What do you want to do?

- Everything.

That's a lot of stuff.

- I know. That's why I do nothing.

Uncle Andy.

Uncle Andy was an expert at existential facts. 
Knew absolutely everything.
“There’s a purple aura surrounding you right now”. Is there Uncle Andy?
“Energies enter and leave this room every day”. Is that a fact?
“Your thoughts aren't in harmony with your body”. Aren't they?
Can you tell when someone is trying to be something other than what they truly are, Uncle Andy?

“Oh yes. Very  much so”.

I Walk the Line

Walk to the precipice, the edge, the line.
Stand on the verge. The free wind closing your eyes and opening your heart.
Hair blown in harmony with the waves below. Dangerous, impervious, excited.
Cleansing and exempt.
One foot forward, one foot back.
Sabotaging the honest toil of destiny.
Should have brought a hat.

Ti Ljudi

We lived on the third floor of a nine story building in Prague. The sepia skies and indeterminable afternoons of the late seventies. Karel Gott warbling his iron curtain versions of Roy Orbison hits on our crackly, tired Medium Wave radio in the kitchen. OKJets fleeing from RuzynÄ› to unimaginable worlds beyond my scope. Scuttling trams directed along rickety lines below - same faces, same days, same lives.
"Och, those people", my mother - raising her eyes in distaste at the stomping feet from the smaller apartments above.
'Those people'.
My mother looked down on the people above.

Late on Time Again

Tuesday morning grey and damp
Making tracks to town
Checking watches, stamping feet
The bus has let us down.
A suited man he grumbles
The lady coughs polite
Two students hide their mumbles
 “We could be here ‘til night”.
Just as our patience withers
Resenting company
Around the corner trundles
The expected 1-0-3.
“At last” and “Well now” uttered
The disgruntled share their thoughts
To a stop with a gentle stutter
Our carriage pulls up short.
The 8:05 at 8:16
Late again as it’s always been
Behind it now the 8:09
Two together, as all the time.
“After you” and “Ladies first”
Change and travel cards
The driver long since lost his thirst
We lurch the first few yards.
“Plenty of room now down the back”
Unwillingly we inch
Excuse me” “Sorry…was that your foot?”
The internal, migrant grinch.
Bodies close and heavy
Short breaths and dampness true
Windows steamed up steady
A hand wipes one to view.
Ignoring one another
‘til we reach our point of leave
The 1-0-3 reflecting
The life so far, so weaved.

Double Double

“72 muffins. I handed out 72 muffins today. Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Banana, Toffee and Bran. 72 of them. 25 donuts – plain, cream, chocolate. 9 Danish pastries – apple and jam. 2 cream slices and 63 coffees and 22 teas.
In one week, working eight hour shifts , that’s 360 muffins, 125 donuts, 45 Danish, 10 cream slices, 315 coffees and 110 teas.
That’s 1440 muffins, 400 donuts, 180 Danish, 40 cream slices, 1260 coffees and 440 teas a month.
With four weeks holiday time a year, that means I hand over 17,280 muffins, 600 donuts, 2160 Danish, 450 cream slices, 14175 coffees and 4950 teas per year.
Work for twenty years, that’s 345,600 muffins, 120,000 donuts, 43,200 Danish, 9000 cream slices, 283,500 coffees and 99,000 teas”.
Miriam liked to work the numbers.

It helped her feel better about leaving the job after day one.

Wakey Wakey.

I can’t remember my dreams. My friend said “Well then you really NEED to remember them”.
According to my friend, if you can’t remember your dreams it means what is coming to the surface is so big and so well hidden, that the moment you waken, your conscious mind immediately tries to bury it. I’m not sure how that makes me feel.

Sounds like a nightmare.

No Time.

When you lead a busy, active life such as Gerry’s – it’s quite the task finding time to schedule anything new.
Monday is full to the brim with regret and angst.
Tuesday morning he has anger, followed after lunch by resentment and then panic all the way through to six pm. That’s tiring.
Forget Wednesday; busiest day of the week. Impatience first thing (but that doesn’t last long) then depression, anxiety, jealousy and second-guessing. Although he’d need to check that.
Melancholy is first up Thursdays – has been for years, there’s no moving that one. Introspection appears for a couple of hours in the afternoon but quickly makes way for feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt. Might as well put all calls on hold when they show up – it’ll be a late night.
You can try Friday because his misplaced optimism means a seemingly great day, but soon procrastination develops and he re-schedules. Anyway, impatience hangs around the corridors resulting in missed meetings with fear and worry. Good chance they’ll pop up again though.
You could try him at the weekends between short-lived optimism, projected needs and implied responsibilities.

Where do you find the time?


The line that tied him down, keeping him attached to the unremarkable, became disconnected a moment ago.
There it is…flying away, up to the clear blue sky; a streamer, twisting, finding its natural shape and charting a new and unfamiliar course. Caught by an upwind, taken higher and higher and further and further away.
The longer you look, the smaller it is.
Like the fitful penguin purposely cut loose from his herd, rejecting the norm to waddle away from the water across five thousand miles of iced interior. Uncertain why, motivated by instinct.

Off to look for streamers, perhaps.

Have Your Cake and Eat It

One slightly green, undersized banana.
One “Soft ‘n' Delicious” granola bar.
One shopping basket designed to hold more.
The two familiar items rattling around freely like space debris in a contained universe.
The same banana, the same granola bar. 
It’s what you do. It’s who you are. You are what you eat.
A grown up snack for the workday. Potassium and whatever the hell granola does.
He really wanted the chocolate cream cake.
From the bakery.
Moist, rich, forbidden, indulgent, passionate, morale boosting, liberating, pornographic, intoxicating, smoldering, threatening, soul-enhancing, fence jumping, rule destroying, self-satisfying, up yours chocolate cream cake.
The birthday boy, the debutante, the groom. The great day, celebratory chocolate cake.
“Just the banana and bar for you today Sir…?”

A moment’s hesitation.

Badda Bing

"So, aaay, how ya doin’ ah? Every’tings gud wit you ah? You’re happy? You got enough ta eat? You’re lukkin aftah yaself okay? Yeah? Good, thass good. I’m happy for you. That’s nice. You need any’ting, any’ting at all – you tell me OK? I’ll look aftah every’ting. No prawblem. No questions.  All rite? Atta boy. Yeah? S’all good. I like you kid. Don’t go breakin’ my heart, all right? OK. Any questions?"

No thank you father.

"Nice. Three Hail Mary’s and an Our Father. Now get outta here".

Younger Then

What time do you start work?
-No time.
Then how do you know when it is?
-I just go with the flow.
How does that work?
-Easy. I’m doing it now.
You’re just talking now.
That’s not work.
-Depends on your definition.
Work. Paid to work.
-Depends on your definition of ‘paid’.
Money. Paid money.
-Money comes and goes.
Oh, I couldn't think like that.
How can you survive doing that?
-I’m still here.
What about the future?
-What about it?
Don’t you think of the future?
When? The future. When you’re older.
-Older than what?
Older than now.
-In an hour? That older?
No. That’s silly. Older, y’know. You need to plan for the future.
-Do you?
Yeah, it’s crazy not to. 
You're crazy.
Everyone needs to plan ahead.
-How far ahead?
For when you’re older. I told you.
-You did. But I was younger then.

Crunch Time

Sometimes, walking down the street in his adopted city, Malcolm would feel out of place.
It’s summertime; - thirty-two degrees, thirty-one tonight.
He’s baking.
He’s an Irishman baking. 
In his big shoes and heavy socks; the ones he brought with him in February because he hasn't gotten around to buying new ones.  They do exist, these summer socks. These half-a-sock that can only muster up enough enthusiasm to climb as far as the ankle bone.
He paces hurriedly through crowds, decked out in cords and a green t-shirt; the one nod to the season. Out come the Pennys t-shirts, three for a fiver.
Under the arm lies the jacket.
The forecast can’t see further than three weeks ahead…yet it is adamant there will be no rain. None.
But the jacket never rests. Just in case.
The jacket travels everywhere. Just in case. 
You never know. You can never be too careful.
The locals meanwhile, dress for impact. Lean, tanned bodies. Happy and bouncy. On show for summer – nine months of crunches to his nine months of Crunchies.
Like a Porsche taken out for a spin on the first Tuesday of every month.
Primed, taut, ready.

Malcolm gets the bus.

2 up from 50

In the bed where the sofa sat
Two days and nights before
Numbered breaths upraising
Each a conscious chore.
The heavy lined red curtains
In Christmas past a joy
Return the solemn aura
of he who was a boy.
The years have passed in full now
Ambition long since gone
The sofa now a mattress
Soft light through curtains shone.
Eyes open for the others
To spy inside the soul
As always for the others
Continuing the role.
The heavy lined red curtains
Diminish stuff of life
The sun and moon together
'Like us', comments the wife.
For the time is slowly passing
Put away the tea and wine
No need for cake or biscuits
No more for suppertime.
No letters to be opened
Sent solely to his name
Payment required promptly
For him, not again.
The wife looks on this stranger
"You were the finest one of all"
The ears no longer listen
The fall.
Three weeks go past as always
The bed now been replaced
The sofa sits back gently
Curtains now of lace.
Cars drive by quite often
But never stop to speak
The man who lived here once
Has left, to seek.
Put on the kettle gently
Eat your sandwiches alone
Go walk outside in silence
Place your hand on your collarbone.
And hear the voice is calling
And hear the laugh ring true
The day must be endured
The day belongs to you.
Will the curtains close so slowly?
Will the bed be downstairs soon?
Will you kiss the hand familiar?
You two; the sun and moon.

On the Ones

“The 401 is backed up to just before the 427 on ramp. Traffic very slow in that area…”
Jane turned the radio off and sighed.
In front lay the endless stretch of redundant cars and trucks. Progress stalled. Their purpose thwarted.
Bill sat silently behind the wheel, biting his lip. Squinting his eyes as if concentrating on something in the far distance.
The engine politely mumbling its own misgivings.
“Must have been an accident” Jane offered.
He married the wrong woman.
He knew it.
Everyone was so happy, so pleased. Perfect for eachother.
The same road everyday, together apparently.
“…and it should eventually clear as soon as we remove some unresolved emotional blocks”.

“I hope no one was hurt” she said, ignoring her own.

Budget Day

Ten Euro in your pocket
No food inside the fridge
One Euro for a Mars Bar
The breakfast-to-lunch bridge.
A coffee would be lovely
Fresh from the shop machine
Two Euro for a small one
You need that much caffeine.
Go to the supermarket
Head for the reduced line
Microwaveable pasta
For dinner? Fine.
Check the change remaining
A beer would be nice
Four Euro asks its question
Beer or bag of rice?
The hops come out as winners
Two cans take all you've got
Start again tomorrow
And try to worry not.

Dear Margaret

Put on the washing Margaret
Make a start on all their teas
Have a look inside the freezer
See what’s left under the peas.
Fish sticks in crispy batter
Just like the ad man states
Some microchips go with it
Look lovely on their plates.
Put on the oven Margaret
They’ll be home within the hour
With tales of work and college
They really are a shower.
But have a fag first Margaret
A ciggie’ll do no harm
Back when you were younger
It added to your charm.
They're polaroids now Margaret
Dreams all disappeared
Stories and ambitions
Falling on deaf ears.
So ignore the real you Margaret
Put away those hopes and wishes
Bury that ambition
Underneath the unwashed dishes.
The ketchup’s in the cupboard
Your tears are in the sink
The cutlery is stainless
When exactly did you blink?
Wipe those tears our Margaret
Here come the hungry few
Tell us how your day was
And how was it for you?
Did you live your dream dear Margaret?
“I thought I did” you say
But those gaping mouths need feeding
“I’ll defer to another day”.

Different Class

I started school when I was four
A uniformed wee man
By age eighteen I’m out the door
An exam and a dim life plan.
In between were books and lessons
Bullies, friends and rules
Teachers, sports, detention
The parts that make up schools.
Miss Taylor was my favourite
She looked a hundred and three
She was prob’ly in her fifties
Ancient then to me.
A kind and patient lady
Grey hair tied in a bun
Strict concerning lessons
With a smile suggesting fun.
McGee was the maths teacher
We didn’t get along
Not personally, you understand
Just all my sums were wrong.
I don’t recall the others
With any great emotion
Perhaps somehow I picked up
On their lack of real devotion.
Mullins, Carthy, Whelan
And Collins all in trouble
“Sketch” here comes old Duffy
To your desks lads, on the double.
Bag hanging off your shoulder
The homework laid out square
The weight of an Aran boulder
“Aw come on Sir, not fair”.
We’ll do it in the morning
In the yard or before the bell
First up is Mister Clancy
The Irish class from hell.
“Can any of you tell me
The Irish word for horse?
The answers in your notebooks
Now boys it’s on the course”.
A half-day off on Wednesday
For soccer or rugbai
Unless you had a sick note
Then you won the lottery.
Weekends and summer holidays
Christmas and Easter time
Register less intently
Than the nine o’clock bell chime.
Perhaps that’s why I hear it
As I walk in through the gate
St. Martins Boys maths teacher
I prefer not to be late.

90 minutes.

The football’s on the telly
Grab your tea and take your seat
It’s QPR V Villa
The home team’s hard to beat.
No score for each at half-time
Few chances to be fair
“He’s hit that well, that fella”
Says the pundit in the chair.
“Bit boring” states the brother
Who had a trial at Leeds
A broken metatarsal
Reshaped his wants and needs.
“Who’s that fella for the Villa?”
“Which one?” – “The Spaniard there”
“Top scorer in La Liga
Or France, or else somewhere”.
“Well, he’s rubbish for the money”
Says the uncle just walked in
“For fifty million quid
I’d rather Dusty Bin”.
“Dusty what?” says young Peter
“A bit before you son”
Ted Rogers with the questions
Sunday night and 3-2-1.
Just as we start complaining
About over the odds fees
Number eleven strikes it
And brings us to our knees.
What a goal for Villa!
“He’s struck it sweet as day”
What do you think now uncle
“He’s surely earned his pay”.
We’re none of us impartial
Now praying in our heads
Please let our Villa win this
Send us happy to our beds.
Five minutes have been added
Oh come on referee
Where did you find five minutes?
At most we’d give you three.
The seconds pass like hours
As we hold on to our lead
The whistle sound thrice tooting
The only calm we need.
It’s over, three points added
A famous victory
We’ll celebrate ‘til next week
And repeat the misery.

No 75 Pine Gardens

Number 75 Pine Gardens
Just down from the local shops
Two young lads run and scamper
Out the door with skips and hops.
Laughs and smiles and joking
Despite the cloud and rain
Loose change in their jacket pockets
The dentist soon would gain.
Around the corner running
The race to get there first
Black Jacks and Cheese ‘n’ Onion
Excitement fit to burst.
Taste the moment dearly
It lasts but just a jot
Taste the moment dearly
For soon that is your lot.
Number 75 Pine Gardens
Near where the buses stop
One grown man walks out briskly
To the front seat at the top.
Too grown up now for comics
Or sweets or fizzy pop
His footie days are over
The office was the swap.
Number 75 Pine Gardens
Retains a memory
Of a life once lived quite freely
With honesty and glee.

Wots All This Then?

- "Is this gentleman disturbing you madam?"

- "No officer, thank you. everything is fine".

The whole of class 2E thought the police reaction to the paper plane throwing a bit heavy handed.

No Commentary

"It's like watching a football match on TV. Have you ever watched a football match on TV?"
Yes. Yes I have.
"Well, it's a bit like that except the commentary is missing".
How do you mean?
"How do I mean? Well, you can still see the players running around the pitch and the ball moving and the crowd cheering and all that. You can hear them all too. But the explanation is missing. The...context. That's it - there's no context. No frame of reference".
I think I understand.
"You can shout at the TV and yell at the players but no one answers. They don't hear you. They can't. There's no way for you to argue a point or express a thought because they don't know you're there. There's no way to take part".

And that's how he explained what it was like for him to be homeless.


Larry the pigeon flew into a hole.
Typical really.

Do Your Best

He could feel the anticipation beyond the curtain. Over two thousand people seated comfortably and elegantly in the Old State House great room. The good and the great of Boston society, gathered together to listen to the words written transformed into the words spoken.
The applause appropriate as he strode onto stage to polite delight and restrained anticipation. The genuine pleasure he felt at that moment suffocating all but the most stubborn deep-seated anxieties.
Emboldened, coughing theatrically and peeking at his public surreptitiously, he began.
The words as he wrote them, sitting expectantly on the pedestal, chest height. Awaiting their glory.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
"Oh get on with it"!!
Oh shit.
Charles Dickens hated hecklers.

Millligan's Phase One

Mister Ambrose didn't know what to do.
"Why don't you just pretend" suggested his friend Mister Milligan.
Pretend? Pretend what?
"That everything is good" Mister Milligan added.
That everything is good. He supposed he could give that a try.
Did it work?
"For a while. Then you need to go to the next phase".
What's the next phase?
"That's where you ignore".
Ignore what?
"Whatever it is you're pretending doesn't exist".
Oh. So you pretend something isn't happening and after a while you then ignore it completely?
"Something like that".
OK. Is that it?
"No, then you deny that you are doing either of those".
I'll give it a go, thought Mister Ambrose.
Is that what you do, Mister Milligan?
"Me? Good Lord no. There's nothing wrong with me".

Widdle Waddle

Walter liked to waddle
He waddled day and night
It kept his senses calm
For he needed things 'just right'.
To waddle was essential
To not would be a crime
He likened it to lifeblood
The lemon to his lime.
Walter liked to waddle
He waddled everywhere
If a waddle was forbidden
He stayed away from there.
A day without a waddle
Would be a mystery
A waddle represented
His desire to be free.
One day instead of waddle
He discovered widdling too
This shocked poor Walter hugely
He didn't know what to do.
It brought forth some hidden questions
From his past and present being
The waddle took his mind off
From ever again seeing.
Thoughts and feelings waddled
Inside his heart and head
Words not to be spoken
Now audibly said.
To widdle was confusing
To waddle was ideal.
The widdle was intangible
The waddle - it was real.
To him.

Bit Hostile

Three hours after war was declared, it ended.
Both sides agreeing that the whole episode had the potential to end rather nastily. Neither wanted that.
Yes, they had their differences but who doesn't?
Best bet for everyone was to just sit down and talk about it.
Then, the location of these 'talks' became important - they needed to be on neutral territory.
Neither side could agree.
At first, one side offered a site on their side of the border. Perfectly fine looking site it was too.
This was refuted by the other side who instead suggested their own. With predictable consequences.
Due to no peace agreement having ever been signed, the upcoming conflict remained officially active.
So, troops reluctantly mobilised.
Each side massed at their own border, interpreting the others' movements as an act provocation.
The same shared trait that prevented agreement on talks locations would now result in hostilities.

Sunny Outlook

The sunglasses protect my eyes from the blinding sun.
Relieving them.
Allowing lines of protection to relax.
So I say.

Angry Horace

Horace had become an angry man - a very angry little man indeed.
He'd only noticed it recently.
He was angry with the government for screwing up the economy. Angry at his low level of job satisfaction. At the driver who hit his car when he was shopping and drove off.
At the supermarket queue for being too long, the weather for being too cold and his WiFi for being too slow.
He was angry at Mars Bars for getting smaller, phone bills for getting bigger and his savings for staying the same.
For not having one real friend, for never getting married and for Man United losing.
He was angry at his neighbours' parties. Angry that he stopped playing the clarinet. Angry that the boiler was on the blink.
But to all of these, Horace threw his eyes to heaven, smiled and said "Oh well".
And that made him angriest of all.

Lydia. Going Out

Lydia. Going out.
Make up. Two hours. It's not easy looking this amazing you know.
Lipstick, foundation, eye shadow, blusher, mascara, oils, creams, teeth whitener, eye drops, clothes, accessories, shoes.
It all has to look the part.
Into the city.
God. What's everybody looking at??

Old Jane

It was pleasant, strolling through the park. Ambling between the huge old oak trees, watching as they danced in slow motion to the rhythms of the late afternoon breeze. Down the freshly mown grassy slope towards the sparkling stream, promising adventure and thrills.
For eighteen month old Jane, being here with her older brother and father reminded her of Orleans and Jean Claude.
She flinched slightly as her father called out to "be careful".
His voice reverberating through the ages.
She knew this was just part of being the oldest person in their group.


Sometimes there is an confusing difference in what you expect to feel and what you actually feel.
Shannon airport Ireland, October 5th 1982.
The crew of the Ilyushin 62 climbed up the steps and entered gingerly, leaving the drizzle and low cloud to someone else.
Captain Koftinoff, First officer Menchev and Flight Engineer Lemkov. Each dressed sprucely in full blue blazered correctness with military style hats positioned on their heads - extra starch.
Body language reserved and purposeful, eyes darting about in hesitant anticipation as they placed their polished shoes upon the carpet.
"This is our view" exclaimed Captain Rogers, sweeping his arm as if to reveal the cockpit consoles of the Pan Am Boeing 747 - the aircraft they would command to New York JFK in ninety minutes time.
The Soviet flight remained tired and weary after it's arrival from Havana thirty minutes previous.
The American crew happy to extend the hand of friendship to their aeronautical counterparts. Not exactly kicking a football in no man's land on Christmas Day but some sort of small gesture between people instead of principles.
Welcome to our world, it's not too different from yours, is it?
No words and small gestures - the Soviet crew nodded and smiled.
Thoughts censored even to themselves. Unable to reciprocate.
Was it cold in there?


Jose and Jesus met Joseph and James for the first time.
It was going well until someone offered them juice.

Joe Down

What depressed Joe the most, and he never shied away from using the term 'depressed', was the fact that he knew he was right.
His honesty with himself brought him to tears, the knowledge that his sense of who he truly was weighed heavily on his mind, his ability to realistically see the world without bias or opinion struck him dully across the cheek.
Optimism was useless because the truth would always win the day. Pessimism pointless for the same reason.
Pulling the curtain back and seeing the pulleys and cables and trap doors in the light of day highlighted the mystery as false and the magic as fake.
He knew this.
He knew he was the sane one.
He knew more than he wanted to know.


The "Have a great day" guy in the coffee shop will be disappointed in me.
My day was just 'alright'.
It definitely wasn't great.
He seemed so happy at the thought of my "great" day - smiling broadly as he handed me my medium black in a 'to go' cup.
I hope he's not there tomorrow.
He'll know.

Where I Am

I looked for you, but I wasn't there.
In your room, but I wasn't there.
Around the house and in your chair.
I finally arrived when I learned to care
For me.

Lights Out

It's OK to keep my living room curtains open so I can sit on my armchair and look out onto the street to watch the people pass by.
But  I'm afraid someone might glance in, see me watching them and think I'm a bit crazy and come over to bang on the glass and ask me what my problem is.
So I close the curtains.
And keep the light turned off too.
Just in case.
It's OK.

Night View

Nightfall in a place called Toronto.
On a brightly lit stretch they call 'street', where heavy machines transporting humans from one place to another send vibrations in between toes.
They pass, holding bags and conversations.
Bill watched.
Yes, Raccoons have names for each other too.
Humans - so self-obsessed.

Just Like That

On April 15th 1984, British comedian/magician Tommy Cooper collapsed and died on stage during a performance on the Live at Her Majesty's TV show. His death was viewed by millions of viewers across the UK. The following is my tribute to him.

The laugh. The smile. The familiar grin.
The final time. Unknown. Within.
Lap it up. This is it. It's finally arrived.
The audience relish your every move.
You have already died.
Just Like That and What Happened There?
Now more than just your lines, but
a body's message to the brain
That it's time, it's time, it's time.
Slump, fall and lie down flat
That's that.
Solemn faced, no act
The fact.
Unknown by the giggling mass.
Booze, smokes, bills and cares
No longer aware.
Gone and yet to all who see
The familiar shape - that's me.
You say.
The day.
Has arrived.

Brain Surgery

"Hmmm" Doctor Portress mused as he gazed into the workings of my head.
"Can you see that on the screen?". Yes, I could.
The image of my brain; exposed, pulsing and transmitted in full colour on a wall mounted flat screen TV.
"That's interesting...looks like some sort of crucially embarrassing moment. Maybe age eight...?"
The time Tom O'Dwyer pulled my pants down in the school playground and everyone pointed and jeered. The way Jane Dunne looked at me, with her lovely blue eyes.
"That's possibly a source of your neurosis...we could just cut it out but we'd need to be careful - it's almost touching each of your positive Christmas Day memories and a some nice looking holiday emotions".
Cut he did and since then my difficulties with the opposite sex have diminished noticeably.
Although Santa Claus now fills me with dread.


Did you do the dishes.
Did you pay the rent.
Did you go to work.
Forgot. But remembered your face and voice.
Did you get some milk.
Did you put out the bin.
Did you go to the bank.
Forgot. But remembered your face and voice.
Did you pay the telephone bill.
Did you iron your good white shirt.
Did you remember anything at all.
Just the things I'll never forget.


While his brother enjoyed the fame and celebrity of becoming one of the world's best known rap artists, young Beef Cube preferred his life as a local chef.

Room at the Back

It was a problem the local council transport commission hadn't envisaged.
Forms had been completed, checked and stamped with the official seal.
The new fleet of twenty seven single decker buses approved and ordered.
Pick up day arrived and a delegation travelled to bus HQ for the key handing over ceremony.
1.7 million dollars, the total cost.
The deal abandoned after discovering the manufacturer would only accept exact change.

Cuba Unscheduled

It was 1979 and we were hijacked. On a flight from Miami to, what turned out to be, Cuba. Not Havana (because let’s face it, who wants to be in Havana in July) but Varadero. A place I had never heard of before, but in July I can think of no where nicer. Except maybe Venice. But definitely not Havana.
The pilot announced his apologies “On behalf of Eastern Airlines” for the diversion and hoped it wouldn’t ruin the in-flight experience for us as the cabin crew proceeded to placate us with an endless supply of free macadamia nuts and cola, heretofore available only to First and Business passengers in the Boeing 727. I presumed they were entering into the spirit of the occasion and embracing our hijacker’s socialist ideals.
As for the persons responsible for this about turn in our fortunes, not a sight could be seen.   
Nothing changed inside the cabin – we sat in the same seats, the water below us remained the same azure blue as before and the three rear mounted engines purred like a kitten might if it were hurtling ninety seven human beings through the sky.
Silence and the occasional yell of ‘snap’ from the rear of the cabin as a rowdy group partook in a game of cards. That will be knocked on the head when we reach land, no mistake senor comrade.
Thoughts of endless cigars and Hemingway workshops fill our heads as the left wing banked gently and pressure built in the ears. Either we were descending or had all developed a sudden allergic reaction to vast quantities of salted macadamia nuts consumed over a short period of time. Well, they were free and delicious to boot – who could blame the madness in our time of need. Plus they came in such tiny packets it was hard to tell how many you had actually eaten.
Touchdown. A bevy of nothing surrounded the taxi-ing aircraft – not even a ‘Bienvenidos a Cuba’ from the flight deck.  First impressions are lasting and quite frankly the hijackers’ left a lot to be desired. What was the local time and temperature, where would one go for connecting to onward destinations? Car hire, local hotels and had our luggage been checked all the way through? Nothing.
So much for the Latin passion for life.
We vowed there and then to never fly with that airline again.
Although, it had to be admitted, their nonstop service to Varadero in July was quite handy.

Home Babies

Age four.
On the floor.
Dad long gone.
Mum no more.
On the floor.
Example to all.
Old and small.
This is how it looks
This is the result
Age four, put on the floor.
Cloaks swish by, the smell of lack.
Dressed in black, shoes that clack, eyes that bore.
On the floor.
Don’t get up, stay right there.
Don’t dare.
Glares and snares, looks that hate
Unable to relate.
Expecting nothing more
“He smells” becomes the bait.
Punishment for shame
Playtime denied, who cried?
Quiet while the others receive what’s truly theirs.
And could have been for you
But no one said their prayers
For you. 
On the floor
Aged four.
Now gone.
Eight hundred more.

Right then...

The writing coach said to clear your mind, hold the pen and just "take it for a walk".
Don't think about it, just put pen to paper and write words.
Once you start, keep going. It's therapeutic.
Peter anxiously set forth, unsure how this would work but also eager to discover what his silent self was thinking.
The nib gently touched  page.
Unsure how it started, Peter smiled; excited, liberated.
Slowly at first a single letter, another, then...a word.
A sentence.
How long did it take? He couldn't say...a minute, an hour?
Exhausted and sated, he looked at the inner self revealed through words: "Poo sometimes smells nicer on the carpet".
"Well" said the writing coach "that's fucked up".


From the Latin words 'Mori' and 'Gage'. 
Literally meaning ' 'Death Pledge'.

The new shop-front advertising campaign started to reveal the bank's intrinsically dark nature.

I Am

I am not gone.
I have not left.
I am still here.
In the breeze that brushes your hair. I am.
In the warmth that bathes your skin. I am.
In the laughter of a little child. I am.
I am not gone.
I have not left.
I am still here.
In the part of you I touched.
In the memory of a smile.
In the comfort of a sense.
I am.
In the sound of a voice.
In the rhythm of a song.
In the joy of a dance.
I am.
In the tears that you cry.
In the anger that you feel.
In the love that you knew.
I am.
I am not gone.
I have not left.
I am still here.
When you need me there. I am.
When you think my name. I am.
When you move along. I am.
I am the one who supports you.
Until the day arrives when you are.
Then, I was.
And you forever will be.

On a Carousel

It was like looking at a carousel.
Turning round and round. Empty.
Nothing on the carousel floor. Round and round.
Then, occasionally from the umbrella roof, a rope drops.
You know you need to grab that rope, so you chase after it.
Round and round, hoping to grab hold before it shoots back up and out of sight forever.
You get a good grip, feel your legs lift off the ground as you attempt to hold on with all of your might.
What the rope brings, you don't know. But you hang on because you need a rope.
Other ropes drop, but you hang on to this one. It's your rope.
To try grab a different rope might mean falling back to the ground.
No one wants to go back there.
So, you hold onto the rope.

The Journey

Francis Daly arrived at what he perceived to be the gates of heaven.
In front of him stood, who he perceived to be, Saint Peter - leafing through a large old book.
"Right, let's see. Daly, Francis. Paid all your bills on time, taxes too, mortgage, car insurance,  worked to age 65, obeyed all the rules. Good. You can go in".
Tired yet delighted, Francis walked past the gates.
As he did so, he heard Saint Peter continue:
"Campbell, Paul. Traveled the world, sat on an elephant, ate and laughed and drank for fun. Danced in a waterfall.  No traditional job, no bills and answered to no one but yourself. Good. You can go in".

Your Number's Up

It took six doctors five hours and three minutes, using four scalpels and two clamps to force one double edged sword from his multiple personalities.

True To Form

If you had no way of holding back and could only release the ‘true you’ – what would it look like?

Would it be blue, green, red or orange?

Tall, short, wide or thin?

Heavy or light?

Quiet or loud?

Respectful or rude?

Patronising or understanding.

Critical or supportive?

What form would it take? Would you recognize it as part of you or would it look like someone else?

Philip had not expected these questions on the job application form.