from ‘The Time Machine’ – H. G. Wells


The Time Traveller
was animated

eyes burned brightly,
incandescent lights
in the lilies of
his face,

and was expounding
in his earnestness:

a recondite matter to us
in this after-dinner
a paradox to our
lazily luxurious bubble
of free glasses.


Haves and Have-nots


the Have-nots

continually adapted
to the conditions
constituted as
to be miserable

and Labour there
getting ventilation to the

not suffocated

not rebellious

Spooky Time

The Project Gutenberg full text edition of HG Wells’ The Time Machine is open on my computer, ready for me to find alternative texts from within, this accidental and fortuitous approach to writing.

At the very same time, and quite by chance, the ‘Freak Out’ music compilation I am listening to plays the band Factory’s song Time Machine [1971 single release].

Far out, in so many ways.

Tristram Hunt Swearing

I don’t have a problem with Tristram Hunt leaving politics and the Labour Party. Two reasons: firstly, the directorship of the Victoria and Albert Museum seems like a very attractive job for a historian, and whilst paying at least double his MP’s salary [and more, I suspect] I don’t believe it compares/competes with the more lucrative and probably sinecure’s positions most Tories and the like would and do take when they have finished with political life; secondly, I don’t feel he was a particularly effective member of the Labour Party – and I don’t mean his criticism of Jeremy Corbyn which he is entitled to make even if I disagreed – but especially as the Shadow Education Secretary pre-Corbyn’s leadership.

I have written about this before but as he departs his political life I will remind readers of his pretty fruitless and silly time ostensibly formulating Labour policy on Education:

First and foremost, I don’t recall him making any attempt whatsoever to prevent Michael Gove from destroying much of GCSE, but especially English Literature.

Second, there was his teacher’s Hippocratic Oath idea – swearing allegiance to the job – which was patronising, insulting and stupid.

Third was his Master Teacher idea which was a teacher-as-prefect notion that was patronising, insulting and stupid.

And last, just so as not to waste any more time, an exemplification of how his brand of ‘Labour’ politics and articulation of this hardly appealed to the widest possible audience, revealed in this infamous [in my recall] response to a question:

What is a left-wing approach to education? ‘I see it as a heated dialectic between Gramscian rigour and Ellen Wilkinson’s evangelism for innovation, creativity and freedom. In Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks there is this remarkable paean for the traditional rigour of the classics as being crucial for Italian working-class consciousness. On the other hand, Wilkinson, Clement Attlee’s first education secretary, argued: “Schools must have freedom to experiment, and we need variety for the sake of freshness. We want laughter in the classroom, self-confidence growing every day, eager interest instead of bored uniformity.” A modern, left-wing response to the 21st-century digital economy needs a dose of both. But where these two philosophies meet is equally important – that education is precious beyond instrumental labour market outcomes. That is something we must fight for when the right attempts to commodify it.’

There is a positive kernel of liberal sense in this, but my goodness, the verbal manure that needs to be cleared to locate is too many shovelfuls.


‘Novel Finds’ is Out There

I am pleased that extracts from my new work Novel Finds is available to read at Stride and International Times. I also posted one on this site a few days ago. These are a sequence of found poems based on the historical timeline of the British novel ‘canon’.

It is such a challenge and such fun to write experimentally – the term will do for now – and especially Found poetry. The rules are self-selected, and can be as broad or narrow as one chooses. I set myself quite specific disciplines and like the tension between the complete randomness on one hand, and the pre-planned, self-imposed control on the other.

from The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins is here at Stride

from Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift is here at International Times


Breakfast over, I dart secretly down the stairs to a
basement bedroom and swap the dirt-brown boots
for Sunday’s best shoes laced riskily down one side.
As weighty as a small animal and tied by orange cords,
my designated school footwear is no good for chasing
girls, or better still getting caught in the playground of
eight year olds running around for that uncertain touch.
Foregoing galoshes and ear-muffs too, this is the
chrysalis discarding for early flight, a couple of years
ahead of when my friend from the house next door
walked across our room, both of us dressing up – as
the saying goes – she awkward in found high heels and
my instinctive wings fluttering as I looked and traced
innocent calves taking on unexpected curves, unlaced.

from ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ – Ann Radcliffe

One from a sequence of found poems based on two extracts each from individual British novels in the timeline ‘history’ of that canon:


partial vapours rolled
through the blue tinge
of air
and lost in waves of
floated landscapes
along the river
from north, and to the east
frowned with forests
veiled in clouds
and lost again in the
mist of distance
to the south, on the west

exhibiting awful forms
sorrowfully corrected

the margin of repose


they are beautiful

stored with ideas

ever ready to
escape error

necessary to the form
of the world within

necessary equally to

the pleasure of

counteracted by
the languor

of relief, stored in

uneasy sensations,
pleasure –

the necessity of thought.

Finding Ben in Birmingham

Ben Zephaniah’s typewriter is on display at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery


To much laughter
from the hundreds of
sequinned costumes,

finding Birmingham
is being tapped out on
Zephaniah’s typewriter.

Ascending Everest keys
he writes poetry
type type typing away

[his rhythm at the age of 22]
troublemaker type type
typing away into the reading

in hometown front rooms.
Learning the history of black,
sequins reflect light on

man and Country
inside a case of glass,
how Columbus discovered

Birmingham much to the
laughter of costumed
people, still listening.

A typewriter honoured
with its own writing,
smiling through the glass.


at the beginning of this new year
we are driving to the seaside and
there at the side of the road is a
sparrow-hawk that will
not move, so we have to swerve
to avoid.

Walking on the promenade,
three sandpipers
are there too, and in
thirty six years visiting
we have only ever seen one,
yet this trio are darting in and out
among us and all
the other people.

Surely it is a sign
that we know our birds.