Those plums you picked
this morning from the tree –
which you were going to make into a tart –
I’ve eaten them –

how sweet they were and soft
like congealed sunlight.


Quantum Theory for Cats


The Lake In Winter

I always end up writing about the lake – I don’t know why. It’s only a minute from my front door – so perhaps it’s the easy access which makes me choose that dog-walking route rather than any other. And I always have something to write about.

The lake is constantly changing – for the last ten days it has had a crust of ice on it – sometimes three or four inches thick, sometimes transparent as cellophane

This is a diary poem – a marker for something I saw, which I don’t want to forget.

Lake – January 2018

Light leaks into the air;
clouds take their substance
from the the morning twilight.

The stripped trees hold
magpies  sneering,
clattering their wings.

The grass is blanched with frost,
puddles splintered glass
and the lake alive
with shifting rafts of ice

where a swan struggles

snake neck stretched,
webs strive for grip
as white wings thrash the water,
till it lifts, makes the air
sing with every wingbeat.


“Quantum Theory for Cats” available here

I’ve been reviewed

In fact ” Quantum Theory for Cats” has been reviewed twice – once in Amazon ( do I check the rankings ? Of course not – well maybe three or four times a day) and once in The Yorkshire Times – you can read it here


And wait…there’s another one coming through now …from my son…totally impartial, of course…


“My dad’s a hell of a poet” – best of all


Shortest day of the year

The shortest day of the year – grey, damp and forgettable. Digby the dog and I are standing, looking out across the lake. It’s shaped like a kidney bean, half a mile or so round, and fringed with trees and bushes, with a stretch of rough woodland along one side. And it is entirely artificial, created as an open space when all the surrounding houses were built in the seventies and eighties. Except today the lake has gone. Usually you can look out and see the geese and the magpies and the line of trees across the far end. But this morning there is nothing – just a blanket of soft mist covering the water. We set off on our usual circuit, the world on our left and the gently shifting emptiness on our right. The mist is moving, coiling, reaching out towards the bank, then curling away, like water starting to boil. For a moment it draws back and I see a fleet of Canada geese, silent, still, like a fleet of Nelsonian men o’war at anchor.

The mist is gathering together – a muffled drumbeat getting louder and faster as I listen. A swan bursts. out of the mist, white wings wiffling through the air, webs plashing the water, lifting into the swirling mist and out of sight.

Thanks. and Christmas wishes  to all those who have followed me over the last year.

If you’re looking for a New Year Present for someone…or even yourself…look no further…”Quantum Theory for cats is available ” here:


Is the pen mightier than the Internet ?

I saw a worrying piece of news last week. It said that fewer and fewer children are being taught to write. I’m not talking about novels or student theses at the age of five . I mean the ability to write your own name. With a pen.

I suppose it’s inevitable. Keyboard skills have taken over from learning how to write an attractive cursive. And how often do you write more than your name ? We no longer sign cheques- because no-one has a cheque book any more. We don’t write letters to each other now that we have email and Twitter and all the other facilitating gizmos. Communication has never been so easy. Or so facile. Writing – I mean real sentences and paragraphs – is being overtaken by abbreviations, and – God Help Us All and Oscar Wilde – with emojis ( am I spelling that properly ? And if I’m not, does it matter ? )

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really not an old Luddite, complaining about The Good Old Days. I have lived through the entire digital revolution. When I was six I learned to write with a fountain pen ( A little blue Conway Stuart) I hand wrote all my schoolwork until I was fourteen, when my dad bought me a portable Olivetti typewriter. My wife bought me an electric typewriter and then I bought an Amstrad Word Processor ( notice the change of name. A typewriter WRITES words with TYPE. A WORD PROCESSOR turns words into an electronic soup and spits them out onto the paper.) It had a memory of 72k. A budgerigar has more brain power than that.

And then I was seduced by the magic that is Apple. I bought a Mac Classic. It had (for the time) an elephantine memory.) You could include artwork. It was a miracle. In the end I bought the first of the mid-range Macs – and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I kept the Classic for years. It made a wonderful doorstop

. I’m not complaining. I accept that the world is spinning faster every moment. I am dazzled by the speed and colour of a digital world – what. other world can there be now ?

And yet… and yet… I like writing with a pen. A fountain pen. Or rather far more fountain pens than I should decently have. I know it sounds silly, but I love watching the ink line stream from the nib across the paper. Thought turned directly into action. And what about love letters ? How many people keep them, I wonder, tied with a piece of faded ribbon. They are a reminder, a piece of the past which has survived to the present. Do people write love emails? Or love Short Messages ? Or Love emojis ? And is they do, where do they keep them ? Hidden somewhere in The Cloud, wrapped up in a bunch of passwords ?

Quantum Theory for Cats1; Launch

” Quantum Theory for Cats” was launched at York Waterstones on Friday. I was a bit apprehensive, not having been launched before, but it was great fun. I did a turn ( an intro  and then half a dozen poems,) then Jamie and I did a general chat, followed by questions. The audience. were lovely, we had a great time – and there were BISCUITS too. My son Alasdair kindly provided us with promotional biscuits – see below

If you want to buy the book – sorry, we can’t include the bickies- all eaten

You can do so here

If you really really want the bickies- you can do do here by clicking here:


Thanks to Alasdair and Marguerite, Mutherfudger, Waterstones staff, and Valley Press

Quantum Theory for Cats

I’m going to be a published author. I keep on saying it to myself. Me. A published author. Of course, I’ve had stuff published before. A poem here. A short story there. But this is a book. Well, a slender book. A substantial pamphlet. With my name on the front. Wow !

“Quantum Theory for Cats.” I’d  like  to say I chose the title because it reflects the relationship between particle physics and small mammals. But that would be a lie. I chose because I read somewhere that books with a cat on the front sell extremely well.

It’s being published by Jamie McGarry at Valley Press (

You can tell his work because he manages to combine clear, engaging writing with beautiful presentation…. and reasonable prices…and Valley Press is a proudly Yorkshire publishing house. as well. It’s a win…win…win situation and I’m proud to be accepted by him.

“Quantum theory for cats” will be launched on the 1st of December or thereabouts, so keep an eye on its progress

And here’s a taster for my (ahem) book.

“Man hollowed out wooden leg to smuggle iguanas”

I would have got away with it

but for the noise – claws scratching at the wood,

those genteel coughing sounds iguanas make.

“One moment, sir.”

I knew then I was done for.

“ If you could come this way..”


In my skivvies, standing on one leg,

I watched him spring the secret trapdoor –

out they tumbled – all my little darlings

skittering across the polished floor.

Tiny dinosaurs in Terminal Two.


It’s said that they escaped into the drains and flourished there.

One day they will return, Godzilla like,

crunching Jumbo jets to junk between their claws,

reeking of jet juice

and a thousand rotting airline meals.



Picking pears


Like people, pears will ripen
from inside.
Picked too early you will find them
hard, unyielding.
Leave it late
and there’ll be nothing left
but wasp-drilled carcasses and mush.

Choose the moment.
A cool September evening feels right –
slanting sunlight and the pears
jade green and flecked with raindrops.

Cup one in your hand
and twist – you’ll hear a click,
the branch flicks back –
you feel the full weight
in your palm.

Like people, pears bruise easily.
Don’t crowd them. Half a dozen
in each bowl is company enough.

Leave them for a day or two
to ripen in the sun.

Then bite one.
Taste the sudden  gush of scented juice
upon your tongue,
that flesh as sweet as summer,
white as snow.

Old love


Street light slanted through the half pulled curtain.

She took my hand and put it to her breast.

“It’s you I want..” she smiled, ” As for the rest..”


That she should need me then…to be so certain..


Yes. I have memories which sting me yet

even as they console – the way she purred

against my neck when we were done…no word seems apt..

so long ago…I can’t forget..


We have four fruit trees in our front garden – gooseberry, apple, pear and plum. The gooseberry is never quite reliable – some years you get tons of the things, and others just a few wrinkled relics, like tiny deflated footballs; the apple tree is more of a bush really, or maybe a squat collection of branches. We had two apples from it once, and they both tasted acid on the tongue – even the birds refused them.  The pear tree is an Old Reliable – every year it produces green ,Conference-type pears. There are far too many for us, so we usually divide the hoard into plastic bags – ten per bag- and sneak round the immediate neighbourhood, putting a bag on our neighbours’ front doors.

It is the plum tree which has surprised us. For the first time ever, we have had a good crop. The trouble is that plum trees have very dense foliage, so you have to peer through the leaves to find the. They are lovely things – blushing pink, or a hint of purple – and the taste is rich and sweet, and luxurious. Now I’ve eaten fresh plums bought from the market- and they were fine – but to eat plums from your own tree is a wonderful thing. The American poet William Carlos Williams wrote a lovely poem about eating plums, and I’ve written a poem which answers it- in a way.


Those plums you picked
this morning from the tree –
which you were going to make into a tart –
I’ve eaten them –

how sweet they were and soft
like congealed sunlight.