Saturday, 13 August 2016


sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night

sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence

sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind


Monday, 8 August 2016



(for Peter Common & Dan Pinnock)

But the thing I saw in your face

No power can disinherit:

No bomb that ever burst

Shatters the crystal spirit.' (George Orwell).

I stood at your door,

knocked in the English sunshine,

bowed to greet you

but could not hear

the chatter

from your typewriter

or the rain pecking

at the tin roof,

only the plummet of the leaves

brushing against my face

and the birds

falling over the fields.

Thought of you and Jack Common,

shaking hands

in open debate,

patched sleeves

damp on the bar counter,

ploughing through

tracts of history,

eyes on the horizon

looking for War

and bombs

over Datchworth's spire.

This magic morning,

clear sky in our hearts.

No September showers,

only goats bleating,

a horse trotting

down the lane

and, in the day dream,

St Mary's bells


with Eileen asleep

in the clouds.

What should I say?

We are weak.

I know you were awkward

but, like Jack, full of love.

Out of bullets,

flowers may grow;

out of trenches,


The roses

and acorns of thoughts

you planted

those years ago

in Kits Lane,

nourish us now

in these brief minutes,


from your writing hand

farming for words,

the eggs of essays,

the jam on your fingers.

You were scraping a book together,

smoking the breath

out of your collapsing lungs,

taking the world

on your creaking bent shoulders,

riding across fields

for friends,

bones aching,

fighting to exist

in the cold breeze.

Still the Simpson's Ale

was good in the Plough,

the old laughter still

flying down this Wallington lane,

with the crackling children


on an idyllic day.

Enjoy this beauty,

it will turn to pain.

Sing your folk songs,

dig your garden,

dance in your brain.

Graft and graft

until all the breath is gone.

Leave a brave mark

in the dust

round Animal Farm.

What a good thing

to be alive

where songbirds soar

and daffodils nod.

Over the slaughter

of motorways,

we are following

your large footprints

into this bright countryside

where good people

adopt another's children

and still

fall in love

with England.


Written after visiting Orwell’s cottage in Wallington, Hertfordshire, where he lived with Eileen O’Shaughnessy and which was once looked after for him by fellow writer Jack Common.

'The more I read ‘Wallington Morning’ the more I like it.  Very well done, an extremely clever and well written poem!' (Peter Common, son of Jack)

'I love this! Very emotive! Draws pictures in my brain and melts my heart. Thank you.' (Denise Byrne, daughter of Peter).