Sleeping with my mother's mouse.

Mother didn’t see the mouse because of her cataracts

Until he grew quite big.

There is, of course, only ever one mouse.

Tonight mother spotted him.

He ran into my bed room,

And under the bed.

I sat quietly on the bed as mother was in the bathroom.

The mouse ran out, into the hall,

Then thought better of it and returned under the bed.

He is a marvelous creature.

His quickness is wasted on us.

He has to assume that I

Am as sharp as an owl.

I have no chance,

But unknown to the mouse

I have no inclination to kill.

He’s gone into the airing cupboard now.

He never wanted to be in here,

He was cornered.

I must think where to put the trap

Where he won’t find it.

Small World


If the world were made of plasticine

I would carve it up.

I would free Africa from the gaze of the west.

Children in Sierra Leone would not see pictures of western luxury.

But then I’d carry on dividing.

Perhaps a small island

For Mr Trump, very low lying.

And divide and divide,

And throw the bits about in space.

Each island would become a little moon,

Each on a collision trajectory?

I would live on the Moon of Penge.

Decorated with street art,

That we used to call graffiti.

Don’t mention gravity,

That could be a problem.

I would have to anchor the vegetables

On my allotment

To stop them floating off

Into deep space.

If the world were made of plasticine

I would be a very dangerous god.

Small world

The world is not made of plasticine.

Africa is intractably linked to Europe and the rest of the world; it cannot be carved off.

The problems the world faces will not be faced by nationalist democracies.

Survival of the fittest, or the greediest will ensue.

People will become as cruel as the climate.

Barriers will spring up the world over.

I do not believe that air passenger numbers will double.

There will simply be nowhere for the “passengers” to go.

I have nothing to fear,

If I want to live, and die in Penge.

Reply from the bird

Reply from the bird

Dear sir,

Thank you for your letter of the 31st December 2019

We note your apprehension

With the state of the world,

And we believe you are entertaining mis-placed optimism.

We birds are a web of knowledge.

We communicate across continents and oceans.

We know when things are going badly.

The song of which you speak

Was no rejoicing,

No battle done.

The state of things is not a good one.

The world is up side down and your people are to blame.

We are sorry to dishearten,

But you must be told the truth.

A new year is not the end of things

But a beginning of more trouble.

Do not believe that things can’t get worse,

But for as long as we have breath We’ll sing where e’r we be.

In pretty Penge, or suburban drear.

Station cat




Station Cat

I see you often
Stretched across the card reader
That guards the step free access.
I guess you have a story,
Not just a pat on the head from each passing commuter.

Today your cover’s blown!
My train is slashed from eight carriages to three,
This puts me centre stage at Gypsy Hill
Instead of up by the buffers.

You are sitting on a lap,
Looking darling sweetness, light,
Warmth, affection.

But what is this?
The lap is not at ease!
She doesn’t stroke you,
But she dare not shove you off.

You become restless
And take to clawing at her scarf.

Oh cat?
I thought you were perfection!
Faultless, Divine?

You are impetuous, cranky.
You attention seeker, you.
Almost human?

But I am pleased to see you,
And see through your disguise.
I trust you’ll see through mine.

Letter to the bird

Dear Bird,

We do enjoy your singing so,
And we do not wish to complain,
But is there a reason why you were up
So early this morning in Penge?

We didn’t fully awake,
But I’m sure it was five o’clock
When I was first aware of your song.
Every other one of God’s creatures
Was either fast asleep
Or at least keeping blessed silence

So I wonder what was in your little mind
That had you a chirping at such an early hour.
Was it the state of our pretty town of Penge?
A concern for the future of Birdkind?

Now I’m awake…
Have downed my tea and toast,
You’re still out there in full song
And I – a little more awake.
It is the last day of the year!

Of course marvellous bird
Your foresight is far greater than mine.
You know that the end to this hideous year
Can only bode well.

That next year must be better for us both;
For you in your birdy world,
And for me in mine.
You wish to share a profound understanding
Of how things are and how I should be too.

The many singing lochs of Penge

Praise for

I live in Penge close to the true Lake District as referenced in this article from the Independent from 2013. Neither of Norwood’s lakes is the singing loch of which I speak. My singing loch cannot compete with the ancient mythical status of Michael Graeme’s. I think he will agree with me that these two albeit very different pools, one being part of an old sewage works which has been re-purposed into a nature park, and the other being the standard Victorian park boating lake, (a little small for it’s sailing club), are both too accessible and familiar to bear any real association with his wild creation. We have in Norwood our own particular breed of wild men, and while they are indeed many and varied in their culture and heritage, none of them are quite as exotic and handsome as the “Wild Man of Craigaline”.

My singing loch is the back lane, “Jackass Lane”, which though tarmacked, is too narrow for heavy traffic and too bendy for rushing commuters and serves as an escape for us on our New Years Eve tradition when we drink a pint or two in the village of Down, within the protection of London’s Green Belt, and either just before, or after midnight, walk back to the edge of London’s sprawl which begins at the very bottom of this lane.

Another singing loch might be the ordinary inner city park which witnessed in November 2017, the murder of 17 year old Michael Jonas, and before that the torching of my beloved motorbike which earned me a living as “one seven, one seven”, Mr Inferno Man, courier extraordinaire. I am discouraged from walking through the park after dark as it might be dangerous, (although I think such a park could be reclaimed by enough bolder residents). Recently after walking my wife to catch a night bus at some ungodly hour, this singing loch sang loud and clear for me in the form of an owl twooting, so loud, it terrified me and nearly knocked me off my perch.

There are other singing lochs, but I have always thought of them as edgelands, and this is where I differ from Graeme. I see them not as places of sanctity untouched by “greyness” but “between” places, where I can enjoy watching nature either surviving our worst insults, or showing she is more powerful than us. Night is always helpful for an urban singing loch as it allows us to be enveloped more easily in its atmosphere and to forget the nearness of Graeme’s “Grey”.

I enjoyed this book immensely and I implore my friends not to be put off by the novelty of the “e book”. The internet has saved this book, and given it to me and others. Poor old Graeme has made nothing, but he will, I think, be happy to see us take up his story and for it to live in us.

"And one clear call for me"

“And one clear call for me!”


How I yearn for this call.

A call to arms

A call to action

A call to war.


What is wrong with me that I can only imagine a call to fight.


A call to create?

Too much has been created.

Too much has been made.

Too many busy hands.

Too many idle hands,

Too many hands.


A call to help?


How can I help?

I am so weak.

But this must be wrong,

I am weak but not useless.

As good as useless.

So who do I help?

Who is worthy?

How do I trust?

How do I choose the hand,


Or do I defer, and wait?


And wait – for one clear call?

Oh how I yearn for

One clear call for me.



Perhaps the difficulty is only to see the call?


I am called every day,

A thousand times.

I need only open my eyes and ears.




Is it easy?

Easy to care?

Easier to ignore.

Wrap myself up in myself and try to close my eyes,

And not to see or hear

The one clear call for me.


Oh how I yearn for

The one clear call for me.

Short poem about death

From Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

“One Clear call for me”

I understand this refers to a call to the afterlife – the call of death.

But there are some of us waiting to be called for anything.

Feeling that our efforts here are futile, and waiting to be called for a greater purpose.

It is likely the first call we answer is death, and all the calls before, we did not hear or could not answer.

Let me go sailing, in the dark, as I wait for my call, as floating off the coast in the dark and the deep of winter I feel nearest to my pilot.

Political anonymity and the end of the world

Dear friends,
I nail my colours to the mast.
I am a tory, but I didn’t vote for them.
Is this of interest.
Not if you don’t know who I am, or have no interest in me.
If I am political, I must be public.
If I am intelligent but not political I should shut up. (no, really).
It is no good complaining about politicians but retaining our precious anonymity. The complaint is irrelevant.
In a democracy, without politicians, we are doomed.
So I climb the parapet and shout for all to hear…


Easy said this, when no one is looking. Where next?


A helpful distraction?

The mouse who lives under my woodpile

The mouse who lives under my wood pile

Has an excellent healthy diet.

He lives on Strawberries, Redcurrants and Mulberries.

He finds all of these vitals, within easy reach of his cosy warm burrow.

If I ever catch my sweet little mouse

I will make him comfortable in an expensive cage,

I will feed him generously with Dandelions, and Bindweed and Buttercup,

But I will never forget to put his favourite foods

Where he can see them, and smell them, but just out of his reach. 

This is not new, I wrote it some time ago, but think it may help our nerves to change the subject.

I was chastised for not tolerating my small neighbour, so I had to explain my difficulties.

Little Mousey is a fat cat,

He has built up a fortune this year alone.

He’s taken all my Strawberies

Which he nips by by the stalk before they are ripe,

And lays down like old wine to mature.

My Mulberries fall bounteously around his head,

And scatter, a rich carpet around him.

For Redcurrants he need only push out his nose,

And pick the sweetest, fattest on offer.

But I can only be cruel when I catch him,

For now, for sure, he’s winning.

But one day he’ll get bold,

And he’ll snooze in the open,

His belly full and heavy.

Finally the rodent replied, and put me in my place.

The man who comes to pick strawberries

Is very disheartened indeed.

I left him a few, around the far edge,

And he took them, but never said-Thank you.

He’s simply not quick enough

To catch mulberries,

He tries to pick them,

But the best ones are loose

And fall straight through his hands.

I pity this man,

He seems to be trying,

But has no idea what he’s doing for sure.

And now the land is parched,

I have a mountain of berries

Piled up to see me through,

But he keeps putting water over odd feeble looking plants.

I hope he’s not gone mad?

The stalemate continues to this day. I think you will agree my mouse is doing better than me.

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