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Life lessons

I give thanks today, to you, my primary school teachers

such as Mr Clive, who stole a swig regularly from the brown-ridged

bottle locked in the glass cabinet, who walked crooked and ancient

and looked at us crossly from winced-up eyes. He demonstrated

his copperplate by writing the alphabet in one swift line, lifting

the chalk after the z only to double dot the j and the i

and in the next class Miss Binney who poked with a sharp forefinger

when we disappointed, who took pleasure in deflating someone

who may be getting too big for her boots with her keen tongue–

who tore down work displayed on the wall, with triumph in her eye

who in the summer smelled of underarm perspiration and irritation.

And lastly Mr Broughton, the top class teacher and master of music

who swiped at the heads of children who couldn’t keep time

or didn’t remember the difference between a quaver and a minim.

Sometimes he lifted boys up by one ear, or threw the chalkboard wiper

fiercely, enticed the class to taunt and bully that day’s under dog.

I give thanks to you. Your bad examples taught me so much about

the breadth of human nature, let me understand, just a little more, .

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