My writing life.

I started my writing career in 1981. I was seven. In a style which I have later adopted in my poetry, my first novel didn’t have a title, it just had a giant R on the cover, which stood for Robert. I can’t remember much about if except that the villain was an entity known only as the Blue Moo. The Blue Moo was what I used to call my sister, because she wore a blue coat. Which is kind of cruel, seeing as though she was only five at the time.

I would write at school during playtime, whenever it was raining. It rained a lot, I remember, when I was a kid. I’d always get excited about rainy days because it meant that I could write. I still get excited shout rainy days, even now.
By 1984 I was at middle school and I used to fill notebooks with stories. I was encouraged to do this by my teacher, Mr Shaw, who would then let me read my stories out in class. The first of these was called Bully Bulldog’s Ship, and for reasons which I’m still not sure, all of the characters were dogs. And secret agents. The cover for Billy Bulldog’s Ship shows explosions and a radar screen and has he tag line, ‘Featuring car chases, underwater bases, kings and prime ministers and that sort of thing’. It was rubbish.
By 1986 I was still at middle school, but now I’d progressed to writing about humans. I wrote a whole series of short novels about a skier, called William Board, and his friend Ed Butf, and how they would get into all kinds of adventures during and after skiing tournaments. I have no idea why I picked skiing tournaments, but I did watch an awful lot of Ski Sunday back in the day.
In 1988 my grandparents gave me a typewriter, which I still use now whenever I’m Poet In Residence anywhere. By now William had left the skiing circuit and was a policeman in a small Surrey village called Englemede. I’d type up these stories and inject as much humour as possible, because this would make my English teacher, Mr Smith, laugh as he read them. This was probably a big moment in my adoption of comedy. The stories were still rubbish, but my grammar and spelling had improved.
By the time I got to sixth form I was still plugging away, and remarkably, William Board was still the focus of the stories, his ineptitude as a policeman and his promotion to detective providing much mirth. My magnum opus of this time was Impending Headache, set at a sixth form college in Surrey much like the one I attended. And in between chapters I’d write over the top comedic poetry.
By 1992 I had my first job and, amazingly, William Board was still my main focus. By now his detective work would take him to a supermarket in Surrey, round about the time that I worked at a supermarket in Surrey, in a novel called Bar Code Blues.
In 1994 I got a job in a village shop in the suburb of Englefield Green, and I wrote a new novel with a new main character, the trainee guardian angel Genre Philips. The novel was called Englefield Green Blues, and like Impending Headache, it would be influential on my writing career in that I’d re-use chapters and stories to form the novel I’ve been working on this year.
At this stage, I’d started sending novels off to publishers and agents, and one or two were very supportive but would ultimately say no.
By now I’d dabbled in comedy poetry, filling up notebooks with poems written with a pen I’d been using since sixth form. I’d stay at my grandmothers house in the hot summer, she lived on a hill overlooking the whole of London from the airport to Canary Wharf, and I’d listen to the jazz stations and just write whatever I felt like. This would form the basis of my one man show, Static, in 2016.
In 1995 my Grandfather passed away. I went to see the pathologist and watched as he signed the death certificate with a cartridge pen, and that afternoon I went out and bought one for myself. Amazingly, this is the same pen I use today for anything creative, and it has written every poem, short story, novel and play since 1995.
In 1996 I moved to Devon. By now I’d discovered Kafka, Camus, Beckett, and my writing became dense, impenetrable. I used my own system of punctuation which made even the reading of it impossible, and to further add to the misery, my novels had numbers instead of names. RD05, RD06, RD07, and so on. I’d send these off to publishers and I could never understand why they’d come right back.
I joined a band of local amateur actors and I would write short sketches and funny monologues for them, we’d rehearse and make cassettes, but never got anywhere near the stage. One of my monologues was about a rocket scientist who’d fallen in love with his rocket. Not phallic at all.
I came out in 2000. I didn’t write much at all for a while. I was busy with other things.
By now I had a job, and I’d studied a-levels, undergraduate and postgraduate at night school, so I didn’t have much time for writing. For a laugh, I got a part in a professional play, and while it meant I would never act again, (oh, it was so traumatic!), it led me to write a play called Fuselage. Amazingly, it won a playwriting competition at the Northcott Theatre. I remember getting off the train in Exeter thinking, wow, it’s my writing that has got me here. This all happened in 2008.
In 2009 I discovered performance poetry, accidentally, and kind of got in to that. Around the same time I wrote a short novel called Reception, based on an ill fated trip I took to Tokyo, but by now my main focus was performance poetry and spoken word, shows and comedy one liners. In 2010 I had my first paid gig, at an Apples and Snakes event in London, and amazingly, this was the first time I made any money from my writing since I was 8!
So that brings me up to date, more or less. I now write every day, still with the same pen, and I still use the same typewriter every now and then, though mostly for performance. And I’ve kept a diary, every day writing something about the previous day, which I’ve kept up since 1985 uninterrupted. It’s only taken 37 years to find the one thing I’m halfway decent at!

The Most Significant Full Stop Part Fourteen

I went to New York. And while I was in New York I thought about the significance we place in very tiny objects. Or the lack of significance. And as I wandered around Manhattan I thought of the tiny dot on the floor of Manchester Airport that I had seen earlier in the year, and how I might find some dot in Manhattan equally representative of travel and the sheer size of the planet.
Only a part of me knew that this would be impossible because I had already concentrated on a meaningless dot on the floor of the airport at Manchester, so really there was no need to imbue another insignificant dot with the same amount of significance.
I went to the Museum of Modern Art, and as I looked at the galleries and the exhibits, I pondered on the reasons why it wouldn’t be the same this time round. There would be something artificial in looking for an insignificant dot. Manchester was just a freak of circumstance, my eye happened upon it without looking. So looking for a dot in Manhattan would be counter to the whole idea of the project.
I then decided that the only way out of this would be to find a dot which had significance. And with all of this famous art around me, I would certainly find a significant dot. I looked at the pointillist work of Seurat and Pissarro but there were too many dots and they had their own combined insignificance sacrificed to the greater whole. I was pondering on Damien Hirst, but there were no Hirsts in the MoMa collection.
I then stumbled on a work by Max Ernst, ‘Two Children Are Threatened By a Nightingale’, and I was rather taken by he wooden frame, even if I did not particularly like the work itself. The artist had written the title of the work on the wooden frame and had used a full stop. This full stop, therefore, was insignificant in the context of the work, yet had been viewed and photographed millions of times without ever being seen.
This tiny dot, this punctuation written by Max Ernst, this conglomeration of paint on wood, varnished, would, I decided, be my own piece of New York. My whole personality and urges, motivations and longings would be represented by that tiny dot. And now here I am thousands of miles away from it, and at this moment I am probably the only person in the entire world thinking of that dot. Perhaps I am the only person on the world this year, this decade, who has pondered on that tiny dot. In fact, apart from this one moment here, in a coffee shop in Paignton, Devon, on the twenty second of October, the last time that this dot had any significance at all was when Max Ernst wrote it. And even then he probably did it without thinking.
Instead of me imbuing the dot with significance, the opposite is therefore occurring. The dot is imbuing me with significance. And this is a turn of events in my project which I am a little surprised about. I feel strangely elevated, even honoured by my association with the dot in question. And long may this continue.

The most significant full stop (Part Three)

It was murky today, delightfully so. The day dawned with a thick set fog which loomed down with a strange intent. And this was weird because I’ve been looking at the full stop again, the fact that it exists, zooming in and trying to focus on the exact place where the full stop ends and the world around it, the non-full stop, starts.
Which makes me wonder if there really is any boundary in life at all. Because the more I zoomed in, the foggier it got, until it began to resemble the weather itself. Indistinct, a place with no form, no substance, no being.
When I was a kid I was obsessed with insignificant moments. I remember once my sister walking down the stairs. She got as far as the landing and banged her hand on a book shelf, she said, ‘ow’. But she continued walking down the stairs and by the time she got to the bottom, she had forgotten that she had banged her hand. The banging of her hand had been such a monumental event at the time that it warranted an ‘ow’, but seconds later she had forgotten that it had ever happened.
How much else in life do we forget? I asked her if she remembered banging her hand and she said no, she wondered what I was talking about. Life is full of insignificant moments which we forget, just like those tiny dots 

The boundary between one facet and the next is often so hard to define that it cannot be successfully declared where one thing ends and another begins, even with a full stop. Rather than worry about this, perhaps it is just better to wallow in the present moment, and not care too much about such boundaries.

The most significant full stop (Part two).


This morning I typed a full stop and by means of social media, attempted to make it the most famous full stop in the history of existence. So far the plan has not been a success. As many as sixteen people have viewed the full stop on social media.

For the next phase of this project, I have decided to focus on the full stop itself. This solitary mark of punctuation was generated electronically rather than handwritten which means that it does not exist in any tactile form. It exists purely as electronic information. Which makes me wonder if it exists at all.

So I have taken a screenshot of the full stop, magnified the picture, and each time taken another screen shot, so as to get to the very essence of the full stop and see how it exists on a massively intensified form. The results thus far have been inconclusive.

Here’s the original full stop, followed by the several magnifications.

It is interesting to note that the magnified full stop has particles, ‘ghosts’, if you will, orbiting around it, which our scientists are very interested in. Perhaps all marks of punctuation have these orbitings, and every letter too, making one wonder if there is hidden meaning in the most simple of texts which we subconsciously glean from any reading.
More news will be forthcoming, and further investigation into the full stop, will be provided, as and when.

Your continued patience is much appreciated.
Robert .

The most significant full stop.

The aim is to make this the most famous full stop in the history of mankind.

It was originally typed at 0845 on a Wednesday morning, at a Costa coffee shop in Paignton, Devon, UK.
There will never be a full stop as momentous as this one.
Why, you ask. Why should it get all of the acclaim? To which we reply, why not?

The font is irrelevant.

This full stop could have gone anywhere but it gave up on all that potential because it sees the bigger picture.

Feel free to share this full stop. It needs you help.