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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We Girls

“Sugar and spice and all things nice” was not written about REAL girls. I know, because – spoiler alert – I WAS a girl. Here I am look – aaah. Yeah right.

This poem’s about all the little girls who come home scratched and grass-stained, sniping snd whining, with a crown of daisies and  one pigtail undone. I trust that today’s “pink culture” has not obliterated this fine breed entirely.

We Girls

Each daisy’s a piece of the moon,
Strewn on the welcoming grass,
Waiting for fidgeting fingers to pass
And weave it in bangles and bows,
Those are not alleys, they’re dens,
We seize them, we lose them, we take them again,
And dance as our dynasties grow,
Pavements and bollards and walls,
Are obstacle courses enthralling us all,
Hop-trip with our quickstepping feet,
Sweet is the call of the slopes,
As laughing we log-roll and slip-slide and hope
To emerge with our kneecaps complete,
Meetings in hedge-huddled homes,
Stones which are amulets,
Sticks which are witchety wands,
Bonds that we form as we talk,
Chalking graffiti and hopscotch wherever we walk,
Home with the set of the sun,
Running, at one with the fun of our world…
We girls skip to a time-honoured tune –
Each daisy’s a piece of the moon.

 

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Unsheath Your Sword!

I’ll let this one speak for itself!

Unsheath Your Sword!

I share my house with two small boys,
Who’ve wearied of construction toys
and bicycles and felt-tip pens,
And simply want to FIGHT LIKE MEN!
And so, all though the living room,
With shouts of “Fie! Await your doom!”
“On guard, my lord!” and “Tally-ho!”
The battle rages to and fro.

“Unsheath your sword!” cries number one,
“Disarm, foul wretch!” yells number two,
“Stand down, or I will finish you!”
And thrust and parry, through and through.

The dress-up clothes fly left and right,
Until a Power-Ninja-Knight
emerges, snarling, poised to fight,
“Behold!” he yells, “and fear my might!”
Then snicker-snack! His vorpal blade
streaks round the lovely home I’ve made,
I scream, “Just leave your brother be!”
But guard the telly bodily.

“Unsheath your sword!” cries number one,
“Disarm, foul wretch!” yells number two,
“Stand down, or I will finish you!”
And thrust and parry, through and through.

Too much! It’s getting on my nerves,
I hide the swords – but fresh reserves
are roused – the bits of pipe, the sticks,
The pistols made of lego bricks;
The Dark Lord, who is nearly eight,
exclaims “Accept your fate!” But wait…
A mortal wound! A hurty thumb…
The Dark Lord’s crying for his mum.

“Unsheath your sword!” cries number one,
“Disarm, foul wretch!” yells number two,
“Stand down, or I will finish you!”
And thrust and parry, through and through.

And so, the Ninja claims his prize,
“Bow down!” come his triumphant cries,
The Dark Lord staggers, bruised and spent,
And kneels, tear-stained and penitent,
Meanwhile, I count at least a score
of weapons strewn upon the floor,
My house is not a home, it’s more
the aftermath of Agincourt.

“Unsheath your sword!” cries number one,
“Disarm, foul wretch!” yells number two,
“Stand down, or I will finish you!”
And thrust and parry, through and through.

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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My Garden, July, 7pm

My Garden, July, 7pm

As today’s performance nears its sticky close,
And the clement shadows enter from the wings,
Honey sun throws one last spotlight on a rose,
While in crowd-pleasing finale, blackbird sings.
Props lie strewn: abandoned clothes, a bug-smeared glass,
Garish toys form grubby rainbows on the grass…
And as hosepipe soothes my garden’s weary brow,
Daubed with dirt, my little cast take one last bow.

 

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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The smell of the weekend (a tale from my childhood)

It is said that smell is the very best sense for evoking memories. But can words evoke the smell?

I picked a very favourite smell from my childhood – the smell of custard bubbling in the pan – to try to find out. For me, custard is intertwined with happiness, family, and that wonderful “happy belly feeling”. Maybe it might take you back to Sunday puddings too.

The Smell of the Weekend

A tale from my childhood

Weekends. A lie in. Some morning TV,
A trip to the library, a dash to the shop,
Some football to watch or some good friends to see,
And a hot, milky pan that would bubble and pop,
Cos weekends meant pudding – with custard on top.

The anticipation was always a killer!
I’d trawl through my homework, my nose ever twitching,
Awaiting the blanket-soft scent of vanilla,
Velvet-cream thoughts so distracting, bewitching.
And then – yes! – a sweet, silky smell from the kitchen.

So I’d chomp through my meat and potatoes and veg,
(Or whatever our prelude to pudding that day),
The waft from the stove setting senses on edge,
Til finally! Pudding! And all was OK…
I’d open my mouth and slide sweetly away.

 

©️Nina Parmenter 2018

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I was a teen in the 1990s

Although my teenage years were the inevitable emotional rollercoaster (cheers for that, hormones), I was hardly the rebellious type. Through the rage and the tears (yep, again, nice one, hormones), I was generally content, and I put that down to three things: a supportive family, amazing friends (seen left, modelling some exemplary 90s fashion choices), and the awesome era in which we were living. I turned 13 just two weeks before the end of 1989 and so very nearly all of my teen years were spent in the 1990s, and my heart, and quite a lot of my music collection, still lie there today. The latter part of the decade was spent as a student, but this rhyme is really a tribute to the first five years, growing up in rural Somerset. It might not reflect your 1990s teenhood – but it very much reflects mine.

 

I was a teen in the 1990s

I was a teen in a golden era,
You know when I mean – it couldn’t be clearer,
The best years of all, and I don’t say it lightly,

I was a teen in the 1990s.

Firstly, my friends, just think of the fashion,
I think you’ll agree that we all looked smashing,
In red or green jeans, all wide at the knees,
Pendulous jumpers and cavernous tees,
Bright swirly leggings and big paisley shirts,
Huge tie dye t-shirts and ankle-length skirts,
Blanket-look jumpers all fringed at the hem,

And completing the look, what else but DMs?

Now modern-day music is pleasant enough,
But it doesn’t compare to the Wonderstuff,
James, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Suede,
We’d yell out the words as the Levellers played,
We were spoilt for choice when we fancied a dance,
There was Black Box and Shaggy and Snap and N-Trance,
And who could forget – the Rebel MC,

He rocked like a ninja! He stung like a bee!

Watching Blind Date and The Word on the box,
The birth of the email and bad alcopops,
Quoting the sketches from History Today,
Big games of rounders that 30 could play,
Pretty Woman on loop – I just wanted to BE her,
Shopping in Woolworths, Our Price and Athena,
And stuck on my wall, affixed with Blu-Tack,

Will Carling, Tom Cruise and, yum yum, Roger Black.

So today’s sorry teens must surely confess
That ours was the time that was simply the best,
Cos you’ve got your smartphones to point at your face,
But we had landlines and – oh yes – Ace of Base.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2017

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