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The Mortal Coil Shuffle

"Ms...? The doctor will see you now".

I smile and decide to shake the nurse's hand. Y'know, be the change you want to see in the world. We enter the observation room and the French-Canadian doctor gets up to greet me. He seems nice, the kind of man who wears woolly cardigans, leaves a yearly Christmas card for the papergirl, and happens to be moments away from reaching inside me.

He smiles and I shake his hand. Handshakes for everyone. He keeps smiling and I keep shaking. He lets go first.

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The Nelson Mandela Freedom March

Nelson Mandela was to be 70 on 18th July 1988. I proposed the motion at the ANC International Solidarity Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, the previous December that the world should celebrate his 70th birthday by demanding the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners from apartheid prisons. So I was committed to joining the Nelson Mandela Freedom March on its way from Glasgow to London, mobilising the people of Britain in the campaign against apartheid.

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The Outsider

What can I say of the woods and country roads near where I grew up? I lived and still live in a beautiful part of the world called Ayrshire in South-West Scotland. In fact I love the Ayrshire countryside so much that even named my writing group South-West Writers just to remind myself of how lucky I am.

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The Punk Rocker

I had just boarded the late night train from Waterloo to Woking when I saw him at the far end of the carriage. He was kneeling on a seat, banging on the window and sticking two fingers up at the passers-by on the platform. He was in his late teens, skinny with a thin face and blue eyes. His hair was a multitude of harsh colours, magenta, neon yellow, blue, red and orange, a starburst of gelled sharp upright spikes like a multi-colored hedgehog.

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rebel, punk

The Rebel


As each day dawned I died a little more
Before the labour of my day began.
My life and work which once I’d held in awe
Induced the thought to flee.
I lived my time in sycophantic toil
In unremitting ennui. 

When they that matter say that time is money
Where goes my need for air and space and beauty.
Lack promotes the lessening of my being
And leaves me full of spleen.
Sustenance from these things dear to me
Lie buried and unseen.

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The Rebel

This prose poem is an account of the early life of my grandfather Clary who went from being a pony driver as a boy in the coal pits of Derbyshire to fighting as a young man in World War One and the Russian Revolution. Throughout his life he was always a rebel and I always totally respected him for that.

The Rebel

Too long a sacrifice 

Can make a stone of the heart. W Yeats


The Soldier Boy – Dublin 1916

Age 18

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The Rebel

About 50 years ago I was given a wooden box carved in the shape of a book. Roughly 6" x 8 “. It had a sliding top and was hollow inside. There was an inscription on the lid which read. “Souvineer from Pitcairn Island. HMS Bounty who was land 1790." Inside was a hand written note in pencil signed by F Christian. The gentleman who gave me the box was an old seafarer in his nineties, he had sailed on the clippers ships all over the world. His house was a treasure trove of objects from all his years at sea. He told me the box was made from the wood of the Bounty.

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The Rebel Gene

They hadn’t reckoned with my rebellious streak, my need to defy, to take action, when I felt unjustly treated or felt others were. They were so used to controlling others by fear, just like all governments.

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The Rebel with the baby soft hands

What is a rebel?

What is a rebel? Was I a rebel? Am I a rebel? Are you born a rebel and if so, do you stay a rebel? Or does life with its kicks and knocks, whack the rebel out of you, leaving a conformist in its wake? Who wants to be different anyway?: an outcast in society, a rule breaker, a refuter of what others have to say. 

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The Rebel-drive

She might not have eaten that food she was told not to. But she did. And she shared.

We might accept the ultimate heat-death of the universe. Instead, we keep lighting more fires

Some look at ‘how it’s always been’, thinking ‘It’ll be good for a while yet’. A few scream ‘Boring!’

He could go with the flow of the river. Or stand firm and, shuffle crab-wise, get to the other bank.

The seed should realise it can’t grow through tarmac. Instead, it grows a little more.

Thumbs might easily have followed the other four fingers. Instead, they opposed.

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