Parson Thruses Dairy

A regression to the activities of earlier times. A journal of private thoughts and dairy confessions. Safely locked in my darkest place (or one of them).


These could really catch on ... any chance of a little expansion? *Looks for a hair grip to pick PT's lock.*


12 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #12

Well, that's Guido Fawkes and The Glorious Dead done. Christmas trees next.

13 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #13

Bimbling along in the clapped-out electric milk-float that is life, with its one functioning side-light.

16 November 2012 - Dear Dairy # 16

Dear dairy, letter on way to Danny today. For anyone who picks up this journal and doesn't know who Danny is, he is someone I send letters to.

18 January 2013 - Bearing down

It's turned to snow but, well, why let the truth get in the way of a good story. As someone once said to me.

19 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #19

Dear dairy, more shite than you can shake a stick at, young man.

2 Nov 2012 - Dear Dairy # 1

Dear dairy, so glad I took my legs for a run yesterday. It seems to have brought us closer together.

20 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #20

Paradise gathers dust on a shelf in Baker Street.

21 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #21

Dear dairy, Happy 21st! Award yourself a free gold-top and a third of a pint of orange juice. Gold-top puts hairs on your chest and lines your arteries to keep the heat in during cold snaps.

22 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #22a

Epilogue The calm after the storm.

23 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #23

Happiness is a crisp, cold morning and your hair full of spiders.

24 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #24

Dear dairy, good morning. Excellent morning. It's Saturday. Sabado - muy bien. Thoughts on meritocracy.

25 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #25

Why do we look for more When we have all the comfort we need?

26 November 2012 - Dear Dairy #26

Today a man with a clipboard came knocking on all the office doors to check that they open.

3 November 2012 - Dear Dairy # 3

Woke up. Hallelujah! To the sound of pouring rain. Fucker! Please, Lord, don't make me have to write another awful poem about rain.

4 November 2012 - Dear Dairy # 4

Dear dairy, one extra pint today, then none till Tuesday. Key's under the plant pot. Bob's on earlies. ;-)

8 December 2012 - Dear Dairy, exact position unknown

Just remembered that it's 32 years today since Lennon was shot. My friend Dunc thinks that his lifestyle would have caught up with him by now had he not encountered his assassin.

9 Dec 2012 - La Mer / Beyond the Sea

A song with a spell of its own.

9 Dec 2012 - Other thoughts

There seems to be a clear-out of a generation going on this year, as the notables are swept from middle nostalgia to recent history. The body-count for 2012 includes some interesting names.

9 November 2012 - Dear Dairy # 9

Can't afford welfare? No - can't afford the rich.


Roadside encounter.

Confused of... a ramble

Thinking out loud. It's a ramble. You have been warned.

Corporal Jones?

Was chatting to a friend yesterday and the subject of tolerance was raise. Religious, I think, though it could be any branch.

Dear dairy # 2 - "Where's my Steri?"

"Where's my two pints of Steri?", she asked from under her curlers.


Materialism as cause and relief

Frustrations of life

Just a bit of fun in the sun

It could be worse

No point in complaining. Won't get you anywhere. All you can do is grit your teeth and get stuck in. Keep your head down, keep your nose clean and don't make waves.

Not worth dying for

Revolution and wars of liberation come from the same broken home. Each suffers the same bitter diappointment in its progeny.


Warping the language. Words from the cutting-room floor.


Great expectations. You'll be disappointed!

The world at rest

Tired rambling on the curious product of centuries of slaughter. Will it always be so?

Weston Bay

Our bay was as beautiful as I have ever seen it tonight.


Sport, work and religion: life’s great distractions.


"Oi!" Said the bush. "Get yer bloody hair cut."


Potato, potato

Lest we forget

In Memory of Life

Missing the train

Sometimes, missing the train home is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. Things become stark. The difference between where you are and where you want to be dreadfully apparent.


Sitting on a bench at the cold, windy end of Temple Meads station with complication behind me and complication ahead of me.


Even spiders have feelings

The resignation

Knowing when it's time to go

The Question

My friend Michael informs me he is going to Monteverdi's Vespers in Bradford-on-Avon tonight, which prompted me to wonder if they will still be open at that time of night. Belief in service for the scooterist, clearly.

Fairway (2)

The rain is no match

The art of the trivial

Cheer up! It could be worse. Live verse from Trap 1.

Form and the flower

Thank you Danny and Jeremy.

This week

More spontaneous garbage.

Form over function

Form over function: I like form, but when push comes to shove, give me function. When a thing is designed well to function at its optimum efficiency, it has a beautiful form anyway.

Inner peace

Found myself completely alone on the portion of a train that was being separated off. I was dreaming of being lost in the mountains with the silence. A man came and told me I would

I feel ok

That's it. Just ok.

Scaring the horses

Horsemeat found in human food! PANIC!!!!

Tuna and rice


It's a circus!

So not funny

Which way is up?

Where are you?

No rest for the wicked

It’s 03:20 and I’m wide awake. Too much in my stomach and too much on my mind.

Is this death?

Caught on the drop

So here we are

Don't stop me.

So there it is

Scrambled egg over jalpeno

Waste of time

It's the obligatory feeling sorry for one's self piece. It will be garbage and it won't be read. Never mind.

Wavering Down

From a Mendip

It was good to see you

Empathising happiness


More than enough to live on

Crazy one

Crazy one in a cider, wine and shellfish stupor

Monday morning (0725)

Early train again refrain


Rain is pouring down between the platforms A drum-roll on the metal roof A polishing of rails

September sky

Somewhere between bed and work. Usual place.

Ignore me

I have a boil and a cold

God’s Wonderful Railwayman

Sometimes life puts the right person in the right place at the right time.

Die Panzerklasse

"Shall we have Handel, dear?" "Irene?" Vorsprung durch technik

Out there

Just Out there


These words haunt me and keep me climbing when the urge is to look down and let go. They were spoken by astronaut Ken Mattingly and used in Reinert's documentary "For All Mankind".

Do you know?

I'm sitting here waiting for the 24th October 2013 to fully get under way so I can embark on a much-needed mini-adventure. In a few hours I'll be...

Senor Pulpo

Para mi professora




In the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to write up my visit to Malawi (24 October to 11 November 2013). It's hard work. Writing up that...

Crescent moon

The moon looks nice tonight. Slowly setting. I expect Venus is up there somewhere too. Like the Turkish flag. I think of you and your friend watching...


It's almost onomatopoeic. It sounds like it is . Sounds like it feels. Gloom descended. You can see it descending. No explanation needed. Like a...

0808 - Parson Street

Just along for the ride
Gold cherry

Conquering fear

I have two more works by Kerouac (courtesy of the postman – what a wonderful profession). And I’ve just about read myself into More. What do I do?...

Last train

It's cold. It's 2322. I just missed the 2306. 43216 pulls into platform 10. The driver and his mate drop out to the floor and head. Finished for the...

Christmas Eve Night

Christmas Eve night, 2 a.m. This is one of my sleepless nights, then. I’ve been lying here since sometime after midnight. The one or two hours I had...

Crazy life

It’s the craziness of it all – the whole thing. Sitting here in my dad’s chair, in the window. He’s here, but he isn’t. A short time ago the room was...

Just another journey

Today I passed the Malvern Hills – mini Alps – skies storm-washed, pre-sunset. Low sun streaming in my eyes. The man on the radio said there’s...

Happy New Year!

So, then, what's all this? I’m sitting here, having had a productive day, still wearing two pairs of socks and outside the rain is lashing onto the...

Another year

The world keeps turning

Why I no longer watch television

Or listen to the radio or read newspapers.

First day back

Having dreams make forays into my still-awake mind is like having still-animated eyes pecked by impatient crows.

Vomiting ideas

Standing in the eternal dark - vomiting ideas

About the leaving

It’s all about the leaving. That’s what counts. That’s what gets me. Leaving it all behind. Striking out – hitting the road. Leaving the world behind...

Not a pretty site

I drive around this urban blight remembering we are all accidents of birth. Every drab and crumbling home in each depressing council estate placed...

Go well Caley

You meet the nicest people drunk in Bristol.


Lucky me


A nonsense

One night is very much like the rest

So I’m more than half-way through the book. Ragged tassels mark the page. I fell asleep on the train again. So tired. So fucking tired. I get a...

Snowdrops in the donkey field

Yesterday, I witnessed a mist of snowdrops beneath the trees away across the donkey field.

A day in a list.

Still in the fight.

The ache

Oh, that pain. The one that comes from your guts and tears at your jaw, bursting open your ribs and kicking through your sternum. Is it stress?...

Time to head back south.

Driving west across Yorkshire. Probing for the slip-road – A1M, southbound. The South. I think about what I’m leaving. About family. Distant in our...

Will you sing me a song of the sea?

Will you sing me a song of the sea? I asked as the wind she blew and howled. Where goes the ship with the swinging mast and the gallant crew, all...

Taking time

In childhood, every day seemed to last so long. Adolescence lived among the detail of the world. (Or maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe that’s the myth that...

Today is an ok day

Sometimes, you have to come clean and say, "You know, it’s not so bad to be alive". It could be worse – d’ya know what I mean? It’s like there are...

Mutually Assured Destruction

Can't live together Can't live apart

Making sense

Sitting here trying to make sense of it all before dashing out of the door for a train, when it occurred that this may be the problem. Isn’t the...

The Flood (IP)

Fans of the Bible (not wishing to defame or libel) Will be looking for blame in all of this rain But if we wait for the floods to abate All the...

Another conversation

At last we sat together to talk and you told me everything From your heart and from your head Now I rest in Mayor with my tapa and Rioja and think of...

Just words

Wave goodbye as I pass among the stars and my tears will fall like rain to soothe your aching heart Talk to me in the quiet of the night and my...

Being and gone

An observation from the opposite track


Dazzled! The sun-god is in the ascendancy and I'm listening to the bass on The Charlatans' "Forever". Burly Poles are squaring up to each other in...

Más que la belleza

A smile is like an opened window.

Tickets please, guys

"Tickets please, guys." "Guys" A useful word. Adds nothing. Takes nothing away. Hides everything. May safely be used in an office, on a train, with...

This is not over yet

Hell, I’ve just realised that it’s 25 years this month since I walked out on my first real job – a whole quarter century. “Howizzeeeeeeeee?” “Not out...

The flea

A thought to see me through the day

A helluva day

Well it’s been a helluva day. Woke at 5 a.m. needing the toilet and emptied my entire gut in four successive sessions, reminiscent of my visit to...

This is my prayer

To speak the language of Tirso, de Vega and Cervantes. To walk the streets hand in hand is all that I ask Anything else is too much to bear This is...

Why ABCtales is important

Why ABCtales is important Because when I lay my head on the pillow and weep The last thing I think before I sleep is "Now it's out there"

Checkout girl

You want heavy and meaningful? Check this out! ;-)


It’s nearly ten months I compile the photos in my mind and wonder how we’ll be I’ve never seen you so happy You and the horse swimming the lake I...

From obscurity to obscurity and back

I took a trip from one place to another - I forget the details now. It was a bumpy ride all the way and in the the end I had to ask myself why I did...


Easter egg all over the carpet.


Is this wrong?

The best thing

The very best

El vuelo de noche

I watch the lights of the city fall away again

Fiesta time!

The Fiesta failed the MoT

You've got to laugh

There’s a man lying dying in a hospital bed. He’s my uncle. And I think to myself “Why wait?” “What’s the point?” Just hanging around. It’s all we...

Because I can speak

The clouds keep passing over but it’s still recognisably summer The kids in the park lithe and lean Male, female it doesn’t matter It all means the...

Not everybody will like this

Oh for God's sake, in a perfect world, put me on an airplane at Terminal 5 and tell me I'm never coming back. Is it too late for a Green Card and...


The fingers know where to go It's the heart and the mind that lose their way Blown about by every small disturbance of the air I shorten my step for...

Eye of the storm

The I in the storm

There is no silence

The world's gone silent. I can't bear it. I rummage in my pocket for the shining green blade. Metallic, like an insect carapace. I slide my thumb and...

I wish

I envy you women. I always have. That understanding. That thing you have. I've never been one for boisterous things. That thumping-chested manhood...

His saffron robes

Well, I'm seriously contemplating a life of abstinence and clean-living, if only I was any good at that kind of thing. Experience shows I'm not...

There's more to life than dinner

Today I lost my brolly It was beautiful blue and bright orange and came all the way from Malawi It really is quite sad

BRE York

BRE York Almost rhymes with work Almost, but not quite Something isn't right Which comes to mind every time I see this sign cut into a carriage floor...

Stupid people scare me

Stupid things happen when stupid people are given authority Bad things happen when stupid people are given uniforms Look what happens when you give...


There is no bullshit Only comfort, hope and blue sky I hope I get to leave before I die

Gulls above Lawrence Hill

Watching gulls soaring on the evening thermals, so high. Almost at the edge of cloud and blue sky. And I felt how it must be to fly beside them,...

If souls inhabited machines

Standing in the morning sun they wait, patiently as Alexander’s horses would have done. Well-proportioned as a draughtsman’s dream, they’re dressed...


A younger cohort cramming onto the train tonight. Rats scrambling over each other's backs. At best, a brief foot-hold. A thousand writhing cobbles in...

Whats happening in the world?

There’s so much bad news, she said. What’s happening in the world? I can’t bear it. I know, I answered. I’m trying to maintain a balance between my...


Sorry - strong feelings / words. Look away if it's not your thing.

Parson Thru

Is it time to give this one a go? Apologies to the living (readers included).

PT 2

Paddy was our milkman. He was a character – all those people were characters then. He was probably 60-ish, but even people my age now looked old to a...

On Passing Through

Ode to Jack

PT 3

The Tramways Club

Never forget

Never forget that every symphony, fresco, dome and arch, each insight into heaven, hell, the universe, each formula, equation, every foray to the...

Cost-benefit Analysis

I’m trying to sleep Lying open-eyed


I sit here imagining a nosebleed Nostrils hot and overfull Metallic wine in my throat and drip, drip dripping from my nose onto my clothes Outside,...

Flat Wind

A vignette

In the moment

Sitting here with Kerouac and Larkin stuffed in my bag (and two left in an old ten-pack, but that's our little secret). Got Dylan pushed in my ear...

Cut loose

Well, we’re outbound again tomorrow. Paris.

Fear of flying

Looks like we're in for a roller-coaster white-knuckle ride Never mind What's to lose? I'm having fun Taking in the views and eating Andouillette...

Parisienne thoughts

Parisienne thoughts. Sitting in the jardín (courtyard) of the Hotel du Moulin. The sun is lighting the rim of the wall and my little square of sky is...

Monday morning

Every now and again you get something that sweeps in as a great unstoppable wave. An enforced change of mind, sitting in Monday's delayed train, not...


Big School

Tangled up in blue ride 1

This is the Tangled Up In Blue Ride because that’s the song whose lyrics I sang from 12:30 until 20:00. I’ve struggled to get out for rides this...

Tangled up in blue ride 2

Lying on a high grass bank above the Wye Tintern standing tall behind the trees Empty windows framing sky Between the showers sun lights up late...

Tangled up in blue ride 3

Through towns and villages Forest of Dean Symonds Yat signposted At Monmouth I turn left without stopping Leaving behind its bridge its history and...

Is there any greater love

Is there any greater love than a mother’s for her child?

Old Harris Tweed

Moss, peat and lichen woven into cloth How many autumn afternoons have you known How many wardrobes fireplaces and smoked-filled rooms What bar-ends...

This morning I passed a wonderful scene

This morning I passed a wonderful scene An A4 Pacific raising steam Beautiful blue and black design coupled against the proportioned line of a...

Frigid air

A poem


Does anything live up to the idea? Does it live up to expectation? For a moment, perhaps. Maybe the shutter will open and close at the right moment...




I close my eyes to the sun streaming low through the window and I'm flying above pink clouds their upper surface shining reflecting the light Sky...


The sound of lost voices


Do you remember those half-demolished houses with wallpaper hanging off walls? Fireplaces? Like finding a naked corpse.

The only thing

In the quiet of the night

The Barley Mow

A languid late summer evening. Drinking urban cider under gently breathing trees by the Barley Mow. We spoke of God and goings-on in the corporate...

Buen Camino!

From Saint Jean to Santiago a las siete we set out sore and confused aching for sleep The splendour of the sky looking on we pass it by torches...

99 words

I play it through and play it through and through All the while it breaks and breaks and keeps on breaking down My head is filled with phone calls,...

Camino 1 – 18 October 2014

18 October 2014 Yesterday, I took a small, sharp pair of scissors and cut off a flap of skin from under my foot. The scissors were curved so that I...

Camino 2 - 21 September 2014

The rucksacks turned out to fit the cabin-baggage gauge, which was a relief. We shoved them in the lockers and strapped ourselves in. Expectation was...

Camino 3 - 3 November 2014

Monday 3 November and the Camino is falling back into the weeks and months behind me. I visualise the stages of Apollo's Saturn V rocket falling...

Camino 3a – 22 September 2014

Camino 3a – 22 September 2014, 09:15 We met a man outside Oviedo railway station. He was wearing shorts and walking shoes and carrying a rucksack...

For The Dead

Through the park comes the beating of drums, the bugler's call and the question: How can you never learn? At 11:02 we go on with our lives - those...

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Hazel How I dug your party on this dank pre-winter evening Such a shame I had to leave Lou tuned up, plugged-in Deborah, book poised...


When I’m under this cloud can God see me? Where does the sun go?

Camino 4 – 23 September 2014

Camino 4 – 23 September 2014 Astorga to Rabanal del Camino My ongoing cold was making me snore more loudly than usual, filling the night with tension...


An owl called out in the darkness. It was half-three when Stone last looked at the clock. The owl called again, further away this time. Its wavering...

Camino 5 – 24 September 2014

Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca

The shack

The right booze and the right tunes will keep me going a little longer when the other things around here have shortened off my life It’s a fact Did I...

So. This is also Christmas

0730 Looks like it's still dark outside and Radio York is coming up through the floor. We're all different, I suppose. Some people need that noise...

Darkened mirror

Life: beautiful and awful in the same instant Love and hatred in a heartbeat In the blinking of an eye Except I cannot hate So I feel sadness...

Camino 6 – 25 September 2014 Pt 1

Riego de Ambros (via Molinaseca) - Ponferrada We slept pretty well in the wooden cubicles of the albergue. But at some point in the middle of the...

Camino 6 – 25 September 2014 Pt 2

Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo We walked up into the plaza mayor, with the Basilica de la Encina in one corner, and out through a short street...


I’m listening to a conversation on the morning train. She sounds desperate, holding onto herself so tight, but trying to appear fun and upbeat.

Happy Birthday David

I make the 11:06 from Temple Meads. It fills with detritus - the rambling drunks of Bristol. Tired of their sadness, I force the soft rubber of...

Oh Sunday

Oh, Sunday. Sitting here among my lists. Books half-read, stories half-written. I hear the silence behind the ringing in my ears and see the sun’s...

Camino 7 - 26 September 2014

Villafranca del Bierzo to O’ Cebreiro N’s alarm woke us from a deep sleep. It was still dark. It was the first decent rest for almost a week and we...

Iberia awaits

Me and a touch-screen phone. Lying in the dark, going nowhere, feeling nothing but the sweat on my skin and the weight of another day pressing in...

Camino 8a – 27 September 2014

La Faba to O’ Cebreiro I first started writing these notes up in October 2014. People, places and events and so many conversations were still very...

Camino 8b – 27 September 2014

O' Cebreiro to Triacastela We headed out of Cebreiro and down a cobbled track to the main road. Helpfully, a signpost pointed left to Triacastela and...

Notes from Andalucía

Looking out at the moving landscape of mountains and olive groves north of Málaga, I see a beautiful but poor country. I think about the turmoil this...

The edge of something

Standing at the edge of something Now and long ago Shadows formed in distant mist Down among the trees Remembering the midweek bells Wondering Shapes...

Camino 9a – 28 September 2014

Triacastela to Sarria We passed a fairly restful night in our opposite corners of the room at the O Peregrino. In the morning, from our window we...

Camino 9b – 28 September 2014

Triacastela to Sarria (continued) The rain hit us sideways from across the fields as we walked the last kilometre into Sarria. We tried to protect...

Camino 10

Somewhere on the road between Sarria and Palas de Rei we encountered an Englishman in his early-to-mid sixties. He was slight and mild-mannered,...


It drifts over neighbourhoods across whom night has fallen Cars waiting in lots Buildings standing with windows lit Work lying on benches and desks...

Cedar wood

Cedar scent hangs on the slopes of Mt. Mulanje Mahogany boys in football shorts run sweating along the tracks with planks Contraband clutched to...

Camino 11a – 29 September 2014

Sarria to Portomarin Part 1 N’s alarm woke us at around six. Living in hope, we checked the time just in case it had gone off an hour early and we...

Camino 11b – 29 September 2014

Sarria to Portomarin – Part 2 We walked on into the afternoon, counting down the half-kilometre markers to Santiago. It could be a dispiriting...


Running out on madness and a backlog of chores I grip the bars and charge into the wind Playing dice with cars I find my way through echoes of a...


When I was younger, I believed in History, like everybody else. Then I was educated out of it. Now I believe in it again. Not as a great abstract...

Italia 15 - Bergamo

It was the first time I’d noticed the slight shudder through the airframe when an aircraft rotates clear of the runway. Or maybe it was just the...


Homage to Jane Austen.

Bright lights, big smile

The art of keepin keepin on

Madame Maserati - Reprise

She moved along the line Left my life for a while I never noticed that she’d gone Then three weeks ago I saw her striding for her train Alice-band...


It's deep. Elemental Deeper than I ever knew Startled, I realise how far inside it lies How real it is and question what we're doing Will this...


Sadness pours from the page Pervading the empty echo of dreams Where hopes are exchanged between hobos Lost between hard lessons and promises...

Another Friday

Two o'clock I just watched it go My guts are raw My head's in turmoil And I know I won't sleep The drunks howl in the town Their cars race through...


Reintroduction over, food eaten, we stretched out in the bar She looked deep into me I haven't seen you smile yet Where's the excitement? The old...


Suggested by An Arundel Tomb


I look around, seeing only ugliness Heathen creatures prowl issuing hateful, slightly baffled stares "Get out of my eyes!" I scream, looking for...

High Summer

Seems that all the school-leavers are completely off their nuts on the train from Temple Meads today. An assortment of experimental festival clothing...

The leaving

Going someplace, leaving something Can’t think of anything lights my fire the same Burning through time with a need to be and see A need to be...

Próxima Parada

The bus stopped with a lurch. Several passengers, who'd been preoccupied, spilled into the aisle among a confusion of paper and gadgets. Outside, the...

Abstract scribble

Shaven shaman Sean Modern mystic Drawn in lipstick Floating like a phantom in the middle of the room Broken bottle Bennie Dry and wheezy Takes it...

Entertaining my demons

I wake with a jolt. I've just kicked the wooden window-ledge with the third toe of my left foot - the same one that struck N's laptop screen edge-on...

The swimmer

It’s an hour and a half after midnight, Thursday 27 August. It would have been my dad’s eighty-seventh birthday. I’m sitting in an empty living-room...

En Madrid 1

I think I’ve found my bar.

The cusp of sleep

Lying in my sweat in a place I don’t know which, as of now, is my home Drunk on the new and the free and cheap Rioja Trying to find the chink of...


I walked across Plaza de Manuel Becerra tonight on the way back from the kebab restaurant. I was struck by the great open space between the curvature...


I'm sitting in Retiro where the space permits me to think awhile Where the breeze scatters dreams and birds fuss amongst my cares Where the sun...

Knowing Time

Safe journey, my love

Salamanca Sunday

I just subdued myself in a bout of moral wrestling. The issue was whether I should base my opinion of my flatmate’s behaviour on stereotype. The...

Evening shift

I’m sitting in one of Salamanca’s broad plazas, traffic circulating around a junction between radiant arteries. At the tables around me sit Franco’s...


0345. The latest of the refuse trucks is whining, clattering and bumping outside the window. The procession began about 1215. Some nights I don't...

Walk n talk

10:36 am from Estacion Sur de Autobuses, a stone’s throw from Atocha. The driver was a surly entertainer of women who cough through decades of tar...

Plaza de Juan Pujol Feeling

Sitting here at my table in Plaza de Juan Pujol exploring all the space around me. Dylan and band playing the Free Trade Hall. Kerouac and Cassady...


More road unrolls. New possibilities dance at the union of centreline and sky. Another parting in the great coming together. And I'm floating down an...

Viernes el decimotercer (part two)

A new notebook – always something to savour, but especially in these straightened times. The other one is just about filled with random scribbles and...


Why do I carry this hole inside? As I walk beneath a postcard sky, down adventurous streets, why are these eyes so weary and moist? What is this...

The smell of honest work (2015)

I recall machinery Heavy steel Hot grease and movement Engineered and precise I recall the thrum and clatter of machines set to the task Room-filling...

Another sunny Saturday

Another sunny Saturday Families and foursomes are scattered around the terrace, enjoying the Saturday afternoon, eating lunch and maybe a social...

The sound of the night

I asked the man with the battered case what I should do. He said: "Pack it all away in your head to exist among songs, until it becomes a song. Until...

Sink or swim

This week, following the departure from Madrid of my drinking partner and friend, Miguel, I found myself sinking back into a deep and dark place. It...


This strange business Of moving in circles And circles about circles Delicate dance of the disaffected Describing their distant geometry You, me, the...

On aesthetics and injustice

Another attempt at making sense Inspired by reports that the Dalai Lama would like us to contemplate our predilection for wealth and war.

Seen from a distance

Basalt arms encircling the bay Bring comfort to me in this foreign lay Sensing in this place The rough security of their embrace I watch the tide rip...

Tengan cuidado

Estación es en curva

Just a matter of getting there

The first year is the hardest. That’s what they told him.


The radio in the café is off-station

The libraries are closing

The libraries are closing Because people find their books online The publishers and distributors want everyone to buy their own They've told us we...

Open letter to the sun

Semana Santa has arrived

Ebb and flow

I used to think I was something special

in an airbnb

It's not an ad. Really.


En abril, aguas mil. (It rains a lot in April.)


The soft sensation of being propelled sidelong through a hole in the ground Steel whispering to steel Increasing, till it's almost too much Drifting...

The band

Might be a bit rough and ready. Posted from the sunshine of a street cafe. Can barely see the screen.


Sometimes you know you’re a lucky man when, despite the things you’ve done, life gives you all that you need, and more and you wonder just how it can...

Dreams and reality: "Dubliners"

Friday. It feels like the weekend. My morning class was cancelled, giving me a sleep-in. What a luxury. I thought I’d lose my dependency on weekends...

Porcelain perch 1

The porcelain perch: 1 – dreams and reality

Porcelain perch 2 - we're all in it together

The main weakness with trying to understand human life lies with its basic building-block: the human-being. ​Does anyone genuinely believe that any one group of humans is all good and others all bad? Do they believe that any one individual is always good or always bad? Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed (and all of those I’ve missed) were human beings. Where does that leave the rest of us?

Live for tomorrow today

Advice: never work when you’re drunk or high. Ok. Or when your glasses need cleaning. Or when you’re feeling generally out of sorts, or dislocated,...

Star Wars Day - Paseo de Castellana

May the fourth be with you. I was reminded of it by Facebook, who wanted me to share a photo from three years ago. It was my Harley Sportster,...

Fin de semana

Friday morning 06:30. First alarm goes off. I check whatsapp messages and send a quick Good morning! 06:32. Second alarm. Thirty minutes to shower...

San Isidro and the plumber

God is pouring His love down on the bulls. In fact, it’s pissing-down on them. Madrid’s bullfighting should have begun on 4 May and run right through...

Trying to get by

For the third day in a row I’m sitting in the sun having breakfast at a pavement café. This doesn’t really fit with the spending plan, but right now...

a foreign land

a foreign land on a balcony above the street the glue I used to fix my shoes is drying in the heat they were my dad’s repaired with love abused daily...

Breakfast, gravitational waves and gods

Friday morning finds me sitting once again on the terrace of a French café in Madrid. No lesson today – I lost that particular gig, but they’re the...

The black cat

A large black cat ran across my window this morning, somewhere between sleep and waking. I looked to see what this might portend and found it can...

Lost and found

Happy Birthday, Bob.

What if?

I watched a column of ants

The woodpecker

The woodpecker whom we imbue with such mysticism cloak in so much secrecy lives an open life in the centre of this town I hear him now hammering...

Watching lizards

I’m learning your language Vacant as a child watching lizards by the rio Whereas before it was all a bit of a game It isn’t anymore All of that has...

Beneath the surface

The title my English teacher always gave us for corrective story-writing. So much better than lines. Thank you Mr. Carroll.

The garden of earthly preoccupation

Guilt is sunning itself in the garden. Upturned plates on supermarket steaks deny the flies, whom, I’m convinced, would indulge, given half a chance...

Leicester Forest East

Ten-thirty in a filthy room M1 rumbling on its endless way to nowhere Forty-five quid blown on some kind of dream She sleeps I lie on the “family”...

The grass is always greener

29 August. Clouds part and the sun shines upon the ancient City of York, picking out insecurities and lost aspirations among the limestone and...

wand'ring lost

en el museo

Room service

Really? Who gives a flying page of etiquette?

Collateral damage

Letter to Danny - notes

Three moments

Twixt here and there

Café verse

Instant poetry Forgive me, arbiters of craft. A loose pen and an empty page.

To my Valentine

It's mathematics

It's all mathematics

A re-working. Hope you don't mind the re-publishing. Why do we put ourselves through this?


Monday is basura night. They come at fairly regular intervals through the night: the cardboard, the plastic and the organic. Plus a mystery truck...

Something lingers

Like smoke from a cannonade or the faded remnant of a dream something lingers On this sunlit afternoon parakeets exchange their vulgar news Gravel...

Trying for an early night and failing – 2 March 2017

The parquet floor is unimpressed with the scattering of shoes and guitars. It has known better evenings – so have I. The French window, opened for...



The point?

Reflections on reflection


It’s why I love cities. Every moment is a movie-scene – as profound or as shallow as you make it. Add sun and it becomes extrovert and exotic.

Should I stay or should I go

To remain in Spain or not to remain in Spain falls mainly on the plain issue of quality of life – and guilt at what you left behind. Dashed-off while I should be working. Apologies if not polished.

Nothing to say

And a hundred ways of saying it


Thinking about the impossibility of it all, I slip back into gloom and reach for Ginsberg.

17 April 2017

Just had the strangest sensation. Ever had it? The one where someone pours something nice over you, causing a tingle from your scalp all the way down...

Sky thoughts

I used to hate this. Looking out the window at a gently rocking wing flashing in the morning sun. The fear has gone. What’s to be scared of? I’m in...


The wandering teacher of Inglés has wandered into the Reina Sofía Stimulation space Inspiration space Thinking space He ponders will he wander to...

Three lines

How do you summarise three lines?

In the square

Night fall. Voices compete under crowdedwhite umbrellas printed “Mahou”. Loud, happy, life-loving. What else can you do? Plate of Callos, which I...

Boatman's dream 2

On station, Lat: 51.338917, Long: -3.115461, Visibility: good, Wind: NE, moderate

Boatman's dream 3

The stranger makes landfall.

Boatman's dream 4

Time for a pint.

Boatman's dream 6

Self-doubt kicks in

Boatman's dream 7

The landing

Boatman's dream 9

Moorings Committee pre-meeting

Boatman's dream 10

The penny falls

The search for hope

The search for hope goes on

Boatman's dream 11

Formal business

Boatman's dream 12

Down to the real business

Boatman's dream 14

Saturday morning on the wharf

The woman outside the window

The woman outside the window lifts the bag to her lips

Boatman's dream 15

Ambition and tradition

Boatman's dream 16

Talk to the right people

Boatman's dream 19


Boatman's dream 20

An extraordinary meeting

From a bus

Observing summer

Boatman's dream 22

Cards on the table

Boatman's dream 23

Discretion is the better part of valour

Boatman's dream 24

Wheels within wheels

Boatman's dream 25

At anchor in the fog

Boatman's dream 28

An invitation

Boatman's dream 29

Taking a turn

Boatman's dream 30


Boatman's dream 31

Ben gets his story
Gold cherry
Poem of the week
Pick of the Month


Tail-end tale in a passing storm


WIFI broken. Phone alone.

Boatman's dream 32

Clear as the Severn fog (oops! Missed a section out. Reinstated.)

A little bird told me

A bird landed on my finger today.

End of term challenges

Thursday. Two of my students took me for a surprise breakfast this morning, for the last class of the academic year. It’s an important time in...

Boatman's dream 33

People do very strange things

Lozano, the fishing boat and the nun

There were three of us: the skipper, me and one other



Boatman's dream 34

A drive across the Levels

New notebook

Whenever you’re thinking it’s all gone wrong And you don’t know why you’re doing it anymore Call into your favourite place Chat with the waiters Ask...


No place to hide

Scraps of Aragón

Scraps 1 - 4

Exploring Zaragoza

So off I go exploring. Exploration is something that I always used to do with N – for many years, anyway. Before that, I explored in my own little...

Boatman's dream 35

A day in the office


I suppose it began with half a plan to catch a bus out to Delicias – the bus and train space-station on the edge of Zaragoza. I’d asked about buses...

Boatman's dream 36

Tea down on the yard

Leaving Zaragoza

I’m sitting in the floodlit Plaza del Pilar thinking this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The buildings are dramatic works of art...

Puente Romano

By the stroke of the bell

Guilt and castañas

Seasoning in the sun

Linea 4

Twelve-thirty, teaching done A carriage filled with motley souls winding south There being no signal on this line I worry-out the tangle in my...


In retreat

Last quatrain home

Inspired by "Audenesque"

Living the dream

Somewhere between days and dreams

Why flags scare me

Plain and simple

Sábado por la tarde

It makes no difference

Any old Friday

the thirteenth

The crowd

My mam and dad did everything as part of a crowd. A self-reinforcing group – bigger the better in terms of security and recognition – being one of...

In absentia

Night perturbation

Creeping death

More heartfelt cheer...

The Grand Narrative

AI: thanks for the lesson.

Crisis? What crisis?

Another Friday comes around

Café sounds

Always waiting


Taberna Pompeyana

Fort Mars

They're singing my praises back home

Just another Sunday

Song, maybe

Time isn't everything

Vivaldi: “The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter), Movement 1: Allegro non molto”

Cat and Mouse

Ispired by Elsie. Such an interesting read that the thoughts pursued me into the hinterland of sleep. Ergo....

Postcard from L4

Dear N, hope this card finds you well.

The old folks

The old folks fear the foreigners

One sparrow among many

New leaves aplenty


Tell me how did you arrive here in my street? What route What circumstances brought you? You looked tired worn and broken Sad and somewhat out of...

Imaginary messages

“Come and meet us in Retiro. The sun is high and bright. February’s lost its grip. Come and meet us in the park.” “Hombre. Estoy infermo. I’m sick...

Red light

Red light Are you real Or a pale reflection Ghostly reflex in the pane Filtered in winter’s Soft accumulations Washed by morning sun Floating in a...

Wages of fortune

Wednesday morning. Sitting by an open door. Coffee long drunk.

You can learn a lot about life just sitting in the right place

You can learn a lot about life just sitting in the right place for a while and listening – or perhaps overhearing. If it’s free to air, I’m not doing...


Not sure about this. Feels dehumanising but, if I'm honest, this is the image that's conjoured.

Trial and error

Messing about

The facts of life

From "Reading the news"

Journey home

Hope & Glory


On leaving

Around four

A here and now one

Gaia visits

A flash in the pan

El primero de junio

The first of June

Twixt Cibeles and Zanzibar

Almuerzo. Not quite dinner.

Don't get caught thinking

Contemplating the work of Artur Barrio

Sunday morning street cafe

Sunday stream of consciousness

Vamos España

Evening. There’s heat in the sun as it banks across the square. They said it wouldn’t be long. Things all fall into place. No row of bells or...

Cocoa works and Guernica

Strange thing is...

Situation normal

Whiter than white

Breakfast in the sun

Trying to beat the sparrows to the toast

Crossing Castellana at Colón

A hot afternoon walking home


Home to Pizarro, Cortéz, Carlos and Javier

Same same

Help! But don't break into a sweat

Summer's end

Another summer passes

You ask about loss

Another stab at an old theme

General Synopsis

General Synopsis as at 21:37 CET

Bases 2

Up and down line 10

The fight for time

Harking back - looking forward

Taking the salute

It could be worse

A habit

Passing time


Some things are more real


Gold cherry

Among friends

I feel more Spanish when I’m out. It’s a strange old business. Three and a half years. Brexit one year in. Ties in UK. Ties here. Responsibilities...

En la sombra del almendro

In the almond tree's shade




A moment in the day

Incident at Till 2

I suppose I’m in a sensitive mood Maybe I was always sensitive That’s my problem, or one of them (Breaks out chocolate biscuits I ought to be working...

Room change

Dragging my case around Purgatory

Under the pines and the power lines

Under the pines and power lines, I finally find a spot. The landscape comes straight out of romanticised images of García Lorca or Hemingway: rolling groves of Iberian pines and oaks casting their dappled shade over yellowing knolls where ants the size of perritos swarm over roots and along the grooves of cork-like bark, shiny black, red-abdomened, set to unknown errands. My spot has fewer ants, the smaller kind, minding their business deep within the weave of grass. I lay the towel, drop my books, unzip the gig-bag and pull out the guitar, Spanish one. I’d agonised, should I bring the Yamaha, dreadnought, Americano, narrow neck? Too big, too heavy for the Metro. Maybe damage it. In the hour before waking up I dreamt that the soundboard of the Spanish guitar was smashed in – two big gashes in the body. It had been an accident – the cleaner, not her fault. They were sad dreams, full of leaving. Trying to rinse the silt and muck from someone’s bathroom after showering my filthy self. Working out how I was going to get my stuff on a bicycle, to ride the hundreds of miles home and do it before dark. I tune the nylon strings as best I can – not used to nylon’s tendency to slip. The Spanish guitar is a looser instrument: the strings move more freely, need more space, are less likely to stay in tune than steel. Two years ago, I put it away. The neck too wide for my reach. My fingers slipping off position. I couldn’t get a sound out of it and zipped it into its gig-bag. “Don’t Think Twice”. Good tune to start with, and it’s been in my head all morning, haunting me down the broad slope of Gran Vía between Callao and Plaza de España, scene of Hemingway’s “Night Before Battle”. I set the waist of the guitar on my left thigh – classical-style – and play. Usual arthritic start. Normal. But I play on. There’s no one around. The road with its parked cars is way through the trees. Upper floors of flats are just visible behind me, beyond the power lines. Clusters of picnickers are lost among the folding contours. The neck is much easier than I remember: the reach, finger ends sitting squarely on the strings. In a few moments, I’m into the song and the fingers know their way. A mountain biker comes pumping along a sendero. He’s engrossed. Earphones in. A woman walking two dogs. Pauses to call the smaller one. When I look up again, she’s gone. I play “One Too Many Mornings”. Not feeling much like singing, I hum the melody. Groups of men sitting in the shade, talking, smoking, passing round a skin of wine, then the image is gone. I clip the capo on the neck – second fret. “Tangled Up In Blue”. My fingers have forgotten their prejudice. Capo on the second fret seems to flatter the guitar, or me, and the song rings out. I sing the seven verses from memory. It feels good. The stresses of the week have upped and left, though yesterday’s bender might have contributed. I rest the guitar across my crossed legs and lean back against the tree. This is when I wish I still smoked. A thin man comes walking along the sendero, tee shirt bagging, thick, curly black hair and beard giving him the appearance of a guru. He looks at me and smiles. Gives me a wave. I wave back. I wait for him to disappear among the trees, then play “Don’t Think Twice” again. This time with the capo. If I was ever going to audition, I’d use this song. I sing the lyric out. The playing’s fluent. No effort. It feels good. I’m not embarrassed. I take the capo off and tune the guitar. B and G strings have slipped. Low E, too. Four years in August. I can just about hold a conversation in Spanish. I bought some reading books for learners last week – Intermediate. Short stories and a biography of Che Guevara. Teaching-wise, I feel I can walk into any situation. We all have our own style and mine isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but horses for courses – when it works, it works. And guitar. I’m still only a strummer, but I remember sitting in Beale Street thinking I must have some kind of motor coordination problem. Not now. All those hours in the “garret” paying off. Seems I can swap between instruments no trouble. Swallows and swifts are screeching in the blue space above the trees. Magpies chatter in the lower branches. Two have been watching me. David and my dad. Turbofans whine in and out of Barajas. An excited commentary somewhere – there’s an amusement park through the trees near Batán, while over in the city centre, three Metro stops away, the San Isidro festival is gearing up. There’s never silence; but there is peace. Gentle peptic eruptions burn and I have to sit up. A loose medley of “Positively 4th Street”, “Blowing In The Wind”, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”. A breeze passes noiselessly through the pines. Two mountain bikers grind up the path – man and wife perhaps. He’s thirty metres ahead. I belch the acid. That’s better. One more song. “If You See Her, Say Hello”. Capo still on fret two. The key works for my limited range. I sing it to the pines and the power lines and ghosts that loiter in the shade. It feels alright. “...I know every scene by heart, They all went by so fast...”



Six blokes

Instant kamra

Home is where...

More reflections than a glitter ball. One more for the road.

La erupcion - nothing is for keeps

erupción? As it sounds, more or less.

Can't you go any faster?

Imagined conversation.


Adventures from a bus

Counting down

Here and now stuff - rough around the edges

Bar Menéndez

Nothing is forever.

Friday 19 July

God, it's hot.

Half past nine

Half past nine The local park’s lovely, mate Some folks with their dogs Others with their kids Some just sitting chatting One bloke lights the end of...

An Irish pub off Sol

Fighting the sedative effect of televised sport.

Another bar, another beer

Nodes of self-discovery

Celebrate success

When you can

Feeding a prejudice

Same again, please.


After Heraclitus

Senseless act

Here we go... Some things punch their way through.

Riverine reflection

Mobile phone meanderings. Rough and almost ready.

What happened?


In the dark

A shaft of light between the boards


Somewhere or other

Across a crowded room

Familiarity and contempt

Friday afternoon

No one stops to look. It’s a Friday. Everybody’s busy, Thinking about the weekend. The wind’s blowing intermittent rain And it’s set to be like this...


My eyes are drawn to the weathered bricks

Prevarication Saturday

Anything other than work

Peter speaks

I really ought to do some work

Bar room blues

Just pen to paper

Tick, tock

Time ticking in a bar

Echo of '68

Sitting in a backroom Wake conversation surrounds Who’s dead? Picking at volumes Passages of this and that Can’t settle Pull out Ginsberg’s three...

By Lendal Bridge

After William Carlos Williams - Rimbaud/Solzhenitsyn, perhaps


Is it me?

Running out of reading

As opposed to Running out of Reading


By the bridge again


Scribbled words en route

Good intentions

Apologies for the lack of craft

A collection of words

Scrapes and tumbles


So much value in such an unassuming word

Imaginings at Tebay

Thanks to Roy Plomley, Kirsty Young and Anne Enright for the inspiration.

Spider 1

Dark corners

Spider 2

A book at bedtime

Being alive

A moment

Being alive 2

Sunday 04:30

In praise of public space

Bucking a trend... long live the public library


Wednesday afternoon doodle

The beloved bicycle - 1

Shipped the mother out to day club and struck out on the beloved bicycle for the first time since the paranoiac crash disaster of five weeks ago. The...

Variations on a theme

Escape Committee Minutes

In a northern town

Life goes on and on

The last

Inspired whilst reading Tony Harrison.

Taking my liberty

Daily exercise


By the river

A prayer, maybe

This one's going out to God



Whose garden?

Life of a naturalist

El refugio Casa de Cristal – la paz y la meditación en el invernadero

Apologies for the Spanish. Pretentious? Perhaps. The glass house refuge – peace and meditation in the greenhouse.

Unpicking knots

Never a bad idea to read some Heaney when lost for words and inspiration.

Filling in time

History and all that crap. Turn off and walk away.

Exposed roots

A life beyond one's ken