As it all rushes by

Sitting on the concrete promenade

At Thorpe Bay

The sun setting to my right

Casting a glow over the seafront buildings

And the large new ferris wheel

In the distance

The weather is ok

A rarity

Spring seems shy after a brutal winter

This weird place I’ve called home

For the last year

Is fast coming to an end

Everything changes all the time

But with me

Maybe it’s a little too constant

I’m alone

As I usually am out here 

In this place

But I look down along the beach

And see an old paddling boat

Filled with sand and shells

The same one my daughter played in

Two weeks before in this spot

And I think if how

I’ll probably never bring her out here again

Why am I nostalgic?

I don’t know

It’s funny how us humans can make anything home

When I first came here I sort of hated this place

It was the middle of summer

Lobster people crawled out of the woodwork

Traffic mess

The constant smell of ice cream and fish and chips

Screams from the amusement park rides

Seemed to carry for miles

An image sticks in my head

A few hundred yards from where I sit now

The height of summer

A rugged looking old man stood on the concrete promenade

And played some equally rugged notes

From a saxophone

While a woman sat on the edge

Legs wide open

Revealing whatever you wanted to see

And swayed, beer in hand, to the music

In the background an old yacht had fallen on its side

And lay prone in the water

That’s Southend for you

There’s charm, but you have to be creative about it

There was always this sense 

Right from the beginning

That’s I’m not at home in this town

Or city


And I never was

But familiarity has its charm

Certainly to me

But that’s my problem

I hate goodbyes

And here I am

Another goodbye to another place

This one a solitary journey

That precious few saw precious little of

I look down the seafront

I think I can almost make out the shape

Of the Royal Hotel

I can afford to take a few minutes more here

No one’s waiting for me

And here I am

Taking it slow

As it all rushes by

May solitude

We got horribly drunk the night before

A couple of drinks after work

Turned into something considerably different.

A brandy promotion

Or something

I couldn’t remember driving home

But back then it was ok

Waking up with that confused guilty sensation

With a pounding head and a face that felt swollen

Meeting them back at work

We laughed as people do when knowing they’re equally in pain

I needed to be in the town of George later that afternoon

A four hour drive on my own down the coast

I left at midday.

Driving slowly

Nothing but a hotel reservation in front of me

My hangover slowly faded

Into that not unpleasant state of sweet melancholia

It was May

My favourite month in South Africa

The afternoon sun reflected off the still waters of the Knysna lagoon

In the windless cool stillness of May

The patches of mist

Clung to the earth in the valleys and on the water

And I felt ok

I was ok

There’s nothing quite like arriving at a hotel room

After a drive

Especially in the tiredness of an afternoon following a hangover.

A properly made bed

New sheets, your own space . . . . and silence

Glorious silence and solitude

My room overlooked the Outeniqua mountains

I sipped a glass of wine as I looked out at the sun going down to my left

It’s the crazy nights that sometimes make us feel alive

And the beautiful moments of solitude

Remain so hard to explain

Sunday at the Royal

I was feeling melancholic

But it was Sunday afternoon

And Sundays seemed to bring about the most emotion

Especially lately

Southend in summer 

And everything was out


Smells of fish, chips, and ice cream

Continual screams drifted up 

From the amusement park rides

Some Sundays I made my way 

To the Royal Hotel bar

A pint helped to dilute the gloom 

Into something I could trust more

Sometimes the one pint turned into two

Making Sunday more acceptable

Like every Sunday afternoon 

A singer sat in the corner 

And played to the handful of people

I sat by the window

And looked out at the wide gaping mouth of the Thames

Seagulls drifted overhead

My thoughts drifted back to the last two days

And this strange maze we walk through

That we call life

All these bodies walking past 

Showing all this skin

Much of it like leather

The singer played out a rendition of

Losing my Religion

As drugged up fellow amused himself across the street

And the roller coaster screams continued to waft up

All these choices

All these roads

All these possible outcomes

Sometimes all we can do

Is sit by a window with a pint

And look back

And wonder how differently it might have looked

Or what on earth is next

As we cast the dice

And play the hand in front of us

While infinite paths lie ahead

And the world remains indifferent

As the big ferris wheel turns 

Like the sun that keeps coming around

As the ship sails by 

Only to return

As the tide recedes slowly 

Only to be back tomorrow

As the seagulls circle

It was after 6pm

Yazoo’s Only You was being bastardised

I needed a second pint

Mizzle on the A127

Driving through the mizzle

On the A127

Trying to understand all of this

And the train of time 

Rolls on relentlessly 

As I struggle to keep up

Closing my eyes

Through this darkest part

Recognising the long night

I’ve been in

Confronting the imposter 


Thursdays at the Rising Sun

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

On a corner of Cloth Fair

Weeks of working towards a stressful strat day

Had left everyone worn and weary

And with that feeling of post-battle comfortable lazy lethargy

A harsh downpour of rain had passed and the sun had come out

And the Smithfield world dazzled

And the air smelled strangely pure and clean

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Sometimes they could be a little dreary depending on company and mood

But not today

It was payday in late May and summer was coming

And we could feel it in the air

Our favourite bar lady Hanna warmed us with her smile

And her drinks

And the way her hair covered the left side of her face

Which I always found so alluring

And Tom from Data and Insights was here

Things were always better when Tom was around

All the good nights seemed to happen when he joined

So it goes

As it went from dusk to dark the music went from pop to Motown

As Tom told cycling stories to increasingly loud laughter

I leaned on the bar talking garbage to Rebecca

Making fun of her height and her accent

Which she seemed to like

We were all tired

But we drank on

Tired and relieved

Was better than wired and stressed

For once we felt like people who’d actually done something

Who’d achieved

The laughter got more hysterical and the music got under my skin

Tomorrow would be unproductive

The next few days would be, but who cared

Particularly then

Walking to the station with the usually serious, quiet Paul

As he rambled about some story about our CEO

I could relate and I laughed

Because I’d thought the same thing

He was amusing himself just as much as me

And I stared at the three towers of the Barbican

Looming over us

Like life reminding us that it was there

That tomorrow was there

Against the backdrop of brutal repetitions of this life

Some majestic triumphs of humanness

Shine out of the strange paradoxes

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Some were better than others

When it comes

She came and sat next to me at the bus stop

She must have been 90 or so

And started making conversation

I was never one for small talk with people

But I was interested and attentive

She joked about drinking too much sherry

About the blonde boy across the road

She spoke about football

And the weather

And how she never looks at bus times any more

“They’ll come when they come”

Another old lady came and sat and I was relieved of talk duty

We all got on the bus together and that was the last of the talk

I watched her three rows in front of me

Some condition made her head twitch just a bit

And yet what I felt for her was a sort of envy

She’d done her innings

No one relied on her or expected anything of her


She was free to stare death in the face and smile with a sherry

It will come when it comes

Real people

Who knows why she had a French bulldog with her

At 8:30am going into central London

But it was midsummer

And everyone sweated

And you could almost pick out the people

Who hadn’t showered that morning

But I watched the dog

It was better than the usual sights at that hour

As the train filled

And filled

Soon I was in a sort of human sardine can

And we sweated and wished for air

Or something

I wished for Bank station, where there was usually an exodus of sorts

Just make it to Bank. Just make it to Bank.

But between Liverpool Street and Bank the train stopped

And we all stood there sweating in silence

And the dog started barking

What a beautiful natural sound

I smiled and glanced around

A handful of people were smiling

Those are the only real people on here I thought

The train eventually started up

We sweated on

I made it out ok, but a little wet

The breeze of summer ghosted through my shirt and kissed my ribs

I walked through Postman’s Park

Thinking about that dog

Egg on mince

Confronted by reality

You sit in your underwear at 10:30am

Eating left over mince with eggs on top

Remembering what you said

And the jokes you tried to make

All seeming a little less funny today

Slightly shaky, slightly confused

Were there not things you needed to do?

A tap drips

You see your reflection in the kitchen door glass

You stare back

You wonder

What you’re doing

With your life

Magic Portal

I ride the train down into the city every day

And as it gets further in it gets more and more packed

At its fullest I sometimes try to guess the number of people on the train

Possibly close to a thousand

And then my mind drifts and I think

I imagine

What if this train magically passed through some portal and entered another world

Like ours

Except the thousand people on the train

Would be the only people there

Free to set up a new civilisation

In a new world

What would happen?

Knowing all we know now

This train load of Adams and Eves

Would it descend into barbaric power struggles

Or would we create a harmonious society

And a  humane life for all

What is the true nature of people?

I wonder

As I stare at a balding man with sagging cheeks

Read the sport pages of the Metro

At Mile End a woman gets up and offers her seat

To a man with crutches

No magic portal this morning

Just the smelly West bound on the Central Line

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Let us feel the autumn chill

Touch our noses and ears

And see it it in our breath

As we talk about your country

And a little of mine

Meet me in Postman’s Park

And watch people fascinated

Discovering the plaques 

To the unknown heroes

While others sit on benches

Eating Pret sandwiches

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Let’s look up at the office windows 

That surround us

And talk of the futility of the 9 to 5

And of fishing boats and growing tomatoes 

And our own One Day dreams

Meet me in Postman’s Park

And bask in the beauty 

Of comfortable silences

As nearby traffic hums and vibrates

The odd siren in the distance

While a drill starts on and off

Meet me in Postman’s Park

It’s good to be here, now

Your blue eyes are visible

Even fifty yards away as you turn

To look at me one last time

As your blonde hair fades into the haze