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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Bobbing Mummy

Is anyone else more than a little bit broken from PICKING SHIT UP?!

Bobbing Mummy

If you knock something from the shelf,
No need to pick it up yourself!
Just leave it there upon the floor –
Whatever else is Mummy for?
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

What joy, a new construction set,
With bits that are the smallest yet!
Mummy’s here! It doesn’t matter!
Open box, prepare to scatter!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Got a wrapper in your hand?
Don’t worry! Drop it where you stand!
Perhaps your paper missed the privy?
Don’t despair! You have a skivvy!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Mummy has an education,
Wild ideas above her station,
Visions of equality,
I know right? That’s insanity!
She’s bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.


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On Being Offered Cheese As A Dessert

OK – I’m going to say it – I’m not the world’s greatest fan of cheese. (Some people literally can’t handle this information, but I’ll press on.) I quite like an emmental or a mild cheddar but beyond that? Not a fan. So the thought of passing up a treacle tart in favour of some manky old sheep’s curd… well it blows my mind.

On Being Offered Cheese As A Dessert

THAT is a curd that forms on an inert
tub of old rancid milk – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert, so don’t lie to me please,
It is cheese.

That bit is stinky and that bit is crusty,
You’re trying to be funny! You’re joking! You must be!
Cos that bit is mouldy and that bit is goaty,
If this is a dream, then please somebody poke me…

How can a fatberg with crackers exert
The appeal of a pie – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert, it’s an udder that sneezed,
It is cheese!

I‘m craving some custard all yummy and creamy,
A big chocolate brownie, deliciously dreamy,
The hot toffee pudding! So silky! So steamy!
Just bring on the sugary goodness and FEED ME!

Well, I say “cam-em-bare” and you say “cam-em-burt”,
Doesn’t alter the fact – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert – Just like pork! Just like peas!


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Claire from Customer Care

We have precious little time on this beautiful Earth, and there is nothing I resent more than having to spend it jumping through hoops all in the name of “customer service”. Sitting on hold, explaining things three times to people in different departments, listening to protracted terms and conditions scripts, or – my favourite – “passing security”. (Next time, you’re told that you’ve passed security, do what I do – cheer. They never know what to do with that.)

Anyway, I parcelled up all my frustrations, stuffed them all into a poetic person known as Claire from Customer Care, and vented.

Claire from Customer Care

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m on with Claire from customer care,
Who is voicing my pointless choices,
As my ears bleed despair.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m finding my ideal tariff
with just ten sections of soul-sucking questions,
As my hopes vanish.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m ticking terms and conditions,
Poring over each torturous clause,
While The Reaper’s steps quicken.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m completing a quick questionnaire,
Assessing my satisfaction with that interaction
with Claire from customer care…

And my starving eyes… just stare.

I should have gone out tonight,
Instead, to the beat of on-hold music,
I lose it.


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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School Sport

This a “concrete” poem – a poem shaped like the thing it’s describing. If it doesn’t look like the picture above, turn your phone on its side or get a larger device (wink wink). Now – gym knickers on, and let’s proceed.

School Sport

.                       School sport,                                           Tick tock,
.              simply a torture form                                 Tick tock,
.           a notch or five above the                           Oh watch
.        norm, the most horrendous                      the clock,
.        cruelty designed specifically                  When will
.          for me, who has no puff &                    this finish,
.            cannot aim – picked last                     this quest
.               in every single game:                      to pillage
.                       School sport.                             pride and
.                                                                              joy and all
.                                                                            respect??
.                                                                          In half my
.                                                                        lifetime, I
.                                                                      expect, as
.                                                                    this is just
.                                                                  a wheeze
.                                                                to squash
.                                                              my will, to
.               bring me                     to my knees;
.                  for sticks and balls may hurt
.                      us all, but double games
.                                will break me.


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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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

Gluten Is Lovely

At the time of writing this, it’s coeliac awareness week in the UK. Having been diagnosed with the disease around 12 months ago, I know how often I’ve had to explain it to people – and how little fun that can be (particularly if they ask you about the symptoms – eek). My solution – write a poem about it of course – which I hope people can share to explain the causes, symptoms and frustrations in an un-cringey – and hopefully entertaining – way. Job done, and back to my expensive maize-based substitute products. Yum.

Gluten is Lovely

One day, my body said “Right! No more gluten!”
Why would it DO that, that’s what I’m disputing!
Gluten is LOVELY, it makes dough elastic,

And cake nice and cakey, and croissants fantastic,

The human immune system’s really quite cracking,
But mine is a numpty, it needs a good smacking,
It sends forth its troops to repel yummy biccies,

And crackers and gravy and buns, soft and sticky.

So if I have shreddies or pasta or beer,
Or if one grain of flour has come ANYWHERE NEAR,
My body says “Got this!”, attacks my own guts

And banjaxes my brain – antibodies gone nuts!

So my “glutened” utensils were binned by the drawer-full,
It’s three pounds for bread now, and man, it tastes awful,
And I ALWAYS read packs – I’ve found gluten in cheese,

Jelly babies and chips, stir fry veg – I mean please!

And restaurants are fun, as I question each dish –
“Was it fried in the fat with that nice breaded fish?
Are your chopping boards safe? Do you have separate butter?”

“This woman’s a nightmare!” the waitresses mutter.

But… one crumb of gluten – one smear on a knife,
And let’s say… the bottom falls out of my life,
I am laid up for days, not in dreams, but in pain,

And for weeks, i will not be quite normal again.

I have panic attacks, I have aches, I have chills,
And the long term effects are more frightening still,
“It’s just CAKE, stupid coeliac body!” I cry,

“Now come on! Sort it out! Cos I REALLY miss pie.”


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Monkey Fingers

A request! This one’s from my lovely sister Ana Bush (yes, there is a family resemblance, but no, that’s not her in the picture).

Ana was trying to send me a request for another poem (coming soon!) but unfortunately, queen of the touchscreen that she is, ended up requesting…… “a period”. Brings a whole new meaning to “lovin’ your flow” doesn’t it?!

So, Ana, you ham-fisted lovely, I present….. your period.

Monkey Fingers

Ooh! Ooh! Monkey-Fingers!
Stabby, jabby, chunky fingers,
Pawing at my touchscreen like a primate in a zoo,
Hit, miss, proddy, pokey,
Stupid smartphones just provoke me,
How can I hit ONE key with a finger made for two?

Smug little kiddywinkies,
Typing with their dinky pinkies,
Flying round their phones, like fairies frisking through the flowers,
Tippy, tappy, flutter, flitter,
WhatsApp, Snapchat, Tinder, Twitter –
Meanwhile, Monkey sends a text. This may take Monkey hours.

Ooh! Ooh! Scary Monkey,
Stroppy, sulky, sweary Monkey,
Scowling at my smartphone like it threw a monkey poo!
Still, while all the techno-kiddies,
Scroll and scroll until they’re giddy,
Monkey here is busy… with the FUN things monkeys do!


©️Nina Parmenter 2018

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Gotta Get Out The House

Ah… quality time at home with the children.

I’m sorry, what?! There is quality time with the children. And there is time at home with the children. And, for our family, the two are pretty much mutually exclusive. Home is about mess, fights, funny smells, nagging, exasperation, and a lot of arguments involving the word “screen”. The good stuff happens outside the house. IF ONLY WE CAN GET THEM OUT….

Gotta Get Out The House

Gotta get out the house, gotta leave,
My sanity needs some reprieve,
That two little boys,
Could make so much noise –
You’d have to be here to believe!

Before, I’d no concept at all,
Of the phrase “We are climbing the walls” ,
But now it appears,
We are wall mountaineers,
Trying to flee from the mess and the brawls.

We’ve tried castles, museums, a wood,
Hit the park way more times than we should,
Our purses are thickets,
Of passes and tickets,
Cos not being home is soooo good.

Our bank account’s screams are dramatic:
“No more lunch! No more fuel! I can’t hack it!”
“No more bribes!” (Yes – they’re wrong –
But they move things along –
And we call it “being pragmatic”!)

So into the car and away!
The safari park’s waiting today!
To the monkey house! Yes,
It might look quite a mess –
But OUR house will look worse if we stay!


©️Nina Parmenter 2018

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My Shiny Rectangular Friend

Phones. They’re great aren’t they? I mean, they are ACTUALLY awesome. The amount of computing power that (nearly) every one of us holds in our hands every day is… staggering.

But at the same time… aren’t they just annoying, attention-seeking little bastards?


My shiny rectangular friend

Oh what did I do,
Before I had you,
My shiny rectangular friend?
My little world locked
In a bright beepy box,

The things you can do never end.

My clock, my reminder,
My little fact-finder,
My camera, my telly, my pen,
My music selector,
My friendship collector,

I’ll never be lonely again.

You store all my galleries,
Count up my calories,
Lead me to cafés and cabs,
You pinpoint my spouse,
While you heat up my house,

You order me chips and kebabs.

And, at one single stroke,
You connect me with folk –
Including the ones I detest,
I “like” their new cars,
And “wow” at their scars,

Not sure who I’m trying to impress.

Every day, “BEEP BEEP BEEP!”
You wake me from sleep,
With a noise that goes right through my head,
Then you stress me with headlines,
And meetings and deadlines,

Before I have got out of bed.

You bip and you buzz,
And you make a huge fuss,
The second you want my attention,
And still, when you’re sleeping,
I hear your voice speaking,

“Quick, check me, you might have a mention!”

Even zipped in my bag,
You silently nag –
“Get me out! Touch me! I’m shiny!”
You’re rude and invasive ,
And very persuasive,

For something so lifeless and tiny.

So each minute or six,
My addicted thumb flicks –
Who’s posted? Who likes me? What’s new?
This madness must end,
My rectangular friend –

I think I should break up with you.


©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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