A letter to my solicitor

Dear sir,

I wish to meet with you at the earliest opportunity to instruct some amendments to my will. I would be grateful if you could advise on the implications of disinheritance of children and whether reference to the reasons within the will is valid.

Yours faithfully

E. Malley

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A further letter to my twelve year old son and ten year old daughter


Mother would like a word with you.


Yours etc

E Malley

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A letter to my twelve year old son and my ten year old daughter

Look you two,

I am not saying this whole remote control thing is putting a strain on our relationship but if you don’t tell me where you have hidden it right now I am afraid I am going to have to go public on this in a clickbait column in a newspaper.

yours faithfully

Ernest Malley, esq

(your father)

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A letter to my ten year old daughter


he says you had the remote control last and it is not down the side of the sofa and I am not watching this rubbish any longer. Now where is it?



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A letter to my twelve year old son

how do?

Where the fuck have you put the remote control?



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this afternoon’s phone call

Mid-afternoon, the house still, the phone was insistent.


“Hallo sir. You have had an accident.”

“who is this?”

“You have had an accident sir.”

“no. Who are you?”

“A bump. a small bump. An accident. You have had sir. An accident.”

“no one here has had an accident. Who is this?”

“National insurer sir. Your insurer. You have had accident in your car.”



“You’re a liar.”

“sir. Your accident. I call about your accident.”

“no one has had an accident here. No one.”


“how did you get this number?”

“your accident. In your car sir. I am insurer. your claim.”

“There’s no claim. There’s been no accident. How did you get this number? It’s ex directory. And I’m on”

“Sir. There was bump. In your car.”

“the telephone preference service. Where did you get this number?”

“your claim, sir. Your claim. the bump.”

“There was no bump.”

“Your car”

“You’re a liar.”

“the car”

“You’re a scamming liar”

“Your claim for your car.”

“I don’t have a car. I don’t drive.”


“so, liar. Where did you get?”

The line purred.

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there’s a poet in every one of us

There’s a poet in every one of us, says


And when they eulogise Corbyn

Beware of the influence they’re absorbin’.

Old Tom knew the score

With his poetic lore:

The younger ones will imitate

Defacing, making Tom irate

But watch for mature versifiers of the left

For whom all poetry is theft.

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I do not want to have to stop the kids going to buy their comics tomorrow. But I will.

Because I do not want to see pictures of someone being murdered, or the reaction of a person watching another person being murdered, on the front page of the newspapers. And I do not want my children to see those pictures.

And I do not want news websites to show a video of someone being killed, or hint that they are showing a video of someone being killed – urging the click through with their disturbing video warnings.

But the battle’s lost. This is what sections of the media here do: voyeuristically ogling violent death. For clicks. For revenue. Because this is what the people making editorial decisions are, and what they think we have become.

Sod them.

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lost Tolkien work published

I was delighted to learn earlier today of the planned publication of the annual pre Christmas lost Tolkien work. The work, long known to scholars, is intriguing and I am pleased to release an exclusive excerpt.







Eleven apples

It is thought that the  work is based, in part, on a free translation of Snorri Sturluson’s Younger Edda, although the influence of the older Poetic Edda is clear. I don’t think I’m the only one who sees echoes of Skirnir’s Journey here, and the way in which Tolkien expands the produce offered to Gerd by Skirnir Is characteristic of his expansive translation determined to build the contemporary relevance of Norse myths.

Appetite whetted, I for one can’t wait for the full publication

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some personal reflections on the reunion of the Spice Girls and what it means for people like me



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Hastily written topical poem about vilifying matadors

Unlike Papa Hemingway I abhor
The bullfighter’s art. In fact I despises
Brandished scarlet capes, and blood, and gore
But I’m less sure about cats torturing mices.
I, for one, vilify the matador
Whenever the opportunity arises.

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A statement from acting Labour leader Harriet Harman

Responding to tonight’s opinion poll on the Labour leadership election, acting Labour part leader Harriet Harman released the following statement to waiting reporters.

“Oh my God.

“All the time, it was…

“We finally really did it.

“You Maniacs!

“You blew it up!

“Ah, damn you!

“God damn you all to hell!”

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The Greek leader addresses the nation – a hastily written topical poem

“This tryst with mother Europe’s
The best deal I could have got
– Poke my eyes out with a sharp stick
If it’s not.”

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Why I left London

In those last hours before I left London I wandered aimlessly marvelling at this vast cultural mix wondering why I had decided to turn my back on this great city, this cultural hub, in order to allow me to record the reasons in a banal think piece for one of the newspapers.

And as I considered the reasons I remembered that the main ones were that my brief holiday was over and I had reserved seats on the train from King’s Cross.

Sad Chorlton

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PRESS RELEASE: No comment on the media stories

I have issued this press statement to confirm that I will not comment on the media stories that have suggested that being six foot five in height makes me ineligible to be a public representative for the association for the advancement of short people. Nor will I comment on suggestions that I have remained seated behind big tables in various public places when representing the association for the advancement of short people to disguise my height.

I will confirm that the man in the picture shown to me was Robert Wadlow, but he is not, and has never been, a family member.

Please respect my privacy at this time.

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further lines on the judgments in the failed prosecution in HMA v Coulson

The perma-tanned perjurer’s fluorescent

With rage, not sunbed iridescence

As courts have rendered him incandescent

Deciding the Crown should have had more sense

Than prosecute based on evidence

Obtained by one with no lessons

In procedural rules of relevance.

So when Coulson freed was effervescent

The Tomster was not acquiescent.

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lines on Craig Raine’s response in the New Statesman to tweeted critical comment of a poem it had taken two years to get published in the London Review of Books

Raine thinks he was treated like a war criminal

If so, such commentary was subliminal.

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Chris Riddell

The children’s laureate is one of those great ideas you can be forgiven for thinking had been around for longer. The brainchild of Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo the central idea is simple: A writer or illustrator (or both) who will promote children’s literature, encouraging the love of reading that so enriches life.

The role has been filled by distinguished illustrators and writers of seemingly simple books for preschool children through to works for young adults; poets and novelists.  And the position that has been filled by such wonderful advocates for reading, and for sharing, poems and stories as Michael Rosen, Malorie  Blackman, Michael Morpurgo, and Julia Donaldson has a wonderful new appointment in Chris Riddell.

I have been to see  Riddell on a few occasions with my children at the Edinburgh book festival. He is an engaging presence before an audience of children – warm and witty, he draws, encourages, and tells stories – and one to one, after the events when slightly awestruck children go to ask about Ottoline and Mr Monroe, or Ada Goth, or exactly how infuriating it is to work with writers, Such as the regular butt of his jokes Paul Stewart, he is a delight, patient and taking the time to listen to and speak with even the most tongue tied. he encourages the  keen doodlers and putative illustrators.

I had no idea that Riddell wrote and illustrated children’s books when I first encountered his work. as a regular Observer reader I was familiar with his cartoons, but when I encountered the beautifully conceived and illustrated Emperor of Absurdia (a dream scape for young readers, drawing them in to a fabulous story where all the quirks and jumps of Dream logic are explained In a final page that still has my six year old oohing and pointing to show where each idea comes from)  realised how fine his work was for the young. They are good for reading aloud too. goth Girl contains a series of literate literary jokes no doubt over the heads of some young readers put there, no doubt, for the author’s amusement initially but mums and dads’ pleasure. But if you want to see the quality of his work try to get hold of the Riddell illustrated Don Quixote, a beautiful abridged version taking what could be an intimidating text and making it accessible, contemporary, and fun.

He’s an excellent choice. Once again, children’s literature and reading is fortunate to have  a fine figurehead and advocate.

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A hastily written topical poem on the successful no case to answer plea in the celebrated case of HMA v Coulson

In HMA against Coulson

When legal argument was done

The judge ruled to Tommy’s fury

“Not every lie is perjury”.

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Some thoughts on reading poems by Craig “Martian” Raine

I read a lengthy poem by Craig Raine.

I clearly won’t be doing that again.

All those Martian metaphors seemed quite vague

And not as perceptive as Norman MacCaig.

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