Grass Roots Open Writers

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 24 May 2013

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Music’s Not Dead

Two alcoves by the door, one where cold drinks    
Sit in a glass front tardis. Other side
Two battered armchairs for the connoisseurs
To read reviews of latest festivals.
The main space taken by the modest racks
Arranged from A – Z where buyers clack
Stiletto fingers through jewel-cased CD’s
Behind the counter, standing at their ease
The vendors stand, calm arbiters of taste.
Remaindered books on modern culture shelved
On one side each in its ordered place.
On the wall the album T shirts hang;
Bob Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd
Whose crystal pyramid and rainbow arch
Against cotton cloth black as midnight’s dark
Draws me down an ally to the past
Where adolescents sat in curtained rooms
Half-tranced and slumped and passing round the weed
Or trying to outplay their favourite band
On strummed guitar, harsh lyrics, outraged drums.
I smell old vinyl, sweaty sleep-filled rooms,
Spot cream and leathers, stale tobacco tins.
The change of track recalls me with a start
I glance towards the earphones hung like shells
That catch the sea of sound each gadget conjures up
And gradually tune weaves through my head,
I browse in time and out. Music’s Not Dead.

Debbie Beecher
Bexhill GROW

Tribute to a teacher.

A young lady teacher came to our North London school in 1947.

She had recently finished her training, and entered our class like a breath of fresh air.  I have not seen her since that day, but she made a lasting impression on me, and may have influenced my future work in the voluntary sector.

It is so strange how a single saintly gesture can leave so poignant an impression on a young person, I was 10 at the time and Miss King was 20.  She would be 86 now and if by some quirk of fate she should see this, then it is a big thank you to her.

When this young and beautiful teacher started her lesson, she asked us all to write our name in turn on the black board.  We were so pleased to go up and stand next to her.  My turn came and I was so nervous that I made a chalk mark before writing my name and Miss King reached in front of me for the board buffer.  At that moment, I instinctively flinched and this caused her to gasp,

"Good heavens David, did you think I would strike you?" I said,

"No Miss King."  She was clearly upset, and she told us all to sit down at our desks.  She kept her back to the class while taking a handkerchief from her bag.  She then turned to the class and said,

"I want you all to know that I could NEVER hurt any one of you."  There was so much silent tension in the class of 40: some even cried a little.   We all loved her at that moment.  She continued the class like a modern day stand up comedian and had us all laughing by the time she left.

She never returned.

I understand that a movement of young teachers then put their job on the line and started the campaign: S.T.O.P.  This was the School Teachers Opposed to Punishment.  Many lost their jobs and any chance of promotion, but they succeeded, after years of petitions to the government and the law was changed.  I somehow know that the valiant Miss King would have been among these devoted movers and shakers.

We later noted, when she left our class she had written in small words on the blackboard: 'Violence breeds violence.' -  W.S.

David Rex


I often seem to invent things by accident: things which are no use at all.

I recently invented a knot making machine in my kitchen drawer.  You can have one too.  Just drop a few of your phone charger wires in and close the drawer.  In order to make the knots, wait till you need a charger in a hurry.  Simply pull out the required charger and you will discover a very complicated and original knot.  You can make it permanent if you get impatient and pull then shake it.  This knot is so original that it defies undoing and you will have to drag the unwanted charger with the one you want.

It's the same with wire coat hangers, (Oh yes we all know they breed in the secret of darkness)  You reach in and simply select the one you want, you know: the pink one for your in fashion dress.  It may come out, but two others come out with it trailing everything you don't want.

The automatic mustard spoon finder is in my kitchen drawer, as this tiny
and little used thing sits with six man sized tea spoons.  It will come out
if you dare to feel for a real spoon which can scoop up a hot tea bag and not drop it on your bare foot.  I want to patent this finder as you will know, the thing you want least will come up automatically. 

The point I'm trying to make is that most of these things could never be
invented even if we tried.  How often do we state this, yet it is so very true and I would love to hear of other things like this. Please.


school days in North London in 1949.

There may even be people who know of my old school and they will know the former name as it has now changed....

A clue is that the headmaster was Mr. Daniels and our form teacher was Mr. Jackson, who later became the headmaster.  That info should be enough to jog the memory of any who went to my school.

Mr. Daniels ruled with a strict no nonsense method which insured good attendance and discipline.  We enjoyed his leadership and did quite well in most subjects but this was mainly due to Mr.Jackson's old slipper, which was on view at each lesson upon his desk.

In those days the teacher had a raised platform for his desk to enable him to look down over the entire class of forty boys aged eleven.

More of the slipper later, but the outdoor games were held on Hampstead Heath, which we would walk to twice a week in all weathers.  The swimming pool was near by and we were all taught to swim there.  Some even became champions.  Many people came to watch us young boys racing across the ponds and we often came out of the cold water more blue that white.

While Mr. Jackson would insist that we changed in record time then run back to school.  This made us rather warm by the time we started the last lesson of the day which was maths.  If Jackson pointed to you and called out 9X6 you had better call out 54 sir!

If you were unlucky enough to give him the wrong answer, he would pick up his old gym shoe and slap the palm of his hand with it and tell you to come up to his desk.  As we still had on our gym shorts it was easy for him to pull the legs up and bend us over his desk.  He held the heel of the slipper so he could hit us with the wide foot part.  Gosh did it sting!  This went on rather slowly till we gave him the right answer after we had had six or more.  The class was very silent except for the loud crack or slap sound of each contact on that part.

We all know that this teacher would have been sent to prison these days, however, we all respected him and would get far worse at home if we told them we had been punished.  We would never wish to be sent to the headmaster as he used the dreaded cane behind a closed door.

All this seems so different from today, but we had no bad behaviour, and although we would never say these were good times for children, there seems to be a need for some kind of deterrent now if only extra

This headmaster and his deputy were doing their best under the guidelines from the government of the day, yet when we look at all the actions against those who have behaved so badly to young people, one has to ponder if these, long dead, teachers will also come under the threat to their existing families of charges from the past. I do think this would be a step too far.

Best wishes, D.Rex


You seemed to speak the words that I spoke
Your video was where my life used to be
I could not believe how strange that was
When I had only said similar words to you the other day
Adversity yes, get the pen out
Depression that I suffer but seem to hide away
But there it comes in a positive way,
Throw out, shred, make your mind feel better
Or speak them as your video and I seemed to say
The Church in the Wood, yes the place I loved
My church, the place my grandchildren were christened
The Church itself, I cannot see it now
On the painting my father did, it was sold at an auction
When he, but later, when my mother died
As far as I know, it still hangs at a friends
Who bought it themselves, as they loved it so

Yes, Tony May, I loved your video just now.
In fact, you are the inspiration of these words spoken, but not...loved it...thanks to also GROW (Grass Roots Open Writers) as that is where I found it... (Please scroll down to watch Tony's Video)

Josie Lawson (UK)

Tony's Video

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