You’re not so much a vampire like you used to be

You’re not so much a vampire these days, he said.
You don’t seem to be
As vampiric as previous.
No, I replied, glad you noticed that.

I used to suck life out of the obvious
Delirious in the midsummer heat.
Now I just suck
Um-Bongo from cardboard cartons
While watching Pointless.

My life is pointless.

All the good things happen during daytime hours.
It’s why I didn’t see Wimbledon again this year.
Another August without a decent summer holiday
No frolicking on the beach for me
No diving boats swim pool back flips
No crazy afternoons playing frisbee in the park.
Now I spend all of my time indoors
Writing an incredibly long poem about an ice cream.

It’s my magnum opus.

The exquisite tenderness and violence
Of sinking ones fangs into the neck
Of a maiden
Cannot match
A custard cream biscuit and a nice cup of tea.
And then you don’t have to hang around
For all eternity with them.
Eternity is such a waste of time.

How do I look?
I haven’t had a good shave in years.
Every morning in the mirror,
A Bic disposable razor hanging in mid air.
Even the undead get stubble.

I’m not as vampiric as I once was.
I’ve given up on all those late night japes.
No sir.
Not for me.
Fangs for that.
I’m a suburban vampire with agoraphobic tendencies
Cos it’s so much safer to stay at home.
I’m not going to get caught out again
Like I did during the eclipse.

I’m a stay at home vampire
A have a moan vampire
A cold dark feel alone order dinner on the phone vampire
I’ve ploughed through every single
Last of the Summer Wine box set
And now I’ve started on Only Fools and Horses.
My kettle is free of build up,
I’m Vlad the Descaler.
I’ve spent all my time making
Little suits for non existent tiny mythical creatures,
I’m Vlad the Imp Tailor
I no longer exercise at the leisure centre
I’ve fled the gym trainer
The world I see is the world without me
And that is why I’m really not
As vampiric as I used to be.

I’m glad you noticed.
Nobody else was going to say anything,
You were the first to
Stick your neck out.

My neighbour’s gone and bought some wind chimes, for goodness sake.

My neighbour’s for some wind chimes
Hanging in his tree
Perhaps he thinks they show the world
He’s a soul that’s wistful and free
But I don’t think he understands
The effect they have on me
They tinkle in the slightest breeze
It’s such a travesty.

Five in the morning
On a muggy muggy night
Five in the morning
The sky is getting bright
Five in the morning
The duvet’s all a tangle
Five in the morning
All I can hear is jingle jangle.

Oh so tinkly tinkly
Like an ideal garden scene
A moss covered rock and pond
In a flowing woodland stream
Oh so tinkly tinkly
They’re really quite obscene
Right next to my bedroom window
They make me want to scream

Perhaps he thinks they’re relaxing,
It helps the anger pass
In fact they’re just the opposite
It really is a farce
A rockery and vegetable patch
And the smell of fresh cut grass
And the bloody tinkle of the wind chimes
I’d like to shove them up his arse.

And he might think they’re relaxing
At the end of a summers day.
But round here we just get rain and wind
Yet they never blown away.
The sound of them is so annoying
And it fills me with dismay,
Tuneless like an orchestra
Who’ve forgotten how to play.

I’d like to reach in with long handled loppers
And cut the bloody things down
And then I’d hear the birds and nature
Which they normally just drown
Beneath a cacophony of tinkle tinkle
Tuneless crappy sound
Soundtrack to my insomnia,
That’s it, I’m going round!

A gig in New York

It’s a Friday night in October, 2016. The venue is a cabaret bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. For days the weather has been unseasonably hot, the sun a constant presence as it bounces back from the warm sidewalks. A Friday night, then, and I’ve never felt gayer. Well, obviously I have. I mean, the times I’ve been doing gay things, you know, the really gay things, but this was more symbolic. Because the gig was at the Duplex in Christopher Street, the gayest road in the world, quite possibly, next door to the Stonewall Inn itself and the gay rights memorial. And right outside the venue, with all of this gayness, was a poster with my face on it. And it’s been there for weeks!

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the sitcom Will and Grace, but it’s the venue where Jack performed his one man show. That’s how gay the place is.

But it also has a rich heritage as a comedy venue and most of the major names in US comedy have at one time performed at the Duplex.

I arrived and met up with Mark Wallis and his partner Bart Greenberg. I’d known Mark for a few years when he still lived in Cornwall, and even then he was performing as I Am Cereal Killer, a kind of camp punk spoken word artist with bright red hair and white and red face make up. His partner Bart is a playwright and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the New York cabaret and theatre scene. It’s a huge honour to be here headlining at their event, and I’m still not sure how it happened except that Mark is a fan of my work and I have always been a fan of his.

Also there are a couple of actors who Bart has hired to do a rehearsed reading of his new play, and then two very familiar and wonderfully flamboyant characters arrive. First is Margoh Channing, drag queen and cabaret artist with her giant hair, make-up and dress, her new show, Hung, about to be performed in New York, and then Dandy Darkly, the drag clown spoken word storyteller, with his pointed shoulder pads and sequinned one piece cat suit. I feel very plain in comparison.

We are shown upstairs to the green room, which is a fully functioning flat over the venue, and I fantasise about living here, and make small talk, and feel very nervous because I have no idea if there are any audience members yet. I go downstairs and do a mic test on stage with the actors, it all feels so professional and very real. And as always happens in these situations, a camaraderie emerges between the performers as we prepare ourselves in the apartment upstairs with its views down on to the small park where the gay rights statues attract tourists.

Everyone knows Margoh, she’s greeted warmly by the theatre staff. Dandy Darkly has other concerns, because the media has been full of stories about people dressing as clowns and scaring kids, he wonders if this might affect his act or the way that he is perceived. And I’m incredibly nervous, more so than I have been for a long time. I’d spent the days before in my hotel room on the Bowery, making subtle changes to my poems to take out references to English culture that then New Yorkers might not understand. Peter Andre, Top Gear, Richard Madeley.

We are ushered downstairs and given a table at the back of the room. I sit with Dandy and Margoh. The walls of the Duplex are filled with pictures of the famous people who have performed there, such as Bette Midler and Woody Allen. The audience is enthusiastic and warm and I start to relax. In fact, I couldn’t have asked for a better audience for my New York debut, and it felt a real privilege to headline with these acts. I’d seen Dandy before in Edinburgh and I have always been a huge fan, and I’d seen I Am Cereal Killer, but Margoh Channing was a revelation, hilarious and touching, tender, human and very funny. Nancy Stearns sang a fantastic song about being in love with a young gay man, and Bart’s wonderful play was about a gay relationship.

And then it was my turn. It all felt so normal, and once I started it just felt like a normal gig, the kind I’ve done countless times in the past. I think I purposefully downplayed my performance because there was no way I could compete with all of the others, but people were very kind and they laughed in all the right places, so much so that I had to change the set order on stage as I’d meant to do a couple of more serious poems. The audience was enthusiastic and seemed genuinely appreciative. They were up for laughter and a momentum had built up. The gig just flew past and then the show itself was finished.

I chatted afterwards with the audience. They were kind and generous and I sold out of the books that I’d brought with me. Some of them seemed genuinely surprised that my voice off stage also had an English accent, as if it had all been an act. ‘So you really are English’, a lovely lady said to me.

We went back to the green room apartment, where I felt guilty at just sitting on the sofa as the others showered and changed into their civilian clothes. But as I sat there I pondered on how amazing the gig had been. I chatted with Dandy, Mark, Bart and Margoh, feeling most relieved that my humour had translated well to an American audience, and that the crowd were very definitely on my side and intent on enjoying themselves.

But most of all it was the cabaret scene that affected me the most. It demonstrated that spoken word isn’t necessarily bound up with poetry, or that there are any barriers between a poetry gig, a comedy gig, a cabaret gig. Surrounded by actors, drag queens, cabaret acts, drag clowns and singers, I felt, for the first time, as the straight man in my shirt, tie and jacket, yet equally valid and comparable with the others. We were all doing our own thing.

And soon it was all over. We said our good byes and drifted off into the night. I walked with Mark and Bart to the subway and we went off on different lines, they went back to Queens, and myself the short distance to the Bowery, to the hotel where I was unable to sleep in the slightest.

It was only much later afterwards that I realised how amazing the night had been. It was spoken word that had got me there, and for a few brief minutes I’d been right at the epicentre of the international LGBT scene. My next gig after this night was a couple of weeks later, in Torquay, thousands of miles away and with a very different dynamic but equally exciting and with another great audience. Thanks to the marvel of social media, I’ve become friends with a lot of people that night, and personally inspired by them. The world may be getting smaller, but that’s no bad thing, we are all so very similar.

The sky’s falling in

So I’m walking along and
Chicken Lickem comes up
And he’s all like,
Alright geez?
And I’m like,
Steady, mate, steady,
And he says
Bloody sky’s falling in,
Just stepped out the house
And a bit of it lands on me bonce,
And I’m like,
Bloody hell, you having a larf?,
And he says no mate, straight up,
So we’re off to the coffee shop and
Henny Penny’s in there having one of them
Macchiatos, and he’s like, alright Henny?
Bloody sky’s falling in, isn’t it?
And Henny turns around and says,
Pull the other one,
And he says no mate, straight up,
So then we’re off to this place that
Serves you a burger and chips, you know,
But they bung it on a lump of wood,
And Cocky Lockys in there,
And Henny Penny and Chicken Licken,
They’re like, bloody sky’s falling in,
And cocky Lockys like,
You’re having me on, right?,
And We’re like, no, mate, straight up,
And we got to the supermarket and,
Bump into Goosey Lucy and Gander Lander
And Drakey Lakey and Ducky Lucky and
Ponkey Donkey and Foxy Loxy
And Coaty Goatie and Beepy Sheepy
And Lara Llama and Mazelle Gazelle and
Pocelot Ocelot and Mangaroo Kangaroo and Steve
And they’re all like,
Shitting hell, mate,
And we’re like, no mate, straight up,
And they’re like, let’s all go to a nightclub
And we’re in the nightclub and it’s loud and he
Gets off with this woman, she’s like,
Oh Chicken Licken,
But the musics thumping and he’s like,
I don’t want a permanent relationship,
The sky’s falling in,
And shes like, what?
And he’s like, what?
And she’s like, what?
And he’s like, what?
And she’s like, forget it,
And Chicken Lickens like,
And we’re all laughing and he’s all,
Hey, double sorted, double lush,
And we’re like,
Nah, mate, nah, she’s gone, and he’s like,
She was putty in my hands,
And were like, pull the other one, and he’s like,
Bloody tossbags, the lot of you.

Flexible Jim

Flexible jim
Oh flexible jim
It’s really so incredible
He’s flexible within
He can stand in the hallway
And look in the kitchen
That’s perfectly normal
If you’re flexible Jim

He’s a double jointed fella
He’s a yoga kinda guy
He can peek round corners
And nobody knows why
Flexible jim
Oh flexible Jim
So much complexity
With his flexibility

What is Jim?

I want to chat
To flexible jim
Find out for myself
What secrets lie within
Hey there jim
Let’s meet up and see what’s what
And Jim replied
I can’t do Tuesdays.


A show about going nowhere, a show about life, a show about growing up LGBTQ in a suburb of Surrey in the 1980s.

Performance poet Robert Garnham takes the audience on a journey from a time where everything seemed to stand still.

The Space Captain has Got a Big Ray Gun

I am the firm-jawed space captain
And this is my sci-fi show.
I’m the randy tough shirt-ripping hero
You know the way it goes.
I’m the brown-haired stubbled morally-upright
Captain of this ship
I’m the father figure hunky macho man
Who never loses his grip.

Each week the show ends
With the threat of evil lessened.
I’m the laser shooting alien bating guy
Who teaches everyone a lesson.
My assistant this whole time has been
An affable old curmudgeon
Who dispenses words of wisdom and sanity
With every alien that i bludgeon.

The producers met last year
And while they were pleased, gosh, I’m so heroic
In my body hugging one piece spacesuit
Making me be both ridiculous and stoic
Decided to give me a new assistant,
A scientist, with test tubes and litmus .
But from the first moment of our first rehearsal
He turned out to be as camp as Christmas.

Viewer figures started to go up.

First day on set he seemed upset and
Insisted on rewriting his script
Pretending to get just a little aroused
At the sight of my shirt getting ripped.
And when we were held captive by then
Evil King Empreror of the Gargantuan Lizard Men he asked, could he
Remark that the Gargantuan Lizard Men were Gargantuan
In every place but the one that they really should be.

To the maniacal plotting demon wizard,
While supposedly undercover
He remarked to him, oh, you’re so butch!
You must get it from your mother.
While running away on Forbius Seven
Pursued by the furious Forbius Sevenese,
He adlibbed the line, ooo, a pair of handcuffs,
Now what shall we do with these?

Viewer figures went through the roof.

To the giant snake like Mega Octopus
Who wouldn’t let us pass,
Presumably unaffected by it’s mind altering powers he said,
Ooo, you’ve got a face like a slapped arse.
And my catchphrase I loved, as I jump into action,
‘Power it up and hit the switch!’
Was replaced by his own insistence by the phrase,
‘Brace yourself, bitch!’

And all those corny jokes about my ray gun.
Don’t point that thing at me.
Gosh, that’s a big one.
Does it shoot as well as it looks?
My my, you’ve polished that one up nicely.
Look at the shaft on that.
Big ones are so much harder to conceal.
Is it difficult to get a good aim with one that size?
I’ve never seen one that shape before.
Keep it covered up, I’ve just had a sausage.

I wanted such fame and tough guy acclaim
But my dreams have all been torpedoed.
It’s hard to have dignity when captured by robots
He says, ooo, were going to get probed!
The scripts for next year
I really do fear
Have just been released by the studio.
And while my name is still in the frame
I’ve been reduced to just a brief cameo.
I was the firm jawed space captain
And now this is his show.

I only love him when he sulks

I only love him when he sulks.
He looks so masculine and tough.
I can’t get enough
Of when he’s off in a huff.
He does something to me deep within.

He’s a normal bloke
And we do normal blokey things
But when he gets in a mood
It makes my heart sing.
He starts a thing he can’t stop
When he gets in a strop.
When a frown overtakes his complexion
I get an immediate . . ..
. . . . . . . Sense of wellbeing.

Be my hunk, be my daddy,
Do it for me, throw a paddy,
Come on big boy let’s have some fun
Please, I’m begging you, go off on one.

Your brooding gets me in the mood
And I’m only in the mood
When you’re in a mood
And when I’m in the mood
It gets you in a mood
Because I’m in the mood
Because you’re in a mood.

I deprive you of burgers
Not for the sake of your health,
But because
You’re never so manly
As when you’re hangry.

In bed last night
It stayed with a low, sultry moan
Only the moan was about
Chunky kit Kat’s not being
As chunky as they used to be.
And then you got that frown
The frown that never gets me down
And I said,
Don’t give me sultry,
Give me sulky,
And you said,
What the bloody hell are you on about?
And I said,
That’s it, just like that.

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group
A work based compulsory WhatsApp group
It turns your brain to mush
And if turns your mind to soup
There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group.

There’s a hundred people in it
And they all want attention
It’s ever so mundane
And there’s nothing they won’t mention.
Leave the phone for a moment, though,
For a shower or for a poop
There’s a hundred notifications on
Your work based WhatsApp group.

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group
A work based compulsory WhatsApp group
It turns your brain to mush
And if turns your mind to soup
There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group.

The mundanity of the things they post
Really gets up my nose
But every fiftieth message is important
Just to keep you on your toes.
I’d delete the app tomorrow
It’s such an annoying thing
I’m getting sick and tired of hearing
That notification ping.

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group
A work based compulsory WhatsApp group
It turns your brain to mush
And if turns your mind to soup
There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group.

Here’s Judy with her plant pots
And some grandkids I’ve never met
And have you been watching the latest drama?
No! Don’t tell me the ending yet.
And here’s the paint for the living room
And some magnolia for the hall
And just as j decide to ignore the group
Comes word of an urgent conference call.

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group
A work based compulsory WhatsApp group
It turns your brain to mush
And if turns your mind to soup
There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group.

I’m tired of their emojis, ping!
Just because we all work together.
You don’t have to keep pointing out, ping!
What day it is, or the weather.
So I bitched about it to a friend of mine, Ping!
And told her I’d rather be dead
Than read all this halfwitted crap all the time, Ping,
Mistakenly posted this to the group instead.

There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group
A work based compulsory WhatsApp group
It turns your brain to mush
And if turns your mind to soup
There’s nothing more annoying than a WhatsApp group.

Zoo Poo

Zoo Poo

The skunk
The elephant
Was a smellyphant
The hummingbird
Was humming..
The flamingo
Had BO
And it had
Let one go
The goldfish
In their tank
Were all rank.
The octopus
Was noxious
A flock of bats
Of which there
Was an abundance
Were all pungent.
The arachnid
Was acrid.
The squid
Was putrid.
The giraffe
Had never had a bath
The puffin
Lived on a cliff
And it didn’t half whiff
The river otter
When it was a little hotter
In the middle if Devon
Stank to high heaven.
The swan
Didn’t half pongs
The puma
Had an aroma.
The kangaroo
Smelled like poo
The tortoise
Lived a long life
But it was rife
The mouse
As well as squeaking
Was reeking.
The Mink
Let off a stink.
On his fifth day in his new job,
The zookeeper ran out of air freshner.