Whimsy Priest

As I say down to write this I was actually attempting to make some sort of connection between a whisky priest and what’s about to follow, but I couldn’t manage it. I can manage the signs of moral weakness standing on my head (and that’s often the problem, ho, ho, ho, etc), but the second part is usually more of an issue.

NB: If you’re not sure, a “Whisky Priest is “A priest or ordained minister who shows clear signs of moral weakness, while at the same time teaching a higher standard.”

Luckily, the heading now reads more like something Eddie Izzard would call one of his tours. *Makes note to call Eddie Izzard*. ** Makes other note to find out how to call Eddie Izzard**

Anyhoo, it sort of makes sense as what follows is a wonderful bit of whimsy…

I’ve often mentioned how I love a coincidence. And this week I’ve seen a few that have made me happy and are largely poetry related. You may recall a few weeks ago that I was extolling the virtues of Julie Mellor‘s poetry and that she very kindly sent me a copy of her first pamphlet, Breathing Through Her Bones—well, this week I finally managed to find time to start reading it. I fell in love with it instantly. I suspect I will be buying and reading Julie’s work for a long time. I hope to be buying and reading a full collection from her in due course.

As with her other pamphlet, I loved this one from the get go, but my eyes properly alighted on this poem.

Julie Mellor, Whisk – for Breathing Through Our Bones

There are so many things to love about this poem, a vague sense of threat from the Ford Zephyr, the moonscape of the batter mix—I wish I could nick that for the Title Giveaway— and the ‘bucket seats/ waiting to swallow us whole’. I love it (and every other poem in the book.

What really set it off though, and this entirely unrelated was something Florence said yesterday.

Entirely unprompted, Flo walked through and told me this pun that she’d just made up. I am ridiculously proud.

Then, today in another turn of twitter and poetry connections. My dear friend Mark Antony Owen (he of Iamb fame) tweeted

And this reminded me of this poem.

Things That Happen – Hugh Underhill, from The Human Heart

I knew this poem as I’ve been reading it a lot this week because I’ve been reviewing the book that it comes from – The Human Heart by Hugh Underhill. I sent the review off a couple of days ago, and, this morning, when I sent the poem to Mark I didn’t know it was due to be published today.

However, it has been and I am very pleased about that.

You can read the review here. Please do, and all of the others.

I may have to have a good think about writing reviews for a while—once I’ve cleared my backlog (…Three. More. To. Go….) as it’s taking its toll on my own work, but I certainly don’t want to give it up.


25k running – Some hill repeats, some fast 5ks and an aborted 8k today when my mate’s calf went ping.

1 poem worked on – sort of..I drafted a few lines of one I’ve been working on for a while. Not sure if they will make the grade.

0 poems accepted, 0 poems rejected. It’s a delicate balance

2 x feedback to a friend on their poem. I love watching a draft of someone else’s work come together. Seeing what they take on board, what’s ignored and why… That’s a post at some point…*Take a note, Riches*

1.75 reviews. One written and subbed and one nearly done. It was this post or that. I know, I know….finish the review.

5 days without cigarettes…and then…Fits and starts, yeah!!

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


The Whimsy Priest
Siberian Shamans – (Thanks to @Sovietvisuals for that one)
Help track satellites (for astronomers worried that they’re starting to block out the stars.)


The People’s Choir of Operation Push – ST
El Ten Eleven – Tautology II
Margo Price – That’s How Rumors get Started
Kestrels Dream or Don’t Dream
Mr Ben and the Bens – Life Drawing
Green On Red – Gravity Talks
The Cure – ST
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Temple
Mary Lorson & Saint Low – Tricks For Dawn

Lift To Experience
Black Sessions
Peel Sessions
The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads

Like Honey – Leaves
Loamlands – Sweet High Rise
Lomond Campbell – Black River Promise

The Jayhawks
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Blue Earth
Hollywood Town Hall

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk
The Jesus Lizard – Liar
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?

Jóhan Jóhannsson
The Theory of Everything OST
Virulegu Forsetar

John Coltrane – Blue Train
Julian Cope – Jehovahkill
Kingmaker – Eat Yourself Whole
Kosmische Läufer = The Secret Cosmic Music of the East german Olympic Programme
Larry Coryell – Coryell
Laura Veirs – July Flame
The Dells – There Is
Laraaji – Sun Piano
My mate Simon’s The Fall Playlist
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur 
Kate Pierson – Guitars And Microphones
B52s – Cosmic Thing

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

Poet Laureate has gone to his shed – Judge Melanie Plimmer, Laura Ashe & Chris Packham (well, 2/3rds of the Packham)
The Foxhole Companion – Dan Stewart & Simon Rance

Agent Carter – S1 & S2 E1-8
Penny Dreadful (The new one) E9-10. God, it was awful.
The Mosquito Coast

Seamus Heaney – 1998-2013 Selected Poems
Alice Oswald – Woods Etc, Nobody
Martha Sprackland – Citadel

Nina Mingya Powles – Magnolia, 木蘭
Seamus Heaney – 1998-2013 Selected Poems

Julie Mellor – Breathing Through Our Bones
Hugh Underhill – The Human Heart
Suna Afshan – Belladonna
Terence Hayes – American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin
These two excellent interviews with Rishi – One & Two

Electrafixion – Zephyr…The great in-between Bunnymen band… Saw this lot at Sheffield Leadmill in 1994 with my then girlfriend, Jenny Frew.

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…