Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

An Afternoon with Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett Joins Lineup For 1001 STORIES at Leeds Playhouse

What a wonderful afternoon I had at Leeds Playhouse ‘in conversation with Alan Bennett’. Not on my own, of course. The session was sold out and Alan certainly didn’t disappoint. Frail physically now, his mind and sense of humour seemed as sharp as ever as he read extracts from his diaries and fielded questions from the audience. Apart from a woman on our row who insisted on whooping every time applause was called for (and sometimes when it wasn’t) and couldn’t wait to get hold of one of the roving microphones, it all went very well. There’s always one, isn’t there!

6 May, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Wodehouse in Wonderland

Today’s show at York Theatre Royal featured a tour de force from Robert Daws as P.G.Wodehouse, better known to his friends as Plum. (Apparently that came about due to his inability as a small child to pronounce his given name of Pelham.)

I’d seen Robert on television many times as Bertie Wooster’s friend and fellow Drone Tuppy Glossop as well as in person when we both worked on ‘The Royal’, but this was the first time I’d heard him sing, which he did very well. As the show progressed, I realized how little I’d actually known about Wodehouse either, including the fact that he’d written musical comedies for Broadway in collaboration with Jerome Kern.

The second half of the show was darker, as it dealt with the aftermath of Wodehouse’s WW2 internment by the Germans and subsequent accusations of treachery when broadcasts intended only for the United States were played on British radio.  There was also the tragic death of his much loved stepdaughter Leonora and his long exile from his homeland. 

The thunderous applause at the end included considerable whooping from some members of the audience, including the lady who’d been seated next to me throughout the performance. We hadn’t exchanged a word, so I shall never know whether she was just an ardent fan of Robert’s or always carried on like that. Not as odd, perhaps, as the couple on the other side who’d arrived wearing face masks but removed them to enjoy the show. 

22 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Poetry reading at Boroughbridge Library

This was my first visit to Boroughbridge Library, which is wholly run by the community nowadays.

The main part of the evening was taken up by York Radio’s poet laureate Olivia Mulligan (below), but Nicky, Sudip and I from the Write-On! Ripon group were also invited to read some of our work to a small but appreciative audience.

22 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Blithe Spirit

Always a supporter of local AmDram, especially when one of my friends has a leading role, I went along to the opening night of the Masham Players’ latest production. It’s a very wordy play and, as one would expect from anything written by Noel Coward, full of quick fire witticisms. To appreciate them all, I should have to see the play again, maybe several times, but the set was very effective and I particularly liked the way the ghostly apparitions were portrayed.

22 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

A croquet taster

When our local croquet club advertised taster sessions, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Common sense told me that we were unlikely to be playing with live flamingoes and hedgehogs,  but further than that my knowledge didn’t stretch. However, always up for trying something new, off I went.


The game was more complicated than I’d imagined, but knocking a ball through a hoop wasn’t too difficult. Until, that was, I discovered that the practice hoops were considerably wider than those used in actual matches.

Shall I go again? Maybe, but not until my back, shoulders, arms and hands stop aching from the rigid stance. Perhaps I’ll be better off just turning the experience into a piece of writing. Watch this space!

18 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Purely social

Write-On! Ripon certainly knows how to relax with good food and good company. 

It’s just a shame that Beverley, Kevin and Dan missed being captured on camera during our evening at Ripon’s Claro Lounge.  

15 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Write-On Ripon! Unleashed

It’s over a year now since I joined Write-On! Ripon, a group of lively individuals who meet every Tuesday afternoon to share work and swap ideas. We’re eternally grateful to the management of our local Curzon cinema, which allows us the use of their Lounge every week and their basement aka our Cavern of Creativity every couple of months or so for an open mic session.

Last night’s was particularly successful. Not only did we have poetry and prose of various kinds but also the first public performance of Caroline’s play for voices, which was inspired by the Salem witch trials. Several of us volunteered to read parts and it went down very well with the audience. The injustice of such trials, with no one wanting to be out of step with their neighbours, has been repeated many times during the course of history and it still takes a very brave person to stick their head above the parapet.


7 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Living on Fresh Air

Newly retired couple Caroline and Dave have everything they have ever wanted; a nice house, a hot tub, a small mortgage, a few savings and a new smart meter. But with Covid and the cost of living crisis things are changing. Their son has moved back home, their money is disappearing, the hot tub’s gone, the lights are going out and the smart meter is stressful. No wonder they feel like starting again, and with their new found hobby of walking it feels like they have. From the Wolds, to the Dales, from the Lakes to Scafell Pike, they’re determined to get out and keep positive, but with rising bills, rising temperatures and the family home full, there’s only so far you can go when you’re living on fresh air.

Seen at Harrogate Theatre today, John Godber’s latest production had the bonus of John himself on stage with his real life wife Jane Thornton.  Supported by Pete McMillan as their son, they presented a state of the nation comedy that expressed fears and frustrations that many of us have been feeling since the first Covid lockdown. Will things get better or worse in the future and what on earth can we do about it anyway? 


1 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Spike no longer!

Jeffrey Holland’s one-man show ‘and this is my friend Mr Laurel’ at Ripon Arts Hub last night was very entertaining. Inspired by a love (ever since boyhood visits to the cinema) of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, his monologue was an excellent blend of humour and pathos.

I also enjoyed the second half, when he came down amongst the audience out of costume for a Q & A session. (Can it really be 40 years since ‘Hi-de-Hi’?) As a curtain raiser for this year’s Ripon Theatre Festival, it was an ideal choice.

31 March, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Writing challenges

We at Ripon Writers’ Group have creativity coming out of our ears this year with new challenges thought up by Ian Gouge, the Chair since the last AGM.
The flash fiction evening – writing inspired by character profiles he got us to compile as a group – went very well, but even that may have been surpassed by this week’s task.
The thought of writing a new poem inspired by a well known one but in the style of a completely different poet caused a lot of head scratching and yet most of us got there in the end.
Examples ranged from ‘Humpty Dumpty’ rewritten in the style of John Betjeman to a Rabbie Burns version of William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. Much hilarity ensued and everyone agreed that it had been a worthwhile exercise.
My own contribution, an attempt at the style of Ian McMillan, was inspired by A.E.Housman’s war poem ‘Here Dead We Lie’. Written with the greatest respect, my response is dedicated to Uncle George, who fought in the trenches, and Uncle Albert who died at the Battle of Jutland.
However ultimately pointless WW1 may seem in retrospect, no one should ever underestimate the courage of those on both sides who suffered and died.


Here dead we lie because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.


In the style of Ian Macmillan

So we’ve kicked t’ bucket

And does tha want ter know why?

Cos we wasn’t conchies

And nooan were gonna ‘and us white feathers

Or call Yorksher lads shirkers

We got usselves organised

Joined t’Pals and off we set for France

Us mothers wept o’ course

But they was proud. Us fathers too.

We’d come back ‘eroes, or so we thought,

Afore we turned nineteen.

It weren’t to be.

Pity really.


10 March, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Check Out My eBooks
Supporting artists, or ‘extras’ as they’re more commonly known, are the unsung heroes of television and film. Maggie Cobbett recalls the ups and downs of twenty years of ‘blending into the background’.
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The 20th century has just dawned when David is apprenticed to a Yorkshire coal miner. But what of the younger brothers and sister he has been forced to leave behind in their London workhouse? Will he ever see them again?
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