Wednesday, 6 January 2016


When I was a young man I remember thinking, ‘If I can’t be happy in love then at least let me be famous.’ Later as a therapist people sometimes treated me as special on account of how transformative therapy can sometimes be. But in more recent years it is so clear to me how ordinary I am and that I am/was pretty good at my job but that’s it. Now that I am winding down out of the academic world after 20 years I can’t believe how quickly that time went and how over it now feels despite my remaining one day a week temporary contract! Today the ordinary me is noticing the birds and nature more, feeling humility at my GPs surgery this morning – what’s my shoulder problem compared with some of the poor ones waiting in line with me? And so thankful for how well I am just now. Then a bit of shopping at the local bookshop, some philosophical banter with the shop assistant in Boots, a ‘Hello’ to our old postman and to my daughter’s primary school best friend and her dad. Simple things part of a simpler life but still oh so precious. I want to savour the time I have left and today I am truly thankful.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Raise the rafters!

Raise the rafters!

There was a real poignancy about the choir singing at St Werbergh’s Church in Chorlton at a fund raiser for Freedom from Torture North West last Thursday 3rd December. This was a merely 24 hours after the vote in parliament on bombing Syria. And it being the festive season so man of our songs sang of peace - Come the time we lay down all our arms/There will be freedom, oh glory! There’ll be peace across the land. Nevertheless we were in good voice and ‘raised the roof’ or at least the rafters as one of our songs suggested! I liked how we sang with controlled passion inspired by our conductor Liz. When each song ended there was a palpable silence with just the hint of an echo from the high ceiling of the church. So maybe we did raise the rafters after all!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Resurrection in Wythenshawe

Resurrection in Wythenshawe

Like fresh air in a sick room
A visiting angel
With a wheelchair
To take me to the chapel

We fall into gentle conversation
Of this and that
As we move along
Endless corridors
All empty and cold

The chapel is lit up
With bright stained glass colours
And I weep
With morphine
With relief
And touched by the known
And the unknown

The kindness of strangers
To a troubled soul
Broken in body
And needing a spiritual resurrection

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Latest Mystic bit

Paul was sat on a train – London bound – with nothing to do but to stare out of the window and listen to the Pet Shop Boys on his mobile. But he couldn’t relax, couldn’t stop thinking of last night and Marilyn.

He had felt restless and for once had no stake out to do. Indeed, everything had gone cold on his list of active cases. And a night in alone had no appeal for him. Jenny was out of town visiting her mum. So it was time to call up his old friend Frankie.
- Hi Frankie.
- Oh hi mystic…. How goes?
- Not so bad…. Not so bad…. Whatsha up to?
- Tonight?
- Yeah.
- Hmm… I thought about a quiet visit to the Bar. (One of Chorlton’s finest.)
- Sounds good to me… If you want some company?
- How could I refuse such an offer?
Paul smiled at Frankie’s arch tone.
- See you about nine?
- Sounds good.

It was a midweek evening but the Bar was already pretty full with the regulars who would stay there all night and enjoy the range of good beers, along with younger ones who would call in for a beer or two before moving on. Frankie was neatly turned out as per usual with a lime green severe cut suit, purple shirt and pink bow tie. (‘Well someone has to lend a bit of elegance to this place’.) Paul as ever was dressed down in casual clothes that could suit a stake out.
- Mystic!
- Frankie!
They man hugged with real affection.
- This is good (said Frankie) nice to be out but not on the prowl.
- The night is young…
- To true….and who knows?

But there was plenty to catch up on – the antics of Frankie’s grown up, in age, if not behaviour, daughter; Paul’s love life or lack of it; the price of beer; housing; the state of mutual friends; gay marriage (‘Welcome but so dreary’ was Frankie’s wry comment). Just then the conversation was interrupted-
- Frankie?
- Yes?
- It’s Marilyn…. Marilyn Jackson.
- Oh yes, so it is! ... How do?
- Do very well actually.
- I am glad…What are you up to these days?
- Oh this and that…. A bit of teaching… lots of writing…. Lots of job applications, very few interviews but still standing.
- Good…. good. This is my old friend Paul.
- Oh hi Paul.

Paul put out his right hand for a hand shake feeling a bit foolish but it was well received by Marilyn who offered him a firm handshake in return and held onto his hand a fraction longer than was strictly necessary.
- Well any old mate of Frankie’s is well worth meeting.
Paul smiled and took in this young woman who looked back at him with a serious face, with alive eyes beneath a black fringe and cropped hair. She wore a pale green blouse that revealed more skin than strictly necessary and blue jeans with fashionable tears. (Such tears always puzzled Paul.).

Paul’s memory of the rest of the evening was something of a blur which was an increasing experience for him after a drink or three. But there was something that Marilyn had said that stuck in his mind. What was it? Oh yes she had had piano lessons from Rachel.
- Notice anything strange about her recently?
- You mean before the police arrested her?
- Yeah.
- Well there was one time, a month or two before then. I was a bit early for my lesson…It was cold and wet… and when I got to her front door I heard angry voices… She and a guy… Well she made nothing of it but-
- What did he look like?
- The guy?
- Yeah.
- Well not the usual piano playing type – whatever that is… a bit of a bruiser really.
- Hmm… tell me more.
- Muscular, clearly he works out, had a lived-in face, dark clothes, dark hair – brown or black… Hmm, that’s about it.
- Would you recognise him again if you saw him?
- Oh yeah… but?
- Just checking, it may mean something or nothing.

So maybe Rachel was being blackmailed after all. But how to take this forward? Meanwhile Dusty Springfield was dueting with Neil Tennant singing ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ Indeed thought Paul, what have I done to deserve this?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

John Lewis Ad poem

Some people don't get their heads around metaphors so the latest John Lewis Christmas ad passed them by. Anyway here's me take giving the guy a voice:

I feel I am on the moon
And all of you are so far away
My grand daughter is so small
I can hardly see her

I dream of you
Looking for me
With a telescope

But I am so far away
And Christmas is coming
When will I se her again?

The sun is shining today
And the snow is melting
And I am OK thank you
But I still feel I am on the moon

Wait, there' a knock at the door
She's there with a tiny parcel
And a big smile
It's a telescope
Oh my
I can bring her into focus now.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Alan Turing and meaning making

Alan Turing wrote a famous paper in the 1930s that basically said we just needed one machine that could be programmed to do many things. Thinking about the different meanings we bring to encounters with one another. My 'good morning' to my neighbours and their words and smiles back has many differing for me and presumably for them too. I am not responsible for the meaning my words and smile have for them - although it is not as simple as that. I have to take responsibility for what their words and smile means to me but it is not as simple as that. It takes/took a lot of work to 'reprogramme' how the world affects me! Can I really be present to you in your uniqueness or am I (almost) always fitting you into my existing meaning-makings? I hope that makes sense!

Monday, 12 October 2015


I entered this for a history writing contest in BC History in magazine. The somewhat hippy voice is deliberate or at least that is how it flowed out of me before editing!


“And did those feet in ancient times/Walk upon England’s mountains green?”

Maybe it is a bit fanciful to think that the young Jesus was brought by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea to Cornwall and then onto to Glastonbury where Joseph was said to have thrust his staff into the ground where it took root and came to life as the Holy Thorn. But sit near that tree in the abbey grounds in the cool of the early evening and who knows you might just get a glimpse of that other world where a better life awaits.

Or wander further into the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey where you will come across a head stone for a tomb where King Arthur was reburied in 1191 in the reign of Kind Edward 1 to keep the Welsh in their place. Take another moment to pause and allow your mind to wander through the Arthurian legends and the old Welsh Mabinogion stories of a prince born to be king and born to die in battle with his son but with the promise of future resurrection when his people need him.

Further afield is the Chalice Well Gardens with its health giving waters that have attracted the attentions of a modern day Prince Charles in need of healing. Take a quiet moment at the well head and maybe you can connect the life of Arthur and his knights’ quest for the holy Grail which was said to be have been used at Jesus’ last supper.

Finally a walk up to the ruined church on top of the Tor, a vast panoramic view awaits which is today thankfully unflooded, no Avalon in sight, no mist either but take a quiet reflective moment and pay a silent tribute to the 12 early Christian monks granted 12 hydes of land to live simply and establish the first Christian Church at Glastonbury.

In all of these places around Glastonbury that are rich in history and myth I get a glimpse of a different world that might have been and who knows might still be.