Wednesday 30 August 2023

Close Call


Just recovering from a very close call.  I have been very near to dying it seems and am so grateful to still be here; especially for my wife and daughter’s sake.  I had been feeling unwell for quite some time and eventually was consumed by pain in my kidneys and other symptoms.  I eventually tried to get a doctor’s appointment, but as things are now regarding NHS, I just had a phone appointment where I was indeed diagnosed as having a kidney infection and antibiotics were prescribed.  But things didn’t improve and as the pain got steadily worse I found I couldn’t eat either and then began to vomit black bile.  I did then get an appointment to see a doctor face-to-face and within a few minutes she told me to go home, pack a bag and go straight to hospital as I wouldn’t be coming home for a while.  Following a long wait in A&E, I finally had a CT scan and was visited by a consultant who told me I was hours away from death; many things were going wrong, but most worryingly my kidney function was down to 7% and there was some irreparable damage there.  Emergency care followed and the next day I was visited by another consultant who confirmed what I was still trying to process – I was indeed very lucky to be alive and I had left it a day longer sepsis would undoubtedly have occurred and there would be no chance of saving my life. 

So I’m back home now and back to work, but still receiving treatment and will be for some time.  But I’m slowly getting better; although I have lost a lot of weight and at the moment weigh only nine stone.  This near death event has spurred me on to write again as I have found the process quite demoralising of late as it seems so much more difficult to engage with a theatre director or company.  I’ve even tried mailing scripts together with a SAE ‘old school’, and more recently even posted my play Canned Peaches in Syrup to a hero of mine, Terry Gilliam when he was directing a play at Theatre Royal Bath, but no reply and no return SAE with my bloody script either!

But for some reason I can’t seem to stop writing, and at the moment feeling I’ve been granted some extra time I’m scribbling away again and am still trying to prise a response (or even an acknowledgement) from an industry I still love and miss.  The idea of death really does have a way of focussing you on life, and if you’ve read earlier posts you will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve faced it.  So back to my current job in mental health support and looking forward to a holiday and some scenic walking with my wonderfully supportive wife, seeing friends and my lovely daughter... I’m still here and very, very grateful for all those hospital staff that made it possible... life is so, so precious.

Sunday 19 March 2023

Mothers Day Poems


On Mothering Sunday, a couple of poems for all of us orphans.  My mother passed some time ago, long before she should have, and I still think about her almost every day and visit her grave from time to time... An inspirational, kind-hearted soul and my mum...





The morphine kicks in,

Liquid lull of warm blood, mixing, melding,

Rinsing those last corpuscles of thought.


You are drifting away from me,

Bleary eyed,


Tired and weary...

You are drifting away from me.


I hold your hand,

Knowing that I'll never be able to do this again,

Because you are drifting away,

And love and memory hammers at my heart and brain

As I feel the tremble of life in your fingers, fade...


Goodbye Mum,

God bless

And great big hugs.





Wet flowers

Melting in my fingers,

Slimy stems


As I pull them from the brass containers

Set in marble stone

At your grave.


I replace the flowers with new ones,

Bright yellow blooms shining brightly in the sun.

I know you can't see them,

But I wish you could.


Monday 23 August 2021



“It took 20 years, trillions of dollars and 4 US Presidents to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.”


You can’t make this stuff up... it seems to me this planet is governed by imbeciles with no regard for the common people.  It’s unbelievable what is now happening to Afghanistan.  It was obvious to me, a regular Joe, what would occur when America pulled out: they have abandoned a whole country to the rapacious whims of merciless religious terrorists, and every female citizen to a life devoid of education, self-will and a living hell where they are hardly allowed to see the light of day; virtual slaves terrified into subjugation by a regime where women are regarded as chattels and whose safety is a daily trial.  What is more, Biden has now made the world a very dangerous and different place for all of us, because now they see how easily they have taken power, the Taliban and IS will now also be seeking to inflict their terror on the West wherever and whenever they can... it makes you want to weep; just when we thought we had replaced a dangerous, bigoted, crass idiot of a President with someone whom we thought would steer politics in a very different direction, I see together with the oncoming climate crisis that it is becoming increasingly apparent that our world leaders are incompetent bumbling idiots who have little care for this fragile blue stone we call home.

Wednesday 28 July 2021



I’m finding it hard to face the regular passing away of residents I have got to know and have grown fond of.  After a little break where I managed to have a holiday with friends in Wales I returned to work a shift in the care home and was informed that David had sadly died the previous night, and I couldn’t help but well up.  He was a great guy and a wonderful character; a proper London cockney from Crouch End who loved telling me of his life growing up in the East End and his job as an engineer working on Tube Trains.  He also played the piano really well and sang too and his presence kind of lit up the home; everyone liked him... I miss him and I know that all too soon some other resident will pass away too.  It’s very strange working so closely with people who are so near the end of their lives, but it’s also somewhat life-affirming to make a connection with individuals who rely on your care and commitment to their welfare.  Bridget, a lady who until recently was very active and always first up to read the papers in our library has succumbed to the pernicious grip of oncoming dementia and has taken to her bed, scared and somewhat confused, asking me continually where she is and asserting that she doesn’t think she should be here and would like me to drive her home as her mother will be missing her.  I took her breakfast in on a tray this morning and she was crying; I asked her what was wrong and she said “I feel sad”.  I sat with her and held her hands for a short while and told her everything was going to be okay and the kind people here were looking after her.  I left her looking settled and managing a little smile, but later that day when I took her a mug of tea she was crying again. 

Wednesday 30 June 2021



I have been wondering recently if there is any point writing anymore.  My last few plays have garnered great responses and have made the long-list in various writing schemes, but nothing further has happened.  And now I’m finding I don’t even get acknowledgements when I forward a script, let alone a response, positive or not.  Whilst I was touring with the RSC I wrote a play I had sketched out many years ago, and as it featured a Shakespearean theme I thought this was the obvious time to complete it... it even featured a pandemic, which actually occurred shortly after I had completed the play.  One of the reasons I took the job with the RSC was because they announced that they were interested in actors other talents, so I took the opportunity to pitch the idea in a meeting to their artistic director, and set up a reading of the first few scenes with some of the actors of the company, and although everyone involved loved it and laughed their socks off, no one from the literary team bothered to turn up.  Since I’ve finished the play I sent it to pretty much everyone I thought might be interested in the company and again I haven’t even received a single acknowledgement.  But I have to admit this counts for every other theatre I’ve contacted too... no response whatever.  I wonder if anyone has even bothered to take a look at the script at all.  I reckon I have a pretty good writing CV; my plays have a long list of great reviews and have been produced at wonderful theatres all over the world, so this kind of negativity puzzles me.  I wonder also if it may have had something to do with the spat I had with Ayckbourn some years ago, and had been warned that some kind of unofficial black list might be linked to my name, but I don’t regret standing up for my work as more than once I have suffered from others taking from me and it hurts.  So now I’m thinking is it all a bit pointless... and I love the writing process and creating a new piece of work, and I’m often inspired by injustices and want to represent the ‘little man’ (or woman for that instance) whose stories are often ignored, but are important, and of course I have been writing about the environment and climate change for as long as I can remember.  But if no one out there can even be bothered to respond to my voice... well what’s the point?  I’m still working in the care home, and believe me its hard work, so I do have a regular income thank God and I do feel I’m doing something important in a small way, but boy do I miss being involved in theatre and having a voice out there.  Anyway just for the record here’s the synopsis of my latest play.  I love it!




A life-affirming inter-galactic love story.


Climate change and a global pandemic have left small communities, regulated by NHS death squads desperately isolated.  At the top of the bleak Yorkshire Moors, Victoria, the beautiful daughter of the landlord of the last working pub in England is struggling to find meaning in her lonely existence... until Pip; an alien being that looks very much like a young William Shakespeare comes crashing into her life.  But when Robert, a jealous government inspector turns up too, it triggers a deadly battle for the very soul of humanity, where the cumulative history of planet Earth may be forever lost.

Friday 30 April 2021

Covid Poem


You are 13.8 billion years away

Stars have come and gone

Galaxies collided

Since I last saw you.


The big bang saw the nativity of our universe

And I have been waiting that long to see you again.

Time is ticking the stars away

Time is tediously erasing its memory of us and all that came before.


But I defy time and atoms and the definitive click of the quantum clock

And demand that you and I will meet again

I demand once again

That fingers touch fingers

That lips touch lips

That hugs will embrace hugs

And we will see each other again.

Sunday 14 March 2021



Working loads of shifts in the care home as they always seem to be short staffed, but the truth is most of us are on minimum age and it doesn’t really reflect the work we have to do, so it’s hardly surprising.  I’m mostly working in the kitchen now; dishwashing and taking breakfast trays to the resident’s rooms; sometimes having to feed the ones who are very weak and I guess facing their final days.  So – dishwashing, some cooking, preparing and serving suppers, laying tables, pouring drinks, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, collecting trays on a trolley from the various floors.  But the most difficult aspect of the job is seeing the gradual decline of the people I’ve got to know very well, and witness their vulnerability and dependence increase as they slowly find their bodies and mental faculties wither and begin to fail them.  It’s a hard lesson of mortality and me and the other carers see it every day.  And of course now and then someone will die and it’s hard not to feel their loss, even though it’s part of the job; ‘end-of-life-care’, and during the pandemic we’ve been the only people they’ve been able to communicate with mostly and they really miss their family, their children and grandchildren.  Consequently I do chat quite a lot with them and on the whole they have some incredible life stories; for instance, one lady who is 100 years old was a volunteer driver during the second world war, ferrying troops and personnel around during the blitz, and for a while she was a driver for Eisenhower, who was a five star general at the time and then became the 34th President of America.  So – ups and downs I suppose; grim-faced individuals living with the pain and distress of old age, but still smiling and making the best of things.  But as I said it is a place for end-of-life-care, and during my second week I took a breakfast tray up to one resident and when I opened the door I thought ‘Christ, you don’t look well!’  I spoke her name a few times, but it soon became apparent that she had passed away during the night.  A shocking moment for me, but a well-worn ritual for the main carers who are generally there, holding hands and speaking soothing words as they gently help someone face their final journey.  The staff there are incredible and I have nothing but respect for the dignity they show the residents and the small kindnesses they administer daily... all for minimum wage.  They are saints.