Introduced By Holly King
As Write On! Extra transitions from our theme of Mind Your Language: Words And How We Use Them to our new theme of Worlds Apart, I couldn’t help but find synchronicity within the two themes. For example, my previous Monday Moments page focused on how dialects can identify us as part of a group, or single us out as an individual.
It led me to think about how, although we are writing and reading in the English language, something we all understand, we can all take the same prompt, the same theme, and create completely different features. From poetry to prose, the use of language, syntax, the emotional tone – our contributors provide creations that are worlds apart from each other.
Within each of us is a unique world of words, yet these worlds are joined together by creativity, mutual understanding of language and our ability to communicate the human condition. For this Monday Moments, my features are showcasing these different worlds, and what unites them.
First is a poem by Mary Walsh, who uses antiquated language (worlds apart from the language we use today), to create a fun and rich story which gives the reader an understanding of what this kind of man is like. Through her poem he communicates with us, creating a connection that otherwise we wouldn’t make – as who would take the time to converse with a tatterdemalion?
Cantankerous with hunger
bare dirty feet.
No-one to mollycoddle him
Or notice his malarkey
Or let him lollygag
And watch richer folk go
To a hootenanny
So, when he runs, lickety-split
Causing a brouhaha of raggedness
Oranges, eggs and people fly
Good job he’s zippy on those legs
He never felt the collywobbles
he skedaddled up and away
He wouldn’t get his comeuppance
Today or any day.
© Mary Walsh, 2014
Next is an artist’s take on how words can be included in a visual medium. Danny Baxter is showcasing Festival Words, where he says that: “The artist in the setting has to consciously incorporate elements of their communication that would usually be instinctual to them into their performances.”
Danny shows us that, when you move from a world you’re used to communicating in to another, you have to be conscious of what you can and can’t carry over immediately, and that there are creative solutions to finding ways to communicate with your audience.
© Danny Baxter, 2022
Connect with Danny on Instagram: @dan_lbbd
Now we have a contribution from Clare Cooper, in which she reminisces about the person she was as a young schoolgirl and how, according to each teacher’s report, she appeared to change and become someone different – sometimes in the same class! She shows how, depending on the point of view and situation, we communicate different aspects of ourselves. Clare also shows us that we still harbour our past self inside us, and can learn to understand ourselves through reflection.
“Must Try Harder!”
Recently, I discovered my old school reports. On reading them, I became very upset. Oh, the power of those wounding words – even after so many decades!
It was glaringly obvious which subjects I shone at and which I baffled (sic) my way through. The same comments were repeated: Clare must learn to apply herself more and: Clare gives up far too easily if she doesn’t understand her subject and: Clare must overcome her diffidence and: Clare would excel at anything to do with horses!
Clare works well and with interest frequently appears under subjects I heartily disliked (there were many). Often, the teacher had the spelling of my name wrong, as well, leading me to wonder if they were even talking about the right Clare/Claire (there were a fair few of us back then). I suspect they simply didn’t know what else to say.
On the other hand, when my teachers did know exactly what to say, they certainly said it!
Clare appears to have stopped making any real effort – Economic History (yawn).
Lack of self-confidence in her abilities – Home Economics/Domestic Science. Yep.
She must overcome her fears and diffidence – Maths.
Works slowly and reluctantly – also Maths.
She must learn to work harder on her weaker subjects rather than giving up – surprise, it’s Maths again!
The words Lack of confidence and Diffidence appear horribly regularly. Also: Needs to develop her confidence levels. Yes, but HOW?! How did others DO that?! How does ANYONE do it, when they’re just a child?!
I never liked pushing myself forward and I didn’t like drawing attention to myself in any way, or speaking up in class. You really didn’t want the bullies to notice you and turn on you. (To this day, in certain circumstances, I still wait for others to speak before I open my mouth. This saddens me.)
The study of horses could be considered B+! some wag had written elsewhere. As a pony-mad child, this was hardly surprising to me, though no doubt my parents were not amused.
Biology: She is careful and conscientious but oh! dear! (sic) sometimes she finds it very difficult to stop talking. This, despite my diffidence at speaking up in class and drawing attention to myself! Clearly, I had my moments.
Clare is obviously not hoping to be captain of a hockey team! PE. Can’t argue with that one – I absolutely hated the game, and spent most of my time dodging the nasty, hard little ball whenever it came anywhere near my ankles.
This teacher kindly added: She does, however, move quietly and gracefully, which is much more important. Important for what, exactly, though?! In any case, these days, I move more like an exhausted hippo, so that didn’t last.
Clare is hardworking. She is always interested and interesting. (Wonder what she meant by that? I like the sound of it, though. I might have it engraved on my headstone.) A pleasure to have in the class. The headmistress of my junior school.
Same teacher, different year: Interesting and always well-behaved. We are going to miss her very much. Aaah. Must have been when I was leaving to go to the big school just up the road.
Moving on to the positives, then…
Outstandingly good in English subjects.
Fluent, mature and lively style. Ditto.
Lively, original, imaginative and technically sound. Ditto, ditto.
Fluent, imaginative and a pleasure to read. Ditto, ditto, ditto.
Most pleasant and cooperative. My form teacher. Thank you, Mr P, even though I hated your biology classes.
A very likeable, lively girl. Aaahhh! Can’t read that particular teacher’s signature. (“Lively” though? How did that equate with being shy and not wanting any of the wrong sort of attention? I think I must have had peaks and troughs, as many of my reports seemed to contradict themselves each term.)
Polite, well-mannered and courteous.
A reliable and responsible member of this group. Science, apparently. Sorry, Mr C – I hated your classes, too.
The headmistress of my secondary modern school even added, on one of my reports: Well tried! Not sure exactly what she was referring to, but cheers anyway, Mrs G!
Oops. Clare is more interested in fancy than facts. History. I was avidly devouring Jean Plaidy books at the time, so it was hardly surprising, and all those dull, dry old dates were just SOOOO boring.
On the other hand…
In her inimitable way, Clare has produced some really delightful work. She is blessed with imagination and excels in this sort of writing. It has been a pleasure to have someone in the class producing such entertaining work. This from the same history teacher, who also wrote the above report and who once told me I had too much imagination for my own good? Make your mind up, do!
Never underestimate the power of words! I wish someone had waved a magic wand over me back then and blessed me with a shedload more confidence in myself and my abilities. When you are a mere child, where exactly are you going to get these things from, without a helping hand and a kind, supportive word from the right quarters?
I’m not blaming anyone else, but the culture was so different back in the 1960s and 70s, and I come from a long line of anxious worriers. (It didn’t help that my parents’ marriage was hitting the rocks as I was studying for my A-levels, but that’s another story.)
Who knows? With a generous helping of self-belief and the ability to put myself forward and stick my head above the parapet a little more, I might have ended up running the country. Now there’s a thought…
© Clare Cooper, 2022
Lastly, we have a poem from Diya Padiyar, where, in this world, the narrator talks with the sea and moon. Using this allegory, Diya communicates to readers what it feels like to miss someone, and helps us understand what it’s like trying to reach out to them.
I Asked The Sea About You
I asked the sea about you.
The moon in its night suit,
yawned at me.
I woke it up with another question.
How’s the weather there?
Does the food remind you of home?
Is the air salty or misty?
Has the war ended?
The waves rattled in my ear
and gave me updates of your wellbeing.
Sand in my hair,
Water on my feet.
I breathed with the pace of receding waves,
waking towards the horizon;
they’ll take me to you.
© Diya Padiyar, 2022
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We can all take the same prompt, the same theme, and create completely different features.