Fun at the Barnstaple TheatreFest Fringe

It’s been a couple of years since I was last at the Barnstaple Fringe and I’d always had good memories of it, in particular it’s manageable nature and the camaraderie of the other performers. Coming back this year, I can see that it has grown, and this just adds to its excitement and the variety of shows on offer. 
This is my first time here with my own show. I don’t mind admitting that the whole process has been nerve wracking and I was incredibly jittery on the train here the other day, that crazy single line track between Exeter and Barnstaple which seems more like a throwback to the 1950s. This is the first show that I’ve invested a lot in, from rehearsing almost every night to having friends and professionals help out with voice, music and movement. Yet I still had no idea how it would go.
The technicians and the people running the fringe have been very helpful indeed and my mind was put to rest after the technical rehearsal in which it appeared that the technology I was using actually worked! Indeed, the technicians were also pleased because they said that i was, and I quote, ‘low maintenance ‘.
And then the fringe craziness kicks in, the familiar faces you see around town and at other gigs, performers and friends from the local and national circuit all coming together in this small town, this Devonian Edinburgh. And my shows had an audience! Last nights was a classic, for example. On the spur of the moment the technicians suggested using the smoke machine, which certainly added a layer of mystique to the performance and perhaps further adding to the ridiculousness of it.
Bizarrely, the show was reviewed and the reviewer praised my dancing!
Last night I stayed in a venue. By which I mean, Bryony Chave Cox had been performing a production in a hotel room, which she then hired out to me for the night. It was certainly a very strange sensation, having an audience in your hotel room and having to wait for them to leave before getting a good night’s sleep. 
So I’ve got one more show to do, and I’m going to try and get out and see as much as possible. I’d really like to thank the organisers of this whole festival, it’s been homely and artistic and everything that a fringe should be. I really hope they let me come back again next year!

What is Juicy? An interview with Robert Garnham

What’s the theme of your show?: Juicy is a scatalogical mishmash of comedy poetry, spoken word shenanigans, serious and deep explorations of loneliness, LGBT rights, songs and a comedy monologue about lust at an airport departure lounge. I suppose if it has a theme, then that would be finding love. Different characters throughout the show find love, or dream of finding love.

What’s new or unique about the show?: Juicy is a free form entity, different every night, with no definitive order. It’s upbeat and funny one moment, contemplative the next. It looks at some serious issues, too, behind the fun and the hilarity, such as gay rights in places such as Uganda and Russia, loneliness, isolation, longing.
How did the show come into being?: the show just kind of evolved outwards from several different places simultaneously, somehow, in a kind of spoken word osmosis, meeting in the middle. It started with a few ideas, which were improvised, then these ideas led to other ideas.
Describe one of your rehearsals.: The show is in three parts so rehearsals were conducted in fifteen minute sessions in a shed at the back of my parents garage in Brixham, Devon. This is real home grown stuff! There’s a big mirror along one wall where I can watch myself practising. I play around a lot with word order and tone and movement and hey presto, the show started to come into being.
How is the show developing?: One of the important aspects was the adoption of music. I worked with some talented musicians and sound artists, which really helps with the tone and the delivery. And then I was privileged enough to work with Margoh Channing, one of the funniest cabaret drag artists of the New York scene, and she recorded some words for the end. I just knew that the end would have to fit in with her words!
How has the writer been involved?: The writer has been involved since the start. I’m the writer. I’ve been there for every rehearsal.
How have you experimented?: As I say, the music was the key to the show. I’ve performed all over the UK and New York for years, but never used music before. Most of my experimentations were actually with the technology necessary to get the music backing just right. I’ve also never done a long monologue before, so this was kind of scary. I was influenced by another New York friend of mine, the storyteller Dandy Darkly.
Where do your ideas come from?: I wish I knew! They just seem to arrive. Like being hit in the face by a kipper. You can be in a sauna or swimming pool or on a bus about to get off and suddenly, oh yeah! A badger that wants to be in EastEnders!
How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?: I watch other performers and see how they do it. And then I try to be as good as them. I’m really influenced by cabaret artists, even though I’m a spoken word artist. The sense of fun and naughtiness is irresistible. 
What are your future plans for the show ?: Juicy will be going to GlasDenbury Festival near Newton Abbot, the Guildford Fringe, and then the Edinburgh Fringe, where I’ll be at Banshees Lanyrinth.
What are your favourite shows, and why?: Margoh Channing’s Tipsy, for the humour and the pathos. Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth. Paul Cree, Ken Do. All these people invent characters and invest them with humour, and take you to new places almost effortlessly. I’ve seen them all at various fringes. Also Melanie Branton’s new Edinburgh Show, she’s such a good writer and performer.
Show dates, times and booking info: 29 June at 5pm, 1st June at 650pm, 2nd June at 330pm, all at the Golden Lion in Barnstaple, tickets available on the Barnstaple TheatreFest website.
Then the Keep pub, 9 July at 730pm, Guildford Free Fringe, tickets available, again, from their website.
And finally at Banshees Labyritnth, every day at 1230pm, 13th to the 19th August, at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Ant – A solemn investigation 

It has been apparent for some time that a solemn investigation were needed into the effects, physical and psychological, of an ant crawling on someone’s hat. Seeing it as upon myself, (the theme, not the ant), I set out, in a somewhat grave manner, and yet bravely, into such an investigation. 
The manner this investigation took soon revealed itself to be poetical in nature, and within a couple of hours I had completed a poem based on the theme of having an ant crawl on someone’s hat. Yet this did not fully satisfy me, and a further poem was written.
At this time, I was bitten by the bug, (again, not the ant), and more poems began to arrive. The theme of an ant on a persons hat soon took over my life and all of my creative output, until such a time arrived that I could think of little else. Indeed, the poems began to resemble a Groundhog Day syndrome, the same repeated themes, the same story with different outcomes, different languages and tones, until within a month I had thirty such poems.
The good people at Mardy Shark publishing soon recognised their worth and a pamphlet was soon produced, titled, simply, Ant.
Ant stands as the zenith of my creativity, a full flow measure of poetic and literary sensibility, all inspired by the horror and the bizarre situation of having an ant crawl on ones hat.
You can download the Kindle version of Ant here
Or you can send off for the physical version here

On the promise of anti-slams

I met Scott Tyrrell at the Womad Festival. He’s a poetry slam champion, but he’s also won an anti-slam. That is, the prize for the (purposefully) worst poem in a slam competition. Indeed, these are competitions where the poets compete to be as bad as possible.
I like the whole idea of this. An anti-slam is a chance, of course, to go over the top, and to employ all those devices which ordinarily result in cringing. I wondered also if there was a sense of the OTT in anti-slam poetry.
The idea of it perplexed me and I wondered if I could write a poem that was purposefully bad, an anti-slam poem, while still employing all the traits, mannerisms and stylings of regular performance poetry.
I’m not sure if I will ever get the chance to enter an anti-slam, but this is what I’ve come up with. It’s an ode to styrofoam extruded polystyrene.
It’s called ‘Poem’.



Delivery note!


What are you going to do with all that

Packaging, that styrofoam extruded polystyrene?

Where are you going to put all that styrofoam extruded polystyrene?

This whole room now is filled with styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

We could fill up a bin bag with styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

And then the bin, but there’s so much styrofoam extruded polystyrene

That the bin will be filled with styrofoam extruded polystyrene.
I see you every day ensconced in your styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

With the sultry glare of a rather more sensible

Justin Bieber and the irritability of styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

You have the tenacity of a lion and the litheness

Of styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

The durability of styrofoam extruded polystyrene, the reflexes of a cat,

The longevity of styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

How you glide like a swan made from styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

With your dreams of kings and queens and styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

Knights of the round table, chivalry, jousting tournaments

And styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

Bounding like spacemen on the surface of a moon

Made from styrofoam extruded polystyrene,

How can I see you?

How can I see you?

How can I see you,

Amidst all that styrofoam extruded polystyrene?
Everywhere everywhere styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

To the left, styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

To the right, styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

Give me your hand darling

And I give you styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

What’s that on the ceiling?

Is it coving?

Is it a lampshade?

No, it’s styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

Corn flakes, Weetabix, Frosties, styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

Rain, rain, rain in the morning,

And in the afternoon it’s styrofoam extruded polystyrene!

Hanging in the doctor’s waiting room

With a cold with a chill with a runny nose

With a broken leg with a funny pain in the ear

Is it a fever, is it flu,

Is it an allergic reaction?

No, it’s styrofoam extruded polystyrene!
Stay calm big fella stay calm

The master of the hounds has a particularly

Malevolent stare

Cracking his whip and barking his orders

Taking out his shiny new pistol

And aiming it

Fetch me that blunderbuss big fella

Its wrapped in styrofoam extruded polystyrene!
Squeaky squeaky squeaky

Big white blocks rubbing together

Like Arctic sea ice

Crumbly crumbly see how they snow 

Caught on wind caught on eddies

Pooling in a mini vortex on the kitchen floor.

styrofoam extruded polystyrene.
(Use voice changer) 

Give me your styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

I want your styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

I’ll do anything for your styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

I can’t live without your styrofoam extruded polystyrene.

Dancing in the nightclub swirling gyrating

So sneaky sexual hearty pumping hear

The rhythm thump with styrofoam extruded polystyrene.
My heart is lonely.

The nights are long.

The world is dark.

Nobody hears my song.
 styrofoam extruded polystyrene 

 styrofoam extruded polystyrene 

 styrofoam extruded polystyrene 

 styrofoam extruded Polystyrene

Poem (for Katie Hopkins)

Poem (Katie Hopkins)

Once upon a time

There was an evil monster

Whose ferocity was fed

Not by those it maimed

But by the pumping buzz

Of publicity and sound bite,

Controversy and sheer big-headed

Attention-seeking desperation

And it was called 

Katie Hopkins.

And the more it fed the more

It scratched at the surface of

Polite society hoping that the

More damage it inflicted

The greater it’s substance would be

Only to find with each

Deep vicious cut

That people merely laughed at it.

How it scowled at the world

Like a mardy shark

Spoiled not by circumstance

But by the slow drip of publicity

Which it mistook for adulation.

How it fed so ravenously

On the eternal circle of

Jaded misguided opinion and response,

Prejudice disguised as truth.

Oh, Katie Hopkins,

Like a bad busker on the

Pedestrianised high street of proper debate,

A sad singer wailing at the world

Having only made 10p.

You’re like the kid in the quiet cul de sac

Whizzing up and down on her skateboard

Starting to become a nuisance.

Looking out from the window,

There she is again.

Whizzing up and down on her skateboard

Back and forth, hither and thither,

Whizzing up and down on her skateboard

Get off that skateboard, Katie Hopkins.

Get off that skateboard, Katie Hopkins.

Get off that skateboard, Katie Hopkins.

I like to think it’s an act.

No-one can be so stupid.

I like to think that you

Meet up with your friends

And you’re perfectly normal,

As easy going as the rest of us, 

Hoping that one day we will all realize

That it’s a silly joke,

A grotesque parody,

Somehow revealing our own

Misgivings and

Actually adding something to the world.

Oh, Katie,

You vain fickle brained warthog,

You gloating flap mouthed pimple,

You xenophobic motley-minded weasel,

You rank vomit-inducing ne’erdowell

With a face like a permanently surprised frog,

You toxic, provocative, class-conscious, 

suspiciously orange


It’s like you’ve seen that Farage bloke and thought,

I’d like a piece of that,

Though he’s far too left wing for my liking.

It can’t be like this, surely,

It can’t be.

Yet a part of me suspects that it is.

If you didn’t exist,

Then we’d have to invent you.

And that, I suspect,

Is what’s already occurred.


South Devon kicks ass when it comes to performance poetry!

For a while now I’ve had this thought that the South Devon poetry scene is one of the richest and most vibrant in the county, when you take into consideration the scarcity of the population in most of it, what with all them fields and things.

Torquay is a resort which has, admittedly, seen better days, but even here there are two vibrant performance poetry nights a month. Poetry Island is long established, first under Chris Brooks, and lately under Ian Beech, both of whom have done amazing things to bring big names down to the bay, and now there is a night at the Artizan Gallery, too. Exeter isn’t that far away and there are three regular monthly nights as well as an amazing array of one off events thanks to venues like the Phoenix and the Bike Shed. Plymouth has two regular nights, and even Totnes has events at the Kingsbridge Inn.

But it is the sheer variety of styles and performers which makes the scene so vibrant. It is impossible to come up with a definitive South Devon style, because there are so many different interpretations of what makes spoken word and performance poetry so engaging. Daniel Haynes is droll, funny, serious, human, everything which a Bard should be. Which is good, because he is the currently Bard of Exeter. Tim King is experimental, political, also very human. The most human of all humans is James Turner, who exiles literary excellence and a fantastic understanding of the importance of performance and voice, as did the late and very much missed Rodney Bowsher. Joanna Hatfull is impossible to categorise, fusing theatre and monologue, humor and reality into her poems which never stray too far into surrealism. And then there’s Ian Beech, whose poetry is heartfelt, honest, occasionally ranting, often fierce, always well meaning.

Add to this people like Jackie Juno, Ziggy Abd El Malak, Chris Brooks, Gavin McGrory, Morwenna Griffiths, Solomon Doornails . . .

So what flavor is there to this excellent scene? Are there any common traits? Most of the performers have developed parallel and each event serves to drive each participant on to find deeper modes of poetic expression and audience engagement. Yet there seems to be a willingness to perfect this individualism in a way that may not be the case somewhere like Bristol or London, where a similar style dominates. The rhythms are different from one poet to the next. You might get the excellent Marc Woodward with his fast paced calm delivery, followed by the enthusiasm of Chris Brooks, and then the calm, slow, assured delivery of Dan Haynes.

There’s a great thing going on down here in South Devon at the moment and it makes me glad to be a part of it. And now some of us are starting to get recognition from further afield, strange parts of the country who can only be intrigued by the creativity and art which seems so normal. When I first started performing at Poetry Island, Chris Brooks would end each evening with an appeal for performers. Yet now there are so many that there is a strict rota and waiting list! And that has got to be a very good thing.

For no reason whatsoever, here’s a couple of new poems.


You said you’d do a magic trick.
Is this your card?, you asked.
Or is this your card?
Or this?
And then you reached into my pocket
And you announced,
This, this is your card!
And then you looked at it and saw
That it was my one day megarider bus ticket
And a tiny tear formed
In the corner of your eye.
In any case,
I hadn’t even picked a card.


Swindon Poetry Slam

ImageI arrived at the town of Swindon in a manner perhaps unbecoming of a poet, by hanging out of the window of the Intercity train as we pulled into the station. The church bells were ringing, which was weird. I remember thinking, hmm, that’s got to be some sort of omen. I kept looking around to make sure that nobody could see me hanging out of the window. I took my glasses off in case they fell on to the track. Nothing bad happened. Indeed, it was Quite Fun.

I booked into the Travelodge.

The reason for my visit was the Swindon Poetry Slam. For some reason I had signed up for it the moment I heard about it. There’s always something slightly comical about Swindon – and this is from a man who used to live within miles of Staines and Slough.

I arrived at the venue and was immediately comforted to see a framed photograph of Pam Ayres on the wall. Or Pam Ayres MBE, as the plaque so proudly declared. Yes, I thought. I already know what the audience will be like. They will be Ayresites. I should have rehearsed a poem about a cat.

The slam, as ever, was incredibly well run by Sara-Jane Arbury and A Man Who Wasn’t Marcus Moore. Spoz was energetic and funny and infectious and I immediately took to his shenanigans as he danced to the 1970s disco classics which were played every now and then between the rounds.

The first person to be picked from the hat was Nick Lovell, a friend of mine and a poet who I really admire, so it was a little sad to see him have to go first. Sure enough, the judges, not yet warmed up perhaps, gave the first three performers low scores, which in the case of Nick, I think, was totally unwarranted. He performed excellently and the audience loved his poem, and afterwards someone told me that it had been their favourite of the night.

I got picked to go up in the third batch and I let loose with The Straight Poem (which goes by the title of ‘Poem’). The audience seemed to like it a lot and I was selected from my group to go through to the semi final. There was a local poet, whose name, I believe, was Miles who had a considerable contingent of local supporters. He got a very good score indeed in his round, performing a poem about doing DIY while het up on caffeine, which I thought was the funniest thing of the night. However, amazingly, he did not get the highest score of his group.

Other highlights were a young lady by the name of Tina, who did a poem about poets and poetry and the whole meaning of it all, and a lady of advanced years and eccentric dress, who eschewed the microphone and performed to dead, purposeful and rapt silence. She was amazing.

Round two, then. And I started to panic a little bit. The audience seemed a tad conservative, and worse still, there was a small child in the row in front of me. I’d hoped to do the poem about sex. You know the one. With lots of references to rumpy pumpy and foreplay and things. And there was a small child in the audience.

I then remembered the poem I’d written during the April Poem a Day challenge about Swindon, which I’d re-written just a couple of days before. While everyone else went to the interval, I sat in the auditorium and hastily rewrote it, and used Wikipedia to check up on a couple of facts. It was the most frantic moment of the night!

For the next round, I was called up to go on third, and I did the Fozzie poem, known also as ‘Poem’. Oh yes, that old chestnut. My signature piece. By now I felt more relaxed and the audience loved it. Miles went next, to rapturous applause from his fans, and he did a poem which I thought was amazing. Then the Quiet Lady. Then Tina. And when they added up the scores, it was me and Tina in the final.

Oh my.

This was the worst part of the evening. I had no strategy. I could have done Beard Envy, but I didn’t want people to think it was a derogatory comment about the Austrian entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. (Seriously! That’s why I didn’t do it). Then I thought about ‘Camp Cat’, but the audience did seem rather conservative. The sex poem was out because there was a child there. So I decided to do the Swindon poem, which I’d only just written and never once performed.

I performed it well, I think, seeing as though I had no practice. The audience loved it. I think Tina thought it was some sort of cheap trick to ensure victory by reciting a tongue in cheek poem about how much I love Swindon. But then, perhaps it was. I was pleased with the way it went.

Tina won.

It was an excellent evening and I was very pleased with the way I’d performed. The highlight, though, was when a lady told me that the Straight Poem was the best one she’d ever heard, and another was when a young man told me that he’d cried with laughter during Fozzie. Such things made the whole train journey and the night in a Travelodge worthwhile!

I met the festival organiser afterwards. And in my usual jumbled manner I could only garble some nonsense about how nice it was that Nathan Filer would be there the next day.

And then I was interviewed by Radio Swindon. ‘What brought you to Swindon?’, the interviewer asked. ‘The train’, I replied, in a kind of Chris-Lowe-from-the-Pet-Shop-Boys manner.

It was a fantastic day. I rushed back to the Travelodge to watch the end of Eurovision.

April Poem A Day Poems So Far (Week Four)

April 14 Poem A Day 4


For the last few months
I’ve been
Poet in residence
At the paper clip factory.
I get five free cups of tea
And as many paper clips as I need.
( I usually use a stapler,
But I’m not telling them that).

Debs from accounts
Keeps giving me coy waves
From her glass partitioned office.
I pretend I haven’t seen.
Yesterday she offered to buy me
A prawn cocktail sandwich
In the staff canteen.
I found a paper clip in it.
Yesterday she thrust her
Bahzooms at me.

every morning
the cleaning lady vacuums
the offices
paper clips rattle and scattle
in the vacuum’s plastic tubing
rattle skattle clibber flibber
kottle skittle clatter clonk
clibber flibber skittle skattle
quite a pleasing sound, really.

A list of alternative uses for paper clips

A. Hanging Christmas cards.
B. Impromptu chain to keep glasses attached round neck.
C. Classroom projectile w/ elastic band
D. Tie clip.
E. Replacement zip pull.
F. To remove peanut from iPod earphone socket.
G. Attach notices to a washing line (like ‘Beware, Washing Line’)
H. Zip wire for an Action Man (also on a washing line).

All night long the automated paper clip manufacturing machines go
Each KLUMP resulting in a new paper clip,
Each CHING as it rolls into a big plastic tub
Which Phil empties the next morning.

Excerpt from the Chilliwick Corporation Paper Clip Brochure:

Here’s a photograph of two major celebrities endorsing the Chilliwick Paper Clip:

Kelly Jones (pictured, left), from the Welsh band The Stereo O Phonics, says, ‘I never go anywhere without a paper clip, and Chilliwick make some damn fine paper clips’.

1996 World Darts Champion John Part said, ‘I always use a paper clip to clip the papers that I want to gather around me’.

Lately, we have hied a poet in residence, Rupert Grantham, (pictured right, with two paper clips). His commitment to paper clips and the paper clip industry are without reproach.

(They spelled my name wrong).

And nervous
As I unveil
My iPad.

I asked the managing director
What the sales forecasts are
For the next quarter
And he said, ‘Stationery’.

I bend round and round and I’m like
Zoo my round round bend back on
Myself in the abstract way that
I bend round baby right round.

Jubilation when an order comes in
From China
For a box of 1000 paper clips.
The boss makes everyone
Dress as Geishas in honour of this.
No one feels able to correct him.
Dave gets his elaborate kimono
Caught in one of the paper clip machines.
They took him up to First Aid,
He’s ok now.

A potential customer
Inquires whether he should leave
His email address
And an attachment.
Everyone laughs.

Oh crazy skin shot metal
Bendy raucous ravenous paper clip
Simple machine bendy new fangle
Dangled the simplest
there possibly could be.

Paper clip
Power trip
Paper clip
Cheesy dip
Paper clip
Orange pip
Paper clip
Paper clip
Coach trip
Paper clip
Back flip
Paper clip
Cheap trick
Paper clip
Pierced lip
Paper clip.


We had a day out in Okehampton.
In one of its more trendy bars
I met a winsome young lady who showed me
How to operate a milk churn.

There was a stillness in the air
And a crack of magic like static like thunder
As if the tops of the tower blocks
Might ignite
With St Elmo’s Fire.

Vibrant coffee shop etiquette.
Hyped up het up on caffeine
And over excitement at the Milk Churn Museum
And a sudden outbreak of giggles
Over the word ‘churn’.

We couldn’t remember which multi storey
We’d left the car in.
The one near the art gallery
Or the one near the cathedral
Or the one near the stoat sanctuary
And then we got side tracked by
The house Obama visited
During his state visit.
We found the car, eventually.

Peak mugging hours
Passed without incident.

I almost bought some trousers.

All the great and important issues of the day
We debated in the debating chamber of the
Elected representatives who we sat and watched
As they argued over the disabled parking bays
At Asda.

I almost won a tender on the lottery.

Dean said that the afternoon heat was
And that it was making him come over
All queer.
We hung out in Chinatown
Next to the chippy
And Dean drank a coca cola
And then said that he felt better.

I must a admit
I got a little tipsy
And announced that I wanted
To show everyone how to use
A milk churn.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Fran began speaking like a native.
Only been here five times, I said,
And you act as if you own the place.
I bought a stapler in the stationers.


A Saharan wind flaps the tent sides.
More like a marquee, carpeted, ten
Nomad poets enmeshed in a deep discussion
On how to defrost the refrigerator.

Subtle word play and the dance if language.
Exquisite, tender nature and the environment
A tradition handed down through the generations.
A second hand fridge bought from a bloke in Fez.

It judders and if shudders.
Someone’s left a bowl of fuchsias on top.
They jitter and they totter.
A camel moans outside, it can sense bad tidings.
The freezer compartment is getting bunged up with ice.

An elder tells a story
Of mystery and magic and the
Rotation of the planets.
It does little to address the
Situation beyond reminding the
Nomad poets that all this time
Faffing around with the fridge
Is time they could be writing.

The fridge is hitched up to a
Diesel generator
Whose black smoke stands stark
Against the blue sky, the yellow dunes.
It makes the camel cough.

It’s full of Sunny D
And Doctor Pepper.
The fridge,
Not the camel.

And there’s triangles of Laughing Cow
Bought from a man in a fez
For two haiku and a limerick,
‘There once was a man from Noualdibou’.

It is foretold in local mythology
That there will be a time of deep reckoning.
You see, if you turn the fridge off
You’ll lose all the stuff inside
Even though it blatantly need defrosting.

Plaintive camel honking.
Bloody things!

One of the younger poets,
Yet to lose his worldly wonder,
Bright eyed, tells the tale
Of a sultan who guilt a sauna
In the middle of the Sahara,
A place so gently hot he could
Raise his body temperature and then step outside
And feel cold for the rest of the day.
But one fateful morning a giant Eagle
Swooped down and ate him.
(It’s true, his story kind of fizzled out
At the end, and was full of holes,
And had no bearing on their
Immediate predicament).
‘Try kicking the fridge’,
He suggested.

The kettle is all furred up, too,
All that
Saharan hard water.


Advancing now
You can see the determination
And the way she slithers
Between the gaps.

The forest of
She’s getting nearer now
Looming like
Unwelcome weather.

Here she comes, ever closer,
Tedious in her intent.
No-one wants a part of this
Odd transaction.

She doesn’t want to do it.
We don’t want her to do it,
It isn’t culture and it isn’t social.
Just corporate ethos.
Pursing her lips, now.
Ever closer.

And here it is.
And here she is.
And here it comes.
‘Is everything all right
With your meal?’


Been struggling now
For various reasons
To get bus passengers to
Write haiku.

They point out that:
A- the bus journey is tedious enough
B- poetry has no relevance
C- leave me alone
D- there are no pens these days, just iPads.

The big burly bloke,
Whose licence they took,

Prancing up the bus aisle
Like a Stagecoach road nymph
A teenage girl
Describes exactly where I can stick my haiku,
In, admittedly,
The most immaculate, poetic language
I’ve heard all day.

Bus driver checks his mirror,
Shakes his head, sadly.

‘Hey, nob head.’
Pies up a precocious scamp of a lad
With trendy hair and an ironic t shirt.
‘You’ve got to subvert the strictures and rules
Of literature
In order to improve it for the next generation.’
He holds up a Mars bar and says,
‘This is my haiku’.

The bus goes over speed bumps.
I crack my head on the ceiling.

Doreen, deaf as a post,
Thinks I work for the council.

Syllable demonstrations
Mean nothing
In a traffic jam.

Wise-ass at the back of the bus
Says he’ll do everyone’s haiku for them
But he’ll charge
And he calls it ‘line rental’.

The little voice inside me says,
‘You’re getting somewhere, James.
With each insistent unsolicited lesson,
You speak to their souls and their lives
Fill with poetry’.
I have no idea why the little voice
Calls me James.

A youth with big hair
Takes a video of my on his smart phone
And it becomes an instant internet sensation
Not because of my majesty with words
But because I fell


Don’t you come at me with your hydrangea shit
Cos once you’ve seen a fuchsia then you know you’ve been hit
It’s flowers are prettier than a girl who’s quite fit
And they’re hardy annuals too so they last for a bit

I’m a hard ass gun and I don’t feel no pain
Like the petals of the fuchsia in the early evening rain
Like the same old song you hear again and again
My roots don’t go rotten if the compost’s well drained

So dig up that fuchsia man dig up that fuchsia
Cos you and me honey we ain’t got no future
Dig up that fuchsia girl, put it in a pot
Cos when I’m here with you girl I feel I lost the plot

I’m a kicking mother sparkler and I know how to party
Coming at you with the beats and a bottle of Bacardi
I don’t feel no cold cos I’m mostly frost hardy
So when you’re out and your chilling then you gotta wear a cardy

I’m a fit fat hip hop sexy damn mo fo
Hanging at my pad with my bitches and my hoes
And my trowels and my rakes and my petrol driven lawn mow
A big bag of mulch and some compost make me grow, yo

So dig up that fuchsia man dig up that fuchsia
Cos you and me honey we ain’t got no future
Dig up that fuchsia girl, put it in a pot
Cos when I’m here with you girl I feel I lost the plot

When I see you coming girl you light up the room
Like a late summer fuchsia as it comes into bloom
With its delicate petals, you make my heart boom
And not only that but I really like your bahzooms

In a world filled with pain and with hatred and with greed
I’m a delicate flower not a dirty stinking weed
Cos I’ve felt this ache inside since I was a little seed
I’m a funky mother fuchsia and I get what I need

So dig up that fuchsia man dig up that fuchsia
Cos you and me honey we ain’t got no future
Dig up that fuchsia girl, put it in a pot
Cos when I’m here with you girl I feel I lost the plot

I got delicate petals in the hue of summer fruit
And a purposeful demeanour from my sternum to my root
But when I look at you girl you really are so cute
Like the homies in my hood, you gotta be my side shoot

When I’m here with you girl I never question why
I just sit here in my border bed and gaze up at the sky
Try to weed me out girl, I’d like to see you try
You’re more irritating than a nasty case of greenfly

So dig up that fuchsia man dig up that fuchsia
Cos you and me honey we ain’t got no future
Dig up that fuchsia girl, put it in a pot
Cos when I’m here with you girl I feel I lost the plot

Dig it up
Dig it up
Dig it up
Change the pot

In da club
In da club
In da club
The horticultural society club


You press my buttons in all the wrong order
And because of that I miscalculate.
My figures are erroneous.
Your figure is marvellous.
Tippity- tappity, tippity-tappity,
The number of times you whisper sweet nothings
I work it out on the calculator.

The square root of this and a percentage of that,
One and one becomes two.
It’s the most simple addition that you can do.
Come over here and I’ll demonstrate,
Or shall we work it out on the calculator?

The divisible percentage of your longing.
Add to that an approximation of yearning,
Add to that the little smile you gave me just then
Add to that the deep deep
Vicious absolute soul-controlling pound pound fury of my heart
Add to that the ten minutes it took us to do it last time,
(Which, by the way, was a new record for me),
Tippity- tappity, tippity-tappity.
Hmmm, it just says ‘error’.

Last night in bed you did that thing
Where you turn the LCD screen upside down
And random numbers become words.
It blew my mind.
Ha ha, I said, very funny.
Right there on the screen if the calculator.

Subtraction is the cruellest blow.
Taking things away until you end up with nothing.
I want to work it out on the calculator.
What’s the to work out?, you asked, it’s zero!
Nevertheless, I figured out all the percentages
And I tried to do some sums in my head
And it have me a migraine
And now I know why you always say you’ve got a headache.


(An A-Z of the Large Hadron Collider)

A – And then it was decided
That there should be a large hadron collider.

B – Bravery is needed to operate it
As there might be a Black Hole
Or a Big Bang.

C- Catastrophic would be the consequences
Of a Big Bang.
It would wipe out everything
As far as Colchester.

D – Don’t ask me how to explain
The scientific side of it.

E – Everything’s all right with the world,
If you put your trust in science.
E =mc2
Still has to be explained to me.
Good old Einstein!

F – Few people realise
How big it is.
If you dropped a pencil clip in it
You might never find it.

G – Geniuses theorise.
Great things materialise.

H – Hadron. Hardon.
Ha ha.

I – It’s round.

J – Jambon is French for ham.
A seagull once dropped a baguette Jambon
Into it’s machinery.
And that’s why they couldn’t
Use it for a bit.

K – Can’t think of anything for K.

L – Large hadron collider.
Much larger than a
Average hadron collider.
But not as big as an
Extra large hadron collider.

M – Moon. (See P)

N – Nothing quite prepares you
For the sheer circumference of it.
Dave wonders why they didn’t build it
On the Circle Line.
I said actually, yes,
That would have done it.
I asked a scientist if that was possible
And he said

O – Is the shape of it.

P – Peter was convinced that
The large hadron collider was a giant magnet
Designed to pull the moon closer because
The moon’s orbit is significantly further away
Than it used to be.

Q – Queues to get into the large hadron collider
Have started diminishing now that
The excitement of it has started to wear off,
Though there’s a nice little gift shop.

R – Right, there are several theories of what might happen, some theorised by Higgs Bosun (which I should have included under H in this list) and it’s all to do with the bits that break off from the initial impact of the matter that’s fired around the collider. Or at least that’s what the man on Horizon said. At least it wasn’t Professor Brian Cox And His Hair. He seems a nice enough chap but he just seems to speak. Too. Slowly.

S – Stephen Hawking
Would be the man to call
If there should suddenly materialise
A black hole.

T – Ten years after divising his theory that the Large Hadron Collider would, on it’s first run, result in the sudden appearance of ten thousand Tina Turners, Professor Terrance Tipkins burst into Tears when it Didn’t Happen.

U – Underneath Switzerland.

V – Very interesting if you’re
An astrophysicist, probably.

W – What the hell
Do we do
With a Higgs Bosun particle
The moment we get one?

Waiting . . . Waiting . . . Waiting . . .

X – X +/- n= 4

Y – You spin me right round
Baby right round
Like a record baby
Right round round round

Z – Zurich is nearby.


Dear Goldilocks.
We are investigating reports
Of a break in
And malicious damage pertaining to
Some porridge, a chair, a bed
And a Toyota Yaris,
Which took place in the residence
Of the Three Bears
In the magical forest
Near the mystical fairy land brook
Just outside of Guildford.

Your actions provoked
Psychological damage on two of the victims
Who wish to remain anonymous
Though a third member of the family
Did maul the chief detective.

Our investigations are keen to ascertain
Who, in the words of the victims,
Has been sitting in my chair,
Has been eating my porridge,
Has been sleeping in my bed
Has been shuffling my iPod,
Has been detuning the Freeview
Has left the sunroof open in the rain
In my Toyota Yaris
And generally stealing my wifi
Without expressed prior consent.

It is also alleged
That at the same time you did
De friend the entire family on Facebook.

Ms Goldilocks.
The nub of the matter.
The crux of the issue.
The whole angle on which
This investigation rests
Is the degree by which
Your actions were motivated
And provoked by the facts
That the victims were bears.
Was this some sorry of hate crime?
Have you recently joined UKIP?

The bears do not wish to sue
But Mummy Bear is undergoing counselling
And Daddy Bear
Has had to disinfect the bathroom
And put some extra locks on the front door
And Little Baby Bear has told his mother
That when he grows up
He wants long golden hair now, and a pretty
Summer dress.


Today I went to a meeting
In which the main topic of discussion
Was what we will talk about
On tomorrow’s meeting.

It was decided that tomorrow’s meeting
Would begin to reading the minutes of the last meeting,
The meeting before this meeting.
The last meeting had also begun
With the minutes of the previous meeting
And the meeting before that
And this will be included in the minutes if the last meeting
And also the minutes of the meeting
Of the meeting tomorrow,

So we finished our meeting about tomorrow’s meeting
And we decided that someone should take
Some minutes of this meeting
So that tomorrow’s meeting would feature
The minutes of this meeting as well as the minutes
Of the previous meetings,
The minutes containing nothing but the minutes of the meetings
Previous to this meeting and the meeting today,
In tomorrow’s meeting
(And all subsequent meetings).


Contents of poem:
1. No
2. Making a living, the shire horse way
3. Poem
4. Memories of a suburban upbringing
5. I’m not immune to failure
6. Looming in the office
7. A Paris misadventure
8. Poetic justice (Literally!) and Tim Vine
9. A general appreciation of shire horses
10. Breeds of heavy working horses
11. Height
12. This just in
13. Meanwhile outside of Keflavik
14. This poem was sponsored by
15. Repetition of the words ‘shire horses’
16. The time of the shire horse is gone

1. No

I will never be a proper poet
So long as I can’t appreciate
Shire horses

2. Making a living, the shire horse way

They work, shire horses.
They work for a living.
They work work work work work
Trudging and pulling heavy loads
And tugging and pulling and trudging
And doing paperwork and things.
Jeff trained his one to nick microwaves
From Currys
And to get refunds under false pretences
Without receipts.

3. Poem

Flared nostrils
As if permanently disgusted
But they get on with it anyway.
Stoic beasts, the shire horse.

4. Memories of a suburban upbringing

When I was a kid
Every year the school trip
Used to be to the flipping bleeding
God-arse awful boring
Shire Horse Heritage Centre.
And then I joined the Scouts
And we had a trip to the
Shire Horse Heritage Centre.
And then we had my aunt come over
From Canada
And we took her to the Shire Horse Heritage Centre
And yet when I informed my parents
That it should be called the ‘ “Shite” Horse Heritage Centre’
Bizarrely, it was me who was reprimanded.

5. I’m not immune to failure

I went to a poetry slam and the poets were brilliant and did poems about family, relations, drug addiction, sexual abuse, the history of black culture from slavery to the present day, social issues, politics, countering the rise of the right, ill treatment of animals, ill treatment of immigrants and the trials and tribulations of being a youth in the 21st Century, and I did a poem about shire horses and I did really badly.

6. Looming in the office

my chiropodist had a shire horse
at the bottom of each leg it had a tuft
now it’s dead but you can still see it
because she’s had it stuffed

7. A Paris misadventure

The French avant gard
Jean Jacques Pipe
Trained a shire horse
In the art of mime.

It used to stand still
And not move a muscle
And not say a word.

And Jean Jacques would explain,
‘Now it’s impersonating a donkey.
Now it’s impersonating a zebra.
Now it’s impersonating a mule.
Now it’s impersonating a regular horse’.

8. Poetic justice (Literally!) and Tim Vine

Tim Vine had already done the
‘Shyer’ horse joke.

But he nicked a joke off me
About Cadbury’s Wispas.

And now it’s in his show.
Ironically he was beaten

At a one-liner competition
By an acquaintance of mine, a poet

Who had his own Cadbury’s Wispa joke
Which was much funnier.

In honour of this I am not going to repeat
The ‘shyer horse’ joke.

9. A general appreciation of shire horses

Shire horse.
Never tyre horse.
Such a tryer horse.
Never dire horse.
Keep matches away
So seldom on fire horse.
Could be taller,
A little higher horse.
Looks nothing like
Danny Dyer horse.
Tells the truth
Seldom a liar horse.
Doesn’t so washing
So not a tumble dryer horse.
Or cook chips
So not a deep fat fryer horse.
A little bit bashful
Couldn’t be any shyer horse.
Shire horse.
Shire horse.
Shire horse.
Shire horse.

10. Breeds of heavy working horse

Cleveland Bay
Clippity honker
Progressive honker
Regular honker
Devonian crisp
Old cabin
Beard poker
Unspoked clapper
Subliminal pencil

Where might I purchase any of the above?
Any reputable pet shop.

11. Height

According to the website
The average shire horse
Is 17 hands high.
I asked a shire horse breeder
How big one hand was
And he said
About as big as your hand.

12. This just in

Both Jeff
And his shoplifting shire horse
Were accosted
In Costcutter.

13. Meanwhile outside of Keflavik

Shape shifting shire horse
Tireless worker berserker
Norse legend horse legend
One moment Icelandic
Gray bray pulling heavy loads
The next
A real kick ass impersonation
Of Allen Carr.

14. This poem was sponsored by

Have you seen those shire horses?
Those shy shire horses?
Those sly shy shire horses?
Those sly shy give it a try see one before you die
Why oh why not give it a try shire horses?
Have you seen those shire horses?
POP along to the Shire Horse Heritage Centre
And you’ll see loads!

(A little in- joke there for the shire horse community in that last line).

15. Repetition of the words ‘shire horses’

Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
Shire horses
From the shire.

16. The time of the shire horse is gone

And in the time of the shire horse there
Would be shire horses aplenty
And they would work and trudge
And trudge and work
And all that was holy
Could be found in the shire horse
And all that was sacred
Could be found in the shire horse
And all that was good for the garden
Could be found in the shire horse
(Or at least in their manure)

And the rustic sun would set
Over rustic rooftops rustic barns and rustic
And still the shire horse
Would keep on working
And nobody ever thought about

And the annual final of Britain’s Got Talent
Would invariably be won by a shire horse
Because they were so fucking talented
And none of the shire horses
Were foreign.

And people just got on with things
Inspired by the plucky shire horses
And the ploughman was king
And there was shire horse manure all over the place

And you couldn’t sodding move for sodding shire horses
And if you made a joke about “shite horses”
You’d end up in the stocks.

And there would be shire horses in the fields
And shire horses in the barns
And shire horses in the cottages
And shire horses in the farms
And shire horses in the municipal swimming baths

And everyone would say
‘How great and mighty Britain is
Because of all these here shire horses’
And then someone came along with a tractor
And someone else said
‘At least tractors don’t poo everywhere’.

And then the decline of Britain’s society began
And then Ant and Dec turned up
And it’s all been downhill ever since.