About …

I am a writer who spent most of my working life as a journalist. I used to write offbeat commentary pages for the Eastern Daily Press, based in Norwich, England, and earlier a weekly piece called Square One for the Church of England Newspaper – hence the title of this site. I am also a poet, a walker, a chess player, a driver, a husband, a father, a grandparent, a guitar player, a reader, a TV watcher, a pensioner and a Christian, among other things. I love Norfolk, Scotland, the coast, deserts, rivers, mountains and almost everywhere I find myself, though not necessarily in that order. I like to look at things sideways, wherever possible. I have published seven  poetry books: Mist and Fire (2003), Off the Map (2007), Running with Scissors (2011), Stillness lies Deep (with Joy McCall, 2014), Iona: The Road Ends (2015), Waving from a Distance (2017) and Under Cover of Day (see below). I have been a member of the poetry group Chronicle and edited a book on the Pastons in Norwich, which contains directions for a walk, a bit of history and some poems by myself and others. It’s called In the Footprints of the Pastons. Click here for more information on the Pastons.

I also enjoy photography, without being in any way an expert. Some of my pictures can be found on Flickr, and some are included in Stillness Lies Deep and Iona: The Road Ends.

Poems under cover

My most recent poetry book, Under Cover of Day, has been published by Paul Dickson Books. It is available from pauldicksonbooks.co.uk or from Amazon, priced competitively at £6.


Latest article

Water, water, everywhere

Failing to tune into the dire warnings broadcast after a night of rain  – I had after all been asleep – we ventured out on to the roads of North-East Norfolk, and found water everywhere.

It was a Sunday. I discovered later that major roads in different parts of Norfolk were thigh-deep in water, and some had been closed. Merrily, we headed for the Broads. Of course. Why wouldn’t we? 

We noticed quickly that the fields were very wet, but until we turned off the main road at Stalham, it didn’t make much impression. Damp is normal in this part of the world.

There was not much traffic about, but oddly as we turned off the main road we found ourselves behind three other vehicles – two cars and a van carrying scaffolding equipment. That’s OK, we thought. We’re heading across country. They’ll be going somewhere else.

Amazingly all three of them turned left and immediately right, on to a narrow country road. Our bad luck, we thought. That was our route. It turned out to be good luck.

Only a few yards on to the country road there was a significant covering of water. Our first instinct was to ask ourselves how deep it was, and whether we could get through it. There had been several scary stories recently about cars trapped in water which hadn’t looked that deep.

At least, that would have been our first instinct, but ahead of us were those three vehicles – instant measuring devices. All of them ploughed on, quite hesitantly but persistently, and we simply followed, round corners and through junctions, because if they could get through, so could we. And there was always the scaffolding…

The water had poured off the fields and overflowed out of neighbouring ditches. There was almost as much water as road. But it was only a few miles, and we followed, and followed… until we reached our destination: the small village of Lessingham (good name), where there was an exhibition in the village hall, focusing on the neighbouring village of Happisburgh and its battle against the encroaching North Sea. 

As it happened, my mother-in-law had been born just down the road. I mentioned it to the woman serving tea and cakes, but it was too long ago. We decided not to go and look at the house, because it might have been very wet, and it was only a mile or so from Eccles, which had finished disappearing  under the sea well over 100 years ago. Who knew how soon we would hit the ocean? The water seemed to be winning everywhere. 

As we were in the area we drove up to Happisburgh through more standing water on the coast road and found the disappearing car park, put in place only ten or 12 years ago and now about to be abandoned as the cliff edge makes its unexpectedly swift way inland, eating houses as it goes.

I got out of the car to have a look, and fell over a random fence into the cliff top mud. I won’t be able to do that much longer. 

Latest poem

Flood levels

(a poem written ten years ago, about a different part of the world)

Looking for dry ground,
he quarters the fields
but the flood plain here
could swallow an army
and suck birds from the sky

His unnatural boat
crawls from lane to lane
obeying speed limits
colliding with the unknown

something moving under water

It is too late for retreat:
strategies have gone down
and do not resurface:
a new landscape is being formed –
grey islands taking shape

There are rumours of different tides
new offensives
brave new worlds
cures for drowning

Looking for dry ground
he searches the old maps
the front lines

the ways home, seeking
the infinitesimal edge