“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

Please be reminded that this blog is an ego trip. It is about me me me. There was a time when I felt enthused to include news of other loved ones but they didn’t like it much, so I stopped with just the occasional lapse when I couldn’t resist showing off about a book a gig an album or a trip. Trust me when I say there could have been a good many lapses over the years but I have held back – besides which, who in what universe wants to read about other people’s children’s successes.


10 years have passed since I was diagnosed with cancer. For a time I thought my time was up and the idea of ten years hence seemed ambitious, optimistic, unlikely. But here I am, ten years older, STILL ALIVE, a milestone worthy of a blog post at least.


Talking of the blog. I gave it up a while ago. A good move I think. Best not to say things if you have nothing of interest to say. If only I could apply that to life in general. I have never been able to modify my enthusiasm for sharing my thoughts, whatever the quality, and to whomever happens to be in range at the time. How often have I come away from a conversation or a meeting wondering why I felt the need to ‘contribute.’ So much better to have been the mute, thoughtful one and leave my audience guessing what profundity might be silently stirring, but no, off I go with a stream of ill considered deliberately contentious twaddle. Maybe it’s part of my charm or more likely it’s just a childish desire to be the centre of attention. How pathetic! I hate the notion of anything being too late to fix. Sub par physical fitness, excessive greed, old man views on modern matters but in this case my mouthiness is incurable – which brings be back to cancer.


It all began in 2013 with kicking a bonfire, falling flat on my back and triggering a Temple-of-Doom-like runaway rollercoaster of ambulance, pain, chiropractor (useless exploitative crap), physiotherapy (useless but not exploitative) tubes down throat (terrifying), biopsies and finally, sometime in the spring of 2014 the diagnosis that changed everything and realised in vivid Technicolor with full 12.1 Dolby  surround sound most people’s worst nightmare. “You have incurable cancer.” The effect of which cannot be captured in words but would not make for a catchy song either, so best left as empty parenthesises ( ) or the words that my late mother-in-law called forth on so many occasions from too much salt in the tomato sauce or a suddenly deceased family member ‘whata canna you dooa?’


Well it turns out you can do a lot but you need


  1. A wonderful loving family
  2. The NHS (and the right drugs)
  3. A surprisingly accommodating employer
  4. Something to do
  5. LUCK


and it seems I have all five, at least for now.


I would like nothing more than to continue to be so blessed. I despise that last word but just at the moment can’t come up with another. The rhythm of the sentence is pleasing so a monosyllabic final beat is required. Any ideas?


Since 2014 there have been some significant personal milestones mostly medical or related to medical – shame that – would have been nice to have milestones met as the result of great personal endeavour.


  • Giving up alcohol all together finding a substitute vice in sweeties – 10 years during which I have had just a few mouthfuls of fizzy wine to be sociable.
  • Injecting myself in the stomach and awarding myself a VC for bravery
  • Abandoning the stem cell transplant treatment when advised that if it doesn’t work you drown in the blood that collects in your lungs and stomach – nobody wants that do they.
  • Working my way through a few treatment options and finding the optimum drug combo had the ominous ingredient of thalidomide and a yellow warning label about its dangers – somewhat similar to those found on fences around pylons eg. ‘Danger of Death.’
  • Becoming a steroid junkie – boy they make you feel clever
  • Being deconstipated in hospital – not a dignified process but sooooo rewarding
  • Related to above – Becoming unpleasant and gobby due to steroids making you feel like you have superpowers. I still feel bad about how I behaved when I wasn’t discharged speedily enough.
  • Discovering writing as therapy, this blog, lots of poetry of mixed quality, shoddy short stories.
  • The red telephone box that talks a bit like me and associate obsessions. Too many to list and yes, they continue unabated.
  • Going nuts for old phones, cigarette lighters and kitsch from ebay – steroids again – they encourage consumption and extravagance as well as gobbiness.
  • Working from home. Teaching on zoom (yuk) probably for a total of around 4 years – something of an endurance test for me and the students.
  • Dreading the monthly blood results, failing to get used to them even after 10 years.
  • Stopping feeling faint – once the atrial fibrillation was bought under control. The downside is you nap a lot.
  • Last couple of years – Feeling fitter than I have done as amyloidosis goes into temporary remission – very nice to know as it doesn’t often happen
  • Consequently, feeling lucky.


Yes it’s not the most important but it is the most present, most recent, most tangible change in the last ten years for while surviving is certainly pleasing for me and my loved ones retiring is something less existential and easier to write about.


It means I have more times to do other things that aren’t immediately productive (not that I did that many productive things before but I always felt as though I should be doing them) – I had to do a lot of preparation for lectures and here is a confession dear reader – I knew bugger all about the stuff I lectured on, so the best I could do was hope the students hadn’t read more than me – they hadn’t so I scraped through. There is nothing I know a lot about and this is the essence of being an academic – drill deep – so I could never pass muster -I am a shallow water paddler dabbler consequently it was a slog and I have to say not that rewarding but it did give the impression to others of productivity. PowerPoints and videos got made, work got graded, students got degrees blah blah blah. Anyway, that’s all over and I can’t say I miss much. Had we had a water cooler I might miss standing round it chewing the cud but most of the time we worked quite independently and didn’t see that much of each other. That said I had some really nice colleagues. For the most part we were an uncomplicated bunch in digital media, we didn’t fall-out or row or sulk or really gossip and perhaps I miss slightly the reassuring niceness of a bunch of blokes who like me, admired websites, monitors, computer games, animation, video codecs, youtube, and ip addresses so so so much more than personal relations or the news or world peace or books.


The future beckons and its not so scary as it was, not least because Maria and I have bulldozed aside some of our nervousness about travelling or any changes to routine like parking in a different car park in York. We are far from intrepid compared to just about everybody, but we can get in cars, taxis, on planes and trains and complete the journey without needing sedation and a month to wind down. We have had some nice holidays or as they are described these days ‘we have made memories’ – blaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh – what a horrible Instagram-tainted idea – as if you can make memories by going somewhere. – memories are made whether you like it of not by anything at all, at any time, in any circumstances, they can’t be contrived – a memory is no better if it is framed by the Acropolis than it would be framed by Watford Gap services. Who doesn’t have memories of their crinkle cut fries and urinals.


So what are my plans.


Let’s face I am quite consistent I have been wanting to master walking bass for twenty years now and I still plan to do so. The only thing that prevents me is not practising walking bass on my bass. I frequently imagine addressing this.


I want to make my ring ring cycle yes two rings – get the pun – phone box – trouble is I keep making stuff and not liking it enough to leave it alone. I dismantle it thus destroying what little good stuff may have inadvertently populated the largely empty shell. Anyway I have yet another scheme to nail this one.


I enter poetry and short story competitions from time to time with no success. This is because what I submit is not that good but then what wins is not that good either so I am clearly in with a chance.


Like every retired middle class saddo I am doing duolingo. Italian would be sensible as I have a grounding, but Maria is getting really good and G is off the scale so I am doing German. Nah nah na na.


I did loads of carboot sales selling last year. I had aspirations to do it semi pro but I have completely gone off that. I can’t be arsed with trying to make money I just like sitting around for five hours meeting odd bods. I am prevented from buying anything because we have no room.


I planned to sell semi-pro on eBay. I have completely gone off that. I can’t be bothered to make money it’s time consuming and boring. I like buying but see above.


Thus ends my celebration of ten years of extra existence. I really am lucky.






“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

Samuel Beckett is my hero. This is based on seeing only one play (Godo) and being pretty bored, trying and failing to read some others, getting no further than the first page or so of one of the novels (cant remember which one), listening to, but not ‘getting’ several of the radio plays, and persuading Maria to perform NOT I in Scarborough – so I love what fragments of his work evoke in me but I have no time for the rambley long stuff. The line above is perfected by the unexpected ‘the’ before nothing new.








Lisa Marini New Album – Out Now

We are very very excited and proud.




Individual Videos


Much more to come.

The demon at last

After nearly three years of dodging the various incarnations of Covid bullets we both copped one right up the jacksy. Thanks, probably to the five vaccinations and all the other factors that have declawed the covid tiger it seems, luckily, for us, to be a kitten of a thing. Sniffles, bit of a cough and knackered are about it for both of us. Being such a poorly fella I am entitled to the anti virals and I felt so excited ringing the hospital and being rushed through to Covid Support services then telephoned three times on the wrong phone it was somewhat humiliating to have a very Yorkshire ‘clinical specialist’ say ‘now then Lovely, as your symptoms are so mild we won’t be issuing the antivirals to you.’ It was like Santa saying you weren’t going to get any presents this year because only sick people deserved them. I suppose I could have pleaded a lot sicker but that may have been unconvincing or evil.

We tested positive the day after the day after Boxing Day so Christmas was unaffected. No significant exodus of family was required though A&L had to leave a day early which was a shame. We are isolating, being very lazy and eating all the chocolate left over from Christmas to keep our strength up. Oh I forgot to say we have both lost our sense of taste for a day or two, my malt cake was very acerbic and Maria reported her Coca Cola ham as bland and the cranberry sauce as sulphuric – but I think it’s creeping back. The seaweed thins with wasabi certainly packed a punch last night. I recommend them btw -really amazing taste texture tip of the tongue tingly things. Actually very moreish. I was very doubtful being more of a snack size pork pie man myself. Another btw. Do not make the mistake of believing that scotch eggs are better now than you remember them – even the ‘finest’ are foul.

Maria is expected back at work on Thursday, we will see if she can go. We are very jolly pursuing our obsessions, sleeping quite a bit and watching telly. Blown away by Anthony Hopkins in Remains of The Day and Tom Cruise in Top Gun Maverick – both are that rare thing, proper screen stars.

Can’t be bothered to write anymore because the subject is really boring unless I had been rushed to intensive care or had died.

Happy new year


Please read the below after watching the above – its only 3 minutes 24 seconds – like an old 45

I am not anti christmas and i have nothing against santa. i wrote this a while back when still under the influence of steroids. they made me very opinionated such that innocents like santa got it in the neck just because i felt like it. santa is no longer on my hate list – not doubt he is relieved.

The video went through a whole series of versions that included me dressed as James Bond in a tux, as a film noire detective with trench coat and hat, wearing Christmas lights around my neck and dancing to the Rudolf tune in the box – i am astonished at how appalling some of my ‘how about if I…..’ ideas are. the challenge remains to translate a computer generated chris voice saying anything at all into some that can at least be endured, if not enjoyed.

the builders breakfast moon and the blood snow is rather cool though


I have given up linking to things to make me seem clever – but this very short video has brought about a temporary relapse. If the TikTok link confuses you, below it is a direct link to the video stored on this site. It will stream slowly and will need to load first.

i have always had the suspicion that the way global economies run is absurd. it seems to be based on trust in arbitrary numbers and anytime soon someone influential will announce that most of the money circulating in the world doesn’t exist.

according to this video my suspicions were well founded, however i would like to see the counter arguments expressed in a similarly compressed form – if anyone would care to have a go or share a link that would be great.

Lisa’s latest single and video

Lisa has released her latest single and accompanying social media campaign including this YouTube video. I think its remarkable not least because so much of the production of both the music and the video has been done by her in their tiny but lovely flat in Forest Hill. The quality of everything she has produced is quite extraordinary – I find it awe inspiring. Enjoy!!

Ring ring

I’m stuck.

I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I need an audience and without one I get stuck. i guess i have never grown out of the showing off – All my recent creative efforts have been directed toward a non existent audience. i have found myself performing to myself – Cancer and Covid made sure of that. Now that there is a possibility of rekindling the flames of an adoring crowd I just don’t know what to do, so I thought I would write to you, confident that most of you wont read this, but that doesn’t matter. The act of putting it out there seems to offer some relief, some path out of ‘stuck.’

in the spirit of some of the themes addressed below i have avoided correcting this (much) – hence it reads like shite!

i killed this blog because I was weary of listening to myself trying not to say the things that i wanted to say but instead saying the things that i thought you wanted to hear. thats got to stop. so this post is that most tiresome of posts – a navel gaze into my current artistic predicament

other than this bit

i am undertaking/subjecting myself to – a course of cognitive behavioural therapy in order to deal with what i refer to as my ABAS – Abducted By Aliens Syndrome (this is where i panic that something utterly unexpected and disastrous will happen to those i love)- it isn’t going to work of that i am certain and in case you were jumping to conclusions – this process – this writing a blog process – is not my self administered alternative – in fact i believe it has nothing whatsoever to do with the CBT but everything to do with the fact that i am so so very stuck and i need help.

let me tell you why.

first (you may sense i am rushing) i feel as if i have only limited time to get down all the stuff i want to get down. you may ask what makes you think you have something worth putting down – well i just do. – now i suppose i have good reason for feeling under pressure to get on with things, what with the cancer diagnosis – but fortunately that’s not a pressing concern just now – things on that front are quite miraculously OK. I can’t remember if i communicated in a previous post that i am, according to my last visit to the Royal Free, in a period of remission – so no worries there. Well that’s not true but you know what i mean. moving on – i said when i started this blog in 2014 that i had a list of priorities that i planned to stick to – or to put it another way these were the things i was going to worry about from then on: (in order) 1 – Family. 2- Health. 3 – Art. 4 – Work – as i have said health gets a tick – Family are very fine, and work is pretty Ok so that leaves Art – and dear readers it is in my Art – I AM STUCK and being stuck when time is running out induces a sense of panic that is not conducive to producing art – as you can imagine – a vicious circle.

now as i said I am very very aware that ponderous debates on one’s art are tiresome but i really need this and whether anyone reads this or not, whether anyone proffers any remedies doesn’t matter a jot – i am writing this under the illusion that i have an attentive audience and thats enough for me.

so whats the problem?

perhaps foolishly, no not perhaps – foolishly, i am under the impression that i need to produce a consummate piece of work – something that draws all my previous and current preoccupations into one summative ‘Ring Cycle.’ As i approach retirement from an undistinguished career at the university i fantasise about leaving with a flourish and publishing a groundbreaking something or other that makes them regret not making me Emeritus Professor of Total Brilliance – Now knowing that i am no Wagner – i don’t have, as it were, talent, originality, a consistent body of work that just needs a perfect exemplar to top it off – the best i can do is just assemble all the fragments, all the unrealised attempts, all the failures, the incompetent inarticulate fumbling with the various modes of artistic expression i have touched upon over the years into some sort of loose package that might encourage future generations of creative incompetents to do similar and might even be rather interesting art – while pondering this possibility I have become interested in Jospeh Cornell – He was an untrained amateur and recluse living in the new York suburbs with his mother and a disabled brother. He emerged as a true original during his lifetime so in that respect i have missed my chance to emulate him having not yet emerged as a true original probably as i have yet to do anything original – anyway he made ‘shadow boxes’ containing bits and pieces he got at thrift stores in the city – he assembled loose, surreal, dream-like narratives by juxtaposing seemingly random objects.

Randomness has fascinated me since being a teenager when i stole a copy of John Cages book ‘Silence’ from the school library. Needless to say i didn’t read it just carried it about. – (I have read it now its rather good) so the random nature of Cornell’s compositions tallies with the random noises, voices and musical samples i have been utilising in the phone box – some would say the disruptive result of letting serendipity or error into the proceedings provides a layer of amateurish incompetence but i would counter that when it works, and of course it only works some of the time, it blows away the cobwebs of excessive and potentially turgid control, rather effectively.

bad amateur art is one of my current preoccupations – i recognise that in many respects my work in the last few years has been amateurish – the result of not knowing what i am doing – i have tried a bit of poetry, a few short stories, some bits of visual art, even some musical compositions all of them are clearly the work of a first timer – but in my view that doesn’t diminish their worth i consider them all much better than any of the work i did as a ‘professional’ director.


amateur work can be much more engaging than professional work probably because the mask of professionalism doesn’t sit between the artist/performer and the audience – of course you are probably not experiencing the work you are too busy empathising with the performer struggling to disguise their amatuerness but that’s the appeal, that struggle replaces the intended art with something rather better – more engaging, more human – at least for a short while – and brevity i am convinced is a crucial creative component – no art should take longer than 20 minutes and most should be restricted to 20 seconds to assimilate – speaking of amateur, my dad, a first time writer of anything other than technical reports and letters of complaint, produced a short autobiography – as a family we were a tad cynical at the time, i am not sure why – i guess we thought it was the sort of thing that old people do and why bother? – who is going to read it? – but actually we rather value it now – it doesn’t even attempt to be art – it’s certainly not bad art – its simply a record – the formal style and tone reflects his personality perfectly – i think it was a good thing for him to do and nice for us – it leaves a mark, even if its only for a generation or two and its better than nothing. Conversely i don’t think i would be a good as my dad at leaving a record but think i can leave some bad art behind, after all i call myself an artist so i should be able to do that.

the question is how? – what is the medium? what is the platform?

and thats why i am stuck.

I know myself, i know how lazy i am – the single most successful output of my creative life in terms of sustainability has been this blog – the reason is its very easy to do and consequently i can slip it in between indolent periods of watching TV and polishing my lighter collection – (i am doing this at 4:00 am because i can’t sleep, what other creative activity can be done when so bleary eyed and dull brained) – the telephone box that talks a bit like me has been a valuable stimulus for all sort of creative meandering but every step on its journey to fruition has been long winded, complicated and frankly at times not really worth the effort – that said it is something that excites people a lot more than a blog post – so the combination i am looking for is something that has the looseness and ease of this blog with the visual and auditory appeal of the telephone box but also the durability of my dads book – and i cannot find it.

Hence i am stuck!

I imagine a platform – i suppose it has to be digital to allow for multimedia content, in which you can sketch with video, scribble with speech, make pictures with text, graphics with sounds – interventions with live broadcasts – but effortlessly. A platform that isn’t owned by some mega media organisation, that doesn’t require a subscription and has some possibility of longevity. (i hope to be still doing it when i have retired from the university and my pipeline of free computers and software is cut off). I believe the solution lies somewhere in the idea of composited, overlapping and looped media eg. screen capturing websites as video, audio capture of live broadcasts and rebroadcasting them, filming and scanning handwritten document and sketches, layering and compositing media but not in an elegant broadcast quality style, maintaining the rough edges and collisions that occur spontaneously – somewhat similar to these website designs

I tried some of this in my latest telephone box film – certainly the best so far – but the last one to have documentary and explanatory content and still a significant distance from what I want to achieve

so the quest for the formula for my ‘ring’ – working title ‘ring ring’ goes on. I will put together a prototype miniature – a fragment made of fragments and circulate that – as i said at the beginning i need to share and the act of writing this has been very useful for me – it has brought some clarity, not a solution but a clear statement of the problem. if you have any suggestions please let me know although knowing me i almost certainly won’t listen – don’t mistake this for a discussion it’s a vent.

Thank you, if you have made it to here – you have my respect.

and if i hear the phrase ‘i just wanted to pay my respects’ one more time i will …