A.J. Walker


A Word

I didn't get to read a poem for #ReadMeSpeakMe this weekend, but that was because it was a poem of mine which was chosen for the weekly read (Week #184). So I'll be reading it later in the week after others have put their twists on it. I'll have to have a wee think about how I will do that. There may, or may not, be tankards involved. And hopefully no crying and hopefully not too sulky a face.

If you want to give it a go then please do. Just follow the standard instructions of #ReadMeSpeakMe (see below) and post it up in your preferred app (many use Soundcloud or YouTube, or some even put it straight into a tweet). I've been enjoying people's takes on it so far. And some lovely voices; both familiar and new to me this week too.

A Word


Thanks to @megwaf for hosting (and picking & presenting the poems). Doing a weekly event like this in your own time is sometimes a bit a thankless task (I know from doing the weekly 'Seedling Challenge' a few years ago - even when it's not that much time it IS time and the clock is always ticking and tapping you on your shoulder). Everyone who gets involved with RMSM loves the little escape it gives us for a while each week. So, thank you.

If you're on Twitter why not follow:

@ReadMeSpeakMe and

And give a go. We'd all love to hear you. Maybe next week, when it's someone else's words though - bloody unrequited.

The Caravanette

Well when I started doing ReadMeSpeakMe at the back end of 2020 I never expected to be reading my own poems on here. And of course then it is the rest of the RMSM regulars reading your words out loud. It is an interesting experience and I'm thankful for Meg coming up with this - and for asking me to send a poem in.

Cheeses picked up at Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes

The poem chosen was 'The Caravanette' which I wrote when I was doing an Open University course a few years back. It's not a brilliant poem but I like it because it completely true and evocative of a holiday gone wrong. Be it down to inclement weather or, in this case, unrealistic expectations. It was nothing to do with the destination of Dent, which is in a lovely spot.

Monument to the geologist, Adam Sedgwick in Dent. He knew his graptolites!

The Dent Carpark

As I'd been camping this week in North Yorkshire, in Hawes, Wensleydale, I had to take the opportunity to drive to Dent so that I could read the poem in the very carpark that we ended up staying overnight - in that wee sad vehicle. After a quick pitstop into Wensleydale Creameries for some Wenselydale Cheese (and others) then I headed to Dentdale. Here is my reading of the poem, 'The Caravanette.' Enjoy.

As I've been looking at all the tweets about this poem this week, and listening to Soundcloud retellings and YouTube videos of it, I am now getting a mountain of camper van adverts when I'm on Instagram and YouTube. I've yet to see a photo of anything like what we were in though.

Thanks to everybody who got involved this week. Every one is appreciated. And I've got to give a special mention to
Swarn Gill who not only read a great version of it, he also recorded his YouTube video along with a beer and a bit of a chinwag before the poem akin to a certain somebody. Kudos! It made me smile a lot.

And lastly, but never leastly, it was great to see Sal record it too. Her first go on ReadMeSpeakMe (I've no idea, it could be the last too) and I thank her for the Special Guest appearance.





Poetry Rules

Nine years or so ago I did an Open University course in Creative Writing. I’d had years of writing and reviewing technical reports for environmental consultancies (and before that my degree in Geology) and this meant a large number of words had been unavailable to me inside this world. In reports like this many words are absolute and description is always blandly factual; adverbs and adjectives were to not so much frowned upon as outlawed - to be fair any repors could end up in dispute or court so ‘quite blue’ or ‘very contaminated’ has to be a no-no.

Anyway I’d written some song/poem/descriptive extracts back in the early 1990s when I was strumming some songs in a band of brothers (and a cousin). But as a whole I wasn’t doing much in the way of writing outside of work. By 2010 or so I longed to get into away from technical reports. When I took the opportunity to do the OU course it was mainly to extend my writing and to take me a little outside my comfort zone. It was just one course which could have become part of an MA degree if I’d wanted to go that route and do a couple more courses, but I’d never even considered making a degree out of it - I really just wanted to give myself a bit of a nod and a nudge before taking myself off the leash with the adjectives. Honestly, that was very much the point.

At that time I hadn’t been involved in any writing groups. But once I got to the end of the course I had the confidence to join a writing group (The Poised Pen) and from there I went on to get stories published in anthologies and the like - and also find myself to be involved in the fabulous Flash Dogs.

But hang on, I’ve missed something out here: a stepping stone - Poetry. Shush! Keep this quiet.

The OU course involved a range of writing requirements, one of which was poetry. When I signed up for the course poetry was the part I was looking forward to the least. At my crappy Secondary School in Southport we’d done a cursory nod at Keats and a few other bits and bobs, but ‘Ode to a Greek Urn’ and ‘Ode to Autumn,’ whilst interesting, and indeed lovely, were not something I was wanting to build on myself.

As it transpired the poetry part of the OU Course turned out to be enjoyable. I think partly because of my love of songs, of word games and of quizzes. Writing to fit into a required number of lines or a rhythm is very much different to just writing a sentence that works to convey information. Poetry often requires every word to become part of a solution... hopefully.

So it was that I had to write poetry for the first time for an absolute age: and for a purpose (points towards the Course). One of these poems was called ‘The Caravanette’ and I’ll talk more about this at the end of the week. But needless to say it is both bizarre and cool that it has made it beyond the OU course, and my immediate family, to Twitter and the World Wide Web via the wonderful #ReadMeSpeakMe. It is going to be well weird to hear other people reading my words out loud as part of this Twitter phenomena. Get involved if you like the idea. And I’ll tell you about the poem later in the week.

But the link between the poetry and my writing as it is now? Well, before I joined The Poised Pen and then getting confidence and getting published; I used to go to watch lots of the poets at The Dead Good Poets at Blackburne House - one of the organisers of the Dead Good Poets was my local OU contacts (Sarah McLellan) - and then after several weeks observing I went up and read some of my poetry in front of everyone. That was always one of the hardest things I’ve done - there’s something about reading your own poetry which is so much more exposing than reading prose. Anyway if the poetry thing hadn’t happened, and then the confidence from reading at Dead Good Poets hadn’t then maybe I would not have moved on to write my silly stories and be confident enough to put them out there.

In summary: Poetry Rules. Or at the very least it has its place.

Old Found Poems

I've just recorded and put up my reading of this week's #ReadMeSpeakMe onto YouTube. It was written by Vanessa aka @puzzledgoddess on Twitter.


Afterwards I was looking though some stuff on my computer and found some old poems from nearly a decade ago, which I'll post here; it's not like they deserve to be anywhere else. One is about waiting for a train at Fazakerley station (the clue is in the title) whilst the other was written whilst walking along a rocky coastline in Portugal and is an ode to geology and time more than anything. I can remember it well too.

May copy them over to the very short "Poems" section of the site later. It could be the thing to do.

Ode to Winter on Fazakerley Station

Reflective workmen sit beneath a tree,
smiling and laughing - on a tea-break high.
Bitter cold breeze sends shivers right through me;
a pale yolk sun smears the Wedgewood blue sky.
Winter freshness always invigorate.
Clarity of the light, sharp as a pin,
train from Kirkby visible along the straight.
Meanwhile a lone blackbird jauntily sings.
Fleeces keeping others toastily warm,
while screeching brakes make me shiver again.
Stresses melting on the railway platform.
There’s something comforting traveling by train.
These relaxing moments precious to me,
but I’m gasping for a cup of tea.

Going Home to Bed

Sculptured isolated hardness,
skyscrapers of tumbled fossiled ocean-life.
Sea rumbles in relentless.

Sonic booms when the waves strike just right.
Jurassic souls separated from their sedimentary beds,
Restored to the sea by its might.

Ale and Poetry

I’ve been getting involved with #ReadMeSpeakMe since mid November last year. The first poem I read was ‘Arrival to the Sea’ by Juan Antonio Garcia, who is on Twitter @NoosferaMedia. My first attempt took me about eight takes. Since that time I’ve been recording the ReadMeSpeakMe poem almost every week - most are done on the first or second take now.

On the first poem I did chat a little before the poem - mostly to say it took me eight takes - and have continued to prelude the poem with a little chitchat; if nothing else just to say what drink I’ve got in my tankard. I recorded the early ones on my phone and posted it direct to Twitter. A couple were longer ones and harder to fit on a Tweet so I decided I needed to put the longer ones on
YouTube I decided I'd put them all on there, whatever the length. for consistency.

I've not had too much negative feedback from this way of doing it (that's not to say people are thinking such things of course) and it will probably continue. Even if it is just to say 'Cheers,' - and what I’m drinking that week.

ReadMeSpeakMe 136: 'Across the Table' by Rob Taylor

I’ve never tried embedding a YouTube video on my website... until now. I'm trying it now to see how it works, or if I can do it. So future poems could well be on here, but the YouTube channel will remain the primary place to find them. Consistency.

It’s amazing that it's only been four months I’ve been involved. In many ways it feels a lot longer. Love seeing all the community getting together for it each week: and it’s a mighty fine excuse to get out a bottle opener.

If you’ve never given it a go, and you fancy it then give it a try. Many of the poems are short enough that they can fit on a twitter video (particularly if you don't give it a preamble ramble like I do. But if you don't fancy giving it a go then just come over and say, 'Hi'.


The blog in the new Health section, on my MS diagnosis & travails, together with the poetry with beer thing has revealed that there is a gap in the market for a Health, Lifestyle, and Beer magazine. Am sure it could be a big seller. Then again it may just be pictures of beer and the odd limerick.

Incidentally I have updated the Health section so that
Disqus now works on it. So it is open for comments for anyone interested. Like the Comments in this section they are moderated so don't be surprised if they take some time to show up on the page. But they will eventually (assuming that they are appropriate of course).


#ReadMeSpeakMe is on a break at the moment. The first week off I didn't do anything although I did consider doing one of my own. So when the second week came I couldn't not do it. I've only got a few poems on here, but I picked one of them and did it. This week then Read Me Speak Me is really reading ME the poem by me, not just me the poem. Or something like that.

Schrodinger's Poem is a fun poem about the best poem ever written, which also happened to be by me: if I've remembered right. Then again if the box containing it is opened maybe, just maybe, it'll just be my misplaced shopping list with beers and cheeses on it. We'll never know now as I seem to have misplaced the box. Typical.

Schrodingers Poem
Click on here and be transported to not the best poem, but to 'Schrodinger's Poem' a poem about the best poem.

Haven't written any poems for a while - hey it's hard when you've already created the best poem ever, everything else is a disappointment. But maybe I'll get the poetry pencil out again.

Horses and Poems

Well it's Thursday which means that a new photo prompt for Miranda's Mid Week Flash has gone up. It's the lovely image below. Click on the photo to check it out… Haven't got to it myself yet, but I definitely will do. I've done the last four consecutive weeks for the first time in a long time (Weeks 182-185).

Mid Week Flash Prompt, Week 186

I eventually wrote one for last week - on Sunday. I found it a tough one to write for again. I can't put my finger on why. Needless to say I ended up writing too much… and have only just edited it to get it down to the maximum of 750 words. It's called '
Recycling: New Gods and Old Ways': click here to check it out. Hope to get this week's up quicker this time. Love that photo of the Milky Way!

Recycled gods
Mid Week Flash Prompt, Week 185

There was no
#ReadMeSpeakMe this week. So I'm actually considering reading one of my poems out to fill the gap. Haven't written poetry for a long while so it'll be an oldie, but not necessarily a goldie. May do one from the tiny section on here, then again I may surprise you (and me). Anyways, watch this space.

Poems - after a fashion

For Monique's last day hosting #VSS365 today she only had to go and mention poetry. Flip. Not dabbled in that in a long time. It's made me root out a few anyway and post them under the 'Writings' section.

  • Schrodinger's Poem
  • Super Sunday
  • Night Football
  • New Year Audit

None of them involve love or clouds, but there's some beer and football. Of course.

First up is
'Schrodinger's Poem' it could be the best thing ever written. Ever. By anyone. Honest. And second is 'Super Sunday' apt with the Liverpool v Spurs game later. After that is 'Night Football' because it goes well with Super Sunday and finally there is 'New Year Audit' because Sal remembered it and I didn't.

And if you don't like any of them blame Monique for making me unleash them again!