The eye of age sees in events
Not only now, but then.

They leave behind a baggage trail
Which leads us back
into the past ..

A broken shoe, discarded toy,
in the rubble of a Syrian town
By a child swept up
in  terror..

Leads to the ghetto,
to the siren wailing,
To the axe in the thatch,
the longship beached on the shore..
the dogs baying in the marshes
the bodies curved in sudden stone.

The grief for one becomes the grief for all.



Patience is a virtue

Virtue is a grace

Grace is a little girl

Who wouldn’t wash her face.


Patience, along with the others,

Chastity, Temperance, Charity,

Diligence, Kindness and Humility,

was seen, particularly by the Victorians,

as a virtue ideally suited to little girls.

We were still all taught, directly or indirectly, to wait.


Mostly for our Prince to come.


The trouble with Patience is that it is a virtue

only in a world in which Time

is on your side.


Which it rarely is for little girls.


I still try to practise it.

I wait, calmly, for things to happen.

But then, when they still don’t,

my patience hasn’t actually helped at all..

all it has done has been to make the time pass


And the problem in the first place is how fast it passes..


How soon it is gone.


Perhaps I will get my reward in Heaven.

I shall have to wait and see.





Great afternoon’s work! We have landed on the moon – wait till you hear it with the music!

ps: as with Atom and all the space cycle lyrics, they are commissioned so please do not post on Facebook.


Movement 5: Moon


The countdown begins

The world watches..

One giant leap for mankind..







noise of lift off (sung by children)


The capsule’s

Floating down


Words fading

Floating down


Words fading

Floating down


The capsule

Touches down


The moon

The moon


No sound

No waves


I stand

in the shine

Of the Sea

Of Tranquillity..

Under the endless dark of space..


I step

and I float

On the Sea

of Tranquillity..

Held by the stillness and peace of this place ..


No sound

No waves

No sound

No waves


My footprint

will stay

On the Sea of


Here on the moon we have left our trace..


My footprint

will stay

On the Sea of


Long past the end of the human race..



No sound

No waves

No sound

No waves

No sound

No waves

The Universe

We are still writing the Music of the Spheres. My next task is to write a children’s song about the universe. A large topic. Awed by the scope and grandeur of my task, I came up with this – imagining how we might in the future encounter it. I’m not sure it’s quite what Jools had in mind.


It might just be a first draft.


And here we have

The universe

Take all the time

You need.


There is no rush

Quite the reverse

We travel at

Light speed.


These windows

give us

Splendid views

On all sides of the ship..


Is that a comet

Blazing there?

Or is it ..

Just a blip?


Only the other year

We saw

A planet in the dark


Since then,

Not much..

Just have to wait.

At least it’s free to park.

1940’s Lyrics:My friends all say..

Another love song, on a familiar theme:

My friends all say
You’re bad for me
You’ll leave me be..
Just drop me flat
Cut me like that..
As soon
As someone better comes along..

My friends all say
You need a shave
And cash to save
Where would we live?
What could you give?
Till someone better comes along..

They can have their perfect boyfriends
With their shiny city suits
And their monogrammed red braces
And their silly stupid faces..
They can have their cars and houses
And their dutiful dull spouses
Is there anything at Macy’s
Half as fun as
Half an hour
With you?

My friends all say
Too good for you..
If they only knew..
How grand it is
To be with you..
I’m so glad..
That someone better came along…

1940’s Lyrics: I saw you with her last night

Many of these songs are very wistful; many about love affairs gone wrong. This is one of them. Jools has set this to music, beautifully; we just need to fiddle with it a bit more and it is there, I think.


I saw you with her
Last night..
I saw her fingertips
as she
your shoulder
and you bent your head..

I saw you with her
Last night..
I saw her eyelashes
As she
towards you
to hear what you said..

And then
I knew it was over..
I knew all the love
that we share
Was lost…
in the silk of her hair..

I saw you with her
Last night
I saw you see me
And hurry
To greet me
I saw the pain in your eyes ..
No need for Goodbyes..
No need for Goodbyes..
No need for goodbyes.

1940’s Lyrics: It would be lovely

At one point Jools and I had the idea of writing songs for a library which specialised in supplying songs for advertising and films that were deliberate pastiches of a specific genre : in pursuit of this idea I spend a very enjoyable weekend listening to 1940’s jazz songs and then writing a few of my own which I thought reflected the style and preoccupations of the time. One of them, Key to my Heart, which I will post later, has become a regular number sung by Nuala when she and Jools play jazz together, but there were several who never made it into music. We are both going through our back catalogue of songs at the moment as a side project, so I thought rather than leave them languishing on the shelf I would publish songs that haven’t made it as poems, so that I have them all in one place.

This one is a straight-forward little love song.

It would be lovely ..
Maybe, baby,
On the seafront,
In the moonlight,
With the ripples sneaking up upon the sand..
You’d take my hand..
Go on one knee
And whisper,
‘Will you marry me?’

It would be lovely..
Maybe, baby,
On a hillside..
In the sunshine..
With the champagne spilling bubbles on my hand…
You’d make a stand..
Go on one knee
And stammer,
‘Will you marry me?’

It would be lovely ..
Maybe, baby,
In the west end,
In the best end..
When everybody’s clapping with the band..
Your knee would hand..
You’d holla,
‘Will you marry me?’

But it wouldn’t really matter,
Oh my darling,
O my dear one,
Oh my lovely, lovely man..

Where we were
What we were doing..
Just as long as you do ask me..
please do ask me..
please do ask me..
I will die
if you don’t ask me
to take your hand….
To take your hand,
To take your hand..


We are beginning our journey into space for the next Children’s song cycle for the Abbey in May with the Atom.

Eventually, I worked out how to write it – thanks to a book club meeting on Wuthering Heights!



One two three

One two three

They waltz eternally



But oh the

fires that burn

In them internally!


One two three

One two three

Proton loves yearningly

All of his energy

Is fixed on her


One two three

One to three

Neutron just

doesn’t care

She hardly

knows he’s there –

Nose in the air!


One two three

One two three

Outside their

cosy globe

Prowls the


That burns for them both!


Should he and

Proton meet

Fire would be our fate.

Their split would

kill us all

Such is his hate!


Proton and Neutron turn

Locked in their endless dance

Ringed by Electron

Forever alone…


One two three

One two three

They waltz eternally



But oh the

fires that burn

In them internally!


Shakespeare Under Ground

My lovely son Paul, whose mission is to enrich the culture of TFL, has asked me to try my hand at writing a poem conflating Shakespeare and the tube. Can’t be more difficult than involving Dracula with the housing crisis, I thought..


I sway inside a tube at dark of day

Burrowing through the earth like an old mole.

No-one it seems has anything to say

I am a ghost; naught left of me but soul.


Light clatters by as people ebb and flow

The clothes don’t tell me who these strangers are

Beggar or king? A dame? A whore? Who knows?

Though some do speak by glance, by sigh, by scar..


I rise above ground, find the open air

And there the Globe – the Globe?

In this odd landscape, why is that still there?

And why my name, why actors in my robes?


Can it be so, that through this town of mine,

My words still run, despite the run of time?

World War 3: Earth 2016

When my grandchildren have a dispute

over something –

they both want the same pen;

Inigo wants to sit on Tilly’s head

and she would prefer it if he didn’t –

it is easy to resolve.


Find another red pen;

Take Tilly’s head away from Inigo

have another game of bug bingo ..


But when they get restive – being shut in too long..

watching too much television..

just bored with playing nicely..


As my grandmother used to say,

spoiling for a fight….

that’s different.


Whatever you do,

you know

it’s going to blow…