Something’s stirring under Hampshire. Three kilometres below
Quiet streets and peaceful pastures, elemental forces grow.
There’s a shuffling in the strata; England’s bones are realigned
And citizens of Winchester are wonderstruck to find
Their cups and saucers rattling. Anxious now, they call the cops
As they feel their floorboards flexing, sense a shudder in the shops.
Has there been an act of terror? Has a gas main gone awry?
Or did someone just get careless at the army camp nearby?
In the cavernous Cathedral, which has stood a thousand years,
Clerics trade uncertain glances, try their best to hide their fears.
Those opposed to women bishops cry ‘We told you so!’ with glee:
What is this if not God’s judgement on His wayward C of E?
The BGS is sanguine, tells us everything is fine:
It was just a little earthquake; only measured two-point-nine.
But our ancient Saxon capital, where Alfred burned the cakes
May have to grow accustomed to such subterranean shakes
As men in suits and hard hats prime their fracking pumps and drills
And dream of fortunes waiting to be made beneath the hills.
We’ll all be undermined by these rapacious corporate powers
Without some sudden seismic shift across this land of ours.


There was a small earthquake in the ancient city of Winchester yesterday; in typical British fashion, the initial anxiety quickly turned to amusement and a shrugging acceptance. That it was divine retribution for the (long-overdue) appointment of England’s first female bishop is pure speculation…
Of more serious concern is a proposed change to the trespass laws, which would allow energy companies to drill under people’s homes in search of shale gas without permission. Hampshire is prime fracking country (as we are here in Sussex, too) and the Government seems determined to give the companies involved carte blanche, despite vociferous local opposition and the potential environmental risks – which apparently include minor earth tremors. Fun times ahead. N.


Shadorma: Over the Rainbow

She walks on.
Sits. Adjusts the stool.
The old grand
Gleaming like a limousine
Huge as a moored barge.

She’s alone
Under that spotlight
With it all
On the line.
Now I know why they call it
Facing the music.

It’s a risk:
Playing an old song
They’ll all know.
In their heads
They already hear Judy.
Hard act to follow.

She begins
And with the first note
She has them.
Skies are blue.
And suddenly I’m not in
Kansas any more.


My daughter played a lovely arrangement of ‘Over the Rainbow’ (actually a Grade VI exam piece) on the enormous Bechstein grand piano in front of 200 people at a school concert last night. If that ain’t worth a poem, I don’t know what is. N.


To whom it may concern: I write this letter to apply

For the only role that stirs my soul. You’ll soon see I’m the guy

That you’ve been looking for: it’s not my skills, but attitudes

And hungry heart set me apart from all the other dudes.

I’m weary of this halfway life; want to change my situation.

I’ve waited years – but now, sir, here’s my cowboy application.


Ignore the fact I’m English, and in England: mere details.

It is the West I love the best, but sad to say, life’s trails

Have never led me further than my little native land.

I’ve left it late, but I’ll demonstrate I can make a real hand.

I’ve paid my dues and practised, worked on all the traits I know

Will prove to you I’ve buckaroo potential (see below).


I’m used to rising early, working hard for lousy pay;

Not riding high; just gettin’ by and livin’ day to day.

I’m out there in all weathers, ain’t afraid of snow or rain;

I’ve frozen, burned, soaked, sweated, learned to push on through the pain.

Don’t drive a fancy car, ain’t got a nickel to my name.

Ride a different range and my accent’s strange but we’re otherwise the same.


I like my beer ice-cold straight from a longneck, not a glass

(And if you think I’d rather drink it warm – well, kiss my a$$).

I brew my coffee strong enough to float a Clydesdale’s shoe,

Eat steak so rare sometimes I swear I hear that critter moo.

Ain’t got no horse or saddle but I’ve got my share of pride.

Love Will James’ books, can’t stand Garth Brooks – hell, I’m overqualified.


Just give me a corral of outlaw broncs to break, instead

Of these vast herds of untamed words that thunder through my head.

Give me a lonely wilderness of canyons, dust and sage:

Ain’t nothing there I know can scare me like this empty page.

Give me one chance to show you all the things I’ve held inside

My heart is true. I’m begging you: please, won’t you let me ride?


Set the bar nice and low for my first post of 2015. That way, things can only get better! N.