Ghosts POMs and Panopticons: Writing Workshop at the Morpeth Arms

It's a fair cop Guv'
It’s a fair cop Guv’

This Thursday evening, 16th June, I am delighted to be running a writing workshop as part of SouthWestFest, at the Morpeth Arms pub in Pimlico.

This haunted London pub has a row of holding cells in its cellar, which were used as holding cells for the prisoners of the infamous Millbank Penitentiary which, in the 19th century, stood on the land now occupied by Tate Britain. The prison was built as a panopticon, or ‘all-seeing’ prison, and was designed by Jeremy Bentham, who saw it as “a mill for grinding rogues honest” .

Un-rehabilitated prisoners were taken through the dark maze of tunnels beneath the streets of Pimlico to the lock up under the pub, where they were kept before being put on boats at Millbank pier, and eventually transported ‘Down Under’…

There are records of prisoners and prison officers dying in these cells, and in the tunnels connected to the prison, and as Gary, the landlord at the pub, was telling me when I went to do some research, a team of paranormal enthusiasts have carried out readings in the cells late at night….Brrrrrr

Gary very kindly took me and Sinead Keegan, a trustee of the festival, for a tour of the spooky cells, and answered questions about the pub and its history. As MI5 is situated directly across the river, the Morpeth Arms has some fascinating pictures and snippets of information about famous spies on its walls- which could be great stimulus for a flash fiction thriller!

Do join me in the snug, for what I hope will be an enjoyable couple of hours writing stories inspired by this fascinating place!

The workshop is FREE but numbers are limited so please email me to book your place: and see the Facebook event here.

Ghosts, POMS and Panopticons at The Morpeth Arms, Thursday 16th June from 7.30-9.30pm, 58 Millbank, Westminster, London, SW1P 4RW



Responses to Art In Situ.

Here are two short poems, written in response to two different works of art.  The first was written as an immediate response to the ‘window’ part of Anish Kapoor’s Memory at the Guggenheim in New York. The second was written sat in front of Chris Ofili’s painting The Healer at Tate Britain.

I have been doing this on and off for years. I find a work that resonates and then write down my thoughts as a poem. I might tweak it a bit afterwards but essentially what is written here is faithful to what I felt at the time.

I do not read anything about the work until I have written my poem. Sometimes, of course,  it is impossible to approach something well known without already having some information or opinion about it.


Window of darkness-Lack of light

Sucked-in black velvet illusion of infinity

Vacuum of warmth

To crawl in and be forgotten and to forget for a while

In a cocoon of sensory deprivation

Of longing for simplicity

Wipe the slate clean of chalking up experience

Amniotic amnesia

The Healer

Folding up the sun, eating the star

Dark emitting light

Yellow and black

Name above the crown

Hurling gold

Spew as gold

Base material transformed

Mends the whole