A Letter to the Education Secretary

My child is not a genius. He’s fairly bright at best,

He doesn’t have attainment medals glowing from his chest,

He’s pretty well behaved – at least, I don’t hear that he’s naughty –

He’s not a music prodigy, or known for being sporty.

He’s reading not too badly, can decipher what’s on signs,

His writing’s not too scrawly if he keeps between the lines,

He doesn’t have additional needs as far as I can tell,

And up to yesterday, I thought that he was doing well.

 

But then I got the test results, and thanks to you, I’ve learned

That instead of being proud, I really ought to be concerned.

A five year old that reads and writes seemed pretty good to me –

(Even though he gets confused between the letters B and D)

But it seems he’s way behind, and the levels that he meets

Only indicate a future washing cars or sweeping streets.

His spelling should be perfect, and he should be writing prose

That echoes that of Dickens’ or Edgar Allen Poe’s

He should know abstract maths and science, engineering too,

And write in perfect cursive – which I know that I can’t do.

 

And since he can’t, say experts, then the problem lies with me:

I clearly feed him crap and let him watch too much TV

I believed it when the experts said I ought to give him space,

To let him do the things he likes and learn at his own pace,

I didn’t teach him how to read before he started school,

Because they said I’d do it wrong and he would look a fool,

I don’t know what the others did, but rest assured, I see

That my five year old’s a failure and the fault is down to me.

 

You told us in the news last night that kids need to be smart,

To concentrate on SPaG and STEM and not on books and art,

Our children should learn more and more, enjoy themselves far less,

And the best way to ensure this is by giving them more tests.

Well, Education Secretary, I guess I don’t agree

For knowledge for its own sake’s an important thing for me

I want my son to love to learn, be curious, be keen –

Not just be another product of the UK’s test machine.

 

So when my son looks scared at every piece of work he gets,

When he only reads and writes under the greatest of duress,

When his teachers are burned out and stressed with no time to inspire,

And you tell the schools they’ll close unless results keep getting higher,

When all the joy of learning’s gone and there’s no time for fun –

That’s the kind of education you’ve created for my son.

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Black Friday

Here’s one of my verses I wrote in response to ‘Black Friday’ last year – I think it still applies..

Feral Brioche

Every year I swear blind that I’m going to be more ethical in my Christmas shopping, and most years I end up just swearing – not just at the consumer madness of Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays and the like, but at my total inability to make anything that doesn’t turn into a complete disaster. Hence this festive verse…

I’m going to have a really right-on Christmas this year.

The news is full of pictures of the mobs that flood the stores

To get their Christmas presents slightly cheaper than before

They push and shove and jostle and they thump the other shoppers

They might commit a murder that’s unnoticed by the coppers

Cause a bit of bloodshed’s worth it for a cheap computer game

The kids all want that console, and it’s not a time for shame

The people don’t know what to do, should they join in or sneer?

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Parenting manuals part 1

This of course bears no relation whatsoever to the numerous pregnancy manuals out there – honest…

YOU’RE PREGNANT!!

Two lines on a stick – you’re feeling all aglow

A little overwhelmed, since there’s so much you need to know.

You’ve never had a child before, and don’t know what to do –

Well, help’s at hand! This little manual is just for you!

I bet you think you’re fat – You don’t?

Well, that will all change soon

When your belly starts to swell like a gargantuan balloon

Your boobs will hurt, your ankles bloat, you’ll have a double chin

You might as well throw out the clothes you wore when you were thin

You’ll feel so sick and miserable, it won’t be any fun:

But isn’t it the most fantastic thing you’ve ever done?

Have you seen the midwife? Well, you’d better get there quick

There’s much more to being pregnant than just peeing on a stick

You’ll need plenty of advice so that you know what to expect

And of course, you’ll need a birth plan that the hospital can check.

First, let’s look at your diet. Time to shop for healthy things:

For Baby won’t do well on burgers and fried chicken wings,

Or tomatoes, peanuts, oranges, hot chilis or white bread,

Or onions, garlic, pâté, fish or cheese – eat grapes instead!

Fruit juice is a no-no since it gives you diabetes,

And as for tea and coffee – well, they’re just as bad as sweeties!

(and you can’t have those either..)

Try some gentle exercise like walking or a swim:

For Baby won’t be happy if you’re sweating in the gym

And as for weights, or five a side, or going for a run

You must think of the baby – now’s not time for having fun!

Have a nice lunch with your girlfriends or some me-time just for you:

But don’t forget your partner, cause it is his baby too!

He can decorate the nursery in shades of blue or pink –

He’ll feel better if he’s useful while you’re puking in the sink.

Why not take on a project like a scrapbook or a rug

You can do it while in labour – much more natural than drugs!

You might find yourself with cravings – these might be just what you need

If the craving that you have is for a toasted sunflower seed

But as for all the others – no! That chocolate just won’t do

Your body is just kidding when it wants what’s bad for you.

Make sure you have a bag that’s packed and ready in the car

For the mad rush to the hospital while hubby’s in the bar

Now’s the time to think of nappies (cloth) and breastfeeding (essential)

For when the baby’s here – cause any choice will drive you mental

Just follow all of our advice and we can guarantee

That you will be the finest Mum that anyone can be!