Port by Simon Stephens

Sometimes, you come across words and music which hit a chord …
This trailer for Leeds University Union Theatre Group’s excellent production of Simon Stephens’ play Port and the performance by the cast and crew at the University’s Stage Theatre last night has managed to do that very thing.


Off to do a bit of writing … 🙂

Trailer credit: Em Humble
Music: Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap

Review of Port Production


Eye Flash Poetry

A lot of excitement in Northern Towers yesterday at the news of the line up in Issue #2 of Eye Flash Poetry Journal (out soon). Paul Stephenson, Stephen Daniels, Adam Horowitz, Maria Stadnicka, George Aird, Christina Newton, Kathryn Alderman, Neil Richards, Daniel Connelly and others have poems in this lovely looking journal (cover art work by Carrie Schmitt), edited by Anna Saunders. Can’t wait to get my contributor’s copy from Lottie Begg … : ) #WooHoo


… nice to be thought of as ‘an emerging talent’ : )

Rainbow Friday by JH

“I once knew this girl. Small like a mouse she was … big eyes. And colourful ribbons; dancing kite ribbons in the playground. Red one day, blue the next and rainbow ribbons Friday. Didn’t say anything in the uniform rules about it; no mention of ribbons. Nothing I can remember about how far the socks must be up the shin. She always wore one half-mast. Always. I wondered how she managed it. Willpower, my Mam said …”

Yes, I know this is a poetry blog, but I’m chuffed to bits by the publication of my short story this week in the excellent Black Country Arts Foundry edited by Louise Palfreyman. If you’ve the time, please have a visit and give it the once over … it would make an old man very happy : ) xxx


Picture Credit:  Back alley, Adeline Street, Goole, by Mick Garratt (wikicommons)

Return to Mardale

Published in Atrium Poetry today!



Where today you’d find Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District, there was once the village of Mardale Green. Back in the 1920s, an Act of Parliament was passed allowing Manchester Corporation to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban areas of the north-west of England. Buildings in the Mardale valley were demolished, families were relocated and by 1935 the new reservoir was established. Occasionally, in periods of drought, the old dry stone walls and bridge make a ghostly reappearance, only to be submerged once water levels rise again. 

Return To Mardale

Confused, she stands at water’s edge;
a shadow, lost by this unfamiliar lake.
She wonders why the bells are silent.
No church, no school, yet still she listens
for well loved songs and laughter.

An eagle soars, commands ancient heights,
the realms of Harter Fell below his wings.
Her thoughts rise too, catching thermals,
heart leaping over High Raise climbs.

Old Chapel Hill and Bridge return below,
with Dun Bull Inn; dark snug and warm hearth.
Stone cottages now evoked in thoughts
once buried in Westmorland’s fairest valley,
before the flood, before the tears.

Over rutted track, a farmer’s cart rattles,
decked in ribbon, known faces smiling back,
with the echo of a lover’s voice in the air,
as Whitsun bells peel to call the dead.

Confusion gone, she enters Haweswater.
Now content to fade, as under trees in full leaf,
she walks a submerged path in a drowned village.
And singing songs, she meets again with friends
who once had lived in Mardale Green.


Struggling to wake, hung over,

I stumble heavy eyed to the bathroom,

fumbling the razor into the sink.


Profanities are muttered,

as water cascades over clumsy hands,

temperature rising as the boiler kicks in.


With thin ribbons of steam wafting upwards,

senses begin slowly to sharpen

and the ridiculous irritation abates.


In the mirror, watching my reflection mist over,

I drift into momentary inaction,

before wiping the condensation away.


The image distorts with excessive staring.

Tired eyes remain as the rest disappears

to the sound of familiar whistling.


I fall into a childhood memory;

the smell of soap, aftershave and tobacco,

a cheerful monologue from a familiar voice.


As a five year old I hear the blade;

metal scraping over taut skin,

my father’s head tilted back and to the side.


He turns with a smile and looks down at me,

face partly lathered, partly shaved,

as I stand in the bathroom doorway.


Returning to my overflowing basin,

turning off the tap without a glance,

feeling lost and inadequate,


I continue to stare at an obscured reflection;

through the mist of early morning glass,

in the mirror, my father’s eyes smile back.