Ex-pupils pop up everywhere! One is often off his head around Merthyr bus-station, but always has time to slur a greeting. Another - in a band who should've made it , but are still trying - always stops for a brief exchange. At Teso's tills, the Post Office and in the occasional pub it's inevitable having taught in this town for 20 years.

   I wish I could remember names. They would have had to be totally 'beyond' or very gifted for me to recall them ; yet faces pose no problem. Ironically, when I was teaching I had no trouble with names at all.

   It's always great to hear from past pupils about their own writing. One recently contacted me through Facebook initially and expressed great enthusiasm for poetry-writing. This is unusual, as most tend to stop writing when they leave school.

   He expressed an interest in the 'industry'. I'd never thought of poetry like that really, as it has all the requirements for an old-fashioned craft (as Heaney would have it), yet also the inspirational dimension of a vocation ( to veer towards James Joyce). Sometimes the best poems arrive and we don't know where from : it might be explained as the subconscious surfacing. Certainly, I hope he keeps at it. I'd have done nothing else ( except maybe singing in a blues-rock band).

   I'm more than willing to give advice to any former pupils on their writing.Several times a month I see one of them, who was one of the most talented poets I ever taught. He now works for the Council and I've given up inviting him to our monthly Open Mic. nights at The Imp. As a poet he was strange though : he never acted on advice, never sought to change anything. Now he has given up writing I believe; a real shame.

   Two of my ex-pupils went on to play in bands which should've made it BIG. Both wrote the lyrics for many songs and this ability showed itself in their verse at school. Original Mind and Pink Assassin never became household names, yet should have been. Both wrote with intensity and never lapsed into cliche.

   One of my prize possessions is a letter sent by an ex-pupil many years after he'd left school and become a professional golfing coach.  It was full of praise and it's great to think that I could've had such an impact on someone. We shared a love for Heller's classic 'Catch 22', which helped. He was golf mad at school and I always remember the time he lost all his GCSE coursework just before the deadline, only to find it at the bottom of his golf bag!

   It seems incredible to think that I used to go to football matches at Ninian Park with 6th formers. I still see one regularly on the train home from our games and he's there with his son, carrying on the tradition.

   Others have emerged in less auspicious circumstances. One - also a Bluebird - returned to school to ask me to write a statement vindicating his good character, to be read out in court. He was accused of knifing someone at a nightclub down town and a 'calling card' had been found there incriminating him. He was a star in class and his own project work for English oral exams was especially interesting. One of them was in support of football hooliganism and included, as a prop, a Soul Crew 'calling card'!

   The following poem is about an encounter with a past pupil who I see often and talk about things, especially CCFC. I can fully empathise with his situation.

                                           BY-A RIVER

I sit by-a river,
it's runnin all day,
my arm's in a plaster,
off on sick pay.

Wish I woz-a river
goin to city an sea,
instead of a watcher
on a bench in misery.

'leven years we bin married,
got a lovely ome,
I give er ev'rythin
an we loved ower son.

We wuz schoolyard sweet'earts,
I'm a famlee man,
now I'm back with my parents,
weekends with my son.

The water is rushin
down t the weir,
wish I woz a salmon
on a long journey from yer.

I sit by-a river,
carn get er outa my ead,
ev'ry Saturdiy she's clubbin,
arfta someone t bed.

It wuz some kinda madness
when she tol me t go :
'I don' feel nothin no more,'
she sayz,' I wanna be alone.'

Seein my boy is like-a flow
always movin away from me,
always changin as ee grows,
while I'm burstin with self-pity.

Miri Powys
08/24/2011 05:53

Thanks for the poem by your ex pupil particularly. Moving : calls to mind MINE, whom I do miss ... gave up teaching 6 years ago, happy to have escaped the Head with my sanity more-or-less intact. It's good to think of them again after blanking out quite a lot!


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