About Me


Born in Belfast, I grew up in Felixstowe in Suffolk. A little Ulster boy, with an English accent.


The Ulster poet, John Hewitt, described himself as a ‘dissenter’ in the Ulster-Scots tradition, someone who does not take things at face value but queries them. He described the hierarchy of his identity as being first an Ulsterman, second an Irishman, third British and fourth, European. Happily, I subscribe to both descriptions – and offer my songs and ideas in deference.


Growing up in the ’empire-proud’ English class system, I was schooled in democracy and the rule of law – even in my primary school. Later, sent to boarding school in Northern Ireland, I found a new order using intimidation to conform with the rule of the tribe. The self-possessed, class-conscious society of the former was challenged by the passionate tribalism of the latter – and ‘ne’er the twain would meet’. My English accent and my early exposure to democracy made me a blow-in in my own country.


At university in Durham, I saw Bernadette Devlin on TV – a girl I recognised from my schooldays – manning a barricade in Derry, and I realised that I knew only the English version of my country’s history.


A year later I changed course – from Law to Literature – and university too, returning to Northern Ireland as the violence grew. At the University of Ulster, I met the poet, satirist and songwriter James ‘Jimmy’ Simmons – beginning a lifelong friendship, collaboration with the Resistance Cabaret, and a prolonged phase of song writing.


The Resistance Cabaret comprised a varying line-up of poets, actors, musicians, singers, songwriters and raconteurs – students, led by Simmons. It performed a satirical revue built around a core of Simmons songs and poems, but built upon by the growing contributions of these new writers – which Simmons both encouraged and criticised at the same time. He, himself, was one of the Belfast Group of poets – Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney etc – brought together by Phillip Hobsbawn to hone their skills through mutual criticism. He used these skills on his own protégés. With such a birthing ground we could do none other than keep writing, which David Templeton and I do to this day.


Through the mid 1970’s The Resistance Cabaret flourished with appearances on the BBC and in the Lyric Theatre, Belfast – and then tapered off as key members left university. Its’ repertoire lives on, however, in reunion concerts. Many of the songs remain topical today and are performed live in England, the US and NI by new and original members, Mike Graves, David Templeton and me. Jimmy died in June 2001, aged only 68.


For me. leaving university meant leaving Northern Ireland. Once we married in 1975, at the height of ‘the troubles’, Sandra and I saw a better future elsewhere and left for England. After an early sales career. I have spent most of my working life developing new products and when I became a partner in Marketing Methods in the mid 80’s we moved back to NI.


Through helping NI companies develop their business in overseas markets I became involved in international trade missions, led by local politicians. This triggered my ideas on Consumer-Choice Democracy as a new constitutional model for NI – and any other country divided by nationalism. It also sparked a passion for reading history, for understanding capitalism and evolution and population growth, and for how these work together to make the world the way it is today.


So I hope you enjoy reading where these thoughts have taken me. If our purpose, as well as our function, is to be the link between the last generation and the next, this is my attempt to pass on my ideas.


I hope, too, that you enjoy my songs. They are the milestones of my understanding.


Widowed in 2000, I have wanted to do right by Sandra’s hopes and expectations of me. So, as she would have wanted me to get these songs and ideas ‘out there’  – to give others a voice if they need one – this website is my tribute to her.


It is not intended as a monolog. Rather, I hope it can become a dialog. Songs and ideas should lighten up our lives. Please leave whatever comments you would like to make – each page has a ‘comments’ box.


Finally, may I record my indebtedness and lasting gratitude to Ernest Parker for getting me started on this, to Crawford Spence and Matthew Crawford for their critical insights, to Sarah and Hannah Crawford for their moral support, to Laura Gilliland for her IT wizardry, and to Maurice ‘Spike’ Milligan of Westburn Graphics for his unflagging patience, hard work and skill in completing the task.