The Lion of Essex

This is definitely more of a quiet purr, than a silent rant….But, as everywhere I look the Lion of Essex is being discussed — if not actually sighted! — I thought I’d add a kitty ditty of my own.  If truth be known, it’s just an excuse to post another cute picture of my cat — the Duke of Putney 🙂 Well, tis the silly season…


Did you see a puddy cat?

Creeping up on ye?

You did,

You saw a puddy cat?

At Clacton-On-Sea?


Did it roar?

Have mighty jaw?

And set about a mouse?

Best shut the windows, bolt the doors!

Hide inside the house


Ah, the monster we hear

No longer to fear

Tis a common-or-garden cat

But when he roars

Just mind those claws

He’s a Lion for all of that!

For more kitty antics see:

And for those wishing a more mature and human read, my collection of short stories is available free on Amazon until 30 August.

And, now to sit back, and watch our paralympic athletes do all the work…. 🙂





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Julian, Julian

This morning The Times columnist Matthew Parris described the Julian Assange story as God’s gift to journalists in the summer silly season.  And the Wikileak founder’s ‘sojourn’ in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London is a tremendously silly situation that — as they say in the business — you couldn’t make up.  Will our intrepid ‘framed’ crusader make a cunning escape to the land of his benefactors?  And once there will he wiki-leak all their secrets about Human Rights abuses?  Or will he finally board that Scandinvian Airlines plane and face down his accusers?  We wait with bated breath…at least until the start of the Paralympics…… 🙂


Julian, Julian

Wherefore art thou going


They seek you here

They seek you there

In Swedish Courts

In The CIA’s ‘Lair’

Once upon a time

You were everywhere

Wiki-leaking away

Without a care

Now you’re quite demure

Just a ghost of a smile

On a London balcony

Risen above the crazed cacophony

An amusing turn

Before the paralymics

A stand-off to delight the press

Odds on a bizarre exit to impress

Oh Julian, Julian

Come down from on high

Wikileak your plans, as in olden times

Face your accusers– defend those ‘crimes’

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Russian Revolution


Haven’t the despots of Russia learnt anything over the years?   Have they not gotten around to employing an army of PR consultants to bolster their military might like the western world?  It would seem not….Vladi Putin still thinks it’s enough to saddle up, bare his chest and imprison all dissenters.  Well he has attracted a few more over the past week with the banging up of the Pussy Riot protesters.  When Paul McCartney joins the protest it can only be a matter of time before Bono dons a balaclava.  Madonna has already beaten them to it and, predictably, got told to “butt out” by the Russian rulers.

Well my balaclava is in the wash….so please accept this protest poem, referencing the nursery rhyme written for “Good Queen Bess” in 16th Century Tudor England.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Where have you been?

I’ve been to the Kremlin

To see Putin


Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

What did you see?

A towering ego

Rank hypocrisy


Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

What did you there?

I frightened the little mouse

Under his chair


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Olympic Dreams and Nightmares


I wrote this poem just hours before the start of the Olympics.  It came to me in a flash while doing a spot of exercise – highly appropriate.  And now, as we approach the end of the first week, I realize just how appropriate the words are too.  Like many others I’ve watched in horror and desperation as one by one – mentioning no names – athletes have made those little slip-ups that they will regret for the rest of their lives.   And, even as Wiggie was coming down the home straight through Kingston yesterday I was silently praying that he wouldn’t have a meltdown and crash into John Lewis on the bend of the High Street.  When you think about it, with all the elite competition and obstacles to success – not least the mental ones – it’s pretty amazing when they do actually win!

To put the idea into a more general context: is it better to be a struggling unpublished author – talented, under-appreciated and putting in the hours but allowed to hope for years (decades even) that one day your time will come, then have four years’ work dashed in an instant?  I think I know what camp I belong in! I wouldn’t have the nerves or heart for competitive sport.  Let the dream live on, I say, if only in the imagination and on Amazon….


What it must be
To be a winner
Talent and hard work
That actually add up
To deliver that
Golden cup

What it must feel
To achieve an ambition
A bit of luck
Wind blowing the right way
All going right
On the day

What satisfaction
To hit the mark
Realise a dream
Breathe a sigh of relief
Not stagger from
A kick in the teeth

What memories to cherish
Aloft laurels so high
No what-if regrets
No bitter taste
Just triumph for
A challenge faced


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Money for nothing, get your tits for free

Sorry about the rather vulgar title – but my subject is a rather money-grabbing sordid one. Yesterday BBC Breakfast did a piece on the poor unfortunate ladies that now need to have their breast implants replaced, and who want you and me (if you happen to be a tax payer) to “support” them….ahem. Now the BBC is very good at picking our poor misfortunates — but this time it excelled itself. The woman featured — barely more than 24 (but, you never know, she may have had some work done) was claiming the right for free surgery and replacements. Her rationale was she needed new boobs because the other ones had gone all misshapen through ‘years of breast-feeding’. She spoke these words through coral glossed lips, in figure hugging clothes, suggesting a size-8 figure, but with fully extended and perky breasts…Her two small children, both surely under five, looked adorable in her spotless kitchen. She could have been in a Magnet commercial. But no, she just wanted to draw money out of the public purse. I’d laugh, but I’m worried about the wrinkles and whether her case will, or will not, allow me to get a face lift on the NHS!

I suggest, if she is not entirely successful in her campaign for pneumatic boobs for so long as she lives, that she sets up a little jar in her bedroom. Any lucky people that manage to “get close” to this dear lady, should be encouraged to make a donation for “wear and tear”, to ensure her sustainable sexual allure…

—-Talking of not wishing to laugh, I could have cried when I read in The Times this morning that the comedian Jimmy Carr is managing to get away with paying around 1% in tax, through using tax avoidance schemes! It stings even more when I think I recently paid a hefty sum to the Inland Revenue — and had to jump through hoops to actually pay it. The tax was on the sale of a company — a sum which a junior banker would find derisory if paid as a bonus — but, all the same, qualified for a wedge of corporate tax. Having been alerted to the payment by my accountant when I was in Brussels — and having failed to pay it there (I didn’t have the necessary ID with me, as I was queried by the call centre assistant in the loo of a conference centre) — I made a point of calling the bank on my return the next day. Eventually, having gone through all the procedures, the Irish lady on the other end of the phone said the money could finally be sent to IR by CHAPS. I sighed and said, “I never thought I’d have so much trouble paying something I really didn’t want (or could really afford) to pay. I could hear her smiling at the other end of the phone in Dublin: “Why don’t you just squirrel it away,” she advised! Now that made me laugh more than any Jimmy Carr joke. So I pressed send. My bank balance will be poorer — but my soul? And. at least, the law won’t be able to squirrel me away in prison for tax avoidance…

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Gay Times

I love the gym.  This morning not only did it allow me a guilt free cappuccino and pain aux raison, but it gave me some fodder for my 5 minute silent rant.  Captive on the treadmill I caught an item on gay marriage – a welcome change from the Leveson Inquiry (see previous rant).  The Church of England is opposing the government’s plans to upgrade same sex civil  partnerships to marriage contracts.  For God’s sake why?  Well, apparently, they are in favour of the marriages in principle, but are fretting about an escalation of gay couples’ rights if they decide they want to recite their vows in church and take their grievances to the Almighty Gospel in Brussels – commonly called the European Court of Human Rights.  Well, as Jesus might have said, they should cross that bridge when they come to it.  And why, indeed, shouldn’t they welcome gay marriages in Church?  Aren’t we all God’s children?  But I’ll leave that argument for another day.  My point is, gay people should be given the right, like heterosexuals, to a life-long union of bliss or bickering if they so wish.   There is much to be said for growing old in a family environment.  It’s not that you actually let yourself go when you get “comfy” with a partner…but you know what I mean.

Quite recently I read an item in the press about a prominent US champion of gay rights who killed himself.  I do not purport to know the reasons why, but one suggestion was the pressure to age well and the cult of youth in the gay community.  It can be tough at the best of times for women to look good as the years pass, but gay men have additional pressures and usually not the compensations of an aging spouse at home and children and grandchildren.

Just before the Jubilee one of my oldest and dearest friends said he was visiting from Holland and would our street party accommodate an “aging homo”?  Of course!  It was all good fun and he camped up a storm to compete with the weather.  The reason my friend lives in Amsterdam is because, as a young man, it was a place that welcomed gay people. Times have changed for the better and, for most people in the West, being gay is no longer a stigma.  Now’s the time to let them enjoy the companionship of marriage too.

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Leveson, Devilson

This is not a poem. Nor is it fiction. You just couldn’t make it up. It’s a rant, pure and simple, about the seemingly endless and pointless Leveson Inquiry. I try to avoid it as best I can. However, today, as I attempted to run off the pounds at the gym, the rather smug inquisitor was at it again, boring into another politician about his “relationship” with the press. As my headphones had gone missing, I couldn’t hear a word of Gordon Brown’s pursed lipped replies. I didn’t need too, though. Every single person paraded in front of the inquisitor and the cameras is word perfect in their defence. If only someone would fluff their lines and fess up properly. But, in the main, they are professionals — like the lawyers quizzing them, except they will only receive publicity, not fat fees, for their trouble.

Call me a cynic — well I am a journalist, after all — but what will be achieved at the end of this lengthy expensive charade? Confirmation that all politicians and journalists “get too thick” in pursuit of their own agendas? A pajama party for Sarah Brown and a tantrum for Gordon when Rupert found a new best friend? A horsey ride for David (LOL), daddy bonding for Jeremy and a god daughter for Tony…

Of course people overstep the mark, and need to be reprimanded, but forging close relationships between the press and the powers-that-be, was always thus. Read Balzac’s Lost Illusions, Waugh’s Scoop or Maupassant’s Bel Ami…

I experienced these cosy relationships at first-hand as a young journalist working for a trade magazine. We would regularly sup with our contacts in the hope of getting a scoop or two, while they wanted to increase their influence. As my young son said to me the other day when I questioned him on the subject of Leveson and press scrutiny: “If you don’t bend the rules a bit, how do you get the story.” Well, I have no fears for him!

So how will it all end up when, indeed, the inquiry does end? I don’t think I need a crystal ball. There might be a few minor scalps but, in the event, the big beasts will move on to graze in other pastures, chewing the cud on that old cliche “lessons need to be learnt”. Plus ca change

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