The woods

Autumn leaves and killer clowns

We are walking along the quiet lane that runs through the woods; the afternoon is gloomy, overcast, it feels much darker than it should for this time of day. It’s also cold, as I exhale I can see my breath and it’s the first time in months that my hands have felt this cold.

Occasionally cars approach, their headlights shine ghostly white, another indication of the premature dusk. We step aside and wait as they drive by.

The dog decides that she wants to get off the road and take the well-trodden path through the woods, I silently agree and follow her into the twisted trees.

Initially, the only sounds are our footsteps crunching and snapping the twigs underfoot and occasionally the scrabbling of grey squirrels jumping from tree to tree. A little later rain can be heard falling, oddly it cannot be felt. It creates a gentle tapping sound as it hits the dry ground. After a while I realise that it’s not rain, it’s hundreds of dry leaves falling from the trees.

I start to think about what it would be like to see a killer clown suddenly step out of the gloom and stand silently on the path ahead. The primary colours of the clown costume and the savage malevolent mask would look completely out of context. I think I can understand how this could be a frightening experience for some. The path eventually takes us out of the trees and back onto the road that will take us home.

I have to admit, I am secretly relieved that I didn’t bump into any killer clowns lurking silently in the woods today.


Inspired in part by the folk tale Hansel and Gretel, this was the first piece written for the Siskin Brace 2012 song collection NAMES.

Recorded at home in east London, 2012.

The painting is by Joanna Bloor


CASSANDRA, penultimate track on the story-song collection NAMES (see relates a fragment from the tragic life of the legendary princess of Troy, who was gifted with second sight but doomed never to be believed.

Leeroy plays most of the guitar parts. Tom slaps the back of an acoustic and hits the tambourine, as well as providing a perhaps unlikely-sounding voice for a princess.
The painting is by Joanna Bloor.

It’s going to be a lovely day

The sun has only been up for a short while but its warmth has already started to melt away the brittle layer of ice that covers each blade of grass. A fine mist floats across the fields and the distant leafless trees seem to be on fire, they glow a fantastic orange and red.

The dawn chorus is in full swing; the singing birds appear to be in direct competition with the noise of the morning traffic coming down the hill.

The dog runs around excitedly, she rolls about wide eyed and yaps every now and again; the frozen lawn amuses her.

I drain the remains of my morning brew and decide it’s time we go in. It’s cold now, but later it’s going to be a lovely day.

Motorway Blowout

We’re sitting in a stalled Ford Fiesta, smack-bang in the middle of the M4 motorway. With trepidation I glance over my shoulder, I see distant lorries and cars speeding towards our tiny car, they will be on top of us in seconds …

We are halfway through one of our regular drives from London to Wiltshire, we have just passed by the grey built-up suburbs of Reading, and now, in contrast, we are being treated to vast fields of flourishing yellow rapeseed.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are providing a gentle atmospheric soundtrack; the dog is sleeping peacefully in the back seat and we are blissfully unaware of any potential impending danger.

Suddenly there’s a loud bang and we loose control of the car. One moment we’re hurtling along at 70 miles an hour, the next, we are breaking rapidly and swerving wildly across lanes. We finally come to shuddering stop and are now sitting silently in the middle lane of the M4 Motorway.

We quickly hit the hazard lights and try to take in what has just happened. The dog is now wide awake and looking as alarmed as I guess we are. Cars and lorries are zipping passed us as high speed, it’s only a matter of time before one of them ploughs into the back of us.

We try the engine, mercifully it starts and we carefully limp the car towards the hard shoulder. There is an unpleasant grinding sound emanating from the rear of the vehicle but we make it and turn off the engine. We sit still for a few moments to gather composure; large vehicles occasionally rock the car as they speed by.

I cautiously climb out of the passenger side to investigate the damage. The rear right wheel appears absent and the car is slumped at an awkward angle. It’s too dangerous to investigate any further so we make a call to the breakdown services and within twenty minutes a recovery van pulls up behind us.

The driver gets to work immediately, we see him set up a couple of hazard signs and within seconds (with a small smile) he informs us that we have had a blowout. He explains that that he will just need to replace the damaged wheel with the spare one in the boot.

We stand on the other side of the crash barrier surrounded by the evicted contents of the boot and watch the wheel being expertly changed. The damaged tyre has been completely shredded; nothing is left but ragged rubber.

A few minutes later we are thanking the roadside technician (that’s what they’re called) and then tentatively continuing our onwards journey.

We both quickly agree, that from now on, all future motorway travel will always be conducted in the slow lane.

Photo by Mat Adams