110. The Prologue

Don’t expect any sense from me: I barely know which way up I am.

Replacing Wordsworth’s poems last night – don’t be overly impressed, we were looking up a crossword clue – I chanced upon my copy of The Waste Land. It made no sense at A-Level – all those disjointed fragments and random voices – hurry up please, it’s time. However, light has now dawned. Clearly Eliot was also in the process of – or poetically anticipating, if you want to be fussy about the chronology – a jolly eventful retirement do. He, too, was clearly having problems putting one thought in front of another.

So, taking a leaf from his book, I’m not even going to attempt coherence at the moment. Make of it what you will, but if anyone asks you to write an essay about it, then you have my permission to refuse on the basis that the writer is clearly unhinged.

1. The Binning of the Unmarked

Whoever said that April was the cruelest month,
Has not worked in a school in July.
Fantasies of summer breezes and cheerful children
Are swiftly kicked into touch by Assessments and Reports,
Assemblies and Concerts, Sports Days,
Clearing the Classroom,
Meet the Teacher,
And where did we put the sacks
After last year’s races?
Hurry up please, it’s time!

Praise the Lord for Loom Bands!
While we are stripping down display boards; photocopying
Reports and entering data on to spreadsheets, grades for
Effort and Achievement; highlighting assessment sheets; checking
That all books have been marked; amid
All this activity, the children sit quietly

One group of lads, demons of the football field,
Gather around an i Pad,
Where they’ve called up a YouTube video
On how to crochet an octopus;
Barely murmuring,
Apart from a minor skirmish over
Who gets next go of their favourite
Pink crochet hook.


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