Friday, October 30, 2009


There was sad news today. Deeply sad news. There will be no more pianis made in england on the closure of the Kemble factory in Milton Keynes. It's been on the so since 1911 but Yamaha have finally moved production abroad.

Is there anything in the UK we can still make for our selves? A company which has sold more than 120,000 pianos and won a Queen's award for export is ironically now being itself exported.

It is sad that the UK piano-making Industry has been propped up since 1986 by a foreign conglomerate such as Yamaha; sadder still that the hand that saved it with that 80s buyout will now happily pull the plug on its entire existence.

There is room for light optimism; maybe we will now make lovely, handmade pianos on a scale never seen before, with the big factory gone and us still, we hope, wanting pianos.

But more importantly, I hope that our largest concert halls, which prize Steinway and other foreign importers above British talent, will relaise how important it is that we foster the craft of music in the UK and not just performacne of sound. England must ring with the chimes of hammer and keys for years to come or we will still be using old, tired keyboards.

This could be the best opportuntiy yet; who can be the first to come up with a brand new UK idea for piano production? Innovaters, step up now and make us pioneers not the poor relations of an industry which is diong better elsewhere.........

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fly-gene namers

Inspired by real-life scientific research in which flies’ genes are individually named.

We caller her Marilyn because,
She cried out of her blue glass eyes
Those halogen globes. The fly
Was blind.
She, our darling dainty deity, flapped,
Stumbled and circled around the petri dish,
Drunk from our syringes
Winging crumpled shapes in sterile air.
The list of names for other flies was filed away
Like a hall of fame. Cleopatra,
Jim, Blinky; but this was Marilyn.
Too special
For reality but beautiful, tiny
And ugly under our blinding white limelight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Icon; Lumley visits Nepal

OK, this poem is nearing completion but needs a 'final destination'.... All suggestions welcomed!



'No need to lie, just tell the truth'
glared at by flashbulbs, words snatched walking,
she speaks. This strange screen-goddess who gleams
sunlight and mythic red lips. She is roundly
sounding school-ma'am vowels and talking
of justice. Nepali flowers shower narcissim
in flurries over her smiling skin
and chase her like the stars she too can see
through eyes immortalised in BBC colour
yet feel as helpless underneath their show.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (4.5 stars)

Dir. Terry Gilliam (2009) 2 hours 3mins
This was a film with many strings attached; from Terry Gilliam of Monty Python lore to Christopher Plummer’s inevitable Sound of Music associations, it was destined to attract attention from the start with its cast and directing team, whatever the resulting picture.  The recent death of Heath Ledger only added another potential nail of hype to a movie under huge pressure to produce excellence at every turn.  The audience perhaps held visions of tributes to Ledger in the opening credits but the first mention of the star came as a shock.  We blinked in surprise as he appeared hanging from a London bridge.  Surely Gilliam could not be serious; could he expect nail-bombs through the post from die-hard fans for an appalling lack of sensitivity throughout the film?  Luckily not. Seldom do such politically incorrect turns as this and a dwarf painted to look like a Victorian Golly doll pass unnoticed.  This, however, was the director who made Monty Python acceptable to the BBC bosses. Once again he delivered whistle-stop entertainment without compromising on wit and originality and the film was too good to let its few minor drawbacks detract from its quality. 
As Russian mafia, tarot cards, a magic mirror and some exotic (if unstable) accents dressed up in full costume as a travelling show, a romp through back-street London turns into a tale of choice between the devil and God, moral good and bag, eternity and death. Unlike several sacreligious books-made-films to be released in cinemas later this year the plot was clever, intriguing and avoided losing us.  The pace didn’t let up nor did the attention to detail.  It somehow made sense for Heather Ledger to become Johnny Depp to  become Jude Law; not until the final ‘confrontation’ between did the use of a devil (or should he have been death?) and Dr.Parnassus wear a little thin.  Their relationship was the only one in the film which lacked real energy.  Lily Cole was good enough and her co-stars all delivered stable performances, all  meriting their place in the season’s most anticipated mainstream feature. 
The sub-continental mystique of elephant icons and henna face-markings was entertaining but unexplained and one final negative came from Gilliam’s occasional failure to recognise when his onscreen picture had gone just that bit far into dreamland.  The saturation of colour on our screen could only be described as saccharin at times.  But Parnassus was more Luhrmann than ludicrous in this respect and danced the fine line between cartoon and adult fantasy without success.  The graphics here are outstanding and the film boasts seamless CGI effects and imaginative storyboarding that Parnassus himself would have been proud of. 
Speaking of pride, Gilliam should be very proud of what he and his team have made here.  Fans of Ledger will not be disappointed but people who could not care less about the suffocating hype that has followed this movie to its UK release.  It promises a fantastic two hours that go surprisingly quickly. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hard-Hearted Hannah

Old Vic, Bristol

Opening the Bristol Jam Festival 2009
 (runs until 17th October)

It’s the perfect opening; “We have a show. All we need is a title.” As the audience of Hard Hearted Hannah entered the Studio of the Old Vic, it appeared to be not so much a theatre as a cross between a karaoke bar and a gypsy caravan. The Cartoon de Salva company (a team of just six people including three actors) were perched on rustic stools happily brandishing guitars, harmonicas, velvet back-curtain and a blackboard on an easel. On this blackboard they wrote out the scrath agenda of the evening’s entertainment. Their out-of-the-blue set-up became the theme for the opening night of the Bristol Jam that has taken over the theatr e for the next fortnight. The Jam’s opening cross-genre theatre performance fused juke-box music, comedy and improve theatre into an appropriately sticky, home-baked mix of delightful flavour that took a long time to wear thin.

In fact, it would be lying to quote Hard Hearted Hannah as the title of the performance. The impromptu theme meant that we were asked to the overall title ourselves. The cast chose ’The Black Toe’ from some brave and appropriately audacious audience suggestions, and then allowed us to select, pantomime-style, three songs including ‘You Sexy Thing’ to become the backbones of the performance. This became a story like no other. The jokes were occasionally too ‘in’ for comfort and the plot dragged painfully as the evening drew to a close, but that was because Alex Murdoch, Brian Logan and Neil Haigh are such a close unit that they don’t need to perform to the audience; they perform to one another in a perfect balance of pithy wit and highly skilled acting. The men of many voices and their equally talented female co-performer spun an improvised plot which made for little logic but plenty of laughs. At the end of a tale of falcons, stocks and split personalities, we weren’t sure what had happened, but knew it had happened in a manner worthy of Dead Ringers. This evening was completely improvised and relied on its actors not to let their guard down, or their originality slip. Luckily the ten years of the Cartoon de Salva company have produced a team who can pull off anything. They could do with a little less hesitation and more sympathy for a clueless audience, but this aside it hit the spot perfectly to begin the Bristol Jam in true disorganized style.

Meanwhile in the foyer waiters bore not drinks but ‘Improvisation’ orders upon cards and several boards awaited daubing by any willing visiting wannabe-artists…. Disorientating, highly bohemian and multi-coloured were just some of infinite possible adjectives applicable to Hard Hearted Hannah. One of the Telegraph’s Top 10 Comedy Gigs of 2008, this was a show worth seeing and impossible to replicate.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pre-teen Icon

With her shadow separated sharply and thrown

Into a corner

By a halo of musty blush,

Dust and mom-scent, she stands staring

her scared doll-face in its mirrored eyes;

Sweet six, soft and four-foot nothing.

Carefully and calm as cold hands

Places the point

Of bright crimson cheap hot lipstick on lips

and paints

her rag-doll posy of lips that are crinkled and pouting for me,

Playing my baby-pink leading lady.

She strokes the soft teeth bristles

Through her hair which glistens

Hot in panting lamplight, nervous and naive

As her smile of idolised

Idol-eyes shine so shyly into mine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Living in ‘Recession Britain’ in Autumn 2009.

From today I remember a squashed sandwich

Patterned by treading tyres and hunched

away from the elegant debris of a conker sleeping alongside

its side reflecting its ugliness with varnished

wholesome roundness

that has been plumped out, disregarded; now road cold.

It is remembered so I can forget the bills and remembering

and focus hard

looking down at the floor holding

my own hard, fake diamond, my own

disappointment in the chill of darkening days, our own hard to swallow

summer stays limp

squashed and ugly, receding into an unpleasant past.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

party people (version 1)

These are those that like
to party.
Hard, fast, then at last of all
after the low-down,.  these -
these are those that
like to party.
These are those that sit on
streets in dark corners lit
tenderly to hide the cracks in walls
and faces
lost and ruined, staring into the glass or morning -
these are those  who forget
themselves in 'it all',
small but egotisti-tall,
pumped up and poured
through the bottle-neck club doors,
grains of smartie-bright sand in the timer.
Sucking bottle-necks
their time is up
on the down of midnight,
the twelfth hour when faces
change and crumble and the spill
squirms out the other side of a night out
to crouch and wonder what
it was all worth.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009
One day when I am adult-escent
With eyes pitted in memory and regret
I will buy a bike and ride,
With handle-bar bells singing
in the wind that drowns out the baggage
on the back.
I’ll taunt technology and turn
The road into a route to time
I’ll smile sweetly at nothing because
There’s nothing to make me
and laugh, happy at regressing to
the too careless girl
I was never comfortable to be.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afghan wife August 2009

I’m missing something Mister
Lawman. Miss knowing why you lay down
the law in ore and our
Wedding bed and oust me to the lower orders
Of law and order.
I have such hunger husband
Not for food flung bitter from your hands
But for you to miss what you’re missing – Maybe Allah
will make you miss the truth gaping starved and tired
and toppled by tabloid totems
And created hate, fat with sucking justice’s blood.

Maybe you instead will, feel the shame, mister, feel
the blanks ring in my empty
Chastised, hollowed of
To please the law of your own hungry
Million male human hands.

Are you missing something mister?

Friday, August 21, 2009


One day when I am adult-escent
With eyes pitted in memory and regret
I will buy a bike and ride,
With handle-bar bells singing
in the wind that drowns out the baggage
on the back.
I’ll taunt technology and turn
The road into a route to time
I’ll smile sweetly at nothing because
There’s nothing to make me
and laugh, happy at regressing to
the too careless girl
I was never comfortable to be.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gaza 1/1/09

Gaza 1/1/09
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Watching brown eyes film its flight

How I wonder what you are

Watching wind coax it to earth

Way above the earth so high,

Pretty iron magic wand,

Like a spaceship in the sky

Red as hate and stencil-stamped

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Closer, closer,

How I wonder what you are.

Landing. Last wish.


While shepherds watch their flocks by night,

Oh god. Yahweh. My Mother, son…

All gathered on the ground

Twinkle twinkle little star,

Our blood feels just what you are.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gaza 1/1/09

Gaza 1/1/09
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Watching brown eyes film its flight

How I wonder what you are

Watching wind coax it to earth

Way above the earth so high,

Pretty iron magic wand,

Like a spaceship in the sky

Red as hate and stencil-stamped

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Closer, closer,

How I wonder what you are.

Landing. Last wish.


While shepherds watch their flocks by night,

Oh god. Yahweh. My Mother, son…

All gathered on the ground

Twinkle twinkle little star,

Our blood feels just what you are.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Drug –
It’s in, it’s all encompassing,
You change, become a voodoo doll, a thing.
The body, oozing Owen’s ‘sick of sin’
rejects its cavern walls of devilled skin.
The skeleton caged in with bones so thin
shakes, shudders, spills gross shamed guts out from the in.
You burst into imploding rags and pins,
the thousand drug-dances of heroin.
And down,
and cringe
and radiate and
i lost you. You are lost,
you’re me
'Capture reality and make it do what you want it to do'

Saturday, July 18, 2009








Wednesday, July 8, 2009

an old poem sample

City Spring

It’s April; showery spring-time
Washes rigid roads
In showers, dirt-coloured,
Lined bright with not-quite-white dead flowers.

Bruised beauties, they ride on fumes, freefall
Blindly, elegantly, high
While my feet skirmish in wrecked
Glass, this broken show of nature
Lies low in concrete, clothed in grey.

The Spring?
It has no place here, finds no peace,
Caught in the city’s slingshot sliding
doors and disagreeing with what is Real.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ambleside Waterfalls

Though tempted tentatively to listen
To broadcast bomb-blasts somewhere
Ambleside interrupts with dancing liquid lies of river lather
Which fret even uneven ground.
Pouncing flirt, she races momentary movements over
And over and tumbling against rock in chatter-tongues.
And this aggressive string of droplets holds
your attention,
soaks your radio waves in sound.
She is the more attractive story,
The more destructive report,
The winner by force of white noise
Drowning birdsong, cries and
That come from places far beyond this
Shocked truth.
to this spokeswoman of a generation cleaned of its innocence
By its rancid, frothing, fidgeting conscience;
The cosmopolitan consciousness of the many happy
Whilst they forget the morning news lost
Behind the comfort of this racucous waterfall.



The sun is setting on a new dawn,
weak and exhausted.
A doomed renaissance, simultaneous birth and death.
The Hollow men shudder to behold
the child of their time
as they give birth to Horror;
A cripple squatting on the shaking orb
that is the Earth.
Dribbling oily blood from rotten gums
and gaping wounds.

Tanks swarm like flies on its skin,
Buzzing, grunting, snarling a war song
With blank lyrics.
Their ambling voyage an incessant wake
Mourning the death of peace, of hope.

In Asia’s abandoned backyard
Moaning an anguished whisper
Lies this orphan, this betrayed Iraq,
in a heap on the sun-baked dirt,
shot to pieces and weeping bullet tears for Allah.


The mass of solid
air rises naked. Further, higher,
than fickle fingers stretch
or pray,
to find touch.
Caged eyes seek sight, climbing
slowly, slowly, dropping
Back to rest foot-high
far away, like forever, that one word
resting on my lips.

Before I spit it
onto the ground.
It slashes the bare air.

I tread
empty vowels and falling
naked leaves
and open-mouthed nothingsInto the mud

London Lights

The Milky Way fell
Onto cold concrete streets,
Coated Battersea bridge
From its peaks to its seats.

The water stole star-spots
And rushed past in guilt
Trapping open-mouthed angels
In mud, oil and silt.

As I flew through the pavements
Or walked through the sky
Heaven’s blooms grew grey stalks,
Blinked blindly, held high.

When the windows paint pictures
(pathetic and pale)
Once again, eyes will drown
Mercury’s lamplit trail.

The Milky Way fell,
Burned, and melted black forms,
Into light-dripping art,
Clear as clouds, still as storms.

When the city sings like,
Night-time flickers, grows rust,
Motors moan, mourn and snarl,
Choking night’s stage in dust.


Nut in a shell
The cold music of the wall
Strain against the air
To touch me
Block vibration, ringing
Ringing, into transient
Void thicker than honey
nectar crystallised
Into a dream-sand rock.
Waiting to shatter at the blades of day.

Naked shore

The Blue is no longer Blue but
stripped and molten topaz
teasing the Earth it cradles,
licking, tickling its numb shore. Coaxing
voice of Atlantis’ womb.

Summer’s soul stains glass
water, over ornate gold parent rocks
contoured with age’s worry. They build

the cradle of the drowned
shadows who play
antecedent to seagulls’ feral shock
bravado songs to mock
Man’s voice.

And finally, eternally,
Elysian dreams pulse
synchronised to pounding
And we are no longer we but slaves
to the sea our siren and
prised far
apart as continents,

as liquid life spills onto crystal rocks –
shatters –
here is the fatal opening,
our beach exposed
by the sea we are.

From a pool of shadows
Grow fingered paws, whiskers,
A tail-tower of wool,
Ushering leaves aside
To announce speculatory stillness.

His nut-nose scans our silhouettes
Reflected black in a glassy squint;
Our seven-inch judge reserves sentence
Holding the seconds in headlock
As the air twitches in suspense.

Until he melts the frieze
Into a scurry torrent,
Racing the wind to the treetop
To supervise from his office branch;

Swallowed back into the green, and green, and black.


She meekly smiles
Her form beguiles
Her curves shake, sway
They tremble, play

A game of love,
A game of lust,
She hypnotises,
Turns to dust

Seduce me now
Touch, burn, endow
My eyes with
So false, so true

Pierce cruelly all
My being, fall
From angel heights,
Sing my last rites.

Roots and branches

Here is where we stand in stone, still;
Into place by weak will

Heal in time’s embraces;
rendered dead
By newfound faces.

Grins pray for tomorrow;
Out to beg or borrow

The time, the here, the now,
Small twigs of change endow

New visions
Plant illusions, dreams, all
stretching tall.

as a black, burnt bough;
Eternal, transient, new,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alice in Wonderland

England's visual semantics
Remember me. Its muddled mix
splashes on my fogged eye-screen,
rubs out my name, pales what I've seen:
Zimbabwe. Home, strange colour Queen.

Here bands of grey, blank gaunt grey bands
are the pure snow white of Milton's land.
the welcome gate winks, wedged half-wide
and I the daughter crawl inside;

A displaced ghost, the stars' lost child,
returning (eyes less blue, less mild)
Now cliffs of smoke cloud billow, tame
the slits of shy sky blue; the same
strained glass that import guns cracked black,
and shot down onto Alice's back.

my chanting pulse remembers screams
not nature's natives, lost in dreams.
The sky's the same though I'm disowned
in this grey wonderland: not home.