Catch Ups

First things first, I don’t normally like blowing my own trumpet, but I am exceptionally proud of last week’s post. I felt I really got at the heart of what I wanted to say on the subject. I’m not sure this week will be able to emulate or build on that so I’m not going to try.

It’s been a strange old week, for work we’ve been running an on-going community, asking folks about their experience of lockdown and one thing we’ve started noticing of late is a general malaise, a feeling of being utterly rudderless (leaderless??) and that whatever the “lockdown experience” is/was people are now utterly over it. I think I can relate to that.

In amongst the malaise of the week there were, at least, two highlights.

1. Two poems of mine were published at the ever-excellent Wild Court. I am very, very happy that these poems are out there…they are newer ones to me (this means written in the last year) and I’m very proud of how they’ve turned out. There is another Dad poem in there, but that’s no bad thing. And my friend Simon* is present in both poems.

It has prompted me to think about author photos. I was happy (and a bit pissed in this photo), and it felt like the right one to use, but will it now follow me round for years? Do I need to care? Probably not.

I really must work on what I’m going to use as an author photo

It was also wonderful that my work was next to that of Naush Saber (of the excellent Birmingham Poetry Journal fame) and my fellow Iambpoet alumni, Scott Elder. Their work is excellent, please have a read of them first…and everything else on Wild Court. My thanks to Rob Selby for accepting them—both my poems and every other one on the site.

A lovely bit of serendipity is that Naush’s Broken Sleep/Legitimate Snack pamphlets arrived this week. Heredity/Astonyme are both beautifully presented in a lovely box. I’ve not got to read them yet, but if they are anything like the poems on Wild Court then I’m in for a treat, and so are you if you can get hold of one when the next batch goes on sale.

*Another nice bit of fortuitousness or serendipity, I’ve seen him this weekend whilst back in Norfolk.

2. A few reviews of mine were published
For Sphinx
Joe Williams’ This Is Virus
CD Boyland’s User Stories

And for London Grip
Sue Rose’s Scion

The pile of reviews is growing as well, which is both nice and frightening.

3. A trip back to Norfolk to see my mum and a dear friend who is very ill. It also coincided with my friend John’s 82nd birthday. So there was joy and sadness at the same time.


41k running – That’s the last two weeks worth. Some hill repeats, some fast 5ks and a lovely run round my home village yesterday.

1 poem worked on – needs a title and some more work…A couple of ideas noted down too, but not sure if they will turn into much. All this reviewing and work stuff is properly putting a cramp in my writing…

260 miles driven this weekend

1 walk with my mum and some friends at Oxnead…many cows present

1.5 pints in the Skeyton Goat. Wasn’t planning on going to the pub, but it was very pleasant.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


He-Man and Action Man’s pants
Paradise By the Gasboard Light
As the Sun announces it’s over the Yard Arm by joining Tinder
The Three Hour Yes
I Haven’t Got Time For Latency


Greg Dulli – Random Desires
Gabor Szabo – Spellbinder
Big Thief – Two hands
Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – Navarasa: Nine Emotions
Davy Graham – The Holly Kaleidoscope
The Tavares – Hard Core Poetry
Elvium -Piano Works
VA – The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Cambodia
Mono – The Last Dawn

My Morning Jacket
Does Xmas Fiasco Style
Evil Urges
It Still Moves (Deluxe Version)
Red Rocks 03.08.12
Red Rocks 04.08.12
14/08/2015, Morrison, CO

Beth Orton
Sugaring Season 
Central Reservation

Led Zeppelin – III
The Early Years – ST
Alèmayèhu Eshète – Ethiopiques 22
Aerosmith – ST
Boygenius – Demos
Ryley Walker – covers
VA – Éthioiques 5 – Tigrigna Music
Sad Eagle – Banging The Drum To Catch The Criminal
C Duncan – Architect

The Lost Tapes

VA – Lullaby For The moon – Japanese Music for Koto & Shakuhachi
Nancy Elizabeth _ Dancing
Natalie Evans – Better At Night
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – God Fodder
The Needy Sons – Vis-A-Vis

Nina Simone
Emergency Ward
Little Girl Blue

Nolan Porter – Nolan
Norman Greenbaum – Back Home Again
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II
Sofia Portanet – Freier Geist
My mate Jon’s 1992 Moodboard Playlist 

The Afghan Whigs
Live At Koko

The Archers…It’s weird and I don’t like it

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)

Spooks S9 E8-10, S10 1-6
Penny Dreadful (The new one) E3-8

Naush Sabah – Heredity/Astonyme
Richie McCaffery – First Hare
Orbis #92
James McGonigal – In Good Time
A laptop stand from work

Sue Rose – Scion
Terence Hayes – American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin

LYR – Call In The Crash Team

I was lucky enough to be invited to review this album, so in a change to the regular levels of rambling…

LYR are, so we are led to believe, called Land Yacht Regatta by their mum when they are in trouble.

However, as Armitage has it in the band’s biog, “There shouldn’t really be a land yacht regatta! But I liked the idea of something that’s a hybrid. It’s like a 3-way contradiction. We were doing something that’s unusual and perhaps even impossible.” The same biog also states they are “a genre-splicing supergroup of sorts, comprised of author and current British poet laureate Simon Armitage, musician Richard Walters and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Pearson”

And it’s this phrase “genre-splicing supergroup of sorts” that stands out. I wondered when I first heard about this album in February—how long ago does that feel now?— whether an album of poetry read out over “ambient post-rock passages, jazz flourishes, atonal experimentalism, as well as swoony strings and piano — and some more unusual instrument choices too, such as the kora” would truly gel, or knit into something greater than the sum of its parts.

(As an aside, I’m sure there were rumblings in 2019 on a Soundcloud page, but that’s now bare –

There’s a worrying moment at the start of this album, where the band’s lead vocalist—we can’t say singer, although there is a singer present, Simon Armitage intones the following words over what sounds like a Rhodes piano.

‘Gone your own way now, nothing to say now…’ and as he said these word, I had a horrifying vision of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Armitage and his fellow band mates in LYR all stripped to the waist, covered in gold paint somewhere on the moors near Armitage’s beloved Marsden. 

Thankfully, he follows it with the half or slant-rhyme of ‘Still mouthing your name though’. That ’though’ does a lot of heavy-lifting there and I was immensely happy to hear it. And, even more thankfully, the music is light year away from that mob.

The music description above is both bang on and also not quite enough.There are moments, for example where it can invoke the sort of post rock made by the likes of Inventions or This Will Destroy You.  There are moments when all I could think was the theme tune to The Bridge by Choir of Young Believers. There were others where it could easily be Public Service Broadcasting’s fourth album – the words of a poet drawn from the BBC archives instead of recordings from the NASA archives, or Welsh Miners or BBC broadcasters/Auden reading Night Mail.

There are moments when the sort of classical/dance hybrid similar to the sort of music Ólafur Arnalds makes with Kiasmos or Erland Cooper’s work is all that springs to mind, for example in Urban Myth #91 (although for some reason I also got a sense of a sort of Glitter Band beat there too as it gathers pace.

However, there are also moments where the likes of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Michael Nyman spring to mind, the most obvious of these is the track Product Testing. It initially feels like a throwaway track, or like someone has pressed the demo function on a keyboard as Armitage intones “On/Off”, but it quickly turns into a twitchy dance number, or something like what I imagine the inside of David Byrne’s brain to sound like. At the end of the song we hear Armitage say “Yeah, seems to work” and he’s right. It does.

“The origins of LYR stretch back to 2009 when Walters, a big fan of Armitage’s work, approached the poet’s publisher about the possibility of collaboration. Walters wound up setting Armitage’s poetry to music in his 2011 solo song ‘Redwoods’.

“Simon and I talked about the next step”, recalls Walters. “Instead of just taking words and me singing them, we had the idea of a spoken word project that had a bit more of a life around it in terms of the musical setting”. Walters thought of Pearson, who he had met in the early 2010’s, as part of a short-lived, shoegaze inspired band called Liu Bei. Pearson loved the idea, and LYR were born.”

It’s testament to the skill and musicality of  both Walters and Pearson that the music never interrupts the words, but is never just wallpaper or mood lighting. These are not backing tracks or soundbeds, they are not foley artists putting real noises under the lines of the actors. These are songs that could quite easily function as standalone pieces. The question is then, does or could Armitage’s contribution add anything to this three-legged stool?

The band themselves suggest ‘It’s not poetry with music underneath,’” says Pearson of the project. “We’d always talked about it as being a focused band project.” Walters agrees: “It’s definitely a universe, the record,” he says. “There’s so many people on it.” Armitage, with characteristic dry wit, is quick to respond, and jokes: “We might make a Broadway musical!” 

It’s interesting that the main vocal line of the final song on the album, Leaves On The Line (we’ll discuss this later) is handed to Waters – does this suggest that Armitage could fade back to writing the words for future albums, or is it just that Waters sounded better on this one? Who knows?

I wanted to talk about the music first in this review, because it could so easily be the Armitage show.

“A lot of the lyrics have come about from writing in a time of post-industrialisation, austerity, and the recession,” explains Armitage. “And yet, even through those years and those atmospheres, there’s still been an exuberance around, an exuberance of communication, information, language. I think a lot of the speakers in the pieces are expressing some kind of marginalisation and are doing so as if they’re almost hyperventilating.”

That marginalisation reaches a sort of zenith, if that’s the right word, at the end of Adam’s Apple after a sequence of three songs that end with Waters singing/repeating  “It’s all too much for you” in ‘ the exquisite You Were Never Good With Horses, “move on, move on” in Urban Myth #91 and then “let go, let go” at the end of Adam’s Apple

Each song is written form the point of view of different characters, Never Good With Horses, for example written from the point of view of some dissatisfied with their partner’s discomfort with the natural world. The partner “comfortable with a steering wheel”  and “watching the movie of life layout through the windscreen’s lens”— a nod to Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, perhaps, but they “were never good with horses…my dear, always took a step backwards when they came near. Couldn’t bear to look in the dark rock pools of their eyes”. That last line is when you know you’ve got a poet running the lyrical show.

Having mentioned Iggyy Pop here, there’s a further connection in the form of the excellent 33 1/3 with its lyric which that starts out making you think it’s a hymn to vinyl with references to “captured orbit around the spindle”, but by the second go around we’re talking about “The rope that he swung from/ […] A whirlpooling swansong.” Every repetition of the title towards the end of the song adding more and more weight.

Armitage’s demo of  33 ⅓ was set to a haunting whirr which came from the run-out groove of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures vinyl. “Ian Curtis is definitely invoked on that track,” says Armitage, of the band’s frontman who committed suicide in 1980. Curtis was found hanging with a record player’s needle stuck on the final moments of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’.

While the majority of these lyrics were written specifically for the album, Armitage has also reached back into his catalogue of poems to bring a couple to life.
Specifically, Zodiac T-Shirt, which he states in the notes to a recent collection of, to use a musical sort of reference’ b-sides and songs that didn’t find a home. I sort of think if it as discs two and three in the boxset version of his more recent full collection, The Unaccompanied. And now I write that there’s a sort of irony to that.

Regardless of that, in the notes of Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, he writes

Zodiac T-Shirt, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic

So while he never expected it to be sung by him, we still have him intoning the poem. It’s close enough for me. Don’t forget we know he can sing after The Scaremongers, and even heard him attempt beatboxing in a recent episode of his BBC podcast, The Poet Laureate Retires Too His Shed.

It’s not the first time he’s done this, The Scaremongers’ album has him using the poem Old Boy from The Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its Own Right. And there’s the case of him having recorded himself narrating his poem ‘The English’ from Universal Home Doctor for indie veterans The Wedding Present in 2017.

The Wedding Present’s very own David Gedge describes the process

“I’d been aware of Simon’s work for a long time – hearing him on the radio and stuff – but I don’t think I actually met him until he interviewed me for his book ‘Gig : The Life And Times Of A Rock-Star Fantasist’ which came out in 2008. He interviewed me in the dressing room of the Picturedrome venue in Holmfirth, which is near where he lives, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s a lovely bloke.

When we were writing ‘England’ I decided that I wanted some form of narration on there but it was actually Jessica who suggested Simon. I asked him if he’d be interested and, by an amazing coincidence, he told me about his poem ‘The English’ which fits perfectly! It’s brilliant when things fall into place like that…

The other moments from his back catalogue comes in the form of the aforementioned Leaves on the Line and The National Trust Range of Paints Colour Card. As I was reading the track listing, I remember thinking ‘Crikey, The National Trust….is almost the most Simon Armitage title of all time. The I remembered that it is a Simon Armitage poem title, and that both poems are found in his pamphlet, Travelling Songs.

On the back of that he says “Describing yourself as a poet is often seen as a challenge or even an alibi. In those circumstances, it’s worth having a few tunes up for sleeve to prove it” . While he was clearly referring to his poems, it feels like he’s finally got the second album’s worth up there 18 years after Traveling Songs was published.


Call In The Crash Team is available at all good retailers – on and offline – Let’s support our record shops if we can.

Also available at your standard issue streaming services.

Please also note there is an additional single Called Lockdown that sets Simon’s poem to new music, and features Florence Pugh and Melt Yourself Down. Might I suggest you buy it as the proceeds will go towards supporting Refuge

Final thought. It’s only at the end of writing this that I realise LYR is also the first three letter of Lyrics and Lyre. Ooh, maybe for the next album the band can get other folks to join – like Crosby, Stills and Nash did with that Canadian bloke…


Two titles to giveaway
1. Set Phrases To Stun
2. Link in Bio

Teenage Fanclub 
– It felt like the kind of week to just play sunshine
Ain’t That Enough 
A Catholic Education
The Concept
DGC rarities
Did I Say?
Dumb Dumb Dumb 
Grand Prix
I Don’t Want Control Of You
I Need Direction
It’s All In My Mind
Judgement Night
The King
Mellow Doubt
Neil Jung
Norman 3
Songs From Northern Britain
Sparky’s Dream

TFC & Jad Fair
Near To You
Words of Hope & Wisdom

The Temptations
Cloud Nine
Compact Command Performances

Tess Parks – blood Hot
Thao Nguyen – We Brave Bee Stings And All
This is the Kit – Bashed Out
This Will Destroy You – Young Mountain
Throneberry – Sangria
The Apples In Stereo – Just the song 7 Stars on a loop ten times
Bert Jansch – Avocet
Caspian – Live At Church
Charles Mingus – Presents Charles Mingus
LYR – Call In The Crash Team
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Grandbrothers – Dilation
Mogwai – Ten Rapid (after being reminded of this clip from Friday Night Lights)
Mojave 3 – Puzzles Like You
Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
Mountain Man – Made The Harbour
Throttle Elevator Music – Emergency Exit
Jenny Beth – To Love Is To live
Richard Walters – Golden Veins
Snowgoose – The Making of You
Caribou – Suddenly
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
My Morning Jacket – At Dawn

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
In Conversations – Nell Nelson & Alan Buckley

Spook S8 E2-6

Rishi Dastidar – Poetry For Sale
The Archers

Suna Afshan – Bella Donna
Donald Justice – Collected Poems

Naush Sabah – Astynome/Heredity

Rob Selby – The Coming Down Time
Sue Rose – Scion

We plough, we feel, we scatter

First things first, I’ve touched upon my time at Bertrams here, so I won’t go into that now, but I was very sad to read about Bertram Books entering administration. That will be a significant blow to the folks that worked there and the fine city of Norwich.

Now, as mentioned before I love a connection that occurs during the week that then gives me something to gibber on about here. Imagine my joy when I managed to make such a connection early on in the week (rather than the more frequent sitting down with no idea what will come out).

Here goes…

Last summer I started working on a family tree for my mum’s birthday…I was using a popular online service, and found it quite useful for what I was trying to do. I was mainly trying to track the lines of the maternal side of my family – discovering a relation who I think was a travelling performer of some kind in the 1800s. (Please note I’ve not verified this yet), and this was on top of discovering a more recent relation was in the Norwich order of druids. Have I mentioned that before? I’m certain I would have given the words NORWICH and DRUIDS are in the same sentence. #DAPIT* And, of course, I’m contractually obliged to mention I’m a Freeman of Norwich because of my great grandfather (and because my gran used to allow women to be involved, but that’s another story)

Anyhoo, I went a bit wild on this service, using it’s suggested connections to trace my way back to c.1600s in some cases. Then this week I had an email from another user of this service who suggested I’d made a mistake connecting one person to someone else, and it got me thinking

1. What the bloody hell is my password so I can go in a reply to them?
2. Why didn’t I finish doing this project?
3. Why haven’t I gone on to explore the paternal side as much yet? (NB this is linked to point 2 and probably point 1)

The last ten days have also seen the anniversary of my dad’s death (12 years now, crikey), my mum’s birthday and then what would have been dad’s birthday too. Lockdown has meant we couldn’t go to see mum and also that I’ve largely been too buy with work to think about the dad stuff too much (but it’s also Father’s Day today, so I guess it’s all been playing on my mind somewhere).

I’ve been reading Nature Near London by Richard Jefferies for the last few weeks – It’s one that’s been sat on the TBR pile for quite a while, and it’s something of a departure for me in terms of subject, etc…(This is a good intro to the book). It’s full of beautiful descriptions of the flora and fauna, etc that used too be found in this neck of the woods. Some of the references really hit home how much London has changed since he wrote this. One essay makes reference to Jew’s Walk in Crystal Palace/Sydenham – a road that is now very much surrounded by the trappings of urban life, but in here is effectively the outskirts of London.

I digress, I finally finished the book this week, and despite Jefferies getting a bit jingoistic about English trees towards the end, I really enjoyed the book. Particularly a the chapter called ‘The Southdown Shepherd’, I’ve included some of it below. Initially, I was thinking of it as some sort of Ars Poetica or using it as a jumping off point for wanging on about the act of writing (Don’t worry, I won’t do that). Have a read of this and I’ll meet you on the other side as I start to get near to whatever conclusion it is I am heading towards.

The ploughs are at work, travelling slowly at the ox’s pace up and down the hillside. The South Down plough could scarcely have been invented; it must have been put together bit by bit in the slow years–slower than the ox; it is the completed structure of long experience. It is made of many pieces, chiefly wood, fitted and shaped and worked, as it were, together, well seasoned first, built up, like a ship, by cunning of hand. 

None of these were struck out–a hundred a minute–by irresistible machinery ponderously impressing its will on iron as a seal on wax–a hundred a minute, and all exactly alike. These separate pieces which compose the plough were cut, chosen, and shaped in the wheelwright’s workshop, chosen by the eye, guided in its turn by long knowledge of wood, and shaped by the living though hardened hand of man. So complicated a structure could no more have been struck out on paper in a deliberate and single plan than those separate pieces could have been produced by a single blow. 

There are no machine lines–no lines filed out in iron or cut by the lathe to the draughtsman’s design, drawn with straight-edge and ruler on paper. The thing has been put together bit by bit: how many thousand, thousand clods must have been turned in the furrows before the idea arose, and the curve to be given to this or that part grew upon the mind as the branch grows on the tree! There is not a sharp edge or sharp corner in it; it is all bevelled and smoothed and fluted as if it had been patiently carved with a knife, so that, touch it where you will, it handles pleasantly.

In these curved lines and smoothness, in this perfect adaptability of means to end, there is the spirit of art showing itself, not with colour or crayon, but working in tangible material substance. The makers of this plough–not the designer–the various makers, who gradually put it together, had many things to consider. The fields where it had to work were, for the most part, on a slope, often thickly strewn with stones which jar and fracture iron. 

The soil was thin, scarce enough on the upper part to turn a furrow, deepening to nine inches or so at the bottom. So quickly does the rain sink in, and so quickly does it dry, that the teams work in almost every weather, while those in the vale are enforced to idleness. Drain furrows were not needed, nor was it desirable that the ground should be thrown up in “lands,” rising in the centre. Oxen were the draught animals, patient enough, but certainly not nimble. The share had to be set for various depths of soil. 

All these are met by the wheel plough, and in addition it fulfils the indefinite and indefinable condition of handiness. A machine may be apparently perfect, a boat may seem on paper, and examined on principles, the precise build, and yet when the one is set to work and the other floated they may fail. But the wheel plough, having grown up, as it were, out of the soil, fulfils the condition of handiness.

Richard Jeffries, Nature Near London. Worth reading the start of this chapter (or the whole book) for some excellent ideas about ho to use guns.

The other book I’ve been reading this week has been Rob Selby’s ‘The Coming Down Time‘. The book isn’t due out until the 26th of June, but for some reason Blackwell’s had decided to send out my pre-order a few weeks ago (Begs an interesting question about the nature of release dates in this modern age. one for another time though. We have a way to go yet). I haven’t finished reading ti yet, so this is not a review, but what stood out were the poems at the start about Rob’s grandfather and a few references to ploughs, for example in ‘Elysium’ with its reference to

‘the shallow -crowned kettle or Brodie helmets

still ploughed up in Flanders, Northern France’

Or, in ‘Hellfire Corner’ we meet the ‘German POWs at their ploughs’. There’s lots more to say about Rob’s book, and a proper review should come out at some point. I need to finish it first, but there’s lots to enjoy in these pages. If you order now you might get it before it’s out and about officially, so do it. Do it now.

Rob’s poems set me off thinking about my own paternal grandfather, Alfred. While he didn’t serve during the second war, he did end up working after war (and during, I think) as part of the war effort. He drove a digger (a big plough, if ever there was one) for a company called Heyhoes. (Please note a I can’t find much about them online, but a search for heyhoes does tell me that Norfolk had the highest concentration of this family name in the 1890s, this is according to the popular online genealogy site I refer to earlier).

Alfred died almost 20 years ago now, and my memories of him when I was young are quite sketchy (NB My memories of everything when I was young are quite sketchy, so this is not a reflection on him). I do recall that as part of his digging he was always uncovering old bottles – medicine bottles, beer bottles and the like. He’d bring them home for my grand and then later for my mum. I know seem to have them.

The line our hallway and a repotted about in our kitchen as well. I don’t tend to notice them so much anymore, but I looked about earlier in the week when all this was percolating in my mind.

For some reason I’ve just remembered I need to read the Matthew Caley book my friend sent me recently…

I have no grand sweeping conclusion to make, no staggering revelation to offer, than much like the ‘Brodie helmets’ mentioned by Rob all of these events have been ploughed up this week and all of these quite random connections have been joined together by Rob’s poems. That’s the act of something quite special, so I’ll tell you to buy his book again.

Last week, I detailed the various distractions that happened while writing that post. You’ll be pleased to know that no cat litter trays were harmed in the writing of this post. The only real distractions this week have been washing/pumicing off ink from a fountain pen…TWICE…and scratching at a particularly irksome ant bite on my ankle. I want you to know I suffer for these posts.

In one final act of joining things up, I had an amusing conversation on Friday with my friend Simon. We had a socially distanced beer together in my garden and the conversation turned to working at home. We discussed how our respective partners are discovering our “work personas” and how they differ from our “home personas”. It was a daft aside (although I suspect it carries a grain of truth). So, imagine my surprise when I saw this post from Mr Stewart today all about poetic personas.

That’s enough.

* – Definitely A Poem In That. I wonder if I can make this acronym a thing. Help me.

Oh yes, I may break my promise and mention our Laureate again next week.


23 k running – Less than last week, but there were some quiet painful hill repeats yesterday. technically I should be finished my ultra-marathon today, but as that’s postponed I’m just knackered from a long week

0 poem worked on – Nope, nothing, diddly. Too busy. The world will, I suspect, continue to turn

Ok, 1 small note for an old poem

A bazillion Hangouts for work, as per

1 email that left me physically shaking with rage. All I will say is “Fuck off” to some called Linda

1 email that I think contravenes GDPR, or the very last should really have been BCC ( I didn’t send it) but it has led to a review I need to write

2 reviews written and sent off. 3 to go.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Good Volley Miss Molly
  2. Loose Lips, Succinct Ships


Agnes Obel – Myopia (instrumentals)
The Lollipop Shoppe – Just Colour
Grandbrothers – Open
American Music Club – Love Songs For Patriots

Explosions in the sky
Prince Avalanche
The Rescue
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Gia Margaret – Mia Gargaret
Grandbrothers – Dilation
Tim Burgess – As I was Now

Pearl Jam
No Code
Pearl Jam

Peaking Lights – Cosmic Logic
Faith No More – Angel Dust
The Flowers of Hell – ST
The Innocence Mission – See You Tomorrow
It’s Jo & Danny – But We Got The Music
Jeff Klein – The Hustler
LYR – Call In The Crash Team
The National – Boxer
Buffalo Tom – Big Red Letter Day
Pixies – Bossanova
The Wedding Present – Bizarro
Wilco – Kicking Television
The Cure – Wild Mood Swings
Bessie Jones – Get In Union
Laura Cannell – The Earth With Her Crowns
No Age – Goons Be Gone
Hinds – The Prettiest Curse

The Archers…It’s weird and I don’t like it

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)

Spook S8 E1-5
Bournemouth Vs Crystal Palace

Joe Williams – This is Virus
Sue Rose – Scion
Hugh Underhill – The Human Heart
#1-3 Poetry Birmingham
Peter Kahn – Little Kings

Notebooks for work from Muji
Plastic sleeves

Richard Jefferies – Nature Near London
CD Boyland – User Stories
Rob Selby – The Coming Down Time
Matthew’s excellent review of Rory Waterman’s work at Wild Court

Kaia Kater – Harvest & The Plough

Is Whilst

I heard a strange noise coming out of my daughter’s bedroom earlier, and the oddest thing was that it was a noise I know well. In fact, it was a noise I am more familiar with than her. I say this, not as an expression of superiority over her, but because it was a song I have known for 20-plus years and she has known for at best 20 days.

The song was ‘Wishlist’ by Pearl Jam.


I first heard this song when Pearl Jam put out Yield, their fifth album, in 1996. This is a full tweet years before she was born, so I am claiming this as a win for me on the grounds of historical precedence, even though it’s not a competition. NB I’m labouring this point to the point of exhaustion because I want to be very clear that I really don’t care what she listens to. It is entirely up to her, and we (my wife and I) do not believe she has to listen to what we do – I know some sad folks do try and enforce their listening on their kids.

(FYI, in case you think the world of poetry blogging is glamorous, between the word ‘precedence’ and the start of the next section I have had my dinner, watched an episode of a TV programme with my family, cleaned the cat litter tray, broken the cat litter tray, ordered a new cat litter tray, bodged a temporary fix for the current cat litter tray, washed up after dinner and then had a cheeky bet with myself about how many times I can use the words cat, litter and tray in a blog post).

From the moment we brought her home from St Thomas’, and technically before than, we have always played music around Flo. I have a very happy memory of listening to music while sat on the floor waiting for her to be born. NB I’d been kicked out of the room for a moment by the midwife. I was sat in the corridor and put Explosions In The Sky on my iPod to keep me awake/chill me out. I also have a lovely memory of listening to Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Howdy‘ about two weeks after we brought her home. R was asleep, as was Flo and we were in a calm moment. The sun was shining into our flat and all seemed perfect with the world.

We tried to play her all sorts of things, and while the next few songs don’t represent the gamut of tunes, I remember things like bouncing round the living room with a one year old that loved ‘Unbearable‘ by The Wonder Stuff, or the sheer weirdness of a three-year old singing along to The Cure’s In-between Days and her singing “Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die”. She loved Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’, The Beach Boy’s ‘Barbara Ann‘ (and never fails to remind me about Dennis Wilson dying in the sea) and all sorts of other things as the years progressed.

And then, as it should be, she found her own things, discovered her own music. We managed to keep Taylor Swift as a mutual thing, although I suspect I love Tay-Tay more now. I know I like Charli XCX more than Flo now, and Charli supported Taylor when we went to Wembley, but it’s irrelevant.

I love the fact that she’s finding her own things now (NB I don’t like a lot of it as it sounds like exceptionally dull young men singing exceptionally dull songs to me, but who fucking cares what I think of what she likes – she doesn’t).

I was just pleased that she was listening to a song we’d talked about two weeks ago. She’s been telling me A LOT about Vampire Diaries. (A LOT OF A LOT, she loves the VAMPS at the mo) and one of the characters has a Camaro . During our conversation about said Camaro, I mentioned that the Pearl Jam song above refers to Camaros. It could have been Bruce Springsteen, but PJ sprang to mind. We were outside Beckenham Tescos at the time, which I suspect neither band/artist will know anything about.

I played her the song on the way home and then promptly forgot about it..until earlier today when I heard it coming from her room. I was pleased, checked my dad privilege and then got on with enjoying it as a moment. As is often the wont, that’s a poem, I thought. There’s an idea there, however shite, it’s an idea, but how to get anywhere near writing down the history of how we got to that moment (especially without referring to Beckenham Tescos) and without making it sound like I’d made her listen to it. It felt like a tall order (even once I’d navigated the internal monologue about whether it was a shit idea). And to be honest with you, I’ve got this far into this post without really knowing what my point is other than thinking that I see lots of posts about the poems we have written, the poems we didn’t write, how to write the poem we didn’t know we wanted to write (via prompts), how to edit the poem we have written (for example this great one from today by Natalie), but I can’t recall seeing one that talks about something from the moment of conception, how it got that far and whether it should then carry on.

To be fair this isn’t that post either, but it’s potentially a marker in the sand (another Pearl Jam song, as it happens) for the future. If I get beyond my internal wrangling about how to even start it and if I should start it I’ll let you know. In the mean time, I’ve linked to a few great songs on the way.

NB. Yield is arguably when their sales/initial popularity started to decline. A Separate post on this as applied to the poetry world is there to be written when I am more confident about the idea/sober.


35.2 k running – Better, better. Needed some long, faster runs this week.

0 poem worked on – Nope, nothing, diddly. Too busy. The world will, I suspect, continue to turn

A bazillion Hangouts for work – cos I was off, innit

1 potential fall out over the use of the word “Channel”

1 podcast out there – enjoyed recording this one about Poltergeist, After Hours, American Werewolf In London, getting mugged and many other things

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Are
  2. You
  3. Still
  4. Interested?


Freddie Gibbs/The Alchemist – Alfredo
Engineers – ST

Drawn From Memory
If You’ve Never Been

Elvis Presley – Raised On Rock
Ef – Mourning Golden Morning
Eef Barzelay – Bitter Honey
Echo Lake – Wild Peace
Dorothy Ashby – ST
A House – I Am The Greatest
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
Hop Along – Painted Shut
The Hold Steady – Live In London 2019

James Iha
Be Strong Now
Look To The Sky

Hiss Golden Messenger
Hallelujah Anyhow
Heart Like A Levee

The Grodeck Whipperjenny – ST
Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy
The Great Electric – ST
William Bell – Wow
This Will Destroy You – Vespertine
Love – Four Sail

The Cure
Great British Music Weekend

The Back Room
An End Has A Start

The Archers…It’s weird and I don’t like it

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)

Spook S7 6-10
Gangs Of London S1 E1-10

Collected Robert Frost

Collected Robert Frost

Rory Waterman’s ‘Sweet Nothings

Tactical Withdrawal

I had to fight hard with myself not to call this The Withdrawal Method
…although, actually that might be better.

I’ve just sent two emails I didn’t particularly want to send to withdraw submissions from two magazines. Good magazines—and I hope I’ve not poured petrol on and then chucked a Zippo (A lighter, not a clown) at any bridges, but these submissions went in back in November last year.

Yes, yes, I’m sure you have waited longer—so have I, and I appreciate the world is weird as all mighty fuck at present/people have different concerns, etc, but…Actually, what is the but here? I don’t really know, other than I think we should possibly expect better.

It goes without saying, but I will say it, that I realise a lot of magazines and journals are run on a less than a shoestring, by people that do this for love. I am forever grateful and I do feel churlish for grumbling about a long wait, but I don’t think it’s wrong to run out of patience.

I am very aware that the world is a different place at the moment and a lot has changed since the relevant submission windows have closed—it was in theory February in both cases, but in one case it was something like 28 weeks after the window had closed. TWENTY. EIGHT. WEEKS!!!…I’m patient, but not that patient. Especially after a polite tweet to chase and a polite email a month ago.

It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to seeing the poems (and more patient poets) that do make it in to both, and hope that I get the chance to submit again in the future.

I’ve not really had to do this before – a couple of times because I wanted to use the poems for a wider submission or something along those lines, but this is the first time because of a long wait. I’ve not really seen a guide on how to withdraw your poems gracefully. There’s lots of advice on how to submit, but (and I may be missing something obvious) how do you write an email to say I’m withdrawing my submission because you’re taking too long? Is it just that? Or is there a way to dress it up? How do you do yours? Do you do yours?

Take care, take care, take care.


24 k running – A lower week this week – didn’t have a longer run today, but there was the small case of

1 x really sore calf that I want to avoid aggravating

0 poem worked on – Nope, nothing, diddly. Too busy. The world will, I suspect, continue to turn

A bazillion Hangouts for work – cos I was off, innit

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. These Were A Few Of My Favourite Things
  2. Attack of the Cats
  3. Tea Lights


Slow Is The New Fast – Slower
Inventions – Continuous Portrait
Psychic Markers – ST
Jetstream Pony – ST
Okkervil River – Black Sheep Boy

The Cure

Sad Eagle – the Priest is the beast – Sad Eagle – The Priest is the Beast
Pearl Jam – Binaural
Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist
Hood – Filmed Initiative
Hefner – Dead Media
Harold Ousley – Sweet Double Hipness
Greg Dulli – Random Desires
Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Band of Horses – Why Are You OK?
Chris Forsyth & Solar Motel Band – Dreaming In The Non-Dream
Lift To Experience – The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads

The National
Cherry Tree
High Violet
I Am Easy To Find
Trouble Will Find Me

Mercury Rev
Deserter’s Songs
All is Dream

Brigid Mae Power – Head Above The Water
Sly & The Family Stone – Stand

The Archers…It’s weird…

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
Hung out with Jon ‘Jarman’ Harman and Simon ‘The Twat’ Rance on Grandbag’s Funeral duties

Spooks S7 E4-7
Black Klansman
The Gangs of London S1 E1-2

Poetry Birmingham #4
A lovely parcel from my mate Paul of Matthew Caley’s ‘Apparently’, Charles Tomlinson’s ‘The Shaft” and Brian Patten’s ‘ The Irrelevant Song’
River Wolton’s The Purpose of Your Visit, Leap and Indoor Skydiving
Geraldine Clarkson’s Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh

Poetry Birmingham #1-3

Poetry Birmingham#4
Derek Walcott – Selected Poems

(Un)finished Business

My apologies if, in light of current events, it seems churlish to be writing about rejections or “being declined”, but I’ve had two this week. Both of which I expected, so I’m not particularly annoyed by the poems not finding a home. There are no sour grapes to be found in this house. In fact, in the case of one submission, it’s actually worked out better (in the long run) as two of the poems from that particular batch have been worked on and IMHO improved greatly since I sent them off.

Why would you do that, Mat? Why would you send unfinished work off?

I sent them off thinking they were up to snuff, but as is often the way the passing of time gives you extra perspective on them – and I was also lucky to have some feedback on them while they were out from a source I trust. This feedback made me realise I could improve them, and improve them I did.

Having wanted to get into the particular journal I sent them to, I figured it would also be a great way to tempt fate and get an acceptance there with those two specific poems. Annoying that it wasn’t the best version, but I could live with it. If the editors liked that version then that’s ace, and as we all know it’s not an uncommon practice for poems to change between mag/journal publication and inclusion in any pamphlet or collection.

The submission was sent in at the start of November 2019. I know acceptances were given circa February this year. Yesterday I got the result I was expecting, eg a no thanks.

However, it’s written in such a way that suggest to me that despite having the poems for seven months they may not have actually read them. What do you think?

“Many apologies about the delay in getting back to you, we had lots of submissions, and as you can imagine many very pressing matters. If you haven’t already heard from us, please do consider your poems available to send out to other magazines. This may not mean that we have rejected your work, but simply that we have run out of space in this issue and out of time to consider it for a future one. “

Obviously, I am going to try again. It’s a journal that I think continues to publish excellent work in every issue and my subscription will be renewed regardless of the above.

Finished Creatures
This disappointment did not manage to dint the fact that I was overjoyed this week to receive my contributor copy of the latest Finished Creatures.

Finished Creatures, #3
Just Look
at that
line up

That line up is pretty spectacular – new work from Sarah Wescott, Jessica Mookherjee, Ramona Herdman, Roy Marshall, Matt Barnard, DA Prince and many more. I’m still working my way through the thing, but I’ve not found a duff poem yet, so it’s an honour to be part of what is rapidly turning out to be an excellent addition to the world of poetry mags and journals.

Every issue has been chock full of excellent poems (and now some knobhead) and they feel like lovely things to hold too. Jan has done an excellent job there. I particularly like the little touch that the contributors copy has a book mark on their page. Nice.

Courses for Horses

Quick, mention the fact that horse racing is back in the news to justify the heading….

In better news, yesterday morning was spent on a Poetry Business course run by River Wolton and Cliff Yates. And what an enjoyable 3 and half hours that was. I’ve come away with 4 new drafts (although I note, largely to myself, that I’ve done nothing with the drafts from my previous session) and a huge amount of excellent feedback for a poem I’ve been putting off revisiting – despite liking the idea behind it a lot.

However, what was is more thrilling is seeing and hearing the work of the others on the course. Given we’re mainly seeing initial drafts of things scratched out five minutes previously. the standard is always ridiculously high, and takes a leap even further in the second session when it’s more about feedback on one specific poem – that can be a draft from elsewhere or something written on the day.

I think it was about 70/30 in favour of the former. I don’t know what the thinking was for the others, but for me I think that sort of group feedback is better used on a idea further down the road. The drafts I wrote that morning as part of the first session are things that I have no idea what they want to be, so trying to get feedback or suggestions for them seems premature to me.

The other obvious privilege of these things is the chance to discuss work and learn from the tutors – this time it was River and Cliff. They were two poets whose work I wasn’t really aware of prior to signing up. I’ve not had a chance to buy their work yet (that TBR pile isn’t really decreasing), but I’d like to steer you towards River’s poem Rat, published here as part of Kim Moore’s excellent Sunday Poem series, and to Cliff’s wonderful ‘On the Difficulty of Learning Chinese’.

Incidentally, if you’re not already aware then you should sign up for either the Unlocked or OPOI writing sessions with Nell Nelson and or Annie Fisher/Charlotte Gann. These will be excellent chances to learn either how to develop your poems (and probably being a poet) or your reviewing skills. I’ve spoken a lot about the OPOI reviews, so I won’t wang on about them anymore, other than to say they continue to help my own work as much as they provide a small boost to the awareness of the work of others.

Sadly these sessions are taking place during the working day, and having been off for a week I suspect I will have no chance of finding the time to attend. While Zoom, etc has been really helpful at allowing the attendance of readings or course without the need for travel, it has yet to find a way to bend time.

Take care, take care, take care.


36.4 k running – A much better week, back on it thanks to

2 x socially-distanced runs at the weekend and 2 during the week

3 poem worked on – The Post-Surgery Club, Out of Office Messages and Hatton Garden

4 new drafts: Card Shark, My First Time on Mars, That Bastard Rhesus Monkey At Longleat, and Ooh Matron—this last one very much a working title

0 Hangouts for work – cos I was off, innit.

2 rejections – Woohoo, some sense of closure, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision

Over 207 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. A Business of Ferrets
  2. A Collective Noun for Collective Nouns
  3. I Went to a Cockney Pilates Studio Called Core Blimey
  4. Marmoleum


Slow Is The New Fast – Slower
Margo Price – Perfectly Imperfect

Echo & The Bunnymen

Cowboy Junkies – Ghosts
VA – Get the Holy Funk – Jewel Spiritual Groovers
Inventions – Continuous Portrait
Charli XCX – how I’m feeling now
Maximillian – ST
Erland Cooper – Hether Blether
PINS – Hot Slick
British Sea Power – Open Season
Inventions – ST
The Modulations – It’s Rough Out Here

Fleet Foxes
Sun Giant
Helplessness Blues
Crack up
First Collection

Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Warren Zevon – Sentimental Hygiene
Jes Sah Bi & Peter One – Our Garden Needs Flowers 

The Archers…It’s weird…

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
Hangout with Jon Harman (He’s in the Norways)
Poetry Business Writing Day

SpooksS6 E7-10, S7 E1
Brassic S2 E1-6
American Werewolf In London
After Hours
Poltergeist 2

A Charger for Flo’s electric keyboard
Marmoleum Cleaning Fluid 

Finished Creatures #3
Jennifer Wong – Letters Home 回家


I started writing something here that was going to be the best blog ever written. It was going to involve my viewing of Poltergeist on Friday, but then I started watching the latest briefing by the Prime Minister. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that there is no fucking point. Normal service (such as it is) will resume next week.

Happy birthday to Bob Dylan…


30.4 k running – A much better week, back on it thanks to

2 x socially-distanced runs at the weekend.

1 poem worked on – Changed two lines and a title. Massive!!

7 Billion Hangouts for work

0 rejections – Woohoo, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision

Over 200 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine, North and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Dominic Cummings is a lying twat
  2. Seriously


Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
Rolling Stones – Aftermath
VA – Rough Guide to Cajun & Zydeco
VA – Rough Guide to Sufi Music
Sam Amidon – All Is Well

The Rise and Fall of Circus Boy

Scheer – Infliction 
Screaming Females – Rose Mountain
Screaming Trees  – Oceans of Confusion
Seckou Keita – 22 Strings
Pearl Jam – Gigaton
Pelican – City of Echoes
Jay May – Autumn Fallin’
Jenny Lewis – On The Line
Jesus & Mary Chain – Munki
Joan As Police Woman – To Survive
Joe Strummer – Walker (OST)
Adem – Homesongs
The Postmarks – ST
Public Service Broadcasting – Live at Brixton
Pussy Cat – Boof, The Complete Pussy Cat
Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Richmond Fontaine – Don’t Skip Out On Me
Rickie Lee Jones – ST
PJ Harvey – Dry
Tim Burgess – I Love The New Sky

Smashing Pumpkins
Teargarden By Kaleidyscope
Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

Beth Orton
Central Reservation
Trailer Park

Ben E King – Spanish Harlem
Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen
Kathleen Edwards – Asking For Flowers
North Sea Radio orchestra – Dronne

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
Beth Orton’s Live Instragram after her #Timslisteningparty for Central Reservation (I’m aware those words don’t make much sense)

Barbershop Chronicles – National Theatre on YouTube
Spooks – S6 E1-6

CD Boyland User Stories
Alan Buckley – Touched

Rishi Dastidar – Saffron Jack
Jennifer Wong – Letters Home 回家

And they say the blogs don’t work

I love a coincidence, I love (although I am a bit of an idiot when it comes to) mathematical formulas, I love telly, telling people they are ace, and I love finding something to hang these posts on, so imagine my delight when I was able to combine the first four and achieve the last one of these particular five horsemen (I’m allowing for inflation) of the apocalypse.

First the coincidence…or maybe it’s a confluence (checks meaning of confluence..yep, that’s close enough)

A few months ago (back before the lockdown/WFH I saw a blog post by Matthew Paul (henceforth known as MP for reasons) about the poet Julie Mellor (JM) praising her pamphlet Out of the Weather. I was intrigued enough to buy it and so I did (also, I think calling MP* a bastard for costing me money).**

And then it sat on the TBR pile…we all have one. Here’s mine…

I think there are several formulas involved here.

Mathematical Formulas

  1. The number of books you think you need is always n+1 where n= the number of books you have now
  2. (Not related to books, but the formula for Pile group capacity is Q = q0 X B2 + 4 x B x L x f (Square)
    Where, Q = ultimate capacity of pile group
    q0 = ultimate bearing pressure of footing of area B2 (B = size of pile group), L = Length of pile, f = shear resistance.

    This came up when searching for Book pile formula and it seemed too interesting to not share it.
  3. Tsundoku is “acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them”. I think there must be a formula for calculating how quickly you’ll get through your TBR pile.

    It’s probably to be found in Ramunjan’s notebooks —an excuse to post my poem that mentions him, The Society For The Preservation of Workings Out, but I’ll have a stab and assume that it must be something like.

    n= BTBR/TAT
    Where n is time to read, BTBR = books to be read, TAT = total available time

    TAT = Hours in day – WOE, where WOE = LOS/TNTDOS

    LOS = Lack of sleep, TNTDOS = The need to do other stuff.
    It’s a work in progress.

    Christ, I digress.

    Anyhoo, Julie’s book sat there for a few months until I saw Matthew Stewart’s (MS) post about her blog (now we’re getting meta…a post about a post about a post…soon we will be post-a post about a post, etc)

    It’s also just occurred to me I need a swear jar for every time I mention the two Matthews – this starts from next week.

    This reminded me I had the book on my TBR pile (TBRP). Now normally, I try to read the books on the TBRP in the order they arrive (ITOTA), although sometimes this can slip

    Please note, I’m being honest here. I could have lied and said it was fortuitous timing. Regardless of this, I picked up Julie’s book and I knew from the moment I read the first poem, ‘The Scar on my Wrist‘, that I was going to be hooked.(NB I want to see the poem that beat this into a commended place.) The confluence (that word again) of subject matter, recognition of the events that take place and then the absolute stunner of a twist at the end said to me that even of the rest of the book was crap, here was a poet to be aware of. Thankfully for me, and Julie, etc, the rest of the book wasn’t crap.

    I usually turn over the corners of pages with ace poems, the ones I want to come back to, etc. However, in Julie’s book I’ve turned over almost every page. To be fair, I may as well have just folded the book in half, but I’m glad I didn’t. I commend it to you and her recent work on John Foggin’s excellent site as part of his When This is All Over Project (Her poem is ‘Magician’ – and magical- but I can’t link to it directly. Do check out the rest. She also has a few haiku up at the excellent Write Where We Are Now project. Again, look at all the ace work up there.

    Telling people they’re ace

I think, when we can, we should tell people when we’ve enjoyed their work – I reckon 96.777777777% of poet’s must like being told people enjoy their work, so I emailed Julie to tell her I loved the book, and to ask how I might obtain her first pamphlet, ‘Breathing Through Our Bones (BTOB) as I couldn’t find it on the Poetry Business website.

Of course, five minutes after I sent the email, I found the book on the site, but none the less it was more important to have reached out and passed on my admiration.

I am also now in possession of BTOB by JM…and it’s signed. Ok, not signed, but it has a lovely personalised postcard. That may actually be better.

Now, in further in examples of coincidence…and when I finally address the I like telly part. I know, you’ve been tapping your watch and wondering about that.

MP has put out another post this week about the use of names in poetry. As with the JM review, I can’t add much of any intelligence to what MP has already said, but I can say that this is something I’ve been wrestling with of late (the use of names, not my lack of intelligence – that’s an ongoing battle). I’ve generally avoided using the names of anyone, least of all the people I know, but a few mates’ names have slipped through. However, I’ve not used my wife or daughter’s name yet. Flo has always been, where mentioned, “the child” or “our daughter” until recently when a poem just sort of fell out and no matter how I tried to make it ‘ the child’ it didn’t work. It needed a name and what better name than the name she has. The fact that it was the right number of syllables didn’t hurt either.

Oh yeah, the telly bit

Also, to finish up as I’m wanging on, the post I refer to above about names talks about telly. – Yes, there it is…and I also saw this excellent tweet this week from my lovely colleague in tellyland.

In one final example of coincidence and pseudo-maths, there are 3 x the letter l in Julie Mellor and there have now been three Mat(t)s writing about her. The letter l is next to the letter M in the alphabet.

#makesyouthink #cantarguewithsciencebutyoucanarguewithhashtagsnotallowingpunctuation

* Not the first time I’ve called an MP a bastard
**Please note, you very much should read MP’s review if you haven’t already, he does the book far more justice than I could.

And in true Columbo style, one last thing…It would be remiss of me to say thanks to Richie McCaffery for publishing two of my poems this week on his excellent Lyrical Aye blog.


35.6 k running – A much better week, back on it thanks to

2 x socially-distanced runs at the weekend.

1 finished – The one from last week. Almost a week from start to finish in 7 drafts is some sort of record I think

3 poems worked on – including the above and the one that mentions Flo

1 poem that I think turns out to be a sort of copy of Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’. I’d not read it, I promise, until mid this week. I made the first notes for this poem last year.

1 acceptance – Am I allowed to say…? Fuck it, the initials are WC and I am very, very pleased to be in there

7 Billion Hangouts for work

0 rejections – Woohoo, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision

Over 193 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine, North and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Tsundoku Formula
  2. Sewing Machine Amnesty



The Blue Nile
Peace At Last

Bjork – Biophillia
Afghan Whigs – Black Love
AC Acoustics – O
Admiral Fallow – Tiny Rewards
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Allo Darlin’
Henry Rollins Don’t Dance
Hymn on the 45
We Come From The Same Place

Amusement Parks on Fire – Out to the Angeles

Amy Millan
Honey From The Tombs
Masters of the Burial

Analog Roland Orchestra – Watchdog EP
And Also The Trees – Born Into The Waves
Angel Olsen – All mirrors
Ann Sexton – In The Beginning
Anna Meredith – FIBS

Apples In Stereo
The Discovery of a World Inside The Moon
Electronic Projects for Musicians
Fun Trick Noisemaker
New Magnetic Wonder

The Appleseed Cast – The End of the Ring Wars
Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut
Aretha Franklin – The Electrifying Aretha Franklin
Arvo Part – Alina
Au Revoir Simone – The Bird of Music
Aurore Rien – Sedative for the Celestial Blue
The Auteurs – After Murder Park
Bad Lieutenant – Never Cry Another Tear
Anne Peebles – I can’t Stand The Rain
Gloria Barnes – Uptown
Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
Kamasi Washington – Becoming (OST)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Mosaic of Transformation
Hunter Muskett – ST

Explosions In The Sky
Live Bootleg
The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

Afghan Whigs – In Spades
Maria McKee – Late December
Pearl Jam- Binaural

Ryley Walker
Bogging In Funkerdonk
Help Protect Our Mountains

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Temples
Ride – Nowhere
Roberta Flack – First Take
Roland Kirk – Kirk in Copenhagen

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
Rory Waterman’s Sweet Nothings launch

Spooks S5

Julie Mellor – Breathing Through Our Bones (A gift)
Smoke #66
Under The Radar #25

Rory Waterman – Sweet Nothings
Under the Radar #25

The Blogs Don’t Work – The Verve
This is here because I think this is the only song to name who “they” are…

Clowning about is all that’s left to me…

Did you know clowns paint their faces on an egg to trademark then and that there’s such a thing as the Clown Egg Register?

(99% certain that was a Fall album in the late 80s, etc)

We went to see this as a family on the 29th May 2015. I know this because I’ve been looking through old photos today for a thing on Facebook.

I wrote the first draft of a poem called Shells at sometime before 2018 but after May 2015— it was before I started adding dates to drafts (and I can’t remember which notebook it will be in). I finished the poem in 2018, 4th August after 12 drafts.

It’s on its 10th (and probably last) submission, and has currently been out for 187 days. It has nothing to do with clowns, but it was started off by this visit. And now we’re here on 10th May 2020. Spooky, hey?*

* Not spooky at all, but you’ve read this far…you may as well finish the rest and then go and write your own clown poem

THE WEEK IN STATS – should I be calling this the R Numbers???

9.2 k running – The .2 is important. Not a bad week, an awful week. 6K earlier was the nadir, I think any fitness I did have has evaporated. So, back on it from Tuesday.

2 days of Statistics training via Zoom. My god, it’s fascinating stuff, but my brain melted out of my ears by the end

1 brand new poem written. – Almost out of nowhere…a brief discussion about car purchases and then the next thing I know…a draft arrived. It’s not on V3 and I quite like it…

2 poems worked on

3 separate submissions

2 reviews published – See reviews page for details

2 more reviews written and submitted

7 Billion Hangouts for work

0 rejections – Woohoo, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision

Over 186 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine, North and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Controlled Burning
  2. Choice Tournament.
  3. Chris, Alive


Coffee Grinder
Coffee from local folks – Carnival Coffee
Screen Cleaner

Paul Farley – The Mizzy
Roy Marshall – After Montale
Olivia Walwyn – En Route
Joan Lennon – Little Red Hat
Tom Sharp – The Weeping Cufflinks
Julie Mellor – Out of The Weather

Rise of Skywalker for Star Wars Day. Flo insisted.
WestWorld S3 E7-8
Spooks S4 – E5-10

Listened to:
Still going back through old albums…via iTunes to avoid killing the wifi while streaming.

Terry Callier – Fire On Ice
Laura Veirs – Riptide
Le Orme – Ad Gloriam
King Tubby – Declaration of Dub
Kingmaker – Eat Yourself Whole

Julien Baker
Turn Out The Lights
Sprained Ankle
All the singles

Joy Wants Eternity
The Fog Is Rising
Must You Smash Your Ears Before You learn to listen…

Jim James – Uniform Distortion
The Breeders – Mountain Battles
John Coltrane & Don Cherry – The Avant-Garde
The Fernweh – ST
Feist -Let It Die
Evan Dando – Baby I’m Bored
Eulenspygel – Eulenspygel 2
Eve & The Last Waltz – Straight Up To The Sky
Emily Barker – The Toerag Sessions
El Vy – Return To The Moon
Eilen Jewell – Sea of Tears
Eggman – First Fruits Fall
Eddie Vedder – Ukelele Songs
Echo & The Bunnymen – Crocodiles
The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across The Land
Tim Finn – ST

The Tiki Tones
Idol Pleasures
Play Songs For The Suburban Savage

This is The Kit
Bashed Out
Krulle Bol
Wriggle Out The Restless

Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union
Sons & Daughters – This Gift

The Soft Pack

The Prisoners – The WisermiserDemelza
Gemma Ray – Down Baby Down
The Byrds – Notorious Byrd Brothers
VA – Algo Salvaje Vol. 2 (Untamed 60s Beat And Garage Nuggets From Spain)
Cajun Dance Party  – The Colourful Life
The Blue Nile – Hats
Desert Island Discs – Simon Armitage

Fizzy Thoughts

The big iamb

**Look, it’s Tuesday now (cue Afghan Whigs song) but let’s just pretend it’s Sunday. I did start this on Sunday, but ran out of road. The days a blurring anyway, so go with it, yeah***

Short and sweet this week. I don’t want you to spend anymore time than you have to here. Not when you could be over at Iamb. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s the brainchild of Mark Antony Owen – you can follow him on the Twitters, and I very much suggest you read his Subruria work. Mark is a brilliant poet and I owe him a big debt for advice he gave me about 6 years ago. Yes, it took me three more to start following it, but let’s focus on him for now.

He’s also a relentless promoter and supporter of other writers. And as such he has created Iamb. I’ve put this here before, but it warrants repetition. This is the “lift pitch” for Iamb.

They say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Let’s hope, then, that those behind The Poetry Archive – this project’s inspiration – are flattered, sincerely, by what we’re building here: a place for more poetic voices to be heard … literally.

Part directory of poets, part quarterly journal, ‘iamb’ is where
established and emerging talents are showcased side by side. Not just their words but their readings of them, too. Expect 60 new poems, every three months, free to your device of choice.

So far there are 40 poets for you to read (at your leisure, I’m not that demanding).
You would do yourself no harm and do the poets a great service by starting at the beginning. If you don’t want to read them, there’s links to Soundcloud where we all read our own work.

Go on, get out of here. Go to Iamb. Read them. I’m in Wave two, squeezed between Maggie Smith (She of Good Bones and much more fame) and Matthew M C Smith (he of Black Bough and much more fame). Me, of me and cock all else fame…


23.2k running – The .2 is important. Not a bad week, a 13k today (It’s SUNDAY, remember!!) helped. Still a bit of faking it to make it without the motivation of a race, etc, and the lethargy is hard to shake off, but I’m enjoying it again. Getting out to do Couch to 5K with Flo also helps.

2 birthdays. Mine. And Matthew Stewart’s. I got him a walk outside. Took a lot of negotiation with the Spanish Government. And fair enough, it had to apply to the rest of the population, but not bad as a gift. Tricky to wrap.

1 podcast recorded – Grandbag’s Funeral Ep3. We talked about Richard Stanley’s Hardware, Colour Out of Space, Val Kilmer and The Island of Doctor Moreau and Top Secret. Among other things. And yes, the world does need another podcast.

It’s here, if you fancy it

1 Poem worked on. – Currently called Tea Break or Work Experience…Not sure yet

7 Billion Hangouts for work

0 rejections – Woohoo, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision

Over 179 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine, North and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Lift Pitch
  2. At The tenth hour, fifty nine minutes and fifty nine seconds.
  3. Ket Wig & The Angry Inch
  4. Ket Wig


New Running Trainers – Brooks
Sarah Corbett – Other Beasts, The Witch Bag, The perfect Mirror
Eavan Boland- Collected Poems
Jens Lekman – Oh you’re So Silent Jens
Laura Veirs – Riptide CD single
Half Man Half Biscuit T Shirt
Three Hounds Beer order

Christopher James – Farewell To The Earth
Jo Youngs – Firing Pins
Gail McConnell – Fothermather
Paul Farley – The Mizzy (Roy Marshall’s review here is excellent)

Color out of space
Spooks – S4 E1-2
WestWorld S3 – E2-7
Can You Ever Forgive Me
Howard The Duck

Listened to:
Still going back through old albums…via iTunes to avoid killing the wifi while streaming.

The Cure
Seventeen Seconds

AC Newman – The Slow Wonder
The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen
Alessi’s Ark – Time Travel
All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors – ST
Ride – Tarantula
Pixies – Beneath The Eyrie
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Matt Sweeney – Superwolf
VA – Soul Jazz Records Presents…Congo Revolution
Dinosaur Jr – Hand It Over
Brandi Carlille – ST
Mamas & Papas- Deliver
Sleater Kinney – Dig Me Out
The Cult – Sonic Temple
The Flaming Lips – The Terror
The Four Tops – Main Street People
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
Gallon Drunk – Black milk
Girls Against Boys   – Venus Luxury No.1 Baby (thanks Ben Banyard for the reminder)
Givers – In Light
Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes – ST
Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Clippety Clop
Hop Along – Painted Shut
Horse Thief – Trials & truths
Houndstooth – No News From Home
Ian Ball _ Who Goes There
VA – I  Lost You In My Mind: Garage Greats 1965-1967
I Was A Cub Scout – I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope
Ian McCulloch – Mysterio
Velvet Underground – Loaded
Tycho – Awake
TracyAnne & Danny – ST
Tortoise – The Catastrophist

Tim Buckley
Dream Letter
Tim Buckley

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
Cowboy Junkies – In A time Before Llamas

Collapse Into Now
Fables of The Reconstruction

P.I.L. – Flowers of Romance
Postcode – Zebracore
Prefab Sprout – Swoon
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Paley & Francis – ST
Our Girl – Stranger Today
One Thousand Violins  – Hey Man That’s Beautiful
A Northern Chorus – Bitter Hands Resign
Natalie Prass – the Future and the Past

Not a podcast, but Happenstance launch on Zoom

and of course, The Archers…(When will they mention Covid 19???). I note there will be no Archers throughout May…