Category Archives: poetry

Defined by a decade (or dance like my dad)

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I love the 90’s! Sounds like a bad album title, but it’s a statement I stand by. I have recently been listening to a 90’s radio station and have realised a few things… Firstly, I love music of the 90’s. Secondly, songs I didn’t like at the time are now songs I sing along to (am I mellowing or am I just happy to have remembered the lyrics?). Thirdly, I find myself dancing around with my 2 year old whilst singing (with him shouting “no daddy”) at the top of my lungs. And yes folks, I am dancing like my dad. I’m not saying its all good. I do remember some of the horror of the 90’s, simply red for example

When I was growing up, I found that my dad seemed to be stuck in a certain period of music. He loved the late 70’s and early 80’s, his decade was 75 to 85. To be fair though, it was a pretty good time for music. A bit of style council (shout to the top), a litttle squeeze (tempted) and a lot of Luther Vandross. I love this period in music, its not mine but it’s good. My dads top 5 are as follows…

Paul Simon – diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

Luther Vandross – stop to love

Paul Young – wherever I lay my hat

Frankie goes to Hollywood – relax

Eurythmics – sweet dreams

My point is this: I am not so much stuck in the 90’s (I own a great deal of music from the last 2 decades) as I am defined by it. You get to a point where all the music that comes after it just doesn’t seem as good, when you start to say things like “what’s this rubbish?” or “they just sound like they’re ripping off such and such”. I used to hate it when my dad said that to me but now I understand a little better.

So for what it is worth, and in true hi fidelity style, here are my own personal top 5 tracks of the 90’s…

Smashing pumpkins- today.
I loved and love the pumpkins. The fact the Billy Corgan is a terrible singer just makes you love em more. A real marmite band.

Red hot chilli peppers- under the bridge.
This song is even better when you know the story behind it. If ever you want a good rock and roll story read ‘scar tissue’. Awesome book.

Placebo – nancy boy.
I really wanted to be part of this band, skinny dudes with make up and odd hair. This was a great jumping round you room song.

Ocean colour scene- the day we caught the train.
Being in a club, under age, drinking newcastle brown and shouting the lyrics. Good times.

Blind melon- no rain.
I liked a girl in a band that covered it. Very shallow but a great song.

I have kept my top 5 main stream and free from rap and dance. I could have included so much more such as groove is in the heart, u can’t touch this and a certain shade of green.

I would love to know your top 5 as I am keen to see if I have missed any obvious ones. My list is open to change and I reserve the right to be wrong.

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A valuable lesson

I have been a teacher for a number of years now and I absolutely love it. This was not always the case. I now teach primary school children (between the ages of 7 and 11) which means that between teaching I get to be a big kid. When I started I taught secondary and college age kids (11 to 18 years old), and while teaching the older kids A levels was fun it was the 14/15 year olds that made me feel sick on the way to work, so much so that I nearly gave up. Primary school kids though are eager to learn (for the most part) and are desperate for the teacher to be impressed with their work. Here are my favourite reasons for being a primary school teacher…

1) science experiments. You are actually teaching them about the world, things that you or I would take for granted amaze them and things that we haven’t even thought about lead them off in new lines of enquiry. Some of the questions they ask are funny too as they don’t just accept things on face value. I was asked the other day why people don’t send parcels in helium packages as it would weigh less and hence be cheaper. I had no real response to that.

2) imagination. Say to the kids to do some free writing and you will be amazed at what you get. We had a theatre group come in and set up a little shop (it was really well done, amazing in fact) with a little old woman in it who told stories. As the children left they we’re given buttons and told to write a story of who they belonged to and how they got lost. We had everything from fairies to robots to dragons to beasts they had made up themselves. It was the most fun I have had marking in forever.

3) bluntness. This could also be called misunderstanding. I shall give you 2 of my favourite examples. The first is bluntness: I ask the child to write about a religious ceremony and for extra marks to compare it to another. He wrote about a wedding and a bar mitzvah. The difference was that in the bar mitzvah “they cut a snip of the dick”. Not in the wedding though. The second is a child who I asked to draw me a medieval room, he came back to me with a basement with a coffin, a werewolf and a giant spider. When I asked him what it was he told me it was his evil room.

4) I get to be a kid. I am a big kid, I love to play, that is all.

Although teaching is hard work with the planning, marking, discipline, long nights, parents, parents evenings, meetings, marking tests, administering tests, preparing for tests, dealing with fights, dealing with outside agencies (social workers and alike), the heartbreak of a kid who isn’t looked after properly at home and the threat of ofsted (school regulatory board). I do love my job. Every now and then you make a difference, that’s what it’s really about.

This fantastic picture was drawn by a 7 year old at my school, inspired by my books. That’s the kind of validation that gets me the most.

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Insert clever name here…

What a year! It’s been a year of mostly ups for me and very little downs, I know how lucky that makes me and I am aware that I am in danger of becoming sincere and sentimental so I shall stop it immediately.

This year has meant 4 more of my books being published, a new website with an awesome name (www.andrewsbooks.co.uk), a rediscovery of my love of poetry, a virtual fistful of new apps for my phone, some great trips, an attempt to regrow my hair and a new found DJ. So here it comes, my best of 2011 list…

1) Poetry: I uses to like poetry at school and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision I suppose it’s just where do you come into contact with it in your every day life. As I teacher I really enjoyed teaching it this year. The best compliment I got from a child was “you made me think about the world in a weird and different way”. Love it.

2) WordPress: I really like the WordPress website and the fact it is so easy to use. The disadvantages are that checking your stats is addictive, how many views? How many followers? I can’t help myself! The massive advantage is the WordPress app, it’s awesome. It means I can blog and add pictures direct from my iPhone. This also means I don’t drive my family mad by being constantly on the computer.

3) iPhone: blogging tool, camera, mp3 player, texting, making calls, sat nav, tv, Internet access and game console. Who needs a laptop? My favourite things on it this year have been sky go (I can watch up to 12 sky channels on my phone, including 6 movie channels), as it means I don’t have to watch kids TV all the time. Sonic the hedgehog is a great time waster as well, the mega drive version of course.

4) Squidge: what a great year for the Squidge books it has been. I have loved writing them, James has loved drawing them and proving house have loved putting them out. I think this shows in the quality of the finished books. Check them out.

5) Jaguar skills: a DJ who has been around for a while but is new to me. No one knows who he is, well they do but they don’t. Let’s try again. A DJ who keeps his identity secret. The best thing to do is have a look. Jaguar skills link.

I think that one of my favourite things though has been coming up with the names for the blogs. I’ve left this one blank so you can join in the fun if you want.

Have a happy 2012. Hope the new year treats you well.

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Christmas songs

Top five Christmas song crimes…

5) Mariah Carey: all I want for Christmas

4) Chris Rea: driving home for Christmas

3) Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas (controversial? Just because it’s the king doesn’t make it right)

2) Cliff Richard: Saviours day

1) Cliff Richard: Mistletoe and Wine

Numbers 1 and 2 are equally as bad. I picked mistletoe and wine as number 1 as I know more of the lyrics and that annoys me. That’s the problem with really bad Christmas songs, you still know the words.

I am not saying that I hate all Christmas songs, far from it. There are songs that I can’t wait to dust off and play each December (not October or November). I love the classic crooners, Bing, Nat, Dean and of course Frank. They have a real ‘this is Christmas’ feel to them. I will happily hum along to wham, Elton, Mr Lennon and the Pogues too. So what makes a great Christmas tune? List anyone?

1) the right level of cheesyness. You have to get the mix right. Either that or go completely one way or the other. John Lennon, zero cheesy. The darkness, full on cheesy. Mariah, what are you doing?

2) not a cover. The spice girls did a Christmas song once. They even did a medley (jive bunny and the master mix style). As each song clunked along into the next all I could think was ‘this ain’t as good as the original’. Money spinner? Oh yes indeed.

3) some form of Christmas percussion. The sleigh bells are the best. Come to think of it, they are the only really.

4) you need to feel Christmasy. Some efforts just leave you feeling like you’ve eaten too much and, although this is a feeling associated with Christmas it is not a Christmasy feeling. To be fair, some of the songs I hate feel Christmasy, but I still hate em.

So, what is my favourite of all time? It’s a tough one. It’s a bit like John Cusack says in hi fidelity, my favourite at home or in a club? In the shower? While eating? If I had to pick one it would have to be The Christmas Song by Bing Crosby. It just IS Christmas.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey
and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys
and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer
really know how to fly.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said
many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

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A double whammy today of poems and a pic. This is the poem from the second book, Little Elf, Big Problem.

Some issues arose with the name as it has, just as Big Trouble did, some negative connotations. I think though, Squidge being a cute fellow who gets in the kind of trouble that a child who was left with a jar of opened chocolate spread would, can pull it off.

 

 Squidge – Little Elf, Big Problem.

If you eat lots of chocolate and you’re not very tall,

If you can’t go on rides ‘cos you’re ever so small,

If you just cannot reach that jar on the shelf,

You’re either a very small child or an elf.

In our story today it’s an elf who’s the star,

Squidge, the littlest elf by far,

But before we meet Squidge and join in his fun,

Before we find out why our friend has to run,

We need to make sure that some other stuff’s done

And so our adventure starts: three… two…

 

“One more and then we can get out of here,” shouted the chief elf as he put the last of the covers on the big machines. “Right oh,” came the reply from his assistant.

 

Hope you like it. The full book is available here

Squidge IBooks

And here

Squidge amazon

Ands lots of free stuff here

Squidge Elf website

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Tis the season

1st of December already.

The kids in class have been asking for Christmas music, the Christmas displays are already up, the Christmas staff do is booked. More important by far though… The Christmas jumper is on.

Hello mince pies, hello Nat, Bing and Frank, hello mulled wine. Most important by far though… Hello Santa, long time no see.

I can’t wait!

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Climbing the charts

My book seems to be climbing the charts! Number 12 out of nearly 44,000.

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Christmas poem

Thought would have a go a a not so classic Christmas poem.

Christmas shopping

Crush, push, wait,walk.
It is the last minute Christmas shop.

Indistinguishable mutterings over the shop loudspeaker, directing a staff member, like a Devine message, to where they are needed.

Bags full of worry, weighing down already sunken shoulders. Presents of ‘will they like it?’ and ‘do they already have it?’

Modern bands covering classic songs, regurgitated each year. Played earlier and earlier and earlier.

Christmas is coming. The threat of this mammoth beast, ready to come and take over your life.

The look on the persons face when they open the present, the sunshine smile that spreads across it. The forgotten memory of the battle, once glory has been achieved.

The annual mantra of ‘I’ll start earlier next year.’

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Elf poems

As promised, here is the poem for my first book. It’s available on IBooks and amazon. Just type in squidge and look for the little elf on the front cover.

I also included the first paragraph so it all makes sense.

 

There once was a time, long, long ago,
When toys were simple, and making them slow,
The elves would carve and chop and sew,
But that was a long, long, long, time ago.
And now, every year, as we get the first snow,
Santa opens his letters, but he does not know
What the children have asked for. He says: ‘Ho, ho, ho!
‘Such new fangled things, with screens all aglow!’
And so our story starts: ready, steady …

 
‘Go and fetch me the laptop!’ shouted an elf. Santa’s workshop had changed a lot. So much so that Santa was still trying to catch up with all these new-fangled hoojamaflips and wotsits. The workshop was still run by the elves,
but instead of toy soldiers and dolls, children now wanted all manner of things. Santa had tried to get most of the stuff made abroad and delivered to his workshop (like MP3 players, Plasma TVs and handheld games consoles) but
he still had lots of things that he made right there in Lapland. Santa still remembered the days when his workshop was full of elves hammering and sewing, but now they all worked on big machines and it looked more like a factory than a tidy little workshop. Santa had moved with the times and updated, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.

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Simple Poems

So much depends
upon

a small white
envelope

sitting in the post
box

waiting to be
read

Just a little William Carlos Williams.

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