mildly musical

Yesterday the sunshine was silver over the River Severn; today it was rather more rose and gold. It’s Sunday and it’s been a very quiet day, but the sunset had me thinking of music.

Certainly those cables across the sky remind me of a musical score – presumably ruled out ready for the music of the spheres; they’re just missing the birds sitting on them to mark the notes.
Continue reading “mildly musical”


Blue-toned photo of ginger cat looking through iron railings

Today I’m posting another old poem, this time prompted by a cat – triste y azul** – who seemed to think he was in a cage:


How can I write,
caged in by walls,
smothered by cushions
and draped curtains?
Even my balcony is barred
like a prison cell.
Continue reading “caged”

snow warnings

weather warning colours

It’s a long time since I was resident in the UK and there are things that catch my attention although I’m sure most people take them for granted. I giggled childishly, for example, at last night’s weather forecast, when they announced a “yellow snow warning”.

I thought Frank Zappa warned us about that decades ago.

a wee warning

No pisar la arena. No tocar la escultura

I went to a modern art exhibition last week and was much taken with this sign that was placed underneath one of the sculptures, a strange mixed-media contraption standing on sand.

In the same way, the first time I went to the Retiro in Madrid and saw the signs saying No pisar el cesped I did a double take. I imagined there were probably public toilets in Spanish parks, so why did they think I’d be tempted to go on the grass? It would have made more sense if it had said “don’t let your dog piss (or otherwise) on the grass”, but that seemed not to bother them in the least.
Continue reading “a wee warning”

new every reading

Some years ago, I spent a very pleasant morning in a bar in Madrid talking to Joan Margarit, the Catalán poet. There are two particular images he used in the conversation that I remember. (Note that it was some eight years ago, we were speaking in Spanish, and I no longer have the notes I made at the time. So, the following is my take on what he said rather than direct quotation.)

Joan described poetry as being like a musical score that the poet writes; and he described the reader as the musician who then “interprets” the piece. Continue reading “new every reading”


The BBC article I quoted in my previous post started by saying, ‘Fans of The Ramones will know “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!”. This reminds me of a conversation on the plane on my last UK trip.


I was sat next to a couple of young lads (well, relatively young) and it turned out it was the first time one of them had been on a plane. The other one just went to sleep, but the guy next to me and I had a wide-ranging conversation in which we swapped edited highlights of our life histories. At least it seemed to keep his mind off the flight.
Continue reading “coincidentally”

veranos de la villa

Madrid steps back in time
Madrid steps back in time
Reading the list of concerts planned for Madrid’s Veranos de la Villa (Summer in the City) celebrations this year is like stepping back in time.

I’m not that surprised by names like Burt Bacharach and Jerry Lee Lewis: I sort of expect those guys to go on for ever. But George Benson, Kool and the Gang, Jeff Beck, James Taylor…

In August, I’ll be attending the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick. There’s a ‘Retro Revival’ disco planned for the Tuesday night, and I’m pretty sure the music will overlap with what’s on in Madrid this summer.

Incidentally, for the Spanish readers among you, this ‘noticia’ about the Veranos logo might be amusing. (If your Spanish isn’t quite up to scratch, remember: don’t believe everything you read on the web.)