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Tuesday 30 October 2018


I had great fun the other day writing food poems with students at John Wycliffe Primary School. The idea was very simple: inspired by my poem 'Love Letter to a Lychee' (from my book I Don't Like Poetry) pupils were challenged to write either a love letter to their favourite food, or a hate letter to their least favourite food. On top of this personification, the extra challenge was to include repetition, simile, metaphor and alliteration, after having identified it in my lychee poem. Here are two fantastic examples from Lucas and Max. Enjoy!


Oh tomato
Your red colour is like a big monster
Gobbling me whole and walking down the road
Eating others who hate you as much as me.
Oh tomato
I just want to throw you away forever
I like you cooked when you’re dead
And suffering in the oven on my pizza
It’s my turn to eat you
Oh tomato
I hate you


I love mum
I love food
I love mum-made Sunday dinners of course!
It’s a plate of pure deliciousness
It’s a plate of rainbows and joy
I love my mum
I love food
But I love mum-made Sunday dinners

Because it’s food made by my mum

Image result for sunday dinner

Tuesday 16 October 2018


If you’re feeling rather blue, write a poem.
If you don’t know what to do, write a poem.
If you’re cast adrift and seasick
and you have no analgesic;
if you’re rendered quadriplegic,
write a poem.

If you’re trampled by a moose, write a sonnet.
If you’re hanging from a noose, write a sonnet.
If an inland taipan bit you,
if a baseball bat just hit you,
if a straightjacket restricts you,
write a sonnet.

If you’re floundering in debt, write a ballad.
if your bills cannot be met, write a ballad.
If the bailiffs come to call
and you have no cash at all
and you’re left with four bare walls,
write a ballad.

If you’ve shattered all your molars, write an ode.
if your gran has caught ebola, write an ode.
If life’s river has a dam in,
if your kosher soup has ham in,
if you’re dying in a famine,
Write an ode.

If you’re choking on some glass, write a haiku.
If you’ve cancer of the arse, write a haiku.
If you've crashed a helicopter,
someone hit your gran and crocked her,
you don't need to call the doctor:
write a haiku.

If your bones have turned to dust, write a poem.
If there’s no one left to trust, write a poem.
If your nation’s blown to pieces
and your life has turned to faeces
you don’t need to turn to Jesus:

Image result for poetry saves lives

Monday 8 October 2018


She likes gazing at the ripples of the river;
I like jumping into puddles.

She contemplates the smoothness of the pebbles;
I lob them into the sea.

She holds a plump strawberry in her fingers;
I eat a doughnut.

She hikes in the crisp mountain air;
I wallow in the city’s sewers.

She is a poet.
I am a poet too -

just a different kind.

Tuesday 2 October 2018


'My version of Paul Lyalls"s  poem Sellotape ( 'A Funny Thing Happened"
(Caboodle Books).

Send out a search party!
Send out a crew!
I have a predicament -
what shall I do?
It’s driving me crazy.
I’ve gone round the bend.
I have stick tape
and I can’t find the end!

I’ve looked high and low
and I’ve looked all around.
I’ve swam through the ocean.
I’ve crawled on the ground.
I’ve called a detective
who donned a black cape
but could not find the end
of the damned sticky tape.

Of course I've cursed coarsely.
I’m hoarse with inveigling,
searching the edge of
that round, sticky bagel thing.
This is a duff one!
This MUST be a con!
The end of the sticky tape -
where has it gone?

My eyes have gone crossed
and my skin has gone green.
My muscles have bulged
through my shirt and my jeans.
I howl and I growl
and I yowl like an ape:

I can’t find the end
of the sticky tape.

Monday 1 October 2018


I am not writing this as a seasoned film critic, or even as someone with much knowledge at all about film. Rather, I am writing as a not-unintelligent person who spent a sizeable chunk of money to see a film during his leisure time. (Actually, my wife spent the money, but the point still stands - money was spent in the hope of being entertained.) I should also warn you that there may well be spoilers in what I am about to say.

Cold War (directed by Pawel Pawlikovski) has been incredibly well reviewed. My wife sold it to me on the basis that it has earned a slew of five star write ups, from the likes of The Guardian and Time Out. “Come with me to see this black-and-white Polish film”, she said. And despite the reservations that this automatically fostered in my mind, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The film spans the Fifties, and centres on the romance between Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig). Wiktor is a composer and pianist, and Zula in a peasant girl who has been plucked from obscurity to perform traditional Polish songs as part of a troupe in veneration of Stalin. Reference is made near the beginning to Zula’s having murdered her father, but other than this neither character has any sort of back story, or any other kind of meat on their bones. There is nothing about either of them to suggest I should give a toss one way or another what happens. These are not characters; they are simulacra.

We do not see Wiktor and Zula fall in love, so we do not encounter the thrill of the chase that this might have engendered. Instead we get two ‘characters’ who go back and forth across the Iron Curtain, periodically popping into each other’s lives and sleeping with each other. Wiktor defects to France, Zula follows, then Zula goes back, and Wiktor follows, and so on, in a merry dance of utter pointlessness. We know nothing of either character’s motivation, or even of their personality. They may as well be very, very, very good-looking mannequins. The final scene is ambiguous: we see Wiktor and Zula in a ruined cathedral, pledging vows to each other before apparently committing suicide with an overdose of pills, and then we see them sitting on a bench together. Is this the afterlife? Are they still waiting for the pills to work? Is this a flashback? Do I really care? Zula ends by saying something like “let’s go across the river, the view is better over there.” This obviously mirrors their journey across the international borders, and perhaps across the river Styx into the afterlife. But metaphors alone can’t keep me interested on a Saturday night.

It has to be said that the camera work is often sumptuous. We get really atmospheric shots. I don’t know anything about cinematography so I can’t really say anything clever about it, but the visuals seemed really good. But you know what? In the words of the philosopher Shania Twain, “That don’t impress me much”. It is like being given a birthday present wrapped in beautiful paper, but with nothing inside. Some people do indeed see films purely for the special effects, but those are not my kind of people.

So, to conclude my first ever foray into the world of film reviews, I’ve give Cold War 2 out of 5. It is mercifully short, and the camerawork was nice, but it was BORING SNORING. Next!


Image result for cold war film