An Essay on Fawzi Karim

Click here for my essay on Fawzi Karim  together with a selection of his verse in The latest issue of The High Window.

The two books of my versions of his poetry are Plague Lands and Incomprehensible Lesson – both published by Carcanet.

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Write where we are now

Pleased to see two more poems of mine in Write where we are Now

Carol Ann Duffy’s initiative with Manchester University, during lock-down. They have used four. I must say, I am encouraged! My thanks to all involved.

Scroll down for more, and you’ll find them.

Click for other Links to Poems of mine or browse down my “Poetry” category on here.

But the fact of the matter is I find it practically impossible to write or to read during the lock-down so I am doing watercolours instead, going for walks and dancing isolation tango.


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Painted Pallets, April 2020…





painted pallet 37










painted pallet 28









Click here for Painted Pallets 1- 20 

When I paint figurative watercolours, I always have a piece of paper of the same size next to my painting, where I can test my brush mark. I call it my pallet, and I have kept each of these over the years, and mid march I decided to paint each one, using only one colour per pallet.

This is the second batch of twenty, I’m still applying the rule of adding one colour per pallet, but decided to break a “watercolour rule” of only getting white by leaving the paper unpainted, this allowed the work to evolve, so that white is sometimes added.

As with the previous 20, it’s unclear to me whether there is or is not a “way up”. So feel free to flip.

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Painted Pallets, March 2020…


Painted pallet 20








painted pallet 13






painted pallet 9






painted pallet 4





painted pallet 1


Project started mid-March 2020. I took the sheets used as pallets for my figurative water-colours and decided to paint them, while being limited to using only one colour when painting on top of any one pallet. I deliberately don’t use the word palette. Conjures up French wooden plates with a hole for the thumb. My smallish side-sheets of cardboard are too humble for that. Call it poetic licence.

Is there a way up? Sometimes maybe. Sometimes not. I may have arbitrarily chosen a “way up” – but perhaps there is no one way up. If I ever frame them, I will need to devise a way they can be hung horizontally or vertically from any side. Visitors are welcome to save any of these and see whether they prefer it flipped another way.


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Two Families of Rats

Sonnet VII, from Immoral Sonnets, published in Sonnets1999, Grey Suit Editions
Two families of rats were placed inside
Some rooms which set a limit to their space.
Adequately housed, they multiplied;
Indeed, their population grew apace.
Next, overcrowding caused them to decide
That segregated rooms would not disgrace
Their nature, and each quartered in the place
Allotted them. All mating was decried.
Instead the males chose only to embrace
Their brothers, just as on the female side
The same behaviour also now applied,
Though several sat alone, without a trace
Of interest in their gender or their race:
Since when the whole community has died.


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“Children’s shoes have far to go.”

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Boyd K. Packer

Watch Jack Chapple.


Have far to go,
And the road stretches
Ahead of them
All the way to infinity.
Romper suits,
A green beret,
A Dutch bonnet.
Arm in arm,
They’re walking
Into the hoarding,
Getting smaller
As they grow.
They’re from a gone decade,
In for the long haul.
And the goal
Is what exactly?
Reach old age,
More or less whole?
Little pairs
Grown out of
Still exist, you know,
As hand-me-downs,
With mended strap,
Buckle sewn back on,
Heel renewed,
Or perhaps a scrap
Of leather from
An even earlier one,
One that has lost
Its partner years ago,
Serves as a patch
To save a sole.
“Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.”
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Theatre Reviews



Here is a review in the Fortnightly of Christopher Reid’s Love, Loss and Chianti.

20 March 2020 – subject to postponement. Worth seeing when it returns.

Christopher Reid


Here is my review of two intriguing plays in London this April (2019): Third Person Theatre and Noises

Third Person Theatre

Mark Phoenix with Mark Gray – Third Person Theatre – Photo Kevin RbNt

Ali Wright, Old Red Lion, The Noises

Amy McAllister in THE NOISES – photo Ali Wright

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Here is my review of Love’s Victory.  This play by Lady Mary Wroth was written 400 years ago – possibly the production at Penshurst Place was its first performance.

Very pleased to see this in The Fortnightly Review.  24/09/18

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This page is for theatre reviews and this was the first:

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Very pleased to see this in the Fortnightly Review.

View original post

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Click the link to watch Trippin

This is a dance video set in the wonderful communist monuments of what was Yugoslavia.

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The Antonine Plague

At first it was simply a mild irritation
At his slightly buck-toothed expression.
He carried on, convincingly enough,
But then there was his lisp, you hardly heard it
At first, but gradually it became unmissable:
THs as Fs. It was tedious.
He tended to begin with a slightly out-of-kilter
Remark that caused you to pause,
But then he expanded, rapidly; his voice
Louder by the F, and there was no denial,
Remonstration or disagreement.
His own opinion poured out of him,
Flooding the ears of his unwilling listeners.


More about this plague and how Marcus Aurelius tried to deal with it


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Is There a Third Way?

A few months ago, as a joke, I suggested the start of The London Party, but I have been watching the astute Kim Iverson discuss a coalition of right-wing libertarian and socialist factions in US politics. Recently for instance, Ron Paul, in his Liberty Report, interviewed Tulsi Gabbard, and while in supposedly different camps they agreed about salient issues. So I am now taking the issue of a third force in UK politics more seriously.

For aren’t we are facing the same dilemma here in the UK?

Only Blue Labour will ever prevail in a two party race, and the Liberals and the Greens may swing that result by coalition but are not the answer. We need to coalesce Labour and Conservative Brexiteers, fuse traditional with Socialist values, and this means a “horseshoe party”, biting the bullet on some issues, but able to put a pincer movement on Blue Labour and at the same time drastically reduce Tory votes by gaining right-wing support.

Could something like this be a first draft? Now before you read it, I suggest we could try to agree to three salient planks of the twelve issues outlined below as priorities we need to effect – on the left and on the right. Roosevelt’s ‘square deal’ had three planks: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection.

Social Libertarian Party

Coalesce the right with the left where agreement can be reached on several of these issues:

  1. Rein in corporate elites, and drain the swamp of politicians in the pay of corporate elites.
  2. Allow freedom of education – religious, private school, grammar school, state school – but insist that a root curriculum of science, rational debate, art and citizenship is implemented in all schools – perhaps on specific days – and increase government spending on education while drastically reducing the cost of education to students.
  3. Refuse to engage in regime-change wars, which entails recognising that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, and ensure that no dual-nationality passport holder can stand for public office.
  4. Rid the media of partiality and lobby sponsorship, and expect the media to educate people into coming to terms with the difference between beliefs and values and histories, not omitting the difference between city and country values: no belief should be imposed on another.
  5. Accept Brexit as the will of the people, and therefore assert control over immigration and refugees, but still aim to retain the United Kingdom, while conceding as much ground as possible to countries within it which may wish to retain a strong relationship with the EU.
  6. Uphold the integrity of gender being biological.
  7. Promote freedom of speech and religious and sexual tolerance, even about issues which you do not endorse, but do not allow spurious gender politics and representationalism to overwhelm education and the job market.
  8. Grant whistle-blowers immunity from prosecution.
  9. Return to the gold standard or some constant value not linked to the petro-dollar and seek for some degree of sustainable self-sufficiency so as not to be over-dependent on international lines of supply.
  10. Introduce a level playing field for taxes, no one pays more or less than 50%.
  11. Implement a ring-fenced Welfare State that is genuinely eco-conscious but truly an adequate safety-net, while returning appropriate power to unions and adopting legislation independent of corporates in terms of health, safety and based on a sustainable ecology.
  12. Value the planet and accept there is an emergency due to extreme weather.

So here we have 12 possible planks. What if there were three salient planks right and left could agree on? If there were, then these are the planks on which we should campaign.

Please feel free to comment, listing the three planks you would choose.



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