Saturday, 14 November 2020

Setting off


So, here we are into the seasons of long dark hours. I've been trying to keep the mind distracted – listening to radio shows, reading quite a bit (I spent October on the 1000 or so pages of Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman, for example). I probably wouldn't have stuck to it without lockdowns (too much else to distract the brain and it’s a fiddly read, most of it just one sentence…) but with the limited options available I did plough my way through it (every word, including all the “the fact that”s). It is an amazing achievement as a piece of writing, but I’d have to say I preferred the (shorter) sections about the mountain lion to all the lengthy meanderings of the human woman’s mind (too close to home perhaps...). Her mind is like all the bins combined (here we have food caddy, paper and cardboard - blue, other recycling - burgundy, garden - brown, other waste - grey and we take bottles to bottle banks ourselves), except the contents of her mind are: old movies, baking, 4 kids, US politics, her small baking business, her childhood, her parents, chickens, her 2 husbands, local people, illness, history…

Now in November I’m reading a few things that couldn’t be more different to the (carefully structured) rambling of Ducks. One is Helen Macdonald’s Vesper Flights (beautiful, precise, poetry without the line breaks) and Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist (a very special book, written about and during the year when the author went from 14 to 15 years old, and covering birds, insects, school, moving house, family life and much, much more). Once we’re adults I think maybe we become too keen on the idea that children and teenagers can’t know much when often they know (and appreciate and understand) a lot more than we care to consider (even if some, unlike this particular young naturalist, don’t have the language, confidence or even desire to communicate that to the rest of us).

All of which reminds me of a theory I was introduced to (in a training session…) back in about 2001 when I was working as an English GCSE tutor for a local authority project in West Yorkshire. The theory was about different kinds of intelligence (something like this I think) and as someone who falls mainly into the linguistic-verbal group (and therefore found it fairly easy to do well in our education systems) it was quite an eye-opener. I learned how for some sitting in classrooms is a lovely, easy way to learn but for so many others it is a kind of temporary prison (some learn better outside, hands in the mud, we learned; others learn better if they can be active and just run around as regularly as possible). Dara writes about this very well (“I think of all the technical advances humankind has made over the last hundred years, yet the way we’re educated has stayed more or less the same. With rows of bodies sat rigidly behind desks. Sitting still.”). He writes about how challenging school is with autism but the different types of intelligence theory suggests there are other issues at play here too. Any young people who connect better with the outside natural world than the human indoors one will learn better out in nature and should be allowed out there as much as possible.

All of which reminds me of another great spokesperson for kids and the outdoors. Author Michael Morpurgo set up the charity Farms for City Children in 1976 and it’s still going strong (though needing support right now, like so many people and organisations…) and one of my current favourite listens just now is Michael Morpurgo’s Folk Journeys (all 4 episodes on the BBC iPlayer now). In it he looks at the traditions of four types of subject in song (war, protest, love and home/migration). Contributions come from, amongst others, Scotland’s mighty Karine Polwart (another keen naturalist and part of the brilliant Spell Songs project). KP manages to have more of a foot in the pop world than some folkies (her Scottish Songbook album, for example, covered a great selection of Scottish pop songs from different eras) and her views on love songs in this series were especially interesting. My other favourite radio listen just now is actor Cillian Murphy’s current Limited Edition show on BBC 6 Music. I love many shows on that station but Cillian’s is such a treat (particularly good on headphones if you can’t sleep). His taste in music is great and his presenting style (from his basement) is very low key and friendly.

I opened this post with the intention of starting to write about my own next project ideas (hence the photo at the top, that’s me in 1970, aged 3) and finally here is a paragraph about it. I intend to take part in the Fun A Day Dundee art project (FADD) again in January and I have been homing in on a direction for that in recent weeks. Last January I wrote a 31-word poem and illustrated a word a day (round-up here) but this time I have other plans. Many of us have spent a lot more time than usual in our homes this year (if we are lucky enough to have one) and I realised that I have lived in 31 different places/homes in my life and that coincidence kept nagging away to be used. So, my plan is to write 31 poems (1 for and about each home/place I’ve lived) and there will be some kind of visuals to go with them. I started looking at old photos (hence the one at the top of this post – that’s me on the steps of the first place I lived in Middleton-St-George near Darlington in England). I was actually born upstairs in that house in 1967 and we lived there until Dad died in 1973. The building also housed Dad’s GP surgery (in the days when it was only one doctor per surgery, certainly in areas like ours, though there was another surgery and doctor over the road as it was a big village). There will be some natural history content to the poems (I think the opening one is going to be called First nest) but it will be mixed in with a lot of whatever I can remember about the people, fixtures, fittings, emotions, smells and sounds of each home experience too. I’m not sure how much ‘fun’ it will be (for me or anyone else) but they don't disqualify you for not being fun in this group. So far I have rough drafts for the first 8 poems - I plan to do drafts now and then fine tune the words and incorporate the visuals each day in January. I think the whole thing will be called 31 Postcodes. I really enjoyed being part of the FADD group last year, seeing all the work online (mainly Instagram) and even meeting a few of the folk before the Lockdown Age began. This winter those of us not actively involved in saving lives need creativity and activity and music and nature more than ever to keep us out of trouble (internal and external). Don’t you think?


V & A, Dundee, 12 November 2020



Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Wonderful world


More than a tweet


The water flows

And Stevie sings,

Love’s in need…

He’s rarely wrong.


A robin comes

To hear the song,

Who’s on this turf?

Who’s winning?


I chirp a word

To the tiny bird,

It pays no mind

To me at all.


Let sweetness fly.

Dig out the good.

The fight is still

Worth singing.

RF 2020

I started writing this on holiday in Argyll in September. I was sitting by the Firth of Clyde, in a garden, playing a Stevie Wonder song on my phone (quietly, not disturbing anyone, no headphones to hand...) and the resident robin came to see what on earth was going on (the same robin that made it into a poem in the previous post too). I particularly love the song (Love’s in need of love today from Songs in the Key of Life). Here it is:



Wednesday, 30 September 2020


Toward, Argyll, Sept 2020



I want to lie in a bed

in a beautiful place,

hear the water lapping,

a robin yelling,

and the sun softly warming

the picture awake.


I want the windows to be huge,

the sky bigger still,

and a horizon so wide

that I run out of eyes.


I want to hear my nearest

laughing and chatting

while I just sit up

with a friendly book

and a cup half-drunk,

proud of its emptiness.


I don’t fear the lines

or what has already gone,

that is how far we’ve come

and lies don’t serve us.

RF 2020

Friday, 31 July 2020

Fun in the sun - for FADD (Fun A Day Dundee) online exhibition weekend

My FADD Post from 28 Jan 2020

In January this year I took part in the Fun A Day Dundee art project by producing a piece of art every day for 31 days and posting a photo of it online (mainly to Instagram and Twitter). This week there are online events to celebrate the project (which has been running in Dundee since 2011) so here are some more details about my contributions, specifically information about all the musical references. This is my idea of fun... I did used to be a DJ and music reviewer in a previous life after all.

Step 1
At the end of December 2019 I wrote a poem with 31 words and no word repeated. You can read the poem back here (or square by square on Instagram or further down this post).

Step 2 
I did an illustration every day for January 2020 with a word from the poem at the centre and all kinds of references to songs/musicians. I posted one illustration every day to Instagram and Twitter. I have done very, very little drawing and illustrating in my life so this was really something new for me. If I had realised in January that I was going to use a 7 inch single format to display them I would have made my squares that size in the first place (I didn't, I randomly went for 15 cm squares instead).

Step 3
I started getting ready for the Fun A Day exhibition, got little record sleeves and was planning to display the illustrations (a) on the wall (as you see records displayed in record shops) and (b) in a little record box so you could flick through them (also like in record shops). I had some slightly enlarged versions of the illustrations printed by Urban Print so they would fit the record sleeve display idea better.

Step 4 
The on-wall exhibition was cancelled due to you-know-what and this weekend there is an online exhibition instead (see samples of all the participants' work here). My new contribution is a video of me and the poem filmed yesterday (apologies to Mr Dylan):

And here is a pic of all the illustrations together (on the floor, they haven't made it to a wall yet...):

And here are notes on the musical references for each one:

Start (1st Jan)
Just one musical link here – ‘Start’ by The Jam (released 1980). This has always been one of my favourite Jam songs. It makes me feel like a teenager (I was 13 in 1980).

with (2nd Jan)
Not much drawing on this one but wordy references (round the edge of the square) to songs by Hot Chocolate (‘It started with a kiss’, 1982), U2 (‘With or without you’, 1987), Stardust (‘Music sounds better with you’, 1998), Dusty Springfield/The Tourists/lots of others (‘I only want to be with you’ 1963/1979 and others), Stealers Wheel (‘Stuck in the middle with you’, 1972) and The Beatles (‘With a little help from my friends’, 1967). 

fun (3rd Jan)
This has one reference – ‘Big Fun’ by Inner City (1989). I was a career raver between 1989 and about 1997 so had to get some house music into this (note the wee hoose in the corner). ‘Dance the night away’ comes from the track (and I did, many, many times). 

and (4th Jan)
Here we have ‘And the beat goes on’ by The Whispers (1979). 10 million views on the YouTube video of this track so evidently it is still going on (and on and on). I got a tiny bit more adventurous with my drawings here (all with ‘beat’ or ‘whispering’ links).

make (5th Jan)
Suddenly my illustrating ambitions went up a level for this Motown record label-inspired drawing and link to ‘I’m gonna make you love me’ (various versions but best known Motown one by Diana Ross and the Supremes & the Temptations in 1968). This reminds me of teenage big fun sitting with a friend in her room in a Middlesbrough suburb in the 1980s, listening to her older sister’s soul records and singing along REALLY LOUD.

a (6th Jan)
The Jackson 5 and ‘ABC’ (1970) for this one. Also the little heart in the corner is a reference to Amy Winehouse as it is one of her tattoos (the easiest one to draw by some distance…).

mark (7th Jan)
This was the hardest to choose for many reasons and I ended up listening to lots of tracks to find the right one. In the end I picked a song I didn’t know before called ‘I was here’ by Beyoncé (‘I will leave my mark so everyone will know, I was here’, on ‘4’, 2011). The bee is hers of course and the other symbols are various different marks linked to musicians (Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Prince...). I chucked in a treble clef for good measure, partly I think because I always enjoyed drawing them as a child when I played recorder (angrily), piano (badly/impatiently) and guitar (very briefly). Also I like trees (hence the trunk).

hold (8th Jan)
I loved En Vogue’s ‘Hold on’ when it came out in 1990 and remember hearing it played regularly on Leeds pirate radio stations like WYBC. The suitcase and the glass are just things you can hold… but the waves reference a song called ‘Hold back the tide’ by Northumberland musician Johnny Dickinson (on his album ‘English Summer’ 2005). I saw Johnny a couple of times at the folk club in Montrose and he was an amazing singer and guitarist and I still listen to his music regularly (I even have his ‘Hear me calling’ as my mobile ringtone). Sadly he died in 2019 after a long illness.

your (9th Jan)
Somehow friends and I ended up singing Hazel O’Connor’s ‘Will You’ (1981) on Hogmanay 2019. So luckily this gave me an idea for ‘your’ (‘You drink your coffee and I sip my tea…). ‘Breaking Glass’ (the film) was a big deal in the UK in 1980 (so I remember).

nerve (10th Jan)
I suspect the daughter (who loves musicals) helped me with this idea (‘if I only had the nerve’, Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz, movie, 1939). She even wrote about lions and musicals recently (see here).

don’t (11th Jan)
I couldn’t decide on a song for this one so I just put ‘don’t’ in the 'search' of our music library and copied a whole lotta song titles. If it’s hard to read there are song titles on here from Jewel, Laura Marling, Billy Joel, Thin Lizzy, Miles Davis, Etta James, Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore, Whitesnake, Sinead O’Connor, Crowded House, Ella Fitzgerald, Dusty Springfield, Harry Connick Jr, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, Yazoo, Awesome 3, Kirsty MacColl, Beyoncé and Jack White, Norah Jones, Karine Polwart, Martin Simpson, Rhiannon Giddens, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, The Streets, Catatonia, Barbra Streisand, Fleetwood Mac, Stone Roses, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, John Martyn, The Be Good Tanyas, Felix, Simple Minds and Elvis Costello. 

fear (12th Jan)
As a teenage rocker with two older brothers (both big into rock music) the first thing that came into my head for this was Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t fear the reaper’ (1976… but played long after that in our house). Not the most cheerful illustration for this one, I’m afraid! I did try to give the reaper a face but it wasn’t working so I went with moody and mysterious instead.

the (13th Jan)
I have a real soft spot for the song ‘The man that got way’ as sung by Judy Garland in ‘A star is born’ (1954). So when I needed a ‘the’ I went for a line from that song (‘the night is bitter’). My Mum and daughter were both partial to the ‘winning parts in musicals shows’ of the noughties (‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ etc.) so I watched them even though they weren’t really my thing. In the ‘Oliver’ themed one (‘I’d do anything’) the now very well-known actress Jessie Buckley sang this song as her big number (and did a fantastic job). She’s a star, that’s for sure. And she’s in the biopic ‘Judy’ (2019) though not playing the lead. Everything comes back to Oz one way or another.

dark (14th Jan)
‘The lights come on…’ is from ‘Blackout’ (1989) by Lil’ Louis (he of ‘French Kiss’ fame). ‘Dancing in the dark’ (1984) is another boss (Bruce Springsteen). I wasn’t a fan of Springsteen growing up but I have come round to him, bit by bit.

open (15th Jan)
I adore Corinne Bailey Rae’s first two albums and the line here (‘my heart’s an open door’) is from ‘I’d do it all again’ (2010) from the album ‘The sea’. I’m not really sure where the caravan came in (Isley Brothers link maybe…).

boxes (16th Jan)
I knew ‘Little boxes’ was a Pete Seeger song (1963) but I didn’t know it was written by someone else – Malvina Reynolds (in 1962). For the illustration I went for record boxes (and record sun) because I was a club/radio DJs for some years in my 20s. The Teletubby colours are from another period in my life I think (childrearing in my 30s and 40s).

turn (17th Jan)
This word turns up in lots of songs and I named one of my publications ‘Turn’ so I went through a lot of possibles for this one. In the end I went for a song I really don’t like (though it has been around for much of my life) – ‘Total eclipse of the heart’ (1983) by Bonnie Tyler – mainly because I was ending up with lots of circles in my illustrations and I liked the idea of an eye from the lyric ‘Turn around, bright eyes’ (it’s green because I have green eyes). This song was written by Jim Steinman (he of the Meatloaf songs) and I certainly did like them (in the late 70s/early ‘80s anyway) and still know most of the words. They seem very musical theatre in retrospect and there is indeed a ‘Bat out of hell’ musical out there somewhere (fairly recent I think).

up (18th Jan)
Two song links in this one. The first is an old song ‘Up, up and away’ (1967) by the 5th Dimension which is another of those that has, literally in this case, been around my whole life. The second is newer -  ‘Cranes in the sky’(2016) by Solange (lyric ‘I ran my credit card bill up’). I suppose the balloon is also a little reference to the film ‘Up’ (2009).

proud (19th Jan)
So why is Mary Poppins on that skateboard you ask? Because she’s ‘rollin’, rollin, rollin’ like a river.’ ‘Proud Mary’ is a Creedence Clearwater Revival track from 1969 and then there were various other versions including Ike and Tina Turner’s in 1971 (though it is now mostly associated with Tina Turner). It crops up all over the place (wii Just Dance anyone? Quite the workout). There are little nods to other Marys in the illustration too – Mary Quant top left and Mary J Blige bottom right.

burn (20th Jan)
After venturing into vaguely figurative art I moved from magical nannies to Scottish poets with this illustration featuring Rabbie Burns in a disco suit (influenced by the Trammps ‘Disco Inferno’, 1976 and its ‘Burn baby burn’). The witch’s hat in the corner is a nod to ‘Burn the witch’ by Radiohead from their album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ (2016). I didn’t love Radiohead in the early days but I live with a fan and I have come to appreciate them. Way back I wrote a poem called ‘Not tonight, Radiohead’ that even mentions disco so that’s an odd link for me too.

down (21st Jan)
Two musical links on here – one to ELO’s ‘Don’t bring me down’ (1979) and one to ‘3 miles down’ (1978), a song about miners by one of my longtime favourites Gil Scott-Heron. The latter isn’t one of GSH’s better known tracks but the live version is particularly good. 

sadness (22nd Jan)
Watch out! Here comes Van Morrison and some links to his song ‘Have I told you lately that I love you’ (1989, lyric ‘Fill my heart with gladness, take away my sadness’). It’s a gloomy (if cheeky) picture but it’s probably one of my favourites in this pack.

play (23rd Jan)
I had something else in mind for this but then I heard ‘Play the game’ (1980) by Queen on the radio at some point in January and ended up working around that instead (Freddie Mercury and Brian May on a playing card). There are a few little unspecified nods to playing games and playing music on there too.

out (24th Jan)
I first heard Michael Marra play, speak and sing in Montrose in 2006 (I think) but he was from Dundee (where I live now) and I heard him perfrom live here too (as well as a few more times in Montrose). He was such a great performer and songwriter that I struggle to put it into words. He died in 2012, which seems an incredibly long time ago already and I can’t believe he’s been gone that long. I had to get one of his songs in here somewhere and ‘Take me out drinking tonight/When these shoes were new’ (1980) was the one that seemed to fit. The little portrait (top left) doesn’t look much like him (only the headgear…) but the pub theme also reminds me of some of his other songs that mention pubs. He lovingly painted musical portraits of all Dundee life. For me he is up there (in both senses) with some of my faves (Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron...).  

loud (25th Jan)
Mainly the musical link here is Kate Bush and ‘Snowflake’ (2011) but also a little bit of Stevie Wonder and ‘Do I do’ (1982, ’Your love talks to me so loud…’). I had to get Stevie in somewhere.

Help (26th Jan)
It’s the Beatles. And they need help (look at them, their faces have disappeared...).

is (27th Jan)
Again I wanted to get David Bowie in somewhere and I managed it here. I did really love ‘Space Oddity’ (was fascinated by the visuals on Top of the Pops in 1975 when it was rereleased and went to number one) and I squeezed it in here (and you will notice I had had enough of trying to draw faces by this point…).

art (28th Jan)
I spent ages trying to choose a song I liked for this one. In the end I went for ‘Mona Lisa’ – best known as a Nat King Cole song from 1950. It was first written for a film (‘Captain Carey, USA’) and I probably know it best from another film (‘Mona Lisa’, 1986) which was popular in the ’80s but I haven’t seen since.

just (29th Jan)
I needed to have a Nina Simone song in the set too and one of my favourites is the live version of ‘Just in time’ (1962) that’s used at the end of the film ‘Before Sunset’ (2004). The song was written by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green and first showed up in the musical ‘Bells are Ringing’ in 1956 (musicals get everywhere!). Just to be fussy I set the clock in the illustration to the time of sunset in Paris on 29th January 2020 (because ‘Before Sunset’ is set in Paris).

take (30th Jan)
More circles in the illustration here… and a very vague link to ‘Don’t take away the music’ (Tavares, 1976) and ‘You are my sunshine’ (‘don’t take my sunshine away…’, numerous versions). And the radio? I’ve listened to so much music radio in my life (cheesy commercial radio in my teens and then later pirate radio, folk shows, 6 music…) that I had to get a radio in there too. Radio is a door to so much music.

part (31st Jan)
This is another one that took a while to choose. Mostly this refers to ‘The Parting Glass’ which I have heard various people sing at folk clubs and concerts (and there is lovely version on Cara Dillon’s 2008 album ‘Hill of thieves’). The song ends ‘good night and joy be with you all’ and it seemed a good way to end the run. Other musical references on the illustration are to Ian Dury and the Blockheads (Reasons to be cheerful part 3 – ‘why don’t you get back into bed’ and ‘summer buddy holly’), Joy Division (‘Love will tear us apart) and Fergie ‘A little party never killed nobody’. Oh and the curtains are parted. Ah ha!

If you got this far thanks for reading and come and join in the fun in 2021! I really enjoyed taking part and it is a great, friendly group.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Hush, hush

The North Sea, Angus

One of the things that struck me reading about Covid-19 in the early phases was how relatives who couldn't visit loved ones were sending messages to be read aloud to them (or were reading messages aloud to them via phones, tablets etc.). Many mentioned sending or reading poems, in particular, and I have been wondering (since then) what poem I would send to someone in this kind of situation or what poem I might want to be read aloud to me. I haven't come up with an answer but I have come up with a poem (which is partly inspired by someone I know who has been ill for some time, not with Covid-19, and who has the biggest and best of hearts). 

In a whisper

Hush, hush, sweet one,
Hear my sound at your side.
Your breath’s hard won,
Still your heart’s open wide.

Like the best kind of pet,
On your bed, here I lie,
Here to soak up some pain,
And to never ask why.

We can dream where we've been,
Let the long slideshow play,
Fattest suns, loudest laughs,
All our lives in one day.

As we sleep, you and I,
Let this moment survive,
We are here, flesh to flesh,
This is us, love alive.

RF 2020

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Tweet tweet

Art at the top of the Law, Dundee 
by Paco Graff (photo 1st May 2020)

I got a Twitter account quite late in the day (my first tweet was in June 2017 and Twitter started in 2006). Perhaps because of the format (and the original limit on characters) I thought I would try to use it for very short poems (hence the handle @4littlelines ). I had just finished a project in mid 2017 (putting together my pamphlet 'Turn') and I was ready for a change of pace. Also I have always liked trying to say something big (or small) in very few words (you can read some of my much older short poems here). 

They've not exactly reached a big audience but recently I thought I would collate the Twitter poems so far on the blog here and who knows maybe someone will want to read them. They are mostly responses to topical/political issues (mainly UK, but not all) over the past few years. I have deleted one or two from Twitter as I've tweaked/spring-cleaned the profile here and there but this is most of them (quite a few). It's possible I started with this one (though it's not on the feed now so I must have tidied it away for some reason):

4 little lines

4 little lines can say it all,
Scratched 4 eva on a toilet wall,
Write or type, just hear the call,
Rhyme if you want to, it’s not mandatory.

On 8th June 2017 we had a UK election and at some point after that I tweeted this response to the fact that our MP (in Angus in Scotland where we lived at the time) changed from the SNP's Mike Weir (thoroughly decent bloke) to the Conservatives'  Kirstene Hair (predictably disappointing and tiresome). I retweeted it when her she was up for reelection in 2019 and am very glad to report that Hair lost her seat and it reverted to the SNP. I'd love to take the credit for this but really it's because she was a terrible, terrible MP.

Angus Blues

Blue is the colour of my county's wallet,
The ribbon is too and the sky is grey,
The clouds hang low like a broken bonnet,
Sad is the song for our bairns today.

On 19th June 2017 I posted this Brexit poem for Nigel 'hold the bucket while I vomit at the mention of his name' Farage. This one is still up on Twitter because I still hate him and everything he stands for. Nigel is doing his best to spread hatred wherever he can and in that sense it is definitely working because I really do hate him.


Nigel Farage, halt your hole,
Pinstripes can confuse the soul,
You have championed quite a rift,
Bitter Britain is your gift.

On 20th June 2017 UK Prime Minister Theresa May was not doing well.

Theresa’s times

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Stumbling on from horror to tragedy,
I just wanted someone to look at me,
Life is so very unfair.

On 21st June 2017 I posted a poem about the fire at Grenfell Tower in London which had taken place on 14th June. The event was so horrifying and all the more so because it was completely avoidable. 

The cost

Governments can be terrorists too,
Save some pennies, all for the few.
What would Margaret Thatcher do?
Burn the poor for a better view.

Also on 21st June 2017 I posted a little poem about Boris Johnson (currently making a terrible job of being UK Prime Minister but then busy with Brexiteering and offending people under the title of 'Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs'). Looking back I think this poem is actually unfair to pigs.


Boris snuffles as he speaks,
Truffles packed in bacon cheeks,
Where he trots it always reeks,
Bubbles, troubles, oinks and squeaks.

On 22nd June 2017 the person others call Queen Elizabeth II wore a hat that some suggested looked like an EU flag. No royals in an independent Scotland when we get it, thank you very much.

Where did you get…?

Who picked that hat for Mrs Ma’am,
Now all the rage in Buckingham?
Are there new tricks up those old sleeves?
This is the cat that never leaves.

Also on 22nd June 2017 I wrote a little something about 'The Daily Mail', one of the UK's nastier newspapers (and we have some corkers!). It is currently the best selling paper in the UK apparently which says something about the ignorance and aggression that feel too at home here. I can't remember what they were up to to prompt this particular response. It could be any one of a list of horrible campaigns.

In the Mail

Got something mean you want to say?
Fear not, we put out every day.
They call us Hate, we rise above,
Who wants that dirty thing called love?

On 26th June 2017 I put together a little something for far right campaigner Katie Hopkins (she is currently banned from Twitter). The internet calls her a 'media personality' which seems all wrong. Apparently she first came to public attention via 'The Apprentice' (a show I watched once in someone else's house). I blame a lot of shit on that show.

Follow the leader

Katie Hopkins – foul and proud,
Poster bait for kicking crowd,
Feed her, fund her, let her show
She will sink to any low.

On 28th June 2017 tennis player Heather Watson was (like many others in the public eye) getting a lot of crap from our brave anonymous online heroes.

Insult tennis

Internet trolls
Confuse women with dolls.
This is due to their lives
With inflatable wives.

On 29th June 2017 the UK's Conservative government announced a public sector pay cap and, even worse, cheered themselves for doing it. They will clap their little devil's hooves for you if you sacrifice yourself to save others in a pandemic, sure, but don't expect any other recognition or reward. They are a disgrace and why people continue to vote for them... well, see some of the above.

The Plunder years

Hear their hoots
Across the years,
Money talks
Bullshit cheers.

A few days later I posted something about the BBC's main UK political 'debate' TV show. 

Rotten job?

To tackle one cause
Of organised crime
Vote ‘Lie Detectors
For Question Time’.

On 2nd July 2017 I took a break from politics and wrote a little Sunday morning number.

Day of rest

Don’t waste yourself,
Let time just rot,
The day is long
But life is not.

On 3rd July 2017 I wrote one of many poems about Donald Trump. There's a reason they made a big baby balloon of that man (because he is a big baby balloon). And for anyone who hasn't watched 'Trump: An American Dream' (currently on Netflix) I highly recommend it. I retweeted this one when he came to London in 2019 too.


Poor Donald is tired, he so needs a nap.
Poor Donald is bloated, he’s packed full of crap.
Poor Donald is angry, and raging online.
The bigger the baby, the louder the whine.

This one isn't up just now but it was about something else terrible that the Conservative party did in 2017 (take your pick really). I guess I deleted it because there were so many other terrible tories poems.

About turn

Turn back Tories,
Ain't life funny?
Bankers aren't the only ones
Who need our money.

On a similar vein from 5th July 2017:

Start young

I’m a millionaire and I’m OK,
Things get sticky I just fly away.
I mess with the medical, I fool with schools,
I play pick and choose when it comes to rules.

And on 6th July 2017, in the interests of fairness, I wrote one for Tony Blair (for those outside the UK the Labour Party has used the red rose symbol since the 1980s):

War roses

Roses are red,
Sometimes that’s true,
But Blair did his best
To make them turn blue.

This one isn't on the feed just now but I wrote it about Trump and Putin in July 2017 (probably inspired by a photo):

Tough at the top

Sit with me a while, hear my plans and schemes,
No-one takes me seriously, it might be all the memes.
Forget the cold war, we’re just a pair of hot guys,
I want to hold your hand, meet those dreamy eyes.

On 9th July 2017 I posted this about my favourite radio show (Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music, Sunday mornings):


The sweetest sounds,
In a mighty mix,
All birds and bees
Love Cerys on 6.

Again this isn't up on the Twitter feed just now but this was a second poem about Grenfell Tower, written in July 2017:

Tower of London

If walls could talk
What would they say?
Don’t bury truth?
Don’t turn away?

On 10th July 2017 I posted this about online spats:

We vow

Let's fight online
Till the power dies,
Till there's no one left
For us to despise.

The next one in July 2017 was about a British 'aristocrat' (read about him here). It was the first one that prompted a vile response (if one in rhyme... poetic racists are still racists). It's not on the feed now as I didn't want to leave the horrible response online.

Titled untitled

What’s that I see in a news headline –
 ‘Aristocrat’ you say, is that even still a thing?
Britain stuck in a swamp as old as time,
Cruelty, stupidity, all fit for a king.

Ben Ashcroft wrote a book called '51 Moves' about his childhood and experiences in the care system. He often invites people to tweet that 'Every child leaving care matters' so I wrote a short poem for a tweet on 15th July 2017:

Shine forever

Simple things aren’t always simple,
Minds struggle when safety shatters,
A simple message shines some light:
Every child leaving care matters.

On 15th July 2017 I posted another one for former Prime Minister Tony Blair (though I can't find a reference to whatever photo or Instagram account I was thinking of at the time):

Looking for likes

Tony tries to win back powers,
Heads for insta, Beyoncé-style,
No one wants to see his flowers,
Never mind that joker’s smile.

On 21st July 2017 I wrote a little poem in praise of this song by Kim Edgar:

Kim’s song

Here’s something good,
Here’s something true.
Just listen, love,
Feel less like blue.

After a wee while on Twitter I thought it was time to deal with this subject (on 23rd July 2017). To be fair there is a fair bit of it on Facebook too (but I am there less these days).

Death threat culture

My tenth since breakfast,
‘I fucking hate you’.
I lose track of life.
I type it, it’s true.

I have no loyalty or interest when it comes to the British monarchy. So much so that this poem isn't even on the feed any more (but it must have been in July 2017). This was about Kate Middleton, I imagine, (is she called Windsor now - who gives a hoot really?) and the tedious photos of her that stare out from newsstands. I have to hope she is more interesting in real life than her image allows. No monarchy in our upcoming independent Scotland please 😀 Did I say that already?


Bring me a princess,
Keep her bland,
Velvet gloves
On a tired old brand.

I may have watched the odd TV series. The writing in some of them is so great these days. Poets don't stand a chance. (This poem 27 July 2017.)


I want to be a box set
When I grow up.
I’ll make it worth your time.
I’ll never, ever rhyme.

On 29th July 2017 I tweeted a little something on trying to write during school holidays.


In the longer days
Got to keep it short,
Fitting in writing’s
A summertime sport.

On 30th July 2017 there was a little poem in response to a photo by Shahbaz Majeed:

In and out

I fall again into the waves –
Restless sheets, no good for sleep.
To toss and turn in this old bed,
Is just a dream that’s blue and deep.

On 9 August 2017 (school exam results day in Scotland) I wrote this in response to the hashtag #NoWrongPath:

Slow lane

Life isn’t one exam,
It’s more a PhD.
And rushing isn’t all
It cracks us up to be.

On 13th August 2017 I posted this in response to fascist activity in Charlottesville, Virgina:

The real thing

Real white power
Fights the fascist blight,
Knows their sorry hatred
Isn’t any kind of right.

This one isn't on the feed now but it was around the same time with the same subject:

Killing times

Because their hearts are gone,
They hate to fill the void.
Their hopes are empty homes,
Where all has been destroyed.

On 3rd September 2017 I wrote about the new Queensferry Crossing bridge between Edinburgh and Fife and the fact that Nicola Sturgeon walked it with a crowd of locals on 2 September 2017 (though I believe a 'monarch' came up for 'official opening' a couple of days later). We crossed it (in a car) on 31st August on our way to an open day at an Edinburgh university for the daughter so I don't know what that says about us. Around the same time a book of Trump's quotes/tweets (restyled) called 'The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump' by Rob Sears was put out by Scottish publishers Canongate. Sturgeon, Trump, I know who I'd rather have leading a country... Also 'quine' is a Doric word for 'woman' or 'girl'.

Another week in Scotland

A bridge for a quine,
Our leader divine,
Whilst Trump’s every curse,
Now immortal in verse.

On 12 September 2017 I wrote this little one about writing about other people's tragedies:


It might be poetic,
This tragic scene,
But is there a line?
And is it mine?

This one isn't on the feed just now. Peter Hitchens ('conservative journalist and author') was moaning about something...

He squawks hard for his money

Hitchens is bitchin’.
So what else is new?
Clueless and clutching
To shreds of a view.

Then a second appearance for Boris Johnson in late 2017. Sadly he did not 'get tae fuck' and in fact got to fuck us up instead (in oh so many ways).

Go on Johnson

Go on Johnson,
Get tae fuck,
Time to end
Your dirty luck.

In 2018, a poem for New Year:


Start again, reboot,
Undry some fruit.
Little sparklers die
‘gainst a giant sky.

On 20th March 2018, a Facebook mention:


Oh facebook
Might this be the end?
Time to unplug?
Unmask? Unfriend?

And in May 2018 there was sunshine:

Mayday Sun

I let sun wash me warm.
Someone tortures a lawn.
Dogs seek out good shade
As the daffodils fade.

On May 23rd 2018 Boris Johnson was talking about wanting a special plane. I retweeted this again recently as there has been talk of the £900,000 spent on said plane. I mean, after all, what else could we be spending money on right now?

The dickhead wants a plane

Boris, you can have a plane.
Take our money, watch it burn.
But we have some Ts and Cs –
Fly away and don’t return.

Not long after that there was another Trump edition:


Across all the borders
You’ll hear the same rage -
Don’t lock up these children,
Keep Trump in a cage.

And another (about Trump and 'The Sun' 'newspaper'):

Big orange ball

'The Sun’ is our shame
And today most of all –
Its front page an ad
For that big orange ball.

Then in June 2018, the Melania Trump coat story (I did an image for this one):

Melania’s fashion statement (June 2018)

I only care about myself.
I found a rotten golden key.
My heart is empty, read my back:
One rule for you, no rules for me.

Then a bit of gap, and then in June 2019:

The worst

Leaders come and leaders go,
They fuck us up, this much we know,
Our lessons burn, so sore and slow,
While leaders come and leaders go.

And again in the same month:

The worst II

All of the options are dreadful.
They think themselves crème de la crème
But really they’re not even dregs,
The worst of the worst kind of men.

Then on 23 July 2019, Boris Johnson was announced the new leader of the Conservative party and therefore the UK.

Keep calm, you say?

We laughed at their fool,
Orange jester, no class,
But look at us now,
Led by our own ass.

On 7 August 2019 I tried this appeal to the Scottish First Minister:

Fop chop

Nicola, free us from this fop,
He’s heavy in the wallet but light up top,
With his tiresome ‘trademark’ quirky mop,
Let’s snip this tie, altogether now: ‘Chop!’

And in September 2019 there was this on the tone of the BJ government, Brexit etc.:

Loose talk

Say it’s ‘just a game’, just another debate,
Like old ‘Union’ days, ‘take it all on the chin’.
‘Come on chaps, no one’s died, and the bar’s open late’.
Except they did, someone died, and they will again.

In December 2019 the UK had a general election and King Liar Boris Johnson and his Brexit bus won the day. 

True blue

So it's true, facebook true,
England's drowning in blue,
Brexit blue, passport blue,
Want to leave? Join the queue.

And Boris Johnson's Tory government has been such a success story (not really). I had this in early 2020:

Handy man

He may be something like
a leader of this land
but I never, ever, ever want
to shake his nasty hand.

And on 16th April 2020:

Tory Prayer

Do we care?
Yes, we do!
About us,
Never you.

On 26th May 2020 there was this for tory adviser in chief Dominic Cummings (who seems to struggle with rules):

I spy Tory lies

I lie for a living
And don’t ask why
Or I’ll stick my hard brexit
In your good driving eye.

And then on 28th May 2020, because they've done such a great job in the current health crisis, there was this:


We thought our worst was Thatcher
But it seems that's not the case,
Johnson's evil arsewipes
Now securely in first place.

And, most recently, on 4th June 2020, when Boris Johnson said he was very proud of how his government had handled the Covid-19 crisis, I tried this (spoiler - no one agrees with him):

Boris Johnson is proud

I am proud of my bullshit,
my lies and my luck,
so many have died
and I don’t give a fuck.

So, there you go - a whole lotta little poems. And if you made it this far thanks for reading.