Ode to a fast funeral caur

17th January 2003 at 00:00
Ah wush Ah hud a funeral caur,

Ah'd cheer it up a bit,

Wi some joco bumper stickers,

An this is whit Ah'd pit,

Ah'd scrieve doon "Hoo's ma mournin?",

Wi a nummer fowk cud caw,

An on the tither side Ah'd pent,

"Honk if ye're deid an aw!"

This was one of my attempts to contribute to an anthology of poems in Scots for children. "A wee bit daurk" said the e-mail reply from the editor. Just in case your Scots isn't up to it, let me explain that this translates as "totally unsuitable".

My first reaction was to outline to myself why the poem was a winner, in preparation for justifying it to anyone else and their dug. My next was to give myself a slap. It is a bad habit, that of attempting to justify things I have done instead of admitting I was wrong. I suspect it is fairly common in teachers, who may feel that any such admission will undermine their authority, but just because it is common does not mean I should let myself off.

One regret I have is that I did this sort of thing for a long time without being aware of doing so. It took a comment on my report from the maths department at the last school of my training year to waken me up: "Seemed to resent criticism and advice."

Too late, I realised I had been having too many dialogues of the form: "Now here's what you could have done in that situation . . ."

"Well, here's why I did this instead . . ."

I might as well have climbed on a desk and sung My Way. Anyone, with the honourable exception of Sid Vicious, who trumpets this arrogant hymn of self-justification deserves to be pelted with tomatoes and that would have been a fitting end to my placement. I can't remember the name of the teacher who wrote my report but I owe him. I tried to thank him graciously when I met him shortly after I read what he had to say. I hope I came across as genuine.

Regrets - I have a few, but then again, too few to mention (aye, right). Now I possess so much self-knowledge, I sometimes need a wheelbarrow to carry it about. Regretfully, it doesn't stop me frequently returning to old ways.

See that poem? Kids like a touch of darkness. Harry Potter is pretty dark. Roald Dahl was a master of . . . splat!

(Must stop. Just hit myself in the gub with a Guernsey Tom.) Gregor Steele got the idea for the "Funeral Caur" poem when a hearse, travelling at 90mph, passed him on the M6.

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