Back of the class
By the bin.
Gleeful as sin.
Needle hair red
In the sinking sun
Of a late afternoon.
Taught lessons all day,
Last of the day
Those aren’t kisses in your book you know!
No, I’m not laughing, I’m cross.
(Yes I am and no I’m not.)
The unpurged images of term recede
And, hark, the herald angels with dirty faces
Sing in excruciation.
They get younger each year and I,
To serve them half my days resolved,
Get no younger with them.
The praised boy who fishwise leapt with joy
Five Christmas terms ago
Grins at the clapping school now, sardonic.
Where has he gone - are we going - so fast?
O Jesus! still these discordant Years,
That carping torn, that gong-tormented Sea.
Notes: These are two poems I forgot to include with my November of the Month celebration of Brockworth School's classes of 1981-86. Bad Boy was in 4 Leckhampton and first my ever CSE class (studying Lord of the Flies because even lower sets followed proper book-led curriculums then) and contributed amusing comments like 'Are you a bit an alky then Sir?' and when I reproved him for calling his House Head 'Boorman' with the teacherly 'MR Boorman to you' retorted 'Boorman to you.' I didn't laugh then but I nearly let the mask slip and I'm certainly laughing now. I wrote this poem for homework. Sorry it's late. The dog ate my markbook.
'Final (and in those days religious) Assembly' is my last ever public occasion with 5 Coopers - with whom I spent 5 years from 1 Coopers 1981-86 - and the 'praised boy' described (in case anyone wants to know) is Matthew Bunting, one of the first names called out from the twice-daily daily register. The poem is about all of them but it's his face I saw in that moment - or two moments, Christmas 1981 and July 1986. I felt sad because I was leaving Brockworth as they mostly were too and I assumed I'd never see any of them again. Little did I know...
Sir' looking supremely uncomfortable in this - my first Tutor group - picture and sidelined by the House Head too. Interesting how I move centre stage for the 2 Coopers pic and then get sidelined by the group itself in Year 5. They grow up and I grow sideways. But that 1 Coopers shot of me is truly horrible. I'm 24 and I look 68, in my wedding suit jacket donated by my father in 1979 and already looking as dated as Hitler's moustache. As Dylan once yowled, 'I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.' More school poems - including Brockworth ones - available in 'Exile In His Own Country' (Bluechrome, 1986, ISBN 1 904781942) and on my CD 'Marked For Life.' By the way I hear Heather Roberts (see all three photos) is pregnant. Never thought I'd announce that. Congratulations, Heather! I'm glad the Sex Ed lessons finally worked out.