Against the wall

it’s like banging your head against the wall

that would not fall

but you did

as you slid

trying to flee

all that would never be

all that would stop you from standing tall

it’s like banging your head against the wall



Karma suits you

an invite

a tentative knock at the door

tea and toast and tears

and all those things shared through the years

if I could I would love you more

less flexible now and yet

still we remain




Day of the wren

No time for eloquence

to fall upon frustrated ears.

No Sanhedrin and no Saul,

the onlooker was but a call

away, shielded behind the safety

of the bloodied panic button.

A glutton for punishment

and conscription, was voluntary.





How do you convey violence, its impact and aftermath: explain everything and nothing, stand up and remain anonymous? How do you explore and challenge conceptions of – and blurred distinctions between – victim and perpetrator, participant and witness, guilt and innocence, blame and responsibility, fear and courage, fact and truth and fiction? How do you convey stark, brutal and often incompetent reality without visceral detail? How do you challenge your assumptions and maintain self, vision and experience? And can it really be done in less than 50 words? To what end?

I can’t answer.

15 years to figure out how I wanted to approach a subject. Another year for that idea to rest, develop and take shape. And in the end a matter of minutes to write.

A blur.

A lifetime.

It seems appropriate to post the finished piece on the feast day after Christmas, where it will pass unnoticed – which is as it is should be. A merry Christmas to you all.



The OMM 2016: Galloway


Poor preparation; no real running of late for either of us; shaking off life ‘stuff’; Jon being in considerable pain early on; a shocking nav error which cost us half an hour; poor initial route choice; and pacing the first 2 hours far too conservatively all led to an appalling 1st day performance-wise.

We remained philosophical though and had a laugh at ourselves. In spite of receiving a penalty for being 9 seconds over time after 7 hours on the go <insert F-bomb on finish line whilst being filmed by the BBC> we were more than happy to settle for 36th place on Day 1. It was The OMM after all.

The overnight camp was surprisingly comfortable and in our middle age we had afforded ourselves two additional teabags allowing us to reflect on the day with not one but two brews before slop…er…supper. A brew and some banter can do wonders. We put together a realistic damage limitation plan, hoped to not drop any lower than 50th but thought that, given our usual Day 2 performances (and a bit of luck), a top 30 finish would be achievable.


After a good rest Day 2 started with a bang in more ways than one. We were flying at the start and a route that fitted our aims seemed to present itself. Finally a bit of focus and race brains had kicked in. It was easy running for us, despite Jon’s continued pain, and whilst we thought we couldn’t maintain that all day the quick start was a mental boost. Bar a couple of Elite teams we seemed to be passing everyone.


In a split second it all went wrong. Bang was what I heard and what I thought when I turned and saw that Jon was on the deck having taken a heavy fall on a bridge crossing: directly onto the hip that had been giving so much grief. Others looked on and cringed at the sight. With the help of another competitor and myself he managed to get to his feet but didn’t look great. Then I noticed that his pack was bust. The hip belt had ripped off. I genuinely thought that only 4km into the day any plan was now out the window and a short hobble to the finish was the order of the day. However, in true self-sufficient mountain marathon, very manly (or womanly!), scout fashion a repair was duly bodged and it was time for the stoic, nay heroic, Jon to hobble on.

I’m not sure how but even with having to rein the pace in we continued to pass the crowds. It was lovely being able to stride past youngsters on the steeper, rough ascents and head into the clag for some peace and clever route finding through steep crags rather than go the long way around. And on the rare occasion when a proper steep hill descent presented itself we let rip and relished in the ‘WTF look’ from the guys we passed who thought they were going fast.

We paced the day well and Jon ran strongly for all his suffering. We chanced an extra control before our descent and run in to the last 2 available before the finish. Blasting down the forestry fire breaks in ankle deep mud rather than the tracks and roads of the previous day’s finish was a blessed relief. We trotted over the line with 5 minutes to spare. With an hour less run time available we had blasted our Day 1 points out of the water to finish 7th on Day 2 and jump from 36th to 13th overall. In the bloody OMM Long Score. And if that’s not worth a WTF I don’t know what is.


Beyond Merlin Crag

beyond Merlin Crag

a glistening Aradaidh awaits

the broken sky as breathless as I

plodding rather than prancing

up the rough track more

usually travelled by machine

bumping and jostling

its cossetted occupants