All at Sea.


 My school career did not start well.

As no one explained how school should go,

They must have thought me rather ‘slow.’

Saint Katy’s Roman Catholic Primary School

Did not spare the rod or suffer the fool.

I tried hard to listen. I just wasn’t able.

I struggled with even my three times table.

I couldn’t stay quiet when teacher was talking.

I bumped into trees when I was walking

To school, heaving my bag.

To be honest, I found school a bit of a drag. 

  •  -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

Cut far adrift from the safety of home

At the mercy of rip tides and gurgling foam,

I was soon treading water and gasping for air,

The school offered discipline; what I needed was care.

  •  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -   

Suddenly, St Katy’s discovered extrinsic rewards.

A move which confounded its previous ethos!

A large chart was made depicting the wide sea,

With a harbour at one side, Treasure Island the other!

Each classroom table was shown as a colourful ship.

Good work and behaviour were the means of propulsion

And the chart was in grids to measure progression.

The scheme favoured effort and concentration.

Rewards would be legion once the leading ship docked!

  •  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -     -    -    -    -    -    -    -   -

Needless-to-say, our ship didn’t fare well,

We began going backwards at the sound of the bell.

“Turning around, John. One space back.”

“John, you’re not working.  One space back.”

“Talking too much, John.  One space back.”

My table was livid, they were on the attack.

“John!  Be quiet! Has your brain gone slack?

  •   -     -     -     -     -      -    -     -    -    -     -   -

I was all at sea.  All at sea.

And, like the ancient mariner,

Every one of them blamed me!

Our ship was in the doldrums- we couldn’t move on-

All because of the Jonah, they all knew as John!

  •   -     -     -    -     -     -     -    -    -    -    -    -   -

So, Treasure Island eluded us.

Still, I preferred the home-bound bus.





◄ A Mini Adventure

Fish and a Chippie ►


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John Botterill

Tue 4th Jan 2022 20:13

Thanks Kj.,
Yes I agree. The scheme was motivational and innovative for the 60s. However, I was 'all at sea' so it was 'pearls before swine'!
I didn't like secondary school either. So I became a teacher! 😀

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kJ Walker

Tue 4th Jan 2022 16:59

I only have happy memories of my days in primary school. (Infants as it was called in those days)

It's only when I got to senior school that things started to go wrong.

The reward system that your school used seems a good idea.

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John Botterill

Tue 4th Jan 2022 16:51

Thanks Stephen. I really value your thoughts.
I surprised myself at how much I could remember. Maybe I have just layered on the details as time has progressed!! 😊

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 4th Jan 2022 16:38

Thank you, John. Another fascinating poem. I don't really remember any details of my first day at primary school but I do recall a sense of fear and trepidation.

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John Botterill

Mon 3rd Jan 2022 21:08

Thanks Leon for your genius response. I would splice the main brace if I knew what that meant. Glad to have you on board me hearty!

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Mon 3rd Jan 2022 19:12

Ahoy there matey! 😉 this landlubber would like to throw you a line of approval for this dreadnought of a poem that you have launched and sent down the write out loud slipway

may Cod bless her and all
who have boarded her sea worthiness!

( one could not be blamed for thinking that I may have been mixing too much sea water with my rum ration 😃 )

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John Botterill

Mon 3rd Jan 2022 18:45

Thanks for your 'like', Jordyn, Holden ans Stephen, and for your really thoughtful reflection upon my poem MC. Great to have such feedback!😀

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 3rd Jan 2022 15:29

I've always been interested - with the wisdom perhaps of hindsight - how behaviour and accepted "norms" can be so
rigidly viewed in dealing with childhood. Now, in old age, I
remember how much importance was allocated to those child
years when so much was going on in individual lives, but not
dealt with individually. "Lumped together" was accepted and
development surely suffered in countless cases -,to flower
later in adult life when certain other old boys love to boast of their youthful achievements that have influenced beyond fairness
their subsequent progress in adulthood..
Luck isn't always a lady in life.

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Ursula O'Reilly

Mon 3rd Jan 2022 03:11

You're welcome. Lovely poem.

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John Botterill

Sun 2nd Jan 2022 19:25

You are very welcome Keith. As always you give fascinating insights from your own experience which makes writing the poem really worthwhile. I have always been able to blame others for my own ineptitude, in this case my primary school. Cheers, Keith and many thanks, Ursula, for the like.

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keith jeffries

Sun 2nd Jan 2022 18:53

I can relate to this poem so very well indeed. I became known as a late developer. It was in the post war years, with many young teachers killed and old timers brought out of retirement. It was almost impossible to achieve anything. I used to survey the school air raid shelter and think, "why didn't the Germans bomb the bloody place"?
Thank you for this revive forty five, a rave from the grave.

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