She’s Gone Again

Twenty-six years are gone

Since we laughed out loud

At nonsense

We cried

You died

This is your song


One last breath, a whole life

A child born and scars torn

Love knot sealed and tied

Goddess cried, Goddess died


Twenty-six years are gone

Since I kissed your sweet cheek

Said farewell

We cried

You died

This is your song


One last breath, the sky is grey

The hungry earth, the empty hole

The velvet box is death’s own bed

Eve’s own kin is dead


Twenty-six years are gone

Since your soul passed away

To heaven

We cried

You died

This is your song


One last breath, a spirit shed

The heavens frown, an angel down

Spirit moaned, lick of flame

Grips the sky, she’s gone again


Twenty-six years are gone

Since we commended your body

To the ground

We cried

You died

This is your song


Leather Bound Memories

You wore grey

On that blissful day

Your love cut like a knife

A handful of rain was all I gave

As you held my hand so tight

Just leather bound memories


Our lives were grey

On that frightening day

I feared for my new wife

We waited for fragmented time

Magic and loss returned your life

Just leather bound memories


The future was grey

On that fateful day

Into your wide arms I fell

Abuse and pain ate through my brain

Forty-three years of a living hell

Just leather bound memories


The sky was grey

On that moving day

Into Alice’s hole you stumbled

The snap, the break, the huge mistake

In chaos the dead spirits mumbled

Just leather bound memories


Your dress is still grey

On this broken day

Like Lennon’s dream recalled

A Revolution 9 as I sip the wine

And remember these times before

Just leather bound memories


Father revisited

When you died

I could not cry

My heart it heaved

My soul was crushed

I vowed to you

Sitting at your


That I’d carry you



To another

Place And that

Would be my joy

So I stood up


Your first born

And told

Your tale

To others that

You loved

My hands they


And I could not


As your casket

Entered the

Crimson fire

Now seven years

Have passed

You are with me still

And the tears have


Too often

Sometimes too freely



Of what was

And what never


Among the weeds

Of Yesterday

That Lucky Old Sun

TODAY (2nd October, 2014) is the 10th anniversary that my musical hero – and the world’s best fiddle player – Dave Swarbrick underwent a double lung transplant which ultimately saved his life.

From his early days with the Ian Campbell Folk Group to his recent forays with his good friend and English folk musician Martin Carthy, Dave – or Swarb to his fans – occupies a true legend status.

Although short in stature, he has always been larger than life with his high octane virtuoso fiddle playing, wit and banter and infectious personal charm.

But, during his 50s and early 60s Dave suffered steadily worsening health due to emphysema. There was huge embarrassment for the Daily Telegraph in 1999 when it published a premature obituary for Swarb, after he was admitted to hospital with a chest infection.

At the time he famously commented: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”

Almost immediately his long-time friend and drinking buddy Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) and Dave’s wife Christine launched the SwarbAid appeal. This included a fund-raising concert at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in July 1999, and a limited-edition EP recorded live, to raise cash for Dave whilst his poor health was preventing him from working. It is a personal delight that I still have a copy of that EP.

After a relapse a few years later, they launched SwarbAid II with a similar concert in 2004 – and yes I have that T Shirt too! Dave received his double lung transplant on 2nd October that year.

During the past 10 years he has resumed his career with fervour, as a solo performer and tours every Autumn with Martin Carthy. In 2007 he joined his old cohorts from Fairport Convention on their 40th anniversary as a band at Cropredy to play their legendary album Liege and Lief in its entirity on stage. It is one of the musical highlights of my life to have been there and witness Swarb play as amazingly as ever.

Then this summer – following a flurry of emails – I was lucky enough to visit Dave’s home where his wife Jill gave me one of his old fiddles (for a donation in return – okay I bought it!).

So this morning as I thought about Dave, his humour, his music and his health something suddenly dawned on me. It was something which had almost passed me by.

You see, 27 years ago today I was lying in a bed in St Lawrence’s Hospital in Chepstow, South Wales recovering from cancer surgery.

The operation one week earlier was quite radical. To remove a malignant tumour, the size of an orange, the surgeons took away my right shoulder muscle and replaced it by re-routing one of my pectorals. Additionally they cut a dinner plate sized flap of flesh from the middle of my back to give my shoulder a good covering of flesh before seven weeks of radiotherapy.

Other than the cancer spreading to my right lung seven months later (which required more surgery) the first operation was a complete success. I lost a little mobility and strength and my off spin bowling action was definitely illegal, but it is a small price to pay for my life and the lives of three children.

The only downside is sometimes the muscles on the left of my back try to over compensate if I overdo it – and bang the back goes. I guess over more than a quarter of a century that has happened about ten times.

And it happened yesterday afternoon while working on demolishing and rebuilding an old Victorian wall in my garden. The result is that since about 6pm last night I have been hobbling around like an old cripple.

Subsequently I have spent most of today lying on our bed, watching the sun stream through the window, thinking bugger I am sore, but how fucking lucky I am to be here at all.

I guess Dave must feel the same!

Poem: Thirty Years

The words scream regret
But I can never forget
What I did
Your face does remain
But I can never regain
What I did
Heart races as I write
I can’t put up any fight
What I did
You were not to blame
My life buried in shame
What I did
A heart aches for peace
Still trying to release
What I did
I turn to you now
Upon my gospel plow
What I did
Can I make amends?
Can we again be friends?
What I did
We look at our daughter
She is our future
What I did

Poem: A tragedy in three parts

Part 1

Waking up with room to spare

My eyes are filled from crying

I knew 10 years had already passed

With so little time to die in

I see the faces of my girls

My ears can hear them sighing

Just the blink of a life ago

The truth needs no denying

Their little voices laugh with glee

Head and heart they are defying

The August sun beats on and on

Faint hope is still decrying
Part 2

No anger

No hatred

No vengeance

No respite

No quarter

No apology

No sentence

No fight

No hope

No future

No daughters


Part 3

Why did you take them?

What did I do?

Just be a brave father

And breadwinner too

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry

Your name it is vengeance

For what I don’t know?

I am a good father

And that you do know

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry

You let the years pass

So how do you sleep?

What happened to you

Has now happened to me

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry

So now I reach out

Just one final time

And ask you to listen

As time it does fly

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry

Bury your hatchet

The ages have passed

Walk up that hill

Because nothing will last

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry

Tread your path slowly

Look back where you came

Believe in tomorrow

It is never the same

You took away life

On the wing of a lie

You took away laughter

And left children to cry