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Copyright © Nigel Mellor 2017

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First published 2017 by

Dab Hand Press

Newcastle upon Tyne

ISBN: 978-0-9513862-8-6

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Nigel Mellor

For Kate and Joe

Many of these poems may be best appreciated when read aloud.

To get a feel for the rhythm and accent of North East speech visit


Peace is rarely peaceful


The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026

There is no more terrifying sight

Than the middle classes

Short on



The ringing drew me

I’m certain I hadn’t heard a blacksmith working since I was a child, and can’t really recall one then, living in the town, not the country, as we did

But the ringing drew me

That special sound of the beating on the anvil while waiting the next beat on the metal, to keep the rhythm going

You see, the ringing drew me

We got return tickets on the Carlisle to Settle line, but couldn’t get steam. And the viaduct is not so impressive from the train window (you have to get out and walk back, which we didn’t)

Which is just as well, because the ringing drew me

We poked round antique shops and picked up some curd cheesecake, which we’d been looking for, for years since we found a monastery on the moors and bought a cheesecake, and loved it. Then lost it for ever. The monastery, that is

And all the time the ringing drew me

Even when we climbed the crag and watched the quarry lorries almost meeting on the tightest turn – the up-wagons slow and dragging, the down-wagons fast and bouncing – on the busiest road through what should have been calm

The ringing drew me

The smith was happy to stop and chat, and we took photos, and a business card. Not that we intended to have fancy wrought iron railings made, but we wanted to look as though we just might. In thanks

As I remember it, it was the ringing that drew me

To a past I never knew I knew

The gateway: at the confluence of the North and South Tyne

Where peat-brown water off the border

Rages down

On the soft, sweet stream from the south

At that mingling

I knew the Roman who stopped to drink his fill

And all the ghosts to come.



On the quarter to four

The forward motion of the boat

Exactly balanced the wind

The bow flag stilled

And with engines on half-ahead

All was hushed

As the ferry slid

Into a time gone by

The appearance and disappearance of birds

The death of her mate

Upset the swan watcher

Not the swan


The seagulls’ cries

Of drowned sailors, by day

Become the silent shades of night


And my kestrel has gone

From the field

Where the new B&Q superstore lies


But I know the branch

Where the kingfisher sits

On those rare occasions

When he crosses my route.

I am blessed

I can say no less.

And I can say no more.

In an easterly light

About nine tenths of the way

By my reckoning

At the very limit of my eye’s reach

A speck twisted

Now with sails, now without

But the harder I strained

The harder it was

To pick out that struggling

Between sky

And the waiting sea

The rescue

We could not stare

At the rescue

And we could give no help

If the worst that could happen

Did happen

As we watched

Would we have felt unclean?

Incident in the fishing grounds

Cromarty Forth Tyne

Severe gales increasing to hurricane force twelve


The cabin light

Was twenty feet off

He was wet beneath the oilskin

His hands were numb

He did not see

The wave from behind

Cromarty Forth Tyne

Severe gales increasing to hurricane force twelve


Gene story*

I am the last of my kind

Chipping on rock:

“Once were humans”

*it is now possible for backyard chemists to switch genes around, with no regulation

At the rising of the seas*

Warnings came and warnings went

You still wanted everything

But when we lost Manhattan

They even listened in Beijing

*with apologies to Leonard Cohen

The noble sacrifice of whales

With no way to cry “stop”

They came, silent

To die on our beaches

If you’d just told me

Look, the oceans are finished

The land is gone

The air isn’t fit to breathe

If you’d just told me

Of course I would have done anything

I would’ve stopped driving

Or flying

Or … something

I just didn’t know

You can’t blame me

What was I supposed to do?

If you’d just told me

We all hate flies*

No one worried

When the flies went

But quite soon after

We went too

*for Silent Spring

Go forth and modify

Across all the lands

The new corn grew strong

Until the twentieth generation

When crops simply failed

Then we begged from the poorest

Seeds from the old days

Too precious to eat


A century we thought them done

But now we’re digging out pits

And building up the fires

What we tried to kill

We only made stronger

It is the plague times, again

It is the plague times

The walk

He walked for two weeks

Carrying his brother

They ate when they could

Mostly there was nothing

A child himself

All he had was the walk

His brother

And the rumour of a camp

Chapter and verse

And they shall have dominion over

every thing that walks and crawls

and slithers and slides

and swims and flies

and grows in tangles on the good earth.

And that dominion shall be as love


Mumbai, late

From darkness

So small and dusty

Holding hands through the traffic

They walked off

Into India

We didn’t want the Taj hotel

Just a few yards along the shore

The carpet was threadbare

And the sheets needed mending

But when we opened the shutters

A warm wind blew in from the Arabian sea.

In that one movement

The country was ours

Big city

A water buffalo and her calf wading the river

Sheets drying on rocks

Cries from the circling kite hawks

And twenty four hour traffic on the bridge


Shiva’s temple by the haystack

Stone steps to the river

A sari of crimson and gold

An infant in the sunset

And a dog left dying on the road

Near Osho International Meditation Resort

Holy Western guru

Saintly face

Loving the poor fruit seller

Buying nothing

Gin and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune

As we signed the photo

“Gina and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune”

(a gentle joke for friends)

We became my parents

Under the Raj

But then the image changed again

To a picture in a scrapbook

Discovered by grandchildren

Yet unborn

Jai Hind

We are the children

Of the lost Empire

When we go

It goes too

It is not the fashion these days

Nor is it politically correct

To talk of

Leaving Simla on a mule

Sunrise over the Taj Mahal

A glimpse of the Himalayas

Dinner under the moon

And the infant who died in the heat of the South

All that is left

Is to whisper at Ghandi’s tomb

Jai Hind – long live India


The rosewood casket

I like the metric system

It’s sensible

It works

It’s plain as plain can be

But for that rosewood casket

Hand carved with feeling

Inches and eighths

Were the language of love


I recall

In a lane

Two boys with sticks

Whacking an ancient hedge

Which hurt neither hedge

Nor boys


Empty, quiet streets

Cold breeze

Hot tar

Back from the park with wet feet

And Davey


Tinned salmon

Cucumber, thinly sliced

Neat lettuce

Tomatoes with no taste

Talk at tea time.

And nothing ever said

The point

Why were you so awful?

Made me feel small,


We could have been colleagues.

Dare I say it,


Forty years on,

Now I can see

The dying in your face,

And the problems gone

(whatever they were),

What was the point?

Control freak

I did not know

There was a wrong way

To blow dandelion clocks


what she really

really wanted was

someone to

walk beside her night

and day carrying

a full length


The sand wiggler

Under the beach umbrella

After too many margaritas

Than was strictly sensible at my age

I spied the sand wiggler

Over dunes and rocks he followed a random tack

Chasing food? Water? Sex?

I suppose he had a Latin name

But had not learned it

My glance was taken by a dancer

And children playing

Then he was gone

Returning to the hotel

From the furthest corner of my eye

I think I saw him, one last time

Going about his life

As I went about mine

Before getting in

This stretch of coast

Is particularly treacherous

They say

When the tide slips in on the surface

Quiet, sly

Strong currents drag

Whatever lies beneath

Up the bay

Then down

Sometimes, simply, out

It is important to know the sea

Before getting into the water

The Cluny, Ouseburn Valley

There is a grassy bank outside my pub

Although it’s not properly a pub

More a “venue”

And the bank is pretty boring

But the glass you look through isn’t

The windows are old

Very old

And some panes remain

From the day

Watching him

Coming down the bank

Bent this way and that

By the faulted glass

I wondered what was real


The bank

Or the glass?

By Constant Rise

I watched you as you climbed that hill

Now clear

Now hidden by a bush

Now a turn in the path

I watched you long after you had gone

Even when the way itself could not be seen

I watched you till the stars gave out

And the birds brought back the day

I watched you till my eyes hurt

And my body grew so very, very cold

I watched you

Because the watching was all I had

Dreams of Polly Toynbee

On my bus-pass-birthday trip

To Eastern Europe

She kept to herself

With a smoky laugh

And quick temper

She liked a drink

And was the spit

But at the border

Needed to complain

That Birmingham, with all the robes

(she meant the races)

No longer looked like England

So, gone my dream of Polly Toynbee

And gone my chance of fame

That man

Mark that man

Plot his course

On maps and measure well

Chart his destination

Take down every syllable

And carefully note

Each gesture, hint or finger raised

Don’t let one breath

Of that man’s passage

Escape your close attention

Because that man lies

His words are screens

You may forget

Then he will act


My walls are open fields

My chains are winding roads

How can I go to my love

When I do not know if my love loves me

My father would ask, my brothers would mock

If it were market day, we’d be there by dawn

If it were wedding day, we’d be there by noon

But to go without reason

To go without knowing

Just to go!

The village has no locks

My walls are open fields

My chains are winding roads


I had forgotten

So much

But that tree

In the back of the old Volvo

Had the scent

I drove home



I am really not bothered what you think

And although your words depress me

They will not stop me

Because all my life

I have seen distant hills

Right on

He had dealt

amazingly successfully

with sexism racism

classism ageism

and even able-bodied-ism

but at the end of the day

he was still

a total


On the naïve belief in the transformative power of pop records

We were so young

With all that music

We thought we could

Change the world

We couldn’t even

Change ourselves

Semi on the Coast Road, 1973

Old fashioned Sunday

Cuddled in the fire glow

Mary and her cat

Listening to the sound of radios and rain

Listening to the sounds

Listening to the sound of night cars hissing by

These matter

After all I’ve done

And all I’ve been

Only these remain

A hand in mine

A track to nowhere on an endless day

A blackberry bush

And her silly joke

On silence

There is the quiet

Of an empty house

Then there is the empty quiet

When the children have gone


Nursing Home, 1991

Try a drop of tea, Pa. I’ve

Put a bit of sugar

In, I know I shouldn’t. They

Brought me a full pot on

A tray with two rows

Of biscuits on a plate in

Circles and a glass

Of sherry. Hope it’s not

South African


No, I’m the younger one, my brother’s

The older one with

A beard. At least I think he’s

Got a beard. It’s funny, I see him every

Day and I can’t remember

Yes it has turned

Cold in here. I didn’t notice you

Opened the window. I covered him

Up, he seemed cold


They’re coming to turn

You in a minute, Pa, they

Like me to leave then, I

Get in the way and they need

To wash you


They call him Bill and

Talk to him while they do

Their job and now they’ve asked that

Young nurse to look after

Someone in the next room – he’s

Been coughing again and

Through the night I can hear them talking gently

To the others as

They put them to bed, and it’s

Not put on for my benefit


I wonder where the rest of your

Cups and medals are. Ma brought them

In with a picture of your dad and

The children were pleased to come

Today although we all just sat

And cried, but they weren’t too young to

Understand that moving

To the hospital with tubes and drips

Wasn’t right. They

Said you wouldn’t want that


Can you hear me

Pa? It’s me. Hold

My hand. I love you. And


The hawk moth

Beating itself against the window

The hawk moth

Despite my fond desire

Could not live

But would not die

The tin plate from the Victorian mine

Mines used to be so much simpler

There was one way in

And one way out

But when the tunnel collapsed

There was no way out

Months later

The recovery team found

Beside the bodies

Scratched on a tin plate

“I don’t want to die in the dark”

August 1999 – an earthquake in Turkey

My sister was called Tasneem

She was named after the fountain in the garden of Paradise

I remember the shaking most

The man who used to live in the other room

Cried a lot

He died the first day

I knew it was day because the blackness was not quite so black

We shouted

But could hardly make a sound

The second day

I think I heard her cry, when the bulldozers came

There was so much noise

My sister was named after the fountain in the garden of Paradise

Appellation Contrôlée, wine label ‘Minervois’

Under a warm sea

The shells of dying creatures

Laid down the soil

Of Minervois

It is recorded that

In the year of our Lord

Twelve hundred and ten

Men, women and children

Of a peaceful faith

Threw themselves on the fires

Of Simon de Montfort


They kiss cheeks

In greeting

And the land is still

Getting older

My enthusiastic


said give it

a go, you’ll regret

it if you don’t

so I did and I

enjoyed it

now I’ve done it

and I’m still not


I wonder whether being

left with

my illusions

would have been

the kinder thing

An excess of miracles

I’m bored with miracles

What I mean is

The first one was, well, miraculous

And the second

Right up to about number eighty three

But then it started to get a bit


Don’t get me wrong

It’s wonderful and all that

But you can’t spend your day

Just marvelling

Life has to go on

Miracles or no

On medievalism

There must be

One hundred books on gods

And one hundred books on goddesses

One hundred books on devils

And one hundred books on angels

One hundred books on wizards

And one hundred books on witches

One hundred books on heaven

And one hundred books on hell

One hundred books on cherubs

And one hundred books on demons

One hundred books on telepathy

And one hundred books on levitation

One hundred books on astrology

And one hundred books on reincarnation

One hundred books on miracles

And one hundred books on spells

And they can all simply be


I believe*

I believe

Beliefs bereave

Bedevil. Besmirch.

Betwixt. Between.

Be without end.

Be upstanding.

Bewitch Bother and Bewilder.

Be grateful for.

Be gone Beelzebub and all his works.

Be still, the voice of calm.


Be everywhere.

Be mine.

Be thine.

Be on time.

Be the best you can.


Be a man my son.

*from a workshop on “be”

Say a silent prayer

I prayed the bus wouldn’t be late

But maybe I should have

Prayed I hadn’t lost the tickets

But maybe I should have

Prayed he would get his job

But maybe I should have

Prayed the baby would get well

But maybe I should have

Prayed they caught the bomber quickly

But maybe I should have

Prayed the ice caps wouldn’t melt

But maybe I should have

Prayed the meteor couldn’t get us

But maybe I should have

Given up on prayer

Seaton Delaval hall

From Laval in France

They conquered with William

The wild Delavals

Had competitions in grinning

And biting the heads off sparrows

Now children run in their empty halls

How the flighty are fallen

Why did Di die?

I didn’t spy

With my little eye

Or cause her to fly

I didn’t buy

The journals that pry

(and pay the paparazzi guy

to take pix from the sky)

I didn’t sigh

Or identify

Or drool over lie

After lie after lie after lie

And I know you’ll deny

(as you openly try

to deify Di,

while all on the sly

you’d read how she’d cry)

It was you made her die

Toddler Alan Kurdi, 2015

He lay there

To open our hearts

And sleep forever on a foreign shore

After visiting hours, 2014

Towards the end

There are promises

That will not be kept

Remembrances taken away

And one last skill to learn:

To drive and cry

A church service

The only important mystery

Is life

From font to tomb

The times before and beyond

The mouldering church knows well

But wisely remains silent

Funeral gathering

We think we are

The centre of the universe

But what it comes down to

Is scraps of people



And a nice cup of tea

In passing

You can measure a life

In plastic bags


That aren’t worth much

Clothes that no one wants

Photos that might mean something

To somebody

A battered brass pot

From the mystic East

Soon the memories will go too

Out with the bags


Children need adults

The way adults need gods,

To take away the pain

And answer the question

There are, however,

Only children and adults



There are no guarantees

It’s great at the end

When the heroes come out

And everything’s put to rights

But what about the start?

You’re like me, my friend

I waited twenty years

Till it was safe to be brave

*following a revolution in Eastern Europe

Memo to the informer, now*

When we are old

And you want my forgiveness

And you try to explain the pressures you were under

I might listen

But, then again, I might not

* after revelations of extensive secret files in Germany and Poland

Human Rights

When the bombs go off

The gloves come off

Then the only thing we have to stand up for

We throw out in the uproar

Justice is top prize in the dirty war

A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973

In my head it was right

In my heart it was right

But I did not know it was right

Until I heard the soft warm voice of Africa

Beware of words

To kill them

You must first

Make them less than human

And all that takes

Is words

A reflection on the irony surrounding the long delayed trial of the Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair at the International Criminal Court

The one time

He told the truth

The whole truth

And nothing but the truth

Nobody believed him

Iraq Libya Syria Brexit…

Bring up, bring up the guilty men

Who fooled us all along

Without a plan if things went right

Or a plan if things went wrong

A modern cook book


Take one dictator

Arm to the hilt

Suppress the news

And all opposition

Sprinkle with spies

And secret police

Leave in a dark space to ferment

Then complain about the mess

Main course

Take one nuclear reactor

Place on active fault line

Give a bit of a shake

Rely on hose pipes

When the cooling system fails

Call on the state to clean up the mess

Thank heaven that no one dies

Then announce “nuclear power is safe”


Take one Tory government

No, stop! I feel sick

Songs of praise (for a guy)


O charmer

Osama (not)

O dreamer

O schemer

O George Bush (not)

O walker

O talker

O Gordon Brown (not)

O leader

O pleader

O Cameron (not)

O Dancer

O Prancer

O Santa Claus (not)

And you can’t help liking him

Even if he is American

The peculiar similarities of 1939 and 2017

It feels strangely like

The unsettled peace before






The difference is

We know we survived that time

Nation state

It takes a lifetime to build a nation


It also takes many lives


There is always a good reason for


Closing newspapers

Secret trials


And the pulling out of fingernails

The thing is



The reason

The way

’tis the way of the rebel

to cast off the iron chains

of oppression


to slip into the shiny plastic suit

of commerce

which grips

just as tight

How the West was lost

When politicians cheat and bankers lie

And newspapers won’t fight the good fight

The man in the street joins the army’s old cry

For a strong man to put it all right

Trickle down

The spectacularly fraudulent trick

Behind the theory of trickle down

Is that money is actually persuaded to flow


From poor to rich

Not t’other way round


The road from welfare

To workhouse

Is very short

And it goes via shame


There will come a day

When you will work

Not for wages

But just the bread to fill your belly

And on that day

Banks will, as usual,

Fail disastrously

And ask you to eat less bread

Private Health Providers

First they came for the glasses

And I said nothing because I could afford glasses

Then they came for the teeth

And I said nothing because I could afford teeth

Then they came for the warts

And I said nothing because I could afford warts

Then they came for the heart surgery

What I find annoying on reading autobiographies of Important People

It’s not that

They had money

And connections

And servants

It’s that

We didn’t have


Or connections

And we were the servants

It starts with the libraries

Few of the gentle

Little things

Survive the crushing wheel

To market

Which is, perhaps, the point

When the flowers have gone

Can the oaks be far behind?


The only way to make the poor richer

Is to make the poor richer

Making the rich richer never works

Crisis management

When bankers riot

And investors pull down the City of London

We calm them with trillions

When youths riot

And children pull down the inner city

We calm them with truncheons


Imagine the impact

On the dismal science of economics

If, in standard text books,

Whenever we saw the words “the markets”

We substituted the, admittedly rather cumbersome, phrase

“a small collection of highly paid men”

Mr. President-for-life

Rule by fear

Can be remarkably successful

I know that

And so do you

But there is one tiny, weak link

In this whole enterprise

Fear can leave

Then so must you


Fascism does not come

With horns on the head

Cloven hooves

And a tail


It comes with smiles

And votes

And hatred in the heart


A few friends, in strictest anonymity, have alluded to what bubbles up beneath.


You are tough

I can see it in the way you look

In your voice

You are the kind I cannot hurt

My words have no effect

Neither have my deeds

But you

You hurt me

You can break me with ease

And you have done

Many times

But I have survived

I have learned


Each time a little more

Now I am steel

Broken, but re-forged

You have not yet been tested


We can be proud of that golden generation who served. Pa loved the army, but war is another matter; and, perhaps unsurprisingly, women’s voices are often missing. Some of the following pieces attempt to correct this.

The tile maker of Darnac

I came to know this man

The tile maker of Darnac

As we moved one hundred hundred

Of his curved French tiles

To roof the old barn

A tall man, I sensed,

The clay shaped over his thigh

Tapering to the knee

Trimmed and fired red

To last through time

A few shorter and finer

Perhaps his partner’s

All strong yet easily broken

But no matter how small the overlap

They cling to protect the layer beneath

Are their names now

In the pilgrim’s church

With the fallen of the Great War?

Listed, not as soldiers,

But as “children of this parish”

A letter to the recruiting sergeant

From the way you talk

He could have been stamped out in a factory

But he’s mine

Eighteen years of work

That’s six thousand five hundred

And seventy days, to you, mister

And you’re not ’avin’ ’im

Edith Cavell, October 12 1915, dawn

I don’t care

What you call them

Or what uniforms they wear

To me they are just men

In pain

Though some are hardly grown

Perhaps they will fight again

That’s not my decision

I am a nurse, nobody’s saint

Not afraid of death

I have known so much

Just let me see the sun one more time

Then shoot

This and that

People on this side

People on that

All found the same ways of dying

Some did it quick

Some did it clean

And some did it slow while crying

Poppy Day

We remember the soldier with a gun

Who is such a brave fighter

Not the mother with a child

Who can only hold tighter

I seem to see

I seem to see

Through the long strands of mind

A war

Not my father’s

(which ended just as I

was getting going)

But the one before

With greatcoats

And gas

A park

With railings and wardens

Dark, heavy rooms and

A woman

In a long costume

Not paintings

Not engravings


I see through memories

The final Samurai battle

Drawing their swords

They ran at the guns

It is said that the soldiers cried

As they shot them down

When war comes

When war comes

(and it will)

Those you now despise

(the unemployed, the riff-raff)

Will become your legends

All it needs is war

Long, long ago

Things were much slower then

It took ten thousand men in one army

To slaughter ten thousand men in the other

And the whole bloody business took days


It is sad but true

For peace to reign


The weak must forgive the strong

And the wronged, the wrong doer

Philosophy for soldiers, level 1

Re-sit, September.

You have one question.

Time 45 minutes.

Please use both sides of the paper.

In a crisis

Economic or otherwise

Should you

A. Shoot unarmed civilians

B. Desert



I’m a leftie

And a pacifist

And to be quite honest

A bit of a wimp

To me the average squaddie

Is, well…

But when push comes to shove

You know who’s got your back

Civil War

The tighter the ties that bind

The deeper the cuts when torn

An old woman climbs Starshaw Bank

Thank you kind sir

But I’ll carry my own bag

Up Starshaw Bank

My father fell in the Great War

My husband died in Normandy, I kept his medal

My lad, it was the Falklands

They say he had courage

You see, I’m a real army wife

And each day I must carry my own bag

Up Starshaw Bank

The mother’s tale

He will always be a hero to me

My son

Although we don’t talk about

Such things these days

I found out how he died

The exact time and place

I’ve even met the regiment that did him in

But I don’t hate them

They’re friends now

The British

Stand up*

“It couldn’t happen here”

You say

“We wouldn’t let it”

You say

But you don’t even open your mouth in staff meetings

You don’t say

*for the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

The cornflake man*

Lenny was a poor shot

So they gave him a flame thrower

We had the heavy machine gun

As we went through towns and villages

I don’t like to think about those times

Now I am in the factory

I make your cornflakes

I am the cornflake man

*for much older friends, 1939-45


sometimes they left

their radios

on, those poor

boys we heard

them as they




* for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Libya: mission creep

look out for

that subtle point

when “Just War”


just war


We rejoice

Over the death of one man

But before we declare the world

A safer place

We should be sure

That we know the nature of

The man

The world

And the meaning of the word ‘safer’

A small town on the river

Tonight the beer is dark

I don’t understand why

The barges are low in the water

Waves wash along the decks

I share a word of pleasure with a stranger,

In her language,

As we watch a heron pose

The accordion player smiles right into my eyes

In thanks for a coin

In the crowd the football songs are the same

Students, well drunken

Ask the way to the old town

And apologize for their schoolboy English

Over fish soup

Two businessmen write down where to visit,

Discuss the war

And Clint Eastwood, who they’d met on holiday

Why should anyone want to kill these people?



Is understandable

(and can we disagree?)

But what gives hope

Is the woman whose husband

Never came home

Yet can say

The killing




Holiday in Andalucia, Spring 2011

In the small towns of Southern Spain

Drivers stop

To let you cross the road

We choose to eat

Spaghetti Bolognese

On the beach

The air is fragrant

Orange trees

Have both oranges and blossom

At the same time

You can see the coast of Africa

When the wind drops

The sand is too hot for bare feet

And not too far away

Across the ancient Mediterranean

Men are trying to blow each other to pieces

And families are drowning to be free

Sergeant Bill

Where are you lying now, my sergeant Bill?

They sent me back your letters, sergeant Bill

Sent me caps and sent a kitbag

Sent me boxes and a bold flag

But no one thought to send me sergeant Bill

Shipped you off like cargo, sergeant Bill

Stamped and documented, sergeant Bill

Gave you boots and gave you Blanco

An old rifle and some ammo

But no quartermaster gave me sergeant Bill

Where are you lying now, my sergeant Bill?

Telegrams forgot to say, my sergeant Bill

Said how proud they were and grateful

Great deeds you did, but fatal

But paper’s not the same as sergeant Bill

I suppose you did your duty, sergeant Bill

Still I’d rather have a coward, sergeant Bill

To hold me and to need me

To love me and to feed me

Through all the years you leave me, sergeant Bill

If you enjoyed this book the author would welcome a review. These can be posted on Amazon or any site where you downloaded an ebook.

Nigel Mellor’s Reviews

Reviews of For the Inquiry: Poetry of the dirty war. (Dab Hand Press)

An excellent collection. Tribune

There is a special ring to Mellor's poetry. It's a unique compelling, boiled-down style which manages to convey a deep sense of cultural unease that many will surely recognise . . . a collection to establish his work among the first rank. 7 Days

Honest, straight talking . . . political in the best sense . . . keeps the human perspective firmly in view . . . A timely reminder that poetry has an important role . . . Should be read by all who share the author's fear that 'the freedoms we have . . . become a way of forgetting. Carol Rumens

If the Inquiry is no charade, it will take these words to heart. As will the reader . . . A plain man's guide to political breakdown . . . This is caring unsentimental poetry. Gillian Allnutt

Mellor has a clean, sparse ... engaging style. For the Inquiry... is a beguiling collection, its poems ... deceptively simple ... their subversive nursery-rhyme style charm cradled over deeper wells of meaning, even occasionally, of the sublime. Alan Morrison

Available on Amazon and

Reviews of Buddhism#now: Big Questions. Inner Peace. LOL. (Dab Hand Press)

Dr. Mellor really knows his stuff ... entertaining ...unique and amusing ... brilliantly diverse coverage ... thoroughly enjoyable. The Courier

This world needs more authors like Nigel Mellor. He brings such light and explanation to serious questions. Amazon

A good read ... combines slapstick humour with everyday life experiences ... without jargon or mysticism. NSU/Life

With this gem of a book Nigel Mellor has delivered something that is simultaneously light and funny and packed with sincerity and wisdom. Amazon

Crystal clear jokey writing, cartoons and snappy dialogue. Engage

Fantastic, funny, insightful read. Amazon

Informative ... find the distinction between pleasure and long-lasting happiness ... readable. Lifestyle

A beautiful book … for serious thinkers and for people who want to know the secrets and meanings of life. Amazon

Fresh, original, captivating and insightful. Amazon

Reviews of The good, the bad and the irritating: A practical approach for parents of children who are attention seeking. (Sage)

Over 20 years Dr Mellor has developed strategies that ... effectively change the child’s behaviour. The Independent

Full of hope ... for parents [in] a desperate world. Advice is given with understanding, warmth and a real appreciation of what life is like when you have an impossible child. Times Educational Supplement

A very practical, down-to-earth and humorous approach… techniques that harassed parents can use … this book is impressive. Educational Psychology in Practice

Extremely useful… I recommend this book as a manual for parenthood. Humour makes it an entertaining, yet informative read. The Teacher

Highly enjoyable …delivers key messages superbly well… points are delivered with warmth and sensitivity. British Journal of Special Education

[Mellor’s] techniques will help you to turn your child from a monster into an angel. Daily Express

Who’s pulling the strings? ... strategies [for] exasperated parents. Yorkshire Post

They are driving parents mad ... but there is a consistent approach that helps. Birmingham Post

Back to your granny’s wise words - the book is packed with real life examples ...[from] families and their moments of sheer desperation. Sheffield Star

The parents [Dr Mellor] sees are in a terrible state ... [his] help is practical and focused on the future rather than past mistakes. Newcastle Journal

I immediately felt a lot of empathy. All in all an excellent book. Special

Up-front and practical approach to this all-encompassing challenge. Education and Health

A very valuable resource. Children are Unbeatable Alliance

Empowers parents ....would be ideal at parent workshops. Special Needs Information Press

A panacea for many parents ... an immensely readable book. Young Minds

Mellor’s easy-going and empathetic style of writing [is] both refreshing and eminently readable ... the book is shot through with humour, modesty and encouragement and I highly recommend it. Contact a Family

Reviews of Attention seeking: a complete guide for teachers. (Sage)

Help is now at hand ... for the teachers ... driven to despair… gives teachers a way of gaining control. Times Educational Supplement

Practical strategies [to counter these] weapons of mass disruption. The Guardian

Even makes enjoyable bedtime reading, since Mellor’s style is easy and interesting ... case studies ... bring the book alive. Special Children

Good, sound advice ... a valuable book for those involved in teacher-training. Educational Psychology in Practice

An abundance of common sense. Education and Health

For the harassed teacher ... invaluable. Child Care Forum

Advice… is well-founded and user-friendly. Bridges, Northumbria University

They drive adults up the wall… attention seeking children have so far struggled to find a category of their own in the experts’ text-books. Education Journal

A pioneering book … from a wealth of practical experience. Herald and Post


Go forth and modify Militant Thistles (2017 forthcoming)

Sergeant Bill The Great British Write Off, Forward Poetry (2016)

Iraq, Libya, Syria, BrexitCulture Matters (2016)

Beware of words Simona Wallace plus 470 others (2015)

A small town on the river; Private Health Providers; Beware of words; How the West was lost; Austerity Militant Thistles (2013)

It starts with the libraries; Crisis management The Robin Hood Book, Caparison (2012)

Sergeant Bill; Negativity Voices from the North East Radio broadcast on NE1fm ( June 22 2012)

The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026; Economics; Trickle down; Transformation; Go forth and modify Emergency Verse, Caparison (2011)

A modern cook book The North East Poetry Journal (2011)

A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973 Poetry Marathon, Brian John Allen (1993)

Heroes Guardians of The State, Poetry Now (1992)

With thanks to: Carol, Fleur, Fran, Ginge, Joe and Carlotta, Kate and Adrian and Jack, Keith, Mark, Mary, Peter, Rosemary, Shaun and Molly, Yvonne.

Other Publications


For the Inquiry: poetry of the dirty war. Dab Hand Press.


Buddhism#now: Big Questions. Inner Peace. LOL. Dab Hand Press.

Practitioner books

Attention Seeking: a complete guide for teachers. Sage.

The Good, the Bad and the Irritating: A practical approach for parents of children who are attention seeking. Sage.




The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026


The gateway: at the confluence of the North and South Tyne


The appearance and disappearance of birds

In an easterly light

The rescue

Incident in the fishing grounds

Gene story

At the rising of the seas

The noble sacrifice of whales

If you’d just told me

We all hate flies

Go forth and modify


The walk

Chapter and verse


Mumbai, late

We didn’t want the Taj hotel

Big city


Near Osho International Meditation Resort

Gin and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune

Jai Hind


The rosewood casket


The point

Control freak


The sand wiggler

Before getting in

The Cluny, Ouseburn Valley

By Constant Rise

Dreams of Polly Toynbee

That man




Right On

On the naïve belief in the transformative power of pop records

Semi on the Coast Road, 1973

These matter

On silence


Nursing Home, 1991

The hawk moth

The tin plate from the Victorian mine

August 1999 – an earthquake in Turkey

Appellation Contrôlée, wine label ‘Minervois’

Getting older

An excess of miracles

On medievalism

I believe

Say a silent prayer

Seaton Delaval hall

Why did Di die?

Toddler Alan Kurdi, 2015

After visiting hours, 2014

A church service

Funeral gathering

In passing




Memo to the informer, now

Human Rights

A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973

Beware of words

A reflection on the irony surrounding the long delayed trial of the Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair at the International Criminal Court

Iraq Libya Syria Brexit….

A modern cook book

Songs of praise (for a guy)

The peculiar similarities of 1939 and 2017

Nation state


The way

How the West was lost

Trickle down



Private Health Providers

What I find annoying on reading autobiographies of Important People

It starts with the libraries


Crisis management


Mr. President-for-life





The tile maker of Darnac

A letter to the recruiting sergeant

Edith Cavell, October 12 1915, dawn

This and that

Poppy Day

I seem to see

The final Samurai battle

When war comes

Long, long ago


Philosophy for soldiers, level 1


Civil War

An old woman climbs Starshaw Bank

The mother’s tale

Stand up

The cornflake man


Libya: mission creep


A small town on the river


Holiday in Andalucia, Spring 2011

Sergeant Bill

Nigel Mellor’s Reviews

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