Category Archives: Innovation

The 10th Muse.


The 10th Muse.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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A dusting of morning snow,

Covers my car.

I trace a love heart

In the passenger window,

And imagine you smiling

On the other side of the glass.

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Antio sas, 2022.


That’s Greek for goodbye, if you didn’t know.

At least, that’s what Google translate tells me. It could say ‘f*ck you’ for all I know. Which would work just as well.

Saying farewell to the year in a foreign tongue has become a bit of a custom for reasons I shan’t go into right now.

Greek mythology and the divine muses have been pretty prominent for me in 2022, so it seems quite appropriate.

This year, I’ve managed to paint lots of pictures, visit lots of the Peak District and write lots of poetry. So much so, I’m hoping to publish my second collection of poetry, “Go tell the bees” some time in 2023. (I’ve even been dabbling with a book cover design for it.)

To see out the year, I thought I’d leave you with a few samples of abstract doodling which I’ve been doing quite a bit of lately. It’s a very cathartic and mindful exercise if you want to give it a go. I’ve even tried it with patients on the ward and it went down really well. (Remember, it’s about the process of doing art rather than the end result.)

It just remains for me to say, thank you for visiting my blog, your support is very much appreciated. I hope you have a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2023.

Keep being creative and tell those closest to you that you love them.

In the words of the great poet, Philip Larkin:

“…we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind   

While there is still time.”

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Extreme Doodling


Extreme Doodling is not doodling whilst snowboarding down the lava doused slopes of an erupting volcano. It’s a tad more sedate than that. It’s doodling with purpose.

Like my previous post about abstract doodling, this exercise is mindful and relaxing.

Simply take your pen or pencil and take it for a stroll around the page.

Don’t think about it. Just spiral around, looping up and down, over and under, without lifting your pen off the page.

Next, (this is the ‘purpose’ part), fill in the shapes that you have created. As you can see above, I have used similarly spaced lines at varying angles, but you could fill each shape with a different design or pattern, as below.

Something like this would lend itself to being filled in with colour – felt tips, pencil crayon, watercolour…

You could even add more geometric elements to it.

There’s no right or wrong.

Nor is there any pressure on it having to be any ‘good’. By ‘good’ we usually mean in the eyes of others. Or, worse still – by yourself!

This is for you.

For you to spend some time relaxing whilst doing art.

It is the process not the result.

I could go on – I’ve got millions of the little blighters. But you get the idea.

I usually do them when I’m out and about and having to wait for something or someone (hence them always being black and white). So it’s a great way to pass time and not get frustrated about having to hang about.

Anyhoo, thank you so very much for taking the time to read/look at my blog. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,

David.

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Windows into the (unconscious) mind.


Here’s a little abstract doodling exercise that anyone can do.

Simply divide a page of your sketchbook up into four with masking tape. (Don’t use cello tape as it will tear the paper when you remove it.)

Next, take a pencil and randomly scribble around the four boxes. Then, do the same with a felt tip pen.

For the colour, I used a combination of oil and chalk pastels. (Mainly oil.) But you could use watercolour paint, acrylic, markers – whatever you feel like using. Just don’t try to think about it too much. Let your subconscious do the work.

Remember, this exercise is about the process of doing art as a mindfulness activity, not the result.

You don’t have to divide your page into four. Do as few or as many shapes as you want.

When you feel you’ve finished, gently peel off the masking tape and – Ta-daaahhh! Behold your masterpiece. Guaranteed to give you a little dopamine hit. (The pleasure/reward chemical in your brain.)

It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s extremely relaxing and gratifying.

Your finished work may not get hung in the Tate Modern, but that was never the objective in the first place. Doing art for its own sake and the mental wellbeing it brings was.

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Gilberto sings to Cornelia – new poem.


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Gilberto sings to Cornelia.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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Cornelia is 96-years-old,

With skin like crepe paper.

Her chest rattles like a percolator.

Her lungs have more fluid than oxygen.

Her arms are purple

From where they have drawn blood.

She sings between coughs.

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Gilberto is a nurse

From Sierra Leone;

He loves to sing too.

He has sung in the church choir

Since he was 8-years-old.

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Gilberto pulls up a chair

Beside Cornelia’s bed

And takes her bruised hand in his.

Softly, he begins to sing

Edelweiss to her.

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Edelweiss, edelweiss,

Every morning you greet me.

Small and white

Clean and bright

You look happy to meet me.”

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His voice is how I imagine

An angel might sing.

Gilberto sings

Until Cornelia’s gurgling stops,

And her gnarled fingers

Go limp.

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*Edelweiss by Rodgers & Hammerstein from The Sound of Music.

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Wet dreams, wet dishes and Wet Leg.


Who wants to hear music recommendations from an old fogey?

London Grammar; Billie Eilish; Sia; First Aid Kit; 21 Pilots; Caravan Palace and Mother, Mother, are just a few of the artists my young daughters have introduced me to.

One of the (many) benefits of having children late in life is the cultural influences they have that rub off on you.

Wet Leg are the latest musical phenomenon to pique my parental interest.

“Hang on a minute, is she singing about a ‘wet dream’?”

“Yes, dad,” rolls eyes to sister.

“Do you even know what a…”

“Yes, dad,” in unison.

Mumbles to self while washing dishes.

Anyway, much to my daughters’ disappointment, I think Wet Leg are brilliant.

The band was set up by besties Rhian Teasdale and Hesther Chambers on the Isle of Wight. And you can tell they’re best mates by the way they interact with each other on stage. They have a wonderful chemistry together. The other band members comprise of Henry Holmes, Ellis Durand and Josh Omead Mobaraki.

Their music is contemporary and reflects the zeitgeist of growing up in a consumer-driven social media society. (Yes, I really did just type that bullshit.)

They’re sassy and their lyrics don’t take any prisoners, cleverly encapsulating female empowerment (and vulnerability). Perfect role models for young girls and women. Garbed in 19th century American frontier-pioneering frocks, they’re the antithesis of the big-record-label-marketing department.

They seem to be having a hoot, (like they can’t quite believe this is happening either). They don’t take themselves too seriously and come across as pretty humble. They sing about the usual stuff – relationships, drugs and navigating the modern world, but with their quirky indie/pop-punk/rock signature harking back to the likes of The Breeders and surrealism of Talking Heads with a bit of vocal gymnastics reminiscent of Bjork. Rhian Teasdale doesn’t just sing the lyrics, she performs them. She gets into character. They’re playful, nonchalant and emotive.

Their self-titled debut album is absolutely fanatastic. Every song is a hit single. I can’t pick a favourite so here are a few for your delectation. Their videos are pretty cool too.

I’m trying to persuade my daughters to come to a gig with me. If you’re at the one in Manchester, I’ll be down the front in my wheelchair, with a tartan blanket across my knees waving a candle in the air, whilst simultaneously asking them to turn the music down a bit.

Addendum: I made my comparison to Talking Heads before I realised they had covered this.

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Yorkshire Sculpture Park is brilliant, ’cause it’s in Yorkshire.

I could end this post here, after that zealous statement, but I’ll endeavour to extol a few more virtues of a jaunt to this idyllic artistic paradise.

YSP is near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, (which is where I’m from, if you hadn’t guessed).

It has gazillions of acres of parkland, gardens, lakes, woods and buildings to roam around.

You’ll see works from the likes of Damien Hirst, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, Sophie Ryder, Robert Indiana, Antony Gormley, Vanessa de Silva, Ai Wei Wei and tons more.

It has a lovely cafe and gift shop, but you can take a picnic if the weather’s nice.

You have to book online so have a look at their website (links above). I only paid six quid! As under 18s are free. (I went with my daughter.) Parking is included in the entrance fee.

Not only is it a veritable feast for your peepers, being in all that nature is good for your mental health too.

Anyhoo, here are a few examples of the delights I got to see. I missed quite a few too. I could’ve easily spent another couple of hours there so allow yourself plenty of time.

Plus, on top of all that, did I mention it’s in Yorkshire! What more could you want?

Lola was feeling left out. She’s a work of art in my book.
Getting ready to play Pooh sticks with the young ‘un. (I lost.)

I actually wrote a blog post about YSP in 2014 which is here if you want to compare and contrast.

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Mix Tape


Hands up, who remembers mix tapes?

I found one the other day, while I was emptying boxes, that an old girlfriend had made for me in the 90s. I couldn’t play it, of course, as I don’t have a tape deck anymore. Or a record player. Or a CD player. In fact, I don’t ‘physically’ own any music. It’s all in the ether. Intangible. Owned by Apple, Spotify, Youtube or some other super corporation.

It got me thinking about how I would go about making one now, if I felt the urge to translate my love through the medium of music to my new-found paramour.

So I wrote a poem about it. As you do.

Then I had an epiphany!

Why not go ahead and actually make the mix tape as part of the poem.

For ‘mix tape’, I mean playlist, obviously. So, here you are. 

(The link to the playlist is at the end.)

Mix Tape.

By David Milligan-Croft

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Don’t talk to me about love;

I was making mix tapes before you were born.

Speaking of which, just how old are you?

I may look old, but inside, I feel 33 1/3.

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It was easier to record from vinyl.

That way you could avoid abrupt endings. 

Fade in, fade out, like a Grandmaster Flash.

If you were slick, you might include excerpts

Of dialogue from old movies,

Or from great speeches like- ‘I have a dream!’

…That one day you’ll kiss me!

(Not sure that’s what MLK had in mind.)

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Recording off the radio was an art form.

You’d need the dexterity of a nuclear fission scientist

And a Watergate wiretapper to operate 

Play, pause and record simultaneously,

Before some schmaltzy DJ chimed in with his drivel.

And if your tape got chewed up

From too much stopping and starting,

You’d have to pull it all out until you found the kinks,

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Straighten it, then stick a pencil in the spool 

And rewind it all back in again.

Praying it doesn’t happen while she’s listening to 

Je t’aime moi non plus.

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I hope you like it.

It took me a whole weekend to put together.

Quite good fun though. Reminiscing, and all that.

I imagine you listening to it in your bedroom.

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Lying on your bed, looking up at the ceiling.

Your long, velvet hair cascading over the pillow,

Thinking of me, thinking of you. 

Except we’re not Gainsbourg and Birkin.

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The lyrics say things I never could,

Would or should. And are more self-indulgent 

Than a box of Thorntons. But what can I do?

I’m just a 20th Century Boy in love with a 21st century girl.

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Truth is a Cruel Mistress


Le baiser de l’Hotel de Ville‘, 1950, Robert Doisneau.

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Truth is a Cruel Mistress.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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Sometimes, I imagine life like a romantic fairy tale.

There’ll be a pounding at my door.

I’ll go to answer it,

And it will be you – standing

In the pouring rain – breathless,

A suitcase in your hand.

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Or, I am walking down the corridor

At work. And I’ll hear my name

Being called. I’ll turn around, and it’s you,

Statuesque, and ready to run

Toward me.

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Perhaps my phone rings. It’s you. (Of course.)

There’s silence.

Breathing.

Then you say,

‘I need to see you.’

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Then, I remember that life isn’t a 90-minute

Hollywood trope.

It’s real. And so is 

The fact that you left your job

So you would never have to see me again.

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The fact, that I haven’t spoken to you since,

The fact, that I haven’t heard your voice since,

The fact, that I haven’t read your words since,

The day,

I told you that you had mistaken my love

For kindness.

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You ran

As fast, and as far,

As you could

In the opposite direction.

The mere thought of me, repugnant to you.

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Truth is a cruel mistress.

So I button my coat

And step outside.

The morning sun warms my face.

I hold out my hand to take yours.

I turn to you and smile.

You smile too.

And we walk into a brand new day.

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Lost Love


I met Tom Pow in a Stellenbosch vineyard in South Africa back in the late 90s.

Pretty small world really, as he’s from Scotland and I’m English, but was living in Ireland at the time.

I am fascinated by how people’s paths intersect. Everything that they had to go through prior to that point in time for you to meet. And, perhaps more importantly, why?

One of the things I have carried with me since our meeting, was his poem, ‘Loving, Writing’, from his collection ‘Red Letter Day’.

For me, it encapsulates the beauty and purity of love. Whether or not it lasts is beside the point. The point is that you got to feel that way at all.

Tom Pow

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