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Tuesday, 7 April 2020


One of my earliest memories is of going to watch Tottenham with my dad, when I was around five or six. I remember we got beaten 2-0 at home by Blackburn, back when Blackburn were good. I remember the Creme Egg that my dad bought me, and struggling with the fiddly bits of silver foil. I remember asking what would happen if nobody scored a goal, and being confused and even a little bit angry that such a thing as a nil-nil draw was possible. Barring a period of a few years as a punk-obsessed teen, I have been a keen Spurs supporter, and a follower of football in general, ever since.

And yet one of the things I am discovering during the current, indefinite footballing hiatus is how little I really miss football, especially Premier League football, and especially Tottenham.

I don't miss the dismal predictability of the same handful of teams winning every week, and I don't miss the cloying stink of filthy lucre permeating said teams.

I don't miss the limp disappointment of defeat, or the fleeting joy of victory.

I don't miss the endless false dawns and the knowledge that, unless Spurs are bought by Kuwait or something, they will ultimately always be unable really to compete.

I don't miss the sense of underachievement that clings to the club like the smell of wet dog.

I don't miss referring to the team as 'we', despite the knowledge that I personally played no part whatsoever in whatever happened on the pitch. Or maybe, if I was at the match, I did play a part by dint of helping fill the club's coffers, in which case why did I bother in the first place?

And I don't miss the cyclical nature of it all; the fact that the same process gets enacted every week, like Samsara, yet never ultimately arriving at any higher purpose. You lose one week? You feel shit, but hey - there is always the next week to get excited about. You win the following week? You feel good, but ultimately, well, so fucking what? What is the purpose of it all? Defeat bleeds into victory, which bleeds into defeat again, and on and on, until the end of the season. Until it all starts up again.

Death and rebirth. Death and rebirth.

Just as the soul yearns for nirvana, for freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, I am discovering that I can do perfectly well, thank you very much, without football.

When it all starts up again, I'm sure I will watch it. I'm sure I will be unreasonably pissed off when 'we' lose, and momentarily happy when 'we' win. But the whole thing seems to have become shrouded in a fog of futility I never previously knew was there, and I'm not sure whether, for me, that will ever really disappear now I am aware of it.

Monday, 6 April 2020


I recently promoted a new writing idea, based on my poem Never, which you can read here. After having listened to the poem, I challenged children to come up with their own versions. They didn't have to rhyme (although they could if they wanted), but each line should start with 'Never...'. The challenge was then to think of some weird, exotic, crazy things that one should NEVER do. I am delighted to say that many children at Christ Church Ainsworth school decided to give this a go. I am honoured to be able to share their poems here, along with some poems from kids at other schools. Enjoy! (and why not give it a go yourself? It's very fun)

Thursday, 2 April 2020


One bedroom flat
And there’s nowhere to run
Looking through the window
At the smirking sun
Fifth cup of coffee
And a row with the wife
Welcome everybody to
Lockdown Life

Check the latest figures
Like a football match
Hunt for more info
Search for the stats
Identity reduced
To Tweets and Likes
Come one and all to
Lockdown Life

Heart palpitations
At the morning news
Just had my lunch
Is it too early for booze?
Precariously balanced
On the blade of a knife
Hey everybody it’s
Lockdown Life 

Try to read a novel
But the words fall flat
New Instagram account
And a picture of the cat
Try to get a handle
But the thoughts run rife
Hear ye! Hear ye!
Lockdown Life

Hands reach out
Is there anybody there?
Writing down these words
But does anybody care?
A bird’s flight forming
In the mind’s small eye
Ain’t nothing there but
Lockdown Life

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


I am very privileged to be teaming up with Love Reading 4 Kids to offer an exciting online poetry workshop. You can watch the video here:

Yesterday Abi (age 10) got in touch with a fantastic poem she had written, based on my workshop. Here is Abi's wonderful poem:

Freedom of the Orange by Abigail Marks aged 10

Orange of Freedom

Orange of life

Orange of wonder and

Orange of magic

Orange of the world

Orange of music

Orange of talent

Orange of opening the door

Orange of the sunset makes you feel warm

Orange of the ocean

Orange of the sun going behind you

Orange of the tree you fall from.

But it doesn't end there! Abi's mum Ros also gave it a go, proving that poetry can be enjoyed at any age. Here is Ros's fan piece:

Apple of my Eye  by Ros Marks - aged too old to say

Your blossom envelopes me like a blanket of love
White and pink, so delicate are your features.
I am sad when you are blown from me,
Gone for another year.
I will wait, for you are my love.

I will wait for you.
Wait for you.
Wait for you

The weather cools with autumns arrival.
I marvel at your beauty once more.
Red, pink, green.  Big, small, round.
You tease me with your beauty.

I will wait, for you are my love.
I will wait for you.
Wait for you.
Wait for you.

Each day I watch with bated breath.
Your majestic branches holding your fruit
Like a mother holding a baby.
I watch you grow with ever increasing anticipation.

I will wait, for you are my love.
I will wait for you.
Wait for you.
Wait for you.

At last you are ready to leave the protection of your branch.
I catch you in my outstretched hands.
Gently I hold you, as I savour the moment.
My mouth watering with anticipation.

I could wait no longer to taste your juiciness.
And then you are gone.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020


The poem above is published in my latest book, Welcome To My Crazy Life (Bloomsbury). The other day I set a challenge on Twitter. I shared the poem, and encouraged children to come up with poems using their own 'silly similes'. I didn't set any more rules, I just waited to see what weird and wonderful ideas would results. I am delighted to say that many children got in touch with their own poems, and I am honoured to be able to share some up the results!

First up is Ashlynn, age 12, from Wisconsin USA:

Wonderful stuff! Next up is Ashlynn's sister Brooklynn, age 10:

Next, please give a big round of applause for Anna, age 9:

And let's hear it for Henry, age 7:

Let's hear it for Liberty, age 10!

And finally, a great big cheer for Lincoln, age 10. 

Silly Similes

As heavy as a flea,
As round as a box,
As as big as a pea,
As dumb as a fox.

As tasty as sand,
As square as a mule,
As quiet as a band,
As smart as a fool.

As flat as a ball,
As hot as ice,
As quiet as a call,
As giant as rice.

As friendly as a foe,
As tiny as a book,
As black as snow, 
As blunt as a hook.

As handsome as a squint,
As dry as the sea,
As slow as a sprint,
As boring as me.

Saturday, 28 March 2020



At the current time it feels like every author and their dog are producing videos that are then being widely disseminated through social media. I therefore felt I had little option but to give it a go myself. The video above is entitled 'I Wanna Be a Bear', and contains a poem that is forthcoming in my book called Yapping Away, due to be published by Bloomsbury in 2021. After I perform the poem, I ask the audience: if they could be any animal, what would they be and what would they do? I'm delighted to say that several teachers got in touch with examples of students' responses to the poem, several of which I am now delighted to share. 

Here is 'I Wanna Be a Bee' by Ryan, in Year 6:

I think Ryan's use of rhyme of rhythm in this poem is really special. Next up is 'I Wanna Be an Eagle by Alex W (Year 6):

And finally we have 'I Wanna Be a Snake'. Unfortunately no name was supplied with this poem, but I love it nonetheless:

Thursday, 26 March 2020


They tell me that now
is a good time for writing.

They say that 
with all this empty time

what is better or more natural
than for a writer to write?

What they don’t know
is that I’m too busy to try. 

I’m far too busy
refreshing the page

on how many have died.
As I lie awake on the sofa

for half the night
I’m actually very busy,

tangled up with the knowledge
that next might be my turn

to feel the loss
of something real. 

So as I lie here, 
the months stretching out

into fields of nothing, 
I’m really far too busy

for writing.