J-MO 1954 – 2084


What kind of teachers do we like to read about or watch on the box? Easy – the uplifting and inspirational underdogs.  If they can display a modicum of genius too, that helps.

In reel life (see what I did there?) our favourite screenful  teachers can be anything from the excruciatingly terrible (Anyone? Anyone?) or just sheer fucking AWESOME (O’ Captain! My Captain!).  But in real life, real tangible flesh-blood-and-books life, the goosebumpy kind of inspiration comes from people like John. Oh – fuck it – I’ll tell you his full name. His estate probably won’t sue me. Much. (And this means I can now include the ol’ any similarities to persons alive or dead are purely intentional “joke“)

John Moorhouse. That’s the fella. This pioneering, multi-award winning playwright finally snuffed it this week at the wee-whippersnappery age of a hundred-and-thirty. Smoked 18,000 too many. In one sitting, probably.

jm2Beloved by all who knew him – including 28 grandchildren and 47 great-uns – his legacy remains best told by those who knew him back in the day.

Moorhouse was a little bit grumpy (for that, read miserable bugger) and a little bit manic; the perfect mix. He was the product of many things – including his parents, no doubt – who must have mixed into the gene pool a *touch of anarchic wit and a dose of eyebrow-raising cynicism along with may other isms that made John – well, John.

*A shitload.

And he fucking ROCKED. He didn’t jump on tables or rip pages out of books, he just WAS. And he let you BE. If you called him Sir he’d clip you round the ear and tell you to hold onto that for when he was actually knighted. He was most famously quoted and re-quoted for such insightful gems as:

Me name’s John.

(I should explain that no physical clippery actually took place –that bit was crowbarred in because it just sounds so BRITISH, damnit).

At one point someone invented the “hilarious” monikerism of J-Mo, yonks before the weird J-Lo and Li-Lo habit became popular. This was 1990, after all (which seems like 3 or 4 years ago, even though it’s actually 94…..where’s me cane?). And, fashion-wise, it was still the 80s until about 1994, so, please do take a moment to remember John’s hairdo. Got it? Yep. Mullet. (We all had one, though – it was a handy twofer. Short at the top, long at the back, a dual haircut. What’s not to love?)

We did all the usual syllabussy crap – here’s a poem, let’s dissect it. Ooh look – what an unusual rhyme scheme…yadda yadda. But he HAD to do that because it SAID SO in the curriculum. The real beauty of having a Moorhouse was the PASSION. The fucking PASSION.  He wasn’t MANIC manic, but you could tell there was bonkersness in that mulleted bonce of his. (Went bald eventually)

We studied pro and anti-war wordery – Bond and Owen…..Orwell (of course)..….not to mention James “what the fuck am I on about?” Joyce.

But for me, Shakey was the dudemeister: the same five-by-two beats that coursed through the Moorblood was now coursing through mine. Jeeeezus. I can’t tell ya…..he made it not only OK but FASHIONABLE (fashionable is SUCH an unfashionable word, don’t ya think?) to think in Iambic Pentameter. If you wanted to sit and sway to the rhythm of William’s words, then he’d make sure there was room for you to do it.

As a class, we’d watch Derek Jacobi’s fucked up prologue delivery in Henry V.  (Which, of course, his being HILARIOUS n’all, John would refer to as Henry Vee).  We’d watch it on repeat. J-Mo made it cool to be uber-geeks and get a buzz out of this stuff.

He had a bit of a thing, we reckoned, for one of the other teachers… the elegant poshbird that was Barbara Green . (Yep – you’re way ahead of me – if they got together they’d be portmanteaued to Greenhouse).

And they did get together. Denied it at first, of course. But one day, a David-shaped bump appeared in Barbara’s frontage and before we could cough an “ahem” she flashed a new gold wedding band in our direction. So we kids made sure to shut the fuck up. We knew what they’d been up to.

Moorhouse was the kind of guy who’d give you 156 marks out of 150, just so you’d know how good he thought you were.

Moorhouse was the kind of infinitely-quotable guy who’d condense your 5,000 word essay on Priestley and Jung to “this is fucking really good stuff about time and shit”.

Moorhouse was a GIT.

But he was OUR git.  And this gitless world is sad and sorry today as John Moorhouse, Tony-award winner for “Sheep in Ellesmere Port” and “Beer – Good”.

John – you created something with permanence. Thank you for the perpetual sweetness of a literary sugar-rush. 

Goodbye, Mr Moorhouse.

It Was The Worst of Times, It Was The Worst of Times.


Here’s my own experience of depression.  I guess I just never thought of it as being share-worthy until now.

This particular episode of cracking-uppedness owed itself to POST NATAL DEPRESSION (PND) – or POST-PARTUM for you across-the ponders. This was a love SO DEEP – for my children – that it nearly bloody killed me (and quite possibly would have done, too, had it not been for the support of my hubby).

In September 2006, my house was falling down. It actually WAS.  Fuck!!!! It was going to FALL DOWN and raze our entire lives to the ground. The end had started when I saw cracks in the tiles on the bathroom wall. This PROVED that my house was now in the process of collapsing. Maybe the whole house…or maybe just the back of it, where the baby’s room was.  So I moved the baby back in with us. My hubby didn’t object, because it calmed me down.

I was OK then.

UNTIL I could hear her CHOKING in the night. Not just snoring – CHOKING. She was fucking CHOKING, for Christ’s sake.  So I stayed awake and watched her. And listened.

I was OK then.

UNTIL I knew that her blankets were going to suffocate her. They were going to cover her face and put a stop to her babybreath.  Either that, or she’d choke on the fibres. So she went blanketless and wore an extra onesie. 

I was OK then.

UNTIL I heard the rhythm of the clock on the wall. This was the same wall that her cot was pushed up against. It was clearly going to land on her head in the night and kill her in one tick. So I moved the cot into the middle of the room.

I was OK then.

UNTIL I realised that the middle-of-the-ceiling light bulb above her cot was going to EXPLODE and spit shards of glass into her cot. If she didn’t bleed to death with the cuts, she’d swallow the glass.  So she came into our bed.

I was OK then.

UNTIL I realised that we were going to roll over and kill her. We were going to roll together into the bed’s centre and suffocate our tiny child.  So my husband moved out into one of the spare rooms.

I was OK then.

UNTIL I realised that this meant I was ALONE with her.  Of course now, she would choke in the night and I wouldn’t hear her.  And if I DID hear her, it would be too late because I wouldn’t get to her in time. So, as I was moving out of my own head, my hubby moved back in to our room.

I was not OK.

So I sought medical help. I was prescribed Citalopram, (amongst whose side-effects are suicidal thoughts). Those little 10mg buggers saved me. They’re dangerously addictive little fuckers, so I weaned myself off ’em after around six months.   If I’m honest, I can’t really remember much about the bedrugged period, but I can offer my assurance that THE SCIENCE WORKED. My baby wasn’t dying, and my house wasn’t falling down. It was like a team of builders had come in overnight and secured the building.  Citalopram was the medicinal mortar holding me together.


You can struggle through, and it will always be OK.

UNTIL suddenly, one day, it isn’t.

GET HELP. You are not a freak. You are not alone.

GET HELP. Depression is shitty and utterly fucked up; but it’s also normal.

GET HELP. Please.

I’ve been PERMANENTLY OK since circa July 2011 when baby number three – my son – was born.  I mean – I’m still off-the-scale bonkers but only in a good way.  I’ve learned to channel any twisted thoughts into stories – everything I THINK goes onto a page. Those that know me understand that I never have an unexpressed thought.  And that’s why I’m OK. Nothing’s left unsaid. NOTHING. Because if you talk, there’s always someone willing to listen.

And if you need me to listen to YOU, I’m here. Always.

Who was he?


I’m really glad everyone’s bummed out about his death; it means he touched us.

This is just a cross we have to bear – so fucking WHAT if we’re a bit miserable today? That’s nothing – it’s the least we can do, considering he let us borrow him for a short while.

Maybe somebody somewhere will seek help knowing that this great man was just like us; a man who quite possibly would have given all that he had, just to BE like us in some small way.

He had me at Nanu Nanu when as a wee sprog, I just kind of fell in love with him. It wasn’t his delivery or his madcappery – it was the EYES – his FUCKING eyes. They sucked me in – and I stayed there, hugged by his hairy teddy bear arms.  I soaked up every emotion he ever conveyed through that screen of mine.  And he OWNED it.

For me each performance was the greatest thing he ever did since the last.  Because of him, I was a Dead Poet until I was Awakened.  He said Good Morning to me and Hunted me with Good Will. Each performance was his finest – he gave ALL of his everything in a visual encyclopedia of acting classes that we get to keep.

But there came a time when we had to give HIM back.


Did we HAVE to?

Maybe we didn’t. Maybe somewhen, somewhere, somebody could have prevented this.

So who was he? All I know is who he was to me. He was Mork, he was Garp. He was Keating and Sayer, and a fucking GENIE, for Christ’s sake.

He was Jakob – and he was a liar. All actors are liars to some extent, right? They show you what they want you to see? They take on these roles where they portray someone else? Well, we didn’t get to see the character of HIM – he hid himself; he lied to us.


I do imagine there’s no heaven – and it’s NOT easy to do. But instead, I’ve invented a little place in my own crazy head – an imaginary rehab where actors go for the ultimate recovery. (This is the shit that keeps ME sane).

And in this place, there’s a party going on. It’s a party for Supermen, whose worlds were stages. Here, it’s some kind of other-worldly Labyrinth; Phil Hoffman is there being truly awesome.  Peter Sellers walks on his knees and talks about this being the war room, so you can’t fight.

Seems like he fought his entire life.

Back to the party.  James Gandolfini is the Man Who Wasn’t There, and Michael Clarke Duncan towers eighteen feet over everybody else. James Dean doesn’t say much but looks pretty fucking cool, while Phil Hartman does incredible impressions of everybody else.

And Christopher Reeve stands up, and walks over to Robin Williams to welcome him home.

Wilfred’s Men


A poet’s inky soul reacts to crumpled men with words intact;

Recalling lies as glory folds, one verse – yet many stories told:

Our Wilfred said they’d cursed through sludge, towards their distant rest they’d trudged;

And Wilfred’s men had lost their boots but limped on, blind; deaf to the hoots.

There, Wilfred saw a hanging face – as death came to his writing-place;

So we could read -at every jolt- of gargled blood to our revolt.

If Wilfred knew – if he could see -dead men survived by poetry,

What would he say – and would he be surprised his words adored by me?

Adored by age, revered by youth; for otherwise-unspoken truth.

If he were now – if he were here, would Wilfred to the world endear?

Or is it likelier he’d see: arms being sold; cash weaponry?

And then the fight to stop it all, this great divide as countries fall?

Perhaps for now, hypocrisy – humanity’s cacophony:

And as he rhymes of this or that, he’d write: Manus Manum Lavat.