In these days of lockdown I am more aware than ever how lucky I am to be living among trees. The first thing I see when I look out of my bedroom window in the morning is pine trees. Then, as thoughts of tea and toast lure me to the kitchen, I wait for the […]

A chance stroll in the woods in the early days of August. A tepid, blustery wind whips around the birches, setting free their progeny in a warm, gentle seed-fall. Tiny specks of brown fertility slip down the backs of shirts, itching and inaccessible. Eco-friendly confetti sized for elfish nuptials, it peppers passing heads and transforms […]

English. What does it mean, now? There’s been much fretting over recent years about that question. Scottish, Irish, Welsh – each nationality has its own identity. Whether you see a caricature, a historic hangover, a modern revival, it’s there – but English? I suspect it’s partly the penalty for years of ‘English’ being synonymous with […]

In a recent post (not that recent, actually, because I’ve been busy, as you will see) I waxed lyrical about the joys of printing and pressing. I have since done some typesetting and hand printing of short extracts from my own writing at the small, calm, inspiring workshop of the Juniper Press in Liverpool. The […]

Sound.  Touch. Smell. Taste. Why do people love print? Real print, I mean, letterpress print. I was pondering that question last Saturday as I milled around with youngsters, oldsters and in-betweenies enjoying some welcome spring sunshine – and the latest open day at Rufford Printing Company in Mawdesley, Lancashire. My thoughts returned to the question […]

This post for my other site ‘Memoirs of a Husk’ took so long to write (I was jetlagged too) that I have cheated and simply re-published it here rather than writing a purpose-made post for Maid in Britain. Do persevere till you get to the singing dog 😉 There was rain and wind and troubled […]

What does it take to turn an idea into a poem? Into a story, a polemic or a play? That, I’m afraid, I can’t answer fully, though time, skill, experience – and imagination – are obvious prerequisites. But what does it take to turn those poems, stories, plays and polemics – or a long forgotten […]

I had a slight case of textile mill overkill earlier in the spring. But after a few weekends spent stressing out over the weekend papers, the lure of the loom proved too much. Burnley’s Queen Street Mill was calling. I’d no idea what to expect. I knew it was a working mill museum. I knew […]

Whenever major industrial enterprises are threatened with closure – like the British steel industry, as I write – we all wring our hands. Well, those of us who care about the fate of ‘deselected’ workers do. There’s not much else we can do. There are only so many online petitions you can sign. And the […]