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In the late 1950s shortly before this was taken the me in the pic made an educational debut in St. Peter and Paul’s Primary School Dundee with a punch and a kiss. Many years later I wrote a poem about it. And I’m reminded of the incident today as I’m off to visit a Primary School in distant Fife to talk about the work of SCIAF an organisation for whom I do some bits and pieces. I very much doubt if it’ll be anything like my own days in Primary – for one thing chalk has gone the way of the dinosaurs. But then again kids are kids and there’s attitude out there. And good on them for it! Here’s the poem. (Glaur is a Scots word for mud)

CHALK FACE WARRIOR

There must be about
fifty in the class
elbow by elbow.
He keeps prodding me,
instead of drawing.

Annie’s on my left,
diamond in the glaur,
freckles and ribbons
and five year old smiles.
She’s got MS now.

He elbows again.
I punch the bastard.
It’s an uppercut,
pulchritudnous
in execution.

It lands on his nose
and produces blood,
a Biblical flow,
white sheet of paper
morphing to Red Sea.

No retribution.
Sister is busy
in the multitude.
Passed off as just an
everyday nose bleed.

So I kiss Annie
twice for good measure.
Bird like I peck her.
Sister’s back is turned.
No retribution.

Annie doesn’t cry.
She keeps on smiling.
I do it again.
This time teacher turns.
I’m in flagrante.

Sister shouts at me
through clouds of chalk dust
which I take to heart.
I grow up and teach
prodigal no more.

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