Measure the Children

The increasingly Orwellian nature of education in this country inspired me to write this. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful teachers, it seems that the emphasis  is firmly on conformity and performance – as if our children were washing machines off a production line.

If it helps by the way, I picture “the meddlers” as being little oompah-loompah-crossed-with-Michael-Gove figures  – but please don’t have nightmares about that!

Measure the Children

The school was a cauldron of mischief and learning,
and children were children, their impish minds turning,
until, at the will of political men
came an army of meddlers with rulers and pens
squealing “measure the children, measure them!”

“Let art be abandoned! Let music be killed!”
cried the meddling ones, “There are forms to be filled!”
Then they pored over stories of magical horses
impatiently counting subordinate clauses
to measure the children, measure them.

“More!” they screamed, hurling out brain-popping sums
while the tape measures tangled small fingers and thumbs,
“Forget curiosity! Curb innovation!
We’re sending your teachers for recalibration…
Measure the children, measure them!”

We strive for a future where oneness prevails,
but there’s no place for play on the measuring scales,
and as tables and tests burn the light from their eyes,
we say “Hush, little citizens, think of the prize…”
and measure the children, measure them.

 

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From Dovecote Hill

Just on the edge of my home town of Bruton, Somerset, lies Dovecote Hill (and yes, it does have a dovecote on it!) From there, you can see the whole town, which, for most of my childhood at least, formed most of my world. So for me, it’s a place of great nostalgia… and for longing for simpler times.

From Dovecote Hill 

From Dovecote Hill, my thoughts spill down on drowsy mill-town streets
and run the maze of alleyways where once my youthful feet
traced winding paths around the huddled houses that complete
this view of all I knew and loved
from Dovecote Hill.

The fields were loving ramparts shielding us from drifting mists
of worldliness – as if this town were all that might exist,
so we grew up as slowly as the silver river twists
through all I see, from here above
on Dovecote Hill.

This frantic, anxious world conspires to see my spirit crawl
and falter, courage crippled by the hugeness of it all.
One sight could help me find once more the strength of being small –
this view of all I knew and loved
from Dovecote Hill.

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Last Tussle in Brussels

Unfortunately, I thought it was time for a Brexit poem. But as the whole thing is a complete farce, I thought I’d make my poem a bit of a farce too (I mean, it could happen, but…)

Last Tussle in Brussels

Somewhere in Brussels, March 2019,
Poor Theresa’d not slept since about Halloween,
But at last it was ready! The dream Brexit treaty,
Which pleased every spluttering zealot so sweetly!

So ready to sign it, she tried not to squeal…
Until Boris burst in and cried “NO BLOODY DEAL!”
Theresa yelled “shut it, you haystack-haired chancer!”
But Europe said “sorry, we’ll take your first answer!”

Then Macron and Barnier, Merkel and Juncker,
Cried “See ya, Theresa, we’re off to the bunker!”
Theresa gave chase; Boris stuck out a toe,
The Jimmy Choos buckled, and down she did go!

The bunker shut! Pawing the intercom button
And licking the speaker, she heard them all tutting,
Then Merkel said “Vile vee regret ze estrangement,
Zey cannot exist vizout formal arrangement!”

Theresa was screaming “JUST LET ME IN NOW!”
But she could have sworn Barnier cried out “KA-POW!”
Then she felt a great shake like the boom of a bomb –
And her satellite glasses showed… Britain was gone!

Well, after some hours of wailing and gnashing,
They found little Britain complaining and splashing
and shivering up by the cold Arctic Circle…
“Best wrap up vorm!” tittered Angela Merkel.

———————————————-

We last saw Theresa all sun-kissed and blustery,
Hiking the warm Euro hillsides of Tuscany,
Boris was found (well was dug up in parts),
With a hot Belgian waffle stuck right up his arse…

As for Britain – it’s time in the cold had begun,
The crops slowly died in the thin arctic sun,
Til a hobbit named Corbyn cried “Right! Who needs feeding?!”
And was hailed as a God with his frost-hardy seedlings.

And somewhere in Dudley, a “leaver” called Norris,
Polished his gold-plated statue of Boris,
And petting his bulldog (with hands somewhat frozen),
He gave a wry smile, and said, “that bloody showed ‘em.”

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Show me a celebrity

I used to be quite good on the celebs. I watched the soaps. I watched reality shows. I knew what films were in the cinema. “Love It!” magazine was stacked welcomingly in my bathroom. (Yes, bathroom. Well, this WAS the time before smart phones.)

And then… something happened. One by one I dropped  the soaps. Then the magazines. Then the reality shows. And in the mean time, celebs were spawning* like shiny, superficial, bunnies. People got famous for being able to put their make-up on quite well. Or for allowing their actual life to be scripted and filmed. And me… well I started a family, free time became a scarcity, but more than anything – I just stopped caring. Was this a reaction to the burgeoning shallowness of society? Nah. Expect it was just my age.

*There’s far too much Minecraft in my house.

Show me a celebrity

I’m forty-one, a wife, a mum,
“But hey!” I cry, “I still feel young!
My hair’s not grey, my teeth are mine,
I’d DEFO pass for thirty-nine!”
But sadly, there’s a tiny flaw,
That gives my age away for sure,
Yep – show me a celebrity,

And I’ll say, “Who the fuck is she?!”

Singers, blingers, strikers, wingers,
TV talent contest winners,
Bloggers, vloggers, shaggers, snoggers,
Over-hyped attention-hoggers,
Debutants and sycophants,
People who look good in pants,
Actors, film stars, soap stars too…

Show me one, and I’ll cry, “WHO?!”

It’s not fair game, they’re all the same,
The women with their shiny manes,
The blokes all buff with facial fluff,
Both sexes caked in orange stuff,
So how am I supposed to know,
Which one’s Georgia Toffolo,
Charlotte Crosby, Stephen Bear,

Who ARE these people? Should I care?!

Cos who has time for reading Heat,
or watching Coronation Street,
And working out who sings each song?
Got too much on! It takes too long!
There’s more to life than people who
I’ve never met. And don’t want to.
So – forty-one. Still young? Still fun?

Nope. I’ve turned into my Mum.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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The National Trust

I have a deep affection for the National Trust. With two energetic young boys, the weekend rule in our house is generally “anywhere but at home!” Our National Trust membership allows us to unleash them in some beautiful places, leaving our own house mostly unwrecked (although slightly more full of sticks) for one more precious day.

I think of the National Trust as a slightly eccentric great aunt, prone to lectures on the correct placement of cutlery, but also quite likely to slip me a boiled sweet or a couple of quid. So I hope this particular aunt doesn’t mind a bit of gentle ribbing.

 

The National Trust

The National Trust, The National Trust,
A mightier thing than all of us,
A fine institution, a positive force,
For a tenner a month, it can all be yours!
So we get in the car and head off for the day,
The brown signs of worthiness show us the way,
We head for the house – but I’ve got quite a thirst –

“Can we not go to the tearoom first?”

No – onwards! Past tapestries, teasets, a Titian,
A slightly tedious exhibition,
Cabinets, carpets and candelabras,
And a lovely lady, name of Barbara,
(A volunteer, reduced to tears,
By standing in one room for years)
She points at a pot! We all say “wow!

But can we go to the tearoom now?”

There are grounds all around, where there’s joy to be found,
In glorious nature, its sights and its sounds,
There are log piles to climb, and rope swings to hold on,
(It’s just like the park, only ten times more wholesome),
Rose gardens, rockeries, rippling rivers,
A small hairy man with his arrows and quiver,
Who gives us a go on his medieval bow –

But NOW is it time for the tearoom though?

Wait! Listen! YES! the clock strikes three,
The footsteps thunder – time for tea!
And mums, kids and grannies, all manners at bay,
Stampede for a spot in the Courtyard Café,
To toss back some tea, and scoff down some scones,
And snap up the shortbread before its all gone –
But where do we go once we’ve stuffed it all in?

LOOK! A shop full of chutney and artisan gin.

The National Trust, The National Trust,
A mightier thing than all of us,
A fine institution, a positive force,

For a tenner a month, this can all be yours.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2017

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