Don’t crawl before you can sit

Procrastination shouldn’t be such a dirty word. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing at a comfortable pace. Giant sequoias grow to nearly one hundred metres over thousands of years. The Mona Lisa took da Vinci twenty years to paint. In an ideal world, progress would be limited to that which we do when the mood takes us. The only rule of the miraculous school of poetry — of which Douglas Dunn described himself as a ‘fully paid up member’ — is that you write a poem only when you have a poem to write, and crucially, when you can no longer put it off.

My son gets frustrated because he can’t keep his head up and crawl over to me. He’s an accomplished sitter though, only toppling over every now and then when reaching for something. When he can crawl he’ll be frustrated that he can’t stand up without falling over, and sooner or later, that he can’t run a mile in under four minutes or solve quadratic equations or write a bestselling novel. At such times, we would all do well to remind ourselves that we are accomplished experts when it comes to sitting on our arses.


Lightning arced on all sides of the bay for nearly two hours. Great forks and ambient flashes lit the warm front, turning rooms blue and pink. Rain made wooden sounds on rooftops. Storms like this are nature’s epiphanies, its big neurons flickering to make a black sea imaginable to itself for the briefest possible time.


Across the beach at low tide. Wet trainers on shining sand. Around the back of the island, sharing the view where people block the path. Catching breath against the granite when cars inch by. Past the bowling green, onto the coast path. Over rubble, up hills. Round the headland, into a new bay. Uphill to the boulders, clambering with fingers and toes. Just sitting on the rock, watching thoughts and the boat halfway between the lighthouse and this weathered, lichened rock and me.


I write this after looking at the moon through a pair of binoculars. You really get a sense of how round and big it is, and yet how small when you see its craters silhouetted against undiluted darkness and realise how large a portion of the surface each one covers. Then there are the seas: great ash coloured bruises. All this seems obvious. I’ve just described the moon — nothing special here, you’ve seen it a thousand times — but think how obscure this really is: a speck of dust orbiting a speck of dust orbiting one of 300 billion stars in at least 100 billion galaxies. Viewed from anywhere else in the universe, it is essentially another dark patch of sky… but luminous to us. If we are not astounded by such a sight, we should learn how to be.

A strange fork in the road

A certain ghost walk guide here in Cornwall finishes his tours with an enigmatic proverb:

A person often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

This is the opening line in Jean de la Fontaine’s fable, The Horoscope. On the one hand it seems paradoxical to say that by departing from your destiny you may realise it; on the other, fatalistically, whichever road you take then becomes your destiny. The latter reading suggests free will but the meaning of the proverb might simply be that destiny is something inescapable. In his account, de la Fontaine dismisses the art of fortune telling and proposes that destiny is always in flux but this slippery phrase illuminates how cryptic and mysterious our idea of fate is.

Romances of the Djinn

This new Uffmoor Woods Music Club release is mostly about the adventures of fantastical beings, such as Swamp Thing and Axl Rose. I wrote the songs some time ago but it took a while for me to realise that they shared a theme and recording aesthetic. The stunning cover art was drawn by my friend, Matt Kelly.

Romances of the Djinn is available on iTunes and Spotify.

The landlord’s wisdom

We’ve arrived in Cornwall. Moving home can be arduous but before we left our landlord imparted some advice which I’ll share here. On the subject of deciding what I’ll do with my life now, he said, “conserve your energy. You don’t see animals running around like lunatics in the wild. They wouldn’t last five minutes. Wait for the right moment and be ready”. When we were deliberating whether he or we would take a miscellaneous item he pointed out that it was the kind of thing you could carry around for years, hoping it would finally prove useful. In short, a waste of energy to be jettisoned. Finally, he advised against forcing things to happen as this usually leads to a mess. “Keep things simple and let them develop naturally.”