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Friday, 4 September 2015


Working   for     a      publisher      ,
Checking      manuscripts,
        Rooting     out    the     errors
And          annoying        grammar         slips,
Isoneimportant   job
In the office team.
But        another       job’s      important    ,
    Not aseasyas it seems……

You      see
I am themanager       of
I        haven’t    quite          gotthe   hang        of   it

Thursday, 3 September 2015


He counts raindrops, loses track, restarts,
A hefty drizzle dresses the window, liquid lace curtain,
Animates, blurs, distorts the distance, edges of hills shiver,
Road like a lazy jelly snake quivers and a spooked crow
Resembles a flying hearse. Everything is soaked.
He counts, distracted by noises, but he counts
Knowing no one cares, no one will check his accuracy,
No one will label him a cheat because no one will come.

Enough of the far distance, focus on the glass, a face
Stares back, a man he recognises, a wet face,
No sharp contours, a face like a rag on a nail fighting a breeze,
The face of a once handsome, in-demand man,
A head that nods when he nods, eyes that blink when he blinks
A mouth that would smile when he smiled, if only he could think of a reason.  
He counts knowing no one cares, no one will check his accuracy,
No one will label him a cheat because no one will come,
Only the crow when it’s time.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


As an aspiring writer of a certain age with some success at getting my stuff published, I know, as all writers do, that there are more rejections than acceptances, and I have grown to learn that we should embrace the knock-backs.  They don't kill us but, if absorbed in the right way (after the initial 'eff me' outburst, of course), they will make us stronger and more determined to bounce back off the ropes.

Last year I finished a 45-minute radio drama script and after a few nudges of encouragement, including some nice words from actor Charlie Lawson, I sent it to the BBC in Northern Ireland, for there are a few Belfast themes in the piece and I come from there, so it seemed logical.

Many months passed and I felt the urge to do a bit of gentle pestering but I resisted and let things happen in their own time.

Now, in the past, I have either heard nothing back from those to whom I have pitched writing or I have received a one-liner along the lines of 'no, thanks'.

But, as rare as hen's teeth that they are, once in a while a rejection note is thoughtful, helpful and encouraging, even though it is a vehicle for bad news.

Yesterday I received an email from a BBC Producer who had not only taken the time to read my script but also took the time to write about it in a way that made me smile with delight rather than grrrr with regret.

The body of the email said this:

"Thank you so much for sending ‘Shaking Hands’. It’s a very thoughtful, emotional and intelligent script which I very much enjoyed reading.  I thought your treatment of the relationship between father and son was very interesting and viscerally drawn - you really could feel the anger and frustration and hopes and vulnerabilities of the characters as they negotiated the stages of the meeting.  Although I was secretly hoping for a happy ending, I also very much admired how you left the piece, with no resolution possible given the past, but perhaps some understanding for the characters."

After reading this section, I was elated because I now know that an independent judge has convinced me that the idea has legs.

What I do with the script now, I have no idea.  I will have to research who other than the BBC produces radio drama.

But, for now, I accept this rejection.  It is not the outcome I had hoped for but it has boosted my confidence and I have boinged back off the ropes to go again.

Monday, 31 August 2015


There is a barney going on inside next door,
He, a baritone-boom, she, a screech-witch:
“What have you done with my bloody trousers,
You stupid, careless bitch?”

“Don’t call me a bitch, you useless lazy cretin.
I’m not your skivvy, not the keeper of his majesty’s kecks.
I’m not the little woman you seem to want around,
Not here just for cooking, cleaning and sex.”

“Where are my sodding trousers?” Volume pumped up.
“Go to hell,” screeched she, then a door slam, BANG,
He let’s out an “aaaarrrrgggghhhh” and then silence,
Except for a singing bird perched on their roof’s overhang.

Later, they are out together gardening, as I walk to the car.
They nod and say a cheery hello in unison, smiles wide and unawkward,
He doing the edges, she pottering in the central feature,
She wearing a fleece jacket and he fully trousered.

The bird, mission accomplished, had flown.

Sunday, 30 August 2015


It is not often I can remember the exact dates of customer complaints but 6 September 1997 stands out because it was the day of Princess Diana’s funeral and a quite bizarre incident happened.  In order to give everybody a chance to watch the funeral on TV, all shops closed on that morning.  Later, at two o’clock, we reopened and within ten minutes, I was called to see a customer.  As I got closer, I noticed red mist around her head, cheeks a-flush, hands on hips and a trace of steam coming out of her ears.  I detected she was annoyed about something.  (Now bear in mind the sadness of the day.)  I am furious,” she began.  “I have just driven my new car into your car park and I drove over a McDonald’s milkshake carton, causing the contents to splash out all over my new tyres.  What are you going to do about it?”  I stood staring at her like a rabbit locking onto the full beams of a juggernaut, my face frozen, and wondering if I had just heard what I thought I heard.  She looked at me and said, with menace, “Well?” My head was searching for the number of a psychiatrist or a hit man.  Eventually my mouth uttered an apology and an offer of a free car wash.  She demanded the full wax and polish and I thought but didn’t say, “Yeah, first the car and then you, baby.”  I agreed to her demands and she stomped out of the shop.  As it was raining, I was doubly cheesed off but I went out in my big mac to retrieve the milkshake carton that had caused the McFlurry.  The woman who had made an unhappy meal of it had gone.  It had been a burger of a day.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


I’ve had bad days but not as bad as John J. Macreedy’s in Black Rock,
A day for him that began as he stepped off a train and into a world
Of secrets and lies, an isolated place of menace led by Reno Smith
And his heavies, Hector David and Coley Trimble.  Spencer Tracy,
Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine got on with their day
And I went to work in a period of bad day after bad day after bad day.
We were a ‘respect for the individual’ company, modern guru claptrap,
Mouthed by old-school bosses who couldn’t give a toss about changing,
After all, the old bark and bite ways worked. “Just bloody well do your job,
Or else!”  Big bully boss-boys and, sometimes, girls dressed themselves
In the morning with a sneer, a grimace, ready to belittle, begrudge, be a bastard
Or bitch because that was their fun, that was ego in top gear. “JFDI” –
“Just fuckin’ do it” – a mantra behind the wafer-thin curtain of culture,
A workplace on paper that looked like Disney cartoons, wholesome,
Encouraging, celebratory and proud. Away from the bullshit, smeared
On wall posters, on pocket-size leaflets, on badges and message pads,
Stone-faced business tyrants, Renos, Hectors, Coleys, underestimating
Us Macreedys. “JFDI,” they’d bawl. “JFDI.”  Until one of our number, hit back,
Just like John J. - “You're not only wrong. You're wrong at the top of your voice.”

Friday, 28 August 2015


Giving a shout out today to a singer new to me and, blimey, what a singer - Janet Henry.  Here's some background supplied by Colin Henry, followed by a link to the beautifully arranged and sung 'Scared':


Born in Belfast and coming from a very musical family Janet is one of Northern Ireland’s finest female vocalists and songwriters.
She has performed with artists such as Nancy Griffiths(USA), Gary Ferguson (USA), Kathy Barwick (USA), Pete Seigfried (USA) and, closer to home, with Charlie McGettigan, Andy Irvine, Mick Hanly, and legendary Irish jazz and blues guitarist Dick Farrelly, to name just a few. She has recorded with many artists not least the great Duffy Power and Henry McCullough.
Her strong melodies and thought provoking lyrics encompass all genres and with a voice that has been described as’ true, soulful and simply beautiful’.  
Janet was a founding member of the innovative band Birddog that successfully combined roots music with jazz.
Janet has toured a number of times with award winning American singer songwriter Gary Ferguson and her husband, dobro player Colin Henry. As a trio they have recorded their own material and were joined on the tracks by leading American bass player Mark Schatz and mandolinist Emory Lester.
Janet has recorded two albums of her own, THE ROAD TO THE WEST and WONDER WHY with a new cd underway.

Here's the link -

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