Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.

Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:

My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:

Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:

Visit the writers' development service I co-run at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

About Me

My photo
Leicester, East Midlands
As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring. In addition, I co-run The Writers' Shed, a service for writers, at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

Thursday, 7 June 2012

To Have Our Days Again

Breightmet - named for a bright meadow - is growing a green space where once my old school stood. St Osmund's RC Primary, Long Lane, Bolton. Thicketed by hedges high as a fairytale forest, it hides a broken patch of tarmac stamped by decades of hopscotch and skipping games. Through tangled foliage I glimpse myself at six years old, freckled and foreign, only two days off the boat.

Unable to enter the kingdom today, I trail around its boundary. Rusted railings are welded with lichen. The buildings have all vanished. Where the Big Children's playground should be, buttercups and thistles higher than me rustle. A meadow bright with a half century of children's voices. Running riot through timetables, school bells and orderly queues. Briared with secrets we left behind.

The railings take me along to the Top Playground; the grassy hill we used as slide, the Tree that was my Witch's Den, the Boys Football Pitch, all lost to overgrowth. You can't see where two lions strolled in once among the children, causing an early evacuation from Morning Break. (These beasts - escaped from who-knows-where - still amble occasionally through my dreams.)

I thought I would find rubble or redevelopment but instead it is a whispering wilderness, lush with our sudden summer. This school imprinted itself on my original vellum. It cultivated my first instincts as a writer and storyteller, as a performer and show-off. We staged plays, made music, went on nature walks, fought feuds and filled exercise books. Through long bell-punctuated days, it nurtured learning as a creative world-expanding activity.

Today on a rare visit to childhood territory, I am happy to realise I never truly left it. Let the greening of St Osmund's continue.