top of page


I have become fascinated by the whole matter of time. How we measure it, how it controls us and the story of the Bellvilles, who made a living out of selling time round London at the turn of the 20th Century.


I know there are good things from technology in health and support of the disabled, in looking after us and providing energy and the like, But why do I waste such a large part of my life watching little circles go round and round and round?




No one we knew had ever stopped a train.

Beeching had done away with request stops

But the cow was oblivious of rail-side etiquette

And walked on the strange wooden steps.


Now we must decide, get involved or not?

Carry on walking, or run madly up the track

But – but which way is up the track and,

Which way is down, and when is the next train?


Decisions decisions, which station is the nearest?

Oh, who knows the hand signals for a railway,

Who can fumble fastest for the rucksack map

Or communicate with the train coming - which way?


Would she be noticeable to the driver?

Should he wear bright colours to be seen?

Should both arms be waved madly over head,

Or a steady right arm outstretched abeam?


Oh shut up and use your smartphone!


Jacb Aug 19 Dec 20

What now, how do we stop a train?


The Invention of the Geek

Thank you Bill Gates


The greatest thing on earth that I have ever seen

Is the automatic pop-up spell checker

Not weird Harry Potterian spells with potions

But lifesaving Bill Gatesian suggestions.


No caning at my school for poor work.

Bill checked it first suggesting a tweek.

No more getting drawn off to the side,

By lexicon of words that intrigue.


The accuracy and colour and design

Allow for very clear communication

The printer does it all without a ruler

Is it me or am I doing as I’m told?

The invention of the Geek
The invention of the Devil


The Invention of the Devil

whoever you are


Oh good an hour to myself; to compose my thoughts

To edit my report, or to write to my friends

To do some research or design my document

To get ideas in line and clarify my brain.


But first answer all your old emails.

Bring both you bank accounts up to date.

See what’s on your latest to-do list.

Check your calendar for the next month.


Have you done your last back up?

Are you fully up to date?

Is your protection on now?

Check all of these instantly!


You have been upgraded automatically,

Reinstall your extensions, not working ones.

This page not available, check your broadband.

Now try loading this page all over again.


If you cannot make this new programme work for you,

Register with our friendly young technical group.

They won’t understand your particular problem,

But suggest more than one arcane alternative.


Check now, have you been pwnd?

Change all your old passwords.

Do it now not later!

Or you may be at risk!


Watch the small spots go in - out and round - round.

Watch square coloured blocks go left - right - left - right

Watch the pink hourglass go down - up – down - up

Do not move! sit right there! stare at the screen!


Now what the hell was it I wanted to do?

Why is it that there isn’t time to do it?

Should I hit it very hard with the hand axe?

Go get coffee I should have had one an hour ago!

Jacb 26/2/2020



We have messed about with time for a long time.

The church having more than one service a day

On a Sunday they needed to know the hour.

Factory owners needed to pay the least

So added to the church clock the minute hand.


The scientists all worked with the second

Added to wrist watches “’cos we could”.

Then it began to take over our lives.

It became more important in conflict,

‘Cos’ were needed there at an exact time.


Currently the milli second is not a daily driver,

Nor the microsecond, though needed for nuclear power.

But it is used as our clocks get more and more accurate.

As we look out into space and calculate the distance

What have we done to ourselves? Done to our communal lives?


Our lives are shorter, though we live longer.

Perhaps we should look round us and slowdown.

The seasons were once good enough for us,

When we all needed to grow our own food.

Autumn is here, six months since Spring planting.


But look slowly round us, see what is there,

Trees are not fixed, wooden, sullen growths,

That stop and fix when they are mature.

Botanist tell us from their research

Trees communicate, help each other,


They pass many good things from root to root.

Aid each other in family support,

They might even have a family chat.

Their communication is too slow for us

Who rush past without being aware.


Roots all grow more slowly than needs a clock.

No worries about the passing of time

That is any faster than a season.

Perhaps it is theirs that is the real time

And ours a final mad rush to the end.

jacb May 2020

The Tyranny of time
Why do we spend a third of lives asleep?

Apparently prehistoric hunter gatherers only 'worked' for about two or three hours a day. This was all that was necessary to feed clothe and shelter and make the necessary tools. And then? Chat, sing, dance, cook, drink, laugh???  

Why do we spend 1/3rd of our lives asleep?


Setting the alarm and getting up early

Is better than sleeping on till you wake

Getting up early, dragging your mind into use

There isn’t enough time to worry about life

The energy is in getting life to work


Getting up late, springing (well theoretically) out of bed

Bouncing round to the kitchen

Breakfast is on autopilot

And the why’s, when’s, what’s, who’s come fast

And freely, disturbing equanimity.

jacb Sep 2020

What are you waiting for?

Today’s weather to improve,

My friends to arrive for tea,

The food to finish cooking,

The virus to come for me.


You to change your scrambled mind,

The new TV film to start,

The queue to reach the till,

Me to make time for my art,


For it to be my turn next,

The bus to fill with its clear isles,

The bright sun to come out,

And to see people with smiles.


The WiFi speed to come back,

The Google circle to stop,

Microsoft to finish the update,

The printer to set itself up.


The ferry to arrive at the pier head,

When I have had a short afternoon snooze,

The Government to make a good decision,

The arrival of my lost poet’s muse.


To get my mask off so I breathe,

My glasses to clear of the steam,

The arrival of my premium bond winnings,

The outcome of my dozing dream.


The alarm clock to go off,

Hot water get to the shower,

The kettle to come to a boil,

And time to pass at a meander.


jacb Oct 2020

What are we waiting for



What on earth is he signing now?

Is it rude or showing me how?


The signing of the restaurant bill

Writing on the palm of the hand

No one uses a pen now

And it doesn’t look very grand


The finger and thumb to ear and mouth

Show a phone that needs answering now.

It’s a long time since a landline phone

A phone is a small shallow box now.


For the family game, Charades

Winding of the cinecamera

Stopped in about Nineteen Thirty

Just tap the tablet’s camera.


A book printed on paper and card

Is not opened resting on your palms

A book is now locked in the tablet

Or waited for as it downloads.


The crank handle for the car window

Won’t let you speak to the occupants

There is a button on the door

To make it open on its own.


Tapping your wrist to show time is up

Only works if you have a wristwatch.

Tapping the palm of your hand for time

Is to say the least so confusing


The handshake showed I have no weapon to harm

The touching glasses with the host shows no poison

The carefully putting or lifting the gramophone arm

Some have survived even if meaning is lost.

Jacb Oct 2020

Hand signs that have moved on
bottom of page