jingle jingle!

jingle jingle!



(for Peter Common & Dan Pinnock)

'But the thing I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.' (George Orwell).

I stood at your door,
knocked in the English sunshine,
bowed to greet you
but could not hear
the chatter
from your typewriter
or the rain pecking
at the tin roof,
only the plummet of the leaves
brushing against my face
and the birds
falling over the fields.

Thought of you and Jack Common,
shaking hands
in open debate,
patched sleeves
damp on the bar counter,
ploughing through
tracts of history,
eyes on the horizon
looking for War
and bombs
over Datchworth's spire.

This magic morning,
clear sky in our hearts.
No September showers,
only goats bleating,
a horse trotting
down the lane
and, in the day dream,
St Mary's bells
with Eileen asleep
in the clouds.

What should I say?
We are weak.
I know you were awkward
but, like Jack, full of love.
Out of bullets,
flowers may grow;
out of trenches,
The roses
and acorns of thoughts 
you planted
those years ago
in Kits Lane,
nourish us now
in these brief minutes,
from your writing hand
farming for words,
the eggs of essays,
the jam on your fingers.

You were scraping a book together,
smoking the breath 
out of your collapsing lungs,
taking the world
on your creaking bent shoulders,
riding across fields
for friends,
bones aching,
fighting to exist
in the cold breeze.

Still the Simpson's Ale
was good in the Plough,
the old laughter still
flying down this Wallington lane,
with the crackling children 
on an idyllic day.

Enjoy this beauty,
it will turn to pain.
Sing your folk songs,
dig your garden,
dance in your brain.
Graft and graft
until all the breath is gone.
Leave a brave mark
in the dust
round Animal Farm.

What a good thing
to be alive
where songbirds soar
and daffodils nod.
Over the slaughter
of motorways,
we are following 
your large footprints
into this bright countryside
where good people
adopt another's children
and still 
fall in love 
with England.


Written after visiting Orwell’s cottage in Wallington, Hertfordshire, where he lived with Eileen O’Shaughnessy and which was looked after for him in 1938 by fellow writer Jack Common.

'The more I read ‘Wallington Morning’ the more I like it.  Very well done, an extremely clever and well written poem!' (Peter Common, son of Jack)

'I love this! Very emotive! Draws pictures in my brain and melts my heart. Thank you.' (Denise Byrne, daughter of Peter).



Tuebingen (and a trace of coffee)
invades the edges of my agitated tongue
as I glide through the empty stools
of the moments gone
and the sensational waitress
picks at the tips
of those forgotten days,
the wasted breath
of political song.
I have lost something
that poems can’t define:
the warmth of my mother’s smile in the shivering moonlight,
the love of a lifetime
and the ways my young feet
ran along in the summer breezes.
But my friends (those who stand by me) I tell you
I shall rise,
I shall rise again at Newcastle Airport
and greet the runways of Europe
with kisses fresh
with longing
for the ache of adventure,
an air hostess’s hand in mine
as I cling to the sunshine in her eyes
and the golden memories
to force me to laugh again.




We change at Limerick Junction.
Rain knocks the smiles off our faces,
the sun glows and exposes the dust in the faint traces of our poems.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Weather makes our eyes fade,
the hours grow tired of breathing in the pain of the world.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Hearts thunder along the crazy rails,
the weight off our feet lands with a thump on the daily platform.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Carry gifts for old friends,
the urge to go on trailing poetry along the lines.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Girls get too young for us,
the flesh weakens with the passage of whiskey.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Air races in the manes of horses,
the money drains from our exhausted pockets.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Jump from one train to another,
the inexhaustible desire to write a better verse.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Words are why we laugh,
beauty is what makes us want to live.
We change at Limerick Junction.





(for Helmut Bügl)

On this evening flight,
necks stuck out,
we dart in formation
to a Stuttgart dream.
Complete strangers,
we share a common French wine
to celebrate clouds.
With your rough words,
you ask me what I do.
“Write poetry”, I say,
and sign away a verse or two for you,
hovering in mid-air, between snow and sun.
“And you?” “I breed pigs I do”,
flying home from a swine seminar in Montreal.
To prove it, you sign me a photo of six of your litter,
the Swabian breed of Helmut Bugl.
It’s a flying cultural exchange,
a rhyme for a slice of time.
The stars are sizzling in the thrilling sky
and, tonight, pigs might fly.
Tonight, pigs might fly.

Keith Armstrong



This is a special man
who spends his life entirely
searching for clues to all of it
outside the teeming box.
He rants from the obscure corners
where no one else dares,
rummages down lanes
where most folk fear
to walk,
looking for a special meaning,
a hint of a jewel
in the pervasive rubbish.
A walk with him
will lead you
into beautiful gardens,
alternative libraries
and abstract galleries.
His voice
is his own
unique instrument,
dulcit in the sun
of blooming vineyards
and birdsong.
His thoughts
the universe
with their original
Listen to him,
to the deepness
in his soul,
to the reverence
in his wise and seaching eyes.




The Government has captured the public's imagination,
jailed it,
court martialled it, hung, drawn and quartered it.

Still, we will rise,
in the tunes of our youth.

We will sing,
from prison




the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur