Leapt out of bed to the raucous sound of the alarm on the mobile phone and was brushing my teeth virtually before I woke up. An ugly welcome back to education orientated normality.
School was enlivened by the appearance of a poet, Paul Cookson, who I know from the compilation poetry books that he produces as much as from the work that he produces under his own name.
I met him first thing in the morning and, as he seemed a fairly jolly and accepting person, I felt that I had to admit that I had been breaking copyright in the production of a small (illustrated) booklet produced by my good self. He was completely unfazed by this and on my presenting him with a copy of said breach of copyright he looked through it and said that I had chosen one of his favourites and that he would read some of my choices to the kids when he took them.
After a brief meeting with the poet or Poet I was then dragged away into the morass of teaching and did not manage to see him again until the afternoon when I was able to spend a free in our auditorium where he was to take the equivalent of our year seven.
When I found him he was sitting in one of the luxurious tip up seats in the auditorium and strumming a ukulele – as you do!
When the kids arrived my free period was forgotten and I was just another teacher manning (staffing?) the pumps and making sure that the chaos which is par for the course when a stranger visits the school was kept in check.
I have to say that Paul Cookson had the kids in the palm of his hand. Not so much a poetry reading as a stand up comedy routine with selective insulting of the audience! He literally had them rocking in their chairs and he harnessed this enthusiasm by directing it into a lively accompaniment to his poems by inviting his audience to participate.
He has written tongue twisters and poetic jokes; football poems; autobiographic poems and, a great favourite with this audience, poems about teachers. He showed them a cartoon drawing of a teacher that an artist friend had produced and that elicited howls of recognition from the kids who immediately identified one of my colleagues!
He recognized when he was on to a good thing and tried following up this popular success with another teacher poem. As I was sitting at the side of the hall, this directed the attention of the kids to me (in spite of the fact that there were two other colleagues present) and the kids began a chant of “Stee-ven! Stee-ven! Stee-ven!” until Paul snarled, “Oi! I’m supposed to be the star here!” which produced even more laughter. I either added to my reputation with the kids or found it evaporate (with these kids it’s hard to say) by enthusiastically joining in with the words and actions that Paul demanded from his audience.
Those who know me from Llanishen will not be surprised to learn that, even though this was my free period and this visit was not my responsibility, I introduced the poet and gave the vote of thanks at the end. Some things never change!
It’s things like this that make me think that I am too much at home in this school. I have been teaching here for about 40 days but it doesn’t feel like that and I worry (!) that some of my colleagues may see me as somewhat presumptuous in the way that I have established myself.
They needn’t worry, they can always put me in my place by speaking to me in Spanish and then I subside, quiescent into a handy corner licking my linguistic wounds!
I spoke to the head of English about my contract and she expressed surprise that I had not been seen by the Directora as the rest of the department have apparently had their interviews about their positions next year. It appears that I will probably be seen this week. At least my CV is updated and the outline of a new general letter of application is waiting to be polished on the computer.
One part of Toni’s present has been bought; most of Laura’s is complete and Carmen’s will have to wait until nearer to date as part of it will die if I buy it too soon!
Tomorrow early start in school and a long, long day.
At least I will have my signed copy of one of Paul’s books to read during my free time!