Grasping doubt.

Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t.

I wish I could but I feel I couldn’t.

I look deeply into my dreams.

They all don’t seem what they seems.

Parts of the perfection have no direction.

Each and every ambition is littered with defection.

So, I sit back, relax and just float along.

Knowing the words and tunes but making not one song.

My actions, my words don’t let me show it.

There’s music in my soul I know it.

Doubt bites at me, it knifed into my soul.

Black dog edging, tearing away at my lifelong goal.

So, what’s stopping has stopped the beginning.

My head is no longer a fit place for winning.

Stop.

Carry on?

Fly Like a Bird of Prey.

Do you recall Kim? Before her Evangelia. Wasn’t there a Jayne too? Nikki wasn’t too quickly. Shirley not? Wendy house? Didn’t you once meet unrequited love? You said you wouldn’t carry on or try again. But, you did! And, who now? Who do you fancy? Is it that Nancy? Or Daisy who drives you crazy? Or Spring, Summer or Autumn? The seasons of choice? Dance with your dreams.

Do you remember that Karst mountain? It rise from the ground like a camel’s hump. You said to yourself it was the most beautiful mountain you’d ever seen. And then you set eyes on Everest. Then Ama Dablam. Then Annapurna one, two and three. Fishtail Mountain. Snowden again and again. Always Winter Hill, but forever dreams of new peaks unseen.

You said you wouldn’t read after Jon Ronson. Wasn’t Jurassic Park the book to end all books? Then Airframe, the Animals of Farthing Wood should. The Jack Reacher series could. Ian Fleming gave you the spy that ended all spies. Pages of love, lies and cries. Yet, you close your eyes and there’s no disguise. Your bookmark never hides.

Back in the day wasn’t Ghostbusters always your favourite? Gremlins and Goonies, two you’d never forget. Watching Jaws, again, without regret! 007 live and let. Leslie Neilson going on and on, I bet. Movies like Gemini Man and iRobot to watch once – no fret. The minds eye full of Skynet.

Things are said one day. Things come and go away. With each passing birthday I say, never betray your display of child’s play. Each day we find a way to convey the driveway of life. Hooray! The outlay does not outweigh what we repay on our stairway to our breakaway. Fly like a bird of prey.

Written in January 2020, in Nepal, on a notepad. Before COVID-19 became annoying.

Refresh.

Craning my neck: stooped harshly.

Deep inside the bowl: placed hands partially.

Turning the pressure to flow: seeking coolness.

In my Chinese house: undrinkable cruelness.

The water here: causing neshness.

Flowing slow water in Manchester: enhanced freshness.

Upstairs at the bathroom: Broom Avenue childhood.

Drinking fast to slow: glug, glug, should, would and could.

Cooler than air, fresher than fair: my share.

After teeth, before sleep: my answered prayer.

I miss that tap: we were raised together.

The tap of life: water from Lake District weather.

Night rider.

The leap of faith: a frog darting between wheels.

The ray of light: shining beams and how it feels.

The foot on pedals: energetic pulsing engines pumping like pistons.

The gripped handlebars: spinning cogs unheard for all who listens.

The rush through dark: air rippling over and under.

The night time cycle ride: a wonder of a wander.

Darkness enveloping: hot air strangling the pathways.

The slick of the wheels: gliding along, down and up every raise.

Trees looking on: witnesses of the rider in the night.

Snakes hiding away: not their chosen spectacles of sight.

Cool air nowhere to be seen: the slick ride of the bicycle abound.

Night rider: over ground, uncrowned and without a sound.

Treasure!

Treasure! Treasure, I tell you! Jewels of the ocean sent over seas and up the river! Landed to me! Inspirational treasure! Oh, how delighted I am! For my gold, has such value untold. The treasure is the warmth of thoughts shared. To be unforgettable. To dream the unknown future foretold. Tell me dreams. Are you with me? Are you for me? Oh, your unforgettable embrace. My heaven. My dream. One day, I hope you shall return. Until then, I have my treasure. The greatest treasure, however, is your heart and soul. My memories. You are the treasure I seek.

Low pulse.

Veins showing boldly, ice flowing through coldly.

The swagger has gone, the light has not shone.

Stone replaces the many beats, without the need for feats.

The temperature rose, now nobody knows.

Beasts chose this path, giving no laugh.

I’m wearing a hollow crown, high over the frown.

Darkness swallows me whole, emptying up my soul.

Growling tormented screams, ending all dreams.

No rose without thorns, these days free of dawns.

Eternally sweltering heat, sleep patterns less neat.

Lonely bedspread of solitude, world emptying seclude.

Where is hope today? It’s gone so far away.

Checking out. Sean Lock R.I.P.

Memories of you.

Remember this too.

Farewell and adieu.

It may be time to go.

How will the remember you?

This only they can know.

So, for me and for thee.

Thy words and actions be.

What you want them to see.

Live as you are free.

Without fear be the true me.

It’s your life to cast wide.

The sands of time’s tide.

Enjoy the rhythm, enjoy the ride.

Live it up and full of pride.

There’s only way to buzz your own buzz.

There’s only way of life (and that’s your own).

You need to be true to yourself.

Live hard, live well and in good health.

Buzz loud like a bee.

Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

Leave behind not one sorrow.

Regret nothing and win love.

The game of life is as a dove.

A symbol of peace flying on high.

When I go, do not cry.

For I have lived, and given it all.

To this day and every call.

Though you passed on and gone.

I spotted you as you shone.

You danced, sang and gave clout to your shout.

Your light never goes out.

Condolences to the family and friends of Sean Lock, British comedian, writer and TV star. Ever since seeing 15 Storeys High starring writer Sean Lock with actor Benedict Wong, I’ve been hooked on this charming word-loving comic genius. His panel show appearances, stand-up comedy and writing for other top-notch acts will be missed.

Sean Lock (22nd April 1963 – 16th August 2021)

Caterpillar tracks.

Creating from destruction;
removing from construction;
stripping away from old walls to create new ones;
shredding parts to create hearts;
the caterpillars may be very hungry, but the leaves no longer are.

Actively inactive, sessile rhythms;
Emerging from darkness into light;
Gone are many legs, now wings to fly high;
Dietary changes, decreased yet increased ranges;
Seek food, partnership, courtship and repeat.

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf. Hope.

TWIS#1: Back to School

What a wonderful place to be.
What an excellent team to see.
The beginning of another school year.
Facing it without any fear.
Confident in the team founding.
Faithful to the conditions surrounding.
The seasons and reasons full of hope.
To the next climb we have our rope.
Up the mountain and down the hill.
Great days we have to fill.
To the team, teachers, staff and all:
Let’s go have ourself a ball!

Thank you for these days.
May every moment be full of rays.
We’re going to change many a mind.
New roads we can find.
Values and morals we can teach.
Making new avenues in reach.
Guiding one another with the other.
Father, sister, friends, mother and brother.
The family are invited together.
This new week brings bright weather.
Thank you all for sharing all you know.
You’re the community I want to grow.

Spirits on the leaves

Look. Look closer. Amongst the undergrowth. Spotted it? Felt the life within? Can you sense the kingdom of plants?

Shapes cast shadows across the nearby wall. The silhouette is as broad as it is tall. Light flickers its forms to reform, deform and sojourn without call. Edges of leaves curve up and over like a ball. Some so thin and long they hang and fall.

Some plants tower. Others hide and cower. Some they flower. The plant pots here are full of colour. Each colour deep in power. Life-giving health abound this ground. Giving Earth another hour. Shaking with every rain shower. Under threat of no mower.

Fragrant flavours emit to air. Their treasure chest they do bare. Each plant at war together but living side by side as if fair. They share the same soil. Some dare to have green hair. Some tuck away in a tiny lair. Some dominate their fair share.

Rustling with every breath of the breeze, gently tap tap tapping, dancing like fleas. Wishing-washing and zipping around, on the platform above the ground. The scaffolding climbing frame with a green game. The same tame with toxins that maim. A plant is not always a friend.

Tasting the saps and sucking out all the moisture, bugs creep and crawl, feeding on it all. Worms wriggle and jiggle, deep in the soil, without a giggle. They all feed and breed and distribute many a seed. Some die and what not. They rot. Their end of time slot.

HEAR THE RUSTLING! The pitter patter of drops of rain bouncing on each leaf. The scraping and brushing if bending stalks and branches side by side. The air expands Nd contracts. It moves between each plant without care. It lifts a leaf here, and drops one there.

The kingdom of the plants. Come visit us. Watch out for the ants! Bring out your best buzz!

Transference.

Is it guilt biting away inside my gut? Am I but a projection of unfinished business? I wander far and wide searching but seldom finding. I stumble. I fall. I get up again. I dream by night. I dream by day. I dream to find that elusive other way.

Do I know the answers are deep in side me? Do they hide behind a cloud of misjudgment? Are they tucked under a rock of class hope? How do I drill down into the well of dreams? I so very much want to mine them.

Hope arrived on a wind of change. As soon as it came, it departed. In the blink of an eye the Universe unravelled and left me praying for more. I know it will come, yet insecurity claws away at my dearest hope. Did I let my guard down too soon? Would it be better to burrow down into the cold earth and hide my heart?

Yet the moon rises after sunset, and the sun rises the next day. Sometimes the moon sneaks into daylight. There’s rarely a day without one or the other. One as a heart. The other as a mind. Both giving energy. Both giving freshness to the day. The winds of change and the light of belief.

Here I stand. You’re out there. I know it. You know it. We both want it. We both need it. It beats from hearts into the air and through all it passes. The message is clear. Have not one fear, for you and I are here, my dear.

Always hope.

Mobility.

I turned my lights off to love and you found the switch.

I closed the door to my heart and you found a key.

I abandoned love’s hope on and an island and sailed away. You brought it back to me.

I gave up on wanting a family, for fear of hurt and pain. I pushed away advances. I drove away desire. I kicked out at compliments, flicking them away into the darkness. Until I met you.

Everything will happen spontaneously, that is our heart guiding. I know because your heart spoke to mine.

I know not all can be certain, but I am certain. I feel certain. I know it. It can be. It should be. Connect with me. See what I see. Feel what I feel. Taste the sweetness and long to listen to the beats of our hearts. Beating. Beating fast as one. Beating as our smiles beam brightest. Beat with me. Beat on and on.

The future can be anything we write. Together with our pens and our pencils and our hearts.

I won’t tie you down. I won’t make you change. We can find a balance. If we are to be.

Be the butterfly, free to land in a hand. The hand not clasped. Free to fly. Free time stay. Free to be together. Free to be apart. Endlessly together, somehow, somewhere.

The sky is sending you my hugs. On the breeze. The wind gently blows our words to and from our ears.

Our circles, where family is not present, can be filled. Ain’t that the truth? Friends and hearts as gap fillers, ever reliable.

Thank you for opening, thank you for telling me your heart, thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for finding my hope.

Until we meet again, every night I will turn off the moon and dream sweetly.

I feel you.

Never let go.

How can a heart feel so overwhelmed? So deeply touched with hope?

In place of sorrow, fear or worry, a seismic flow of energy erupts.

The sensitivity and lust for such a deep connection is equal to the need for the air.

Mountains, rivers, lakes and fields may divide our being, yet two hearts are beating in synchronicity.

The stars pass overhead casting light down on memories yet to be made.

Don’t look to the past for living; don’t give worry to the future.

We’re here. We are here. Here we are. Here. We.

Poseidon

Deep diving into the depth of discovery;

She has shaken the Earth to my recovery.

Bringing connections irrespective of time and space;

Striking springs of watery emotion to rise up to this new place.

Tomorrow comes to take me away I fear;

One twelfth of Olympians of ancient time are right here.

All hope of blank canvases to accommodate more;

Gave me the feeling I want something unlike before.

Storms, horses, earthquakes and the sea;

These things could not move you from me.

Here is your Mount Olympus you dream of diving;

Well wishers walk by you, some are driving.

Wherever your path leads, I won’t forget you;

Whatever you do, keep diving, and stay true to you, deep down in the deep blue.

Stage IX: Dali (and the mysterious Aubergine)

你好!Nihao! Hello!

Salvador Dali has nothing to do with the Yunnan city of Dàlǐ (大理). The draw to Dali has been the art district, cycling, the coffee and cafe culture and my friend Echo. Also, wherever I’ve been in China, everyone mentions the comfortable weather of Yunnan.

Echo or Eck published a poetry little picture book recently. She’s made her nomadic home in Dali. Here she’s honing her artistic talent, existing comfortably and living happily. I dropped by (via Guiyang and Kunming) from Chengdu, Sichuan province to say hello. I told Echo I’d arrive on Sunday but Saturday afternoon, walking by the Terra coffee shop seemed as good a time as any. Yunnan is great for growing coffee and Dali has no shortage of coffee shops.

A good old chinwag and catch up preceded a walk through the ginnels of Dali’s ancient old town to a door in a wall. The door was open and smooth tempting beats were gently rolling out. Ducking below the low entrance, an Old-styled yard with greenery and tables greeted us. Echo’s friend (or should I say complication?) Yali and his brother were serving up delicious pizzas. The pomegranate tree nodded towards the range of locally-produced liquors. Here Echo introduced me to Myrtle Bee, a girl named QiéZi (茄子 or eggplant/aubergine). There were several others but my recollection for names had by now been overwhelmed.

Meanwhile my mouth had been delighted by a cream cheese and tomato pizza, followed by a further shared pizza with zucchini and deliciousness on top. The pesto dip was a smart move. A side salad featured a baked cheese and rocket lettuce. It was a bit too salty for my pallet, but overall very tasty. The funky beats faded and a disappointing bar called King Cat followed. The music wasn’t my cup of tea, but it saved wading through deep puddles and high-bouncing rain. After a later than expected hour, I arrived back to the Jade Emu China Australia International Youth Hostel, only to find my swipe card to enter didn’t work. The matter resolved itself and I slipped off into dreamland.

I didn’t need a sign for Cāngshān (苍山). The imposing green and cloud-kissed range of peaks. The Didi taxi driver from Dali railway station to the hostel had given ample chance to view the waving weaving green peaks. So, with a late rise and a belly full of good food, I set out for a waterfall recommended by a friend. On passing a set of small waterfalls, I headed up a track made by goats or sheep or possibly very narrow humans. The steep track disappeared and I soon found myself jutting between soft earth, trees and huge fluffy plants. By which stage I’d reached a ridge, with a very confuddled water turbine worker, who then directed me up a hidden pathway towards the top ridge. It was a tough but pleasant trail.

The undergrowth swept away to reveal a near-hidden valley tucked between two mountain ridge lines. I wandered down, dipped my feet, watched the butterflies and listened to the idyllic birdsong. One can definitely relax when clouds cuddle the mountains above, and gentle breezes softly drift around your chest whilst your feet are in chilly flowing waters.

Once again Busa called for dinner. Their second opening night led me to catch up once again with Echo, her Yali and other friends. The waitress Hazel, from Changde, took an interest in the book I was reading. A few days later, the tatty and soggy paper back was left for her to read. Echo’s friend QiéZi invited herself to my next walk the following day. Cāngshān (苍山) once again would be the wandering space.

With little barefooted QiéZi (who is no taller than 155cm), we set out towards the Cloud Jade pathway of Cāngshān. Passing the chair lift to our left, then our right, then left again we ascended. Stopping for Pu’er tea, a coffee and a snack at a park Police point seemed reasonably normal. The local boss had her grandson playing with leaves as she served a refreshing brew to us both. We left behind the options of hospitality and wandered paths here, there and everywhere. My pigeon Chinese and a relaxed mood made the afternoon to evening a satisfying and contented ramble.

By about 8pm, after almost eight hours of moving forwards, we descended through dark shadows and paths more at home in the deepest darkest parts of JRR Tolkien novels. Emerging from utter darkness, with only the company of fireflies, seemed to take a while but the adventure was nevertheless a great day out!

The next day (which is today, now) I decided this town needs a little more of my presence. I decided for the remainder of the holiday that I’d be here or there, but not so far from Dali. Why not? A place that puts a smile on your face and opens you to the nature around it, isn’t all bad! Ian Fleming penned some of his books in his Jamaican home of Goldeneye. Perhaps a few days in Dali and I may have found my Goldeneye.

However, a few hours later, I changed my mind. Have shoes, will walk. I will keep looking for answers and smiles.

Zai Jian! 再见!Goodbye!

Hard sleeper.

Six cubic square metres. Space teeters.

Six bunks for warm souls. Sheets full of holes.

Sun beating in from the west. No rest.

Mountains to the east. Facing it with a feast.

Crispy chips and crunching cake. Smelly food they did take.

Coughing and spluttering. Aisle cluttering.

Masks off blowing noses. Ring a ring of roses.

Hot as a desert sauna. Flying biting fauna.

Whatever is that smell? Food bell! Food bell!

Smooth until the shunts. Wheels at the stunts.

Clickety-clack along the long track. No way back.

Bow.

Can’t you feel it? The constriction as the noose tightens and the drop comes closer. The darkness is consuming the light, casting a deep shadow over hope. The smell of victory blew away in a storm’s gust. The sound of a clock’s hands tick ever louder and the pendulum swings with urgency raising your heart’s beat to higher peaks. Chalky dry dust whips up to the lips, parched, cracked and dry in the moonlight. Will another day bring a new sunrise?

What am I?

I breathe deeply yet have no air.

I shuffle and jiggle not in a chair.

I play hard, read well but do not share.

I’m round, long and not a fair fare.

I’m the riddle that you tweak and fiddle.

I’m the sound of the tinkling-rinkling piddle.

I’m the puzzle that at night you diddly diddle.

Giggle all you want, I’m the wink at the tiddle.

I’m the value of the bat’s shadowy wings.

I’m the voice the icy valley sings.

I’m the rhyme at a time that brings.

I’m all manner of great abundant things.

Scribbled whilst trekking in 2017.

It shall pass.

Just as the hour seems darkest;

and your energy seems the lowest;

with your mood at its most testing;

remember, it shall pass.

As darkness battles hope;

raging on relentlessly;

Crushing and pushing your boundaries;

take note, it shall pass.

Because your heart is stronger;

and all before you is more powerful;

we’ve been here before;

it too, it shall pass.

Kneeling down regurgitating water;

grasping the walls as your sphincter trembles;

convulsing on an empty stomach;

soon be over, it shall pass.

The wind of hope messages;

kind acts replenishes;

a moment of support noted;

I believe, it shall pass.

Bon Voyage.

The little man darting up the tree.

The kid with stings, bites and bruises.

The joy at finding spiders and beetles to see.

The sad face when his team loses.

The dancing girl we could all look up to.

Singing about butterflies and happy times.

Telling stories through and through to me and you.

Whistling words with witty rhymes.

Proud teachers and parents gazing onwards.

The strumming rumbling tuneful times.

Their journey goes on and onwards.

The walks, the runs, the climbs.

This isn’t a time of sadness or madness.

You’ve touched us all, including me.

This is a moment to feel collective gladness.

The books passed around silently.

Your departure may come with haste.

Jet off, carry on the journey of life and love.

To the future, you go, do not waste.

Look back, look up, down, left, right and above.

We were here. We were now. We were one group, at one place, in one time. We were lucky.

Get out there. Carry on to share. Bring that spark of sunshine, in another place, in another time. You’ll be lucky.

Hey!

They’ll be lucky.

(Unless Mr Lee makes coffee again: for the love of God and all the holy characters, stay away from the coffee machines)

Farewell and Bon Voyage Shawver tribe.

I wanna follow you

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you, wherever you go, whenever you know.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna go there. I wanna be there. I wanna feel there.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna show myself to you. I wanna be completely true.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna open up and let myself go. I wanna give you all my show.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna find the path together. I wanna ride through stormy weather.

I wanna follow with your shadow. I wanna run with you in a meadow.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna go wherever you may go. I wanna see ourselves grow.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow. I wanna follow. I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna.

I want you.

I will follow you.

Inspired by the opening music and poetry of ARGH KiD‘s Never Drinking Again. ARGH KiD is the official poet for the NSPCC, UEFA and Man Utd.

Download it.

Download this to get that and this and that but this, that and the other will follow.

Subscribe to this for something deep and meaningful to end your feelings that are hollow.

Watch out for the latest now thing in order to be free of sorrow.

Keep your eye out yesterday, today before you miss out on tomorrow.

Are you in? Got it covered? Follow! Follow! You know?

This here my friend is the greatest ever start to something that is free to go.

W W W dot instant problem fixes dot com is the show.

Watch the latest video burst, download it first and you can join the flow.

(found on a notepad from 2015; uploaded a bit later)

Trail of blood.

Heartbreak was never the aim of the game.

Not was collating the rest as conquests.

There wasn’t intentional slurry to bring worry.

Only the trail of blood said he should.

Be more careful and less wasteful, more tasteful and less hastened and dull.

His heart still longed for the romance that never gonged.

The sound of dreams slipped from his seams.

Hope bound to him and wound around his frowned face. He drowned.

Tears leapt from his eyes to skies like waterfalls hitting ledges and wedges of rock. His shock.

He clinged to hope, like a rope ascending a tough slope.

If it happens, happenstance will make it happen. If not, then now what?

Mistakes, shakes, and high stakes versus mountain walks, sea swims and great lakes.

Life goes on. Life. Goes. On. It goes on. And on. And onwards he goes.

Talk Proper English.

Useful things/tips to learn:

#1 Audio books. See below. Books read by people, for people. Surprisingly good ways to read on the go. Well Remembered Days, written by Arthur Matthews, but read by Frank Kelly (Father Jack from Father Ted) is a great exposure to Irish (Ireland, where they often speak English) culture and accents.

well

#2 Books. These are the best things ever. They’re diverse and they’re almost everywhere. Read one, pass it on. Read another, share it. Read a great one, keep it on your shelf to read again. Recommended authors include Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park/Timeline), Roald Dahl (The BFG/Matilda), JK Rowling (Harry Potter series), Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Funnybones), Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Comic books, graphic novels, audiobooks, and even short stories in newspaper serials can all add up to the book experience. What are you reading next? Feel free to ask me for suggestions.

CoverRoaldDahlTop10-1200x675

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” – Roald Dahl, writer, former pilot of a Hurricane fighter, and conjuror of dreams.

#3 Music. See Blog post about music, mostly.  Or BBC 6 Music.

(#1 added 29/8/2020; #2 added 29/8/2020; #3 kind of added 1/10/2020)

Vaccinated.

It wasn’t so sharp. I didn’t feel the coldness until it withdrew. The tiny fierce syringe shot inside like the wind blew.

The liquid vial, so small in hand. The nurses steadiness and readiness. One swift move, into a groove, of my skin. That’s it. It’s in.

Social Security pays for the ways that give days to this phase that ends slays. With every jab and prick, the world gets closer. Closer to open doors, walked floors, airplane snores, and many less bores.

My arm became heavy, unsteady and a weight I just carry. The doctors, the nurses; and the once-upon-a-time they married, but not now; the lost souls lost deep in books; the young who cast withdrawn looks; the babies and toddlers who haven’t yet seen grandpa and grandma; the grieving and the upset beyond feeling; we’re all getting closer.

The new norm is now. The now is new. The normal normality of the norm is here as a dawn. We could slink away, sink today or sail that way. Lay down your fear. A new beginning is near.

Drowsy side effects mean you feel. If you feel then it’s real. If it’s real then here’s the steel. We’re stronger than before and living longer what’s more. So, take the first hit. Go back for the second stab. Curl up after, roar in laughter. Stay bright, feel right and let go of uptight. The new now is the norm that is is next to you. Let’s go.

Taken for granted.

We’re lucky, you know. When you think about it.

We’re standing here tall, and fit. Filled up on our wit.

We don’t die of hunger or diseases like we used to.

We have passed away those through and through.

We don’t starve or face wars anymore.

We’ve shut that door, for sure, in truth it’s pure.

We’ll not quite, or maybe worse, or not as bad. It’s hard to tell.

Whatever is the matter that needs a yell?

We haven’t quite become friends or ended shouting at our foes.

We’re focusing on looking down our nose.

But, on the whole, overall it feels better for most.

Gone with the wind is that fairytale ghost.

Or most live relatively safely in safety, without doodlebugs overhead.

Tucking one into a silk-lined bed.

The point is: we’re lucky.

Stand up and be plucky.

It was worse back in the Dark Ages.

Turn over those bloody news pages.

Famines are on the down, I think.

Prisons are working, in with a clink.

Live Aid isn’t so frequently needed, so Bob Geldof can relax. Almost.

Concluded, resolved and above all: done. Foremost. For most.

No poverty in such a country and certainly none of THAT or THIS or other problems.

All fixed: Moss Side, Merseyside and other places like Harlems.

Don’t believe the news and the views and the social media conspiracy machine.

Sold you a dream, they did it with a sheen.

The leaders shouldn’t be trusted too, even if they did hug a stray kitten, wearing special mittens.

Good old English, Welsh and Scottish. And other new Britons.

Democracy, autocracy, bureaucracy, European disunion, division by incision. Don’t worry. Don’t weep.

Lambs to the slaughter. Run along sheep.

No need to stop and stare.

We’re too busy on our phones to care.

The Cafe Book

The Cafe Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment and Instruction, by self titled sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, attracted me in library. Or because of the literacy element. Nor so that of instruction. The word cafe stood out. Its abstraction and my liking of coffee met perfectly.

Hoisting the 204 paved softback down, I noticed the bump in the cover. A CD-ROM. I haven’t used a DVD or CD for so long. The Tungwah Wenze International School staff-issued iMac doesn’t come with a drive. I don’t have one on my personal laptop. The TVs at school, my TV at home and all the smart board systems at school don’t have a place for discs. Printed in 2009, I started to wonder if the contents would have dated as fast as the technology they employed. The longevity of books however remains stalwart.

Seven sturdy chapters opened before me. I skim read the acknowledgements, unable to connect to the names on the page, but fully aware such matters as teaching and writing needs a cast of many. Last Friday, Grade 4 had a COLA (Celebration of Learning Achievement). Mr Jaime, Mr Richard and Miss Aria with support from Miss Keats and Miss Belinda set our class on a good course.

Chapter one asks why and what are assessment systems. It refers heavily back to the authors and their previous book, Daily Five. The general idea being: students read to self, read to someone else, write something, use word work and then listen to reading. In an ideal and disciplined world, it makes a big difference. The appendix of the book I had in my hand though made more sense. I could see how CAFE system could be of use to the busiest of teachers. It is simple.

Notebooks are often overlooked in these times of electronic record keeping. These can be filled by simple strategy forms. Students set their goals and post to a classroom chart. Small group work is encouraged, much like what I’m trying, time and time again. Whole group instructions and flip charts caught my attention. I’ve neglected flip chart paper for far too long.

By the time I’d reached chapter two, the key details that came across were that teachers want to do more; the importance of scaffolding; and teachers take offence to be told to follow a set template. They want to find their own ways to adjust the scaffolding needs of individuals. Can’t say that I disagree.

The evolution of a calendar from post it notes and scribbles on paper has certainly met all the best teachers. Our methods evolve and practices adapt. Reading literacy takes time for monitoring. Tabs, pages and menus of reading form. A bulletin board showing comprehension, fluency, accuracy and expanded vocabulary certainly feels like it should be at home in every classroom. Just like a daily ongoing story book. A chapter and day helps work, rest and play.

To get students to know their target, classes often need exemplars. These set a clear visual goal for their work ahead. The CAFE book covers familiar grounds of observation, encouragement, tracking and how to push interest. It develops wall display ideas and recommends strategies to develop readers. There are bucket loads of suggested reading books, group activities and then reference forms. Before the evening expired, I had read the book cover to cover. Ideas will have sank in. But, first, just one chocolate Hobnob biscuit