School Harvest Festival


I’d bought a tin of baked beans, Heinz, the good ones.
In later years when Mom went on an experimental cooking streak
they would be replaced with a bag of pasta shapes,
but this year as it was last year I’d bought baked beans.
I lined up in the assembly hall with the rest of my class
and when I got to the front avoided the Headmasters eye,
trying instead to shove my beans to the back of the harvest display.
Cag-handed I knocked over Jason Spruce’s harvest basket
– an immense donation, rumour had it his mom hand made the basket –
Anyway his home grown apples bounced wildly across the floor
and his packet of Alpen split wide open.
The harvest festival was briefly delayed as the caretaker
threw down some chemical sawdust,
– the kind he usually saved for when kids had been sick –
and set to work with his trusty mop and bucket.
As I sat shame faced I could feel Jason Spruce and his family’s eyes
burn into the back of my neck I noticed the harvest display
was full of tins of baked beans.
A proud green tinned army, some dented
victims of playground fights some with
faded labels where they had been found at the back of dark cupboards.
There were baked beans and plenty of them,
plus in support a scattering of spaghetti hoops.
When we filed out to go back to class an old lady
from the home the school supported whispered to me.
“We all hate Alpen and those apples are always sour.
We like the beans though, especially on toast.”
I wanted to smile but as inevitable as the dark nights
that were drawing in a fight was coming with Jason Spruce
and I needed to keep my wits about me.

Lurking on the Back Row of Life


back-seat-of-the-bus

At school I always sat in the back row,
Ground down by their pointless rules.
Egged on by friend’s laughter
I easily learned to play the fool.

When forced on Sundays to attend church
At the back I’d yawn the service away.
Lounging in a pew, uncaring
My atheism defiantly on display.

On a bus I’d favour the back seat,
Stuffed full of chips and beer.
I’d lustily sing or craftily smoke
And at disapprovers sneer.

Now I lurk at the back out of habit
Full of gripes and moans.
Unable to move to the front at all
Hiding there my natural home.

The long lost art of making anything interesting appear boring.


A sort of late bonfire night poem which also explores why I hated school so much !

The teacher held up a bright tube of cardboard,
“Do you know what this is class he said?”
The students answered,”Sir that’s easy,
It’s a firework of course, we’re not brain-dead!”
“Incorrect pupils I hold up a chemical machine,
Full of chemical binders and agents that oxidize.
You will learn to appreciate this before it’s lit,
So you understand the chemical reaction inside.”
“Boring,” the classroom all grumbled,
“Why can’t we take the firework outside?
Then set it off, stand back and watch
As it lights up the whole of the sky.”
“Be quiet class,” said the teacher, ”and note,
The oxidising agents that help the firework burn.
Some agents are more volatile than others,
Now wasn’t that a fun fact to learn?
Examine the reducing agents, the next fun part,
They burn the oxygen to produce hot gas.
The finer the powder the faster the reaction.
Another amazing firework fact!
So now your lesson is over,
Go out, but remember my words.
So next time you see a firework,
You will appreciate what you’ve just learned.”
But after the lesson had ended,
A student distracted the teacher by the board.
While the others stole the firework,
And stuck it in the teacher’s car exhaust.
“Enjoy the complex chemical machine sir,”
The kids joked. “As you go home tonight,
Enjoy your fancy binders and oxidisers,
As you drive home with your car all alight!”

School Daze


School Daze

Holes in tights and love bites,
Lots and lots of playground fights.
School rules and class fools,
Inappropriate use of woodwork tools.
Dirty socks and high frocks,
Biology lessons causing shocks.
Stolen bikes and teacher’s strikes,
Cancelled after school hikes.
Borrowing LP’s and bruised knees,
After class “please see me.”
Inattention and detention,
Cheeking teachers means suspension.
Are these the best days of your life?
Or just a different type of strife?