School Days

What it was to be at school
So many memories, but I am no fool.
Some teachers were kind, others were rough
Whatever they were I was tough.

I was with one as she died
She was so kind all I could do was cry.
My nanny was so different, so hard, so grim
I threw my porridge, it made me grin.

When I was caned I didn’t holler
Unlike my brother, a dreadful waller.
Meanwhile, I moved from London to an exciting find
A cowpat – what a thing: it blew my mind.

School trips were always a concern
I should have gone, there was much to learn
I stayed away, against the law.
But I was lucky, those that went just found a war

So let me give you a teacher recipe
Listening, humorous and kind they must be.
And when the teacher does not bother.
A child will always help another.

Bournemouth Memories (July 2017)

Six members this week and no idea what to talk about, but we just chatted on; mainly about what we had done during the week and the topic turned to Bournemouth. One member had been on a coach trip there so soon our thoughts and memories turned to previous trips and these memories came flooding out.

It would seem that Bournemouth is a popular place to visit. It brought forward, also, a range of emotions from pleasant memories to feelings of isolation.

The lines in the poem are taken directly from what was said and then put together to create a contrasting tone so as to reflect the mixture of emotions that these memories brought to the fore.


I went to Bournemouth last week,
(by coach from Oxford).
Beautiful gardens – right down to the sea,
(It rained all day).
I think that, at some time, we have all been there,
(so long ago I can’t remember).
My Sue is buying a flat in Bournemouth,
(I am worried she will move there).
So many steps to climb to see her – at the top,
(I hope she doesn’t go).
My daughter worked for Sainsbury’s and arranged a trip,
(four coaches it took).
We had a very good time and such great food,
(one man slept through – what a waste).
I went to Bournemouth with my Dad and stayed in an hotel,
(I wasn’t allowed a shandy only lemonade).
Still the bingo was good and we stayed in all the time,
(home late on Monday)
Yes, Bournemouth has many memories.

Boredom (June 2017)

A small group this week – a group of four. We started by looking at a collection of books with the theme of childhood. These books were full of pictures of children in the 1940’s and 50’s. These resulted in a lively discussion and what became apparent is that some of the group had found childhood rather dull and their life now rather boring. Other members of the group found neither childhood or their present lives boring. So, was boredom just a state of mind, linked to life’s opportunities or was it down to an individual’s nature?


At home, there is always something to do.
No-one to talk to.
But I have never been bored.
No-one says good morning or even hello.
Wartime everyone helped.
Listening to people moaning.
I read – I love autobiographies.
Hearing from others about aches and pains.
I make things – sewing clothes
I’ve never been bored.

Naughty But Nice (May 2017)

A group of nine this week and a more difficult topic. The phrase “Naughty But Nice” comes from a 1939 film of the same name starring Dick Powell and Ann Sheridan. The point being were there experiences or events in our own lives where we had been naughty, but without evil intent, without wanting to hurt or destroy i.e. “nice”.

The group now is quiet strong and respectful of each member, but we reminded ourselves of our agreed boundaries i.e. what was said in the group remained there, unless there was a real concern about someone’s safety and care; that we all respected other members so we would be careful with what we said so as not to frighten or cause concern; that we should not hurt our own spirit or wellbeing; that anyone at any time can say stop!

What emerged was a series of lines, which this poem tries to keep in some sort of order. The poem should be read with rather a punchy rhythm to reflect the way that they said in the group.


A bag was found in a telephone box – a temptation, but it was returned.
Not so lucky was the Mickey Mouse money box my friend used to raid.
The sweets were delicious and all the more tasty, until she was caught and it stopped.
The Church –  a source of wealth, by not giving the money I should.
Even worse was the reverse– I got a good hiding for that!
And so I played ill to avoid the temptation of going to that blasted church!!!

No television, no radio, but out on the street playing “Knock Down Nanny” or was it “Knock Down Ginger”?
Picking daffodils and tulips from gardens for Mother’s Day.
Pulling my brother out from the pond, brushing off frog spawn and taking him home.
But too many naughty things led to a smack – I was too much like my mother.
A really mixed up family, but wonderful when it worked.

My worst – I was evacuated at 10 and last to be picked.


Early Memories (April 2017)

A group of ten this week and again it was wonderful to see and hear how they gave each other the confidence to talk about their memories. Not everyone contributed, and for those who did not or could not, it was an opportunity to spend a little time listening to others and, I hope, reflecting on their experiences. Looking at their smiles and at their engagement, with the conversation, I am sure that they did.

We started by acknowledging our aches and pains – the results were: backache 2, neck-ache 2, no aches 2, finger ache 1, eye and ear ache 1, heartache 1. This final one gained the most sympathy, and the least sympathy was for the ear ache as she was not taking her medicine!

What emerged from our discussions were three main stories and one with an intriguing possibility.


My claim to fame was – as a bridesmaid,
Such a day, such a dress, such style.
A big wedding, a big ballroom
and I was the youngest by a mile,
There I was in blue and turquoise.
I did dress up – so lovely.

One man’s back was my opportunity,
It was the one thing that I wanted to do.
I felt fantastic. I took his place.
Thank goodness for his bad back.
I had no sorrow or sympathy there.
I entered stage left – so proud.

I love fruit and I love toffee,
So, toffee apples were my desire.
Ruby and I, we both went scrumping,
but Ruby was caught and locked in a shed.
I tripped him up and Ruby got out.
We ran so fast – so scared.

During the war, my mother made toffee apples
Where did you live?
So did I. I used to buy toffee apples from the lady a few streets away
I wonder?
And we all wondered how wonderful it would be
if two children had met again – so sweet.


Dogs Just Win (March 2017)

A group of six and a discussion about animals. Lots of chatter, unfortunately not very relevant to animals or adventures, but fun all the same.

So this time a very short poem. From a vote of those there – dogs just win.


Dogs just won the favourite vote and I wonder why?
We had cats because of the mice,
How they would play and tease them before their death.
So cruel.

Perhaps that is why dogs won.

We had a black retriever, it ran away.
He went to Reg’s café for a treat and left us.
It broke my heart and I cried for a week.
So sad.

Perhaps that is why the dog won.

I lost my child. My husband and I were frantic
Where could he be, we shouted and called
He was in the kennel, the dog outside.
So still.

Perhaps that is why dogs won.

Guarding children, guarding prams, part of the family
Leading the way, in their own way.
Remember Laika one of the first animals in space.
So alone.

Perhaps that is why dogs won.

But I had a tortoise called Sparky, we drilled a hole on his shell!


Holidays Extraordinaire (March 2017)

A larger group this week – nine people. We all had fun recounting tales of places visited, liaisons of various kinds, of shoplifting and dangerous traffic. All great fun.


Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside,
as long as it is not Weston-super-Mare.
One found Malta as his favourite,
but Thatcher destroyed that idyll.
Others found Portsmouth soothing,
Or was it just the sailor or was it a marine.
So long ago, but memories bring back the smiles.

Blow all that romantic bilge,
Give me a good honest cruise
In 1988 P&O were at their peak.
I don’t need the Navy,
They can take me anytime.

Mind you – do beware of roundabouts in Paris,
Of lost wheelchairs and frames.
It is important not to pack the trousers
That you were about to wear.
But let me steal some shoes –
the French, they will not care.

Holidays – what do I care when Palma
was my home for longer than I dare.
So travel long and travel free
we all have done our share
and now we will bring our memories
to each other, if we care.

Resolution Rant (January 2017)

Six members this week and the topic was New Year’s Resolutions – those that had been important, or meaningful. This, initially, was not a very good choice as many of the members had difficulty remembering any of any significance that they were willing to share. Soon, however, the conversation started and out the came as a stream of consciousness. So, very little punctuation and just shout the words in bold.


Not to eat so much chocolate (so many at Christmas), but lose weight.(Whisky keeps me slim)
Can’t just eat one chocolate the second is so much better.
Stopped my medication but I got told off – it’s so boring, but I will start.
Don’t like whisky but love brandy, port and milk stout.
Pregnancy – not sure why.
Do things not done before.  – yoga, quiz.
I enjoy walking – don’t get lost.
I think that I should give up driving
I am a recycled teenager.
There is no can’t do – just do!

Food (Dec 2016)

Just before Christmas, we met with a small group of four people and one member of the support staff. We decided to chat about food and had a wide-ranging conversation. The opportunities to produce poetry was limited, but the opportunities to share likes and dislikes were very rewarding.


Some people like some things others do not.
Children hate Brussel Sprouts but love fast food.
I hate them, not children, but their choice of nutrition.
I love trout or lemon sole. Toad-in-the-hole goes down well,
but peaches and cream that is my dream.
Grow your own, or pick your own fruit is my queen.
Blackberries, mangos, raspberries and dates.
Bring me a satsuma, a pineapple or grape,
But figs I will leave alone on my plate.
But before the fruit, there comes the meat course.
With lamb cooked in water, or rib-eyed steak.
Pork chops with crackling, but beef dripping is best,
so bring me a cow. I’ll do the rest.

Christmas Past (Nov 2016)

A very seasonal theme, but with a focus on remembering the past and reflecting on the question “What was Christmas like when you were a child?”. It was a small group this week with only three members (Doreen, Olive and Joan), but they all contributed. What is interesting is that rather than just a straightforward description, they were eager to express the feelings they had as children. They remembered and related to the feelings of boredom, jealousy, excitement and feeling thrilled by the prospect of Christmas. They expressed these child-centred feelings with great warmth and fondness. Christmases as an adult would never be the same.

The Present Past
A china-faced doll with moving eyes,
A second-hand bike blocks on the pedals so I could reach.
A new watch strap, comic books, Desperate Dan, Huckleberry Fin
But all I wanted was a teddy bear – I make up for it now.

The Games Past
Card games – crib, patience and snap.
Bored with board games
After dinner losing at draughts, Ludo and snakes and ladders
I sit under the table sulking.
How I long for blind man’s bluff and kiss chase.

Pass the Past Food
Plucking chickens, skinning rabbits and making Christmas pud.
Stir and make a wish, throw in a Joey – a thruppeny bit.
I hope I find it later.
Early December Mother makes the cake covered with marzipan.
Later mince pies, sausage rolls and trifle while I am tasting nothing more than glue.
As I make the paper chains.

Christmas Past
Iffley Village – picking holly and ivy and looking for mistletoe to hang over the picture frames,
Coal fires making the living room live with colour and warmth.
Waking up in the middle of the night.
Sleep or Father Christmas will not come.
In the morning, has he been?
Yes, looking in my stocking it was not a dream.
An orange, an apple, a tangerine tell me so.
But where are those golden chocolate coins?