Thursday, 25 May 2023


Everywhere you look you're reminded of the passage of time. Everything from the way the pebbles that make up the shingle have worn smooth and the evolution of the plants that grow among them (the sea cabbage especially) to the sheds people have built, then abandoned. One, on a rise just behind the shingle, barely hangs together, its rotten planks burst apart by the wind exposing tea, salt and pepper still sat on a shelf, a rusty bicycle. Another, its door come away, is full to what is left of its rafters with brambles, the leaves pressing their eager faces up against the window.

There are few buildings. Most of those there are are strung out along the top of the rise behind the shingle. A few yards inland, there is a small cluster of bungalows, built in what once must've been a 'cheap and cheerful' style but which now haunt us with visions of a world for which we can find no modern equivalent. Mod cons – principally, the internet – have had to be grafted on.

There is a road down to the sea that ends in a car park. People come here to walk their dogs, entertain their children or just sit and look. The tracks down to the shingle are lined with pebbles people have painted and left there. This is a pebble painter's paradise.

Sometimes, from here, you can see the Isle of Man on the horizon. When you can, it's a mirage: if the conditions are just right, the atmosphere refracts the light, making the distant island (which lies way beyond the visible horizon) appear surprisingly close. You can see its principal hills spread out from left to right. I've never caught it in the act of appearing or vanishing, though, although, the other evening, conditions were such that you could only see the tops of its hills poking above the milky obscurity. One can see how myths arose of magic islands that appear and vanish and, scanning the horizon to see if you can see Man from Silecroft, it's easy to start doubting the science that tells you that what you're witnessing is no more than an atmospheric effect.

Saturday, 6 May 2023

Don't Say Nowt

Jumble Hole Clough's creator, Colin Robinson, describes it as 'music influenced by the landscape, industrial remains and experiences around Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Forgotten things half-hidden beneath the undergrowth.' Robinson has now created forty-three albums under the Jumble Hole Clough name, the latest three being a trilogy based on written-down dreams ('the minor transient documents of everyday life', as he describes them). Over the previous forty, Robinson had moved gradually away from his self-imposed local brief. This trilogy, however, brings the world around Hebden Bridge back into focus: the calls of the curlews the crows and the sound of the church bells rising up from the valley (everyday experiences for anyone living around Hebden Bridge) mingle with more exotic, surreal dream-images. For example, someone – in one of the catchiest songs in the trilogy – has mysteriously filled the back of his car with riot-shields. I can't explain why I like that song as much as I do any more than I suspect Colin Robinson can explain why he dreamt it.

The first album of the trilogy, with its ambiguous double-negative title, Don't Say Nowt (and other dreams), contains conventional songs. Correction: conventional JHC songs, which is not quite the same thing. Conventional in JHC terms means short, sonically diverse and full of tongue-in-cheek surrealism. These are the dreams you were dreaming the moment you woke up: brief, vivid narratives with a logic of their own, which seemed perfectly reasonable while you were dreaming them.

The second album, You're Our Prisoner Now (and other dreams) is less conventional. All the tracks were 'based initially on aleatoric methods: generative, serial, Euclidean, tape loops and other such systems'. JHC produced its first album using generative music (...and I think the little house knew something about it; don't you?) almost exactly a year ago. One of the interesting things about that album – and this – is that even when relinquishing control of the music to algorithms, it still manages to sound like JHC.

The third album, The Sunken Chapel (and other dreams) goes even further in this direction. Listening to it for the first time, I immediately found myself thinking of it as a series of sound-tracks to dreams, like an album of the music for a film which only one person – in this case the dreamer, Colin Robinson – has ever seen.

If you've never heard the music of JHC before but enjoy listening to these albums as much as I do, you have a treat in store: you've still got the forty other albums in the JHC back catalogue to listen to.

Monday, 20 March 2023

Genius Loci

I recently had a short story, Genius Loci, published at The Milk House, an online journal that focuses on rural writing.

Monday, 27 February 2023

The Tower

Just had a short story The Tower (4 minute read) published by the Lothlorien Poetry Journal. It's an idea I had kicking around for a while and which has been through various previous incarnations. It's now probably time to let it stand.

The Tower

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Three Poems

I've recently had three poems published in Spinozablue Journal: Astronaut, The Things We Saw on the Way and Off-Course.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

International Times

Had three poems published in International Times this January. Great to be sharing a page with silent screen star Theda Bara.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

The Caves

Just had a short story, The Caves, published in SETU Magazine. I suspect it's the kind of first-person story which gets people wondering, is it autobiographical? To which the answer is, no. However, where autobiography and fiction are concerned, I'd say this: fiction tends to bear a similar relation to the life of its author as the cut-out letters pasted onto a kidnapper's note bear to the articles they were cut from.


Everywhere you look you're reminded of the passage of time. Everything from the way the pebbles that make up the shingle have worn smoot...