Sunday, 13 July 2008


I've done my visit to the village school - a beautiful little place set in a cosy little village on the Cheshire plain, in sheep-farming country. The children were a delight, the staff welcoming and pleasant. I really enjoyed my morning there. Here is the pirate poem I mentioned in my last posting:


Call me Jolly Roger, mates!
Jolly Jane and me
Are the fiercest jolly pirates
That sail the jolly sea.

We wear jolly black eye patches.
Our parrot, Jolly Jones,
Wears a jolly hat that matches
Ours with the skull and bones.

We wave our jolly swords and talk
In a jolly fearsome way.
Along the jolly plank you'll walk
If you don't do as we say!

Pieces of eight, shiver me timbers!
We'll soon be off to Spain
After eating our fish fingers
And if it doesn't rain.

All aboard! Anchors aweigh!
Ooh ar, ooh ar! we shout
When jolly me and jolly J
Go pirating about.

Please don't look so jolly worried,
It's just pretend you see.
Real pirates are jolly horrid,
Not like Jane and me.

The children clapped the poem without being asked and went on to write their own pirate poems. The whole school had turned out in pirate costume - including the teachers. Yo-ho-ho. Great. Too often teachers think they are above that sort of thing but not these good people.

It reminded me of that old old thing with school uniforms where so often the teaching staff proclaim all kinds of benefits of school uniform yet never wear it themselves. How two-faced is that. I hate school uniforms. I think they contribute towards intolerance of difference. Some say that it gets around children sulking a begging and fussing and fretting to get the latest trainers. Well, I've got an idea: while they are in school, why not educate them out of being such avid little consumerists and slavish followers of fashion?

I did another poem from my minute but growing repertoire of poems and rhymes for the young:


Have you heard of skwigmaroo?
They come from Cheshire, mainly from Crewe,
Dress only in red or three shades of blue,
Secure their beaks with a silver screw,
Fix their wigs with peppermint glue,
Put all six feet into one big shoe,
Paddle The Cloud in a pink canoe,
Laugh like a drum, sing like a zoo,
Say nothing at all when a poem won't do.
There's none such fun as skwigmaroo!

I rarely use exclamation marks but I seem to dip in the bag for them with the children's stuff. I think jolly uncles must keep a few in their waistcoat pockets.

In answer to another question from a reader of this blog: Yes, unless otherwise stated, all the poems posted here are (c) 2008 W. Terry Fox.

One last observation: There are no men on the staff of many of the primary schools I have visited. What a shame it is that we have become so tainted as a society that a man can find it too problematic to say he wants to work with young children. It leaves a gap in the early stages of a child's learning that I am sure cannot be good for them or society at large.

I'll tell you about my 'make a nOIse' in libraries gigs next time. In the meanwhile, take good care and read some poetry.


Friday, 4 July 2008

Writing In The 19th Century

Our gig of contemporary songs at the Coachmakers was well-received. BUT they wouldn't let us go without Adam getting his low whistle out (now, now) and us playing 'Women of Ireland' and the 'Tarbolton' reel. It'll be a mix of traditional and contemporary from now on. Makes sense cuz that's where we're at, really - oh 'cept Adam has a penchant and great ability for bluegrass. Seems odd to me. Like going about in fancy dress. He says it's 'tuning into the zone'.

Well, swash me buckle!

I am invited to a little village school to read some poetry to the children and to look at the work they have been doing for the National Year of Reading. They are having an Arts Week with a pirate theme so I thought, 'Methinks perchance I shall write a small poem for them.' I have never written for kids before. Even when I was going to school with kids I didn't write for them. None of the kids I went to school with would have understood what I was on about. I set about writing and an odd thing happened: the writing kept coming out in a strangely archaic form with highly 'poetic' inversions couched in stilted, self-consciously 'correct' diction. I can only think that I was projecting my own childhood reading experience (Tennyson, Wordsworth and similar other caped prosodists) onto my own writing. It took me ages to shake it off - if I ever did. I'll post the pirate poem after the school visit and you can judge for yourself. T'was weird most utterly, dear reader my dear, by my beard, forsooth, most weird.

Nowt but the real thing

A few people have asked if Lynda cast the ceramic likeness of my boat race in the mask photo. Absolutely not. Everything she does is created by her own magic hands from a big blob of raw clay. Amazing to watch.

See you later.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

making a nOIse in libraries

Hello bods. A peasant poet would be a cool thing to be. I don't find urban life attractive at all. Mind you, me and Lynda are lucky as we are on the semi-rural edge of the county. But, having said that, those red roofs are slowly creeping up the hill.

Lynda took the photo that now graces my blog. It's my promo photo for 'making a nOIse in libraries' fortnight. I shall be performing my celebratory poem 'Words' at Congleton (Thurs 10th July 6-8pm), Alsager (Frid 11th July 6-7pm), Macclesfield (Mon 14th July 6-7pm), Bollington (Tues 15th 6-7pm) and Sandbach (Wed 16th 6-7pm) libraries on their late nights. Lynda sculpted the face I'm holding out. She did a portrait head of me when we were in Mow Cop and put in the garden and the face fell off. 'Words', by the way, takes 5 1/2 - 6 mins to perform so I shall be doing it twice on the one-hour nights and three times on the two-hour nights using a small PA and without a formal audience. Come along and give it a listen while you're choosing your books.

Me and Adam are at the Coachmakers tonight. We're doing an entire evening of our own stuff ie. no trad material - just to break the mould. Good ale there. Can you believe it is going to be knocked down? I can. The Stoke on Trent council, in my view, is more than irresponsible. some of these transactions need looking into. It's commerce before people every time. Preferred ways of living are sacrificed to the gods of the bank vaults owned, usually, by people who live nowhere near their bloody developments.

Be fortunate. Be wary. Ta-ra