Michael Rosen has been, for many years, a prodigious and prolific user of Twitter (now known as Eggs). Unlike the armies of ‘anonymous tweeters / raging in the twilight’, his Tweets are variously fables, squibs, musings, daily observations and lifelong preoccupations – pitted prunes, anteaters, Sisyphus, the sound of rain stopping, garlic pickle, blocked sinks, lost suitcases, legs, hummus and bagels, SATS tests, Runcorn, grief, saggy jumpers, chicken soup, Eurovision, COVID, labyrinthitis, kookaburras, fringe-magnets, cucumber raita, sneezing, shamans, armpit-scratching, Rishi Sunak’s Maths, pest-control, skip-wrestling, the after-life, the icing on the cake, antisemitism, Gaza…

Pebbles is a collection of some of Michael Rosen’s most recent poetry-tweets. Sharp, pithy and eloquent, serious and comical, wise and perplexed, these are the everyday reports of an ‘optimistic nihilist' – someone who doesn’t believe there is any point to existence, but thinks that this is a good reason to make the most of this life while we can.

front cover photograph: Emma-Louise Williams

Sample Poem


This morning's big challenge: 
how to eat blackberries 
without getting pips 
stuck in my teeth. 
I think it's important 
at my stage in life 
to take on the big stuff, 
the things that really matter.

Just as I was walking to the supermarket
this morning 
thinking that my brain has holes in it
through which names escape.
I disturbed 
two birds 
who complained
that I didn't know 
whether they were sparrows
or chaffinches.

I said are there any questions?
One boy said, I’ve got a question, Michael Rosen.
What’s your question? I said,
Do you know my Dad’s name?
No, I said.
It’s Patrick, he said.

What greater indictment of 
the exam system
is hearing people who
sailed through
the exam system
saying that they can't think of an alternative to
the exam system.

I've just been through Runcorn.
That's twice in two days.
Last time it was in the other direction.
Life can be quite exciting at times.
I certainly wasn't expecting it to be
as exciting as this though.

The worse it gets in Gaza, 
the louder they shout about the antisemitism 
they’re suffering.
The whole point of the rhetoric 
round immigration 
is that it has nothing to do with 
whether people are 
or are not 
and everything to do with 
encouraging people 
to be afraid of strangers.

The reason why we put
children on separate tables
according to ability
is so that when we test them
we find out 
if we've put them 
on the right tables.

Anonymous tweeters
raging in the twilight
demanding replies
giving out orders
flinging insults
summoning enemies
to an imaginary court
calling for sympathy
signposting injustice
spotting conspiracies
claiming expertise
staying anonymous.

Laura Kuenssberg
says the British have a love-hate relationship
with the NHS
I don't have a love-hate relationship
with the NHS
I have a love-love relationship
with the NHS.
If ever I find something wrong
with the NHS
I don't hate it
I care about it
like I might care about someone
who needs more help.

I've picked up an earlier train than the one I was due to catch.
It's a train that's delayed by three hours.
Everyone on the train is looking very fed up
except for me who thinks he's early. 
Did Einstein have something to say about this? 
Perhaps not.

My granddaughter 
could live to the 22nd century. 
Her grandfather (me) 
used to see Bertrand Russell speak 
in Trafalgar Square. 
Bertrand Russell's grandfather 
met Napoleon.