Snow falls stealthily,
brittle leaves of yesteryear
composted for Spring.
People who want to write sometimes ask me how they should begin. And I say get a writing journal and write in it everyday for at least ten minutes. This isn't a diary for recording events, it is a place for jotting down, stream-of-consciousness-like, words, ideas, images, feelings, descriptions, quotes...

I was interested to see that Bruce Springsteen has such a journal (Imagine, BBC1, 7th December, 10.35pm). His scribblings become songs. He also described keeping the bits and pieces which didn't at first work in a kind of lyrics junkyard, from which he would salvage them, sometimes a long time after, and explore putting them together in a different way until they do run. A bit like a writer's Scrapheap Challenge.

As with many creative endeavours, often it's knowing when - and being brave enough - to cut. Lenny Henry mentioned this as a crucial skill on Front Row (Radio 4, 8th December, 7.20pm). It's hardest when it's our favoured lines we have to cull. Though it's useful to think of them as not being lost for ever, only rather kept safe for another outing.


A friend of mine sent me a link to a youtube of opera singing in a shopping arcade's cafe ( I like discovering culture in unexpected places.

With a designer colleague, I once cooked up the idea of adorning the doors to our town's loos with poetry - thinking we'd have a captive audience. We have not put any plans into action, but when I was down in Bristol, I got to read poetry about the sea as I used the toilets in the SS Great Britain's visitor centre.

And yet, as I look at the trees stark against the winter sky, I think, nature has got there before us, if we just open our eyes, art is all around.