing incessant lies

It used to be a wonderland
Full of butterflies
It used to be wonderful
Until the call of the dying

A wonderland
Should be astounding
Be surprising
Be marvellous
Now this wonderland
Is toxic
Is replete with misery
Revels in the despicable
And festers in corruption

It could be a wonderland again
If ever the toxic verbiage decayed
It could be miraculous again
This derelict wonderland

This perverted wasteland
Full of buzzing flies
This perverted wasteland
Singing incessant lies

Friday, 22 June 2012

Lexicon of Detritus

A tirade
A conflict, a quarrel
Spewing forth
From you
Signifying what?

Some declamation
Some recitation
Noble phrases
Sounding trite
And from your mouth

The flow of you argument
Is a bubbling meander

The stream of your inanities
Mask your manipulations

A tirade
A conflict, a quarrel
Designating nothing
More than continued

Thursday, 14 June 2012

On the Verge

A couple of crows are scurrying on the grass verge
Fighting, squabbling
Grabbing what they can
Noisily quarrelling

The blind cars shoot passed
Defying the speed limit
Eyes forward
Following narrow tramlines within feet of the battle

What was it once?
That muddy block of fur
A fox, a cat, something more exotic?
That mauled slab of meat barely recognisable now

The car's passengers are dozing
Or squabbling about nothing
Anyway not noticing
The blind fight for survival

A white flash of fur
Is pecked at by one crow
It must have been a badger

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Footsteps Outside

It was a dark room
Where she sat
The clutter of ages
Scattered all around

In the hallway
Footsteps, faint footsteps
Getting louder
Clattering down the wooden floor

She tried to think
Arrange her mind
Will they walk on passed?
Please, walk on passed

Were those the footsteps
Of the owner of that voice?
Was it that lady
Or that man?

The lonesomeness
The sorrow
A brief remembrance
Of almost forgotten joys

Was her work not good enough?
Had she slacked?
So tired as she was
Had her sadness caused offence?

The footsteps stopped
Right outside her door
She's waiting for that voice
The sudden silence threatening

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Vision Through Mist

Clouded with longing
if only

A sight, hand on, an intimate moment, watching, new blue jeans, the naturalness, a slender t-shirt, wishing, the hand lingers, accustomed, familiar

And then, as instinctive, together
Watching, they're stopping, waiting, so prosaic

Clouded with sorrows
looking on

A memory, a bus stop, waiting; they meet, surprised, laughing, a pushchair, patched jeans, they're chatting, vibrant, a white jumper; watching, wishing, always wishing

And then, arrivals, congestion
I give way, let them through, regretful

Clouded with tears
if only... if only

Monday, 11 June 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012

Vision in White and Blue

The eyes, the blue, the smile
The skin, the hair
Those socks, prim, upright
Spectacularly beautiful; the blue, the pink

The breath, the ripples, the heart pounding
The arm, protective, the nibbling kisses
That short sleeved shirt; white
Spectacularly beautiful; the almost transparent, the so light brown

The mouth, the saliva, the other's mouth
The exchange, the lips
The spit; dripping down
Spectacularly beautiful; the red, the pink

The white, the hand, shy, the delicate nod
The revelation, the shiver
Sleek; strokes as satin
Spectacularly beautiful; the pure white, the pink

The rhythm, the fingers, the dance
The music, the twisted lip
Faster, relentless, the smile
Spectacularly beautiful; the blue, the pink

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Sound of Grey

They slash your pension,
cut your wages,
pass massive handouts to the rich.
The contemporary poet's response:
sit at home, cogitate,
meditate, reminisce, contemplate,
celebrate the good in life.
This poet is so thankful,
bowing, scraping,
so grateful to authority.

Voluntary redundancies they call it
as they devour your livelihood, sack you,
deprive you of the means to life.
The poet then provides a solitary prayer;
of an individual alone and weak;
his godless prayer, comforting and pathetic.
Instructing you to rot in your miserable abode
contemplating a greater,
non-existent, experience.
All along inviting you to personify your misery.

They cut your social services,
slash your benefits,
condemn millions to the scrap heap before their time.
Then the poet is so safely defiant, so lofty,
all within such contrite bounds.
The mildest of a demure that challenges nothing.
Hoping both torturer and victim will both find comfort,
such solace in those useless words.
No matter, says the poet,
sit at home, read these lines of doggerel,
all jarring, phony,
overflowing with comfortless rhymes.

Don't personify:
rebel, resist, protest, organise,
above all organise – organise.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Stirring high above
The transient flow; trickling down
Streaming, in the sun

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Royal Day Out

Today has been the highlight of the royal jubilee. So let us, for a moment, pause and consider some of today's activities. The actions that are supposed to prove how much superior those royals are to us common drones. How intellectually topnotch royals are and how rightfully they administer the herd.

First off there was a religious service. We, the commoners, the ordinary folk watched someone watching a church service. It's not even as if they are involved in performing the service, that presumably would be to intellectually demanding even for the royals, no it's watching someone suppressing another yawn, seeing if the boredom shows. To cope with these strenuous demands involves some special breeding. If you headed down to your local church and did something similar, say stood down one side admiring the congregation, then they, the congregation, would probably be very polite: but they'd think you were insane. But royals can achieve this exploit without appearing loopy.

After the service it was grubs up. It's a dinner and a very special meal at that. You see us common mortals cannot eat alone, not unsupervised at any rate, we need someone in charge to guide us. But royals, you know what they can do, they can perform this monumental task all on their own. They can pick up both the knife and the fork, unaided by courtiers, cut their fodder and shove it into their gobs all unaided. And no mess spilt all over the floor and landing on the cat. So on this jubilee day we are allowed a prize demonstration of their superiority we, the dregs, get to see a demonstration of eating. And all unaided by any safety net.


Lovely smiles; so sweet
Angora sweaters; purple, white
Tender exchange

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Deceit of Grandeur

The festering corruption of deception
Seeps through every pore
Stinking, contaminating the regime
Stifling creativity, freedom, comradeship
Luxuriating in the surrounding poverty

The pestilence lives on us
Feeds on us
Devours us
It becomes satiated to a sicking blubber
Still demanding more
Ever demanding etiquette
Turning all it excretes upon infectious

The obsequious blabbers scurrying
Followers of the counterfeit magnificence
Gorging themselves
On yet more human flesh
On our very minds
Occasionally the vermin look upwards
All fawning, sycophantic, toadying
Towards the self serving avarice of formality

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Black Rose

A single thorn
A single spindly stem
Thrusting upward
A single bud
Flowering, displaying its small delicate petals
A small act of defence, of beauty
A single black rose

Viewed across the barbed wire
Caught between the footpath and the motorway
Submerged within the unobtainable
Its brief desperate joy
The tantalising vision
Of a black rose

Battered bruised
In the sudden summer rain
It fades, bedraggled
Waiting to emerge again
All too briefly
Next year, perhaps
Possibly another black rose

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Estrangement

I need
To be needed.

Floating with you.

I want
To be wanted.

That's what all we seem good at.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Maple of Shame

Standing, once standing
On the corner
Tall, thrusting, proud
The new spring growth
Of vibrant purple leaves
Three fingers glinting in the sunshine

One day of violence
Savaged with a chainsaw
Branches falling
Living limbs crashing on the grass
Then crammed in the back of a car
And taken to the dump

All that remains
A solid trunk
Splattered, mauled
With bright white scars
Where once there was forgivingness

Thirty years of growth
All lamentation

Thursday, 31 May 2012


An intermittent conservation
Two ladies
Somewhat aged
In a market café
Beans on toast for two

Quiet words
One admonishing

Omitted words
The younger

The café is almost empty
Tables wiped
Chairs all neat
Waiting to close
On this tranquil late afternoon

One hums a song
The younger

The other scowls
In disapproval

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Ire of Language

The indignation is within me
Screaming to exit
Manacled in anger
Devoid of convention
Desirous of expression

Often it's jubilant
Untamed and untameable
Screaming freedom

Often long dry muteness
Devoid and frustrating
Most often smothered
Avoiding life entirely

The sleeping quiescence
Always awaiting ignition, conflagration
As if swimming in some tepid void
Desiring vengeance, desiring escapement

Then, then, as if…
A torrent of expectation
Comes spewing forth

And alongside all

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

An Image of Salutation

What's the illusion we should create
On this monumental day
This milestone of old age

Possibly a swooping sparrowhawk
Darting through the woodland
Chasing, swooping, pouncing
On its next meal

Or is it the fleeing chaffinch
Hiding in a thorny bush
Watching, waiting, frightened
Singing a monotonous warning

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Scrolls

Fifty-six scrolls heaped high
There may well be more to come
Sometime, maybe

The text is nearly complete
These scratched out fragments of my existence
All awaiting obscurity
These are scrolls of myriad days
Days of anguish and little joy
Dreams of walking hand in hand
Days of misty pictures and childhood fears
Dreams of the first sight of that lovely girl

Your welcome to delve among them
To read, to weep, to cry
Just clean up afterwards
And don't look back

Thursday, 24 May 2012

White Van and Blue Vision

A little before nine in the evening
The end to a mild day
With dull clouds overhead
A quiet street
All neat terraced houses
And disorderly parked cars

Nine o'clock in the evening
Along comes a white shabby van
A mobile shop
Its discordant horn
All violence and hatred
Disturbing the stillness
Its waits expectantly

Just after nine in the evening
The front door opens of the house opposite
Out steps a young woman
With short blonde hair
Dressed in light blue pyjamas
And a powder blue dressing gown
She strides across to the van
Climbs the steps
Her thin frame disappears
Five minutes later
She reappears again
She's clasping something small
Possibly chocolate
She strides back across the road
And her front door quickly closes

A little after nine in the evening
Would it not be perfect
In the still and the quiet
To be in the same room as her
Nothing more, just the same room
Would it not be perfect

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Dark mornings; dull skies
Before the clocks twist, distort
Promising dark evenings

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012


Mist covers the valley
Masking distant council houses.
Streets, quiet, empty.

The lingering grey
Slowly, so slowly, brighting.
Promising dampness.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 35 – Exaltation

The purple spirit of life
dances with joy on green
entwining in their sweetness

The white struggling free
hidden beneath the blue
and throbbing in its new found vision

Clasping, grabbing, stroking
they mix and match
pure rhythmic existence, pure exhilaration

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 34 – Straight Mystery

White crinkly lines
all enigma
all puckered petals

White folds falling apart in smoothness
so sleek
so sensuous

Back bands of treasure
still to reveal
still tantalising

A yellow comfortable smile
now above
now encouraging

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


The world, closing in.
Pensive, fraught, that's what she felt.
And then, maybe... nothing...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Morning Haiku

This morning Haiku
Started hopeful, expansive
Then ran completely, totally out of control

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Let me get this straight,
See if I understand it,
You were nice to me.

Let me get this straight,
Thank you.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 33 – Encircling

The red unfurls
spreading its warmth
another day, another joy
and enveloping the environ
in its happiness

The chequered grey
with tempting sweet ringlets
and beige stems
stroking, smiling
in expectancy

The joyous trepidation
shocking in its intimacy
all silver droplets of joy
radiant in its curious touch
coaxing a new found familiarity

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 32 – Shadows

Yellow dapples across the pale earth
swimming quickly across and out of sight

A warm shower has just abated
refreshing in its exultation

Glistening in its moistness
the earth sparkles in the sunlight
all effervescent precious metals
all rarefied gem stones
and the more cherished for being so fleeting

Monday, 7 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 31 – Nighttime

Luminous orange stars
smooth and sleepy
hidden beneath a soft white mist

A silver star
it's outline glowing
high above the rest

A pink flower
reaches out
desperate to caress

And stretches into the starlight

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 30 – Growth

Flowers dripping
with the sweet fragrance of joyousness
white and pink speckles
against the dark earth undertones

Flowers yearning
petals glowing, attracting
glittering in the brightening sun
spreading to absorb the rays

Flowers thrusting
rough crimson leafs unfolding
forcing their way through
powerful and implacable

Flowers overflowing
seeds bursting out
pushing, digging into the ground
waiting for a new day

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Film Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Disappointing that's what it is.

There was a book, a brilliant book, called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and written by Stieg Larsson. Then there were some films made in 2009, Swedish films and in Swedish, based upon the book, they were pretty good. Maybe not classics but watchable, at least if you were a fan of the book.

Then there comes the new 2011 American film directed by David Fincher. What can we say about that?

In a word: disappointing.

The overwhelming feeling of this film is its perpetual drabness. The look, the scenery, the acting, the music, it's all nauseatingly drab. One drab scene is heaped upon another and more drabness added until your just sick of the… well… sick of the drabness. The main characters are drab and unconvincing. And the camera work, well its just sickeningly drab. The whole film looks as if it was shot in a disused Russian Gulag and has about as much sex appeal.

I wonder if the film makers have ever visited Sweden, or indeed Europe for that matter. I suppose they must have but there's no evidence of this in the film; none whatsoever. It looks like they have shot this film in a mud hut as you get no idea of the expanse or beauty of Sweden or the majesty of cold weather. Instead we have a perpetual feeling of claustrophobia. Hence this film starts off missing an essential backdrop to the narrative.

Noomi Rapace in the 2009 Swedish version was a believable Salander. Maybe not quite as I imagined this marvellous character after reading the book but plausible. In this film the part is played by Rooney Mara who is just dull, in fact there's not more to her acting then dullness, apart, that is, from long tiresome multitudes of drabness.

In the 2009 Swedish version Michael Nyqvist was an acceptable Mikael Blomkvist; well, just about. Whereas here Daniel Craig shows all the acting ability of a yawn and is just about as engaging. (I'm led to believe, or I assume, Mr Craig has some sort of reputation. Maybe he has, I'm not an expert on trashy celebrity hype, nor do I want to be, it's a subject that's totally uninteresting, and on the basis of this film a subject I'm really not bothered about exploring.)

Then there's the more minor characters who we'd better not say anything about; they prove even more disappointing – there's more excitement in a 50p tin of spaghetti.

Disappointing that's what it is, and I did so want to like this film.

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 29 – A Breeze

Dancing, dancing, dancing
branches swaying in the wind
all lithe, subtle and fresh

Twisting, twisting, twisting
the black trunk bending
to the flowing sky

Twirling, twirling, twirling
the topmost leaves fluttering
in a subtle joy

Singing, singing, singing
each pure round bud
a dimpled oval beam of freshness

Smiling, smiling, smiling
watching the lean grace
the slender, the beautiful

Friday, 4 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 28 – Lightening Storm

An orange streak flashes
all light and energy
pushing, pulling, twisting
unwelcome in the night

A tree absorbs the onslaught
all translucent burning black
spitting, coughing, splitting
conduit to the fire

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 27 – A Dance of Blue and Yellow

The yellow, the yellow
singing beneath the black
all chequered and lively

The blue, the glorious blue
dancing, so energetic
revealing a hidden white

They join, intermingle
fleeting, laughing
a snapshot for a day

They chant, they sing
a divine chorale
an angelic cadence

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 26 – Joyful Flow

A stream
falling, descending
sweet to drink

Its clear waters
rapid, still
filling languid pools

Rivulets joining
shallow, refreshing
occasional stormy trickles

Banks cut deep
sharp, muddy
with damp moist rocks

Willows overhanging
shady, cool
dipping in the flow

Teaming with joyful life
drinking, consuming
an experience to behold

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 25 – Springtime Frost

White, cast in white
so sleek
so distant
so far as the eye can see

A sleepy ecstasy
all potential
all passion
all entwined with the earth

White tempting lines
slowly rocking
slowly cracking
slowly shifting

Entranced in desire
now joy
now arousal
now dripping with rapture

And the pure joy of melting
to a fresh vibrant blackness
of slush and new life

What a sight

Monday, 30 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 24 – Red Horizon

Looking up, the hillside, the magnificence
the peek, the glory, the exuberance

Across the pitted folds of rocks
gleaming towards the skyline
all a deep red
so very vibrant

The golden light shining, climbing
dripping with excitation

Among the redness
grey patches
screaming trepidation
of a potential pleasure

A pretty silver sparkle, shining through
smiling, so sweetly, with a natural joy

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 23 – A Moment of Cold

A momentary freezing flash
bringing the unexpected
a soft shower from above

Quickly everything looks anew
cast in pristine modern clothes
sleek and snug, and fleeting

The bright white snow fading to slush
filled with trepidation, tears
yearning for the new

Below grey stone peeks through
encouraging the thaw
soothing, caressing and coaxing

The new blue water trickles
dripping carelessly at first
and then in bright sparkling rivulets

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 22 – A Wild Flower

Sneaky, vibrant
a golden smile
laughing, carefree
poking through the undergrowth

All around wilderness
the long vistas
the distant wood
the horizon staked with green

Looking furtive, efflorescent
the petals fluttering in the floating breeze
rocking in joy
with that so cheeky smile

Friday, 27 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 21 – Hidden Panorama

A blue mist, breathless in the night air
sensuous, enveloping, fresh
masking the luxuriant undergrowth

There a white flower in full display
the mist thrown aside for one glorious brief moment
then it's gone, never to return

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 20 – For a Day

The crisp black lines glinting
vibrant in the winter sunshine
the dark rocks sharp, steep
almost shining in their metallic glory

Clustered, almost imperceptibly, tiny red flowers
these caught between the crevices
alive for one joyful day
and casting a purple shadow

At nightfall all that remains
the glinting blackness

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 19 – Evening Florescence

A pale yellow flower
with the perfume of the spheres
casts its light gloriously

so very tempting

With darkness it becomes one
united briefly in a perfect joy
a new life, a new dawn

with me foreve

Monday, 23 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 18 – Solids Together

Chrome sparkles among the sand
glittering in silver and white

A cool red fades nearby
all ready for a new adventure

Will they touch
will the coalesces
they want to
so, so much

They do touch
touch again

Ultimately they intermingle
hesitant at first
displaying glorious unknown colours

Now vibrant, luxuriant
growing, swallowing
joyful, bold

Becoming one pure soul
of energy and exuberance
a bright lightning shiver

Enveloped the heat subsides
becoming a cosy afterglow

And then still
so perfectly still

A memory

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 17 – Awaiting Purple Rain

Purple, hundreds of purples
flowering, blooming, ripe
spreading in effervescence

The sandy earth waiting
for little drops of purple drifting down
and slowly blanketing the terrain

The darkening petals dancing to the lightest tune
tempted, ever tempted to jump
never to return

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 16 – Low Summer Sunshine

A fleeting shaft of orange dances among the grey
it falls to the ground, wantonly, gloriously
and is forever disregarded

A clear wisp of white falls among the greens
swallowing the pale, drinking in the dark and vibrant
an everlasting reminiscence

Purple eruptions among the red
diving deep into pure clear refreshment
those gold rings caressing

Friday, 20 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 15 – Springtime Meadow

Moist patches among the fresh grass
blossoming, glistening, sparkling
soft pliant under foot
under the gentle tread of those strolling

Eyes half closed against the morning sun
the delicate rays exhilarating
quietly relaxing among the drying grass
an exquisite bed for slumber

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 14 – Myriad Leafs

Black, so black
flitting jubilant through the dense undergrowth

Green, pale green
silky smooth, smiling, dancing

While, all white
laughing, glistening in the night air

Such leafs
lovely, so lovely

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 13 – Exotic Fruit

To suck upon a freshly fallen leaf
its juices ripe, tasty
its red flesh succulent

To suck upon a newly cut branch
its sap sweet, flowing
its silvery liquid sticky

To bite into a just plucked fruit
its green skin sharp, crisp
its pulp chewy, syrupy

Joyful the path of foraging

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 12 – Morning with Water

White mist
hiding the brownish patches of trees
looking upward the canopy scrumptious, vivacious

The air
cold at first
fresh, invigorating

Cool red earth
pitted and smooth, damp and vibrant
silky red flowers and burgeoning patches of green and blue

The sun
blasting, rippling through the canopy
bright dancing shadows on the red, red earth

Running water
clear, warm, from a steamy spring
shiny droplets dripping

Monday, 16 April 2012

Puzzle Jug, 1788-9

Ceramic by Hartley Greens and Co; Leeds Pottery Co.
This hideous jug still sits there on the mantel piece. I never did like it; never. He said he did, never said why though.

We were together over thirty years and he never did a days work around the house; never. Said that was woman's work and he worked hard all day. I suppose he did, maybe he did, but I had a job as well, granted it was part-time, then I had often to work overtime, had no choice about that. Anyway we needed the money.

This was the one thing he always noticed. If I moved it could he moan. I could move the settee or his favourite chair and he wouldn't notice; not a thing. Wouldn't say a word. But move this an inch, he'd complain; his big mouth was all I got. He'd moan and moan then I'd have to put the thing back just to shut him up.

Then he went and retired. That wasn't easy for me, he'd get under my feet all day, drove me mad he did. Wished he wasn't there and then he wasn't. Not much of a retirement for either of us.

I often joked, “When you're gone I'm chucking this out.” He's been gone two years now. But I still cannot bare to move it. I will soon, yes, I will soon.

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 11 – A Mud Track

Along a narrow track of dry mud
on one side a grey stone wall
on the other a wooden fence gives way to trees

Then the track opening out
to a wide field, all green, luscious
and a distant wood, vibrant, noisy

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 10 – After the Avalanche

The folds, the strata
cut through the rocks
revealing forgotten seas, sand, marine life
and the crashing of time

An opening glistens
wet in the recent rain
revealing new micro horizons
not exposed for millions of year

Friday, 13 April 2012

Book Review – Eliza Leslie and the Moral Rectitude of Young Girls

I recently stumble upon the short stories of Eliza Leslie (1787 – 1858) and found their content revealing and curious; but 'curious' not always in a good way. I'd been looking for American and other nineteenth century short stories on Project Gutenberg for download to my newly acquired kindle and stumbled across this name almost by accident.

Eliza Leslie was one of a remarkable number of nineteenth century women writers. Born in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) in 1787 and lived to be 70. She was certainly a gifted writer and her stories are worth reading even if their style and content is somewhat old fashioned. But then, almost by definition, she's bound to be old fashioned.

Today Eliza is best remembered for cookbooks and her etiquette books. The short biographies I have read concentrate on this arena of her writing. However she also seems to have been a prolific short story writer and to have had many stories published in the magazines of her time. The book I read was STORIES FOR HELEN (1845) and written such that “juvenile readers may derive from them a little instruction blended with a little amusement” and it seems typical of her work in this genre. Clearly from the title (and the titles of her other books mentioned therein: STORIES FOR EMMA and STORIES FOR ADELAIDE) the market Eliza aiming for was what we would today call teenage girls.

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 9 – First Snow

Isn't that pretty
the snow
the sunshine

Isn't that wonderful
the brightness
the golden light

Isn't that lovely
the warm drizzle
the wetness
the fresh air

Isn't that pretty

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 8 – Running Free

Running foot free
with abandoned, with laughter, kisses, smiles
through the red grass, ripe, sun shining

Collapsing in exhaustion
and watching the hillside, the wispy clouds
the sun setting, effervescent, colourful

Walking home
graceful, languid, tired

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 7 – Rockfall and Puddles

Flecks of light rain fall from the blue
making the ground tremble
the extra weight
widening cracks and fissures

A blue avalanche follows
filling the valley below
descending on silvery waters
and halting deep in black

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 6 – Dark Mud Thawing

White light with flecks of black
grey walking, dancing, roaming

The brown earth soft under touch
muddy, moist, joyful

The white light shining
making the world glisten in silver


Monday, 9 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 5 – Placid Seascape

Shiny blue ripple
across a cascading sea
the liquid lappin
gently, gently

White foam shimmerin
blown among the wave
tiny glistening bubble
popping, popping

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 4 – Hidden Orchard

Black blossoms among the blonde

The crystal white
sleek and tempting

The spring rains
descending, joyful

Yellow radiates, smiling

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 3 – Revealed Rocks

A walk in spotted grey
cast down smooth

A hand travels in light grey
a flash of yellow

The pale lines of shade
yellow pulled aside wondering

The slippery rocks fall away

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Review – Ed Reardon's Week

Writing about writing is a bit like masturbating in public – more enjoyable for those engaged in the activity than any unfortunate onlookers.

Whenever I encounter a story/film/whatever where the main character is a writer past experience teaches me to expect nausea and self indulgence. The temptation for the off switch had always proved manifest.

The radio 4 series Ed Reardon's Week has hitherto been the exception that tested this rule to the limit. The series has proved funny and enjoyable. The self styled curmudgeonly author is a brilliant character.

So discovering a new series at least had me heading for the BBC iPlayer. With a back catalogue of seven magnificent series I was delighted to discover an eighth. Alas this time the rule about writing about writing seems to have kicked in. The authors having now run out of ideas are repeating themselves and, like most repeats, they've became tedious. Plots have become meandering and unfocused.

While series eight might not be so bad when compared with other comedy shows it's past its glory days. It's so sad for it to end this way – in such disappointment.

This new series looks like having a significant role for Jenny Agutter as Fiona. She does a sterling job but, great actress as she is, she cannot rescue the series from its oncoming mediocrity. She seems to have attached herself to the series just when it went past its sell by date. Most unfortunate.

Reveries of an Imaginary Landscape No. 1 – Fields of Wilderness

Yellow barley lying there
outstretched, ripe
A crinkled crag
sharp, stunning

One watching deep in the valley
eyes bright
Another runs through the barley
stops still, picks a piece
rips the ears off
then sucks the stem

How come they are so beautiful

Monday, 26 March 2012

Celebrating Spencer Perceval!

A curious anniversary is fast approaching associated with the British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. The anniversary is of his demise on 11 May 1812. While Perceval represented a hated Tory government he did at least perform one intriguing function: being assassinated in office. So I wonder what's the best way of celebrating this momentous event? After all we do have another hated Tory government.

Friday, 16 March 2012


I want to write
of the sun that'll shine
of the clear sky
and the cold spring air

Not of the foggy dawn, that's
something so powerful
it hides the hillside
with its cold mist

I want to see
the flailing banners
that an attractive girl
swings, marching onwards

Not submissiveness
of acceptance
or the forced convention that
causes resentment

Monday, 27 February 2012

All in a Unique Identifier

Zak hated his name. It was way too much like something out of those old fashioned SiFi movies they showed on channel 27, and Zak hated all those movies. But there it was, he was stuck with it, assigned to him by the Grand Council at birth and with little hope of it ever changing. Zak could tolerate his Unique Identifier, also assigned by the Grand Council, and it had even less possibility of ever changing. He preferred to use this later moniker whenever possible.

The medical dome was awkward to get to. When you finally arrived at the outskirts of the mega-metropolis the shuttle was quick enough; albeit annoyingly infrequent. Why did they not place this medical dome with the others near the centre of the mega-metropolis. On his few previous visits Zak felt like complaining to the Grand Council but he'd never gotten round to it; his complaint would have been ignored anyway. Once off the shuttle it was a couple of minutes brisk walk to the medical dome. Zak's slender fame and long skinny legs made quick work of the journey. He glided up to the dome's entrance block and smiled, with his thin face and thin lips, at the lone super smart check-in girl. Previously he'd had to queue but the rest of today's batch must already be in place.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Money cannot buy good taste,
Neither style, elegance nor finesse.

Just look at the gory sick buckets many millionaires reside in;
Everything gold plated, pristine and so expensive,
It all looking as if it was recently delivered from the pound shop.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review – Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah is a poet I have been meaning to investigate for some time. He seems an interesting character, to have intriguing politics and I admire his rejection of a disreputable OBE and also making a fuss about it.

So I was surprised, when reading a few of his poems, at the disappointment setting in. I found many of them somewhat heavy handed and, above all, many of the rhymes jarring, disrupting the flow of the poem.

Fortunately I did not completely give up at that point and did indulge in a number of YouTube videos. Watching Zephaniah perform and some of the poems I had doubts about came across as more entertaining. He can certainly keep a room of schoolkids enthralled – not an easy task. If fact it's curious that in Zephaniah's performances he does not stress the rhymes, more often playing them down, avoiding the emphasis, so there whole effect is less jarring.

I don't see the above as my definitive view on Zephaniah; far from it; just questioning, just a few incoherent thoughts. And as entertaining as his performances are I still have lingering doubts about poems that do not work when being read.

Two Walks in Arrowe Park

we'll collect it later
when we're done
the little plastic wrapped package
the delicate perfumed draped bouquet

autumn fades, trees undress
the stark cold bark revealed
there dangling, petite summer gifts
dog shit left hanging from the tree

Monday, 30 January 2012


Mask of
disorder, the
disguise of

Iron Men, Crosby Beach

Men, scattered, standing on the forlorn shore, looking out, solitary, seaward, never speaking, never moving.

Some completely submersed at high tide, others knee deep in the shifting turbulent sands; all glimpsing, longing for, the occasional ship that passes them by.

Each facing away from the fading town; a wannabe tourist destination that never was; these men the last gloomy attraction.

Men that have never lived, never loved, never worked, never screamed, never grown up.

But like all, decaying; and eventually, when we've all perished, washed away on those turbulent sands.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


You should live the way you expect other people to live.

You pay minimum wage,
You should survive on minimum wage.

You profit from a third world sweat shops,
You should stitch trainers eighteen hours a day.

You send others off to fight in a useless war,
You should be crippled, maimed, terrorised in war.

You condemn people to beg on the streets,
You should have a cardboard box, a doorway, for a home.

You should live the way you expect others to live.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Interesting Behaviour

The first:
The short red hair, cascading; the glossy tattoos, like tribal scars; purple metallic bangles, jangling, jangling.
Interesting behaviour.

The other:
The cropped black hair, slender; a yellow t-shirt, short, tight; snug jeans, sparkling, designer distressed and beautifully torn; the oval face, sun tanned, smiling; the delicate bulge on the lips, moaning, moaning.
Interesting behaviour.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Review – The Wilfred Owen Story

Yesterday I visited the Wilfred Owen Story a small exhibition dedicated to the life of possibly the greatest of the WW1 poets. A few weeks ago I had planned a similar visit; then on the morning of going to Birkenhead city centre I looked on the web site for opening times and found it closed for refurbishment. Fortunately it was open yesterday.

The material is displayed in a single room of what once had been a smallish shop. A shop now a little off the beaten track for the more mainstream shopper. Something that may also discourage the more casual visitor to this exhibition – but then, it probably means the rent is lower. The displays are well presented; however the lack of space means there's not that much on display: photographs, a curious drawing by Owen's brother, the paraphernalia of school days, world war 1 memorabilia. Most interesting are some photocopies of Owen's manuscripts and early editions of his poems.

As I left I grabbed a few leaflets, just out of interest. One of these gave directions for the Wilfred Owen Treasure Trail – basically a walk just on the outskirts of Birkenhead city centre which passed some places of interest associated with Wilfred Owen. I only read this leaflet upon returning home. With this benefit of hindsight it would be worth getting the leaflet and adding it to your itinerary – if the weather's fine. Also I intend to give this walk a try sometime.

This exhibition is well worth a visit if you are already in the centre of Birkenhead or you have a special interest in Wilfred Owen. Otherwise there's not quite enough material to warrant a special journey.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

basic social skills

Training Event Log: social interchange training android

13:11:05 event log: start[Wednesday, 19 February 2098] type[summery] level[normal]

13:11:05 starting device: ID[1642.134.1823.100.0.192] type[sexual training android, female]

13:11:05 loading module: android-control

13:11:05 loading module: android-control simulation[human emotion]

13:11:05 loading module: android-control monitoring[environment]

13:11:05 loading module: vision-services

13:11:05 loading module: audio-services

13:11:05 loading module: android-control monitoring[human emotion]

13:11:05 loading module: android-control personality-simulation[default]

13:11:05 loading module: android-control speech[default]

13:11:05 loading module: training

13:11:05 training: setting-rules-from[/etc/sexconfig/training]

13:11:05 training: training-rules-successfully-set

13:11:05 monitoring: location-ID[d432cae92b78f5b2a98580043f18da56] location-description[1246255815:0s6x, Took Building, training booth 9686, third floor]

13:11:06 speech control: start task: request-personality

13:11:13 personality: load configuration: name[Sasha] type[school teacher, female, late-twenties]

13:11:16 speech control: start task: request-student-ID

13:11:25 training: student: ID[9fdb87cc0047d72b54e2012ee4bc2b76] surname[Castelluccio] forename[Christopher] sex[male] age[17.4]

13:11:25 training: course: ID[18ad0b41a87afbb2a65471dc7c2607ef] title[introduction to basic sexual skills] lesson[15] lesson-title[first steps with cunnilingus]

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Coastal Scene with Crab Catchers, about 1658

By Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem (1620 – 1683)
I often stand here, looking out, out over the misty bay at low tide. Watching the tall ships glide in, watching them risking the tall rocks and watching as they unloading their catch. Looking at the men scurrying along the shoreline, there movements hazy in the spray. I stand for hours watching these catchers. Waiting, waiting for nothing.

No one gives me a second look now, not these days, not now after all these years. I'm a usual fixture, best ignored, best forgotten. But a long ago, a long time ago I was the gayest girl around here. Everyone wanted me and I had the pick of the town.

It was all ruined by some boys fumbling one Saturday night. Hadn't a clue had I, how could I? Not a clue what he was up to down there. Fumbling away down there. Then it was all over. I wasn't sure what had happened. That Saturday after the fair, after he'd been drinking all day, after he'd caught me on the way home, after he'd told me he loved me. He seemed happy enough, at the time, tell the next day.

I was never that fond of him, not really, seemed nice enough, but there was always something about him, not right, not trustworthy. We had to marry, that's what they say around here. For the sake of the child, so they said, for the sake of his dirty doings. Our dirty doing they all said, as if I had a choice. The poor wretch was stillborn; I don't know if I was thankful or relieved. Whatever, I was now trapped in a loveless marriage. With him.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Book Review – Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time by Ian Birchall

I Joined the Socialist Workers Party in 1977. The first properly socialist book I read (as opposed to newspaper or journal article) was Ian Birchall's Workers Against the Monolith. This book, written in 1973, was a discussion of the Communist Parties, primarily European, since the Second World War. A couple of years ago I reread this work to see how well it stood up to the intervening years. Of course much has changed within the CPs over this period. Some have all but disappeared; for example the British CP where all that remains are a few squabbling fragments. All have seriously declined and what little remains is largely indistinguishable from labour or social democratic parties. So I was pleasantly surprised to find much of Birchall's thesis stood up reasonably well to the test of time; albeit on a vanishing issue for socialists.

In practical terms I drifted away from the SWP in the mid 1990s. There was no grand haemorrhage or bickering, simply inactivity. Though I still pretty much agree with these politics, read their publications, and contemplate getting involved again – in the near future but not right now. So it was of interest to read Birchall's latest book on the principle founder of this tradition.

Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time is so much more than a celebrity biography; the kind stacked high on supermarket shelves and disposed of alongside the remnants of that ready meal. It takes on many big issues. From the class nature of Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, through the post war boom and subsequent decline, along the sixties rising tide of rebellion and its subsequent downturn. In fact much of post war history is touched upon in some way.

During the early period Cliff and the International Socialists (later the Socialist Workers Party – IS/SWP) got three big questions, broadly speaking, right. Three questions that developed Marxism and updated its power in explaining the world. The first issue was the State Capitalist nature of Russia and the other so called 'communist' states. Most critics of the theory view it in ahistorical terms. But it only makes sense when you view capitalism as a world system, a system of interconnecting rivalries, and this system had developed to a certain point. The theory explained the how state could act as a unit of capitalist development. So a strangled revolution, as in Russia by Stalin, or a military takeover, as in Eastern Europe, could lead to state economies competing on the world stage. In turn this explained the internal workings of these systems. This understanding made sense of events like the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the Prague Spring, and later, the collapse of 'communism'.