Filming ‘Beard Envy’ with John Tomkins.

In 2013 I wrote a poem about being envious of beards. It soon became a staple of my spoken word set and I have performed it hundreds of times around the U.K. and even in New York. It might even be considered the poem I am most well known for, such is it’s reception.

Last year I made a short film with filmmaker John Tomkins based on my poem Professor in the Bathroom and we had a great deal of fun filming if over one day in the cramped confines of his actual bathroom. I was even given a bit of a cameo at the end. John suggested that we do another poem, and I didn’t really think anything more of it until he contacted me with the idea of filming Beard Envy.

But this would be a much more ambitious project. The first stage was for me to come around and record the poem as a basis for the film shoot. As I did this, amusingly, the microphone started falling down, and the actual take that we used was the one where I was crouching down, desperately trying to follow the mic as it slid to the floor.

He then employed a script writer to take my poem and turn it into a proper shooting script. Tom Eastwood is a very talented professional with a BA in Television, and he took my faithful old poem and turned it into a workable script that John might use. The next stage was for John to draw up a rough outline of the camera angles and locations that he would employ. It was at this stage, as we had one of our meetings, that I saw how ambitious his vision would be for Beard Envy.

My part in the production was now done, just as things were starting to get interesting. First of all John went to Exeter to film a Lee Rawlings, who’d previously starred as the Professor in Professor in the Bathroom, this time as the Beard Tamer. For this, Lee borrowed the ringmaster outfit that will be my costume for my new Edinburgh show, In The Glare of the Neon Yak.

John next hired a lead actor for the role of the man who is envious of beards, and for this he found a young actor from Plymouth university, Jack Allum. John was very excited when he told me about Jack who, he assured me, looked very much like a younger version of myself! Naturally I can see no resemblance, though I’m worried that if Jack reads this, he will look at me and see a chilling warning of things to come.

John let me come along to the next day of filming, and this was one of the most bizarre days of my spoken word career. In the confines of a cabaret club in my home town of Paignton, John, Jack, cameramen, sound people and photographers mingled with members of the South West Beard Association to film the key Beard Competition scenes. And what a wonderful group of people they Were! Cheerful and accommodating, we shared stories of beard shenanigans and they all enjoyed themselves immensely. Jack, too, was excellent, professional and enthusiastic for what is, by all accounts, his first film role. And me? I hung around, likening myself to Larry David on the set of Seinfeld, lurking the other side of the camera and somehow responsible for all this madness.

I hate to use the cliche ‘surreal’, but that’s the only word I can find to describe seeing a whole project born out of my own imagination come to life. I really kept having to remind myself that I was responsible, and I kept telling people, ‘All I did was write a poem!’

It was an amazing day and I’ve never had so much fun on a Sunday afternoon in Paignton before.

Two more filming days followed, and John showed me the rushes, the film looks absolutely amazing and the performances spot on. John did film me doing a very brief cameo to go at the start of the film, as a silent era movie star.

I really must thank John Tomkins for his skill not only in realising his artistic vision, but also in drawing together diverse people and artists to create something truly special. The finished product will look amazing, and having seen a lot of the scenes, albeit in the wrong order, I really cannot wait for other people to see it too!

Find out about the film here


Why spoken word needs a bigger audience.

What does spoken word actually do? What is it’s purpose?

There have been grumblings on various social media platforms that the issues raised in spoken word go no further than the echo chamber of like minded audiences. A prime example of this would be slam competition in which the winning performer is they who the audience most agrees with, or judges to be the most worthy winner, based solely on the issues addressed by the poet. And while it is good that such issues and themes are brought to public attention or at least reaffirmed within the minds of the audience, there is also the suspicion that this, and this alone, is as far as the message will get.

I am an optimistic person and I see every performance or poem as an opportunity to change the world, for the better. Yet it seems to me that beyond the lucky few whose poems become viral social media hits, few ever really reach in to the wider public consciousness. Partly this may be a fault of the set up of the current spoken word community, in that most spoken word performers are performing to other spoken word performers, and are reacting and being driven on by other spoken word performers, or indeed, writing poems specifically to raise issues not that they care about the issues terribly deeply, but rather more that in so doing they hope to win slam competitions.

As a consequence of this, I believe that spoken word really needs to break out into the mainstream. There are certainly more performance nights now than there was when I first started, and certainly more performers, too. The Nationwide tv advert campaigns have certainly helped bring performance poetry to a wider audience, but it really still is a niche art form.

I am a spoken word performer. I am a comedy spoken word performer. I tell people that this is what I do and they look at me kind of blankly. They’ve never heard of it. The vast majority of my friends are not artists or poets, nor do they care for art or poetry. Most of them like comedy, and I know that if they could get a sense of what it is that I and others do, they would really enjoy it. But there’s nothing for them to grasp as an example of spoken word.

We need a regular mass audience platform. It’s Ok being tucked away on Radio Four just before midnight, or on the occasional advert, but there needs to be a showcase both for established performers and up and coming poets. The success of Kate Tempest shows that there is an interest in what we do, and the best selling live poetry act in the country is Pam Ayres, but how many people would link these act, or consider the variety which falls between these two fine examples?

We need exposure. We need to be broadcast and for the top names of our art to be as acclaimed as those in other art forms. There need to be stories and articles, television programmes, radio interviews. Spoken word needs to appear in the mainstream, constantly. The three minute form of a poem is perfect for social media and YouTube, but there needs to be something with prestige and acclaim. A Top of the Pops for spoken word. A Live at the Apollo for performance poetry.

Only then will spoken word become truly viable, truly a voice for issues which need to be raised and discussed. We are part of a wonderful community of enthusiastic writers and performers, and only when our voices are magnified and broadcast further, can we do our bit to change the world and change people’s minds.


Notes to the Producer – A Poem

Notes to the Producer

I am the firm-jawed space captain
And this is my 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 that thing 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 this used to be my show.


The Unbearable Lightness of Robert Garnham

I’ve been busy writing a lot during the last twelve months and the upshot of this is that I have a lot of material which doesn’t fit in with the any of the projects I’ve been working on. The idea came after a conversation with film maker John Tomkins to make a short mini web series.

The hardest part was coming up with a title, and after exhausting Plop, Whimsy, or just Series, and every other one word idea, I came up with the Unbearable Lightness of Brian. Humorous as this was, the main problem was that my name is not Brian. So I settled on the rather less colourful, but rather more meaningful, The Unbearable Lightness of Robert Garnham.

It was a joy to make the series and we’ve optimistically called it Season One.

And here’s the first one! There’ll be one a week now for the next seven weeks.

Englefield Green Blues

Between 1994 and 1996 I worked at a small village shop in the village of Englefield Green in Surrey. I was twenty years old and it felt like the best job in the world, because I got to know all the local characters. The drunks, the ne’erdowells, the good people, the bad people. A local author who was published to great acclaim came in every day after the school run. A member of the House of Lords.the local vicar and the local priest, who would buy the Holy Water and take it away to be blessed. Oh, such good times.

While I was there I wrote a comedy novel called Englefield Green Blues, about a trainee guardian angel who was not very good at his job. The novel was a turning point for me because it was the first time that I employed, throughout the narrative, funny poetry. The other day I sat down and looked at the poems again. They may not be classics, but they take me right back to 1995.

Englefield Green Blues
(A song for the ukulele)

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

I told my wife
I says to her
What you looking
At me for?
And she says back
To me that is
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

I took it back
To the corner shop
He says to me
What’s this for?
I says to him
You know what it is
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

You take a gulp
It’s stale and flat
I says to him
Well fancy that
Just get me a refund
No need for a tizz
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Change of key
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
First key again
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

This cola’s lost its fizz
This cola’s lost its fizz
Oh yeah this cola’s lost its fizz
No its hasn’t
Yes it has
No it hasn’t
Yes it has
This cola’s lost its fizz

2. Fairground

It’s a fairground, it’s a fairground
Adults full price children free
Merry go round, merry go round,
Will you take a ride with me?

Tunnel of love, dodge the dogems,
Life is but a chamber of horrors
When it’s midnight at the funfair
You don’t care about tomorrow.

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling

Funfair funfair
Why the hell should you care?
You know where you’re going
You know you can’t get there
Merry go round, miserable go round
Candy floss yes please
Eat it quick, kiss me quick,
I’m begging on my knees!

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling

Win a goldfish, win a horse
You can take it home, of course.
Life’s so happy, life’s so fab
I’m going to explode with mirth.
Throw your balls at aunt Sally,
She won’t throw them back.
Ha ha ha
Ha ha ha
Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa.

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling

3. Flute

I played my flute
Till the cows came home.
Tum de tum de tum de de
Tum de tum de tum de de
I played my flute like a woman possessed
Toodle toodle toodle all day.

I played my flute
I played my flute
And then I stopped
For the cows had come home.

4. I Am A Genius

There is a fine line
Between genius and prat.
This poem is either brilliant
Ooga ooga ooga ooga ooga
As the sun sets over
Englefield Green
And the vampires walk the aisles
I ponder
I ponder life through poetry.

5. Silly hat.

Do not wear
A silly hat.
People will say
‘What is that?’
You will have
To take it off
We will then
Suppress a cough
That is really
A raucous laugh
Cos its sensible
By half
To wear a hat
That suits your head
Wear that hat?
I’d rather be dead!

6. Strong wind pot tragedy.

Flower pot
On the wall
In the gale
Defying all.

Flower pot.
On the ground.
Potting compost
All around.

7. Untitled (Although Now It’s Called That It Has a Title,
Therefore No Longer Untitled)

The cosmos is so big
And I am so small
You should never get the two confused.
Lord knows, I don’t!
It would be embarrassing
To book into an hotel
Under the name ‘Existence’
Or look up at the night sky
And say
‘Doesn’t George look lovely tonight?’


Jason Disley’s new book

Jason Disley’s new book Songs of Benevolence and Rage will be released very soon and I was very chuffed indeed to write the introduction for it.

I first came across Jason Disley over twenty years ago. His book, The New Beat Generation, was full of exciting poetry which spoke to me, as a young man interested in literature and the power of words. I shared his enthusiasm for jazz and the beat poets and I must have read the book about ten times, cover to cover. His was one of the first poetry books I ever read for pleasure.

Fast forward twenty years and for reasons which I’m still not quite sure about, I’d become a comedy spoken word artist and my work was invariably described as ‘poetry’. One day I received an email from someone, asking if they could perform at a night that I was organising at an art gallery, and I thought, hmmm, that name sound familiar. Jason Disley. Jason. Disley. And then it struck me, Jason Disley! The Jason Disley!

Meeting him was an absolute joy, and the years slipped away hearing him perform. Here he was, jazz poet, beat poet, doyen of the new Beat Generation. Did that mean that I, too, was now a part of the new beat generation? Was he Kerouac, was I Burroughs? I felt cool just replying to his email. Hey you kool kat, I wrote. And then I deleted it and wrote, Hello Jason Disley.

I’ve got to know Jason over the last couple of years and I was completely blown away when he asked me to write a foreword for his new collection. The poems are exactly as it says on the cover. Jason is a laid back performer, a lover of jazz, but these poems have an anger seething beneath, a social conscience and a deep concern for our world and its people. ‘Oh, pressure!’, he writes, ‘Explosions, anarchy in the ether’, in a poem titled ‘It Rajns When It Pours’. These are poems against tyranny, poems which howl, poems, indeed, of rage.

Jason’s love of jazz is evident in the ‘Poems of Benevolence’ section. ‘Its benevolence’, he writes, ‘Enveloping you in a sphere of hope that is like an overwhelming validation ‘. In this section he states that it is music that heals us me helps us, music that can set us fee, and a belief in the goodness of words and deeds.

This is a fantastic collection of heart and feeling, which leaves the reader genuinely uplifted. Jason finds joy in the world in spite of his rage, and, as he writes, ‘I do not look to the future, nor back in anger, I breathe the now’, which is as good a philosophy as any. It’s great to know that the spirit of the Beat poets, the jazz mystics, the dreamers and the believers, is still going strong in the work of Jason Disley. Luxuriate, dear reader, in this book, and let him take you to ethereal places.

On having a larf.

For goodness sake, anything makes me laugh these days. I don’t know what it is but if it’s funny, then I’m in to it. Over the last week I’ve listened to Steve Martin, watched a Judd Apatow Netflix special, several episodes of the Larry Saunders show, I’ve listened to Gecko’s wonderful album, Ivor Cutler, watched an Arnold Brown DVD, Flight of the Conchords, and, believe if or not, Hinge and Brackett. Oh, and I’ve just started rereading Hunter S Thompson.

Why this sudden need to immerse myself in comedy? And also the sort of comedy that I don’t normally watch or listen to or read?

For some reason I’m remarkably receptive at the moment to anything which makes people laugh. I start each day with web comedy shows of snippets, such as Portlandia, to which I’ve become addicted, or Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. I’ve also watched hundreds of hours of random sketches and web broadcasts from comedians and Youtubers, some of which is particularly cringe worthy or not really funny. And that’s now I spend my breakfast, a bowl of coco pops and squinting at my iPad.

Life by its very nature is serious, and because it’s so serious, it’s also inherently funny. We go to work and we work and we come home from work. To my mind the funniest places in the world are the city of New York and the whole of Britain. These are places where life is taken seriously yet, at the same time, not that seriously. Where humour exists to alleviate awkwardness or to get a point across, where sarcasm dances with parody to create something truly special.

Watching all these funny people, I noticed something funny, and that’s the Funny Muscle. Being funny and spontaneous is a skill which can be developed. I’m using mine right now as I write this sentence and I’m wondering where the next time during this sentence will be where I might be funny. Ok, so it didn’t happen during that sentence, and it’s probably not happening during this sentence either.

The weird thing is, immersing myself in such a way has helped me to see the world differently. I have a day job, which is filled with the usual petty annoyances and temporary hardships, but I look at it now more as a sitcom. Admittedly, not a very interesting sitcoms, but the situations which arise certainly have comedy in retrospect. I get home and I laugh, honestly, I do. Likewise, if you’re afraid of a person, or have a certain aversion to a person because of the way that they make you feel, then look at them as a character in a sitcom. They begin to conform to their own stereotypes and this makes them funny, even if they’re not funny people.

Perhaps that’s why I’m watching so much comedy, and so much diverse comedy. The warbling and innuendo of Hinge and Brackett are a long way from the stand up of, say, Trevor Noah, but they are a diversion from my every day life which I feel that I need right now, to take my mind off the normal crushing loneliness of existence. And in not restricting myself to a certain genre or type of comedy, I’m hoping to give my comedy muscle a huge work out. Though obviously, not enough to end this blog with a joke. IMG_0348

Mr. Juicy – the script


(Bing bong!)
British Falcon Flight 7633 to Norwich, now boarding at gate 6b.
This is the first call for British Falcon Flight 7633 to Norwich,
Now boarding at gate 6b.
Thank you.

(Bing bong!)
Could Mr Mozarella, travelling with Air Italy to the Po Valley,
Please make himself known to a representative of his airline.

(Bing bong!)
Air Beagle Flight 133 to Exeter, now boarding at gate 6a.
This is the first call of Air Beagle Flight 133 to Exeter,
Now boarding at gate 6a.
Thank you.

(Bing bong!)

I called him Mr Juicy.
I met him at the gate of an airport departure lounge.
He was flying to Norwich, I was flying to Exeter.
Our planes were delayed because a fuel transporter had
Broken down, diagonally, across gates 6a and 6b.
Nobody could move it.
The two of us, me and Mr Juicy, we looked out the
Terminal plate glass window.
He asked if I had a dry wipe marker.
So I can go in the toilets, he said,
Add my initials to the hourly checklist.
You know.
Just for a laugh.

No sign of any movement on the apron.
Men in high viz jackets stand around, dumbfounded.
Mr Juicy, all grins,
Sits across two soft cushioned seats.
I sit opposite from him and he watches
As I stare at the floor.
What are you doing?, he asks.
I’m looking at a small dot.
Part of the fleck effect of the tiled floor.
Concentrating on this insignificant dot.
Soon I’ll be hundreds of miles away and the chance
Of seeing this tiny dot again
Will be very small indeed.
You’re weird, he says,
But I like you.

And I liked him.

Rip up the afternoon with your sheer existence!
Batter the world with your beauty,
Show no resistance!
Like a soldier marching, marching,
Left, right,
You are
All right!

Like a porcelain hammer,
Like a grenade of love,
There is no grammar
For me to put into language
That I am made of love.
No longer
Afraid of love.

Let us be brothers in arms, primed to attack,
Let’s drill together, I’ll watch your back
Like two soldiers marching, marching
Perfect rhythm, perfect motion marching marching
Left right left right keep this up
All through the night.

You bludgeon me
With your masculinity
Batter me
With your beauty
Shatter me
You’re such a
I want to be with
You, see

War zone decrepit and a scorch earth policy
To fight for love is the ultimate fallacy
Like a soldier
Marching marching
Into the inevitable
You can conquer me!

I’d lay down my arms.
Then lay down
With you
In my arms
If only
You would ask.

(Bing bong!)

We apologise for the slight delay to flights British Falcon 7633 to Norwich and Air Beagle Flight 133 to Exeter, currently awaiting boarding at gates 6a and 6b. This is due to . . .. Operational difficulties.

The driver of the stranded fuel transporter
Hops down from his cab, lands awkwardly,
And sprains his ankle.

(Bing bong!)

Could passenger Mr Mozarella, please make himself
Known to the Air Italy information desk, located
In the man terminal building,
Next to the Weatherspoons pub.

I tried not to look over at Mr Juicy too much.
I didn’t want him to think that I fancied him.
But then
I wanted him to know
That I fancied him.
Open, pleasant face and long, long legs, see them
Draped over the chair next to him,
Body-hugging white tshirt,
Purposefully unkempt hair,
The feint trace of stubble,
A ruffian with the soul of a poet,
Who’d just captured
The soul of a poet.

He said,
I watched that DVD the other day, you know the one,
The Neverending Story. But I’m suing the film company
Because it was only on for 118 minutes.

And another thing.
How come the logo for Universal Pictures
Is just of planet earth?

And how come
The Three Musketeers
Are called the Three Musketeers
When there’s four of them
And they don’t use muskets?

I smile, and laugh.
I want him to know that I’m, you know,
Not necessarily heterosexually configured,
But I don’t want to go too over the top.

Mr Juicy tells me about his mother.
She works at an old folks home, in the kitchen.
They have to perform miracles, he says,
They’re given a Chicken and told to feed
Thirty residents with it.
Rezzies, as those in the business call them.

If someone was not expected to live beyond the
Next evening, then their last meal would be
Rice pudding.
The solemn walk of death,
Carrying a solitary rice pudding from the kitchen
Through the dining room,
And all the rezzies wondering who it was who
Was going to be presented with it.
Poor Ethel.

Ethel looks down, sadly,
At her rice pudding.
Her whole life
Has led to this.

(Bing bong!)

This is another call for Mr Mozarella.
That’s Mr Mozarella,
Please make yourself known to the
Air Italy officials.
The manager is waiting to hear from you.
The head honcho.
The big cheese.

I like your . . . Body-hugging white t-shirt, I tell him.
Thanks, he replied.
Very fashionable, I continue, I’d wear one too,
But there are certain bodies which, you know,
Don’t look good hugged.
Everyone deserves a cuddle now and then, he replies.

Oh my goodness!

But like an idiot I say nothing,
And then when I do, I change the subject.
At school we had some weird fashions,
It was trendy in year eight to have a tin of
Mackerel fillets poking out of your shirt pocket,
You were nobody unless you had a
Tin of mackerel fillets in your shirt pocket,
The teachers would confiscate them,
They always looked so healthy, our teachers,
Must have been all that omega three,
And the poor kids, bless them, they’d go in
With these tescos own brand mackerel fillets,
Am I Rambling?

Everyone deserves a cuddle now and then, that’s
What he’d said, or did I imagine it?

I’m rambling.

He says,
My best friend is an astronomer.
He has been tracking a super massive black hole
For the last few years
Using mathematics and pure science to work out
It’s behaviour.
He’s calculated that a star fifteen times the size
Of the sun is heading straight towards it.
Can you Imagine? This gigantic star and this
Super massive black hole.
I said to him, what will happen to the star?
And he replied,
It will turn ever so slightly more red.

If the ultimate state of the universe
Is chaos, I say,
Then that makes me feel better
About the cupboard under the stairs.

Everyone deserves a cuddle now and then.

I say to him,
I’m really worried that one day I’ll
Slice a loaf of bread
And accidentally split the atom.

(Bing bong!)

Ladies and gentlemen, once again
We apologise for the delay at
Gates 6a and 6b.
The operating difficulties are
Please accept,
For your listening pleasure,
The following mood-enhancing music.


Mr Juicy smiles, leans back his head and closes his eyes.
The sun comes out, lightly caresses his face.
He looks so pure.

Unblemished by life
Unworried by the immediate
Unhurried unsullied unruffled,

Unfazed by the obvious,
Unmoved by the oblivious,
Unabashed, unapologetic, unholy.

Unmasked by circumstance,
Undressed by my imagination,
Untainted, unfettered, unforgettable,

Like the mountain air is pure,
Like the morning of a new day,
Like the mind of a nun is pure.
Like a babbling brook from a glacier,
The glacier itself renown for its purity,
That’s how pure you are.

I bet you don’t fart much
And even if you did
The people near you would say, my god,
Did it just get purer in here?

You’re as pure as a summer rose
Ensconced in morning dew,
You’re as pure as the air
After a thunderstorms been through,
You’re as pure as a paperback
That’s totally brand new
The Big Book of Pure,
Bought it this morning,
That’s how pure you are.

(Bing bong!)

Mr Mozarella, are you there?
(Bing bong!)
Mr Mozarella?
(Bing bong!)
Mr Mozarella?
(Bing bong!)
(Bing bong!)
(Bing bong!)

Where am I?
You fell asleep, Mr Juicy says.
Does this count, I wonder,
If I tell people I’ve now slept with him?
What’s the latest?
They’ve stretchered the driver away.
Now they’re trying to move the fuel transporter.
Some fuel spilled out.
They’re trying to mop it up.

I tell him,
Just before my mother was born,
The cleaner came in the room,
Wrung the mop out the window of
The hospital,
The head fell off.
How’s that for an omen?


Oh, Mr Juicy.
Juicy perfection.
Millions of years of evolution,
Of chance and random occurrences,
Births, death, circumstance,
His parents needs and his fathers
Sperm going for it,
Winning the race,
To create him.

And for everything to align just right
And in just the right quantity and appeal
To the very depths of my own personal
Masculine preferences,
Perfect nose,
Perfect limbs,
Perfect eyebrows,
Perfect skin,
And for him to be here now,
This morning, a freak of
Airport scheduling and airline timetables,
Just here, just now,
Fortune like a peach so juicy.

But . . .
What right has he to be so gorgeous?
What has he ever done to deserve it?
Why not me?
Why not everyone who’s
Gazed in the mirror,
Felt nought inside but pale horror,
Wanted to change the world,
Wanted to be loved?

I’m attracted to him so much
That I almost hate him
With his witty conversation and his
Affected nonchalance
He chats to me not that he enjoys
The fact of my existence
Or that he wishes to impress me,
But merely because it is all so
Easy for him.

I mean nothing.
I am a momentary distraction.
He’s got a nice arse.
In half an hours time he’ll forget
I ever existed.
In half an hour
I’ll be thinking about
Lost opportunities.

(Bing bong!)
Lost opportunities,
(Bing bong!)
Hold on to him,
Memorise his face.
(Bing bong!)
Memorise his face
Because you’ll forget it quickly.
(Bing bong!)
Massive disappointment.
(Bing bong!)
This is the final call for
Massive disappointment.

Can you imagine what it would be like?
I mean,
The pressure to be constantly amusing,
Me and him, together forever,
Going through each day looking for anecdotes,
Something happens and you think,
Oh good, some new material.
I can’t wait to tell . . .
Jesus Christ,
I don’t even know his name!

(Bing bong!)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your patience,

Comes the voice of doom,
Signalling the end of a romance,

We’re about to begin boarding flights
7633 to Norwich and 133 to Exeter
At Gates 6a and 6b,

Where the future will dissolve and crumble
Like an overlooked meringue

Please have your passport and boarding card
Ready for inspection.

That’s us, he says.
We’re on different planes, I point out.
I know, he replies.

Two parallel queues start to form at gates 6a and 6b. He
Gathers his belongings.

It’s been nice talking to you, I tell him.
Yeah, he says.

Two queues in tandem,
Shuffling forwards.
And I feel sick inside,
Incapable of telling him,
And stunted by social constrictions
That stand in the way of us
And a life together.

But I’d hate it.
Two queues shuffling forwards.
Is it not better, I tell myself,
To let him be.
To preserve it as the most perfect
Moment of all?
A love so deep that none was ever shared?

Two queues shuffling forwards.
He’s there in the corner of my eye,
And I’ll never see him again.
To know more now would spoil it forever.
I don’t even know his name.

Two queues shuffling forwards.
The skies await and with them
All is gone.

Bye, he says,
His queue is moving faster.

I’m momentarily distracted by a kerfuffle ahead.
I’m sorry, Mr Mozarella, the attendant says,
This isn’t your flight.
Exeter, Mr Mozarella.
No, not the Po Valley.

It holds up the queue, and when I look again,
He’s gone.
Mr Juicy has gone.
Through the gate and off to his plane
And things will never
Be the same.

It takes an age to sort out Mr Mozarella.
I trudge across the lonely windswept apron,
Giddy on more than just aviation diesel.
Up the steps of our Exeter bound plane.
I pause, briefly,
Looking back at the airport terminal
Hoping that he still might be there,
Waving, or even running towards me,
Across the concrete,
But he isn’t.
He meant so much,
And I meant nothing to him.
The wind ruffles my hair.
How transitory this life we all live
With its fleeting moments.

I’ll never find anyone else like him.
There were nights when I was so lonely
It seemed he dark itself were a million fingers
Pointing away from me,
My existence so transitory as to
Hardly be worth the breath.
Each moment a death.

I will survive this!
As long before I found my own solidity
That the love I had inside of me
I could share
Should still be there.

How many others will disappear,
Chance encounters and momentary infatuations,
Squandered beauty and sheer
Miscalculations, misread signals and a certain
Immobility deep set within,
That I should live to live to love
Rather than love itself
And forever remain

Good morning, sir,
Welcome aboard.
My name is Josh.
I look up.
He’s the best looking
Cabin attendant I’ve ever seen.

Best year of my life?

There’s about six hours of 2017 left here in Devon. And it’s a year which I really don’t want to end just yet as so many amazing things have happened. I know in the real world it’s been pretty naff for a vast number of reasons, but for me it’s been, without hyperbole, the best year I’ve had. The year started with appearing in indents for a certain building society which was incredibly surreal. I then was longlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the year with the Saboteur Awards. Next up I devised Juicy, which was always going to be a stop gap show showcasing different poems, and it got into various fringes. Performing at Edinburgh, Denbury and London at the Redgates Theatre were all highlights, and I had some amazing gigs in other places. On top of everything I finally went semi professional as a spoken word artist, doing corporate work and education work too, and then just when the year was ending, I had a book published and a couple of videos released in YouTube. It’s been an amazing year!

I’ve got so many projects pending. As well as the ongoing Zebra tour, I’ve got a one night performance of Juicy at the Bike Shed theatre on the seventeenth of January, a film project with film maker John Tompkins based on Beard Envy, and a new show which I’ve already written called In The Glare of the Neon Yak, which is set on a sleeper service from London to Edinburgh. Performance wise, I’ve started learning all of my material and I’m about to start working with a director. Things are very exciting!

Naturally, the year was made by the wonderful people I’m surrounded by, such as Melanie Branton for her advice and support, Mark Tunkin for everyday practical issues. It’s been an incredibly busy twelve months and there have been days where I’ve not known where I was heading, or why, catching trains, the whole thing being a bit of a blur. Sadly, I also lost two friends this year, both of whom were incredibly supportive of my work.

I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic 2018 and all the health, happiness, fulfilment and success you can grab!

Here’s a new poem.


Part One

Flat cap on, whiskers brushed,
His wife giving him a kiss at the
Door of their bungalow.
Have a good day, dear, she says.
There’s a packed lunch
In your satchel.
See you tonight, my love,
He says.
We’ll listen to Des O’Connor
On the wireless tonight.
He walks down the front path,
She watches him go.

Part Two

An eerie silence
Looms over the
Lingerie department.
He’s got his flask and
His camping chair,
His Daily Mail.
He’s set for the day,
Ensconced in the gap
Between the cut price knickers
And a dump bin of socks,
His own niche in the market.

The throbbing passion of moments sublime
In their inexorable rush between
All human desire
And the urges that certain men feel.

Part Three

In the 1950s he’d go to the barbers.
Something for the weekend, sir?,
They’d ask.
He thought they were offering him
A bus timetable.
And meeting his wife, Marge.
His father asked if she was called that
Because she spread like butter.
He thought that this was a reference to
Her technique for doing
The plastering.

Married in 1959,
He remained a virgin until 1973
And that was only because there
Was an incident
While she was giving him eye drops.
Ever since then
He always comes over
Unnecessary when he heard the
Word Conjunctivitis.
They didn’t get a TV
Until 2003
And the first thing he’d see
Was a woman in a bikini
Being sensuously doused
In lukewarm Ovaltine.

His false teeth
Shot out of his mouth and
Ricocheted off the
The next day he ordered
A crate of the stuff.
Marge, he said,
Bung the kettle on.

Part Four

How proudly
Marge would tell her
He’s still working
At his age
At the department store.

He tells her that
He’s a diesel fitter.

He holds up a pair of knickers
And says,
‘Dese’ll fit her!’

Part Five

You can do it,
He imagines the merchandise
Saying to him.
You can do it, Jim.
You can do it.
You can do it.
You can do it, Jim.
You can do it.
You can really really do it.
Such a great selection
Of support bras.

Part Six

This unsolicited assister,
This unpaid worker,
This societal resister,
This brazen lurker,
This flat capped octogenarian
Amid the Lycra spandex,
This persistent drooler
At the opposite sex.
This pleasure seeker
This knicker peeker,
This old man ahead of
Society’s curve,
This outright perv.
This troubled he
Amid the double Ds,
The birds and the bees,
The dogs and the cats,
This ghost in a coat,
This phantom amid the scats,
This downright fool
Amid the smalls
He wipes the drool
Away from his chin
He wipes the drool
Away from his chin
He wipes the drool
Away from the chin
His name is Jim.

Oh, Jim.
Oh, Jim.
Where do we begin
To obey those little voices from deep within.
Saying Jim, oh Jim,
Do just what you may
And spend another day
Surrounded by lingerie.
Way hay.

Part Seven

Another day done, he
Wipes the crumbs from his lap,
Folds up his chair,
Picks up his mack,
Bids the staff a fond farewell.

Marge has cooked him
A casserole.
As they eat, the clock ticks
On the mantelpiece.

This casserole
Is very nice, he says.
Yes, she replies,
Yes, it is.
It has been rather clement today,
Weather wise, he says.
Yes, she replies,
Yes, it has.
I see interest rates are
Remaining the same, he says.
Yes, she replies,
Yes, they are.
Then she leans close to him
And whispers,
I know where you’ve been spending
Your days.
The clock continues to tick
For at least two minutes.
This casserole
Really is first class, he says.
Yes, she replies,
Yes, it is.


Something I wrote in 2010 in the Pacific Ocean.

In 2010 I went to Australia and had a great time mooching around the rainforest around Cairns. One day I took a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. It was incredibly rough and people were honking up left, right and centre.

I’m glad to say that the rich ecosystem and biological diversity of these waters inspired me to do some writing right then and there, on a platform rocking from side to side in the middle of the Pacific. It’s great to see that I really engaged with the local culture.

I was faffing around on an old memory stick the other day and I came across it again.

Fish Species Usually Left Out of the Documentaries
(And Usually for Good Reason).

1. The Angry Clown Lumphead Gumard . Which travels in threes, two males and a female. And if the female should die, the two males fight out a duel to the death to become the new leader of the trio. The winner then finds himself suddenly alone.
2. The Coleslaw Sucker Mixed Lettuce Cuttle Fish. When it reaches maturity, its eyes rotate round to the right. It is thought that this is where Picasso got his ideas from.
3. The Silly Trout. Like a regular trout but quotes Tim Vine jokes to strangers at bus stops.
4. The Looks Like Elvis, Sings Like Les Dawson Fish. Doesn’t really do anytlhing, but I just love the name.
5. The Scarlet-Breasted Maori Wrasse. Will attack snotkellers and scuba divers in a most vicious and unprovoked manner even though it is less than a millimetre long, and no-one really knows what it hopes to achieve by doing this
6. The Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Too Late Eel. The only member of the fish family to have eyebrows, hence its plaintive, downtrodden expression
7. The Mash Finned Ploop Groober: Marine biologists long argued why it should have what looks like an office hole punch balanced on its back Some wondered if this was for stability, others for defence while most conjectured that this strange growth helped to attract a mate. On closer inspection they realised that it was a hole punch. And that the same fish had been swimming past them in circles. And that the hole punch from the ship’s office was missing.
8. The My God It’s Boris Johnson Look How Close Its Eyes Are Together Fish. Just made that one up
9. The Amiable Cod. Lives a peaceful existence, but one day it’s going to snap
10. The Reverse Surgeon Fish. Instead of grooming the larger fish and removing algae and bacteria, it puts them back just for a laugh.
11 The X-Ray Ray. Can see right through you, and when it does, it emits a loud, ‘Boom boom’
12. The Hula, A-hula Hula, Alohal, Marlin Names after Captain Cooke’s Aunt Hilda, it has a pronounced frown and buck teeth. Consequently, mating is very rare.
13. The Thumbs-Up Punch-Drunk Monk Fish It’s lithe, mesmerising movements in the water hypnotise its prey into wanting them to dance with it. No one knows why, but both sides in the process seem to enjoy the process.
14. The Tiger Fish. With its elaborate coloured fins and tail with its exuberant plumage and its tassels and its decoration and its accoutrements, it is seen by many marine biologists to be something of ponce.
15. The Bullethead Parrotfish. Has a beak instead of teeth, and powerful lips that, every now and then, accidentally ingest coral and rock which it then grinds and swallows before excreting as sand. They have been doing this for so long that 70 percent of Australia’s sand comes this way. Out of a fish’s bottom.