Apes and auks, Balls of Fire
Barrier Reef and Britain
Circle Route,
Crested Newt,
Lakes, lengths, Exhibition.

Dixter, Fire of London, Gable
Yarmouth, Expectations
Gatsby, Plains
Western Trains
Dane, Divide, Depression.

Is Thy Faithfulness, I Am,
Pyramid of Giza
Windsor’s park
Spielberg’s shark
Escape and Wall of China

Ormond Street, West Road, leaps forward
Malvern and Train Robbery
Bear, Plague, War,
Aunt, Outdoors
Uncle, Unwashed, Rift Valley.

All named and famed for size and scale –
So gloom is hard to shake off
When Google says
What’s Great these days
Is the bloody British Bake Off.


I was struck today by the fact that if you type ‘Great’ into the UK version of Google at the moment, the first suggestion is Great British Bake Off – a TV cookery/reality/game show that, I believe has now gone global. It got me thinking about all the other ‘great’ things out there that no longer get a look-in; I ended up with quite a list – and a silly poem. N.


Age gap

The road tilts
like a crooked picture

and in a heartbeat

he can’t hold
my wheel;

every breath
like a bedsheet ripping,

pedal stroke
ground out like black pepper,

adding another yard,

another year,

to the infinite




opening up

between us.



The first draft of this piece, which I wrote about six years ago, was about going for a ride with my dad. But when I revisited (and revised) it, I suddenly heard a new voice: the me of 10 years ago, contemplating the rider I will become one day (if I haven’t already!) Love it when a poem does that. N.

Out there

On such a day
Is not enough; only
Will get you
Out there
In this.

It takes a deep and eager
To ride roads emptied by cold’s curfew;
Roll alone
Through dank tunnels of dripping trees,
Sumbit, mute,
To the steaming lorries’ lash
Of fume and filth,
Ignore the creeping chill of water
Closing in on skin,
Jealous of its warmth.

Give me this shot
Of wild weathers:
Let them
Wrack me as they may.
For all their force
They’ll never break
My habit.