Auden Got it Wrong

Stop all the clocks, dismantle the sun.
It’s too late for that – she’s already gone.
We should have pressed pause before she died,
We just didn’t know it or else we’d have tried.

Our tears kept on falling as she breathed her last,
Her dreams of the future now locked in our past.
You can pour out the ocean and pack up the moon,
It still doesn’t change things. She was taken too soon.

Let the drums keep on beating; let the piano play on.
She lives in our hearts now and we’ll still sing her song.
Though her laugh’s just a memory like the smile in her eyes,
She lives on forever because love never dies.

Inspired by WH Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks.” In memory of my mom.

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Today the World is Different

The world is a sadder, more silent place now. It has lost a laugh.

It’s lost more than that. It’s lost the beautiful 15 year old girl who first set eyes on the handsome guitarist in a local band.

It’s lost the beautiful bride in her Dickensian gown and bonnet.

It’s lost the wife who took her wedding vows seriously and who loved and cherished and comforted and supported her husband for 45 years.

It’s lost a mother who nursed her son and daughter when they were ill, who provided strength in their darkest times, and who celebrated every one of their successes with them.

It’s lost a mother-in-law who had so much love to give, she opened her arms not just to her children’s husband and wife, but to their extended families as well.

It’s lost a daughter who helped nurse her elderly mother through ill health.

It’s lost a sister who has always looked out for her younger brother.

It has lost a woman who was so selfless that even as she lay in a hospital bed in the last few hours of her life, her thoughts were of family and friends and neighbours who might be worrying about her, and she insisted that texts were sent to reassure them all.

The world has lost all of these things in one special lady – my mom. But the thing I shall miss most is her laugh.

She had an infectious giggle that made everyone else join in, even when they had no idea what was funny. Often she’d be laughing so much she couldn’t explain why. We used to sit up late, joking together, and many’s the time she kept my poor Dad awake, giggling long into the night about things we’d been saying.

I love you Mom. I’m going to miss our girly lunches. I’m going to miss our girly shopping trips. I’m going to miss our long chats. I’m going to miss exchanging random text messages with you. But most of all, I’m going to miss laughing with you.

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Z is for…

Z is for…Zzzzzzz.  You need several hours sleep each night to be able to concentrate properly at school. The time you should go to bed will depend on how old you are and whether it’s a school night or a weekend, but if you are in primary school and going to bed at 11pm every night you are not getting enough sleep.

Talk to your parents or carers, and your teacher, and agree a bedtime that will give you enough sleep to be able to work properly at school. Your family will probably make exceptions for special occasions, but other than that make sure you stick to it.

I hope this A-Z of learning has been useful. I hope that you have seen lots of improvement in your work at school, and I hope your teachers have noticed too.

Related posts: Y is for…  A is for…

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Y is for…

Y is for…You. That’s right.  The A-Z of tips for learning is almost finished so this is a reminder that the only person who can decide whether to try them again is you.

There are lots of people around you to help and support you: your parents or carers, your teachers, your tutor if you have one, but they can’t improve for you. If you want to improve at something, it is you that needs to make the effort.

If you already have that’s great news and you can give yourself a pat on the back. If you haven’t yet, why not read all the information in this A-Z again and then decide to go for it?

Related post: X is for…

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Choose Your Words Carefully

“Parting is such sweet sorrow?”

“Yes – what’s wrong with that?”

“It’s just a bit…well, naff to be honest. What about something like: Parting is like tearing my soul in two. One jagged piece resides within my breast; the other, brighter part remains with you. Each part yearns constantly for the other until those precious moments when we are reunited. Only then is my spirit complete once more.”

“I still like my idea better. It’s more subtle.”

“Oh come on, Will! It’s not subtle. It’s forgettable. Four hundred years from now, nobody is going to be quoting ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’.”

This post is written for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups.

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The first thing Jack noticed when he awoke was the smell of smoke. The second thing was the daylight streaming through the window. The daylight scared him more. His mouth felt furry, but there would be nothing to drink until he got to the water standpoint, and over-sleeping had cost him a place near the front of the queue.

Carrying his two-litre bottle, his allowance for the day, he joined the back of the line, estimating a three hour wait till his turn came. Clive from three doors down staggered up behind him. “Can you smell the smoke? They reckon the fires are only about 12 miles away now.”

“It’s not the fires that scare me. It’s the people. I heard they closed another two canning factories – not enough water to power them.” Jack nodded towards the line of people snaking round the corner. “If it doesn’t rain soon, they’ll be fighting each other for food and water long before the fires get to us.”

Suddenly two shots rang out from near the front, followed by a high-pitched screaming. It didn’t take long for the news to travel back through the line. “The armed guards shot some kid who was trying to steal water. Drinking straight from the tap – brazen as anything. Serves him right. You can’t just go stealing water.”

“He didn’t understand.” The woman stumbled, almost dropping the child in her arms. “He was thirsty and he just didn’t understand.” She fell to the ground, cradling the limp body, sobbing. “He’s two years old and they shot him for having a drink.”

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X is for…

X is for…eXtra help. Sometimes people need a little extra help to learn this. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can be tricky to learn in a class with 29 other children. This is where private tutors can help. Private tuition is usually for an hour a week, but it can be more or less depending on what your family wants for you. It will probably happen in your own home, where you feel comfortable. It can be short term, just to help you catch up on one or two particular things you missed in school, or longer term if you find lots of things difficult. If you live in north Birmingham you could ask you parents or carers to have a look at my website to see how I could help you.  If you live in other parts of the country I may be able to recommend someone, or if not there is always Google.

Related post: W is for…

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Parkinson’s Awareness Week

SJB Teaching

Parkinson’s – that’s the one that Michael J Fox has got, right? It’s that one where you get the shakes?  Well, yes and yes. But there is so much more to it than just shaking. It creeps up on you. Quite often you don’t even realise you have it until the symptoms get quite severe. My nan had Parkinson’s. By the time she was diagnosed with it, the doctors said she had probably had it for 10 years.

So, if it’s not just shaking, what else is it?  Well for starters, it’s sometimes not even shaking. Not everyone with Parkinson’s develops tremors.

The condition is caused by a deterioration of the nerves that carry messages to the brain. Sufferers find that they slow down because it takes longer for the body to relay messages to and from the brain. They can be unsteady on their feet, stumbling around as if…

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W is for…

W is for…Writing. There are already lots of tips in this A-Z of learning for making your writing better. Have another look at A is for…Adjectives, C is for…Connectives, O is for…Openers, Q is for…Quality and Quantity and V is for…Vocabulary.

However, the best thing you can do to become a good writer, besides practise, is to read. If you haven’t already read R is for…Reading, have a look at that now. When you read, have a notebook next to you and if you find any words or phrases that you like, write them in your notebook.  This will help you to remember them and then you can use them in your own writing. This isn’t cheating (as long as you don’t copy a whole story into your book)!  It’s called being a magpie (because magpies like to take anything they like the look of and use it themselves).  If you tell your teacher that you have started a magpie book they will know exactly what you mean and they will be impressed that you have taken a big step towards improving your writing.

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V is for…

V is for…Vocabulary.  One of the most important things to help improve your writing is a thesaurus. This isn’t a type of dinosaur, but a book of words. It’s written in alphabetical order, just like a dictionary, but instead of telling you what words mean, it gives you a list of other words that mean the same thing.

Most classrooms have them, but if yours doesn’t, think about asking your parents or carers to buy one for you. You can pick them up quite cheaply in bargain bookshops – sometimes for as little as 99p. It’s not cheating to use these in class (apart from when your teacher tells you that it’s a test)! In fact your teacher will be really happy that you are making an effort to improve your writing.

When using a thesaurus you just need to be careful to choose a word that makes sense. When you look at word up in the thesaurus you will see each word has n or v next to it. This tells you whether the word is a noun (object) or verb (doing word) and will help you decide which words to use.  Have a look at these sentences, each of which have the word ‘help’ in, and see if you can choose an alternative word from the ones below that will make sense.

  1. Can you help me with my homework?
  2. I’ve eaten 20 chocolate biscuits today. I just couldn’t help it.
  3. The charity gave help to the victims of the earthquake.

aid assist resist

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