The Street Poet


On a recent trip to New Orleans I noticed something new on the ever-lively, music-filled streets of the city.

Street poets.

They sit at a small portable table with a small portable typewriter in front of them and will write a poem on the subject of your choice for a small fee, or a donation. The lure of using a quirky (or should it be qwerty?) technology of the past (a real typewriter) and the risk of asking them to write on a subject of your choosing and seeing what is created was strong. Continue reading

Revenge: an improbable short story

This rather improbable short story emerged from an exercise I did by creating a conflict between two characters, where one has to persuade the other to do something which both know is morally wrong. It’s from a book called “Back to Creative Writing School”, and I had a lot of fun with this one.

Euan Cope was livid. The headmaster had just told him that his application for Head of the English department had been unsuccessful and now he had to go and teach 4B.  Anger was burning hot inside him as he threw open the door to the classroom, slamming it behind him and trapping his long scarf in the process. The members of 4B sniggered and called out, “Sir…sir…you’ve shut your scarf in the door!”

Scowling at them, the usually quiet and unexciting Mr. Cope seemed to be in a bad mood. Telling them to be quiet and open their copies of Twelfth Night, he barked out instructions on which passage they were to read and discuss, assigning character parts to some of the more articulate students. Continue reading

The Hoverfly and the Brimstone


Hoverfly: ” Hello. Do you come here often?”

Brimstone: “Well, when there’s necar to be had I do, especially at this time of year when nectar sources get scarce as the flowers die off”

Hoverfly:”Yes, this one’s more of less had it but there are still some juicy goodies to be had. By the way, I’m quite happy to share them with you.”

Brimstone: “Likewise. We should share our resources, especially when food starts to get a bit thin on the ground”

Hoverfly: “Don’t usually see your sort at this time of year. Thought you were more of a spring butterfly?”

Brimstone: “No, we fly from June to September, hibernate, then out we come again in spring. Maybe that’s when you notice us most?”

Hoverfly: “Oh, I see. Well, nice supping with you. Must buzz off now…..”

The Missing Shoes

A pair of nubuck waterproof walking shoes. They’re mine and they’ve gone missing. Disappeared. Vanished. Never to be seen again.

I wore them standing in Monument Valley, USA. They were on my feet as I walked in this iconic place, and likewise when I walked in Death Valley, the Joshua Tree National Park  and Antelope Canyon. We covered a fair bit of ground together in the US and most recently we tramped the coastal footpaths on the Cornish cliffs and strode across Bodmin Moor.

I’d not had them that long – probably 3 years at the most and certainly not long enough to wear them out. I broke a toe a couple of years ago and couldn’t wear them for a while – too painful while the toe healed – so they’d had several month’s rest. Continue reading

The Armchair Activist’s Tale


Reg stared at his laptop screen and began to chuckle. He’d been trolled and he was delighted.

His insistent Tweeting and Retweeting about the persecution and illegal killing of Hen Harriers on the uplands of Britain had been picked up and scorned by an overweight gun-toting shooter from some gun association.  The man had foolishy exposed his own prejudice and ignorance in a short video by accusing someone of being an “armchair conservationist”. That particular someone, thought Reg, knows a helluvalot about driven grouse shooting.

“I’ll show him!” thought Reg. Continue reading