We three kings

What can I give you
But words from my lips
A breath for your lungs
The breadth of my hips

To feed you and clothe you
And shelter you there
Our hope for the future
Small star that we share

In misunderstandings
All foster more strife
Too coy for the joy
Of a conflict-free life

No formal pronouncements
Of greatness to be
We limit announcements
To those we can see

In feeble concealment
Until you are grown
We’d raise you for strength
A mind of your own

And watching your progress
Will whisper as one
The charms that may comfort
Your sorrows to come

With hands in my pockets
Concealing all pain
I’d walk through the desert
To find you again


Nanoo Nanoo to Neverland

Where have all the grown-ups gone?
The ones I looked to all my life
To show me what’s been going on
To make me laugh and keep me safe

Their reassurance slips away
As if they’d someplace else to be
We stand here at the break of day
And count each loss as one set free

I wish they wouldn’t shuffle off
So many games we never played
But some by self and some by health
They one-by-one all leave this stage

And whether one is hopping mad
Or feeling blue, or sad, or bad
It’s curtains for the fun we had
Now Mork has gone to follow Dad


In tweeds and furs and pearls and curls,
The rows and rows of lovely girls
Are strolling arm-in-arm to school
To find their niche; to earn, to rule!

In baseball shirts and well-worn shoes
The jean-clad, beltless, feckless youths
Go slouching to the DSS
To bail them out of worklessness.

The worker-bee that scurries fast
Avoiding trollies, hastens past
While pensioners crowd tiny shops
And squeeze the fruit and veg to slops.

The mothers juggle work and kids
And pets that piddle, nibble; fibs
From all of those who claimed that life
Would soon improve as someone’s wife.

Where blokes stay home and watch the box;
Dads clean their cars, and wear odd socks,
Mere gentlemen frequent the gym,
The pubs and clubs, but rarely in

A frame of mind to brook disdain
Belittle those who’d challenge claim
To right of birth: Y chromosome –
All call the world their very own.

A Life in The Spotlight

I was born to a wizard with long emerald fingernails
Abracadab-ing it in Salisbury playhouse
Daddy-O jumped with the Jets up in Perth The-a-ter
While his skinny frame could kick it he did Roman Shakespeare
Singing sunshine on the sand, moonlight on the sea
Leicester Haymarket enchanted even Bloody Mary
Down in Ipswich for a darker spell, he wheeled away
As Annie vomited three dinners, FDR held sway
Then a Machiavell, his Ross would scheme and plot
While a Scottish king was done away with, dad was not
Though a Streetcar named Desire strung his Steve along
Dad just waited until dark to get his murder on
Then a brief respite as Ironside in Canterbury
Before landing as the Miller in those tales so merry
Off to India he trumpeted with pachyderms
Telling all ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ ‘cos it might have germs
Back in London the Etcetera was proud to say
Jamie Boy was Gonna Be Alright, (despite the play)
Then Best Actor for the London New Play Festival
Dad as Keith informed us ‘Why Bananas Bend’ y’all
When his feet began a-tapping and his suit was zoot
Rats blew ‘Long About Midnight’ with a brassy toot
‘Fuente Ovejuna’ kicked around his Expo’ tour
With dad’s Torturer and Ortuno beside the door
Then a thirst for British Ale and ‘Images of Tiffin’
At the Old Red Lion, Stanley flashed – alive and kicking
‘Til a retrospective jackboot called for Dad’s best spiv
To revive the hope ‘Peace in Our Time’ might yet let live
Doctor Scott and his Hot Eddie rocked the horror shows
When the English Theater, Frankfurt kept him on his toes
Such a ‘Boon’ behind the camera, the Bill saw red
So dad Whistled down the wind and wore a badge instead
Then Big Daddy (as my father had become in truth)
Played his role like any Kitty on a Hot Tin Roof
Mister Mister rocked the cradle ‘til the cradle fell
Flung his Faust before the philistines in downtown Hell
He sang ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ as he toured and toured
While the greasepaint kept on stinking and the crowd still roared
Such a ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ this business can produce
And the theatre was dad’s life and soul and that’s the truth.

I wrote this in tribute to my father, who passed away on 9th May 2014. By no means a complete list of his acting credits, these were the memorable bits and pieces that helped shape my childhood. He will be missed.

The Music of Words

Gently lash me with your tongue
I will not try to speak
To interrupt the flow of one
Whose tempers fray the week
The sea that breaks upon my ears
Is washing you away
The fading sounds that fuel these tears
Are quieter today
Your practised script, articulate
I heeded as a child
When sounds that issued from your throat
Wrought protestations mild
Now older I’ve more strength to voice
Harsh thoughts that must be said
I understand that I’ve a choice
Of silence; but instead
With fingers jammed in ears I bellow
Drowning out your boom
These tones of sturm und drang that echo
Round the living room

The Parent Trap

I listen to your questions, child
And try to tell no lies
For who could bear the fall to Earth
Reflected in those eyes?
Though often you may wonder
At every slightest thing
I strive to keep my temper –
Mind to fill and heart to win.
I do but ask one favour –
A little one I crave:
Just while I am explaining,
That you sit still, and behave.
I don’t begrudge you answers
It’s not to make you blue,
But mummy needs to concentrate
So what she says is true.


A beacon in whom we all believe, shining there above and below us. Gentle calloused hands stirring the waters, the well. Fountain of my youth and mirror of my dotage.

Veins standing proud, swelled with age, pride, scientific mysticism… chemicals. Inscrutable lines mark the outward planes, invisible chasms mar the landscape within. Danger lurks there.

Inevitably we shall all succumb and return to what we always sought to find. Back to the womb. But the inner comfort and security of those walls has given way to an external terror.

And the prodigal becomes the fruitful. Plenty springs from what was barren desert, and the circle begins once more.