I owe a big debt of gratitude to a friend of mine called Clare Morris who was a very inspiring Head of English at the school where I work. When I started out writing things of my own a few years ago I would run them by her and she would give me much more praise than my efforts deserved and in the process, crucially, she encouraged me to stick at it. The end result was a book, a dozen or so magazine articles and a number of comedy scripts which were delivered in the form of standup routines.

I was in touch with Clare the other day to let her know that my daughter Pippa had gone off to the University of Glasgow to study English Literature and Comparative Literature. I felt she ought to know because Pippa´s decision to study Literature is in no small part attributable to the great teaching of Clare and her successors in the English department.

Clare told me she has now retired and she keeps herself busy (she is never not busy!) with writing poetry amongst other things. She was kind enough to send me two lovely poems one of which relates to a river. She was also kind enough to allow me to reproduce it here:



Drifting in drowsy dapplement,

Past banks of water parsnip biding their bloom time,

The Great Eau gazes at clouds bursting with the blousy buxomness of Spring.

Her crowfoot-freckled face, chalk-cleansed, calm,

She croons the lullaby of ages.


Starwort-sheltered brown trout perform their piscan pavane,

Searching for supper in shared silence,

While overhead, a kingfisher darts past

In a Byzantine riot of lapis lazuli and burnished gold.


Cuckooflowers, pale pink smocks fluttering, giggle in lacy loveliness,

The promise of a pas de deux in their come-hither eyes.

Star-struck ragged robins swoon at such wooing, blushing to their roots.


Otters whistle as they twist and tumble in whiskerful glee

While fat-rumped voles wiggle homeward

And mayflies, borne aloft by the evening breeze,

Bask in their last few moments of glory.


The whole world seems poised,


I cannot tell whether it is the earth or sky that holds me,

I only know that to breathe now would be to break the spell of such sublime choreography.


Gran had a good word for it: dimpsy –

That time when afternoon and evening kiss before parting.

Twilight is too sad a word, too full of regret and decay –

No, it won’t do; it won’t do at all.


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This is a lovely image of a beautiful female brown trout in shallow water. I´m sure Clare was thinking about something like this! Unfortunately I can´t track down the photographer to give due credit (I pinched it from the internet)