old people and the words we don’t know

grayscale photo of a man in a fur coat riding a bicycle
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You’re dripping, miss

Those trousers make your bunda look good

Slay, slag

You’re the coolest kid in the ‘hood.

There is nothing to make you feel old quite like the language you hear teenagers using. It is like a whole new language that doesn’t make sense to anyone over twenty. So when you are nearing forty you have no hope.

I remember when a kid told me I was dripping and I thought I’d spilt something down my top. Apparently it means that I was dressed really nicely – so why couldn’t they just say that.

I try my best to keep up with everything my students say, but I think that I finally have to accept that it has just about run away from me. No matter how hard I work, I’m always going to be wondering what the hell they are talking about.

Much Love

Rachel xx

what is poetry?

Is it it a story that’s just really short,

Or a picture painted with words?

Is it writing for lazy people

Or for those that like to use long words?

Is it just for people who like Shakespeare

Or can anyone hold poetry dear?

I absolutely love to teach poetry and I get so upset when I tell students that we are doing a poetry unit and they all just roll their eyes at me. But I can understand that reaction because we are conditioned to think poetry is just for people who quote Shakespeare and don’t own a TV.

And I think that the way to get people to at least be open to poetry is to frame it right. Most people like pop songs or some form of visual arts, and poetry can be likened to either one of these. I just need to find the right words to pull them in.

I saw the quote above when I was scrolling through Twitter and it just made me chuckle. It’s spot on and I would be interested if a teacher framed it in that way.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that most of my students would look at me blankly if I were to tell them this was what poetry is. I can already hear them asking me ‘but Miss, who is the man on fire?’

Much Love

Rachel xx

i don’t own no books

light inside library
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I don’t have a small shelf

Anywhere in my room

With piles of colourful books,

Dust jackets as decoration

And spines in a rainbow

That falls from the ceiling

To the shelf on the floor.

There’s a McDonalds advert on in the UK at the moment and it makes me incredibly sad because it says that one in five children don’t own a book. As an English teacher, I am not surprised by that statistic, but I am still saddened.

I was trying to imagine what my life would actually be like without books, and how awful it must be as a kid, to not have an adult that prioritizes books over things like cigarettes and booze.

Socially, there are probably much bigger things we can be tackling, but I am glad that McDonalds is trying to do something, because with books we understand each other a little more – and I think that is the first step in sorting out those bigger issues.

And don’t forget, that a room without books looks incredibly dull. Books and their covers are artforms in themselves. I don’t think I could live without their rainbow spines adorning my shelves.

Much Love

Rachel xx

quiet birthdays and creamy cakes

pink green and yellow ribbon illustration
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When you are eight you dream of mountains

Of presents wrapped in glitzy paper,

A bike with a voluminous bow on the handlebars

And a cake in the shape of Ed the Duck.

When you are eighteen you just wish for booze,

A night on the tiles, with shots and kebabs

And on the the age of twenty eight

Where things are a bit quieter, and you ask

For some sensible clothes for work

And boots and a rain jacket too.

Now I’m heading to forty, just two years to go –

And I think most people have forgotten

But now I take pleasure in the small things,

Some books from the charity shop

And a cake topped with strawberries and cream.

Thirty eight seemed so old, but now

It seems so wonderfully full.

I turned thirty eight today and I knew it was going to be a bit of a wash out because we’re all recovering from COVID and dad’s off on a trip with his friends.

However, I did venture out to the supermarket and so I also hit Matalan and the charity shops to get books and sensible trousers for work.

I had to smile at myself because I felt wonderfully happy and content. When I was drinking, I always wanted fireworks and crazy highs and having a bit of a naff birthday would have resulted in a meltdown where I blamed everyone around me for not loving me enough.

Today, I’m here with a Mug Shot cheesy pasta, Strictly Come Dancing and a strawberries and cream cake from Tesco, and it feels like me cup is half full.

I’m just hoping that when dad arrives tomorrow that he’s going to take me for a cheeky Nandos – then my cup will be overflowing.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a PE kit in a jane norman carrier bag

Kickers shoes and skirts rolled up

As we prowl the corridors of school

Our bright pink plastic bags

From River Island and Jane Norman shops

Slung over our shoulders

And bulging with our unwashed kits

For netball and the hockey teams

Sprayed with Spice World spray

And playing Aqua on our Discmans

Knowing that the world is ours

But not that all this shit will slide

From fashion in a year or two

And soon we’ll be just middle aged

Like those teachers that we mock

Reminiscing on those starlit times.

getting the ‘rona

tissue paper on container near glass window
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It got me at last

The nastiest bug the world has seen

That’s floored every nation

It’s wiped me out clean

*

It started with lungs

That were screaming with pain

And ended with sick days

That drove me insane.

*

And then there’s my boss

Who demanded I phone her

She was slightly pissed off

At me out with the ‘rona.

*

It finally got me. I have the COVID. I have worked in schools since the very beginning of the pandemic and I haven’t had much more than the odd sniffle. I was even telling people that I thought I must have some mutant gene that meant that I was immune.

But it turns out that I am not.

I’m coming out of it pretty well, so far. My chest is OK but I have struggled with a fever that is making my body temperature do some pretty interesting things.

I just feel really bad about phoning in sick as this is my first month in a new job. I don’t know about other people, but I have a really bad fear of phoning in sick because I seem to have gotten into my head that it means I could get the sack.

I was brave and phoned in to the Business Manager and she was absolutely lovely about it (I only wrote that she was pissed off in my poem because it was the only way I could get ‘rona to rhyme with something).

If anyone else is feeling under the weather, I send you all my love and hugs and socially distanced kisses.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a serial killer living next door

person s hands covered with blood
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Those sounds at night,

The whir of the electric drill

And the drip drip that you hope’s a tap

When deep down you know really

That man that went in two days past,

He’s never coming out again.

I have started watching Dahmer, the Netflix drama about the the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. I have got three episodes in and I find I am starting to gag in parts, it’s so disgusting.

And yet, there is something that pulls us into these stories about serial killers. If you scroll through the Netflix menu, you will see programme after programme that explores the minds and the lives of these people.

I’m just about to watch episode four and I know that I’ll spend most of my time with my hands over my eyes. But i’ll love every moment of it, for some sick and twisted reason.

Much Love

Rachel xx

sweet dreams on world dream day

clouds during sunset
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Float away on a fluffy cloud

With dreams of unicorns

And chocolate fountains

A place like Heaven

That we visit every night

To get away from misery

That chases us through waking days…

Apparently, it’s World Dream Day today. I don’t know about any of you, but I have the wackiest dreams – and I dream EVERY night which can be a little bit exhausting.

I do also have trouble remembering them in their entirety. I find myself getting flashes of them throughout the day as I remember each piece, like it is a giant jigsaw that needs to be put together before the next round of sleep.

I have always wondered whether they do mean anything. I love to think that they are something more than us just processing the days events. I really do hope that actually, they are revealing to us the deepest parts of our psyche, and perhaps shining a light on what may be coming up in our future.

Whatever a dream may be, I do enjoy that feeling of floating away from reality and entering a world that is entirely of my own making.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the death of a literary gem

She forged a path

For women marching

From the past

Into the dazzling present

With just the power

Of her forceful pen.

We lost another very special lady yesterday, in the form of Hilary Mantel. She was the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice, and she was so influential that she had many literary giants paying tribute to her when the news broke.

I love authors who really see their work as an artform and Mantel really appreciated the form of the historical novel. She seemed to enjoy the relationship between the past and the present.

And something that all historical novelists do, is to find another story underneath the story that we know. I particularly enjoy it when writers give marginalised characters a voice: women, slaves, disabled.

I hope that we learn to celebrate more of these women who are smart and interesting and forge a path for those that are following behind.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the monsters within

a couple wearing diy cardboard box mask while holding each other s hands
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We had a bloody long day at school today because it was the dreaded Open Evening, where Year 6 students and their parents can come and look around the school and see if they would like to be members of our school community.

I say ‘dreaded’ because it’s a 13 hour day, and you are ‘on’ the whole time. However, I do actually really enjoy speaking to the younger ones and asking them about what books they enjoy reading.

We did a Gothic room in our department and I was responsible for getting the kids to draw their own Gothic monsters. And some of them were interesting, to say the least.

I asked everyone to give their monster a name and we had everything from Richard to Mrs Jelly Legs.

I find it so sad that the creativity seems to just get sucked out of kids as they reach their teenage years. My Year 9s couldn’t even come up with one thing that scares them and yet three years earlier, they could have come up with a three headed monster called Richard.

Don’t grow up, kids. I love you just the way you are.

Much Love

Rachel xx