Wild Words Festival 2022

So Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June is the Wild Words Festival in Cuffley, Hertforshire. I am on stage Friday at 4:30pm and I must say I am really looking forward to it.

I have been sifting through my children’s poems to find daft ones, silly ones, disgusting ones to share to warm the audience up before we get onto the serious business of wishes.

Wishes are so important to stories. Without them many things would not happen. Events would not take place and characters would not be motivated to do something. Of course, the problem with making a wish is that usually something goes wrong as Billy found out Wishbone Billy.

If you can make the festival, do say high and do let me know what you thought of my books if you bought them. I always love to find out from children what they think. If you can’t make the Wish Wonder you will probably find me hanging out in the festival’s bookshop buying more books when I really shouldn’t. I have so many to read already!

Anyway, whatever you are doing over the weekend don’t forget to take time to find a quiet space and make a wish. Maybe just a small one. You never know who might be listening.

Poem: Utopia City

I will build in my city

green spires circling trees and grass
swallows nesting in the rooftops
fruit trees hanging from window baskets

I will build in my city

parks with hidden tunnels to secret places
cat cafes to sip tea and share a biscuit
floating platforms to dive from into the bluest water

I will build in my city

plastic free markets where food is free
warm beds to rest in spacious rooms
health care for all from birth to grave

I will build in my city

acceptance, tolerance and love
the friendly greetings of strangers
the kindly helping hands of neighbours

I will build in my city

me.

This came about because I have been thinking of my children and what will become of them in the future. I feel children have the power to make real change to the world. As you grow older, you can get stuck in your ways, and lose vision. Children are full of imagination and hope for the future.

POEM: Bookshop

Quiet are the shelves
Time to let the words whisper.
Tomorrow they will be noisy.
Shouting stories at customers.
Protesting: buy me!
Medusa will leave you as a stone.
Transfixed before the shelves.
If only you had brought a shield.
But then, it is a bookshop.

This poem came about because I was in my favourite bookshop waiting for the end of day. It made me think of how quiet a bookshop must be at night and how each page of the books had a story to tell and wanted our attention.

Moment 57

Almost night. The light dims. The time when the big ones sleep. It is your time. Time to rise and stretch. Take a bite. A drink. To explore. A garden of possibilities.
Not star dark yet.
You sniff the air. Feel the night breeze on your face. Stroking you. A distant sound. Dog calling. Too distant for trouble. A jump. A gymnast on a bar. You dance along. Instinct.
Then sit.
This will be the last time. You feel it. In your paws. In your bones. The coming of the end. No more to watch the flight of falling stars. No more to search among the ground for the exciting. You think back to the loves. The wars. They are gone now. Only you remain.
Silver at your ears. Watching the days. But this the last. No more.
The end of nine.

This came about thinking of a twilight memory. It struck me it would be more interesting if it wasn’t a human but an animal thinking of their life. I chose second person as I wanted to put the reader into the body of the animal. To become the animal. To make them closer to the animal. To increase empathy. I think it works.

More about Elves

He was always a bad acorn.

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A BAD ACORN

  In a land far away, in a very cold place, a place colder than your fridge, far colder than eating six ice-creams in snow or even colder still than sticking your tongue to an icy pole on winter’s day, is the Surprising Forest.

  In the Surprising Forest is tall oak tree after oak tree after oak tree after…you get the idea. And every Autumn the acorns fall to the ground to be picked up and stored by the Little Fluff Squirrels. Now, when Winter comes, the Little Fluff Squirrels hid away from the cold to protect their little toesies and spend their time snoring their heads off.

  And when spring comes, those same Little Fluff Squirrels finally get out of bed and go get something to eat. The Little Fluff Squirrels usually find most of the acorns they have stored away in their hidey places and goggle them up. The lazy, greedy pigs! But some acorns, just a few of the special emerald green acorns are forgotten. There they lie, waiting for the first full moon of Spring. And when it arrives, reflecting its majikal light onto the forest floor, little elves hatch out of the acorns like ugly chicks from eggs. But here’s the strangest thing: every single one of them is fully grown; a little man, with long beards and everything. This is true. I swear to you, no lie.

  But when the Bad Elf was born things were different. When his acorn fell, no Little Fluff Squirrels wanted to touch it – they hid from it! It lay there, in its bleak place, alone. Not a wonderful, emerald green colour but a dark, dark black. A black so dark that if you peered at it, you would feel like you were falling, down, down, down forever.

  So there it lay. Untouched. Waiting.

  Waiting for the moon to shine. And when it did shine, the acorn cracked open like knuckles and a dreadful smell oozed out of it, across the forest floor, turning any fallen leaves to dust and the forest to silence.

  Out rose the Bad Elf, a fully grown little man, with a long beard and eyes of flame. This was the beginning of Bob.

Book Birthday

I’m pleased to announce the launch of BAD ELF. This is now available from Amazon for £5.99.

About the book: A fantastical journey with elves, bears, some well-known fairy tale characters, and Father Christmas!

Most elves are happy, kind and love working for Santa making Christmas toys for good little girls and good little boys.
But not Bob.
He’s bad with a capital B-A-D.
And he is fed up. He is fed up with reindeers and making toys for that stupid red-clothed idiot. So he runs away.

Join Bob on his search to find a new job away from the North Pole in a world full of wacky, eccentric characters that will have you laughing out loud.

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1739868501/

POEM: Grandma is a fossil

My grandma is a fossil
Or so I have been told
She lies upon her bed
With teeth mainly gold

She doesn’t move much
But lies gathering dust
As still as a great stone
With a lip of tea crust

Gonna be a scientist
Get a spade and dig her up
With a brush I’ll be careful
To push away the muck

My great fossil grandma
Would get me on the news
People would line up outside
Standing in their twos

This poem came about as I needed a poem about fossils. I remembered the phrase ‘Grandma is an old fossil’ so it got me thinking about how old people are similar to fossils and what could happen if you treated them as one. I composed this one in my heard driving home.

POEM: Darksiders

Moon above
Sellotaped wings
Plastic fangs
Night kings
Little witches
In a line
Waiting for the clock
To chime
Bobbing apples
In a bowl
A sweet treat
Is your goal
Pumpkins with
Toothy grins
Light the path
Of the twins
Black cats
Furry spiders
Tickle the faces
Of the darksiders

This poem was inspired by the annual Hallowe’en celebrations in my road. Watching my children and neighbour’s kids get dressed up in homemade costumes to go Trick Or Treating. One of my favourite times of year, ushering in Autumn and dark nights.

Moment XII

Last night I ate sea urchin. It tasted of the ocean. The body soaked with the tears of whales crying for the loss of their children. The warm fur of a white seal pup before it meets its end at the hand of cruelty. The plastic embrace of a shopping bag around the throat of an arctic tern. It cried for its fish brothers that nevermore would dart between its feelers searching for food. It whispered to me of lost porpoises trapped in nets raping the sea. It told of sharks too fearful to leave the sunken ships of death’s folly. I heard the boasts of old sailors swapping trinkets for lives. I stopped a moment and put the chopsticks down. Then ordered another item from the menu. One without the bitter taste.

This came about after going to a restaurant and trying sea urchin for the first time. It got me thinking about how we abuse the sea, the plastics and rubbish littered there, and the depletion of fish numbers as well as other mammals.