Nearly Blog


20180613_211411Well, that was a blast. Thanks to all who came to last night’s Nearly Show at the Poetry Cafe, to the band, PoSoc staff, nearlygivers and especially to the young poets who read their winning poems of Nearlyology. A packed house and lovely atmosphere. I’m overjoyed. Here are two snippets and some picks. We started with a Nearly exercise in the cafe then went downstairs for songs, extracts, poems, nearlies and the scattering of nearly dust. We’ll do it again at the Ruby Rose Cafe in Crouch End THIS SUNDAY JUNE 17th at 3.00, and there are still spaces on the Nearlywriting workshop, Friday 15th at 2.00. CLICK HERE TO BOOK A PLACE.

You can read all the winning poems of the Young Poets Network Nearlyology Challenge HERE.




I’m in residence at the Poetry Cafe today gathering nearly stories – and performing the Nearly Show with the Ifso Band here tonight.

Here are some gathered so far:

“I nearly.. g.ot a job today. I’d been promised it too.”

“I nearly…joined a top youth football team but I decided to go to a lower level team as I was guaranteed to play every match and be one of the top players in the team.”

“I nearly chose to love the other girl…but i didn’t and now I am still with the same person. I don’t have regrets because I chose who I chose but I do wonder what if…”

“I nearly got myself stuck in playing “the game” – the bullshit job sucking my life force, but I’ve managed to avoid any disapproving judgements and am now happy squatting and skipping by the med, growing my own veg.”

“I was nearly a stand-in for James McAvoy, but went to Rome instead.”

“I nearly… became a professional dancer/performer. I had been going to classes since was 5 and people had often suggested I should transfer to stage school but I was too academic, and we simply didn’t have the money. Then when I was 14 my chronic illnesses reached a crescendo, it simply wasn’t possible for me to keep going. I was in too much pain. It eventually meant I had to leave school, which had meant so much to me. But I turned to writing, published my first poem when I was 14, about sickness, and parallels between growing up and the rhythm of dance continue to inspire me.”

“I nearly ate guinea pig on holiday in Peru.. I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t.”

“I nearly…died of a drug overdose in my third year of university. It was a life changing moment. I turned my life around.”

“I was nearly conscripted into the South African army during the height of apartheid, was selected as an officer cadet and attended a 2 week training camp in the bush. Then the commander gave a lecture on skin colour equating to friends vs foe!”

“I nearly… spoke to Paul Weller (an idol) when we were alone in a lift on Drury Lane. I didn’t want to bother him, wanted to be “cool” and couldn’t think of the ‘killer Q”. He saw my gaping mouth, like a suited goldfish, winked at me, then walked out at his floor!”

“I nearly drowned my own cat.” The Poetry Cafe user who told me this said she was six years old at the time, loved the cat and wondered what would happen if she didn’t pull it out of the freezing water it had fallen into. She’s never told anyone about this before.

“I nearly bought an Arcade cabinet for a computer game

“I nearly..hit my brother; he nearly went through the front door.”

And finally…

“I nearly…allowed myself to be a dancer. I will now.”


This powerful poem arrived today from Laura Potts.

Laura Potts is twenty-two years old and lives in West Yorkshire, England. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her work has appeared in Ezra Pound’s Agenda, Prole and Poetry Salzburg Review. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year listed in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Laura’s first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.


Yesterday’s Child

The sun slit a knife through the womb-wet night

and bled like an egg, like a budburst head:

in the swell of the sweat on the belly of the bed,

broken-throated then and red, you said

the clench of winter let the roses grow instead.


But time has fled with jenny wren and left

the meadow dead. And overhead a mouth of moon

has called the mourning on this room, and soon

an ever-bloom of moss will clot the loss of you.

For the years between us are wide as a child;


and the tears as wet as a wound.

Nearly @ The Crouch End Festival

How do you live with what you’ve nearly done?
How do your nearly stories influence who you really are?
46a Topsfield Parade, Tottenham Lane N8 8PT
Friday 15th JUNE 2 – 4pm (free but places limited – BOOK HERE. or email to reserve a space)
Digital author Chris Meade leads a unique nearly-sharing & book-making session
Sunday 17th JUNE 3 – 5pm

with Nearly Songs by chris & the ifso

Chris Meade, Abbie Coppard, Iain Stewart, Alistair McEachern
“Funny, challenging, moving, tuneful, strange”
s-l1600-1 2



almost, nearly, all but, kind of, about, nigh

near, close, close to, closely, at hand, nearly




(Google translations)
We’re on the way back from seeing our son Joe and his family in Stockholm. In the local cafe today the owner asked about my badge and then told me this story. He’s also signed up to this blog so Jaques may want to send his own version and/or some other nearlies.
For now…

“I nearly… went with a local shepherd to explore the mountains of Nepal.

I was trekking with my then girlfriend and a friend in the Himalayas, a sherpa as our guide. We stopped at a habitation in the mountains and a woman came out with her baby in her arms, invited us to stay the night, shared her food with us. It was beautiful. The next morning we prepared to leave and she said, “My husband is a shepherd, he is coming home today. Why don’t you stay for a few days and he could take you walking in the hills?” I wanted so much to do that but the others said we had to get going. I still wonder what that would have been like.”

  • Told by  Jaques, Lilla Bagis cafe and bakery in Bagamossen, Stockholm.


Bagamossen, Stockholm


Nearly Man

I went to the South Bank Centre’s Being A Man Festival yesterday and heard a lot about men and mental health, the fact that 79% of suicides are male and that suicide is the main cause of death of young men in the UK. I spoke to volunteers from The Samaritans (where my Dad was a volunteer in the 1970s), and the wonderful CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably. All very inspiring. I talked to people about Nearlyology and began to think that with the pressure on males to succeed and fix things, the topic of what we’ve nearly done may have a special resonance. Nearlysex – which covers sexual failures, fantasies, harassment, friendships etc… is also a topic I’m keen to help men explore.  Years ago I was in men’s groups and ran workshops with men, one for boys in a Sheffield youth club, talking about all kinds of difficult things.  More recently I attended a Death Cafe (with my daughter, soon after my Mum died), and enjoyed the open conversation around this taboo topic that everyone has something to say about, from the heart wrenching to the hilarious. Now I’m thinking about a men’s Nearly Cafe event somewhere soon.

Nearly Badges

Wearing my ‘I nearly’ badge still has interesting results. Man in Tesco Metro Hornsey last night asked what it was about. I told him I gathered stories of nearly things and asked if he had one. Immediately he said he’s nearly been in a band. He plays the drums, was invited to join but didn’t feel confident enough at the time. Since then the band has broken up but his confidence as a drummer has grown. Maybe next time. I gave him my badge.

And the waitress in Cafe Circus, Crouch End, asked what the badge was about. I gave her my card and she looked at the site, said she really liked the idea. I thought she’d send me her Nearly Story, but she hasn’t… yet.