Promotional video for my new solo show

Here’s a link to a short video I have made about my new show, In the Glare of the Neon Yak

https://youtu.be/VKEXMdGwDME

And the latest tour dates are as follows.

See you soon!

New York Poems

Here are some poems that I wrote on a trip to New York a couple of years ago. Gosh, I miss that place. Stay tuned to the end for a video I filmed on the roof garden of the Bowery House in downtown Manhattan.

New York 1.

They say that Manhattan is a state of mind
But I’ve looked on the map
And it’s definitely there.
It doesn’t stop,
Not even in the dead of night,
The rumbling, the growl,
Inexorable,
No wonder they look so angry.
I went into Starbucks at five in the morning
And there was already a queue.
Shuffling jittery city dwellers,
The insomniacs and the early risers,
The boy who cannot sleep in
The city that never sleeps,
Nothing more offputting than a
Mardy pre-caffeine New Yorker.
Don’t take coffee, I take
Well actually I do take coffee,
Thanks for asking,
And maybe one of those tarts.
I’m English, you know.
Sitting in the window and watching
The cyclists,
Weaving, open-mouthed.
Stop lights mean nothing to them,
Life seems so tentative,
These two-wheeled mosquitoes,
How many of them end up
Plastered on the front of those
Big-assed delivery trucks that you see,
Or some nobhead’s Humvee?
I thought the barista was only being nice
When he asked me for my name.
He repeated it with a smile, all
Rhotic on the consonants,
Elongating the vowels in a way
They don’t normally get pronounced,
Making my heart all fluttery
Until I notice he’d written it on my cup.
It’s the familiar things
That make me feel at home.
Crushing disappointment,
And the fact that they
Also have McDonalds over here.

New York 2.

I need one with a shot of espresso.
You’re the newbie, you’ll need this.
There’s a whole bunch of confidence there.
She never told anyone
But she likes attention.
She’s like that with every guy, trust me.
And then she can cut him out, say uh-oh,
It’s like oh, it’s bad, she’ll go far,
She got green locker room doors,
She won’t try to apologise.
I don’t have an issue with her.
Every time I told her she gave me the one two.
I used to consider you a friend
And I was your friend whatever.
(Found poem, three NYPD police women chatting in a coffee shop at the next table).

New York 3.

The way he’s sitting
And what he’s wearing
And his hair
Those are the definites.
His sensitive eyes
His long eyelashes and the
Way he just looked
At that jogger,
Those are the peripheries.
And the hoodie,
American Dance Theatre,
Alvin Ailey,
Whatever that is.
(I will google it later).
It’s all mostly symbolic
I feel
I know him.

New York 4.

She took my hand and danced with me
Amid the noise and clamour and cacophony
Of Times Square
As the skyscrapers whirled in their
Concrete and glass delirium,
She yelled
Above the engines and the horns and the
Shouting and the hooters and the sirens and the roar
And the buzz and the energy and the excitement
And the rush and the glee and the pulsing rhythms
Of the city in all its brash omnipotence,
Sorry,
I thought you were my husband.

New York 5.

(Amid the Abstract Expressionists, MoMa)
He, who isn’t here
Would have haunted these
Very pictures,
Broken nose to canvas
And a ready opinion.
Losing himself
In the Pollock
And it’s intricate action,
Felt a spark of the very now,
And would have known everyone
On first name terms.
Jasper. Jackson. Elaine. Robert. Mark.
The boy with the red trainers,
A sly flitting nonchalant phantom
Who will blond my dreams
With his purposeful demeanour
Right now here and
F would have approved.

New York 6.

I’ve only got one joke about denim.
A one liner about crinoline.
I’ve only got a couple of puns about nylon
And a quip about silk
Basically,
I’ve run out of material.

New York 7.

(Written in Tom’s Diner)
I wasn’t sitting near the window.
I was at the counter.
But it was still the diner on the corner
And the burger was mighty fine
On a drizzly Manhattan Saturday.
And there’s a ball game on the tv screen,
Notre Dame are playing NC State
And I’m not sure what the sport is
But they’ve all got helmets and shoulder pads.
There’s a picture from a magazine
Of Jerry Seinfeld on the wall and he’s
Kind of looking at me imperiously
As I eat my burger which,
As I said, is mighty fine.
I’ve got that tune in my head now,
You know the one.
The Seinfeld tv theme music.
I probably wouldn’t have come here
If it wasn’t for, you know,
These two things.

New York 8.

The Staten Island ferry
Everyone is merry
They’re all waving at me!
Am I a celebrity?
Have I been recognised?
Am I famous here?
No, they’re
Wiping mist from the windows
Of the inside seating area.
I’m depressed now.

New York 9.

She purred
Hold on there, honey,
I’ll just put you through
On to line number three.
There was barely a click.
No static.
She’s such a
Smooth operator.

New York 10.

I want to go out with Rhys.
I want to have a date with Rhys.
I want to spend quality time with Rhys.
I want to get to know Rhys.
I want to be with Rhys.
I want to make out with Rhys
I want to express my love for Rhys
I want to have relations with Rhys
I want to be at peace
With Rhys.
I say to Rhys
Please
Rhys
Please
Rhys
Please please please
Rhys Rhys Rhys
Rhys
Come on
Don’t be a tease
Put me at my ease
I haven’t got flees
You are the bees
Knees
Rhys
Rhys
What do you say?
Rhys
What of it, Rhys what of it, Rhys what do you reckon?
You and me Rhys please Rhys what do you think Rhys
Me and you Rhys you and me Rhys us together Rhys
Rhys
Us together Rhys us together Rhys us us us
Together together together
Rhys
Rhysie babes.
Please
Oh dear!
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys has gone walking off.
Rhys
Has called the police.

New York 11.

The big pancake. The big muffin.
The big nausea. The big nothing.
The broad one. The tall one.
The big fella. The concrete devotional.
The prostrate giant. The cosmopolitan.
The metropolitan. The big breakfast.
The all day lunch. The concrete funnel.
The distorted mirror. The seismic cherry.
The license to chill. The delicatessen.
The bad boy. The big bad boy,
Cavernous potholes so deep you’ll
Lose yourself for a week.
The big dependable. The three-way delicious.
The exuberant fruit. The hungry papa.
The pumping beehive. The big badger.
The big glacial. The big crazy.
The big security. The big despicable.
The big beat. The big Apple.

New York 12.

No ghost dance
On these gentle hills
Nor ceremonial gatherings
On the granite outcrops,
Central Park no wilderness,
Just the whisper of
Other people’s conquests
Too rooted in the now
To wander successfully.

https://youtu.be/cklyUKArFGo

Weird objects in the sky that I have seen.

Last night I watched a documentary about alien abductions. It was a terrible programme and it really did waste one hour of my life. However, it did remind me of the occasions in which I have seen weird objects in the sky which I’ve not been able to explain.

I am a logical person with an interest in science and aviation. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved aircraft and flying, and I grew up near Heathrow Airport. Because of this, I’d spend a lot of time looking at the planes flying over our house. I knew all the airlines and the different types of aircraft and could distinguish between, for example, the Boeing 747-200 and the Boeing 747-300.

In the late 1980s, my father and I both observed two bright lights in the sky to the west of our house. It was night time and the bright lights were stationery in the sky. They were brighter than the surrounding stars and perfectly parallel with each other. We observed these lights for a few minutes, and then, quick as a flash, they moved to a slightly different part of the sky, still to the west. Naturally, my scientific mind is eager to determine what these might have been. Geostationary satellites is my best guess, for they appeared to be a very long way up in the upper atmosphere. I’m sure that other people must have seen these, too.

The second weird thing I saw must have been also in the late 1980s. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was on the school playing field at break time, at the middle school I was attending. As normal I was doing a bit of plane spotting, when I saw an object floating directly above. It was metallic and reflected the sun from its sides, and triangular, slowly turning, so that the sun on its sides seemed to pulse. I watched it for quite a while, thinking, hmm, I bet they’ve got a good view from up there, and what a beautiful day to be flying, then thought no more of it. It was only when I grew up did I ponder in exactly what it might have been. My best and most boring guess is that it was some kind of helium filled balloon. But where would it have come from? It looked very solid.

The third thing that I saw already has a name and a catalogue of witness accounts. During a ferocious thunderstorm, again in suburban Surrey, a ball of lightning moved very slowly past my bedroom window. I remember it very distinctly, the way that the shadow of my window frame very slowly moved across the room, the way that my drawn curtains lit up with the light from the glowing ball very visible the other side of them. Indeed, this seems to run in our family, as my mother believes that she also saw ball lighting when she was a young adult, actually penetrating the walls of the room she was in at the time and passing right through as if it were a ghost.

And the last thing I saw was the weirdest. In the early 2000s I caught the passenger ferry from Torquay to Brixham across Torbay, again on a very clear, sunny day, only to see what can only be described as a thin sliver of metallic ribbon curling and floating through the sky across the bay, in a westerly direction. It seemed to curl and bend over itself as it moved and there were no obvious signs of propulsion, yet it was very clearly moving. My scientific mind pondered on what it could possibly have been, eventually settling on a Swarm Of Bees or some such insect, but it really did have solidity.

So these are the odd things I’ve seen during my life. I’m open minded as to what they might have been. I’m aware that some might assign them as being of alien origin, though I’m conscious that it might be almost impossible for anything to travel across the vast distances of space. I have never believed in aliens, or at least, in extra terrestrial entities.

I really like my nipples.

Poem

I really like my nipples.
They’re kind of parallel.
The man who delivered the pizza last night
Said he liked them as well.

I stare at them in the mirror
For hours and hours in end
Singing, look at them there
All nipply nipply ever so tripply
Skippitty dippity doo
Which is how I got banned
From Primark.

The distance between
Male nipples
Equates to the size of their you know what
Equates to the size of their you know what
Dean used to say to me,
Boy, yours are so close
They’re making me cross eyed.

Crumbs from my crusty cheese roll
Get flaked in the forest of my chest hair.
As I brush them off
I accidentally touch a nipple.
Oh yes, I shout,
I forgot I had those!
Hubba hubba.
It’s how I lost my job
As a primary school teacher.

The box full of penguin nipple tassels
I sent to the Antarctic
Was sadly returned unused
I just thought
They would brighten up the place.

I dipped my nipples in paint
And tried to use them to draw
A map of the London Underground.
The Swedish tourist said,
It’s ok, I’ve got a leaflet somewhere.

I call my left one ‘Wayne’.
The right one doesn’t really
Have a name
They both look the same
And what really is a shame
Is that I can’t bend down
And lick them.

Darts players have got them.
The man in the newsagents has got them.
My friend Pete says he’s got six.
The train conductor this morning said,
Show me your ticket,
And I said,
Show me your nipples
And he said
There’s only one tit on this train.

My left one is pierced.
It’s where I keep my keys.
I come and go with ease.
They jangle when I sneeze.

He asked me out!
He asked me out!
The man of my dreams
Asked me out!
I put my hand down my tshirt
And had a good fondle and thought
You know what?
I don’t really need him.
Lol.

A progress report on In the Glare of the Neon Yak and how it’s going.

Or, ‘On being a submarine commander.’

Not long ago I watched a TV documentary about the making of the sitcom Seinfeld, during which Jerry Seinfeld, who was writing, producing and starring in the show, said that a season of it was like being a ‘submarine commander’, in that everything else became excluded from his life and he just concentrated on the show for months on end. It was an interesting description, and I’m starting to see what he means with my new one hour show, In the Glare of the Neon Yak.

I started writing it a few days after returning from the Edinburgh fringe last year. I came up with the title first, and then I bought a circus ringmaster costume, and I tried to think of a way of combining the two. In October I had a week off from work and I sat down and wrote the whole show in five days. This surprised even me, but I was really happy with the outcome and eager to get started on rehearsing it. However, at the time I was still working on Juicy, as it had a couple of dates left.

At the end of the year I did something either brave, or stupid. I reduced the number of hours I do in my day job, in retail management. This meant there was less money coming in, of course, but it also meant I had more time to spend on Yak, and making a career out of spoken word. Little did I know that the show was about to take over my life.

Now, it must be admitted that I have always had trouble learning anything from memory. Previous to the end of the year, I couldn’t even memorise a simple three minute poem. I was asked to appear at a theatre event in Hackney and they stipulated that I had to perform a five minute poem from memory. I set about learning it and, I must say, did a damn fine job doing so. This gave me the confidence to learn something slightly longer. So what did I do? I decided to learn the whole hour show from memory!

So since the end of January, when I did my last performance of Juicy, I have been solidly lining the script for Yak. I do it every day. I do it before work, and after work. I do it on my day off, I do it at the gym while on the exercise bike, and in the sauna. I do it whenever I’m on the bus, the train, or just walking. The whole show has been completely taking up my mind all the time except for when I’m at work. And when I’m not memorising the play, I’m designing the poster, dealing with photographers for the poster, speaking to venues, filling in fringe application forms, writing blurbs, buying props and costumes, rewriting sections, working on the backing music, it really is neverending. When it snowed and I got snowed in while visiting my parents, I rehearsed while looking out the window at the snow falling. When my work colleagues left and I was alone, I rehearsed in the store room of the shop. Every spare moment has been spent on the show.

Has my normal spoken word work suffered? Possibly. I have still been writing, but not rehearsing new material with quite the same zest. I’m still promoting two spoken word nights. I’m doing feature sets around the country.

Soon I’ll be working with a director for the next couple of months. It’s an exciting chance to get someone else involved and I’m looking forward to hearing what she thinks. She’s very enthusiastic about the project.

So now I know exactly what Jerry Seinfeld meant. Today, for example, I rehearsed for an hour, got the train to work while running over lines in my head, then again at lunch time, then on the train home. This evening I’ve been working on publicity material for the show, and prewriting some Tweets for a venue.

I’m having an amazing time, and I can’t wait for people to see what I’ve been up to. It’s a departure from my normal style. According to my diary, however, my first free week off from Yak will be in early September. And that’s when the submarine will be docking for the next time!

The lad on the bus watching porn on his phone. A true story.

Poem

The lad on the bus watched porn on his phone.
He thought he was alone.
He was probably going home.
Sitting at the front upstairs on a midnight bus
Between sleepy Devon villages, he’s
Not realised I’m sitting there,
Four rows back, trying not to look.

His phone screen lights his little corner,
The attended windows reflecting on two sides
Lots of limbs and flesh and to be honest
I really can’t tell what’s happening and I’m
Trying to distract myself by memorising a
Pam Ayres poem.

He’s wearing a hoodie with the hood up and a
Baseball cap and a thick coat and trackie bottoms
And the poor lad must be hot under all those layers,
Unlike the man and the woman on his phone who
Aren’t really wearing much at all, though even I
Can tell that she’s faking it,
And the man for some reason is wearing a
Deliveroo cyclists uniform and one of those big boxes.
Straight people are weird.

The bus seat head eats form a valley of
Stagecoach orange plastic at the end of which
His quivering mobile held in landscape mode
Acts like a cinema screen at a drive-in.
I ask myself, what would Pam Ayres do?
She’d wonder what kind of plan he was on.
Some of these videos use up a lot of mobile data.
Apparently.

I try not to make a sound.
The 5p carrier bag from Poundstretcher is going
To get me in all sorts of trouble.
I kind of shift down in my seat a little bit.
Part of me is jealous, not only for the impetuosity of youth,
The readily available content and
His healthy spirit of sexual experimentation,
But also because he managed to grab
The seat right at the very front.

Hoodie boy lowers his hood.
He’s got a tattoo behind his ear in Chinese script
Which I momentarily mistake for the Lidls corporate logo.
The bus slows for a stop in a nowhere town,
He puts down his phone and cups his hands against the window,
Sighs deeply, as if suddenly conscious of
All the pain in the world, ennui, inconsequentialities,
The finite nature of human existence, environmental disaster,
The meaningless of life itself, and all the wrongs
Of society.
Seeing my reflection, he jumps, then says,
I hope this bus gets home quickly,
There’s . . . Something I need to do.

An poem about Paignton.

I wrote this a while ago. It’s about the town where I live. It’s a strange little place.

Poem

Take a walk with me a while
Amid the gleaming downtown edifices of
This Devonian utopia,
The night pounding rhythms of
Bawdy talk and seagull squawk,
How could any soul not submit?
The Neon shining brightly nightly
Brash words info the ether,
Amusements
Amusements
Amusements
Soup of the day,
Have you paid and displayed?
The all day breakfast
Is only served till midday.
Hushed tones hint at pride,
Just a whisper of this town’s name
Instills a quiet awe,
Oh, Paignton.

Here did philosophers dream
And hold their sway
The jewel of Torbay
Hellegevoetsluis Way
Big bands and jazz hands
A smile, a laugh
A night on the town
A punch in the schnozz at Winstons,
Oh, Paignton.

Verily did I dream of this and that,
A kiss me quick hat
And shops selling tat
Groovy nightclubs and movie scenes
The beautiful, the obscene,
Twirl me across the dance floor once more!
And then honking up in a taxi,
Oh, Paignton.

Dreaming big and living large,
Life in all its grace sublime,
It’s skyline replete with
Architectural wonder, Edwardian villas,
The stylised Victorian pier,
How just a glimpse causes my heart
To thump and jive with
A sultry palpitation,
Garfield Road car park and the bus station,
Oh, Paignton.

Wordsmiths and poets feint at its beauty,
Wordsworth was said to have cried
At its sheer sublimity
My mother also looked at it and cried
But that was for entirely different reasons,
Oh, Paignton.

This city of dreams,
This glitch in time,
Peak mugging hours are four till nine,
Many a hapless soul has gazed
Upon the sleek facade of the
Poundland Building and felt
The mundanity of their existence
Shouting out to the world as if
Declaiming their faith,
How worthless am I,
How worthless am I,
Oh, Paignton.

My friend Jim lives here
And gets an orgasm every time he sees the town,
He mostly keeps his curtains closed,
Oh, Paignton.

The famous names,
Personalities of merit and celebration,
How many names
Come from this mighty conurbation,
Household names like Sue Barker
And . . . .
Oh, Paignton.

The fizz
The rhythms
The heat
That metropolitan burn
That inner city beat
Dancing like lovers on the prom in the rain
Fighting off a seagull for a battered sausage
Gasping in wonder at the towers so chic
Stocking up on novelty gift farting gnomes
The romance of Lidls Neon reflected on wet paving slab
Romantic Latin music and a snog in Crossways
This sensual town
This gleaming barnacle
This paradise dank
This magical place
Oh, oh, oh!
Paignton.

There are too many poets called Tom.

And here’s a poem about one, or possibly all of them!

Poem (Tom)

Chisel-chinned trendy wordsmith
All teeth and tan and hair
That looks like it could be easily quiffable
So young and clean he’s probably easily sniffable
Thou hipster Ginsberg with a
Conscience so hot it can
Warm the coldest day with the
Fires of righteousness,
Whose words ooze sensibility,
How pained his outlook, this
Zeitgeist-bending Twitter-trending
Hot young thing, this
New kid on the writer’s block, this
Prototype Byron with exuberant facial expressions
This slam-winning rhyme-spinning nonchalant
Thin thin slip of a lad with a gob that spews
Perfect indignation in just the right amounts
With controlled anger
And lots of dramatic

Pauses.

Oh god, I wish he was me.

I wish I could be him, I wish me and him
We’re mutually interchangeable,
He’s so brilliant, like the brightest object
In the known galaxy, a supernova,
A thousand fires of phosphorus force
Brilliant at what he does,
Brilliant at capturing souls
Brilliant at poetry
I bet he’s brilliant at everything
I bet he’s never lost a game of Buckaroo.

He’s brilliant and sexy and worthy and oh so right
And sexy and coolly infused into the very now
And sexy and young with the most perfect skin
That he should merely stand at the mic and open
His mouth and utter two syllables for me to become as blustered
As a Victorian gentleman whose just
Caught his first glimpse of ankle.

And I want to speak to him, I want to commune with him,
I want to tell him: good stuff, man,
You’ve opened my mind to new possibilities
And then trampled on it with your youthfulness,
In your trendy converse all stars with no socks,
As you lift the night completely to the very pinnacle
Of absolute truth
And by turns reminded me that my own youthfulness
Is now as relevant and erroneous
As turning up at an otter convention
With a stoat.

Oh, this slippy hippy snake-like lad,
All very subtle and very emotey
If you didn’t know any better
You’d think him a bit scrotey,
So slight and wild in the night,
Afire with the rhythms of poets past,
I want to speak to him
Whisper so subtly into his ear,
Blow me,
Blow me away with your words.
I love your body
I love your body
I love you body
Of work.

And at the break, people are talking,
Eulogising, rhapsodising
And it’s all about him, oh,
For he’s so intense and righteous and theatrical
And oh,
He’s so vibrant and ravishing and clever
And oh,
He’s so visionary and brash and emotional
And oh,
Not only that but he’s got the kind of forearms
That could easily operate a butter churn with
Hardly any trouble at all,
(This gig being in an arts centre in Dorset,
Where butter churns are obviously still a thing).

I follow him,
Through this crowd of admirers and acolytes
Tiptoeing on the periphery
Of a youthful mini mob
Suddenly aware that I’m the only one there
Who remembers the millennium
Or tamagotchis
Or the 1984 Olympics,

He makes a break for the bogs,
And now we’re at neighbouring urinals,
The Fluorescent tubes of this magical wazza
Gently caressing the soft hairs of his delicate chin,
His eyes scanning the blank tiled wall,
His sensitive nostrils
Taking in the pungent earthy aromas
In a venue where the Patrons are mostly
Vegetarian and as such
Relish the most intriguing bowel movements.
(As for myself, I’ve never
Had much of a sense of hummus).

His eyes almost feral and yet
With deep intelligence
As he concentrates in the matter at hand
With the same kind of intensity
He demonstrates at the Mic,
His pee stream strong,
And healthy, and forceful,
It sounds like the Trevi Fountain
And certainly just as aesthetically pleasing.
He doesn’t even fart.
Is there anything
He’s not good at?

And I want to tell him
That I loved his poems.
All of his poems.
His poem about oxygen
Was such a breath of fresh air,
His poem about raspberries
Was surprisingly bitter,
His poem about the Mona Lisa
Was a masterpiece,
His poem about the perfect serve in tennis,
I couldn’t fault it,
His poem about being woken by the smoke alarm,
Such an eye opener,
And I want to tell him
That I got the joke he put in
About de ja vue,
Even though I’d heard it before

And I want to tell him
That he’s changed the way I look at the world.
And I want to tell him
That he speaks with a clarity of conscience so concise
He makes the Dalai Lama look like a mardy
Self-centred premiership footballer,
And I want to tell him
That his voice is so silky smooth,
Listening to him is just like
Nuzzling a mallard
And I want to tell him
That I’d pay him thirty quid and a packet of Frazzles
For just a very brief snog
And I want to tell him
That his skinny jeans really
Leave nothing to the imagination.

And I want to tell him
That his work evokes such feelings within,
Destiny and timelessness,
The sheer manic dance of life,
Magic in the mundane,
A pounding euphoric oneness
That weaves us all into that
Inescapable yet brilliant tapestry of life,
This is what I want to tell him,
But instead I stare at his nob.

We wash our hands at the sink
And as I wait for the hand dryer
Which has all the power of
A gnats fart,
I say

Hey, good set,
And he says,
Cheers

On a diet again. (Poem influenced by West End Girls)

Poem

Sometimes you’re better off in bed
There’s a grape in your hand
You wish it was a cake
You think you’re sad
Totally incapable,
The nutrition guidelines and the calorie table
In a restaurant
When you’re on a diet
Call the police there might be a riot
Running down
To the shops
To get a Daim bar
When you’re on a diet.

(On a diet again
It’s such a shame.
You try real hard
But you weigh the same.

On a diet again
It’s a pain in the bum.
You put on two stone
If you eat a crumb.

Eat a crumb).

Too many mars bars
Wispas and whole nuts
Kit Kat’s on posters
Too many doughnuts
Iced
Glazed
Jam
Plain
Which type
Shall I claim?
If you got to count calories
If so how often
Which do you choose
The diet or light option?

How much shall I eat?

(On a diet again
It’s such a drag.
The two stone you lost
Have all come back.

On a diet once more
You’re really glum.
You’d love a hot dog
But you eat a plumb.

Eat a plumb).

You weigh yourself
You’ve lost an eighth of a stone
Just you wait
Till I get this cake home
You’ve got no lettuce
You’ve got no dressing
Lost nothing today
It’s so depressing
For every meal time
Drinks and cocktails
From the drive through McDonald’s
To the weight watchers scales.

(On a diet again
It’s a dead end chore.
I have one portion
Then I have one more.

On a diet again
Let’s just give up
I won’t find happiness
In a slim fast cup.

I just give up.
I just give up.)