Edith Bowman asked me to write a poem to sum up the end of the festival season and i came up with this

Demontage (cos french titles to poems sound so much cooler than english ones)

Modern life if crazed
Full of madness and rage
So much man and woman needs to escape
This daily chaos and be free from it all
At one of this nations great Festivals
& learn to unwind
let go
Get grounded
Sleep under the stars or light a fire perhaps
Become one with the planet and your fellow man
And for that there’s nawt better than a festival
But now in mid September it’s back to the grindstone
Pack up the tent; it’s time to go
To leave these green fields and to head for home
By bus by bike by car and by train
Summer is over and here comes the rain
And the hail the sleet and the sadness of snow
Pack up the tent
It’s time to go home
Lets leave these fields and this tented town
Where songs were sung and spirits were high
And children learned to float and fly
And softly slowly leave the ground
Whipped up by the magical musical sounds
So lets leave this field this nylon town
From where clowns and captains cooks and thieves
Drank lager whilst bouncing on trampolines
And danced with mermaids maidens and goffs
Pack up your tent it’s time to get off
To head for the real world
The mad world
The sad world
The bad world
The blag world
Where cars will crash and children will fall
And adverts will tell you can’t have it all
So far from this field and this town of stalls
Of burgers and baps vegetarian wraps
On plastic plates and pints and mates
And the midnight debates of who was great
And who was ace
Then chat about the bands the theatre the art
Then pack up the tent cos it’s time to depart
And patiently smiling join the queue
Where the four by four will start bullying you
Soon gone the smiles of friendship and warmth
Cos it’s man against man when sat your car
And remind yourself how to clenching a tight fist
Cos the div in the porsche is taking the pmick
Slowly slithering and sliding in front of you
So lets pack up the tents and learn how to queue
And forget the true words of the troubadours
Who peddle their words to heal all their sore?
The sadness and sorrow life’s daily grind
So lets pack up the tents and get your minds realign
To the madness the chaos of our crazy lives
Lets pack up the tents cos we need to survive
Another cold winter of slow discontent
So lets pack all our bags and take down the tent.

My American Life

This is a poem i read in the Town Hall at Festival Number 6 on Saturday. A lot of people have asked me for the text for it – Here it is.

I began writing it on the beautiful Greek Island of Kos in early september 2002 and finished it on September 11th.

It will take around 5 minutes to read – can people concentrate for that long any more? Test yourself.

My American Life

They say that moments before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes.
It doesn’t, it’s just those thing half-remembered and those things half-forgot.

It seems like the whole world is swollen from the heat
And the souls of my shoes are beginning to bubble and burst
Bubble and burst
The electric fans still flicker purr and pirouette noisily
And one by one monitor screens spark
Then go black
Spark – then go black
Spark – then go black
And people are beginning to shout things out of the window

And the sun winked knowingly
With heartfelt sincerity at weather men predicting clear skies and sunshine
Not a black cloud
And deep down in the soul
Dried out cellars and drains hot cough
Lift shafts buckle and stairwells burn
And the only sounds to be heard
Are soft murmurations & whispered lost firemen stories
About how they watch as the air disappears and the heat rose
And how death, like madness can sometimes be quite beautiful.
And people are beginning to throw themselves out of the window

Hot air rises
One thermal carries me a papal message
Soft sound bites insinuating payback for all my unpunished crimes.
Pissing in the cabbage patch
Nicking crab apples from the presbytery
Half hearted genuflection’s and laughing in Mass
I’m surrounded by the innocent phoning loved ones
Just one last call
Crying and flying in one breath

From the corner of my eye
I notice Xavier, the Mexican Janitor
Doing the morning post
Smiling at passers by
And telling everyone to “have a nice day”.

And Charlie is stood in the corner
Chewing his fist and sobbing
Wishing he hadn’t done half the things he’d done
And whispering between sobs
I’m not guilty
And he did love his wife he just never knew how to show it
And all those tawdry nights in strip clubs
With all the Go Go girls Go Going
Was because she never understood him
Hand in hand now, they’re throwing themselves out of the window.

And I remember one time in the swimming baths
With my summer free pass and my sugar sandwiches
And macho men called Dave or Tony
Checking my fingers for wrinkles
Asking me why my head was shaved and if I had veroucas
Then smiling and waving at all the pretty girls
Whose mothers would have killed them if they knew half the things I knew

Yeah, I remember that time in Sharston Baths
Top diving board
Our Chris on one side saying
“Don’t do it you’ll kill yourself”
And our Hughie on the other saying
“Do it”
So, I did it
I caught my piece of the sky
But there was no running, no ducking, no bombing, no acrobatics, no petting
No smoking and definitely definitely no ball games

And all those sacks of books you could only ever flick through
Cos if you read them all you’d know too much
Missing the bus to the library that stinks of piss in the entrance hall
With dusty flakings of old men’s skin
Which is carried by solider ants to cracks in marble skirting boards

And soon the cemetery will all have to be closed down
Cos the birds won’t fly over them anymore
As I smoke my dads last stolen fag
And wonder what all the fuss is about
Trying to blow smoke rings
But coughing and crying about what happens when my ma dies
And if I’ll see our kids again
And if we’d have to change school

“Have a nice day,” shouts Xavier above the boom of the Hoover
And my colleagues are running round screaming for Jesus
And the dogs don’t bark anymore
They just call my name and look away the moment I catch their eyes
And the cats are plotting
And the spiders are after me for the hot water trick I learned last summer
But the flies are on my side
They live off my soul
Buzzing from thought to thought
Then hopping from intention to intention
And regurgitating everything into my innocent mothers diary
Which is full of appointments and dates
Important messages in red
Personal thoughts in purple
Hand in hand now, they’re throwing themselves out of the window

And the office joker isn’t joking anymore
He’s trying to keep the smoke out with a ragmag
And the office joker isn’t joking anymore
He’s trying to keep the smoke out with a ragmag

And Xaviers emptying small bins into bigger bins
Then smiling at the window queue
It reminds me of the sound the Rag and Bone man used to make
To let people know he was coming
And he’s telling Mr Singh the Coal man not to talk to Muslims cos they dance like footballers
Then he starts bollocking me for all my so-called Horse whispering
Saying I have singed the main of his favourite mare
And blackened the fetlocks of his favourite filly

I am just stood here trying to make a decision
Window or door
Window or door
Window or door
Then, I notice Xavier, walking towards me
And he hands me a post it note with a question on it

6 reasons why Festival Number 6 Smashed it and Raised the Festival Bar at least 6 inches

1. Venue – there is no other place in the world that offers such a beautiful setting for a festival and it’s central. Not too far North and too southy south and that view across the estuary on the sunny sunday afternoon will take some beating.And don’t start talking Burning Man or SXSW.
2. Line up and diversity of entertainment – From the headliners to the small acts in tents all of a high quality and many exploring the unexplored. And BECK was Colossal
3. Weather. Interestingly, they brought the festival forward a week. Whoever made that decision deserves a big kiss off Michael Fish or a pint of Tetley from John Ketley
4. Organisation – everything seemed smooth and hassle free and when there was a hint of hassle there was a smiling face with an honest and genuine apology. Even the security called me sir.
5. Spirit This one is hard to explain but it’s about the philosophy and the soul of the festival. It wasn’t about making money at all costs, there was a fairness to it and the best way i can put it is that today that it had a northern attitude with a southern chic.(and i can’t believe I’ve just written that)
6. People I didn’t meet a single blagger, i didn’t fear anyone at any point. I didn’t think tents were going to be robbed, bags were gonna be blagged, pockets were gonna be picked. I feared no-one and i’d go as far as to say that i actually trusted everyone i met. People smiled, stood to one side to allow you to pass, took the time to talk to you after shows. I saw more wheelchairs than i have ever seen at festivals and i saw people getting out of their way when they needed to pass. Of course there were pissed people, it’s a festival and the sun shone all weekend and the beer flowed freely but the pissed people weren’t dickheads they just staggered, fell over, fell asleep then sobered up but they weren’t threatening and like most people they were quite loveable.

Please don’t attack me if I’ve got anything wrong here because this was my experience – yours might have been different – if so write a blog

Nice one Number 6 – See you next year

The Chase

Trouser pig hand face
Out the door without a trace
Jumper dog toe tooth
Up the drainpipe on the roof
Shoe elephant elbow tongue
Dance on the roof & sing your songs
Eyepatch emu toenail finger
Smile cos you’re the greatest singer
Love white beautiful stick
Climb back down & take your pick
Chocolate peter lake & stone
Walk in silence all the way home
Hug menu slow & flag
Eat your tea & have a laugh
Candle eyelash prayer & pound
Go to sleep without a sound

I’m on at Festival No.6

It’s Festival No.6 this weekend – It’s my Favourite festival – I love it and this year I’m on everyday.

On Friday I’m on at the Central Piazza in the village – where i shall be doing some poetry and music with a very special guest who is going to come onstage with me to close the set and to announce a new collaboration. So my tip is, be there from 6 and you’ll catch the incredible Luke Wright who tours the country with me and John Cooper Clarke – I’m on at 6.45 – and a little clue to my special guest……………………………
Make sure you’ve got your dancing shoes on and be ready to catch the setting sun

On Saturday i shall be in the Town hall at 1.45 working with Joe Duddell and the No6 Ensemble doing poetry to the music of Philip Glass for Joe’s Glassworks afternoon – I’ve been working with Philip Glass in Europe and the States. He’s taken some of the compositions that Joe and i have created and reinterpreted them with a group of world class musicians. The new piece, “My American Life” has never been seen or heard before. I’m in California working with Philip Glass and friends at the Days and Nights Festival in the Big Sur at the end of September and hope to be doing “My American Life” as part of the festival. So, see and hear it first at Festival No.6 Town Hall at 1.45 on Saturday.

On Sunday at 2.15, I’m back in the Town Hall with Joe and the Ensemble to do my “Psalms for the Dead”. Sounds like a bit of a downer doesn’t it? It’s the opposite, it’s a celebration of Life accompanied by the beautiful music of Joe Duddell – Voted the must see set of 2014 by all the leading music and arts journalist and they’re always right…….. aren’t they?

So, If you are at Festival No.6 Come along to one or all of my shows and if you see me walking round say hello

A poem for the beautiful young men of Barton Moss

I work with a group of young men aged between 12-15 @ barton moss secure unit – They are ace and really buzz on the poems and I love working there – They are having a fund raiser in october for Bernardos but i can’t attend it because i’m on in Birmingham with John Cooper Clarke so they asked me to write a poem that will be read out on the night & then buried in a time capsule and re-opened in 10 year.

Here’s my poem i wrote for them

Help me get to Sleep Tonight

wrap your arms around me
hold me tight
sing me a lullaby
to help me get to sleep tonight

Unfurl that clenched fist
There’s nothing wrong with missing your mam
or wanting to be kissed
like that time she leant into your pram

sound words in the big house
chains entangled for our own good
there’s nothing wrong with crying now
Tears flow quicker than blood


Take a slow stroll with the soul lonely
To a pub on Nowhere road
Where men with shaved heads and tattooed knuckles salute
Then, shake their fists at a union jack
Because they have nothing else to believe in

Compare this to the slow stroll of the soul lonely special need Pakistani boy
Who walks towards the football match
With a rucksack on his back and the whispered promise of “72 virgins in paradise”


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