Archive for the ‘Autobiographical’ Category

From My Diary, June 5, 2017


An annoying day winds down, and I’m glad to see the back of it. It’s been raining and blowing hard all afternoon, and I’ve sat and listened quietly to it. No distractions, the block pleasantly quiet.

The driving drum of rain on PVC window frames is one of my favourite sounds, up there with sea crashing onto a rocky beach, a river’s rustle and the song of a skylark on a hot summer’s day. The open windows rattle and creak a little as the gusts bellow through the flat, a ship rolling in a heaving sea. The sounds surround me, wrap me gently in the warmest, softest arms and breasts. Annoyances hurled into the wind and carried away.

Time for bed, though it’s still light. A book open, music adds an extra background sound – the dreamy Sigur Rós () album seems to work well. It will soon be time to close the curtain and kill the lamp. But not just yet. Savour the peace a little longer.


Raining Again


It’s raining again, and raining hard,
Late August, and for once the building’s quiet.
I sit beside the open window,
Listen to rain pattering plastic windowsills
And imagine I’m back at Grandma’s house,
In a comfy chair by the picture window
Looking out at the wet green garden.

In winter, the fruit trees bare,
Rattling bones on each other,
Spring, wind blown blossoms
Snow confetti round the greenhouse,
Summer, the borders awash with colours
Brighter than a child’s painting,
Autumn, the leaf litter swirling,
Crunching underfoot.

All the effort they put in
Mowing, planting, pruning, weeding
(How did they ever have time to go to work?)
Worth every ache and pain
To create this small city Eden.

So I drink deeply of the rain soaked air and
Remember, remember that house, that garden
Of long childhood summers
That were never quite long enough,
A house forever more home than home,
A house that always comes to mind
Whenever rain tap taps on PVC.


Crossing The Usk


Crossing the Usk, a slow flow of mud,
Water rippling in the rain,
I’m going home, the train engine
Roars louder as it climbs through Caerleon.
Is it home? It feels alien now,
Familiar, but not home,
Not that cosy, sad, untidy place
Of long known stuff and clutter
To return to in stormy weather.
Sure, the room’s the same,
The stuff the same, even the clutter,
But somehow home no longer.
Have the recent storms blown it down?
When did it cease to be safe?
I cannot answer that, and
Should the train stop
And retrace its route,
I would not be sorry
(Though what would I tell the boss
When I didn’t show up for work tomorrow?)
Return to a place that, as a youngster,
I couldn’t wait to flee.
Nantyderry, and the sky clears,
A hint of rainbow
Between grey cumulus.
The old dears opposite crack open the wine,
Hey, pour me a glass, perhaps
That will clear the fog,
Light the way to answers.
Fix headphones
(They don’t like it up ‘em you know)
Shut out the boring conversations,
Thud of music, annoying ringtones.
Abergavenny, and rain returns
With renewed roaring violence
As more miles are eaten up,
Forever closer to the cluttered room
– Perhaps I should call it my cell –
Something to be avoided,
A reason to be discovered
But all I can see are question marks,
Thick, black and growing fatter by the minute,
Smiling the rictus grin of a madman.
Llanvihangel, the summit of the line,
And down the train races, faster
And faster, clouds smoking
Round the mountainsides,
I’d like to be among those empty hills.
Fields of yellow stubble
Catch the odd sunbeam to escape
Clouds’ grey grip, and briefly glow,
A field of gold, light that bathes me too.
Today and yesterday, to see again
Places known from years ago,
I felt happy (yes, happy, there
Of all places), no pain now,
The reason I was so quick to flee
Can’t hurt me any more.
And though I head back to certainty –
The flat, the clutter and daily routine –
It’s no longer cosy certainty.
I want that cosiness back,
Want the firm door slam
That shuts out the world –
No, just fuck off –
Dinmore, and at last the sun is free,
Glittering lake so bright
My eyes hurt, a sudden floodlight
Into a long shuttered room.
Let me keep this, all of it,
The rain, the clouds and muddy Usk,
Even the dead oak alone
In the field near Craven Arms,
Brittle fingers reaching skyward.
Let me reach skyward too, keep
This bright-gentle light around me,
Warm me when back amongst the clutter
And dust, that would dull the blade.
You can never leave yourself behind, but
This journey will still be here, and
I can make it whenever I want,
Without leaving the flat.

Written on a Cardiff – Crewe train, July 2006




The trees are surrendering
Their nakedness.
Blossom-heavy, ready to speak
Sheaves of green
And strew my path my wedding white.
In the grey damp of winter
I forget all this, can think
Only of short days, long nights
Scarf and glove wrapped;
As when in full leaf
Ringing with the birds’ full chorale
I’ll forget the undressed trees
And the grey silent air.
I’m pleased to stand here
In gentle amnesia.


Moving On, and Other Clichés


I’ve drawn a line.
It’s not thin or red
Or scraped in sand
But it’s a line,
And I’ve drawn it.

And after the line
There will be a fence
More than rabbit proof,
It will be high,
Submitted with barbed wire.

And after that a wall
With guards and dogs and guns
And nowhere to pass through.
No turning back now,
I’ve drawn my line.

Now let’s see it hold.


Tatton Park or Your Black Dress


When we met in the park today,
You had a new dress,
Short and black with matching tights,
It hugged you.
Once, the thought of seeing you
Blew summer heat into the frostiest days,
Today I could only shiver
As we walked the gardens and
I stared at your new black dress.
I envied the wool its closeness,
How it warmed you,
How it caressed bottom and
Cuddled breasts.
I envied it, and though it suited you,
Hated it for knowing you so well.
As we walked and I watched your hips,
That knowledge seemed a taunt,
A slap to an already stung face.
I hid behind sunglasses and
The roar of landing jets,
Dreamed myself to wool,
To hug, cuddle, caress.
A place too easy to get lost in,
But I know the way.

I think I’ll stay there.


Walking In My Shoes



I don’t like walking in my shoes,
Soles worn smooth and they leak.
I know there are many
Walking in poorer shoes, but
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

Slide and slip through puddles,
Stones always find their way in,
Cut through sodden socks
Until I hobble my way home,
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

The man in the bus queue
Has a sole flapping loose,
Another has string for laces,
I know these are worse than mine but
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

I’m tired of my own footsteps,
My feet are bruised and sore,
Don’t try walking in my shoes,
They may not be glued together, but
I can’t bear walking in my shoes.


I cannot walk in their shoes
No matter how well they seem to fit,
Their tidy gravel paths are not mine,
Nor heels filed from pressing gas or brake,
Nor pavement smoothed soles
Thinned by the same daily roads,
These are mine no longer
Though I still see them,
Treading my own track in leaky leather,
No part for me in that play.


Look at these shoes:
Scuffed white beyond
Hope of polish, heels
Smoothed to ankle turning curves,
Soles sanded so every step
Is on ice, only the laces
Are new, still shop clean.
They do scrub up well,
Though it takes increasing effort,
Hardly worth the bother,
I doubt they’ll be footworthy
Much longer: lived in, walked in,
Gone round the clock, block and bend.
Look at them, these old shoes,
Worn out and near past it.
A bit like me really.


Road Ahead Closed


A poem from last year. A bit rough and self-pitying, but “it’s how I felt at the time”.

We didn’t agree
To close the road between us:
It was your decision
No words of mine could change,
No entreaty could pass
Your stopped ears, and I,
The defeated state,
Had to accede.

You wanted a different road,
Narrow, pot-holed and twisted
Fit only for occasional use and
Subject to entry clearance.
Those were your terms,
And I, the defeated state
Had to accede.

If that’s the only choice I have,
I’d rather have no road at all.
Defeated yes, but alive,
I’ll find another road,
Build a new one if I have to,
Alone, I’ll accede no more.


Time to Vote, But For Whom?


Michael Sheen’s recent fascinating documentary about the massacre of chartists in Newport in 1839, and in parallels to modern day voter apathy, ended with the caption:

On May 7th 2015, there will be a general election.

Will you use your vote?

The answer to that is simple: yes, obviously. It was a right fought for and should not be wasted. However, there remains the question of who to vote for, as I share much of the discontent with politics and politicians. If I end up voting Labour, it will be – as it was in 1997 – not out of any conviction, but more of a tactical thing; a desire to get shot of the current shower of bastards in the hope of getting a hopefully less odious shower of bastards.

The problem I have with Labour is twofold. On a local level, my MP was parachuted into the safe Labour seat with no previous connection to the area; and secondly, I don’t feel the party has much connection with what should be its core base: what you could call, at the risk of sounding patronising, the ordinary person in the street. Someone doing a normal job, perhaps struggling to get by on part time hours (or worse, on a zero hours contract) and poor pay; or someone forced through no fault of theirs into the pseudo-Victorian morality of the benefits system. Let us not forget it was a Labour prime minister (the odious Blair) who was proud that we had amongst the weakest labour laws in the western world. His government continued the previous Tory government’s policy of stigmatising those claiming benefits, and the current party echoes the even harsher language used about this by Cameron and co.

And of course, the party is – and it’s not alone in this – far too full of professional politicians. The sort of affluent type from the metropolitan elite who gets a PPE degree from a good university, works for a party then gets a safe seat. No experience of the “real” world at all. I’m sure many go into it with the best of motives, but I’m equally sure many do it simply as a career choice. (There aren’t that many jobs where you get to decide your own rates of pay and terms and conditions, rights denied the rest of us).

Then there is the question of the relation to business. For that, read big business. They are currently being attacked for being anti-business, or not pro-business enough. For me, pro-business means getting rid of regulations so business can do what the hell it likes with no accountability, and to get away with not paying their taxes. I would expect a Labour government to close tax loopholes, improve worker rights and make business behave in a socially responsible way. But will they? Sadly, I rather doubt it.

I’m not sure just where this leaves me. I suspect I will be still pondering this as I walk into the polling booth in May.


From My Diary


After another weekend snoozed, yawned and otherwise frittered away, another week begins.

The day started reasonably enough. I woke into a cold room with windows dripping with condensation, straight out of a dream. After being with my grandparents, I was somehow lost in Liverpool in torrential rain, trying to find the right train home, after getting on the wrong bus. As I had breakfast, I notice the sky colouring. A deep red at first, brightening rapidly into a glorious orange.



Maroon skies ice crusted,
Behind steaming windows
I sip my first coffee.

Before the quiet beauty of this heavenly display, I almost didn’t mind being up so early, almost didn’t mind surrendering the comfortable, safe, sung warmth of my bed. Almost. If it’s a toss up between getting up early and staying in bed, bed will always win.

Red sky in the morning, the rest of the day boring. |It wasn’t boring exactly, but it soon became one of those days. Another one.


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