Not Telling

exercise equipment skipping rope gym sport
Photo by Dom J on


Not Telling

(a skipping chant)

I’ve got a secret,
Maybe I shall speak it –
Maybe I shall leak my secret indiscreet.

I’ve got a story
Told to me by Rory –
Maybe I shall store my story safe and sweet.

To how many folk
Shall I utter not a croak,
Shall I never chat or jaw
What I saw ?

And how many days
Shall I mutter not a phrase,
Shall I never breathe a word
What I heard ?

Your hunger’s getting bolder,
Your guesses getting colder;
But promise to be good
And I’ll tell you when you’re older.

Five fives are twenty-five
And three threes are nine
I’ve got a secret
And it’s mine, all mine.


There have actually been whole studies conducted into skipping chants and clapping songs, and it seems ti’s a surprisingly conservative world, with endless variations around a few old standards – number one in the playgrounds for the past few decades has been A Sailor Went to Sea, latterly morphed into We Went to a Chinese Restaurant.  I don’t hold out much hope of entering the canon, and quite honestly until it’s been playtested by proper six year olds, we’ll never know if it even meets the brief.




signal box
Yeovil Pen Mill Cat & Signal Box by Tim Jones



There is a cat who watches trains
And makes his home in signal boxes,
Lives beneath the weathered gables,
Catches rats who chew the cables.
Grey, he is, with smoky grains
That fleck his coat the way of foxes,
’Cept the tramlines down his back
Which earn his name of Clickerclack.
They shine out silver, brow to rump
They even bear the marks for sleepers;
Branded thus, his fate assured
His working for the Railways Board.
So where a plague of rodents clump
Within the homes of signal-keepers –
Unannounced by midnight freight
Comes Clickerclack to extirpate.
He bites, he claws, he chews in half
And shreds them into vermicelli –
Drives them out and leaves his scent
To fright them off resettlement.
And when his work is done, the staff
Will feed him fish and rub his belly.
Then it’s off to boxes new
Aboard the 07:22.




nature insect macro spider
Photo by Pixabay on



Little Miss Schneiders has always loved spiders:
From miniscule monies to long-leggèd striders,
From purse-webs to orb-webs, to nursery sheet-webs,
From cobbled-up cobwebs to fussily-neat webs.
With eight legs and eight eyes (unless they have six eyes)
And just the right size to pose no sort of threat.
She loves all the spiders, does Little Miss Schneiders,
And thinks that tarantulas make a fine pet –
Who needs a red setter when eight legs are better ?
(Her parent won’t let her, but she’s hopeful yet.)

Little Miss Schneiders is smitten with spiders,
From burrowing wolves to ballooners and gliders.
But best of all, surely, is knowing how Britain’s
Are pussies – as cute and as gentle as kittens.
Imagine Australia !  What lurks inside her ?
There’s trapdoor and funnelweb, huntsman and redback !
But not for Miss Schneiders, who’s safe to love spiders –
For all of her widows are false, and not black.

Ev’ry September sees Little Miss Schneiders
Go searching the skirting and combing the coving –
For this is the season when spiders go roving,
The scent-spinning ladies and amorous lads,
All looking to hook-up as mammas and dads.
From bath-tub and cellar to guinea-pig hutch,
And under the pelmets there’s eggs by the clutch.
They dance on the walls and they sprint ’cross the rugs
For eight gorgeous eyes and for eight-leggèd hugs.

Little Miss Schneiders has always loved spiders –
They’re bigger than beetles and faster than slugs !




autumn avenue bench fall
Photo by Pixabay on



Birds are flocking,
Doors are locking,
Autumn’s knocking once again.
Seeds are podding,
Berries nodding,
Workers plodding from the train.
Skies are frowning,
Leaves are browning,
Hats are crowning, coats are on.
Days are cooling,
Rains are pooling,
Kids are schooling –
Summer’s gone.



The Memes that Mark our Being

jasper alina kevin niklas write on chalkboard
Photo by Flash Bros on


The Memes that Mark our Being

They’re funny things, are names,
As they rise and fall with fashion,
And so fluky in their claims
For what newborns they can ration
From the finite pool of name-less youths
To whom they shall be handed –
To turn them into Bens and Ruths,
And leave them tagged and branded.
And sometimes from colloquial obscurity
Comes suddenly a surge into maturity,
As sweeping ’cross the country comes
The choice of sev’ral-thousand mums.
And maybe just as quickly as they flourished,
So we find them lost and undernourished:
Out-of-date and oft a joke,
Just withered names on withered folk.
They’re funny things, are names:
They’re just sounds and signs and smoke.



My First Imperial Adventure



My First Imperial Adventure

As a child, I loved to pore
Upon an atlas like a book.
The early chapters laid out Europe,
Where I knew it’s ev’ry nook.
Later on came Africa or Asia,
I forget which first.
The other next, then North, then South America
Would be traversed.
Oceania bringing up the rear,
And scattered islands next,
With local names italicised beside
The faithful English text.
That was the story’s climax, now the coda –
Now the final pair of plates –
The Arctic, then the Ant, in round tableaux,
The Baring and Magellan Straits.

Antarctica, to my surprise,
Had place-name labels scattered round –
The Ross Ice Shelf and Ellsworth Mountains,
Kemp Land, and McMurdo Sound.
Such British names !  The Arctic, though, was foreign –
Though I’d love to think
How Queen Victoria might send
The Royal Navy out to turn it pink.
Take Greenland, with its Anglo-Saxon name –
From Cape Farewell down in the South,
On through Discov’ry Bay to Upper Tooley,
And out East there’s Scoresby Mouth.
The Viceroy has his Residence in Goodhope,
With the inevitable railway lines –
Heading South to Hope St Julian,
Through Greenvale and the Squarehill mines.

And heading North on the Great Green Line,
With a branch and boat-train out to Sugar Top,
And via Lower Streamouth aerodrome,
To Foxborough – which once was the final stop,
Until the junction to Jacob’s Harbour,
(Ferries to Goodhaven from the pleasure pier),
Then the final push to Springfield Isle,
On viaducts of steel that we’d engineer.
Of course, in time the Esquimaux would learn
The ways of cricket and the bowler hat,
And in later years, there’s some would settle down
In Blighty, in a council flat
In Ashford, Accrington and Aberdeen,
To drive the buses and newspaper stands,
Opening churches, opening restaurants,
Marrying the local girls and forming bands.

I know, I know, so many problems
Unthought-out in the fantasy of a kid.
Just as well it never happened –
And yet…on a parallel Earth, it probably did.