Ivy House – what a night!

We couldn’t have wished for a better venue than the Ivy House for our Words and Music Event. A crowd of 50 or so enjoyed jazz, readings, an impromptu singalong and even a bit of a boogie, all in aid of Stories for Homes






Another £171 will be winging its way to Shelter as a result of entry fees and book sales on the night. 



The wonderful Dan Maitland opened the evening with his band, before Sal Swingewood introduced the project to anyone who hadn’t heard why and how the book came into being. With her fellow editor, Debi Alper, Sal then read ‘Sparrows from a Coal Mine’ by Ian Shine; it was a bit like watching an Alas Smith and Jones sketch as the story is a dialogue between two blokes in a pub. 

Sophie Wellstood gave us an extract of…

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Droplets of Verse: ‘A Riot Shield for Christmas’

A riot shield for Christmas was an unexpected surprise
Like a Roman centurion, I stand here, holding my prize
All around is a city that’s wrecked, controlled by corrupt politicos
We hurl rocks and petrol bombs, with frozen fingers, in sub zero
Black smoke billows skyward, barricades burn, we’re here to the last
If it rains, we hope it’s democratic and washes away the ruling class
We protested and prayed, shared a revolutionary Christmas glow
Now, an apocalypse rages. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
No longer can we be slaves to fate, victims of circumstance
Riot police and rubber bullets can’t break our resistance
Young men and women, share the same burning fire
We stand together, against those guns for hire
It may look like a scene from Hell, the streets of Kyiv are a battlefield
We are angels of defiance, and I’m the proud owner of a riot shield
Thick bundles of Russian Roubles line the President’s pockets
I’d like to assemble all those crooks, and fire them into space, in a rocket
As ever, we will survive the storm, throw scorn at endless empty words
The end of this rebellion will see the exit of our overlords
It didn’t come wrapped in ribbons and it was in a battered state
This riot shield belongs to the people, defenders of their own fate

Photo Courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov

Photo Courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov

My You Tube Channel: ‘The Best Pool Shot I Ever Played’

They say the British  are good at ‘sitting down’ sports such as rowing and cycling, but I reckon we’re pretty good at indoor sports too. Darts champions from these isles are many, including Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, a legend of the oche. Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis is one of many British snooker players who have won World Championships over and over again, although his nickname is more quirky, one has to say.

And the added bonus of indoor sports is the access to alcoholic beverages while playing, certainly not a performance enhancing drug, but on occasion it can become liquid confidence in a glass, as long as one doesn’t over-indulge . . .

So, check out this short tale, all about eight ball pool, with our protagonist fishing for the shot to finally sink his opponent’s hopes . . .

Droplets of Verse: ‘Train to Cardiff Central’

Light refreshments and snacks
Can be purchased
On this Cross Country service

Through the smeared window
A blurred landscape flies by
Burning sun bursting through black cloud sky

Plurals become singular
Cellophane is pulled back
Revealing lettuce lying limp

An inspector punches plastic tickets
A boxer bracing himself
For the big hit, the ultimate away day

My You Tube Channel: ‘The Sign Said For Sale’

 This poem is taken from Stories for Homes, an anthology of short stories and poems put together to raise money for the homeless, with all royalties paid to Shelter, the UK housing charity. It’s a terrific collection and many of the contributors have been doing as much as they can to spread the word.

I’ve been experimenting with composing loops of music, with the intention of using them as backing for my poetry, and recently bought a new microphone and headphones to equip myself for this task. It’s difficult listening to yourself on record, but a useful exercise when checking the flow and timing of the delivery. I’ve worked on tightening up the recital, by using pauses wherever they can be fitted in, and by varying expression now and again.

So, take two minutes to listen to The Sign Said For Sale, click on the links in the image to get more information and remember, buying this book helps a worthy cause.

Droplets of Verse: ‘Hammond Organ’

It can make a wonderful sound
When maestros plunder treasures
Buried deep in electric vaults
It can also be used to plagiarise
The same old lies

An organ player retires his fingers
From walking the keys
Crowds not clamouring to hear
His stammering strokes
The band bid farewell to a tired hand

It was entirely his own idea to leave
But he still stalks the band on social media
Dignity dies, he still wants the big time
He seeks attention
Without discretion or apprehension

It’s the loudest of bum notes
He’s ever played, still he rumbles on
Muttering accusations
Flatter than yesterday’s lemonade
Hammond organ man fades

Droplets of Verse: ‘Drinks Machine’

Black coffee poured from the same pipe
As capuccino with swirls of froth
A dry squirt of powdered soup
Brought to life, a boiling broth

It even burns tongues of men with asbestos DNA
Cupped hands carefully cradle the plastic heat
A jingle of change tumbles down a chute
Poured into a pocket, for a rainy day repeat

At the end of the evening, power is switched off
Drinks machine loses its fizz
Until morning comes, and lights flicker
Drinks machine hums again, ready for business
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My You Tube Channel: ‘When The Sheepskin Coat Was King’

Here’s a recording of When The Sheepskin Coat Was King. I’ve assembled a new studio set up for recording, with a microphone and a pair of headphones. That’s it, a pretty basic set up. The musical backing is composed and recorded on Garageband on my Mac, and at the end of an evening when I’ve been working on writing projects, I often load up Garageband and endeavour to construct simple loops, intended as backing for my poetry. The offering here includes piano, a synth bass of some description and a single drum track. Enjoy, and feedback welcome – I’m looking into the possibility of using these tracks as promotion in some way.