Burning Slowly

A random tale of a random poet living a random life. (Many of the pictures are mine but my apologies to the owners of the ones that I have blatantly ripped off. If you are really unhappy about me using your images, email me and I will remove them. If not, thanks for the loan. Outcast Poet)

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

I write real poems, and play real music.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

520 Light-Years From Home

And lo, it came to pass, another year (or 2) slips by without me hardly noticing – ‘twas as it ever ‘twas. For a while there I thought that band would last for ever. How wrong was I! Musical similarities my arse! They fucking hated me. Still, what the fucked, I have moved on to bigger and better thing and much happier for it. Bands always split up, so they say. We did create a good body of work and it is sad that little of that got recorded and will be lost forever, but there were a few memorable gigs in the early days. Those chords will be rockin’ around the heavens for millenniums to come; the speed of sound being what it is (768 mph) it could be some time before any extraterrestrial living beyond Betelgeuse (Beetle-Juice) [Betelgeuse being 520 light-years or about 5,880,000,000,000 miles away from any of the pubs or clubs we ever played in] will hear it; pity. However demise of that short lived little shower hasn’t meant a decline in the playing of the old gob-iron (harmonica to those who are not in the know); I have been blowing with my good friend JT and accomplices, a stint or two with the DB Band (www.dbband.com), and I did a little gig-ette in Devon with Zak, the son of my old mate Simon – Zak, a shooting star in the making if ever there was one. It was the birthday of my other big buddy ‘The Wave’ in a field in Devon where we played. There were friends from my past that I haven’t seen for decades! As Bobby D said “All the friends I used to know are illusions to me now, some are mathematician, some are carpenters wives, dunno how long they studied, dunno what they did with there lives” An just like him I didn’t know either but after that reunion/get together I have a much better idea. Lots of children, moving, jobs, couples, marriages, divorces and a few eternal singletons; it was nice to see them again, and I am proud to have you amongst my friends guys if any of you ever read this. It was a heady time in the field there, emotional even. All too soon I was back in the grind with my day job sucking the life out of me again in the way that too many of them do. But love this sunshine!


Time crashes on as the coolness of spring simmers into summer and the last of Murphy’s winter coat falls out all over the house.Highs and lows, nowhere to hide, nowhere to go
Sweet River Thames meanders me through misty memories of days gone by and future yet to come
The swarming mayflies have had their day and ducklings have swam and had their playI’m just sitting here watching the river flow,all dressed down and no place to go
Iced white wine, blue skyline; wild deer and breeze all running free, and me, still trying to see the wood for the trees, weeds and reeds; so few bees; distant church bells ringing, so many birds singing, its such a beautiful day,
its such a beautiful day and I feel pity for the city, feel pity for the city, I feel pity for the city that I left behind.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hasta la victoria siempre

Aunt Sally never seems to disappear and somehow or another I have found myself the Flowing Well’s ‘B Team’ Captain! Our main achievement so far it to have reached the depths of the bottom team in the bottom league – there is nowhere lower to go! JD plays for us and has taken out several score boards, an assortment of body parts belonging to the opposing teams, and only narrowly missing several parked vehicles and numerous pub windows – ata boy! Still it gets us out and about on a Wednesday evening, even if it only to lose the beer leg and buy drinks for the other team. But what a slice of history we are preserving and keeping alive; without bold players like us, pushing back the frontiers of sporting greatness, showing the world how it is done, the game would die into obscurity instead of being the household name it is today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pity for the City

Time crashes on as the coolness of spring simmers into summer and the last of Murphy’s winter coat falls out all over the house. Highs and lows, nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. Sweet river Thames meanders me through misty memories of days gone by and future yet to come. The swarming mayflies have had their day and ducklings have swam and had their play. I’m just sitting here watching the river flow, all dressed down and no place to go. Iced white wine, blue skyline; wild deer and breeze all running free, and me, still trying to see the wood for the trees. Weeds and reeds; so few bees; distant church bells ringing, so many birds singing, its such a beautiful day, its such a beautiful day and I feel pity for the city, feel pity for the city, I feel pity for the city that I left behind.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

For Keef

This is getting to be a once a year blog! How slack is that? The reason for this latest posting is that I received a comment on the last one from someone, someone I don’t know, who actually liked my writing! ‘Write some more’ he said – and so here I am, at it again. It is impossible to catch up on all that has happened since the last posting, impossible and probably very boring. The band ‘oveRRated’ is going really well and we have done some great gigs. Apart from Special oveRRated has become the most important thing I do. I love that whole creative process of writing the lyrics and the music, then working on the arrangements. The finished product, when it works, is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I don’t mean that in monetary terms as we haven’t actually made any money out of any of out songs! We have been paid for a few gigs but I don’t think I should give up my day job – as much as I would love to!!!

I was working on the boat the other weekend, doing a bit of rubbing down and painting, when I got a text from Keef’s sister who I have never met: “I think you were a friend of Keefs” it said in part. I went cold. I knew it was bad news and it took me a couple of hours to get the courage to call her back. It was bad news. Keef had gone. End of Jan in a hospital near Chipping Norton. His body just gave out on him. His lifestyle had caught up. I have lost a very good, trusted friend, and the world has lost a very kind and generous man. Bless you Keef, you take it easy now man. Do you remember telling me that you wouldn’t make old bones? Do you remember that conversation we had that winter’s day cruising up the Oxford to Heyford? You’re a long time dead! That’s what we talked about; long time dead. I will miss you my friend.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Well, well, well, it has been a long time!

My life has changed and I am a new man! I am still with Special, the best woman I have ever met, And Murphy – the best dog I have ever known. The world maybe heading into recession but life is sweet!

The other most important thing that has happened to me is that I am now in a band! Rock and fucking roll!!! I will say no more than we write all our own material and have to be one of the coolest bands in the universe! We are called "oveRRated", Check us out:


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Murph and Me

And time passed without me hardly noticing……

Several months gone since the cold wet winter, the cheery new-family Christmas and the late winter snow. Several months of my new life: the one where I live happily with Special, probably the happiest I have ever been. The one where Special and I share wonderfully happy times, the one where I swim three times a week, play lots of golf, drive a high performance sports car, and go for long walks across the fields with Murphy the dog.

I have never really been what you would call a dog person, but with Murphy it’s different. We have bonded. Nearly every evening (except on Wednesdays) we go for walks across the stubble fields, through the little wood, over the five bar gates and across the vast green swathes of tall wild grasses that now fill the other fields on our route. Murphy never goes very far away from me, in part because of the pocket full of dog biscuits I always carry with me on our walks, and maybe because he is, at 14 months old, still a puppy at heart and a bit timid of the wild. He does get braver and ventures further when he catches a scent of another beastie; a deer, a rabbit, a fox, but soon bounds back to me. That is if it isn’t another dog. I have seen him completely traverse the biggest of the green fields in seconds to reach a distant dog and owner. He looks fabulous leaping through the long wild grasses, disappearing and reappearing, muscles rippling. Chocolate brown against natural green, grey skies, blues skies, wet grass, dry grass, long grass short grass, hot days, cold days, soft and muddy, hard and dusty, Murph and me have done them all, many times.

In the beginning when we used to climb the first hill up to the small wood, my heart would beat fast and I would get short of breath. But now, thanks to Murphy, I can take that hill in my stride; hardly a pant and with just a few extra beats. As kestrels hover and red kites glide above us, we tread and jump our way across the land looking out over field off white, fields of dry brown, fields of new green, and fields of yellow, as the season changes from winter through spring and towards summer. Murphy offers me unconditional love; mostly in the name of dog-biscuits but there is some doggy-tenderness in there as well. And it is a two way street; me and my man’s best friend, down to earth and back to nature.

We walk, Murphy plays and I sing him the occasional song – his favourite one that I made up to the tune of a Jack Johnson number which goes:

Murphy is a big dog
Always been a good dog
Murphy, Murphy, Murphy the Dog

Murphy always is a good dog…..
Does what he should dog
Murphy, Murphy, Murphy the Dog

Another made up to another Jack Johnson tune goes:

I got dog biscuits in my pocket
I got a canine friend
Murphy is a pretty dog
And we’ll get there in the end

I got wellies on my feet now
It’s tipping down again
Me and Murphy keep on walking
And we’ll get there in the end

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


One long hot lonely night early last year, as I lay restlessly on my boat trying to get some sleep, I sent a text message to my good friend and nephew, Dum Dum; It said:

“Spring has sprung”

For once my Vodafone service actually had a signal on the cut and I not only managed to send the message but also got his reply; which was:

“Jing has Jung”

And we took it from there. What emerged by the early hours of the morning was the following Zen-like story, the sum of all our texts.

The tale of a hardly-ordinary-at-all man

Written with text messages
Dum Dum & Outcast Poet
© April 2006, Oxford & London

Spring has sprung. Jing has Jung.

The smell of curry lingered on a spring evening breeze; as usual, Radio Four was the soundtrack. Roger entered the beige sitting room wondering which chair to sit on. His cords made a soft rubbing sound as he traversed the impeccably fitted carpet. The sweet singing canary sent him back to Patagonia 1953. Or was it ’54? No, he remembered listening to the Queens coronation on the small short wave radio his father had shipped out with them. But whilst trying to get a better reception was bitten by a spider monkey. Ever since that day he had worn cords. And Dunn & Co moleskins for special occasions.

He seated himself at the far end of a three seater settee next to the well watered aspidistra. Unusually florid for this time of year, his thoughts strayed back to the Belgium Congo. The face of Monsieur le Khyber filled his mind, a small shifty man notorious in the Congo, “Khyber de Muerte” he was know as. Roger could still see his face; at night, the nightmares never relented. The sundial pointed east! It was the sum of all those years of horror that had led him to this beige room. There
was no going back now! Locked in this eternal debacle he had five fingers of sherry instead of his usual three. He slipped the small flask back into his jacket pocket as a door opened on the far side of the room. Margaret entered and suggested an afternoon fly-fishing. “What did she really want?” he thought, and how did she know he had his fly collection with him at all times. Another habit he had picked up from his days in the Congo.

The imaginary herd of gnus charged as he hurled himself through the bay window. As the shattered glass ripped his cords the realisation came to him: after all these years he now knew, Margaret was in fact a herd of Gnus! And smelt like one! Dr Rocco de Montfort helped Roger to the couch. He explained: Voodoo in the Congo had been rife in 52-54, the monkey spider was no accident. Khyber! That asshole was behind it all! The radio, Margaret, Tin Tin! The slim line Berretta Roger had always carried was loaded; Khyber would die again! The pain from the fishing flies that had stuck in his leg when he jumped through the window was excruciating. His gun still hot he fired again, and again. Not a gnu was left standing. Now for Khyber!

Khyber was a sickly little man. In the daylight Roger stuck the barrel of the Beretta in Khyber's ear: “This is for my father, Tin Tin, and for what you did to Margaret” he screamed as he pulled the trigger one last time. Kyhber's skull exploded into a thousand fragments, each one ready to return as nightmares, dragging Roger back to the Congo.

The room, no longer beige, dripped with the blood from Khyber’s skull and the strewn carcasses of gnus that has once been Margaret. And all became Oriental in Roger's Continental world. He headed off in the direction of the sundial, due east. It was over; he could wear anything he wanted now. A shaft of sunlight shot through a hole in his sampan. It had been a long bank holiday Monday. Mandalay beckoned; he was going home, time for the rest of that sweet sherry!

Monsoon rains; a restless soul finds sanctuary, the smell of curry lingered on the spring evening breeze; as usual radio four was the soundtrack. Tomorrow was another day.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grinding My Teeth

The tooth I broke in half on New Years Eve has exposed me to the murky money-driven underbelly of the dental world and I am not very impressed with what I have seen. After getting a temporary fix from the emergency NHS dentist for £15.50, I registered, on their recommendation, with what seems to be the only NHS dentist in Oxfordshire that is taking on new patients. The outfit is in Kidlington but I will name no names. The surly receptionist took my details, logged them on a computer and told me to call back in a week’s time to make an appointment. Two weeks later I was sitting in the chair! A woman with her fair hair tightly plaited and tied round the back of her head spoke to me in an eastern European accent. She was of a stocky build and stocky character; she looked like she could have been a ‘dentist for the SS in a black and white WW2 movie. Her assistant kept a low profile, logging my fillings as she called them out. I had explained about the temporary filling in the broken tooth and said that was the main reason why I was there, and that also I would like to get my gnashers cleaned and polished.

“Ve vill need to x-ray your teeth” she said expressionlessly “See if zere is any root canal verk to be done”

I half expected her eyes to light up when she mentioned ‘root canal verk’ but they didn’t. She stuck an uncomfortable piece of film, clipped onto a frame, between my gums and the inside of my cheek, and then they both shot outside while the x-ray camera fired its rays. How harmful is that stuff? She returned and told me how teeth cleaning was no longer available on the NHS: “Zey no longer pay for it”. I was going to have to make a private appointment with the hygienist. The broken tooth was the most disturbing:

“First ve vill check for root. Zen if ze root is OK ve can cap ze tooth. Zere are two options available for you. One is ze NHS tooth but zis vill be ugly silver and ve vill need to grind down half your tooth, £200. Ze other is only available private, it vill be white, and ve vill not have to do any grrrrinding, £375” She rolled the ‘r’s on the word ‘grinding’.

Apart form the money, it was a no brainer. “I’ll have the private one” I replied almost immediately, “definitely no grrrrinding?”

“If root is good ve vill fix tooth without grrrinding” She rolled them again. “You make appointment for fitting and appointment with hygienist for ze cleaning”

I signed the NHS attendance slip, I presume this was so they could get their massive subsidy from the government, and was back in front of the surly receptionist. Next appointment for the dentist was in two weeks and next available hygienist appointment was the next day or 9 months later! I booked the next day, Saturday, in the hope that I could get someone to cover my shift in the pub, and took the dentist booking for two weeks time.

The hygienist was Irish. She picked, scraped and polished away at my bottom set of teeth, asking me questions that I was not able to answer with a mouth full of dental hygiene equipment. After 15 minutes she told me that my allocated appointment time was up and I would need to make another visit to get the top set cleaned. Back at the desk the surly receptionist told me that it was £37 for today and next available appointment was in October, 9 months time! I protested that only half the work had been done and eventually she booked me in for the following Saturday; which would be another £37. So, to get my teeth cleaned it had cost me £74 and loss of earnings from work. And I don’t even think it was a good job!

The weeks passed and I was back in the chair with the dentist:

“And vy are you here today?” She said sounding puzzled and opening up my file on the computer.

“You are the dentist that asked me to make an appointment; I was hoping you could tell me”

She frantically flicked through lots of brightly coloured computer screens trying to find out why I was there. I decided to help her out and recapped:

“I broke a tooth on New Year’s Eve, had a temporary filling from the emergency dentists, registered with you to get it sorted, and last visit you took some x-rays so you could check ’ze root’, and I agreed on a private £375 job that definitely required no ‘grrrinding’”

“You say ve x-ray? How many x-ray ve do?”

“I don’t know” I replied “This is not the most relaxing environment to be in and I wasn’t counting. I thought you would have a record of how many you took.”

“I vill get ze x-rays” She left the room for several minutes and returned with a pile of long white envelopes.

“Ah, so many patients ve have, too many” she said almost to herself. “zer are none of yours here, I can not find zem”

She left again and returned with her low-profile assistant, who looked like he was doing a time share with the other dentists at the practice. About 10 or 15 minutes later she produces two little squares of film showing the x-ray images of someone’s teeth; by this time I wasn’t convinced they were even mine.

“Did you get ze quotation that vas posted to you” She asked.

“No” I said “we agreed the £375 and no grinding at my last visit”

“You did not get ze quotations?”

“NO!” I was desperately trying not to sound too aggressive. I was after all lying on my back in a chair, surrounded by implements of extreme torture.

“I vill print it off for you to collect on your vay out. Make two appointments for fitting”

Was that it? The assistant was thrusting a blue NHS slip in front of me to sign.

“What is that you are asking me to sign” I asked.

“It is a standard form zat you must sign so NHS give us our money” I am sure I heard a faint click of heels smacking together as I left the room.

Back at the desk I asked for my printed quote which arrived to say I had to pay £449. I queried it, telling the surly receptionist that I had already paid for the hygienist work. It was another 20 minutes before the issue was resolved. It should have been £375. Ok that was better.

“The dentist asked me to make two appointments with you for fitting the tooth” I told the surly receptionist.

“First you pay us £375” she said “no work can be done without payment first”

“I don’t have the means on me to pay that at the moment, I just want to make the appointments and I will call in tomorrow with the money” I didn’t go into any reasons like I had left my wallet at home, etc.

“First you pay us £375” she repeated “no work can be done without payment first”

“But I am not asking for any work to be done before I pay, I just want to make the appointments” I protested.

“We can’t make you any appointment without payment first” she said in the surliest way she could.

“Then its time for me to find another dentist.”

“I’m sorry?” she questioned, as if you couldn’t believe her ears. I could see her mind working ‘how could he possibly think of going somewhere else, who does he think he is?’

My mind was thinking: ‘I really have had it with these cowboys; surely there must be
any number of private dentists that would cap a tooth for £375?’

I didn’t give the receptionist a chance to react of say any more, I just turned and left.

There must be other private dentists that will cap a tooth for £375, mustn’t there?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Saddest Day of The Year

It’s the tail end of January 2007 and the weather has just turned cold for almost the first time this winter. Lots have happened in the past two months. For me, however, things have plodded along in their usual random way – except they haven’t been so random lately. Some strange regularity has crept into my existential world. Lately my life seems to have consisted of: doing: the part time day-job in the office that time forgot; working the night shift behind the bar in the Half Moon; poetry and blues at Mangos; and Sparky’s Flying Circus every Thursday night at Joe Ryan’s Half Moon! Not to mention three swimming sessions a week at Westminster College Pool and the odd evening at Binsey driving range. And despite all the expected excesses of the festive period, which saw Santa bringing me a bread maker, I still managed to lose nearly 4lb! I am working on my diet video as we speak. “Losing it with the Outcast Poet” – ‘A step by step guide to eating and drinking yourself thin’.

I did a gig with the Pete fryer Band last Friday at the Magdeline Arms in the Iffley Road. It went surprisingly well even though, for some reason best left to medical experts, I was having some problem finding my breath! I was supposed to play with them at the same venue on New Years Eve; I did attempt to play on one number but due to a combination of foreseeable and unforeseeable events, I left immediately after – no more did I play that night. Foreseeable: The band didn’t call me up until 1am, 1st January 2007, by which time I was bollocksed! Lager is a young man’s drink, larger is a young man’s drink, lager is a young man’s drink! Why do I keep forgetting that basic rule? Unforeseeable: earlier that day I visited the boat people at the rock and whilst munching on a packet of dry roasted, I managed to break a front tooth in half. It was difficult to play with the cold New Years Night air being sucked over the exposed nerve. If it hadn’t have been for the aesthetic effects of the draft San Miguel I would never have even been on stage for the short time that I was. And I had a cab waiting!

No New Year resolutions did I foolishly make and, therefore, none have been broken. The tooth got patched up by an emergency dentist and is getting further treatment at the end of the week. I haven’t seen what’s left of my family for months, and my friends all seem to be having relationship breakdowns. Yesterday, so the ‘scientist’ quoted in the ‘newspaper’ The Daily Mail, that I happened to catch a glance of, said that yesterday was the saddest day of the year: post Christmas blues; too much time spent in each other’s company; the first of the big bills for the credit card shopping rolling in; the length time ahead before the next holiday, were all cited as contributory reasons. I think they may be on to something; yesterday was not one of the best I have had, by any means!