Isle of Jura

The sea eagle glides below, its broad wings and white tail adjusting to the ruffling breeze, its yellow eyes scanning, indifferent to our presence on a patch of grass above Creag an t-Seoil. We are perching on the northern tip of Jura, on our last full day here, looking across the roiling waters of the […]


The antenatal scan showed no cerebral cortex. “Hydranencephaly,” they said, “very rare, unlikely to live,” they said – sixteen years before he died.  He had cried at birth, he looked normal, surprisingly normal to those who had seen the scan. Shine a light here and his whole head lights up. Let the students see.  Light […]

Running Shoes

This was the first piece I read to Leeds Writers Circle, except that the original was in the third person. “You over-pronate,” said the confident twenty something, having watched me walk all of three paces across the shop and inspected the wear on my soles. There must have been something about the promise of the […]

Boggle Hole

Fresh landslips nibble at the path from Bay Town. Pale grass quivers in obeisance to the west wind announcing the next cyclone. I pause in the lee of a hedge strangled by brambles the colour of venous blood. A couple of silent chaffinches, too chilled to tweet, patrol the shifting border between field and cliff. […]

Biography of a Noun

Ian Harker, one of Leeds Writers Circle most accomplished poets, suggested ‘Biography of a Noun’ as a competition title one year. Not many people entered, which is probably why this piece won. Spam has passed its seventieth birthday and has secured a place in the English lexicon. This is a good time to reflect on […]

Cowpats by the Garrochburn

Sunday 24th June 2005 was a rest day on our walk from Leeds to Iona. We took umbrellas and swimming costumes, to cover all eventualities, and headed over Waterside Hill from St.John’s Town of Dalry. Pam sat and painted the burn while I was more bitten by midges than any creative impulse. Wandering up the […]