Cilla and Conrad in blind date

26th November 2004 at 00:00
For weeks now the sculptor has been working outside my classroom and slowly shape and form has emerged from the granite block.

Pupils surround him every breaktime to watch and marvel at how such a simple tool and a pair of hands can create such a creative piece that will outlast us all.

Inspired, I decide to inject some creativity into my lessons and embrace the call of National Poetry Day and its theme of food. If the maths department can engage their minds with giant bubbles and boomerangs so can I.

I ask Year 10 to bring in a large onion for homework but Sharon refuses even to write it in her planner.

"My mum already thinks you're bonkers, Miss, and this will only make it worse."

Yet as we read Carol Ann Duffy's poem "Valentine", peel and chop, "I give you an onion" suddenly makes sense.

No time to wash my hands before the next class arrive. 'What's that awful stink Miss?' I divert Year 7 with pomegranates to explain Persephone in David Almond's Skellig. Nibbling the juicy seeds, we listen to the sculptor chiselling until Walid sobs and says he can't eat any more as they remind him of the pomegranate tree that used to be in his grandfather's garden.

Next class and we suck sherbet lemons to help our sensory writing and strawberries for Edwin Morgan's poem "Strawberries". I urge them all to make connections, think outside the box. All's going well until James sticks a strawberry on the end of his nose and it becomes the thing to do.

As the class leave they all have red stained noses and fingers, except Kelly who's been rushed to sickbay after dipping hers in Tipp-Ex and eating it like cream.

After lunch I "borrow" a couple of bowls of jelly. The creativity flows from their pens whilst I feel sick from the combination of onions, sweets, fruit and jelly.

My reading group enter and comment on the weird smell. I explain what's been happening as I urge them too to think outside the box when discussing Conrad's The Secret Agent.

After a pause Fraser says: "It's a bit like Blind Date isn't it Miss? You have to wait right until the end when the screen goes back and they see who they've picked and it's always a shocker."

Cilla Black and Joseph Conrad? Now that really is thinking outside the box.

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