A page for some of my writing.

I’m planning on sharing some of my Poetry, Comedy Sketches, and Stories here.

I’ve written for years. Some of the work, mostly sketches, has been performed.
I’ve performed some of my poetry and writing at Open Mic sessions.
And some Sketches have been heard on Radio.
I’m now being brave and sharing here.

Hope you enjoy.

All material ©David McClelland
Contact me to copy/print/perform any of these works.  dave@mcclellandmedia.com


CANAL WALK, 14/5/2023

On May 14th I joined writer Anne Grange on a writing walk, organised through the Writers Workshop, setting off from the centre of Sheffield, catching a tram to the Meadowhall area of the Canal, then walking along the towpath back towards the city. This is what I wrote along the way.

Perfect spot for zombie apocalypse

Words and water
Flowing through the city
Flowing through my mind
Flowing from my pen

Cathedral tram stop
Surrounded by old stone buildings
Banks sold off, now pubs and flats
Years of marble and fancy wooden counters
Become supermarkets, coffee shops – cheque mate 

Gladstone building overlooks cathedral
Fancy roof, wrought-iron finials and cresting,
looking like inland widow’s walks, gothic trim that’s stood the test of time. 

Catch Full Monty tram
Familiar faces from their stripping days
Now aging and on Disney Plus
Can I leave my hat on?

Tram seats worn edged
From years of bums on fabric
Bodies leave their mark and move along
Hold tight!
Cathedral, Hyde Park, Cricket Inn Rd
Get thee to Nunnery Square
Tram route map has pretensions of being the London Underground
Attercliffe Stop, a Cliff no more
Centretainment and Olympic Legacy Park

The valley once lined with smoking steel works
Now home to leisure industries
Carbrook, IKEA
Sweden won Eurovision again
Mamma Mia, how things change, money money, money…

Doors open on to Meadowhall South stop…
Canal and River
Twin waterways
Run under twin viaduct
Double layers of cars and trucks
Speed above the geese and ducks
Slower water traffic on 19th century navigation
Fences and Barriers to keep out intruders under viaduct
Perfect spot to escape the zombie apocalypse 

Tread the towpath by the canal
Aging infrastructure, pump houses, locks
Close by trains and roads,
More modern replacement for water transportation
No horse pulling barges now
All gentrified
The towpath now a walking trail
Marina home to nomadic water dwellers
Constant sound of filling and flowing, bird song in a green corridor, a distant hum of traffic and industry 

Glimpses of new development through trees and over walls
Power line pylons criss cross the watery artery to the heart of the city
Follow the water to the west
Graffitied walls and ramshackle works
Keep watery world a secret

Walkers and cyclists squeezing by on narrow paths under tight bridges
Then canal basin opens up
Where city meets water with bars and restaurants
Old canal warehouse now funky flats and offices
Rest the legs and reflect
Cold beer and hot pizza while we watch the ducks

Stripy towel

Farewell stripy towel
Your daily duties done
You once were bath sheet luxury
But now your fluff has gone

You’ve rubbed me up
And rubbed me down
Dried my private bits
But now you’re thin and threadbare
Have holes and pulls in bits

So one last time it’s wash and dry
Then folded up and stored
Ready for emergencies
Like when water floods the floor 

Take to beach to sit upon
Or to dry up a wet doggy
To use in an emergency
When something’s getting soggy 

Now there’s a new towel on the hook
So blue and full of fluff
Come, wrap yourself around me
When I’m wet and in the buff

/DM 6/9/23

Back to school song (Sept 2023)

Oh my school is falling down
Falling down Falling down
Oh my school is falling down
Blame the Tories

/In response to School Concrete Debacle – DM 5/9/2023

The wasp won’t go

Dead wasp on window bottom
I didn’t know what to do
So wrapped it up in tissue
And threw it in the loo

Could have used the bin
But I was in a rush
Regretting it now though
Cos the wasp won’t flush

It’s tissue paper wrapping
Shot off around the bend
But the wasp is on the surface
Won’t meet its watery end

I cover it with toilet paper
Flush it once again
But after swirling turbulence
The wasp carcass remains 

I wait for my next visit
Then shoot at it with wee
A bit more toilet paper
But it’s exit’s not to be

Another wait, it’s time to poo
I bare my bum to stinger
Drop a few depth charges, flush
But no, the wasp still lingers

It spent a good few hours
Floating in my little pond
But my final movement of the night
Sent it to the great beyond

/DM 23/8/23

Me performing THE WASP WON’T GO

Thank you for shopping at Wonderfoods [Sketch]

SOUND: Sounds of supermarket hubbub, background chatter, etc throughout

Thank you for shopping at Wonderfoods, did you find everything you wanted?

Yes, thanks

lovely, do you want a carrier today?

Oh, yes, please

Super, just a cheap one or a carrier for life?

Cheap one please

Righto, (SHOUTS) Brian – carrier for this customer please

SOUND: she starts to scan, sfx of beeps and stuff going to end of counter

I’m Brian, I’ll sort you out today (COUGHS)

thanks Bri

SOUND: SCANNING SOUNDS, clunking of cans, etc

(TO PAM) Excuse me, what is he doing? He’s putting all my shopping into his clothes… in fact what’s he wearing? Those cargo trousers with huge pockets, a gilet with big mesh pockets all over… What’s going on?

Well that’s Brian, he’s your carrier, he’s going to carry all your shopping to your car. You can’t expect him to carry it all in his hands?

But I thought you meant a carrier BAG… And anyway, I’m not in a car

that’s okay, Brian will walk home with it for you

happy to be of service (COUGH)

I’m not walking, I came here on my bike

No problem, Brian will run beside you, won’t you Brian love?

Course I will, it’s all part of my job (COUGHS)

When you said carrier I thought you meant a carrier BAG, not a person

Oh no love, we’ve done away with bags here at Wonderfoods, we’ve brought back the human touch.

But you asked if I wanted a cheap one or a carrier for life

Yes a cheap one is just 20p to get all your shopping home for you. But if you choose a carrier for life, you can take him home and re-use him

Sorry, what? Where would he stay? And how much would it cost “for life.”

Well there’re very happy just stuffed under the sink, aren’t you Brian…

oh yes, luxury… (COUGHS)

…And the For life service is just £2,499

How much? I might have another 30 or 40 years life left in me, surely two and a half grand won’t cover Brian’s costs?

ahh, it’s not for YOUR life, it’s for his. Poor old Brian isn’t too good, are you love?

No, but I might have a month or two left in me… (COUGHS)

I can’t just stuff a sick man under the sink, can I?

I’d be happy… (COUGH, SNIFF)

oh, he’ll love it…

So, do you have a few sick people doing this Carrier For Life thing?

Oh yes, but they’re not all poorly. And they’re not all as cheap as Brian. Sven cost £27,000. He’s been a great hit with his owners.

Twenty-seven thousand to keep him under the sink?

(WHISPERS) Well to be honest with you, I think Sven stays upstairs now. I’ve never seen Mr and Mrs Brown looking so happy.

Oooo! Well if you have any more Sven types in can you let me know?

Course we will. Right that’s you all packed up, well done Brian. That’s £52.20 today. On your Card?

Yes please

SOUND: card transaction beeps

That’s all done, thank you for shopping at Wonderfoods!

Come on Brian, my bike’s chained up outside…

SOUND: brian coughing, his pockets clanking as he walks out of the store

/DM 6/7/2023

Toothkips [Radio Sketch]

But first, a word from our sponsors

You’ve heard of toothpicks and toothbrushes – 

But what about trying our brand new “Toothkips” for your oral hygiene?

Toothkips are a brand new, environmentally friendly, and completely compostable, toothbrush that can be used by the whole family. 

We’ve all seen those new tooth brushes, advertised as recyclable – but you then have to remove the bristles before you bin it. 

And that’s where Toothkip wins. 

Our handles are made from ecologically sourced bamboo, stripped and prepared by wild pandas. 

Then it’s time to add our bristles!

There’s no plastic in your Toothkip – all our bristles are made from those very fine bones you find in kippers. 

Advances in fish processing has enabled producers to finally remove all those tiny bones from your kipper for a more pleasant eating experience. 

We take those very fine kipper bones, and attach to the bamboo handles with an all natural adhesive, manufactured from the hooves of horses who’ve passed away peacefully after a long and happy life in the fields. 

It’s an an all-natural tooth cleaning experience that leaves your mouth fresh and clean with the faint taste of smoked haddock and old horse. 

When your Toothkip is ready for changing, you can just throw the whole thing in your composter. 

Keep smiling and trust your dental care to Toothkips!

There’s nothing fishy about us!

/DM 8/4/2023

Bin day [poem]


It’s bin day
Wind day
Bins blown over everywhere
Regardless of colour
Black, brown, blue
On it’s side, lid flapping like a puppet mouth
Spewing garbage like a politician
Pizza crusts
Used wipes
Eeeeuw I don’t even know what that is
But it’s not nice
Dogs try to sniff. No!
Home we rush with chilled ears through streets awash with flotsam and jetsam
Bin day
Wind day

[More – 17/2/23]

It’s Bin Day again
Wind day again
Blue Bins put out to stand street-side
Like Bobbies in a row
Guarding our road like sentry’s on duty
But blue bins are slender
Thinner than Grey and Brown
And with contents of cardboard and paper
There’s no weight to hold it down 

So blue bins blow, off they go
Like drunken revellers
Until they trip off the kerb
And they’re down, rolling around, regurgitating contents
Prescription copies, old bills, egg boxes, dozens of Amazon cardboard envelopes, pizza boxes, cardboard sleeves off yogurt containers, magazines, newspapers 

Almost no bins left to empty now
Contents blow freely
Twisting and turning
Escaping down the road
Hiding in gardens and under cars
Bin lorry comes, empties the few still standing, then blue bins left on the pavement

Empty now, lighter and giddy, they wheel around
Throwing themselves down once more
They roll around like pigs in muck
It’s bin day again
Wind day again


Me performing BIN DAY

A man down the road has a DeLorean

A man down the road has a DeLorean.
Yes, that sporty stainless steel car made famous in the Back to the Future franchise.
On our road. Just parked there on the street. Under a tree.

Hardly ever moves it, it sits there, falling blossoms gathering at the base of the windscreen.
Which must block his air intakes because he often puts a sheet of plastic over the air vents in autumn.
That fancy rear cover over the engine compartment. Tied down with a length of tatty rope.

And what of the owner?
No Marty McFly or Doc Brown here.

A mild mannered chap, dresses conservatively, slacks and sweaters. Silver framed glasses, greying blonde hair parted to one side.
His other car, his daily drive, parked behind the DMC – a silver Ford Focus. 

Seen him in the paper shop. Buys two loaves. Appears to be single. And heard Linda in the shop ask about his mother. 

So why? Why a DeLorean? The dream car of the 80’s, sitting outside a Sheffield semi?
He hardly ever moves it. If he does then it’s MOT time, though he did park it around the corner for a few days when they repaved the street. 

I often stand beside it when I’m walking the dogs. They seem to have a fascination with it, they sniff the alloy rims and custom rubber tyres. Where has it been to gather smells so interesting to canine olfactory organs?

Then, this morning, walking back from the paper shop, the rumble of an engine. 

Not a normal rumble. 

He’s sat in the drivers seat – on the left of course, it’s American – giving it an occasional monthly turnover to keep it running, circulate the juices that keep the beast alive.  

Or is he? 

Is there more to Mr Normal. Is he actually from the future? Holding out on Holdings Rd, keeping watch over the steel city, his DeLorean the Time Machine that brought him here, and his lifeboat to return him home. 

Are those “sitting there running the engine” times really to keep it roadworthy? 

Or perhaps he’s generating some time clock energy, rewinding us all to correct something that shouldn’t have happened. 

But I still remember you. And what we said last night. That can’t be rewound by Mr Future. 

So, we are good. 

No objection raised by the Time Panel, no temporal anomaly created, we can go on. 

And how can we say no to the future?

/DM 6/2/23



We interrupt the show with an urgent news update.
Reports are coming in that a Giant Panda is loose in the suburbs of Sheffield.
We go now to our reporter Sylvia Cuttlefish, live on the scene, hello Sylvia…

Hello, yes I’m close to the reported sighting of the Giant Panda in a local garden – Police are asking that we keep the precise location quiet for now as they don’t want sightseers putting themselves at risk as the operation continues.

So this is quite an event Sylvia, Giant Pandas aren’t native to the UK, most of us would only ever see one in a zoo.
Are the police giving any indication of what it’s doing here in Sheffield?

Initial reports are that it may have escaped from a private rare breed collector, and then been attracted to the area by the current trend for planting bamboo in our gardens.
Many local supermarkets and garden centres have been selling bamboo plants for garden use over the past couple of years, it looks like the escaped Panda may have been attracted to this particular housing estate because of the proliferation of bamboo.

Are the public in danger Sylvia?

Well the main diet of the Giant Panda is bamboo – the average Giant Panda needs to consume up to 14 kg, that’s around 30 lbs, of bamboo a day… But these Pandas can grow to 1.9 metres, that’s over 6′ long, and they will eat meat and fish if they have to, so you wouldn’t want to get too close.
Oooh, hang on, police are moving in to a back garden now, I’ll get more information and I’ll report back when I can.

Our reporter Sylvia Cuttlefish, live at the scene of a Giant Panda sighting in Sheffield.
We now return to the show…


We interrupt the show again to return to the scene of the Giant Panda sighting in Sheffield, with our reporter Sylvia Cuttlefish.
Sylvia, what’s the latest?

Well I’m here now with local resident Virginia Parish and her neighbour Steve Turnpike.
Virginia, the police are currently in your back garden. Can you tell me what you know?

Yes, it’s all very worrying Sylvia. I’ve planted a few ornamental bamboo plants in the back, it started during lockdown and I was trying to tart the garden up a bit. I saw Alan Titchmarsh on TV talking about Bamboo and I thought it would look nice in the back garden. But I have to admit I got a bit addicted and my garden is now packed with bamboo, over 6 feet high. I managed to cut a path to the shed with a machete, but it’s pretty dense out there.
Then a few days ago I heard grunting in the garden at night, and when I took a look the next morning, I found large “droppings,” much too big for a dog or a cat. And sticking out of one of them was a piece of paper, like you’d get in a Fortune Cookie at a Chinese Restarant. It had some lucky numbers, 5, 7, 19, 24, 28 and 41 – and a motto, “People are naturally attracted to you.”
Then I heard a rustling and saw a flash of black and white fur moving through the bamboo – Well, I’ve seen David Attenborough on the telly, so I know a lot about animals, I put two and two together and realised that it must be a Chinese Giant Panda. So I called the Police.
They’re out there now with tranquiliser darts and stuff.

Wow, incredible, right in your own back garden.
Steve Turnpike, you live next door, Police have asked you all to leave your homes whilst they investigate – what have you seen out there?

Well, to be honest, I’m feeling a bit daft right now Sylvia.
You see I think it might have been me Virginia heard the other night. My cat had been missing for a few days and I thought it might have got trapped in Virginia’s shed. So I climbed over the fence to have a look.
But the bamboo is so thick that I got disoriented and didn’t know how to get out.

But what about the droppings Steve, there’s something big out there.

Yeah, I’m sorry, I think that’s mine too.
I’d had a big takeaway and my stomach got upset as I was thrashing my way through the bamboo. So I had to ‘go’, sorry…

But the paper from the Fortune Cookie Steve…

Yes, that was all I had in my pocket, so I ate the Fortune Cookie, and then wiped as best I could with the paper…

….eeeewwww, I touched that!!!!!

But what about the black and white beast Virginia saw in the bamboo?

Well, I think that’d be my cat Gordon. Lovely big black and white boy he is.
He came home this morning, I’d put some sardines near the fence and he found his way out of the bamboo forest next door.

So, not a Giant Panda at all.
Well, I’d better go round the back and tell the police.
Oh look! it’s your cat Steve, it’s Gordon.
Hello puss, oooh you’re lovely, come on, I’ll carry you…

SOUND: gate opens, sound of police in bamboo. sound of a tranquiliser dart shot

Owwww! I’ve been… darted (drowsy) Back to you in the studio…

SOUND: sylvia thuds to the ground, cat squeal, police shouts

Incredible scenes there, right here in Sheffield.
We’ll be back with an update when we can, but we now return to the show…


We interrupt the show for an update on the Sheffield Giant Panda sighting… Our reporter Sylvia Cuttlefish is… indisposed… So we have local resident Steve Turnpike on the line. Steve, what’s the latest?

It all got a bit mad really, Sylvia picked up my cat Gordon and went in the back garden, the police sharpshooters saw Gordon’s black and white fur through the bamboo and took a shot with the tranquiliser dart. Luckily the dart missed Gordon – but it hit Sylvia in the thigh.
She went down like sack of spuds and Gordon ran off back into the bamboo. The police marksmen were trying to shoot him, but he’s fast. And, well, they ended up darting each other. So now there’s Sylvia and 6 police officers unconscious in Virginia’s garden.

Well I hope they all recover and that something good can come out of all this.

Oh it has, Virginia had told me those lucky numbers from the Fortune Cookie – 5, 7, 19, 24, 28 and 41.
I put them on the lottery last night and I’ve won the big one. Millions!

Incredible story Steve, what will you do with the money?

Well I’ve always wanted a private zoo, so maybe buy a Snow Leopard? I’ve already got a Giant Panda.

We now return to the show….

/ DM Dec 2022

Lights On No Siren


It was winter, I can’t remember the month, the year, but I know it was winter. I remember the snow. And it was late in the evening.

The call came in. Suicide. River Hebert.

I’d been working as an Ambulance attendant for 6 months now. This was was my last weekend working. I’d found another job, an easier job, selling advertising on the radio. Less money, but I knew I couldn’t carry on wearing this uniform.

After the training, my job was to keep the patient alive. Stabilise, stretcher, back of the van, do whatever was needed to keep them going until we pulled into the ER. This was before the full Provincial paramedic service was introduced. In our town, the ambulance was a private business. Mostly staffed by guys of the “in the van and drive fast” variety. Not that they didn’t care, but many didn’t have the skillset or equipment a full paramedic has now.

My first active call had been a car accident. One vehicle, off the road, hit a pole. One dead, two injured. Just the facts.

The faces behind the facts were of a family, facing devastating loss. The mother, driving, dead at the wheel. The older son with head injuries, hit the dashboard. The younger boy, back seat, broken leg.

The Fire Department freed them from the car, second ambulance arrived. Between us we stabilise, stretcher and drive. And bodybag the mother. We deliver them to the ER, we never know what becomes of them.

And that’s how it progressed for 6 months. Riding the back of the van, doing CPR, delivering oxygen, checking BP, feeling for a pulse, whilst sliding around in a fast moving vehicle, siren blaring.

But on this call, this final weekend, no siren was needed. He was dead. Our job was to drive out, fill the body bag, load and take him to the morgue.

And that’s why I know it was winter. It was snowing. A storm, not severe, but thick and fast. Almost ‘pretty’ snow. Plows had cleared the roads and kept the main routes clear, so we set off, a 30 minute drive on a good day, perhaps an hour tonight.

We drove with lights on, no sirens. Paul at the wheel, me in the passenger seat. Our flashing emergency lights cleared the cars from our path, but no sirens were needed, no risky driving, no speeding, our patient wasn’t going to recover.

Canadian roads in rural Nova Scotia are mostly lined by trees. Lots of trees. And the trees that night were heavy with snow, boughs bending under the weight, snow drifting from the snow plow piles on the shoulder, right up to the treeline.

Our red lights caught the falling snow as we drove, lighting the flakes with pretty colours, a surreal snow globe of bright specks. The journey slipped from real time to slow-motion, the hush from the deep snow on either side, no road noise as we drove through the recent snow on the hard frozen base left by the plow. Only the sound the engine, the heater blower, tyres on packed snow. Time lost meaning, the beauty of the night mixed with what

we would face when we arrived at the house. We drove on, the road losing it’s regular landmarks under the snow, no way to mark our progress on a road we travelled often.

Until we see street lights ahead. And the sign. River Hebert. Getting closer to something I’d rather not see, but we don’t discuss it. Paul and I made small talk on that trip. No mention of what we will see or what we will do.

Down the main street, right turn over the bridge and we see our destination, a sea of flickering lights from emergency vehicles. Police, the local Fire Department, a snow plow, possibly the one that cleared our route. All those flickering lights on the falling snow. Then we see people. Lots of people. It’s a small community. Side of the road is lined with groups wearing parkas and gloves. They’ve been waiting for us.

We pull up to the space left for us, right by the path to the house, a pleasant rural bungalow, covered with Christmas decorations, snow piled around. Engine shuts off and our silent snow globe world is gone once we open the door. The hum of truck engines running on the street. Talking, crying. And wailing. Heartbroken wailing for our patient inside.

We open the back, grab the stretcher, blankets and pillow strapped to the top of the bed. And a body bag. We need a body bag. Police officer leads us through the waiting crowd – the mourners – the crying and sobbing intensifies as we walk through them.

We’re at the door. Open the storm door, then the inner door, and we slide the stretcher through, stamp the snow off our boots before we go through to the living room. No longer a living room. It’s where the body is. The dead room.

Police officer gestures us in with an outstretched arm and we’re there. A pleasant room, large sofa, comfy chairs, a TV. A body on the floor. A body with the top of the head missing. A suicide with a gun. Rifle or shotgun, I don’t know. But it did what he intended, his pain was over, but just begun for the family and friends outside.

Blood and jellied brains surround his head. And jelly stains on the ceiling mark the trajectory. I don’t know what to do. Training never covered this. But my colleague was an old hand. Took the pillow off the stretcher, removed the pillow case. And in a seemingly easy move, he slips the pillow case over the head. We don’t need to see it any more.

Stretcher is dropped to the floor and the body bag is opened and prepped on top of it. Let’s move. Paul take the shoulders, closest to the now red pillow case, I take the feet end and we lift him up, and down, make him comfy, zip up the bag. Cover with an ambulance blanket and we strap him down, we don’t want him slipping as we head back to the ambulance, it’s icy underfoot.

Bring the stretcher up to waist height and we’re ready to move. Negotiate out of the living room and to the front door. Once again, the sound of mourning hits us as the doors open, held open for us, and we lift over the threshold as he leaves his home a final time. The crying and wailing increases. Wife, mother, father, friends, I don’t know, but they see us carry him out, the shape of a body covered with a blanket. Falling snow like falling tears dampen the blanket as we open the rear doors and slide the stretcher in. No need for me to travel in the back for this ride. He makes his journey alone.

I sit up front and Paul drives us away. Other than me saying the pillow case was a good

idea, we don’t talk about it. Our journey back feels different. No longer an ambulance, we are a hearse.

Back to town, back to the hospital, we park up and unload. Through the ER we wheel, no admission questions asked, they knew we were coming. We head to the morgue for our final duties. A nurse opens a stainless steel drawer. We undo the straps, remove the blanket. And we lift him in, still bagged. Papers are signed and we head back to base.

The next day, I’m back for my final shift. And my final call. A stabbing at a local motel. A sucking chest wound. We seal and cover the hole, stop the air entering his chest cavity, make him comfortable, then load and go.

In to the ER, but this ones alive. The nurses take over, we leave and I’m done. Last shift complete.

But 30 years later that night lives on in memory. All in slow motion. The light on snowflakes, the wailing, the snow globe. And sometimes the snow globe is shaken and it all returns.

/DM Jan 2023

CSI SHEFFIELD [Short film/Sketch]

[We follow feet walking through park. We are at the bottom of a hill.
A Hand pulls aside POLICE DO NOT CROSS tape]. We see CORONER finishing up]

Tom Hardware? They’ve got you as Coroner on this one eh?

Cicely Bacon? I heard you’d made it to DCI.
What’s brought you out for this case?

It sounds like an odd one… and it’s not the only mysterious incident we’ve had lately.
Fill me in.
Who do we have?
What happened?

Well the air ambulance has just removed them, on the way into surgery now…
But basically we have two people with serious injuries.
They appear to be related… siblings, by the names Jack and Jill.

You’re kidding right?

(shakes his head) No…

So what happened to them?

It appears the two of them were climbing this hill…
And the bucket by the bodies suggests they were heading up there for water

(she starts making notes)
So, Jack and Jill went up the hill?

Yup, to fetch a bucket of water

Could I note that down as a pail?

What, the orange B&Q Bucket?

Yes… but it could be called a pail too though, right?

I suppose….
Anyway, they went up the hill…

to fetch a pail of water…

Yes, if you say so.
It appears that Jack slipped or tripped down the hill and fractured his skull on the rock there…

Ahhhh, broke his crown…


He broke his crown… (she motions to her head with her pen) Right?

Yes. And then it looks like Jill tried to stop him and fell herself.

She tumbled after, right….

Yes, then they were discovered this morning by a dog walker.

Always the dog walkers…
So for my report…
(reads her notes)
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.
I hope A&E has vinegar and brown paper…

Look, if that’s how you want to word your report, that’s fine.
But it does seem a bit frivolous for a case with serious injuries.
[SFX – PHONE BEEP – MESSAGE COME IN] Right, sorry but I have to get moving
There’s been an incident outside a school. A bunch of kids innocently singing and playing, then suddenly – dropped down dead.
Could be some sort of nerve agent, or a gas leak…

They weren’t singing Ring-a-ring-o roses were they?

(How did she know that?)
Actually yes, that was mentioned by one of the witnesses.
How did you know?

It’ll be the plague that killed them.
It’s all coming together.
We have a series of… nursery rhyme crimes!
First Jack and Jill, now Ring-a-ring-o roses…
Somehow nursery rhymes are causing death and destruction…


Holy crap… My pussy was soaking wet last night….

Tom, this is no time for “Are you being served” gags – and you didn’t even sound like Mrs Slocombe..

No, the nursery rhyme… Ding Dong Bell… I live close to an old well – and my neighbour is called John Flynn… a chap called Big Tom down the road heard my cat crying and pulled her out…

Ding, dong, bell,
Pussy’s in the well.

Who put her in?
Little Johnny Flynn.
Who pulled her out?

Little Tommy Stout.
What a naughty boy was that,
To try to drown poor pussy cat….
(listens. Nods. Horror)
What? I’ll be right there.
Apparently staff at the Children’s Hospital are putting babies in cradles up in the tree tops of the park opposite.

And there’s strong winds in the forecast for tonight…
Let’s get moving…

[They run out of shot to car, we hear sirens] [FAINT GHOSTLY ECHOES OF MOTHER SINGING ROCK A BYE BABY]


/DM Dec 2022

That Russian Play [Radio sketch]

A friend of mine went to see that Russian play about three sisters…

Oh yes, Three Sisters.

Yes, three sisters – i can’t remember what it was called. 

Three Sisters

Yes. Three sisters.
I wish I could remember the name of that play. 

That’s the name of the play.
Three Sisters. By Chekhov. 


It’s a play by Anton Chekhov. Called Three Sisters. 

No it’s not, it was called after their names…

What, Olga, Maria and Irina?


The names of the three sisters. Olga, Maria and Irina. In the play by Chekhov. 

No, that’s not right at all. They were all names of people who’ve been on Coronation Street. 

Three Russian sisters – with names that have been used on Coronation Street?

Ooooh… come on, who were they…. yes… that Windass woman.
And Steve’s ex-wife who’s in Scott and Bailey and that submarine thing….
and that Goth girl at Roy’s.
Yes! That’s it.
Anna, Karen and Nina.
I think they live in a cherry orchard…


And Chekov… He was on Star Trek, right?

/DM 15/12/2022

The last post

After 70 years
Licking the back of her head
We can stamp it out now
The old queen is dead

No licking for Charlie
It’s just peel and stick
And everyone knows
he’s a bit of a dick

And when Charles has last post
We’re on to King Willie
Isn’t the monarchy
All rather silly?


secondhand arms

who else has been in these arms?
friends, lovers, children, the family pet?
the arms that now enclose me with such familiarity
I didn’t even know you yesterday.
then – you came into my life.
it was love at first sight,
you were just what I was hoping for.
clean, respectable;
a little rough around the edges, sure –
but I guess you’ve been around a bit.

but where? you won’t reveal your past.
where are you from?
where did you go to work?
you won’t tell, so I imagine a history for you.

big office, new york city.
travelling on the subway, crushed among commuters,
picking up the odours of the city.
onions from the hot-dog cart,
the thick smell of expensive cigars,
maybe a little cheap perfume
mixed with your own aftershave.

you need a little loving care…
I wash you clean and dry you
and look you over closely.
and here –
I find the first sign
that someone else once cared for you.
he was my size, my shape,
but he had shorter arms.
who did this to you?
a wife, a girlfriend, a mother? whoever,
they were clumsy, their work couldn’t hold you.
I take my scissors and remove the reminders of your time with them.
I slip my hand inside your pocket.
what’s been here before?
a handkerchief, keys?
there’s a hole in the bottom
what might you have lost?

you have exposed metal teeth.
a lost liner. like the Titanic?
no, your liner zipped in.
but no more. it’s gone now,
taken out for a warmer season and never replaced
or maybe you were separated when you were…
given away? thrown out? lost?
did you simply outlive your usefulness?
go out of style?
no-one wanted you any more.

until today.
seven dollars changes hands – and I take you home.
we might go out tomorrow,
I’ll show you off to my friends.
“hey Dave, nice coat.”
“thanks. I got it at Frenchy’s.”

/DM sept 28, 1997


You could win a copy of Withold Rybczynski “One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw” (Harper Collins Canada Ltd. 2000) by writing to us about tools you couldn’t live without.

I won with this

I’d like to share a tool story with you. My favourite tools are contained in a rusting metal case – a Bedford Chrome-Vanadium Socket set, manufactured in Sheffield, England – my old home town.

These were passed down to me from my maternal Grandfather, Stanley Mercer. 

Stan started his working life at the age of 15 as a Boy Porter with British Rail, the company from which he eventually took early retirement – from his job as Station Master – in 1970 at age 60.

He spent the following five years working at a 

My grandfather was driving a Ford Escort at that time and it was during this period that he introduced me, then in my early teens, to car servicing. This was in the days before every car had onboard computers and electronic ignition. With a good set of tools anybody could keep their car on the road.

We spent many hours together, changing oil and spark plugs, doing all the general maintenance. And as I approached the legal driving age, he took me to a local 

But my grandfather never lived to see me pass my driving test. In 1974, on the day he retired from the car dealership to begin his retirement, Stan had an accident after his colleagues had taken him for a farewell drink in a local pub. He fell in a bathroom, fractured his skull and passed away a few days later, having never regained consciousness.

The family was devastated, especially Stan’s wife Pansy, who never got to spend those retirement years with her husband.

Pansy couldn’t drive and as I was close to driving age, she let me have the Ford Escort… and Stan’s tools. I passed my test and drove that car – doing all my own maintenance – for many years, until I finally traded it in for something more sporty. 

But I still have the tools. I brought them to Canada when I moved here thirteen years ago and they’re out in the barn, still in regular use and as good as the day he bought them, even though the case now has rust showing through the orange paint.

Every time I handle those tools I think of my grandfather. They’re a touchstone to both a wonderful man and the steel city where I was born and they’re more precious than any of the tools I’ve acquired since.

Your internet-capable listeners may be interested in Stan’s writing, “Memoirs of a Railwayman.” He never completed his memoirs before he died, but I’ve put all he wrote on a web page, along with photos of Stan and the family.
The address is https://mcclellandmedia.com/blog/other-pages/memoirs-of-a-railwayman/


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