We kicked off our shoes
Atop plastic roofs
Long since given up on an actual seat
We waited out the queues
In a hazy Saturday snooze
Steel drums a background acoustic beat.

Keeping the festival spirit alive
Small acts, pumping blood through the veins of small lives.
Embers of the week gone by resting in pieces
The Town Hall towers above;
Old Able competes,
But the sound of beer heads chatting
Is one that can’t be drowned out
As they drown their sorrows
Or maybe just give in to joy.

Mad magpie rhyming seems at a loss
Nothing is black and white anymore.

Burlesque piano, escalates the mood
And Pimm’s in hand, the dancers get lewd
Still not an empty deckchair in sight.

Spectate to participate:
Surely feeling contrite
The hangover loosens your grip on proceedings
As if you’ve always been here.
Something subtly addictive
Has four sides and pulls you in;
A square full of nostalgia
And daytime drinking that makes your head spin.


From an Eastern world of sorts
A room of judgements came apart
Surrounded us:
An Angelic fuzz,
A sharp-eyed youth backlit
At the windows

Burning a halo of naïveté
On to the faces of the crowd
All come on a Sunday
To avoid church
Yet suddenly immersed in this choral chamber
A room of contradictory spiritual worth.

I saw a young woman weeping
Amidst Germanic chords
And walls adorned with abstractions of horror
Re-realised concentration camps,
Come together in a poisoned union
Of church and state.
Inevitably breeding silent tension.

Singing stopped, as suddenly as it arrived
No Von Trap family Auf Wiedersehen
Though outside in the sun later
I heard it echo again
Through the walls
Through my mind

Flocking agnostic crowds a steady stream
What had they hoped to find?


She brought wellies to the ballet
And they were soon put to good use,
For as the crowd dispersed
Water flooded the roads
And salted the earth.

Wielding suns indoors
Remained that way
The dancing colours of memory
Was the only brightness to stay.

I span in circles
Craned my neck to view
Every impossible movement
Each unbearable sinew.

Light cascaded too brilliant not to mention
I evaded the tension
You’d missed the light show anyway
Just another thing I couldn’t share.

With emergency lighting off
There was nothing to distract
From the blackness prevailing
Alone with all my own thoughts again.

Skin prickling with intensity
Stern shushes from the row behind
As some one breaks the spell, uses their phone.

She brought wellies to the ballet
Enter in summer
Exit in Manchester
I failed to crack the tree of codes
Instead I let it grow.


What have you done with Alice?
She’s trapped behind a screen
Colour’s drowned out
As your battery dies
No one can hear her screaming.

A modern age dilemma
Is no concern of mine
The white rabbit chases hands around a face
Yet has no sense of time.

Up in smoke goes the caterpillar
Much like these half-baked ideas
Stodge that pleases no one at the tea party
Just curls around them
A crummy little tease.

I was forced into a level playing field
While trying to turn the page
A childish riddle and inky quill
Massacred at the hands of the digital age

Parental scorn and pre-teen angst
“Eat Me”, “Drink Me” out of ease
What happened to seven-year-old innocence?
Carroll’s poetics replaced with theatrical sleaze.

Blurred reproductions don’t quite cut it,
Despite the Cheshire’s sublime grin
He urges me to play along
I’m sorry I just can’t join in.

Curiouser and curiouser –
Until the cat is killed
As is the literature
Curiouser and curiouser

Until the Queen of Hearts is broken
Well-read and back in school
Alice is now a political slogan
Not a beautiful little fool.


Daphne – a girl’s name I’ve only come across in books
Warmed up the closely knit crowd
In a surreal trio of skits.

We’d seen highlights of his on the telly
And thought his food for thought had fallen on full bellies
Not causing them to wince in stitches of laughter
Instead just to push the plate away.
However, wrong we were proved
With astute observations
Pilsner socialistic rambles
That pleasantly boggled the brain
He had a steady down beat tempo
That suit Manchester like the rain.

A small, folksy man
Acoustic akimbo
Battled the front row
In a relaxed patter, refreshingly mild
Short and sweet lyrical interludes
That stole the blind’s guide dogs
Giving a merry wry tune
That strung the laughers along
Like kids following
The pied piper of Hamlet.

A beer-stained mirage in a second-hand suit
Producing playing cards;
Adorned with poems – at once sublime and weird.
The kind of character you might avoid sitting beside on the bus
He gave a bitter, tinny-fuelled view
That surprised me as it endeared.

A blonde whippet
Came in with celebrity gossip
All South West London
Campness and
Preposterously confident.
Claims of Jury Duty
And gang warfare
He had walk-outs and a long
Flirtation that made my toes curl.
As the front row stole the show.

Turns out Daphne was the only girl on the schedule
And she comprised three more blokes in this boys show
Singing to start a northern knees-up
And falling on generously greased up ears
Who pretended not to understand the southern twang
Let the show ring out with a chime of optimism
Not a cynical bang.