Saturday, 25 July 2009
One of the last tasks in the final days of my old job was a difficult one. As part of the BBC's poetry season I was given a group of 10 sullen teenagers, some technology and an empty room for two days, challenged with turning them into poets.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the group. They responded well to short work by Michael Rosen and Roger McGough, and argued that the example I'd found online couldn't possibly be a Haiku because it had just the wrong number of syllables, alright?
On my way out of the door that morning, laden down with resources for the first session, I'd grabbed a rarely used magnetic poetry kit from one of the kitchen drawers and added it to my bag of props. Now I divvied up the words, each student getting 10, and asked them to compose their own poems.
I realised just in time that I was probably risking a teenage giggle fest, and removed three letters from the pot, the magnet saying 'sex' was stowed in my wallet whilst the workshop continued. I didn't need to give the group any extra ammunition. I promptly forgot about it of course.
Fast forward to Friday, and I met a friend at the local pool for our weekly aquanatal session. The seventeen year old lifeguard collecting the fees shared some sort of hilarious anecdote with his friends as I scrabbled in the bottom of my purse for the correct change. Four pounds ten, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Got it! I handed over a pile of silver and copper and waited for him to confirm I'd counted the right amount. The coins clattered into the till, there was a pause. Oh no, is it short? I rummaged in my bag again to find my purse, and unzipped it, ready to dig out the five pence or so I'd probably miscounted. The lifeguard studied what was in his hand. What's this? He held it up to me. Ah yes, that little magnet, those three little letters I'd removed from the kit earlier this week were there, stuck to the back of a 1p piece. Sex.
I went purple. The lifeguard's friends fell about laughing. She wants you mate! She's after you! It was a message! I tried to explain, but my garbled mutterings about poetry were lost amid the cackling. The lifeguard looked me up and down, taking in my giant bump, Primark vest and super sexy maternity leggings. My head drooped. I apologised, and grabbed the magnet from his hand, stuffing it back into my purse and making a dash for the changing rooms.
Accidentally propositioning someone? Now that's poetry.