North Korea

‘Next stop is ‘Armageddon,’

Said the conductor on the train

But I suggest you take your raincoat

We’re expecting nuclear rain


There’s a despot in Korea

Intent to kill the world

With no thought or inclination

Of the horror he’s unfurled


‘Civilisation’ on a knife edge

Humanity on the brink

What a sad sad way to say goodbye

To all we know and think


No children and no flowers

Just a burned, out wasted land

A scorching wind, a flash of light

Leaving only God to stand



Broken II

I found this image in Madrid, actually a black and white photo in a gallery by a German artist called Hans Bellmer. Whilst initially I was quite taken by the image as a technical challenge, by the time I was half was through painting it, found it both disturbing and unsettling. One of those images I somewhat regret painting.

Losing you.

You think I wasn’t there but I was there

I held your hand all through the night

Every breath that you breathed I was breathing

Every battle you fought I did fight

You think I wasn’t there but I was there

The pains that I felt were for real

Your anguish, despair and your suffering

Everything you felt I could feel

You think I wasn’t there but I was there

I stood bowed with God at my side

The tears that I wept could have drowned me

My emotions had nowhere to hide.

You think I wasn’t there but I was there

I was the one shaking in fright

I prayed that I would be taken

In return for you lasting the night

You think I wasn’t there but I was there

Each moment, each second, each day

You may think I wasn’t there but I was love

Every moment, every second, every day.


Death row.

I recently read a John Grisham novel about a man on death row and this poem came into my mind shortly afterwards, so I wrote it down and share it with you, not for any ghoulish reason and not because I am either in favour or against the death penalty, purely because it was a poetic reaction to what I had read.



My skin would soon be burning

I was just three paces from hell

After twenty-two years on death row

And a lifetime in prison cells

They wrapped me in chains to bind me

As if I had someplace to run

With guards stood around in a circle

Wielding baton, rifle and gun

The priest he gave me forgiveness

And asked if I wanted to pray

I gave him a smile and shook my head

Said ‘Father, no praying this day.’

They tied me to the chair in silence

As the witnesses looked on in dread

The clock ticked loudly and slowly

Counting the seconds till dead

They say that your life swims before you

But it didn’t for me I must say

I just gazed out at the faces

As my seconds ticked on and away

The black hood it took away vision

All but the ticking had gone

I thought I heard a guard counting

Three, two and then one………


A day in the life . . . . . !

I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep, or so I am always being told when I complain about lack of sleep. Well, I may not NEED it but I would certainly like to have, what I consider my fair share. Yes, I know, a Victor Meldrew moment. Yawn. (See that proves it, I’m STILL tired!!!)

BUT, accepting the fact that six hours is all I am getting I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself and make a ‘nice’ cup of tea. I wonder why we say that? ‘I’m just going to make a nice cup of tea!’ as if we would deliberately make a bad one.
I had started a new painting a few days previously and it was still on the dining room table (My studio) ready to be worked on again. I had been to Madrid and had loved the city as a whole and in particular the galleries and the museums. As you would expect there was a great deal of religious art around and at first I must admit I walked past most of it looking for something more to my taste, but as time went by I became more interested and lingered longer at some of the better ones, admiring what they had been able to achieve all those hundreds of years ago.
At sometime during the holiday the seed was sown to paint Mary Magdalene once I returned home and indeed, a recently started Magdalene was what was laid upon the dining room table when I sauntered in to look at it.
I stood sipping tea and looking down at the painting there was something wrong with the right side of the hood she was wearing. I had been aware of this for a couple of days but couldn’t work out what it was. Perhaps it’s just a bad painting I thought, looking out of the window to see what the weather was doing. Raining. Summer, in England. According to the radio it was ‘baking hot’ in the south, but Billingham was lost under a sky the colour of ink. I sat down, picked up a paintbrush and stuck it between my teeth, the action of doing so reminded me that I had an appointment with the hygienist the next day. More pain, I thought to myself. (Which was totally unfair because she was very good and I don’t think I ever even felt a twinge of anything remotely close to pain. But I had a manly image to keep up so I was determined to make a fuss and had even considered crying to demonstrate how much pain I was suffering but was bravely soldiering on.)
I started dabbing away at Magdalene, altering some colour here and an outline there. Hmmm, I thought I could see some improvement, so I continued, dab, dab, alter, dab.
After a while I heard the post box rattle and looked up at the clock on the wall. 12-45!!!!!!! The morning had gone and much worse, my ‘nice’ cup of tea had gone cold. I stood up, stretched and wandered out to see what the postman had brought. It seems, I can get a huge discount on a new roof, just because ‘someone’ is working in my area. I put it in the bin for consideration later. I could also receive a huge payout for a car accident even if I wasn’t injured. It joined the new roof in the bin. My local supermarket had so many special offers on, they were almost giving things away. This was obviously going to be my lucky day, so I filed that in the bin too and decided it was time to shower and begin the day properly. Before I went to shower I decided to have another look to see how the painting had progressed. Strange the head now looked lopsided. I sat down, picked up a paint brush and stuck it between my teeth. Dab, dab, alter, alter. The phone rang, I glanced at the clock. 5 o’clock!!!!! The day had gone. I looked out of the window at a sky filled with rain, I walked out of the room and headed for my shower determined not to look back at the wobbly headed Magdalene.
A little while later, clean and ready to begin my day albeit in the early evening, sandwich in hand I stood looking at this weird apparition on my canvas. I’m sure it wasn’t this bad when I began my alterations this morning. I thought I could see what it was, so I stuck a paint brush between my teeth and sat down, dab, dab, alter, move, shift, shuffle, dab, stroke, alter, dab. Hmmm, I thought, it’s looking more like a woman and less like a gargoyle with a tea towel on it’s head. I began to feel thirsty and thought it was cup of tea time, so I stood up and stretched. Midnight?!?! Couldn’t possibly be!!! But it was. So flushed with success, ignoring the half sandwich with the curled up edges and denying myself a cup of tea I took myself off to bed.
I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep any more last night than you did the previous night.
So accepting the fact that five and a quarter hours was all the sleep I was entitled to because I was old, I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself. Five minutes later I was stood sipping tea and gazing down upon Mary Magdalene, who seemed to have rediscovered a lopsided, demonic grimace and had taken to wearing, what looked like a soggy dishcloth, while I slept. I thought I could see what was wrong so I stuck a paint brush in between my teeth and . . . . . . . . . . !
Anyone interested in seeing Magdalene can find it in my dustbin under an offer for half price roofing, a promise to win me thousands of pounds in a settlement for an accident I never had and food that can be purchased for less money than it takes to grow from my local supermarket.


Dusty Springfield.

Come back Dusty.

I was driving through downtown Darlington, slowly.

It was the early morning traffic that slowed me down.

Drifting through Darlington,

Watching the people scurrying up and down the pavements

Hurrying somewhere or nowhere, but scurrying anyway.

The radio was on but I wasn’t listening


The first few notes of a song punched it’s way into my empty mind.


One could recognise her voice instantly

‘Going back’

Probably my favourite Dusty song.

Her voice sent shivers down my spine, I loved it

And loved the song.

‘Come back Dusty’ I thought to myself.

I would have loved to have seen her in concert, but never did.

She sang on, through my radio

I couldn’t seem to hear the words any more,

I could just hear that amazing soulful voice, piercing my heart.

Haunting me.

‘Come back Dusty’

Why is it that so many good and talented people go before they should?

The song finished and I turned the radio off rather than listen to something else.

Me and the ghost of Dusty Springfield cruised along the road.

I thought of others

Karen Carpenter, the beautiful silky voiced young American singer.

What would she have sounded like now had she lived to grace our lives?

Jimmy Hendrix

Jim Morrison

Janis Joplin

Mama Cass

So many of my generation.

Gone before they should.

Just me and Dusty now on the A66

Not quite as romantic as Route 66

But it’s all we have.

We’re going back.

Me and Dusty.

The sky is moody, black clouds carrying rain

But for the moment we are in sunshine.

The song runs again in my mind

And for a moment I hear Karen Carpenter singing backing vocals.

Just angels singing in my mind.

The passenger seat is empty.

Come back Dusty.


P.S. If you have never heard Dusty singing ‘Going back’ treat yourself. Close your eyes and listen.