Having a Lovely Time Writing

Author Profile: Philip Waddell

Last September I was very lucky to have lunch with Philip Waddell and Roger Stevens when I went to the We Love Poetry exhibition that the fantastic Liz Brownlee had organised.  

Great Poets: Philip Waddell, Catherine and Gerard Benson, and Roger Stevens


I am delighted to bring to you more about Philip Waddell!  

Author Profile  

Name: Philip Waddell  

 Age: 12 really. (But my local council have recently sent me a free bus pass for the over 60s and no one has challenged me yet!)  

 Job: Househusband, handyman and poet.  

 Hobbies: reading, writing, DIY, travel, listening to music, drawing/painting and films. (My favourite genres are sci-fi, horror and comedy.)  

 1) What sort of things do you like to write about?  

 I’ll have a go at writing on any subject if requested but I like my poems to take a comic or surprising turn. I’ve written lots of poems featuring animals and monsters.  

2) Who are your main influences?  

When I started writing my main influences were the likes of Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, Dorothy Parker, Colin McNaughton and Roger Mc Gough. Nowadays there are many more.  

3) How do you get your ideas?  

 An amusing pun, spoonerism or a malapropism will usually get me writing or a thought such as, I wonder how earthworms feel when their field is ploughed? Which led to:  

 Split Personality  

Patrick the worm’s not his usual self,  

He got chopped in two with a pick –  

So his front half is now known as Pat  

And his other half’s now known as Rick.  


But mostly I just make the decision to write and see where it takes me.  

4) How do you set about writing a poem?  

 If I’m trying to write on a subject requested I’d usually spend about three days jotting down any ideas that come in the hope of finding an original angle. After about three days, with any luck, I find that one idea will lead to another. I find that my poems choose their own form and rhythm once I start writing. The hardest thing for me is knowing when a poem is finished and I’m inclined to go on altering poems sometimes long after they’ve been published, which makes it very difficult for me to memorise my own work!  

5) What things do you like to read?  

 These days I mainly read poetry, both adult and children’s, and picture books – in the hope of being inspired to write one! But when I’m on holiday I enjoy novels (often comic) or books by scientist authors like Steve Jones, Robert Winston, Richard Dawkins etc.  

6) Where can we read your work?  

 Since 1997 my poems have appeared in more than 80 anthologies, many from Macmillan. Most recently in Read Me Out Loud, edited by Nick Toczek and Paul Cookson; The Jumble Book, Edited by Roger Stevens; Read Me At School, Edited by Gaby Morgan; Shouting At The Ocean, Edited by Denton, Shavick and Stevens and My Cat is in Love with the Goldfish, Edited by Graham Denton. With poet Ian Bland I recently co-wrote and illustrated A Bug in my Hair!  Poems for children aged 5 – 7.  

7) Have you any plans for your poetry?  

 By the end of 2010 Ian and I are planning to have completed another collection of our poems for children aged 7 – 11. I also hope to have set up my own dazzlingly beautiful and utterly beguiling poetry website by then.  

And finally:  

 The oldest anthology in my collection of poetry books is The Oxford Book of English Verse (1250 – 1918), which I was awarded on prize day 1965 ‘for English’ so I’ve long enjoyed poetry! But the thing that finally inspired me to try my own hand at writing poetry was a couplet by Anon from a 1986 collection, Is A Caterpillar Ticklish?  

The poem, called On Tomato Ketchup, goes:  

 If you do not shake the bottle,  

None’ll come, and then a lot’ll.  


Nuff said!  

Brilliant Philip thanks! And I am so looking forward to seeing your website and your next anthology with Ian. Keep up the good work!  

I was very fortunate to co-write a poem with Philip:  

Lost Instructions  

I’ve lost the instructions for controlling the kids,  

they’re wild, screaming and running amok!  

I’ve looked behind the sofa,  

in the drawer of the dresser  

and been through the bin  

but I can’t find them anywhere!  


I  frantically phoned my friend Jan.  

“The manual for mine was in Japanese,”  

lamented Jan with a sigh, “so no help at all.  

How about asking Roger?”  

“Goggle Google,” suggested Roger, ever helpful.  

“You might be able to download  

English instructions from the internet.”  

But goggling Google  

proved a complete waste of time.  

In desperation, I tried Celia.  

“Anyway,’ said Celia, “even if you do find a manual  

it will probably be out of date  

or no use at all for your lot.  

I’m so sorry dear, I wish I could help.”  

Who else was there?  

With trembling fingers I texted Michael  

His reply: Lok them in yr spare rm til their batries rn dwn  

then xchnge them fr nu 1s!  

for a moment seemed extremely tempting!  


But then my moment of genius!  

I grabbed the remote, aimed it at the TV and stabbed ON.  

The effect was instant!  

It was as if they’d been dropped by sonic screwdrivers.  

Closing the door behind me I whispered my gratitude.  

Thank you Dr Who!  





  1. very nice bloggage.

    Comment by HAM — February 25, 2010 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  2. Good to learn more about Philip. He didn’t mention in his interview though his giant size (about seven foot three). I also noticd he said he was twelve. This is quite clearly not true. I think you should check those sort of facts, Karen, before writing them in a blog like this.

    Comment by Roger Stevens — February 25, 2010 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  3. So Roger when’s your interview?
    Mum says something about letting Katy, Alex and Fred interview you sometime in May?

    Mum says Phil paid her good money not to edit his interview!

    Comment by harmony — February 25, 2010 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  4. Great and love the comments too haha!

    Comment by em1981 — March 6, 2010 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

    • philip currently has a dose of dragonitus – bit worried about him. I think his case of dragon flu is turning him into one!

      Comment by auntyfruitcake — March 6, 2010 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

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