A Golf Lesson

Don’t hit your grandad with a golf club, William,

it might just hurt, and it isn’t very kind.

He shouldn’t have laid it down in the hall,

leaving it out there, for you to find,

and I know he says that he doesn’t mind,

but his blood makes a mess upon the wall

and it’s a ten hour wait for an ambulance call.

The symptoms of a mild concussion

are difficult to detect at all.


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History is Bunk


The past is forever being reinvented,

Edited, culled, amended, purged,

Would we recoil in absolute horror,

If something closer to the truth emerged?

Our tethered lives, our scatty brains,

The grubby compromises made from Day One

The fighting out of bombastic battles,

Until only our battered shells remain,

Fleeing home, through the driving rain.


Most days are be...

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J.G.Barwell's Radio Show

Thanks to Ruth O'Reilly and ALL FM in Manchester, J.G.Barwell (aka John Botterill) was able advertise his new poetry anthology, Released on Licence ( Poetic Licence) the proceeds of which are going towards the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Ruth is a brilliant presenter and we name-checked Writeoutloud, of course.  Here is the link, if you would like to have a listen:


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An Elegy from a Malton Graveyard

In New Malton, there is dignity in death,

When you have coughed and hacked your final breath.

A single bed to sleep in, on your own,

Horizontal, blameless, alone, in peace,

In regular, neat rows of fine-cut stone,

With plastic flowers placed at the head.

A dignity, denied to the living,

Is generously bestowed on the dead.


The fallen leaves obey clean symmetry

In thi...

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Rillington Motorbike Club

It was the era of Mods versus Rockers.

Scooters, Ben Sherman, and Parka coats,

Motorbikes, Levi’s, and slicked-back hair.

Pumped up teens, who thought they were hard,

Fighting in lumps on the promenade,

During sunny sixties bank holidays.


Rillington, my village, was solidly greaser,

Not a single scooter was ever seen.

We had a Motorbike Club of our very own,

Where l...

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A Tuesday night in The Union Pub.

Willy, Gareth, Ian, George, and me,

Like members of an aging rock group,

Settling down, convivially, to discuss

Our imminent, sold out, comeback tour.

A manly hug as we reached the door,

And we felt a glow of friendship,

Like bathing in the summer sun.

We drank our Yorkshire bitter

And relived all the fun!

Refought all the battle...

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Early Learning

“One more jelly baby, grandad,

Then it’s over, final… finish.”

William swept his arms, flatly,

Across his infant chest

In a gesture of finality,

That I could believe in, 

And cherish.


I watched the sugar-coated treat,

Disappear before my very eyes,

He seems to swallow it, rather than eat.


Another day, another school run.

William, bedraggled with bag and c...

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Boy Racer


Some lad was doing ninety

in a forty mile an hour zone.

He passed me on a corner

In a car he clearly didn’t own!

What was the flipping hurry?

Was his stupid house on fire?

Had his brain been deprived, abruptly, 

Of a vital connecting piece of wire?

Or was he a founding member

Of a firm called ‘Morons for Hire?’


Some fool was doing ninety

In a speed restri...

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Meeting Juliet

Meeting Juliet

I first met this pretty poppet

on a sunny, Monday afternoon.

We were formally introduced,

though, to be fair, she was halfway

through quite an interesting snooze.

I was instantaneously besotted!

Three weeks old and she had learned so much!


Juliet nestled, affably, upon my shoulder,

listening, intently to nursery rhymes,

discovering meanings in stor...

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Poetic Licence Book Release



Hi all,

Sorry I have been quiet lately!  I have missed you all!

I have been putting the finishing touches to my first poetry anthology

called, 'Released on Licence (Poetic Licence)

It has been published on Amazon for £6.50 and proceeds, should there be any, 

will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust who supported my daughter ten years ago through her lymphoma.

I hope you ...

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Too soon to know?

It’s unfair to heighten expectations.

It’s too early to make a judgment call.

I am no real expert in physiognomy,

But, as I gaze down at your lovely face,

There is no shadow of a doubt at all,

Intelligence, friendship, beauty and love,  

all flow freely through your every vein.


So may you, with happiness, now proceed.

You have all the support you could ever need,


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Born in London, as a new day dawns,

We wake in Prague to greet you,

New Zealand sees your beauty, too.

Majestic, infant Mercury,

Speeding, instantly, around the world,

Though your perfect tiny toes are curled!


We gaze at your loveliness from afar,

Full of awe and love and wonder,

At our brand new, dazzling Northern Star,

The brightest light which shines!

The cent...

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Helping Out

(Based on an Internet post I read last night.) 


In a cost of living crisis

We all have to take a stand. 

I took a tenner from my pocket

And rolled it around in my hand.

After a moment's reflection, 

I was hit by an obvious thought, 

So I drove off to a mansion, 

On the opposite side of town, 

 Popping that tenner though the letter box, 


It won't take long fo...

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A Tram Ride in Prague

Our tram car sets off upon a mighty jolt

And proceeds with haughty, indignant haste, 

Which seems to suggest there is no time to waste. 

The speed increases as we race down the hill,

We're holding on tight to the guardrails, still,

Before we slow down to an easier rhythm,

As we turn round a corner and start to climb,

Leaving tall buildings and  hotels behind.


More tram...

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The Final Blessing

All summer long the land was parched and dry.

The leaves were brittle, and we craved the rain.

Our grass was yellow, cracked and baked,

But the clouds were barren, the land still ached.


The drizzle began as it approached eleven,

Larger drops fell as the due hour called,

Ere glorious torrents descended from heaven,

Splashing down in life-restoring vigour.

Like the tears...

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Life as a golf lesson




We live our lives in an uncertain state.

Should we commit or hesitate?

If we waver at the top of our swing,

We go all floppy doppy

And miss the damn thing!


In life, as in golf, we have but one chance.

You can be a wallflower,

Or join in with the dance.

Let your jig be a riotous fling!

Propel that ball with a powerful swing!


Place your head...

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Her Word was her Bond.



Whether her life was short or long,

She pledged her service to the nation,

And the Queen was as good as her word.


All our lives she was always ‘The Queen!’

Intelligent, impartial and serene.

When she was needed, The Queen was there.

She even 'looked after' dear Paddington bear!

Remaining steadfast, loyal and true,

A rock upon which we could all depend,


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A Grand Day Out

We travelled the North Norfolk coastline,

To sample its famous sea air.

There were guillemots and sea gulls

Flying around, without a care!

We journeyed on to Cromer

For fish and chips upon the pier.

Should we stop by in West Runton?

To face the mammoth? Did we DARE?

We walked through sunny Sheringham

As the weather was set fair.


Holt!  Who goes there?


A d...

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Cloud Nine

Rising late this morning,

I missed Clouds One and Two.

They had flown off into the distance

To be ensconced into the blue.

Clouds Three and Four were, sadly, no more.

They collapsed in the ether, as I opened the door.

The Holy Trinity of Clouds: Five, Six and Seven,

Were suddenly spirited back up to heaven.

Cloud Eight was delicate and hard to define,

So, I decided to s...

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On Holiday in Sheringham





(With apologies to Dr Johnson)


Will I ever be sick of Sheringham?

Will I tire of the chugging, antique train?

Will I be overcome with a dark ennui,

When the pavements become speckled

With soft, gentle, summer rain?


Will I eventually weary of the rolling waves,

Of the gurgling foam, as it rides up the shore?

Will I say ‘no’ to ice cream wit...

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The Old Vicarage Garden






Sitting here sipping my coffee,

Gazing out at a sun-kissed lawn.

I drink it all in.  The cooing of doves,

A sparkling rill, the murmur of a breeze.

Intricate weavings of wooden webs,

Amongst the branches of magnificent trees.

Nature is still thrusting upwards and outwards

From this garden, designed two centuries ago,

By people who planned for, a...

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Not Long Ago

On the double seats in the Palace Cinema,

With a tense new girlfriend, out for a show.

Trying to make sense of ‘Enter the Dragon,’

Our sweaty hands became entwined.

Did she want me to kiss her?

I just didn’t know.

I carefully eased her head towards me,

And I shared her chewing gum,

For an hour or two!

Not long ago…


Time passed on and we didn’t go back,

Like ‘E...

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Back to School

The rain has started falling,

The nights are drawing back in.

Dreary uniforms adorn our shops,

A new school year is about to begin.


A bead of sweat runs down my brow,

I wake up early from a troubled sleep.

The beat of that drum is distant now,

But Back to School is still a trauma,

A river which runs so dark and deep.

In nightmares when, by chance I rove,

Around e...

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Living the Dream...

I can’t afford to service the Porsche!

I’ve cancelled our holiday to St Tropez!

I don’t have enough left to heat the pool!

And what will all our posh friends say,

When Jemima leaves her boarding school?

Her parents are too poor to pay!


From any rational point of view,

We’re living, now, a dream come true.

Our gratitude, though, is seldom expressed:

Old age pensions ...

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The Missing Piece

The last one of a thousand pieces,

Ridiculed and taunted me.

I could feel its jagged edges,

Poking out from my old settee. 


A Stanley knife was the answer.

I cut a neat slit across the back.

I soon stood in proud possession,

Of the missing piece I lacked.


It was the moment of completion,

Like the day we married, you and I,

Bringing joy and exhilaration!


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Who will look at my photographs,

When my time on this earth is gone?

Who will shine my cups and medals,

When my final sun has shone?


A journey to the council tip,

Will neatly dispose of my stuff.

Records of the money I earned,

Which was never quite enough…


Life, flattened like a sandcastle,

Washed away by the incoming tide.

Some will have memories, but they ...

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Middle-Class Achievers

I’m a middle-class achiever,

It’s Waitrose, not Aldi, for me.

I am all the things I have ever despised,

The epitome of petit bourgeoisie.

I have a comfortable life,

With my beautiful wife-

My detached home in the country!

I sip Chilean red wine,

In the Summertime.

Well, all year around,


I rage about social injustice,


Or jot it down, saf...

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Footsteps on the Stairs


Power dressing, shoulder pads, big hair.


At the tender age of twenty-three,

I listened, closely, from my lonely bed,

To spectral footsteps on the stairs…

I wondered, grimly, if they came for me!

They echoed a measured, ghostly tread.

Paralysed by fear, I lay stock still,

Immobilised by my sense of dread!

Who, or what, had invaded my head?


From my upstai...

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Advice to my younger selfPoetry Challenge

For the Present...

“Have you got a present for me?!

William asks with a high-pitched

Lilting rise and fall…

But I have no presents ready at all.

“You had all presents, William,

The last time you came!”


Every time he visits us,

His question remains the same.

“Have you got a present for me?”


I then considered a poetic reply,

To circumvent a potential rift.

“William, every mom...

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Be Proud!

That really was England winning a cup!

Please do not adjust your sets!

Put black type on your C.V., girls,

Before the world forgets!


We don’t need ancient history,

Grainy images in grey and black,

Sad reflections on our years of hurt,

You have brought our football back.

When Chloe Kelly removed her shirt,

After slotting the ball in the German goal,

And threw that...

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A Holiday Job at the Woolgrowers

It was my first day at the Woolgrowers,

So, they gave me a special job.

I was holidaying from university,

And they thought I was a knob!

“Go to the warehouse, Johnny,

The boss needs a long weight.”

Well, being such a bright spark,

I did as I was told…

Standing at the storeroom doorway

Until I was numb with cold.


“Excuse me, can I have a long weight?”

I interru...

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A Postcard From R.A.F. Oulton

I gave my today,

For your tomorrow,

I gave my young life,

To keep Europe free,

From fascist bullies,

And tyranny.


I flew out from Oulton.

In the dead of the night,

To rain down shells,

From way up high,

Dodging the tracer bullets

Which sparked the night sky...

Raked with the gunfire

Our bomber dived, out of control…

And the order to ‘bale out,’


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Levelling Up

One year, the Thames was flooded.

I think it was back in Cameron’s time.

There were subsidies and grants galore.

“These terrible scenes of devastation!”

Were all that the Media could explore!

“These poor, benighted middle class!”

The Press couldn’t wait to kiss their ass!


At a similar stage of our climate crisis,

The City of Hull was washed away.

There was no talk o...

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Happy Birthday... To Me!

It’s got to the stage

Of my mum’s old age,

Where I buy all my own cards

For her sign, and address them to me,

When she can summon up the energy.


So, I bought myself the birthday card

I wanted to receive,

The one I truly deserve,

Though some may wonder

At my nerve…

A line of superheroes bedecked the top,

Hulk, Captain America, Ironman, the lot.

“You’re no...

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Poetry is...

Poetry is a passing smile.

The waft of your hair,

The touch of your hand.

Poetry is the whisper of the breeze

On a warm summer’s day.


Poetry is an act of kindness,

From an unexpected source.

A friendly greeting in the street,

From strangers whom we chance to meet..

Encouraging words on a greeting card.

Picking you up, when times are hard.


I overthink my p...

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Murder, Most Foul

Charlie’s marriage was stale and cold.

It had begun to go wrong as soon as they’d wed.

She said he smelled; her ways were too ‘old,’

So, he and Elma had separate beds.


The situation was desperate!

He couldn’t afford a divorce.

Charlie was in his forties,

The marriage wouldn’t last its course…


Naturally he sought out a ‘hitman,’

Someone of the highest repute,


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I am not a Cromwell devotee

He was far too puritanical, for me.

And a bit fanatical - banning Christmas!

Preferring to stand on his dignity.

His government was dictatorial

And inclined to pomposity!

This poem is rather cavalier,

But I pray that you revel in it,

Warts and all.


However, I couldn’t be a royalist,

The Divine Right of Kings

Cannot be condoned!


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Famous People

Scarborough Festival

"Scorecards! Cards sixpence each!

Get your scorecards here! "

The old man in the white coat was always there,

His booming voice echoed around the ground.


Balmy, sunlit weekdays at the festival.

Bright azure blue, and cloudless, skies.

Not even the merest breath of a breeze.

Seagulls squawking, eyeing up our sandwiches, 

As we lay out our picnic on a rickety old bench.


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A Walk, to Remember



Mum’s Care Home is next to the cemetery,

Affording me some rather mawkish pursuits,

Like a health-giving walk amongst the dead!

This encouragement to physical exercise,

It occurs to me,

Is an exercise in egocentricity.


In my morbid ramble between the stones, 

I search for those I may have known.

Based on the dates of their demise,

Or names remembered f...

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Repeating Patterns

(The shirt referred to in this poem, is now in my profile picture)


On the flight path from his junior school,

William looked, with interest, at the shirt I wore,

“That’s a repeating pattern, grandad.

Yellow, white, blue, red, and green!”

“My flabber is well and truly gasted, William,

You’re the brightest boy I’ve ever seen!”


Life’s recurring patterns crop up, remorse...

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Alone, in a bar.

A singles bar is a lonely place,

I was in there.  Billy No Mates,

Waiting for someone to pour me a drink.

So, I snaffled some salted peanuts

From a tempting plate, right in front of me.


When a ghostly voice suddenly announced,

“You are looking most handsome, sir,

If I might be permitted to say.

Your clothes and shoes are elegant

And you sparkle, sir, in every single...

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Put that stone down and turn your back!

Look a little further within.

Guilt is ubiquitous. It crosses our land.

There is no one you can crucify

To take away your sin.


Stop screaming abuse at your TV,

Condemning the proclivities of celebrity!

They are no different to you, or me.

We know temptation only too well.

Faults you see in others, correct in yourself.

Not e...

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Whose words are they, anyway?



I gave you my words, my turns of phrase,

Those I’d accumulated over many, long days.

Now, you use those same words back to me,

In stilted lexicography, in dated old vocabulary!


A nasty fall, he scrapes his knee.

“Don’t worry, grandad, I’ll be fine!”

“Want to go for a walk, William?”

“Not yet, grandad.  Maybe…. Later.”


Words to use but, maybe, later disca...

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The Blue Balloon

I half blew up a blue balloon

And left it, deliberately, untied.

Then... I let it go...

It was a childish piece of grandad fun,

Which William greatly enjoyed.


The balloon made a whoosh for the window,

Colliding, abruptly, with the double glazing,

Directing it up to the ceiling,

Farting out air on the way.

Anticipating its imminent death,

It made a sudden dash ...

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A Poetic Complaint.

I think I've contracted 'Long Poetry.'

It started a good while ago.

At first it was a mild disease,

Consisting of just the odd line or two,

With nothing much to show.

But, now it's coming out in stanzas

And in great long turgid verse. 

I think it's a type of diarrhoea, 

Or, maybe it's something even worse!

Words keep on pouring out of me

In the form of poetic dysenter...

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The genesis of my narrative invention

Began in the throes of Catholic confession,

What counted as a sin?

Where should I begin?

“I have disobeyed my mother

Seven times, father,

I have used bad words

Three times, father.”

The numbers were arbitrary.

The sins, venal.

I had to confess something.


“Two ‘Hail Marys’ and an ‘Our Father.’”

The priest passed sentence


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In the Shadow of St Leonard's

I sit here, in the graveyard of my dreams, 

Weeping stupid, futile tears,

For friends whom I have never known,

The chances I let pass me by

And for all the places I have never lived.


I did not live in Wentworth Street

And view Saint Leonard’s lonely church,

Halo'd by the setting sun,

Or wait in glorious trepidation

For my lustful new lover to come,

Whilst sipping...

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We Are Where We Are!

We are where we are.

We’re a planet, not a star! 

Global peace?

Carbon neutral?

It’s fair to say, 

We need to raise the bar.

Still, we are where we are.


Can you afford an electric car?

Is renewable energy on the way?

Which of us will be able to pay?

Who’s forking out for the cladding

On all those high-rise towers?

Where are we with H.S.2?

Someone needs t...

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Word Search

It comes to something when,

In the cradle of democracy,

Words like “shameful,” “egregious”

And “failure of judgement,” carry insufficient weight,

With the man in question

(Or those who sit behind him,

Avoiding our eyes, studying their navels

And their imperilled majorities)

To bring about the change

Our country craves.


What would the Gray Report have to say?


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The Queen and her Platinum Generation

Whether her life was short or long,

She pledged her service to the nation,

And our Queen was as good as her word.


Her generation respects tenacity

Sharing her tact and diplomacy.

Life was to be lived with trust, honour

And consideration for one’s fellow man.

They don’t talk about their trouble and woes

But struggle to do the best that they can.

They scrimp, they sav...

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