This page is a collation of the bits and pieces of writing I’ve done to celebrate the great students and staff of the school I work at. Some of these were written for students to celebrate the end of Year 11. Others were written at Christmas times and the ends of the year for staff.
The Clan and The Beast.
It’s in the twin kingdoms of brave Penhill
And mighty Pinehurst where we lay our scene:
Two clans of worthy warriors came to seek
New challenges, new lives, new ways to be.
And in these kingdoms there did dwell a beast –
A beast these clans would face with great honour.
Its name was rarely spoke – GCSE.
At first, the way was rough; some warriors fell.
Some came with fear and nerve, but grew and changed.
And some showed strength of mind and strength of soul:
The kind of strength it takes to lead so well.
The first were five fresh faced young men. No, boys,
Named Mapstone, Maslin, Harding, Stanley, Gleed.
And with them came a jester – Carl by name.
A hoodied man, from Hambidge he did come
With strange earwear. He caused great pain to some
With japes and jests, and often disappeared
To pop up later when there was no need.
These six were joined anon by Peachy-Score
Who, it was said, dressed like a maid at times.
And all of these did good and sometimes bad,
But all of them enjoyed the times they’d had.
Ladies there were too. Some graceful dancers:
Baker, Brewer, Newbury, Dunn and Timms.
Whilst others sang like Hepburn, Giles, Kirby.
And some, like one named Hale, had mouths of fire,
Though hid their real fire well within their smiles.
A group of songsmiths came with merry tunes,
But some, it’s said did not like all their sounds.
These musicmen brought cheer to clear the frowns
Of those who feared the brutal beast’s exams.
Among them were the likes of Middlebrook.
Whose flowing mane and “axe” of flame impressed
Some folk. Along with this young man were
Curtis, Day, Camelo. Their songs brought joy.
Athletes, like young Moss, were present too.
And Robertson, who took part every year
In vaulting with no fear at Gym and Dance.
Not to be outdone, young sporting females
Showed they were worth as much and, if not, more
Than those young men: Tearall, and great Waldon
On the netball court did show authority,
Whilst Lovack’s football skills were legendary.
And Clarke in rounders, with a bat, was mean.
Then came the wise, who had worked hard as bricks.
The likes of Halls, the Cerdas and Gurungs.
Clayton, Deller, Hussein, Webb and Thurman,
Chabata, Booth, Garcia, Prior, Lane.
And some could speak more tongues than they had heads,
Whilst others’ heads stayed strong when times got tough.
And there were many more within this group.
But the borders of this poem are just too small
To contain the tales of each brave young soul.
These warriors plotted, schemed, they planned to win.
They brought us grit and taught their elders too.
And it was whispered, sometimes, Nanny Stokes
And Mammas Hodgson, Lawrence, Dadda Wells,
And Doctor O had been impressed to see
The great works of these young men and women
On their quest to nail the frightening beast.
And nail it they did too, with help and care
From red and green and blue and yellow folk.
From Bath, Imperial, Warwick, Cambridge too.
Their leaders Green, Neale, Rodgers, Drinkwater,
And Lady Aplin’s crew from fair R12
Did teach them clean and clear and fresh and true.
All pulled and pushed (and sometimes shoved) as one
To win. To be the best that they could be.
The Wizards (2014)
At times, the clan did find that times were hard
And at these times they’d turn to some wizards
Who were their brain-smiths and wild thought-weavers,
Alchemists of learning, mind magicians –
Like Rumplestiltskins, spinning straw to gold,
Experience from inexperience,
Knowledge from ignorance, naïvety
And immaturity to wizened ways.
These wizards, as you’ll see, were wise and wyrd.
The first of our wise wizards, Mamma Hodgson,
Was the queen of number transformations,
Moulding data from one shape to the next
To find the finest ways to help the clan.
Triangles, pentagons and pentangles:
Few could twist forms or lines the same as Lines
As she was known for miles and miles around,
Before a young man, Miles, took her fair hand.
This line-ess was held in high esteem.
She drew a line which few would dare to cross
And she made sure the clan were kept on track
In many ways, though most of all in maths.
She did strange things with many letters too:
Changed D’s to C’s and C’s to B’s or A’s.
These letters though were not her only care.
Her care shone through for all within the clan.
Strange ceremonies, like Prom, this wizard
Did arrange, along with yearbooks, hoodies.
She even plucked some stars from out the sky
To place upon the chests of our brave crew.
Alongside Mamma Hodgson there did stand
A second wizard, known as Doctor O.
Scientific magic was her power.
Schooled in Davy, Pasteur, Newton, Einstein,
And wondering, pondering like Darwin
On beasts peculiar; bacteria
And viruses were high upon her list
Of topics to wax lyrical about,
Inspiring others with her broad knowledge
Of the wild dangers of the common cold
Or tales of the doom of diarrhoea.
“Phenomenal” was her song of learning.
Her love for teaching just as keen and strong.
She taught the clan and taught the wizards too.
Apprentices like Ramesh and Chhetri
And one young master thinker, Williams,
Were testament to the strength of passion
Which plain was to see when she used her craft.
And sometimes she did do some things quite strange,
But always with the aim of building up
The knowledge, skills and futures of the clan.
Our third wizard, most wizard like in looks,
Was Pappa T. Wild beard, wild mind, wild tricks
He used to solve the issue of BTEC
Which had sent mad the minds of weaker folk.
And to this group of wizards he did bring
Some focus on the elders of the clan.
Experience in dealing with this group –
The troupe known as the Sixth Form – was his game.
He built this troupe in spirit and in size.
A jazz fan (with no jazz hands). And grumpy?
Sometimes grumpy and sometimes rightly so.
The path the clan had taken could be tough
And often Pappa T would pull them back
Towards the track which led on to success.
Though not all of the clan would listen well
Enough to his wise words. Words which did
Save those who did listen from falling foul
Of failing and falling in between cracks
Outside the safety of the clan’s enclave.
There were many more wizards than these three
And more to come who’ll join the rank and file
Of senior leaders leading our fair clan.
Their tales will still be told in years to come.
For now, we must all bid a fond farewell:
Mamma Hodgson, Doctor O, Pappa T,
Your leaving leaves a hole within our team,
Though you have left a wizard’s legacy.
The Little Lost Elf (2014)
Twas the night before Christmas in our all through Academy.
Not a creature was stirring. Well, it was Christmas Eve.
The doors had been locked by the premises team
Whilst the cleaners had ensured that no litter was seen.
The teachers were nestled all snuggly at home
And even Lynne Fletcher had put down her phone
For one very last e-mail re: Health and Safety,
But what was this creeping out onto the street?
A little lost elf in the light of a moonbeam
Was peering around for the rest of his team.
“Santa!” he cried. “Oh Santa! Oh no!”
For Santa had flown off – flown off through the snow.
This little lost elf began looking around
To see if a means of escape could be found.
Escape he found none, but instead he found joy –
A genuine care for each girl and each boy.
What pleased him the most was the hard work which he saw.
Hard work from each teacher behind every door.
Hard work from each part of an incredible team:
The TAs, those in admin, attendance – a dream.
And onto R12 this lost elf did go.
He’d forgotten old Santa was out in the snow
As echoes of patience and echoes of care
Rang rich round R12 and hung crisp in the air.
He sprinted through Sport and he whistled through PARTs,
Blitzed on through BITs and doodled through DART,
Took care of his tenses. Muy bien – MFL
And loved what he saw all round English as well.
In Science he set off some awful reactions,
Whilst Maths saw him fiddle with tricky old fractions.
On through Humanities, on through Inclusion,
“This place is amazing:” his final conclusion.
And then, on the roof of the street he heard bells.
Twas Santa returning, his reindeers as well.
This little lost elf, who at first had been sad
That the tubby old man who he thought of as Dad
Had left him behind in the school all alone,
Was now not convinced that he wished to go home.
But when he saw Santa, he knew for his health,
This was the wrong place for a little lost elf.
They sprang to their sleigh, to the team gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle
You could hear him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.”
We are the sky.
Amongst us linger stars.
Some supernovas blind the night
some twinkle –
try but fail to hide the brilliant.
blinking on and off and on and off and on,
work harder –
first to find
and then more clearly to define the
in certain lights,
from certain angles and on close inspection,
one can see bright clusters of these stars.
Some small and closely linked as chains of dainty fairy lights.
Some grand like antique, crystal chandeliers.
Across the years these constellations
have been granted names
by people watching our great sky.
From those in cave abodes,
through ancient civilisations.
On and on to nations of great thinkers –
those wise observers in observatories
making notes and observations.
The first of these great clusters: Hydra.
Ladylike. Not ladylike. Then ladylike again.
This crew would toy with other stars around about in competition.
Spitting snake light out across the sky.
Made up of stars called Kent and Bryan, Deller, Gurung, Sherchan, Chem.
It took a Herculean effort from opponents to quell the head of only one of them
and these opponents fell as two more came back in its place.
A mighty crew of stars in outer space.
The next stop on our tour across the sky: The Pleiades.
These seven sisters
formed of Hedges, Mundy, Cottrell, Glover, Bradfield, Harbour
and another star O’Hara,
would sometimes come to blows.
These sisters had shared history,
shared ancestry and roots.
They needed time and space
to realise that their routes beyond the sky might not be intertwined
But rather they would find a way beyond through other means
to other dreams –
a very different end to their namesakes in The Pleiades.
In Sagitarius –
a great mystery to us within this sky –
one can find a star named Trotman.
Though this star would sometimes live up to its name and trot man,
it was clear that he could be a shooting star.
He could canter, gallop, roam wide and far –
if he so wished.
Next, across the plains of this,
our sparkling dome,
a mighty huntsman strode.
Some called him brave Orion.
Others named him Connor Poynter.
Don’t mess with Poynter; he’s the soldier of the skies.
What is this?
The music of the spheres?
Sweet twinkling in our ears.
Sweet Orpheus (on Earth he’s known as Horgan)
makes sweet music on an organ in our sky.
He’s sweet on Skye – his present muse.
Here comes the plough:
a group of stars who ploughed on come what may.
Typified by Titcombe, Sidhu and two twin stars named Marvell.
What a marvel all these stars
who’ll harvest all the fruits of their great labours
at the setting of the sun.
And right up in the rafters of the rooftops of the zenith of our dome,
The brightest stars look on to home.
These yellow dwarves who take the names of
Williams, Cooke, Fontes and Lane,
Through their sparks of analytic curiosity
find a way to forge a blinding luminosity.
Great wordsmiths all.
not long ago,
a gang of crazed explorers set off from the Earth below
to seek out all these stars between us,
to weave betwixt us and to travel in our midst.
The likes of Larby, Johnson, Gleed, Seymour and Boyce and others.
Space cowboys, cowgirls, sisters and space brothers
with their other mothers in the mothership, R12.
Commander Lawrence, Captain Aplin,
Corporals Bannon, Harding, Wells.
They dodged the black holes of P5
and more than most of them survived a banishment from Prom
at the hands of Empress Stokes
for they did impress Stokes, McKinniss, Wells, Drinkwater
and all the others here,
where their stars will linger on,
in memories like ripples on the water of the ocean of the sky.
You’ve no doubt heard of the three wise men.
You’ve no doubt heard again and again
The tale of frankincense, myrrh and gold.
But there is a tale which rarely gets told
And that is the tale of another man;
The tale from before the kings’ journey began;
The tale of how those wise guys three
Solved the strange riddle of P,M and C.
So everyone knows that every wise plan
Doesn’t begin with a very wise man.
For every wise king, he needs a wise queen
And the queen in our tale was mischievously mean.
She took great delight in the taking and hiding
Of objects in places you might find surprising.
She took “people’s” tents and she took “people’s” pens
And hid them away again and again.
She did this so often, she just didn’t think
This tortuous behaviour’d make “people” drink.
Now one day this queen, she called on her kings
And asked them to do just a couple of things.
She set them some challenges, “quests” if you will.
There were some fine truths which she asked them to spill.
She asked, “Can you tell me, I don’t think you can,
Just what can it be that makes man a man?”
The wise men decided they’d have a sit down
They had to think hard – so hard they did frown.
They puzzled and quizzled, tried many thought paths
And ended, like wise men, by thinking through maths.
They thought that to solve the queen’s grand mystery
They’d select just one man to begin their study.
They’d watch him to find out just what made him tick
And then they’d perform such a marvellous trick.
They knew what they needed and on this occasion
The answer was a wondrous mathematical equation.
Their study began with a man we’ll call “P”
To attempt to keep secret his identity.
This man was a puzzle with many fine quirks
Whatever you talked of, he sure had the works.
His ties and his socks he often did match
And at least once a month he’d have cut his thatch.
The wise men were left in a state of confusion.
They’d thought that their quest was a foregone conclusion
Until they had met this strange man they’d called “P”
They’d thought their equation would come easily.
They sat down again and did some more thinking
They felt that their chances were rapidly sinking
Until the third wise man, the wisest of all,
Stood up from his chair so fast he did fall
To the ground with a bump to his smart little head.
The bump cleared his thinking. He turned round and said,
“I have it. I know it. The mystery’s solved.
The mist in my think has gone. It’s dissolved.
The equation we needed and now must be shared
It’s “P” is equal to MC2”
“But what does that mean?” His wise friends they did ask.
They’d struggled for ages to solve that tough task.
“Well P,” said the magi, “is our friend who’s called Pete.
He may be quite different, for a man he’s quite sweet.
And M, well that M, it must mean mystery
It’s taken us ages to figure his hist’ry.
And C, meanwhile C, well C is confusing
We’ve seen what he does left our brains bashed with bruising.”
“That’s genius,” said magis one, two to three.
“You’ve solved it: the puzzle of P, M and C.
But what is that thing in the sky? It’s a star.
It’s time to leave now. To traverse afar.”
The magis asked Pete if he’d go with three strangers.
They thought that he’d like to go visit the manger.
But that was until he proposed a strange gift.
They didn’t think homework gave babies a lift.
So they left him at home.
The queen never found out
What the puzzle of puzzles of men was about.
The Mower of Penhill
September’s dusky twilight gives
Its audience to the grasshoppers –
Their early autumn orchestra
Play tunes, sweet airs and melodies
While evening birds tweet epic tales
Of nature’s cycle from their branches up on high.
McKenzie, Morris, Newdick, Stroud
Harmonise their clever tunes and sing
To insulate the ground’s last warmth
While we plant bulbs to flower in the spring.
October brings the autumn
And All Hallows’ Eve.
It tricks us with its colder air
But treats us too with blaze of leaves:
An artist’s palette filled with hues
Of crimson, yellow, amber, gold.
Tumbling, drifting, floating,
Softly stroked across the sky on brushes
Held by nature’s master painters who have names like
Sherwood, Lamsdale, Morris, Sims.
Meanwhile, Chumber tattoos memories with his henna
In our minds to last forever.
November’s churning winds and rains of anger,
Thunderous clouds of stormy rage
Cast shadows from horizons ‘cross our land.
These are tough times in the year of our poor garden –
Times for only tougher souls.
Domesticated beasts are held indoors
As we light fires outside – explode the sky at night
In blasts of blue and green and brilliant white.
Great bursts of energy come from fireworks
Of the company of Brinsdon & Byrne Adams –
Fizzing freestyle discos in the sky.
And now, that brilliant white,
Which once was up on high,
Falls down to earth and cakes it,
Frozen in a freezing blanket.
We are left to watch our lawn from icy windows,
From rooms where new Prometheans,
With names like Bartley, Croke and Ball,
Try to light up fires with their bare hands,
To warm our hearts with festive cheer.
These scientists bring logs in from the wonderland outside
And hurl them on the hearth.
A feast of food’s brought in.
Created by these culinary kings and queens:
Rusling, Vaughan and Eagle,
Swatton-Craig and Crosby Dyas too.
What hospitality they show.
The plants outside are prickly
With a dash of blood red berry.
Then, in January, the bleak midwinter’s past and gone.
Our calendar’s page has turned: refreshed.
And all around us people hunt for
New leaves they might try to turn
But these are few and far between
And often, when a leaf’s been turned just once,
It merely takes a subtle breeze
To flip it back.
There are no more than one or two who have the right resolve
To make their resolutions for the new year stick.
This takes true grit.
Irvine’s one who made a change,
Who’s tamed her wild tongue,
Refocused and gained new respect.
A time when flowers turn to symbols.
Red roses stand for love
And lovers share these flowers to show they share their hearts.
And so we turn the page to February;
Turn the page to romance;
Turn the page to Paige and Poynter.
Now Soph’, this boy won’t disappoint ya with a single rose – not Charlie.
He won’t play games.
He won’t do tricks.
Just watch out for the thorns
On what will otherwise symbolise his
Thoughts and feelings just for you.
Then spring is sprung.
Daffodils with their yellow bells
Ring in the season with
A Gym and Dance display.
So many swaying flowers in the breeze
We cannot focus our attention on them all.
So let us take one photograph – just one –
Of these three bright and golden roses in the sun.
If red is meant for love, then yellow is for friendship, straight and true.
These three, named Mason, Hendon, Cameron
Dance the dance of memory –
And as they dance, they’re watched, as always, by another rose.
A single white for purity and innocence and for youth.
Such grace, such flair, such energy. Then…
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Drip, drip, drop little April showers
Beating a tune as they fall all around.
This month seems cruellest of them all to some
For it is bitter as it’s sweet.
Some go trekking, trudging through the overgrowth.
One of these, the most ignoble Scoble,
Found some dark, mysterious, evil and unlawful means
To navigate the greenery.
These secret scrolls of Goo-Gol
Were beyond the ken of Scoble, Mobey, Lewis, Limbu and their crew
Who knew not how to read the symbols and, oh dear oh dear, got lost.
But all came home.
And we were proud to see their smiling faces,
Aching muscles and,
Less so, their sore and smelly feet.
Exotic plants from hotter climes
Surge forth with vibrancy and verve:
Kubera, Malainho, Cianciaruso, Yue
They add new possibilities, new language to the land
And, rumour has it, that the brave explorer Stonehouse
Brought a new beast back from her adventures
For the bottom of the pond –
Who’d have thought a horse-fish could be tamed?
Summer ambles on towards us and
The warm and friendly air of spring
Becomes instead a
swelt’ring, baking heat.
And now, a testing time begins.
It is the time for bees to buzz about;
To gather in the pollen of their A stars and their As
And, at all costs,
To avoid the deadly perils of the CCD
(Colony Collapse Disorder).
Each part of our sweet garden’s colony works as one.
It is the time for workers, not for shirkers,
The garden’s ripe –
Alive now for the likes of Chhetri, Horgan, Baker,
Upadhyay, Cole and Chumber, Seabrook to buzz forth.
And not a time, it’s certain, to collapse.
They must and do stay strong until the end of June
When the flowers and the songs and dances
All can be enjoyed in full again
Right through to July.
And they should rest
As they have surely tried their best
To be the best that they can be.
The Memorii (2016)
The Rime of the Ancient Teacher
It is an ancient teacher,
And he teaches one in three.
“By thy greying hairs and glittering eye,
Now wherefore teachst thou me?
The classroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I’m the next one in;
The class are met, the lesson’s set:
May’st hear the merry din.”
He holds the class with well worn tales,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand us, grey-haired loon!”
Eftsoons his tale dropt he.
He holds them with his glittering eye—
The students all sit still,
And listen like a three years’ child:
The teacher hath his will.
“There was a ship. A ship I sailed.
I sailed her far and wide,
Across the oceans of the world
Across the highest tide.
Now people ask me oftentimes
Of glories on that boat.
I tell you now the things we saw –
I’m shocked we stayed afloat.
The tales I’ll tell you now are truth
Though you may think they’re lies.
So startling are those things we saw
Beneath the star-filled skies.
Beneath the boat, beneath the seas
Some living treasures grew
To treasures in our minds which helped
As ‘cross these seas we flew.
The creatures of the deep are wild
They have strange names few know.
I’ll share those secrets with you now
Don’t lose them ere you go.
There are, of course, those fish who thrive
In pressures: high and low
Flying fish, A* fish:
Gallagher, Sandhu, Pham; they flow.
In dancing seas are dancing fish:
Ferguson, Holloway, Willis.
Adcock, Ringham-Randall too
Bring sun to England’s thrillers.
And then there are the clown fish,
Like Nemo, there’s Dubose
With his clown-like friend the BonBon
He runs high-class circus shows.
There are some speedy fish about:
The Lomax and the Burt.
They tried to outswim Newbold
But their fins got rather hurt.
The next you’ll know as octopus –
Eight arms wrapped round and round.
It’s here called Dixon-Hemmings
And emits odd kissing sounds.
Some fish live in their pools of rock
Like Bennett, Ryan and Pollard.
Whilst Halls and Holmes and Povey fish
Take treks on, which are hard.
Other schools of fish swim round
With drama in their seas.
And the drama queen of acting fish
Is AKA the Davies.
Twas once thought seas held pois’nous fish
In times that were quite olden.
The truth though of the Woodward
And the Poynter fish? They’re golden.
And lastly there’s industrious fish
Like England, Barclay, Musto.
They think and work and speak and make
Like fish with joy and gusto.
These wondrous fish, these joyous fish
Have given me great pleasure.”
Thus spake the greying teacher
With sadness beyond measure.
He knew that he’d not see their sea
From that great ship once more
Or the fish who now assembled
‘Bout to swim away from shore.