Monday, 28 December 2009

I can tell you're an XXL!

We can’t get away from it! Every time we switch on the TV news we’re constantly reminded that we’re becoming a nation of fatties. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of it!

If the powers that be were serious about our terrible tubbiness, they’d do something positive about the way in which food is marketed. We all know that a lot of bad food is cheap food, and while this economic downturn is still with us, a lot more people will be eating cheap food! We’ll be spawning even more lardies!

Why not reverse the situation until we emerge from this recession? Make good food cheaper and we may then learn to like our grub without tons of salt and fat poured, or injected into it. We could get hooked on good food, and will then be ripe for picking when the downturn becomes an upturn!

Of course, it’s not our fault that we’re fat: it’s an American plan for global domination. Please refer to my song, ‘The Fats of Life’ (below) for more information.

The Fats of Life

Obesity! Obesity! America sponsors obesity! (X2)

Crumbling knee joints?
Bulging tumours?
They ain’t no more
than malicious rumours.

Type 2 diabetes?
The fear of strokes?
We all need guts
like them Sumo blokes.

Obesity! Obesity! America sponsors obesity! (X2)

We test their junk food
in the UK,
and those Third World kids
lose the will to play.

Bomb ’em with Cola.
Stuff ’em with cheese.
Uncle Sam invents it
just to spread the unease.

Obesity! Obesity! America sponsors obesity! (X2)

Hardening arteries?
Tumours on tumours?
They say it’s the fault
of us greedy consumers.

Trouble sleeping?
Gallbladder disease?
“Like another burger, son?”
“Yes please!”

Obesity! Obesity! America sponsors obesity! (X2)

When the oil and the minerals
become easy to steal,
there’ll be cut-price drugs,
so it looks a good deal.

America’s rich:
dollars grow on dollars
and wherever they go,
everybody follers!

Obesity! Obesity! America sponsors obesity! (X2)

You can call me cynical,
or label me barmy,
but it’s the back door way
to conquer an army.

World domination
is theirs for the taking.
There’s no need to shoot folk:
destroy ’em by baking!

Repeat last line of last verse (X2)


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Is ‘Turner’ art just ‘Woodburner’ art?

Could this be the winning entry for 2010?

Yet another depressing year: they’ve only gone and done it again! The 2009 Turner Prize has been awarded to Richard Wright: an artist who’s produced something that can only be described as a poorly executed piece of uninspiring wallpaper design. The work is a gold-leafed fresco and it took him three weeks to cobble together. (Three weeks!) Its only redeeming feature is that it will be painted over (with white emulsion) as soon as the exhibition ends in January (Thank goodness for that!) Mr. Wright allegedly said that all his art is temporary. He now gets to enjoy his prize of £25.000!

For Sir Nicholas Serota. Director of the Tate galleries.

I’m sticking up for the Stuckists
and the Stuckists ain’t stuck on you.
Oh, Sir Nicholas Serota
we don’t enjoy the art that you do.

The stuff you promote is anti-art:
not something that will elevate man.
Blotches on a wall are poles apart
from Van Gogh or Paul Gauguin!

Mr Turner must turn in his grave
every time you award ‘his’ prize.
Compared to the giant that Turner is –
your winner is a fraction the size.

So, come on now, Sir Nicholas,
please do ‘art’ a very good deed:
stop being so damned ridiculous:
resign from your job… at speed!

Photo (and possible winning entry for 2010) by: Colin Shaddick

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Lycra louts?

I’m lying here, battered and bleeding. I haven’t been in a fight and I haven’t been dropped from a great height. All I did was walk into Barnstaple to do some last minute Christmas shopping, accompanied by my little frog friend who, thank goodness, was safely tucked away in my pocket.

It was my fault that I got injured, apparently: I’d decided to use the pavement! The pavement is probably the most dangerous place to be for pedestrians these days, some people say.

Yes, I was run over by a bicycle. I was injured by a so called, ‘Lycra lout’ who was belting, without a care in the world, along the footpath and who had, apparently, decided that he had the right-of-way. I didn’t realize this, because he crashed into me from the rear.

What is going on? Are pavements for pedestrians, or cyclists? Nobody seems to be sure anymore. I’ve been told that many cyclists are afraid of vehicular traffic and that is why they use the pavements. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be doing more to ensure that cyclists are safe on the roads in and around our town? If we can achieve this, then it’ll be safer for pedestrians who use the pavements too. Bicycles are, in the eyes of the law, classed as carriages and should be on the road and not the pavement.

However, with this in mind, the Home Office has issued some guidance on how the introduction of a possible fixed penalty notice should be applied: ‘… it should only be used where a cyclist is riding in a manner that may endanger others: ‘Cycling Furiously’.’ The bloke that hit me was doing that, alright!
This new fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who at times feel the need to use the pavement out of fear of traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users. I believe a fixed penalty notice could cost an offender about £30.

Got that? Well, I’ve written a song based upon my sidewalk experience. Here it is:

Do The Barnstaple ‘Jump’.

There’s a brand new dance
that’s a-goin’ around.
They call it the Jump
and it’s grippin’ the town.
For those who can remember
what dancin’ at a rave meant:
the steps are similar,
but you do ’em on the pavement!

Yeah! The steps are similar,
but you do ’em on the pavement!

There are cyclists here
and there are cyclists there.
They’re burning up the sidewalks
and they don’t really care.
They run traffic lights;
ignore the one-way streets.
And they try to bowl you over
as they listen to their beats.

Yeah! They try to bowl you over
as they listen to their beats!

So, come on you people,
put on them dancin’ shoes.
Try and walk the High Street
without pickin’ up a bruise.
Spin to the left and spin to the right;
if you hear a Derailleur,
it’s far too late for flight!

Yeah. If you hear a Derailleur,
it’s far too late for flight!

There are cyclists here
and there are cyclists there.
They’re burning up the sidewalks
and they don’t really care.
They run traffic lights;
ignore the one-way streets.
And they try to bowl you over
as they listen to their beats.

Yeah! They try to bowl you over
as they listen to their beats!


Photos by: Linda Shaddick.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Dream

I jumped out of bed this morning,
desperately trying to cling on
to the loose ends of a fast-fading dream.
Little did I know that this sudden leap
and the following sprint to the computer,
would lead me into an argument
with a large and almost immovable object
that stood, quietly waiting, in the corner
of my small, dark studio
and as a consequence,
cause me so much discomfort.

I noticed that it was 5am. as I bent down
to switch on the mains
and because of tiredness, I forgot
that I'd left a protruding washboard
on one of the pine shelves
situated immediately above the switch.
There was a sickening 'clang' as my forehead collided
with one of the thin legs on the washboard.
I screamed inwardly, as a hundred beads of sweat
burst, like spring buds on my reddening brow.
I didn't want my wife to know
that I'd done something quite so silly.
She'd never let me live it down.
I can hear her now:
"You'll never guess what Colin did this morning..."
My friends would laugh
and say that I should play the washboard
with thimbles on my fingers and not use my big head!

I must admit that I did eventually smile
at the thought of myself playing this thing
in front of an expectant audience,
who immediately froze into a state of shock
when I started butting the washboard with my head;
pulsing to the rhythm of a 12 bar blues
played loudly by a group of old Folkies.

I sat for a while until my head cleared
and then moved slowly towards the switch.
With one outstretched finger and an easy movement,
the job was done at last.
My computer burst into life after a short while
and I swiftly sat down on my faux
leopard skin covered swivel chair.
I was now ready to begin writing!

My mind was a complete blank canvas...
Not even a minute blob of colour stained its surface!
What was it that I was going to write about?
What was that wonderful dream I dreamed?
What was all the fuss about?
Was it all worth the lump between my eyes?


Photos by: Linda Shaddick.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Book Sellers Of Appledore

Thank You Appledore

My time as Writer-in-Residence at the Appledore Book Festival has finally run out. It was an experience I'll never forget. I met so many kind and creative people and made a lot of new friends too. The Festival could not have run so smoothly without meticulous planning by the Committee members and the hard work of the Volunteers. Well done everyone!

September swaggered in,
holding on to its pledges
and settled
without fan-fare,
to share
its treasure-filled time.

A stretch was offered
for me to take
so, without too much thought,
took it of course
and was soon strolling
the narrow streets
and many rises
of ol' twisty Appledore.

I slowly breathed-in
the invigorating whiff
of freshly brewed coffee,
pasties, beer
fish... and books.
All this
and the fresh tang of salt
on the bell-ringing tide.

They were there okay,
protruding proudly
from plenty of pockets,
or held lovingly in local hands
and teetering perilously tall
on tables.

Books! Books! Books!
Books that drew me
and offered me back my youth
(if only for a fleeting moment) -
O, what would I have become
without those crazy,
literate, jazzed-up Beats?
New books are great:
just fine,
but if you close your eyes
you just don't know they're around.

As far as I'm concerned,
a book's gotta smell right.
Yes, weird maybe,
but some old books, to me,
are triggers to the remembered summers
of the 50s: adventurous,
new and blisteringly hot;
raging like raw Rockabilly
on a Memphis radio -
Promising us something new
and exciting.

I slipped out of my 'Sun Sessions' reverie
and felt that I was being clocked
by various writers and broadcasters.
They were gazing out
from a multitude of posters.
from the corner of my eye,
I saw... William-bloomin'-Blake!
Yep, ol' visionary Blake...
in Appledore!

He was nuzzled-up
(neat and cozy like)
next to that other crazy ol' traveller,
Jack Kerouac.
Two spiritual beings
who'd made it big.

They were leaning there,
doing nothing: speechless,
spine next to perfect spine,
like a couple of resting Angels.
Two towering pillars
of the literary community,
still demanding attention
without bawling,
or using billious colours.
Not there in the flesh of course,
but they were there,
just the same.

They were both looking a little...
a little ragged around the edges:
weary from loving
and some fighting, I suppose.

This is what I like
about old paperbacks -
They mirror life for real!


Friday, 2 October 2009

Fishermen's Cottages In Appledore

I Listen To What You Say.

I've really enjoyed Appledore with its creative and friendly people! My time as Writer-in-Residence has been an experience I would have hated to have missed. I have talked to so many people and listened very closely to the tales they had to tell.

Fishermen's Cottages

You won't find
many local fishermen
in Appledore's
fishermen's cottages:
that's what we say.

They've been sold on
to lots of well-off people
who weren't born here,
but up the road, away.

For years and years
we've been trading
and fishing.
Now it's nearly all gone -
Us locals are wishing
the old days would return
to what it was, back-along.

Not back to the days
of that 'Hubba the Dane':
he wanted to burn
the whole place down,
but to those times
when you knew the names
of most of the people
who walked around.

Still, one good thing
this Book Festival's done
I suppose, is to draw in folk
whether it's wet,
or we've got a bit of sun.

We've had some well-known
people down here, you know.
They come to perform:
reading from their books,
or putting on little plays.

Some have been back here
several times now.
We're even getting to know them
by name...
Just like the good ol' days!


Photo by Linda Shaddick.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Appledore Library: 150 Years Old This Year!

A Literary Genre Poem
Gonzo dream in Appledore Library

Graphic Novels
Mystery -
'My Twin Was A Russian Spy'

Court Room Drama
Memoir -
'Avoiding Accidents With One's Fly'

Christian Classics
Noir -
'I Got Them Deviant Low Down Blues'

Travel -
'An Alien Ran Off With My Shoes'

Indigenous People
Erotica -
'Body Painting With Home Made Jam'

Science Fiction
Folklore -
'The Sex Life Of An Appledore Clam'

Romantic Comedy
Horror -
'Coping With A Troublesome Niece'

Picture Books
Suspense -
'I Was Released By The Leith Police'

Whodunit -
'Let's Start Another Filthy War'

And Fortunately
the last one that I've got
is entitled:
'Avoiding The 'List Poet' Bore'

Eccentrically Colin.

Photo by Spencer Murphy.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Strong Coffee: My Midnight Muse

I needed to stay awake. The aches and pains that come after sleeping in a chair are almost as painful as the unforgiving cough that forced me to sit up all night - in forced exile - in the first place.

Nights can be so long too. Luckily, I was awake enough to read through the Appledore Book Festival events list. It was then that I came to realize just how many wonderful speakers and events I'd missed. Not because I didn't want to listen to them, but because there just wasn't enough time. Please forgive me:
Have I Got (Devon) News For You, Peter Christie, Gardeners Question Time, David Carter, Tanya Landman, Victoria Glendenning, Jazz Evening, Tania Crosse, Charlie Elder, Sam Llewellyn and Commander Ade Orchard, RN.

Charles Kingsley Called Appledore a "Little White Fishing Village." With its crazy maze of narrow streets and little fishermen's cottages dating back to the Elizabethan age, it surely is a living, breathing picture-postcard community.

A Few Of Appledore's Poetic Street Names. (As they arrived at 5 am.)

Odun Place
Irsha Street

Pitt Hill
The Path

Long Lane
Marine Parade

The Quay

One End Street
Churchill Way

Yeo Drive
Primrose Lane

Staddon Road
Bude Street

The Mount
Western Avenue

Vernons Lane
Myra Court

Tomouth Road
Mariners Way

Alpha Place
Meeting Street

Gibbs Lane
Torridge Road

Kingsley Avenue
Whitehouse Lane

Myrtle Street
Ivy Court

Scott Avenue
Jubilee Road

Green Lane


Photo by Linda Shaddick.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cold Step Notes: Appledore

I spent most of last night propped up in a chair in the sitting room, lungs burning and fighting to get a decent breath. I couldn't sleep properly. I could only drift for short periods. I travelled far though. I travelled beyond Australia, to a place where everyone swam in total darkness and communicated by tapping their fingers on what I imagined, was tiny drum-like instruments. As yet, I don't know what this night journey was all about. Maybe I'll never find out, but maybe I will.

"Sometimes to make a difference you have to go on a journey you never expected to take... The journey being the point and not the destination... Be the change you want to see." - Barbara Haddrill.

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."

Mahatma Gandhi.

Gonzo Notes From A Cold Step In Appledore

There will always be a perimeter:
a place where the weak will be pushed and forsaken.
Or a corner where one will not be noticed as much
as any new arrival in the pack.

As a kid I sat on many a cold step -
It all started outside our own back door.
I'd be put out there 'til I stopped crying...
and I didn't always know why I cried.

As I'd sit out there, on the step, sobbing,
I'd hear laughter and talking from inside.
I was sure that everyone was laughing at me.
I felt as if I was the outsider.

After a while, the door became my shield.
It was solid, green and reliable.
I could lean against it and gain support.
I had no fear of it bursting open.

That old back door would never let me down.
Once, I stood up and kicked it damned hard,
but it didn't make any difference.
It absorbed my frustrations and stood firm.

Even now, the sounds of muffled laughter
can make my blood run cold. Never,
I'll never shake off those old memories.
I'll always be the one who's looking in.

I can sit on any icy step and
get some comfort out of doing just that.
On a cold step, with my back to a door ...
Yep, it was as good as it got for me, then.

But lately, I've been thinking about things:
about them Pearly Gates. Will they open
when I get to rest my back against them?
Maybe I'll just have to look through the bars.

"Leaving is the hardest part." - Barbara Haddrill.


Photograph by Linda Shaddick.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Gonzo Dreams In Ol' Appledore (2)

I was driving down to Appledore and I was on edge. My eyes were constantly darting to the left, to the right, and up and down. I suppose you could describe my actions as manic! I had to be so careful: I didn't want to squash a jaywalking Peter Rabbit, or run-over a ruminating Rupert Bear! How on earth would I break the news to Mary Cadogan if I'd injured, or killed them?

My Paradise Lost (2)

at Coca-Cola Hotel -
little land crab

I was glad to be there, head high
in the freshening September haze,
down by the cool, bird-lined
and neatly pointed old stone quayside
at people-packed Appledore...
doing little,
other than sitting quietly
and dreamily deliberating
on what I could write next.

I was unintentionally lending an ear
to the low munching and mumbling
a few ambling peacock-people were making,
and to the distant tut-tut-tutting
of small outboard motors
complaining their weary way
from left to right...
and then from right to left.

"It takes about a year-and-a-half to write a book: twelve months to think about it and six months to write it. I like to get all the characters set firmly in my mind first. It's then like taking dictation when I write it down: like a 'False Memory.'" - Patrick Gale

A 'False Memory.' I love the sound of that.

I know Appledore pretty well.
It's the sort of place
where you can take the weight
off your feet for a while and reflect
on whatever you want to reflect upon,
or talk to strangers, read a good book;
maybe just take-in the striking views.
Then again,
you don't need to get involved
in anything if you don't want to.

a small child
holding on to a feather -
learning to fly

I'd completed my stint of deep reflecting
for one day and come up with the same ol'
well-worn conclusion:
'You gotta read more. The answer
is in a book somewhere, and you ain't
come nowhere near finding it yet.'

For some reason, the image of an old
page marker of mine came to mind:
a photograph of a creased Hawaiian maiden.
She was lightly holding on to the neck
of a brightly painted ukulele.

She sat there,
like a beautiful rounded statue:
grass skirted...
leaning back on her heels,
on soft, manicured grass
under a shady palm.
A thin strip of blue,
which was the ocean
(and I swear I could hear it)
was the backdrop to her lovely smiling face.

The page marker was a favourite of mine.
I bought it on Waikiki Beach
from a pretty girl wearing little more
than a couple of coconut shells.
A tourist trap, but...
I always keep that page marker handy
when I'm reading.
As I said, I'm always searching
for something else.
Well, that time it must have been the period
when I was searching for...

How stupid was that?
What the hell!
It was the Appledore Book Festival
and I was there.
That was all that mattered.
If there was such a place as Paradise,
surely it was to be found there
in those narrow twisting streets?

I'm sure I'm going to find it this time!

Surrounding me were authors, readers,
performers and books!
Books, books and more books!
Yes, this is Paradise enough for me alright.

" You can never get your writing perfect. We can all improve. Somebody always knows the facts that you don't." - Kate Furnivall.


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Gonzo Dreams In Ol' Appledore (1)

I enjoy catching snatches of conversations: not getting the complete picture. It creates inner tension and sets one's mind into detection mode.

My Paradise Lost (1)

beached window frame -
letting in the sea, the mist
and a curlew's cry

We can do it.
We can do it.
We can all write stuff we call poetry...
at some level anyway.
All we need is the freedom
to experiment
and make mistakes.
Creation is the motivation
to carry on.

" You cannot write and fill up a blank piece of paper unless you love what you're doing. You need time and space to develop." - Michael Morpurgo.

Luckily we live particularized lives
and we all have experiences worthy of note.
Nobody else could begin to imagine
what's held our own deepest thoughts.
Every one of us has an exclusive insight
into this, outwardly crazy, messed-up
and slowing to a sticky end,
old world of ours.

" What keeps us alive? What keeps us going? Well, you need a clear plan, a clear intention and a belief in yourself and a belief in what you are doing. At times you need to ask yourself, 'Is it worth hanging on? It's not all about dying, but about how many times you live.' " - Benedict Allen.

for a while the
universe was balancing
on my head

Poetry is about sharing one's world view,
and I'm pleased to say
that my poetry has often been described
as 'honest,' and 'containing real values;
not hype and pretentiousness.'

Apart from highlighting
the Appledore Book Festival,
I see my role as Writer-in-Residence
as being, on the one hand...
a kind of gentle demolition man,
attempting to break down,
or reduce, the many barriers
that have been erected over many years
by those bods
who used to inhabit the stuffy,
ivory-towered world of academia.

The problem is...
there's still some building
going on. Continued by others who,
at readings up and down the country,
regularly disappear up their own
tight trouser legs,
leaving their dwindling audiences
befuddled, cold and neglected.

And on the other hand...
as an encourager of the unsure:
the ones who say, 'I can't do that.'

Poetry shouldn't be confined
to the classroom, but be read and enjoyed
in bars and on the streets too.
Let's get it done!
The remarkable gift of poetry
(something created from language)
is to enlarge all our imaginations.
Let's start to think big!

"When I was bored in class, I used to look up at a poster on the wall. On the poster was Blake's poem, 'The Tyger'." - Michael Morpurgo.

a short silence -
just a vapour trail
linking clouds

To be continued.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Appledore Haiku Moment

When you're in Appledore, keep your ears - as well as your eyes - wide open. You could be pleasantly surprised.

myriad shells
breaking the silence -
riding the tide's ebb


Thursday, 24 September 2009

Further Auditory Responses In Appledore

"As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency." - John Cage.

Sounds And Poetry Are One. (2)

Finding ways to express sound
is the biggest challenge.
To merely tape record
the time period
in which the poem was made
is not good enough.

That would not be
expressing the moment
in any new or
exciting way.
It would just be a recording
of what appears
to be there,
hanging on the surface
of a wall
of hidden sounds.

The randomness of sounds
excite me too.
It's like opening up
a can with no label:
'What am I going to get this time?
Is it edible?'

A once in a lifetime experience?

Both, the sounds
and the image
are forever tied
to a perticular time...
and space.


Auditory Response To Appledore Sounds

I very often employ soundscapes when I read my poems: a guitar, flute, electronic blips etc. When I write them, I am influenced by the sounds around me too. There's no escape! Being involved with the Appledore Book Festival, with it's buzzing and creative atmosphere is heaven for me.

Sounds And Poetry Are One. (1)

My head
is a tape recorder
as well as
a camera
and computer.

I enjoy
absorbing sounds
storing them.
I enjoy the sounds
as much
as the images
I chance upon.

I have not
quite turned into
a digital recorder.
I am
open to,
and expecting


Singe The Fringe: Poetry And Music Night!

An Evening of Poetry and Music with Colin Shaddick and Friends!

Thursday 1st October. St. Mary's Hall. Appledore. 9.00pm.

Following last year's very successful event, local poet, singer-songwriter, musician, cartoonist, playwright, ABF Writer-in-Residence and runner-up in the 2009 Eccentric of the Year contest, Colin Shaddick, presents another eclectic blend of poetry and music performed by local artistes, including:

'Juggling' Dave Clinch: Music with a difference.

Moxey: Rap poet.

3's Company: Female a cappella trio.

Martin Parker: Poet.

Kevin Aram: Singer/Songwriter.

Chris Ayliffe/Caroline Cassinelli: Jazz and Blues.

We hope to see you there. It'll be good fun!

To reserve a ticket: 01237 424949. Tickets also available at the door.



* Photo by BBC photographer.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Please Keep The ABF Safe!

Change For Change Sake

I don't believe it!
I don't believe...
what I've just read
on the 'North Devon Journal' site!

Thousands of pounds
have been spent
on rebranding
the 'North Devon College'.

The name (the name!)
they have chosen
as the new...
earth-shattering title
is: 'PETROC'.

Brilliant, eh?

I could have thought
of a better name
than that for about £5.00.
Why did they want to
change it anyway?

Let's hope the powers that be
don't start messing about
with the 'Appledore Book Festival' name.

I don't think they will.
Why burst
a perfectly good bubble?


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Long Path To Appledore

The Making Of An Eccentric?

One day
(when I was at a very tender age)
and struggling
to make some sense
of the undulating language
flying above my head,
I decided to try out
a few investigational expressions
of my own.
I needed to make my mark:
draw a line in the sand,
so to speak.

I waited for a lull
in the steely din
that continually clanged
from the pots and pans
in our steamy kitchen.

I made my entrance
and Mother turned towards me,
her arms now motionless
and her reddened elbows
quivered and waited for the off,
just above the soapsuds.
I smiled,
and determined to show off
my verbal skills,
began my tirade...

They were not
well-received words.
I was not allowed to continue
with my experiment.
My father hurriedly interjected
and promised
he would give me a thick ear...
in a minute.

I had no memory of him
giving me anything, before.
I was totally flabbergasted
when he said he'd give me something -
and so speedily too.
I so wanted him
to give me something.

I then pictured myself
with one thick ear...
and decided that it would look
quite daft.
I told him that I thought
it would look daft,
but he took no notice
and he up and gave me one anyway.

But, it wasn't within the minute. No!
He said he'd give me one...
in a minute.

It took much longer
than a minute.
By the time my thick ear arrived...
a good twenty minutes
or so had passed?


Small Cottages In Appledore

Our Terraced Cot

It was up 'til
I was nearing
double digits
that we lived in
a very small
terraced cot.

Mum, Dad,
four brothers,
a sister and -
In our cot
that was
a blimmin' lot!

Our little cot
was number four.
We always kept
an open door.

Partly because we
were so friendly,
but mostly
it gave us
an extra bit of floor.


Monday, 21 September 2009

Get Well Soon Tony Benn

Tony Benn

Sorry to hear
Tony Benn
has had to
pull out.

But we'll see
back here
no doubt.


Writer's Block

My Muse Blues

Oh! My muse, today
is ill, I'm told.
She's not coming out...
Got a nasty cold.

She's resting quietly
on her bed,
is what our handsome
postman said.

Why didn't my muse
converse with me?
A text would have done...
She's so carefree!

I'll put my pencil
back in its case.
Without my muse,
no rhymes I'll place.


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Little Appledore Bird

Magical things can happen at Appledore. Children love it there.

Little Bird

I went fishing
in the Appledore sea
and a little bird
it came to me.

The bird then sat
upon my line
and stared into
the ebbing brine.

O little bird,
what do you there?
The bird replied -
Any worms to spare?

Bring your fishing line when you come to the Appledore Book Festival. You might get lucky too!

Appledore Haiku

As far as I'm concerned, the Appledore Book Festival has already begun. Images have started to arrive and I gotta write 'em down, no matter what time they come.

making notes under
appledore festival moon -
not yet, dark cloud

I look forward to seeing you at the Appledore Book Festival with a collection of new images. Why not bring some of your own?


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Appledore's Angry Angler

When you're in any bar in Appledore you can't help but listen to humorous tales of the sea. Here's a tale that was told to me. But I've altered it a bit, you see.

An Appledore angler named Ray,
turned up sans tackle one day.
His hair he was tearing
and then there was swearing.
His voice could be heard in Morlaix!

Have you got a story to tell? I look forward to seeing you at the Appledore Book Festival.


Friday, 18 September 2009

Going On In My Head

Heads are funny things: perched up there on top of the body; exposed to the elements and open for everyone to see. How can we truly hide our emotions? Our faces show them all. Heads have such a lot going on in them too. You'll notice a lot of heads at the Appledore Book Festival. Come and have a look at them; see if you can guess what's going on inside. It's a great sport.

When last I visited
my strange Aunt Tilda,
she looked at me
with a stare
that could've killed a
galloping horse.

What was she thinking?
What did I do?
Why did she pierce
my poor head through?

What did she hear?
What did she see?
What did she visualize
my face to be?

Was I Martian?
Was I a priest?
Was I a big loaf
expanding with yeast?

Was I something
quite horrendous
- and red?
Or, was everything
I imagined,
not going on in her head?

Please bring your head along to the Appledore Book Festival. I'd like to have a look at it.

The Spirit of Inspiration

It's not just books we're after. The Appledore Book Festival has now produced its own official apple brandy... Hic!

Mmmm. Appledore Apple Brandy...
It's the Spirit of Inspiration.
Now, this is very handy
because it helps my rhyme formation!

I look forward to seeing you at the Appledore Book Festival bar. Who's round is it? I got the last one!


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Penhill Point. North Devon

The River Taw was my playground as a child. I roamed from Black Rock to Penhill Point, and on as far as Instow.

I spent a lot of time skimming stones over the fast water. I often wondered if I could get one to skip all the way to Appledore.

I never did get a stone to cross the estuary, but I often make it there. It's a beautiful place and I'm so pleased to be included in the Book Festival.

Penhill Point

This is where
my tiny glass-cut feet
scurried over
the popping weeds,
to the water's edge
at the coming
of the sea.

Each foot-splash
would stir-up
a cloud
of muddy brown.

To this place still
my wild heart
flies -
beating hard
and happy...
like the countless
I once skimmed

Why not join me over the water at the Appledore Book Festival? You'll love it!


Heard At The Troubadour

Listening to Michael Horovitz. 16th August 2008.

Jazz and poetry are closely linked.
Many of the Beat poets wrote
is if they were playing jazz:
Charlie Parker played in their heads.
Line length was according to breath length,
just like a sax player
would stack his phrasings.

I had the honour of performing
with the great Michael Horovitz,
our own Beat master,
at the famous Troubadour Club
in London in '08.
Here's an impression
of a section of that evening:

Jazz enters...
Jazz need not
come loud -
blown from a big swing
like Basie's.

Jazz comes
much smaller too:
bite size and
still blue.

One man
can blow jazz.
Blow sweet
and improvise
on some old tin horn,
and attachments.
Blow some sweet jazz
and read poems -
Blake meets Bebop!

Horovitz hums
through his under-cover
He moans.
He groans.
He makes all the tones.
He gets down
to the bone
on his -

I hope to see you at the Appledore Book Festival. Let's talk music and poetry!


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A Virtual Poem

If you don't want to write a poem, why not 'think' one?

I'm thinking a
virtual poem.

It doesn't
physically exist.

My life will be
on show.

Oh, what a lot
you'll miss!

Come on, get involved with poetry. As you can see, you don't even have to write anything!

See you at the Appledore Book Festival. Perhaps we can think up a poem together?

Jotting Without Blotting

I'm eating, drinking and sleeping the Appledore Book Festival, and no sign of indigestion!

I occasionally write
a few poems that rhyme.
It's an amusing way
to pass the time.

But, after years
of free-form jotting,
I no longer want my book
or it's copy blotting.

The hardest part
when writing poems, for me,
is deciding where
the end should be!

It's much different when
one writes in prose:
there's plenty of time
to plan where it goes.

I look forward to seeing you at the Appledore Book Festival. Come and have a chat.

Aggressive Poets

After listening to critics.

Don't be unkind to eccentric bards:
be too quick
to revile, or mentally hang.
Form can be misleading.

Yes, some poets can appear elusive,
like part
of an endangered pod...
All don't have thick skins.

They could become the banished ones:
they who may look at you sideways,
shielded by heavy eyelids,
from a dark corner of a room

and morph quietly into the all-seeing:
savage hunters who'd remove
your brutal tongues
and pop your bloody eyes out,

given half a chance.
Lamentably, they are the creators
who have suffered greatly
in life.

Somewhere along their given path
they have established
that all life is not sacred -
and they and the elephants
will never forget it!

I look forward to seeing you at the Appledore Book Festival. September 26th - October 4th. '09.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Let Me Grow My Fringe

I believe I've said
that I write it down as
it enters my head

Well, here's an incoming message:

Thursday the 1st October will be the second time I've presented an Appledore Book Festival Fringe Event. Last year's event was a great success and like last year, the entertainment will be from a colourful palette of music and poetry.

The event will be held in St. Mary's Hall - a superb little venue - and will start at 9.00pm(ish).
Tickets £5 at the door, or can be booked (recommended) on: 01237 424949

Artists will include:

Colin Shaddick - poet, singer/songwriter and 'The Great British Eccentric 2009'

3's Company - a cappella trio

Moxey - rap poet

Kevin Aram - singer/songwriter

Martin Parker - poet

'Juggling' Dave Clinch - musician

Chris Ayliffe & Caroline Cassinelli - blues and jazz

I look forward to seeing you there.

Everyone has a story to tell

Why are we in such a rush?
Where on earth are we all going?
Everything seems to get
cut down these days...
So many people want things
chopped and neatly presented
in bite-size chunks.
They want it ready made,
tepid and easy to take on board
without a lot of chewing,
and they want it yesterday!

Take the word ‘Blog’
for instance:
the piece I’m writing now.
It’s an abbreviation of
the words, Web Log.
What’s wrong with saying
Web Log, for goodness sake?
What’s wrong with saying things
as they are designed to be said,
or using stuff
as it’s meant to be used?

Well, you won’t get anything
like that from me.
I tend to record things
just as they come into my head.
Information (some useless) flows in
and out like the tide...
and I write it all down.
Nothing (well, maybe some of it)
gets edited out.

This is how I intend to write
about the Appledore Book Festival.
I’m Writer-in-Residence this year
and It’s a great honour,
as far as I’m concerned,
to have been asked to take on
this very important role.
But it’s slightly unsettling too.
I’ll be surrounded
by wonderful writers, adventurers
and performers
and I look at myself and say,
“What on earth can I offer?”
Well, of course, we’ve all got
something to offer.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Each of us has an interpretation
of what has been...
and what is to come.
This is the way I’ll be thinking
when I roam the streets,
eat pasties, sample the strong ale
and finally put pen to paper
at the Appledore Book Festival.

I won’t be a reporter of facts.
I am not a journalist
and would never get short listed
for a job as a reporter on
the North Devon Journal!
I’ll be passing on my impressions
of what has, or maybe what is
about to take place.
This, hopefully, and fingers crossed, is how new poems will take form.