Imagery Diary 7/1/17

Pylons half hidden in mist, the cables crackle in the cloud and stop, like pencil lines rubbed out. The town is obscured, but as the mist slowly starts to lift, it makes ghosts of trees, of rooftops and chimneys, Victorian, haunted. 

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Imagery Diary 4/1/17

The train sank lower, carving, making the fields rise either side of us, the grass lit gold suddenly by a stray sunbeam, somewhere in a part of the sky we couldn’t see, our slice of windowed sky was heavy, grey as pavement as we moved towards the city.

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Imagery Diary 3/1/17

It is darker here, in the mountainside forest, thick with firs, the ground and the sound clouded with pine needles. A buzzard cries out across the valley as we climb. The wet slate path has ended, and our steps are silent. Suddenly, as we bank to the right there is a nest of light high in the larch trees, it glows in the brown branches and beneath, a smooth altar of green is lit as if in candlelight. 

Later, as we join the road from Abergwesyn, the sun christens the hill we have climbed and the river reflects the purpling sky, as lights come on in the distant town. 

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Imagery Diary 2/1/17

Still scenes from the train window,

fractured, fast like a zoetrope

greenbluebrown, frost

patch behind a farm,

the rugged path of a tractor

track, churned earth

cut and frozen 

like a tide turned against the 


Childhood lanes,


spots where lovers kissed

beneath oak trees

lost to the rose light

of dusk.

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Imagery Diary 1/1/17

I wake too late for tea,

the thread of New Year’s Eve

unstitched in clothes on the floor,

tangled like party popper string.

Outside, the sun already sets

and reflects in a window,

deflects and lights my own room

red, like a second dawn. 

And the year spins 

its gold, slow

as snow fall

as I rise,

two steps behind

the time I missed today,

somebody else’s New Year’s Day. 

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Are you the Judean People’s Front?

Why unthinking tribalism is destroying perception in the Labour leadership challenge

“Are you the Judean People’s Front?”
“F— off, we’re the People’s Front of Judea!”
This must be how we appear to anyone outside of the Labour Party at the moment.
Watching the Cardiff leadership hustings online, there was one thing that struck me as deeply worrying: and it wasn’t anything Corbyn or Smith had to say. It was the audience.
Just watch it and look at the audience, many shaking their heads before their chosen enemy has spoken, hands tucked under arms in case they involuntarily applaud something they like without first checking who said it. At one point, Smith said something about equality for women and there was fierce head-shaking on the front row. By women. Corbyn got up and agreed and the same people furiously applauded. What’s all that about? Regardless of whose side you’re on, there’s this deep-trenched, unthinking tribalism that is ruining not only the Party itself, but how others perceive us.
Even more worrying, at one point Smith agreed with a statement Corbyn said and added something along the lines of “I agree, but we need to be in government to achieve that,” and was met with boos and hisses! How can anybody in the party boo the idea of the party being in power? 
The irony is, none of it (Trident aside) is really about policy. There’s not much difference between Corbyn and Smith, they are both proposing a radical socialist agenda. Yet Smith has been slated as “Tory Lite” and a “Blairite”. That’s just untrue. Could you imagine Tony Blair calling for local wage councils and nationalisation of the railways? It’s automatic, unthinking criticism. Anybody who now dares to criticise Corbyn’s leadership (and often it is about leadership, not about policy) is immediately labelled a Red Tory, they must be a traitor to the Left somehow. That’s dangerous.
To the outside world, we are now a joke. Sat around slating ourselves because one faction is slightly more Left than the other. That will not win elections. This is a contest about leadership, on who we think can unite not only the broad church of the party but the whole electorate. Focusing on different shades of a largely similar bank of policies will only make us look childish. “I want to build a million and one homes but he only wants to build a million.” That probably makes me a Blairite wanker.
I just hope members (on all sides) engage their brains before making a decision, and certainly before reaching for their bank of pre-prepared slogans and insults. As Orwell warned, “if people cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”
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Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books, But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.

the ghost of shakespeare

The ghost of William Shakespeare to a pupil who accidentally conjures him whilst frantically writing an essay at 3 o’clock in the morning:

“Don’t wrap me up in the chains

of your poxy writing frames

or pick at my remains with your


or prod at my pentameters

or filter out my metaphors

without first knowing how they make you FEEL.

And don’t drain my soliloquies

with clinical analysis

or paraphrase some essayist

like some amateur ventriloquist,

just get thee to a library

and find something to LOVE.


The chances are the ghost of me

is in those pages too,

and, for now,

that’s enough,

so get gone

(I’ll be waiting for you).”


IOB 09.07.16

[Picture by Chris Beatrice, from the cover of Read Magazine,]
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