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One For The Road

Saturday, 9 December 2017 at 18:58

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Smith/Doorstop brought out an anthology of poems about pubs a month or two back One for the Road, edited by Helen Mort and Stuart Maconie. The shortest poem in it, a haiku about a Hull pub, was mine. Here it is, below. I did a little reading for the launch at the Bridlington Literature Festival. Reading a haiku, even with a title of almost as many syllables, doesn't take very long, so I filled out my reading with a little section from Satyr (Shoestring 2017)  ,"Drilling the Zinc". Here, also is another take on Hull pubs, with Philip Larkin sitting in.



Ex-Trawlerman’s Beermat Haiku at The Whalebone, Hull

Wine-dark sea? Think beer:
let fish-finings load your pint
with light. Is that clear?

Drilling the Zinc

Ingerland: foreskin of a Friday night.
DJ, eyes worn by distance, smoke,
eavesdrops the future down the bone,
thumbs the next track into the stripper’s zip,
wastes imported vinyl on the drongos of this Dead Zone.

Thud and blunder from the back-room.
Click of a black rolls the last pony into the pocket.
You trouser what you can of the chink,
stand your wingman a chaser, and one for the bludger,
stuff a brown lizzie in the burly-gurlie’s biscuit.

Out into the bladdered, the Filth with their hoolivan,
faces like bulldogs licking piss off a nettle.
Everyone, everywhere’s angstin or bustin for knuckle.
And it’s a jive life. Jive life. Jive life.


Outside in bum-fuck Egypt, garyboys burn rubber,
gunning kevved-up GTs twerking twocked Zondas.
You go down manors icky with gum and spilt claret,
rug like a pub floor that sticks to the sole.

Past glassy piss-factories, vitrines of vertical drinkers,
smokers and vapers, smartphones flipped, juggled on the flop,
the jig and jag, the jokey rib-punch, joshing on the step,
the middling men paunching untucked shirts.

Past face-aches, blue-rinsers, tranked Neds and jellied Nellies,
the liggers, lounge-lizards, the bilious prannets with previous;
over the vom, coffin-dodgers, pavement pizzas.

Past Halal taxi, Polski Smak (Scag? S&M? Happy-slappers?)
Through carparks, ruinous estates, urinous underpasses
carpeted by bozos, piss-pants and crusty-white rastas.


Up there the bunker: rachitic saplings on a raw-estate,
the boarded-up shops, bars on barwindows. Inside asboids,
pickled eggs, pork scratchings, Britain’s Hardest Landlord,

ripped leatherette and coughed-up stuffing.
It’s all argument, argot and grot; booze, palaver and pants.
Give me your piss-poor, your pilchards, your pillocks.

Think back to the old blokes, the smoky Snug, the snecklifter;
the art-college year, the one you dropped out for the boozer till 3,
Somali Club afternoons, and back again for early doors.

That urgent note drilling the zinc, ringing out loud
–ah the paintings you’d paint, the poems you’d write! –
as you emptied all your warmth in the singing pissoir.

Philip Larkin Dreams of the Myth Kitty at The Cock and Bull

It was never dull in mythological Hull,
but no one was ever quite who they seemed.
That bloke in the pub: half-man or just half-mad?
And your dad, but of course, that stud claimed to be half-horse,
and was then his other half half-mare, mer-, or just barmaid?
We were half-fish, tadpole, toad (we put the crap in crapaud),
shape-shifting higher and higher up our wish-lists.
Listening to each poet’s shaggy tales we did the maths,
remained one hundred-and-ten percent non gullible,
all of us full, full to the gills with cock and bull.

Hull Cityscapes

Monday, 20 November 2017 at 17:53

View from Holiday Inn

Here is the latest in the Hull cityscapes series: a view from the Holiday Inn overlooking Paragon Station, with the glass surfboard jutting out over St. Stephen's Precinct. Something a little Edward Hopperish about the bus arriving in the deserted city. The painting is 40" x 50 (102 x 127 cm) .

Nine of the cityscapes are being shown at Smailes Goldie's offices, Ferensway, in Hull, with a launch on Wednesday 30 November. The launch will include an excerpt from my collaboration with the composer Deborah Pritchard and the trumpeter Simon Desbruslais, Voyage for Solo Trumpet.

Hull to Iceland and Back at the Humber Mouth Festival

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 11:33

Hull to Iceland and Back at the Humber Mouth Festival

from a review by Kerry Evans on her City of Culture blog:


October 8, 2017

Wednesday at the Central Library did not disappoint. With barely time for a coffee after meeting Melvyn Bragg I found myself with red wine in hand chatting to different kinds of people from wide areas of the UK all here in the Food for Thought café for a writhing sea of art, poetry and music to follow. First we were visually informed by local artist Cliff Forshaw’s Hull Cityscapes where I was joined in conversation by a Town Planner from Richmond, London, who was at City of Culture to attend a maritime convention which amongst other things would forge links between Shetland and Hull. Something that interests me as I lived on Shetland and am writing a book about the links between the whaling ships and Hull and the Greenland fishing grounds in the 1800’s, The Hanged Man of Grobsness.

Cliff stood in front of his paintings in the cafe describing some of the views. Throughout the week I have interviewed people as they sat and ate surrounded by his work, asking volunteers, the retired, people from all walks of life what they thought. Over the week I came to realise how much it meant to local people that the history of Hull’s landscape was being recorded by someone locally rooted with such accuracy. The colours are both bold and smoky and give the feel of a working, steam smoking maritime centre with the blades at Siemens beckoning future prosperity in one piece for a city once reliant on whaling and fishing for survival. You can contact Cliff on his website if you want a piece of history hanging on your wall.

There was a large gathering who followed Cliff and trumpeter Simon Desbruslais into the room next door where our eyes and ears were nourished with a slick and well synchronised performance. The music was put together by composer Deborah Pritchard’s and entitled Voyage, which celebrates the twin “voyage” statues, one pointing to Vik on Iceland near The Deep in Hull and the other towards Hull in Vik. The audience travelled with them. Artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir captured the essence of the sea, grey and for ever in motion, by leaning the statues forwards as if the communities in Iceland and the Humber are reaching out to each other. Cliff is working on a piece at the minute which reinforces links between Hull and other fishing communities.

This evening we were treated to a slick and well synchronised performance by Simon and Cliff. I have reviewed CD’s of poetry in performance for national magazines, some of which can be outlandish and irrelevant, but Cliff spoke of mermaid statues, whales and maritime themes close to my own heart as I have carried out extensive research on whalers like the Truelove for my whaling book. His words were interlaced with relevant language which hit you like a bullet. You can tell he is a well-travelled man there was a piece packed with Tasmanian words which rolled off the tongue. I loved the way Simon would lower his trumpet and look towards Cliff to interchange music with words. It created an eerie atmosphere. One of peace before the storm. The lights were lowered and purple reflected off the trumpet as the haunting, slowly delivered notes swam to our ears. I did feel like I was in Shetland looking out to sea wading in snow again. It also made me want to read more of Cliff’s poetry. The collaboration worked.

Later in conversation Cliff told me the exhibition could be moving to the St Stephen’s precinct. Details are still to be finalised. Carrying the legacy of 2017 on.

Welcome to my blog

Friday, 22 January 2010 at 11:26

When time permits I hope to be in a position to update my blog.
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