Bagpuss, Gump and Dancing Queen


I haven’t done one of these Realtime Roundups since the end of June, mainly because I’ve been busy working on a Realtime Notes website (see above) — a torturously slow process during which I’ve cursed myself many times for writing so many poems.

I’m hoping the site will be ready to share in the next week. I’ll keep doing these round-ups occasionally and post them on the new site. In the meantime, here’s a quick-ish roundup of the greatest hits of the last three months.


July saw Realtime Notes take briefly to the streets, with a placard against Trump.


But the best Trump poem was probably this one. Occasionally, I achieve escape velocity and nail a couple of good lines — the last two lines here would make a good blurb for the project as a whole.


As ever, there were plenty of realtime epitaphs to write. You’ll soon be able to read them all in the Deaths section of the website. (Hooray!)

This three-month period started with Peter Firmin (above) and also included Steve Ditko, Saman Guman, Barry Chuckle, VS Naipaul, Aretha Franklin, Rachael Bland, Burt Reynolds, Chas Hodges, Charles Aznavour…


… and John McCain, whose passing inspired a national unity that included everyone except the president.


At the end of July, I had a brief falling-out with my keypad, maybe brought on by the fact that I was approaching an entire year of realtime writing.


The one-year anniversary of Realtime Notes came around on 17 August, and the poem above recounted a domestic scene that I think made for a good ending. ‘Everything might happen’ could be a collection title.

I had thought about finishing Realtime Notes altogether on the anniversary and wasn’t even sure on the day itself whether I’d keep going or not. As it turned out, I was glad I did, because the following week brought that crazy evening where Paul Manafort was found guilty and Michael Cohen took a plea deal.


I ended up writing five poems in the space of an hour, starting with this one about Michael Cohen…


… and culminating in a minor epiphany where I realised the entire story of America could be told in those two rhyming characters famous for their red caps.


I continued my recurring anagram obsession with this open letter to Ivanka Trump (in each pair of lines, the second is an anagram of the first).


And there was a moment of pure realtimeness when a fly landed on my computer screen and joined me in a collaborative poem that I broadcast live on Instagram Stories. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble retrieving it from my Instagram archive and it may be lost forever. It was really good.


Among September’s greatest hits were this response to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro…


…this reworking of Matthew 7:26…


… and this summation of the state of the Brexit talks. (This is the second draft with an improvement to one line. From now on, I’m going to pretend it’s the first draft.)


So far, October has brought Theresa May dancing onto the stage…


… and as we opened this roundup with Bagpuss, maybe we should finish it with Rainbow.

Thanks as always to anyone following along. I’ll write more when the website completes its slow trudge towards the internet.