A Constant Reminder


If I’d Only Listened

My grandmother used to say:

“A place for everything … and where the hell is it?”

She was a rugged Rhondda woman who kept an immaculate house with rigid routines for dusting and hoovering, doing the dishes, scrubbing the doorsteps and polishing the knick-knacks in the front room every Sunday, never fail. Her assembly-line approach to domestic chores would put Henry Ford to shame. She hated it when things got out of place. “Where’s that gone now?” she’d say and complain of having to “Waste time looking!”

To be fair, her fastidiousness was pragmatic rather than obsessive. I remember the relief and satisfaction in her voice when she settled down with a cup of tea and said, to no-one in particular “Now that’s done.” She was house proud, but not to the extent of Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard.

“And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes.” – Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

sun decoration garden bike child


I’m a little less organized. It goes with the territory having healthy, happy kids running round the place. Round and round and round. The flotsum of clothes, shoes, toys and craft materials drift from room to room between bouts of salvage.

I can’t blame the children though for the tumbles of papers in the office. They rarely come into the studio. I can either blame myself, or put responsibility where it belongs.

“By sloth on sorrow fathered,
These dusty-featured Lollocks
Have their nativity in all disordered
Backs of cupboard drawers.”

  • Robert Graves, Lollocks, Poems 1938-1945

My implausible deniability is simple. The Fair Folk did it. It’s just one of the risks of living in woodland.

The French Connection

I am carving out a little structure amid the chaos to keep me on track with my writing. As a starting point I’ve borrowed an idea from French cuisine, mise en place, everything in its place.


Begin by gathering a few simple ingredients:

  • a notebook
  • a pen (working)
  • a small table
  • a chair (optional)

Locate the table in a well trafficked area with plenty of light. Place the notebook on the table. Open it carefully to a blank page. The pen should be positioned on the page, aligned to a major axis or set at a jaunty angle. Good presentation is important, but inessential.

Finally, a chair can be placed at an inviting orientation from the table. For poetry, this is optional.

Add coffee to taste.

Making a Meal of It

I’m set up. My notebook is open and visible out of the corner of my eye. It is unfussily present, ready and receptive. Every time I take a screen break I walk past it. When I come back with a fresh tea it’s there, pages open, ready for words. I have nothing to prepare, nothing to schedule. I have no excuses. And every now and then, as I’m walking past, I pause for a moment and write.

I’ve found my consuming inspiration.