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picture of andy millican

Changing times grow stranger as the years

drive on, recession grips, old age and cold,

that hypothermic fog that fills your fears

                 from Private Harry Tandey by Andy Millican 






A Strange Chorus



In Search of the Sixth Sense


Private Harry Tandey


Slaughterhouse Live

Suliemenís Mosque

The Neighbour Known as Judas






Andy Millican is a poet from Glossop. He has been writing poetry for over 40 years. He has won several minor competitions and been placed in many more.  His poems have appeared in various anthologies and a number broadcast on BBC Radio. To commemorate the centenary of WW1 he was commissioned to write, perform and record for posterity an audio series of poems for the Lest We Forget website, a Lottery Funded project.

He is a regular performer at Manchester Central Library Open Mic nights and also performs at other open mic events around Greater Manchester.

Andy has just published his first collection Nebulous. All proceeds from the sale of his collection are being donated to the Eye Tumour Research Fund Liverpool University Hospital. Nebulous is the title poem dedicated to Professor Hienrich Heinmann who saved the sight of his wife Tracey three years ago who has been able to return to painting and who has provided the cover artwork. Minimum donations are requested of £5.00 for the book.





A Strange Chorus


4.19am. A grey half-light comes

through the high frosted bathroom window, cuts

laser-like across the smooth marbled floor

towards our bed. Low air conditioning hums


in competition with your purring snore.

Somewhere close a strangulated scream erupts

over the terracotta rooftops like

a woman assaulted; her cries for help


echo down alleyways and passageways,

curdle blood, tease imagination, strike

primeval fears through the soft dopey haze

of sleep as barking starts: then squeals and yelps


herald a dervish chorus, a sick din

orchestrated by an avian jinn.




I step inside the graveyard after eight.

I pauseÖthen stop. There is no wind. The rain

drops so diagonally hard and straight

as a grey die that might emboss my brain.


I saunter down on through the centre aisle;

avoid the empty cans and soggy turds

not long since dropped. Prefer to smile instead

at the warm rain and the chunnering birds


in the green canopy on either side.

There, the fork tailed house martins and swallows

practise their semi-kamikaze dives

at passers-by from under the hallowed


eaves and rain drums chant to the rustling leaves

as the birds swing in to view my head

or skim on along the length of towering trees

that separates the living from the dead.




I dreamt that I was eating fish

at a table set for one,

the table stood on a bed of sand

an enormous crowd looked on.


I had no knife, I had no fork,

my hands were tightly bound,

yet bloodied nails and three inch pins

lay scattered on the ground.


I picked the fish up with my mouth

to fillet with my teeth,

the blood spilt from my gums and lips

and spattered underneath.


Behind the crowd upon a knoll

a wooden cross stood bare

and next to it a little girl

with fishes in her hair.


 She smiled at me and stroked the fish

which glinted in her hair,

then turned as if to take the hand

of someone else stood there.


In Search of the Sixth Sense



I lie down on the floor itís after dark.

The lights are off, the curtains closed, itís still.

The UPVC windows reinforce

the inner silence and the solitude.

I lie some moments listening: the faint bark

of a dog disturbed in the distance will

soon fade as I concentrate on the course

of mystery. There, quiet again, the mood

returns. I close my eyes, relax, the spark

is some way off. It is an acquired skill,

but I am learning. We cannot see its source

or find its end: but then, it must elude

us if itís always going to remain 

the unspoken energy of the brain.




The coin in the centre of my forehead

so cool. This talisman is a sixpence

gone smooth and dull. It helps me meditate.

A collectorís piece from a recent age

it serves now as the focal point instead

as muscles slacken and nerves lose the tense

strains of day. They are switching off. The gate

has not yet opened from the momentís cage:

soon, trance and detachment are near. My head

is no more: I am here and there; I sense

all: see hear taste touch smell and know the state

is fleeting. But aeons have passed. The gauge

of safety is lost, fear rises, the soul

shrinks back to tension: darkness dogs control.




My time approaches once again. These last

few moments of consciousness as I am

now will end. A new me awaits. The past

as I have understood it to be will

be no more. This is the mystery. There can

be no harking after, no going back, no

recollection whatsoever. But still,

as I become whoever I will be

I shall at some odd time experience

perhaps just once, an overwhelming sense

of deja vu. A something from long ago

that will make me wonder, Ďwas that once me?í


Time to move. I hear her animal grunts

her gasps much clearer now. The passageway

grows lighter. She is pushing me up front

to other eager voices and the calm

galaxy of this existence is grazed

by another world. Soon it will explode

in chaos. An element of alarm

will pass over all who witness this birth.

For me I will know nothing but the pain

and shock birth brings. It is always the same.

We have no choice; all tickets are coded,

yet free, but we must live to find their worth.  


Private Harry Tandey


The hammer falls, the auctioneer shouts SOLD!

The widow, German born, is moved to tears

that valour is beyond the price of gold.


Changing times grow stranger as the years

drive on, recession grips, old age and cold,

that hypothermic fog that fills your fears


recedes now with a huge capital gain.

Valour cast into a cross of dull bronze

that never could do justice to your pain


has brought you warmth and light where it belonged

once too often. When compassion maintained

itís grace in war and left that man enthroned


in darkness to command yet more blind troops.

Way down the long grey days since history

was made by Hitler, forgetfulness droops


around your heavy head. And mystery

surrounds your husbandís great day and the cost

to mankind and how the world couldíve been.


In the name of the Victoria Cross.



Harry Tandey was the First World Warís most decorated soldier. His eight medals including the Victoria Cross were sold in 1980 for £27,000 when his German born widow became destitute and she remembered that he had told her to sell them should she ever need money.

Ironically he won the Victoria Cross on the day he captured Adolf Hitler but let the wounded conscript go in the year 1918. Hitler recounted the tale to Chamberlain some 20 years later.



All day the RSCPA man

tracked her between gardens

to lure her to safety

check her damaged wing.


She rested on our bottom fence.

Talons, protruding from under her

puffed chest, pierced the panelled wood.


Now, nightfall comes. She is still there.

A thousand distant suns glint in her eye

as she cocks her head to

watch the flashing red light

of a jet plane on high.


Suliemanís Mosque


Tucked deep in Rhodes Old Town Ė Suliemanís mosque.

Entry is free, even for infidels,

Jews, apostates and atheists. It costs

the respectful removal of footwear.


I take off my Jesus sandals. Step on

the lush cushy feeling Persian carpet

covering every inch of the single room

where silence descends.  I feel strangely blessed


by the crowded calm.  Yet a distant yell

from the mania of tourism markets

breaches the walls. Minimalism

dominates after Greek Orthodox


iconoclasm. Just two odd things from

the room. A kind of pulpit and a box

shaped large enough to sit in. Is this where

the Imams led prayer? But a sense of gloom


sticks to the whitewashed walls. A sudden flash

fills my face as I turn and a frisson

of fear rises. I duck quick expecting

the swish of a Byzantine scimitar


only to hear, then size up, the Russian

woman built like a buffalo pushing

past with no regard for where we all are

as she shouts down her i-phone. The rest of

us file out the quiet culled. The usual clash

of old, new and disregard for respect.


The Neighbour Known as Judas

We canít remember who first christened her Judas?

But she has gone away, for good thank god!

She has gangrene and her right foot is to be

amputated. Imagine. Gangrene here in upper

working class suburbia surrounded by a New

Foundation Hospital and bustling community clinics.

Bo her dog has gone to a home. No one seems

to know if itís Home home. But itís quiet without

his bark. And I havenít stood in any dog crap

on our front lawn or been ambushed by the odd turd


surreptitiously dropped behind the car since.

Weíre not complacent. Judas was carted off

unclean unwashed bedraggled by Social Services

two years ago but they couldnít buy her off.

No paltry thirty pieces could do that. She returned

clean, reclothed, fatted up much to Mr Malikís

delight. He could restock whisky and Special Bew

safe in the knowledge she had returned to

give him her pension in exchange. This time Mr Malik

must be worried. Itís now 5 weeks


and thereís no sign of her. Four nuclear suited

officials removed four skips of papers

and bottles and cans last time. Thatís a lot

of skittled reading. The rats were gassed,

the gardens trampled, the gate fell off. Several

more holes appeared in the windows.

Judas had gone break out the wine!

But someone rolled away the stone. She was

back like Lazarus and larger than life.

Jesus Christ we shouted! Mr Malik thanked Allah.


This time weíre quietly confident that she wonít

return. The banished son has cleaned the house,

the grass grows tall, the weeds multiply,

the Saturday night drunks have demolished the fence

and Mr Malik mourns her custom lost for good.

While Bo, if heís alive, probably sits in his kennel,

stares at the door and shits in the corner

and patiently waits for his owner to collect him,

faithful to the end though heís been betrayed.

What happened to turn Judas into Judas?





A Strange chorus Ė Winner 2017 Society of Civil Service & Public Service Writers (SCSPSW) Poetry Competition.      Published in summer quarterly edition.

Eclogue Ė Broadcast BBC Radio

Fillet Ė None

In Search of the Sixth Sense - Broadcast BBC Radio. Published A Dry Eye 1998

Lottery - Winner 2004 (SCSPSW) Poetry Competition. Published in summer quarterly edition. Published in Ministry of Defence quarterly magazine 2006.

Private Harry Tandey - Broadcast BBC Radio. Published as part of longer sequence of war poems for Lest We forget 2018 WW1 Commemoration Event with audio file on website.

Rapturous - Runner up 2015 (SCSPSW) Poetry Competition. Published in summer quarterly edition.

Slaughterhouse Live Ė Runner up 2011 Red Squirrel Open Competition. Published in competition edition.

Suliemanís Mosque - Runner up 2012 (SCSPSW) Poetry Competition. Published in summer quarterly edition.

The Neighbour Known as Judas - Winner 2008 (SCSPSW) Poetry Competition. Published in summer quarterly edition.


4 - Afterword

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