Au milieu de notre rue


Who owns whom? Who has freedom and who has shelter? Who’s happy to be led, and who is really in control? These are some of the things I discuss with my fictional intellectual debating society, when we’re all home at the same time. I’m not sure which of my ‘assistance’ friends is best…



I don’t have a dog, so I have to borrow an imaginary one to go walking in the park, the woods, to a restaurant, or around London. The problem is, my social tenancy bans ‘pets’, no friends allowed. And the outside world is slow to catch on to dogs for mental well-being, the kind which would allow their companion to go for a walk.

Poetry for when the wheels fall off in a transitory phase


On the rare occasions that I write poetry, it tends to be spontaneous and remorseful. It’s true, that the fewer the words, the more difficult something can be to write. I’d agree that a short story can be more challenging than a novel, simply because of the word limit in which to tell a tale. Music lyrics and poetry are probably the most difficult to write well, because like stories, the more they tell, with the fewer words, the better they’ll generally be. That’s why spontaneous poems tend to turn out better: they have immediate feeling in them.

Bukowski Genius

Now I’m in a temporary transitory phase as a writer, from horror / sci-fi, to family history (my next book), and I’m toying with other romantic prose forms, including verse. I’ve been known to write poetry (not very well) in the past, but it’s not a discipline I proliferate in. All good writing is “show, don’t tell” but verse is too minimalist to be my main output. On the rare occasions I do pen not-sonnets, they’ll most likely be freeform, because I like being a non-conformist anyway, but I especially dislike restrictions.

Generally speaking then, I don’t like poetry (I haven’t asked it for an opinion on me). I especially despise the sort of twee poetry which a UK bank has been using in a recent nauseating TV ad campaign. But I respect the form, and the artists who create it. And I can’t deny I’ve written some of my own, and hardly dare say I’m tempted to write more.

I needed some John Hegley style poems for Cyrus Song, when Simon Fry challenged himself against Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, and I’m an adaptive writer myself, able to switch from sci-fi which is compared to Douglas Adams and the surrealists, to horror comparable to Lovecraft, Kafka, King and Poe (so say the reviews), and still be able to write an award-winning children’s story.

At the moment, my next short story is published in a couple of weeks, and another one a week after that. In the meantime, I’m switching to the family history book. Ever the restless soul, in any down time, I might look more into poetry, and maybe experiment, play, and throw away some more of my own.

I researched the work of Simon Fry, in my own book, which I wrote. There was this one, called ‘The difference between dogs and cars’:

You can’t get into a dog
and drive it
If a dog knocks you down,
you’ll probably survive it

Later, Simon writes some (slightly) deeper prose, including a lament, he thanks Paula Millstone Jennings for the inspiration, and hopes she’s still trying to get her message out there through her verse. And as I said at the start, my own forays into poetry have usually been romantic, and invariably in situations where I needed to express something quickly. And so it was with this one, when I was mixing salty tears with vodka, and mourning a lost love, and which I used in my short story, ‘Camden Town to Soho Square‘:

We met and we clicked
like Bonnie and Clyde
o similar
Jekyll and Hyde

We went out
like Mickey and Mallory
Why don’t you come on over

We done stuff
like Courtney and Kurt
Laughed then slept
Ernie and Bert

Holding throats, not hands
Over there
Sid and Nancy

And as I look back further, I realise I wrote a poem as a request for a friend, for his mum’s funeral. And it was used, so already my poetry’s out there, among the dead. I doubt I’ll ever release a collection (If I do, ‘Poetry for when the wheels fall off’ might be a good title), but a short lament I penned last night might do well in the greetings card market:

A flickering room
Painted blue
The dark flame dies
My candle gone
Lost in music
Dedicated to you

So maybe not everyone will welcome it as a sentiment, but someone might find it useful (it’s been called evocative by another writer, and “a really good example of how you can write something very short and simple that is moving”, by another). Or I’ll more likely return to sci-fi and horror, while still writing the family history book, ever mindful that surrealist slips between the two probably wouldn’t work.

Like Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, I’ll just keep trying to get my words out there.

Who’s afraid of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings?


Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings

Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings was a poet who wrote the worst poetry in the universe. In fact, her poetry is still considered to be the worst in the Galaxy, closely followed by that of the Azgoths of Kria and the Vogons, in that order. Well, we’ll see about that…

I’m between chapters and at a transitional stage with writing my next book, where Mr Fry is currently awaiting the arrival of a package from Norway. I’m aware that I need to write more to find out what happens next, but sometimes I take a break between chapters to review things. On this particular sojourn, I took a wander around the part of my brain labelled Douglas Adams / John Hegley, writing “poetry”, like this:

The difference between cats and cars
Not many cats have windows
and not many cars have fur
When you stroke a car it’s not very likely
that it’ll purr

If it’s got wheels it’s probably not a cat
and if it’s got claws it’s probably not a car
It’s not a very good idea to fill a cat
with four star

The difference between cats and dogs
Cats meow
Dogs don’t
Dogs do as they’re told
Cats won’t

A cat is not a dog
And a dog is not a cat
They’re like people
It’s as simple as that

The difference between dogs and cars
You can’t sit in a dog
and drive it
If a dog runs you over
You’ll probably survive it

And finally, my epic: Road Trip…

Road Trip
I like a satnav
If I’m going on a trip, I plan it
So if I want to go to Whitstable
I don’t end up in Thanet

You’re welcome.