Beyond the Wings, April 2020

With much of the world being under near-house arrest, I am reminded by a quote from Clive James: “Rilke used to say that no poet would mind going to gaol, since he would at least have time to explore the treasure house of his memory. In many respects Rilke was a prick.”

However, despite being deprived of its big night in Salford, the songwriting has had some heartening feedback. This has given me a boost in all creative activities.


As with the rest of the UK, I have had to drastically change my habits. The gym has been replaced by jogging, the cinema by Netflix, and restaurants and bars by Zoom meetings.

I received excellent feedback from The Literary Consultancy on my work-in-progress novel. There is a hell of a long way to go, but I’m still on course to start submitting it by the end of the year.

Tutoring is also ticking along fine. It of course has all moved online. On the subject of helping others along, I am writing music and book reviews for anybody who asks nicely. Here is an example of a review I wrote.


I have started recording a series of miscellaneous covers. I’ve always liked these songs, but it would be breaking character to perform them live, so this has been the perfect time to get them out there. These include ‘Mis-Shapes’ by Pulp, ‘Basket Case’ by Greenday, and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses.

On top of this, I did an interview about my Chinese-language songwriting with John Fleming, who has been described in The Skinny as ‘one of the most influential figures in British comedy’. The write-up for the interview is here, but I think I prefer the unedited audio.

I also received some very kind reviews of TMItastic and had another short story published.

Wider World

Even the most pessimistic predictions for the 2020s being made five months ago (increased climate catastrophe, growing hostility between China and America, another global recession) seem whimsical.

It is particular dishonest to blame China, despite all its social and political problems. Almost all Western governments handled the situation badly in the early stages, particularly the UK and the US, but blame-shifting is everywhere. Increased populism and xenophobic resentment could well be the flavour of  the decade.

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