The politics of principle…

I listened to this speech. Every word made me frightened.

Not for the reasons that others are frightened- I have no fear of the radical left wing, in fact it is where I am most at home.

The fear I felt was related to something else- something to do with the fragility of hope. You see, just about everything that this man says makes my heart leap. AT LAST someone who has a loud voice is saying the things that I hold to be self-evident (even if he obtained this voice by accident and even if the assassins are hiding behind every corner he walks around.)

And as I hear him speak, I feel myself drawn in to the possibility that a real alternative to the suffocating me-first consumer-driven grubbyness that has overtaken life in the UK is possible. Perhaps we can start to care about the effects of poverty and inequality again. Perhaps we can raise our discourse above ‘the market knows best’ monotone. Perhaps we can once again be driven by principles that are based around humanity, respect, love even.

So why am I frightened?

Hope is a dangerous thing. Corbyn is not the Messiah, and even if he was, the Messiah that I believe in ended up crucified.

But nevertheless, how grateful I am that the Labour party (who have done much to destroy my hope in the last couple of decades) still have people like this man in their midst. He may well belong to an earlier age (the time of my political awakening in the 80s) when ideology was king, but he is a powerful reminder that politics based on pampering only those in power is a politics of despair.

Corbyn may never be elected as Prime Minister of this country, and I do not care. What we need from him right now is to hear a strong voice that challenges the status quo. A voice that reminds us of our duties to the poorest and weakest in society. A voice that points out that the fat old Emperor is stark bollock naked.

I am fearful that the very reasons why I like him (that honest naivety arising from pressure group politics, with its binary decisions about good/bad) might yet prove his undoing. His refusal to spin, to play the political game; it may yet mean that his voice can not be heard.

But in the meantime, still I dare to hope. Even on the basis of one speech, I dare to hope…

September comes…

oak leaves, autumn

A 25th wedding anniversary poem for my lovely wife. 

September comes

September hangs a little lower;

Each branch still be strong, but

Wearied now by the pull of

The brown old ground beneath

And I fear for all that fruit

For it must surely fall.

Yet how these trees are kissed with gold

 In our late summer blooming

Every bird still joins our song

And all the earth is turning

Let the fruit fall as it will

How else shall seeds be sowing?

Let us sit down beneath these trees

And take some time for loving



Falling Leaves event; calling creatives…

In the corner of our lounge we have a gathering stack of leaf skeletons, made from copper, wood and wire.


These are intended to be blank canvasses for artists to make large leaf-art for this event. The leaves will be suspended to form an installation in Benmore Gardens.

We are looking for artistic collaborators- so if you are reasonably local and fancy taking a leaf to make your own contribution, please get in touch! You do not need to be an ‘Artist’ with a capital A- rather someone who has a story to tell on these empty leaves…

Here is a short piece of writing that hopefully gives some context and inspiration for the event;

We are all going to die.

There are no exceptions; no get-out clauses for the rich or the famous.


It is sometimes possible to live as though death is another country;

A place we know to exist but never plan to visit- Moldova perhaps, or Azerbaijan.

We come to believe that death happens elsewhere; in other houses, other families; to other people.

So it is that we hope to banish fear of the unknown

The terrible pain of separation.


But what if life itself is impossible without death?

What if a good life has to also embrace the inevitability its ending?


Like these leaves…

At first a dream in some distant DNA, secreted in the seed of some old spreading tree.

Budding in the harsh days of winter.

Unfurling shyly in the soft mist of the early spring, vulnerable to any late frost.

Spreading out into a canopy community, shouldering for space and light.

Frayed by the beaks of birds and the lash of summer storms.

Caught up in production, forgetting the play of the evening light.

And the singing sound of a warm breeze when it catches them all in concert.

Then comes the calling in of days; each one shorter than the next.

But rather than just let go, each clinging leaf becomes a blaze of colour.

For if the fall will surely come,

Let it be beautiful.

For though winter is dark

It can never put out the light


We humans live in a complex world defined above all by this one word;



May we learn to love most deeply in the dancing shadows cast

By falling leaves.

Alongside this event we will also have an evening of music an poetry in the lovely Benmore Gardens courtyard gallery. Music will be from Yvonne Lyon, whose new work is a collection of songs co-written by people reflecting on issues of hope and loss. It is sublime.

The poetry will be taken primarily from the section entitled ‘Losing’ from the Learning to Love book, and I hope to have some of the poets who contributed as part of the readings. Hope you can join us- tickets will be limited due to space being tight at the venue!

falling leaves poster