Christmas Teachers

This is a long post, but I trust teachers in particular will enjoy its Christmas educational insights. I wrote these a few years ago, for one of my annual staff Stocking Fillers, and whilst there are a few personal in-jokes for colleagues in subjects other than my own [English], I trust the generic references resonate here and there.

And I do love list poems….

Christmas Maths Teachers

who use numbers for disguise
who count on their fingers
who dream of being an iambic pentameter
who sliderule down slopes
who know accuracy isn’t always right
who add then divide then multiply then halve sheep to sleep
who are fractions rather than fractious
who are wrong
who calculate immediately Santa is too big for most chimneys
who know sonnets love their number of lines
who think algebra is awry
who would love the orgasm of geometry
who appreciate zero’s pervasive existence
who understand heliotrope is more than a colour

Christmas PE Teachers

who wear shorts for a seasonal thrill
who run to find out where they are
who know a javelin only floats as far as it is thrown
who think Santa could use an exercise plan
who can roll down a hill and survive
who know hurdles have no place in education
who understand Sports Day is for musicians too
who show you their breasts
who feel the pain of winning
who understand that a relay is a political act
who throw words too
who can get by without the odd toe
who think a sonnet is raced in fourteen lanes
who only get high on lactic acid

Christmas Art Teachers

who know how colour is more than their words
who use canvas when paint is not enough
who choose heliotrope for the tinge in Santa’s cheeks
who imagine appendages through rose-tinted desire
who paint sonnets in thirteen colours
who understand only metaphor explains and explores
who think surfing is sculpturing a wave
who put curves in straight lines
who are happy to have two complete ears
who believe that description is a useless art
who abhor black and white in education
who use a palette for being mixed-up
who know Dali should design the curriculum
who brushstroke their lives

Christmas Geography Teachers

who would recognise the Mersey from an airplane
who have read Frank Monkhouse
who understand where Coleridge found god
who give a shit about a spur
who meander
who love being physical
who know a sonnet has peaks and troughs
who know more about latitudes than Santa
who see more about a shore
who get it wrong and have a trip in a field
who didn’t throw sheep turds at Buxton
who love the tease of an apex
who promote pantheism
who see it all from the ground

Christmas Beliefs & Values Teachers

who see the light as light
who accept Christmas has its many voices
who place palm to palm for the touch
who understand that Santa is one of many myths
who deplore what Sara did to Samuel
who sing carols in silence
who mark homework on Sundays
who genuflect with their thinking
who know a sonnet is the speech of fourteen different gods
who know Luke was the insidious optimist
who never confuse Santa with Satan on purpose
who accept Christmas has its many vices
who aren’t waiting
who also carry their own cross

Christmas History Teachers

who know time tells what time hides
who can explain the lineage of Santa’s reign
who see beyond the storytelling
who believe Shakespeare’s was before the Italian’s
who rewrite their own disasters as success
who remember when Labour was different to the Tories
who remember
who accept that the future hasn’t happened
who understand that music explains everything
who extrapolate like gamblers
who place bets like clairvoyants
who think their subject should teach lessons
who can prove Ofsted was, is and always will be shit
who record better times

Christmas Learning Support Teachers

who still have special needs
who work from within
who advise Santa to help himself
who know how to misbehave
who have to see beyond nothing
who live euphemism
who triumph in minutia
who help themselves
who tell Rudolf his nose is a blessing
who take sonnets any way they come
who can spell heliotrope
who fake big strides
who speak a little French
who charge more than two pence

Christmas Science Teachers

who know hypothesis is the beginning of ignorance
who spread sheets
who just guess
who know Doppler isn’t a reindeer
who experiment without metaphor
who add plugins for porno
who are literally
who double up
who hear Doppler before it arrives, just
who fuck their FFTs
who understand the ratio of Santa’s displacement of soot
who think Physics is Maths with balls
who know a loving spoonful is less than a test tube full
who hear a sonnet when it leaves, louder

Christmas ICT Teachers

who suspect god is an AppleMac
who junk Santa as spam if he doesn’t use the chimney
who are saving pen and paper for the apocalypse
who personify their screamsavers
who accept a computer will never be a proper noun
who disconnect
who dream of heliotrope keyboards in the sky
who know haiku is a broadband sonnet form
who WiFi their hi fi
who never wear protection for a surge
who surf their thinking
who know backing it up isn’t just a sexual proclivity
who don’t get George Burns
who still read books with their hands

Christmas Business & Economics Teachers

who know Chity Wankers is a puerile misspelling
who think Santa should shit down City chimneys
who do not want metaphors for greed
who appreciate Karl Marx was right
who understand recession is more than a banker’s hairline
who want a windfall to be from a great height
who know money is an insidious root
who ask Rudolf to shit down City chimneys
who would give bonuses to all who sold their souls, knowing…
who imagine heliotrope as a purple noose
who know Sales are just a reduction in tears
who would shit down City chimneys given the chance
who want an acronym for RBS to include rectum
who sense there’s no poetry in rage

Christmas T F&D Teachers

who fuel their own Christmas lights
who make more fucking clocks than Switzerland
who blueprint their lives
who teach that sprouts are a cultural culinary perversion
who are appalled at the Santa/chimney design paradox
who sand the grain the righteous way
who can craft Christmas out of cardboard
who know Derek rules
who overcook on purpose
who compose the tangible
who would timetravel back to the wonders of Woodwork
who are their own appliances
who solder sonnets with quicksilver rhymes
who season all of the festive moment

Christmas Language Teachers

who understand Santa is a corruption
who blame Babel on linguistic ignorance
who don’t baulk at Santa’s bulk
who attach gender to words without fear of labelling
who can talk drivel in any language
who know a sonnet is more than sound in its etymology
who speak when spoken to [by a foreigner]
who translate for obfuscation
who hear meaning in a strange sound
who question Chomsky’s innate sanity
who think grammar should be known beyond grandmas
who know annus mirabilis sounds ironic every year
who can multi-task in a semantic field
who use fuck as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, or
[interjection, with its participle sometimes used as a
[strong emphatic, and the verb to fuck used
[transitively or intransitively, or just for the fucking
[fun of it.

Christmas Music and Drama Teachers

who feel invisible
who know the pure melody of dissonance
who pontificate in their performance
who eat all the pies
who know the only reality is absurd
who dress up
who want to be a bull’s pizzle
who have fuzz and wah wah dreams
who gesture sonnets on their stage
who feel forgotten
who fuck in iambic pentameters
who are the curriculum
who know Ofsted is Oedipal
who forgive

Christmas English Teachers

who career on a seasonal sledge
who are as ambiguous as love
who know Godot will never
who spell Santa with a sibilance of snow
who listen to meanings as they change
who know an English emporium trades in metaphor and error
who will travel to nowhere they want to go
who hear Carver in the simplicity of everything unsaid
who know a line can rise and fall like now
who fight philistinism for philosophical fun
who write sonnets in the rhythm of sound
who know when to let themselves go
who understand getting the chimney inside Santa
who are standing out on the edge

Teachit Download Favs


In June of this year I posted the ‘top five‘ of Teachit downloadable resources and rued the fact that these were primarily functional rather than creative ones. I still hold to that, though I also continue to understand the reasons.

Their current [today] announcement of most downloaded teaching packs is relatively more positive, though these again are entirely designed to aid a functional purpose, this time specifically with GCSE work, the totally terminal exam placing even more emphasis on this than ever before. And of course Teachit exists almost wholly to provide material/resources for this primary teaching need, so I understand the ‘success’ of this. That doesn’t, by the way, mean I endorse these packs.

It is worth mentioning, as well, that these are the most downloaded ‘packs’: substantial resources that do cost, or are free with a Teachit subscription. I suspect the most downloaded and used resources are still the ‘skills’ ones, sadly.

I say ‘sadly’ because I mean it! I have a substantial poetry anthology with accompanying creative writing ideas ‘pack’ but I can’t see my ever getting this published and out there within this pragmatic rather than creative/adventurous market. That seems ‘sad’ to me, personally and thinking more generally as a teacher and what I’d like to see happening in the classroom [others would have to judge the usefulness of my materials, but their intention is clear].

I obviously publish quite a few creative writing ideas on this blog for free access, and might well make my fuller resource available as well, possibly on a dedicated site. What I have wanted to see, however, and haven’t been able to find a publisher for, is to have the anthology printed as a book. For me, the book of poems should be available first and foremost to be read and enjoyed! The linked creative writing ideas [and I mean specifically linked to the anthologised poems] is intended as a bonus, an additional opportunity if desired.

And books are popular! And reading is popular! And there is the dilemma!

Christmas Without Fritos

without Fritos
is like trifle
without jello
like goodbye
without hello
like a pad
without brillo
like pleasure
with no dildo
like tugging
with no heave-ho
like a bed
with no pillow
like samosas
without filo
like Santa
without ho ho
like Christmas
without panto
like nonplussed
without so so
like brightness
without dayglow
like pace
without tempo
like misteaks
with no typo
like recorded
without TiVo
like striking
with no go-slow
like action
without say so
like the ark
with no dodo
like ink
with no biro
like pops
with no coco
like orienting
with no gyro
like moulding
without playdough
like a fax
with no filo
like up
without below
like a soul
with no window
like mad
without mellow
like a copse
with no hollow
like IBMs
with no silo
like Richard
with no Stilgoe
like an angel
with no halo
like gravy
without bisto
like a baton
with no maestro
like Buck
without Ratso
like a rabbit
without Darko
like a second
with no nano
like a march
with no demo
like Parker
with no alto
like reliving
without retro
like a nerd
without his/her saddo
like a sombrero cordobes
without Zorro
like mud
with no wallow
like chicken
without Nando
like posh
without polo
like a virtuoso
with no solo
like H
without 2-O
like coffee
with no bistro
like a diet
with no fatso
like flooring
without lino
like iconic
without Monroe
like the Prom
with no limo
like the Greeks
with no hero
like the Greeks
with no ouzo
like cause
without ergo
like le
with no assho
like suction
without lipo
like custard
without yellow
like a wheel
with no barrow
like zilch
without zero
like Steinbeck
with no hobo
like divining
without tarot
like yawning
without Dido
like fire
with no bellow
like Cuba
without Castro
like sleeping
without cocoa
like id
without ego
like a bulge
with no speedo
like Mo
without Farrow

If you got this far, well done and thank you. You too must suffer from Rhyming Syndrome.

I do have a simpler version of this for classroom use, and whilst I generally discourage students from using rhyme [their instinct, rather than considered and controlled] this can be a more creative way of allowing it to flourish.

Anyone who reads my work will note I quite like the use of rhyme, here and there, though not always, but I also enjoy games like the above. For those not in the culinary-snack-know, Fritos are a corn chip par excellence.

Another Year’s Passing

You would have understood the paradox so well being
sharp and experiencing all you did – embracing it
yourself, so sweet but also impish: that comic gift you
gave her, Andy, a stranger in our midst, to flirt and tease to
excite – on how you passed in a good and bad year of dying.

As we near the end of this one, today’s Sunday papers
do a run of famous commentators writing about the famous
who have departed, but not about you. Where paradox is a
balancing act, I am redressing this here and now, placing
weight on your beaming smile in the photo I found last night.

For most it will be Bowie, a starman shining the brightest
even in death, yet I’ll look up to the closest taking flight,
and I am also writing this on the very day four years ago
another dear friend left, no less a loss in choosing so.