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Stay On The Train

July 16th, 2020

When I was at primary school, I rewrote an Enid Blyton Noddy story from memory. The teacher, Mrs Gresty, insisted I’d copied it. I was equally insistent that I hadn’t and that’s when I knew that someday I’d be a writer, though it took another thirty years of writing many, many essays and reports before my first fiction appeared.

I sent a short story to the BBC, who said they liked it, but it read more like a play. So, and this was in the late 80’s and I was in my mid-40’s, I started writing for the theatre, here in Liverpool, with some success, cutting my teeth on Network Theatre, a socialist group performing at demonstrations, trade union events, etc. One of our members was also a poet, so I started to write poetry. Twenty years and two collections later, I found I was writing more and more narrative poetry, so switched to short fiction, getting short and flash fiction stories published online and in magazines and anthologies.

It’s now two years ago, I’ve just turned seventy-five and find I’m missing poetry – I find it almost impossible to write in more than one medium at a time – so it’s back to the poetry, where I’m now trying to channel my anger at climate change and the man-made destruction of the earth, getting across what I want to say in some sort of poetic form without SHOUTING or being didactic; by educating without lecturing; and using humour to stave off despair.

You might well argue that I should have ‘stayed on the bus’ (see a good article in the Guardian about Arno Minkkinen’s Helsinki Bus Station Theory) persevered with one discipline and become famous (maybe!). I prefer to see it as a (very) long train journey.

Apparently, the longest journey you can make by train (though probably not at the moment, sadly) – that is without using any other form of transport on the way – is from Lisbon to Ho Chi Min City, via the Trans-Siberian railway, etc, etc. You can do it in two weeks, apparently. Of course, you have to change trains many times and it’s really a series of separate journeys, linked only by the fact that you travel by train, or in my case, by pen, paper, books, keyboard, screen and a weird imagination. I’m now a good way through my exciting and ever-changing journey, but I’m hoping it’s very far from over yet!


Colin Watts is seventy-seven, married, with grown up children and has lived in Liverpool for many years.

His publications include two poetry collections and short stories and flash fiction on-line and in magazines and anthologies. He’s had plays performed in and around Liverpool.

He cycles nearly everywhere and cultivates a quarter of an allotment. He is a long-standing member of the Dead Good Poets Society.





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