Saturday, 28 June 2003

Just when I think I’m winning
Up early, unfocussed as usual, but managed to rouse myself to do my morning writing. Spend most of my day wrestling with Microsoft’s stupid outlook, trying to get the distribution list system to work. I don’t and end up sending news and info to my mailing list in groups of emails. This won’t do as the numbers grow. Don’t know how to sort it out.

Saw ***** yesterday. She was in a hell of a mood with me, we talked about the nature of forgiveness, and I decided to try to be strong. To let go, this is what I mean by forgiving in this instance, not forgetting.

My prayers sail on the rising voice of my drum

Gave blood this afternoon for the first time in years, and thought about my will again. It really is something I need to sort properly. I’ve had it with work for today. Being slave to a computer takes its toll. I might have a read of some poetry, something juicy like John Donne perhaps, but then there’s always the tennis

Listening to – Japan – ‘Ghosts’

Friday, 27 June 2003

Earl grey tea and rainy days…
Learning to find forgiveness without forgetting or condoning the events which have moved my world into such a strange place, through such fear and pain. Through the thoughts of demise and loss. How do we do this without hoping our actions don’t plant the wrong seeds, to genuinely forgive not push things down and pretend. How the hell do we do this?

Not awake at all today, drinking beer & eating paprikash with Kay and John last night, beer always makes me crappy, I should just stick to whisky or drink nothing, I like the taste of beer but the effect is horrible, so chemical. I have been free writing in the mornings trying to divine a purpose to being a poet. Wondering how am I allowed, by the way this world is, to be a poet. It seems you have to be a teacher, group leader, health facilitator, grant applier for, PR agent, first then you may get a poem in. this is not good. All I want to do is to write and to have an audience for the work. How does one get out there? Be seen? In visual art there are exhibitions, shows, exchanges, not for writers. Nepotism rules the day in the poetry-publishing world.

It is raining; thankfully, it has been so hot and dry the last 3 weeks here. It is nice to be in the house. Tim Buckley’s ‘lord I must have been blind’ is playing down stairs and I am replying to some correspondences, very nice. Earl grey tea and rainy days…

Wednesday, 25 June 2003

The blues sung fresh
A few very difficult days have just passed, trying to move on in life and relationships; everybody’s strings twanging and hurting, like some ultimate guitar playing an ultimate blues.

Been reading Langston Hughes’ poetry, man that guy was so far ahead of his time. His dream montage book is beyond belief, and his mega powerful “Negro speaks of rivers,” just floored me.

Sunday, 22 June 2003

3 wishes

Let my poetry flow and communicated wide, in speech, and pages and books with my name on, may it go into lives way beyond where poetry normally goes.

From the books comes money, enough to live with some ease and pleasure

Beautiful love, which is physical, spiritual & intellectual. Well matched and lasting a lifetime with the means to face the hard stuff and survive.

music: the night rejoices profound and still by Current 93 (live in Lisbon)

Saturday, 21 June 2003

Summer Solstice
The year is in balance, yet how do we know what is right, sometimes things feel right and look right when they are wrong, some things we have to do seem completely crazy, but they have to be done. It seems impossible to know what to do. It also seems hard to do anything without someone being hurt or adversly affected by one’s actions. Some kinda cosmic joke I think. Well here's a big F*** you to the powers that be. May all be happy.

Music: soundtrack for the wicker man ( what else can you play on a day like this)

Friday, 20 June 2003

Midsummers eve
Everyone’s having a hard day today, everyone I speak too is feeling low or lacking. I try to get up at 6 am I have to go back to bed with a hot water bottle to unache my heart, and I don’t rise until nearly mid day. Had lunch at Ruby-juice with my neighbour Jane, then home to write nothing. Edit nothing. Managed to get to the organic shop for some fruit, and feta cheese. Picked a salad from the garden for tea. It is so lovely to be able to feed oneself with freshly picked food. Managed a journal entry, and then thought it was time to write this.

Music today: Gently Johnny, from the wicker man

Wednesday, 18 June 2003

Have been working so hard the last few days, with my prison residency and the Gig in York on Monday. The gig was great; though my co-reader was a shambolic woman by the name of Jennifer Langer. I think the idea of what she was supposed to be doing, telling stories of writers in exile, was a great idea, but the delivery took away most of what would have been interesting. I read for about half an hour and did some chatting afterwards which I always like, allowed a bit of my flirty self to have a play. I enjoyed myself, though I wish I’d not been up since five and been working in the prison all day. My new poem ‘Variola’ went down extremely well, it was useful to give it a live shakedown too, as it has made clear to me a couple of edits that need to be made. I sold a lot of books and cds which is amazing and a number of people added themselves to my mailing list, so I am well chuffed. I would love to be able to stop these hardcore residencies for a few years, and just get on with poeting for a while.

Yesterday it was back to Wetherby gaol; I helped a man write a poem for a murdered child, who he is related to. You appreciate I have to be very careful what I say here as I must not give any hints at identity in any way. The funeral is soon and he has asked me to attend. I am honoured to be trusted in this way. Being a the writer, and not any part of the usual prison system gives me ways into people that I don’t think anyone else in the establishment has. I’m not trying to get them to do anything, nor am I part of the authority; I’m lucky that I just get to deal as a person, in that environment. There are some things I wish I didn’t know though. There are such bad stories in my head that have been entrusted to me, and the prison service has no counselling system for staff to help unload. Fortunately I get on well with staff from different areas of the nick and between us we offload to each other a bit. I wish I was empty of all this murder, attitude and pain that I so much a natural part of life for some. I have been there too long I think somehow. I have begun to see this stuff as a normal part of the world and I know it’s not true. It is part of the world but it is not normal.

Drinking whiskey last night. Visited my friend Richard, staggered home and watched Will & Grace taped from the other night.

Going to Leeds with my date today, shopping and lunch, fantastico. Yep it’s the same woman as the other night. The date was cool, Japanese food, a lot of laughing and some night viewing from the beautiful hilltops around our town. A leisurely day. I have my massage this evening, and I have a ton of admin to do, but I need a day off, so I’m having one


Sounds: Black Dog Vs Nav Katze

Monday, 16 June 2003


up at 5 am
out to prison at 6
working from 7.20
leave prison at 3.40
drive to York
28 degrees centigrade
6pm sit through other author (oh my god)
7.30 pm my turn
rock tha' house
8.15 pm do the after show chatting thing
8.30 drinks and ego boost
9 pm drive for home
10.30 blog

gotta get up at 5 and guess what.....?


music: brother sister - brand new heavies

Saturday, 14 June 2003

June Full Moon
Full moon tonight, lots of magic on the Earth, I should be writing, but so far I have watch two old ‘Tomorrow People’ episodes from The Doomsday Men series, played UNREAL II and now I’m writing my log. My head still won’t clear from yesterdays writing so my plan is to do a small bit of Yoga, have breakfast of bacon & eggs, shower and take a walk. If that doesn’t open my head nothing will.

Could do with some distraction after todays writing session, if anyone is reading thes journal and would like to say hi or comment you can email me at js at

I have a date tonight, I can’t believe what I’m about to say, as anyone who knows me knows I’m not the greatest fan of America’s burgeoning wish to be an imperium, but I’ll say it anyway. I wish we were more American in our dating habits. I know some lovely American people, but politically man the USA is screwed with its world domination credo. The crazy thing is the words used like democracy, freedom etc, mean freedom to do things the American way, which is not always the way others live at all; it is not based on the freedom to be who one is, and maximising that. Anyway enough ramble from me. I do wish we could date like Americans, in Britain. Here it’s all or nothing, sometimes it would just be nice to have dinner, see a play or something, get to see if you like each other a bit, without all that English undercurrent stuff going on. I suppose American’s have their own undercurrents. What am I talking about? Oh yeah. It is so strange to have to be dating again, I thought I was married for life, bonded, that *****’ and My relationship could take the strains cos' the rewards were so good. I still think we could have sorted things, It seems so unfair to be searching for tiny fragments in these ashes, and to having to try to be open in my heart to people, when all I want to do really is to go home.

“Home that’s where I want to be pick me up and turn me round”

“I guess I should be having fun”

I was going to make breakfast

No music this morning so far

Friday, 13 June 2003

England’s Reserve
Went to see my mum, we waltzed around her living room to ABBA, and went for lunch at Shabir’s the best Indian café anywhere. It is near Strangeways in Manchester. Spent all last night in the studio doing a mix based around an old Kate Bush tune, Johnny’s assistance proved invaluable. It’s all about being a Selecta I think. I also did some work in the garden yesterday, planting out herbs, tidying up boxes and sewing seeds. I know it is nearly full moon, and you should plant seeds at new moon, but I felt like I had too.

Today has been heavy. I am writing a new poem inspired by the reading I will be doing in York on Monday. I am trying to tell the tale of my father’s leaving of India. It is a strange task as there is no one to get information from, so I am searching deep into my genetic memory for clues. I hope to read the draft version on Monday night. When I was not writing I pottered in the garden some more, read some Ginsberg aloud to myself. Had my neighbour laughing at me as I was reading in my dressing gown this morning in a very dramatic style. Oops caught out. It is a bit like someone catching you playing air guitar.

Part one of the poem is done. Spent some of the afternoon laminating graphics and poems for sale on Monday night. Tomorrow I will select the possible poems I will be reading and have a reading aloud session.

I have been reading ‘England’s Hidden Reverse’ about the underground UK scene fronted by Current 93, Coil and Nurse With Wound. Current are one of my favourite bands. The book is worth having just for the photos from back then. I finally got round to ringing Stephen in London, I can be so crap at getting back to people, and now I think it is time for the world’s finest fish and chips from Hebden’s wonderful White Lion Chippy


Musics: Kate Bush – The Sensual World

Wednesday, 11 June 2003

Frozen efforts
A hard day in a hard place. My left side was frozen with the effort of being in gaol. Tonght I had my weekly massage. I don’t know how I’d get through a week without it. Had a small comminque from my ex via my website, always hurts when she gets in touch. I really miss her. Bought some growing herbs for the garden, will sort out one of my herb boxes tomorrow, lovely fresh corriander & parsley for my salads, and my lettuces look fabulous. Anyway, curry & bed for me, tonight I am lost to the world. The phones are going off, the curtains are shutting and I will sleep.


Music today: led zep iv

Tuesday, 10 June 2003

AMEX Blues, Dreams, Evil Plots & Cherry Tobacco
8 27 am. Late with my credit card payments, head all over the place. I should be at the prison again but I’ve swapped days for tomorrow as we have the Big Boss coming in so we have to be seen to be doing. It is all bullshit and show, and the real versions are never seen. It’s the reason why the NHS, schools and so on are supposed to be on track according to the government when we all know how screwed up things can be. No one ever gets the truth and those that need to see it aren’t interested in it. Gosh what a cynical man I am early in the morning. Dreaming about my ex-wife again, as I do every night, leaves me missing her and really grumpy first thing, maybe I shouldn’t journal so early without the perspective of the day to even my temper.

9 am. Need to get some new mirrors in the house, these just aren’t working right.

Early afternoon. Walking with Motna showing him the watercourse route to the Craggs, everywhere smells of wild garlic, I think that would be a great name for a book ‘Wild Garlic’ a collection of poems by John Siddique. We stop at the river beach, the water is iron coloured and we are under trees. It is sunny and the mossy rocks are like green jewels. I am blessed to live in such a place. We smoke pipes, and I am reminded of my father, he smoked cherry tobacco. We find the most astonishing beech tree, very old and spreading it’s ceiling in a hug of illuminated green. There are no archers on the field today, what a way to spend Tuesday lunchtime. This afternoon I am hungry and the ghosts of last night’s dreams eat into that hunger. I think it is time to vacuum the house, do the washing up, play reggae, or the music from ‘Amelie’, and eat. It is going to have to be garlicky

7.40pm. 7.40pm. Spoke to Paula Truman at Bradford Libraries, about the possibility of doing a Poems for peace reading. We had a good chat about scary local writing groups, very funny. Didn’t get round to cooking as I fell asleep on the rug then Johnny turned up with donner kebabs. We listened to music and filled up on spices & mystery meat. Hmmmm. Tim Smith the photographer called about me doing some work with him for an exhibition later in the year, some writing, some workshops and maybe a performance. It’s all down to money, but I could end up with a very busy September & October at this rate as I’ve already got quite a lot of work booked in. Marie rang, I feel blessed to have the friends I have. I have really enjoyed writing this journal over the last few days. I have noticed I am noticing more because of it. It also gives me another way of writing in the day, cos’ lets face it, it is impossible to write poetry all day, sure there is editing and admin to do, but it is nice to just write something every day.

Love, love

Ultramarine’s Nightfall in sweetleaf ep.
Grandaddy - Sumday

Monday, 9 June 2003

Prison afternoon
Down on *** wing. Room **. The yellow paint is blinding me and the toilet in
the cell is both too visible and a bit smelly. ***** sits there. I can
barely get him to speak. I know he thinks what I'm saying is stupid. The
buzz of the wing cleaners clangs off the thick walls, they peek in as we
chat, well as I talk and he mutters back, with the look of stupid t#*t on
his face. After a while I tell him I'm going to leave him too it. I'm trying
to get him to record his thoughts and observations in a journal as he goes
through remand, how he feels about the guy surviving, how the looming court
date feels as it fast approaches. I tell him I'll visit again in a few days,
then I echo my way down the unit.

todays music:
poppy seed by boards of canada
The narrow road to the deep north

Partying last night, driving a car the size of a roller-skate and the brakes not working, careering through a red light and down a hill. Arrived safe but slightly pissed off at not being told the car was so poorly. Food and drinks with Leon, Jude, Gilly, Trish, Joanne, Andy & Sharon, all good peoples. Was scowled at by some Ben Sheman shirt-boy scum for being a group of differing colours.

Today the road to the deep north. Hadrian’s Wall, & shamanic soul healing, can’t say anymore about it. It is important to not give this treasure away by talking about it. Full breakfast at the loveliest service station ever at Westmoreland. 400 miles of driving in an old Saab automatic which likes to drive itself.

Home to whisky, ‘Caol Ila,’ the breath of angels warming our throats. Then catching up on phone calls, and now to bed to rest for a prison day tomorrow.

Music today:
Peter Gabriel’s 4th album especially ‘San Jacinto’

Saturday, 7 June 2003

Remembering Peter

Spent the morning at the creative writing workshop I attend, write 3 new poems, one of which brought up an old name from my school years, Peter Brasinskas, I wonder where he is now. It is interesting how writing can bring back people who you have long forgotten. I didn’t stick around for the afternoon of the workshop. I must say I find the afternoon quite tedious at these things are we are supposed to comment on each others work, but “poets” can be so bloody pedantic, that knowing where something is worthwhile or not is a near impossibility.

I spent my usual afternoon on the bench nipped to the bookshop and bought ‘the artist’s way at work,’ by Julia Cameron as they had it cheap at £4.99. Also bought Stevie Wonder’s ‘innervisions’ for a present for my friend Leon who is having his 40th birthday party tonight, so when I finish typing this blog I’ve got to get ready for that. Still not watched any TV although I did set the video for Will & Grace last night so I may watch that when I get in tonight.

Today’s music in the house:
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Yann Tiersenn - Amelie

John Siddique

pleasure is our watchword

Friday, 6 June 2003

It is strange to type straight into the computer, I usually write everything longhand first, its just a habit I guess, but I do think the heart and the writing hand are directly linked, maybe typing fingers are too. Of course they are.

I've not watched TV for days. I put a cloth over the telly to stop me just turning it on, and you know what it works, that extra layer. I find myself talking to my neighbours more often. Sitting on my bench in front of the house and watching the world a bit. The idea behind me keeping a weblog is to up my daily writing output, and to connect with things and people a bit more through it. At the moment I'm editing my poetry manuscript that I hope will become my first book. I work as Writer in Residence at prison 50 miles away from home. And I lead a lot of creative writing workshops, but in my heart I'm just a poet really.

Last week the house was teaming with people. This week, I'm pretty much here on my own. The prison this week robbed me of my soul somewhat. I'm helping one of the inmates write a poem for the funeral of a murdered child at the moment and it is like having to swallow the dark and feed it from my light. On a good note though a poem of mine that I actually like, there aren't that many of them as I'm a really harsh self critic, was published this week in a UK literary mag called the North So I had a celebratory lunch in our local wonderful juice bar Rubyjuice with my friend Hannah. Today I've got down to it a bit more, more spell checking to do. Then into edit mode. My lovely novelist friend Marie has been through my script and left me with a tough job. I'll try to do it with good grace, but I am so attached to some of these lines. Later I'm helping John from next door move his futons around, oh the thrill of a Friday night.

Today's music in the house:

Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Miss Dynamite
The soundtrack from 'The Guru'
Coil - The mothership & the fatherland
A silver mount zion - Born into trouble

Talk to you soon
John Siddique