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SATS, Drugs and Rock n` Roll

by flock1 

Posted: 07 April 2005
Word Count: 5432
Summary: The manuscript is based purely on my own personal experiences as a primary school teacher in Yorkshire. It delivers some of the harsh realities that face the modern schoolteacher in the UK. It is my intention to shock people and for the stories contained within the manuscript to be an eye-opener for any reader who dares to peruse its contents. But in addition to these stories, the reader will find things that are funny and will tell a more humorous side to teaching.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


I had been at Burton Edge Primary School for just over twelve years when I finally realised I enjoyed being a teacher. It was a most perplexing insight.
“Mr Hunt,” asked Jade during the afternoon register of my very last day. “Tell us again, please; tell us why you’re leaving?”
I looked at Jade and then at the rest of my class of ten-year-olds, and nearly all of them were looking back at me awaiting my answer. Claire, sitting over to my left was crying again – like she had been for most of the morning - and so I took a deep breath before answering the question.
“It’s like I’ve been saying, Year 5. I need a change. I’ve been at this school for twelve years, which is longer than all of you have been alive, and I need to try other places. Besides, you’ll be getting a new teacher in September and you’ll soon forget about me. ‘Mr Hunt’ you’ll say. ‘Who’s he?’”
Claire finally decided to say something, speaking through sniffles and handfuls of hankies. “I won’t ever forget about you! Ever!” She then put her head back down on the table.
“Do you think you’ll ever come back to visit us?” asked Jade, taking her cue from Claire’s renewed weeping.
I looked at Jade, a girl who had caused me constant problems throughout the whole year, and wondered how to respond. “I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “It’s hard to say.”
I then continued with the register, allowing most of my class to resume their reading, and afterwards, I told them to be quiet so that I could remember how sensible they all could be. They all did this without comment.
After I’d completed the register, I took the opportunity to look over the pile of cards that I’d somehow managed to amass on my desk throughout the morning. I picked a few of them up and began reading them. The one at the top was from a girl in Year 6 called Lauren who had been in the class I had taught the previous year. It read:

Mr Hunt, why not stay? Why go? You are my favourite teacher and I will miss you.
P.S. If I don’t see you again, I will look you up in the Yellow Pages and find you!

From your annoying student, Lauren!

The next card was from a boy in Year 6 too. He wrote:

Mr Hunt, you are the best teacher ever. I hope you like your new school wherever you are going. I will always remember you.

From Adil, your friend

And then I read Claire’s bit:

Please don’t leave, Mr Hunt. Stay forever. Never forget you. Don’t forget about us.

Good luck, Claire

Chapter 1

I want to be a Teacher!

“So tell me, Jason,” asked Mr Granger, the silver haired gent who had just introduced himself as the Head of Teacher Training, “Why do you want to become a teacher then?”
Shit! That was the question I had been dreading. I shifted in my seat while I thought of a suitable answer. “I want to become a teacher…” I said, “…because I want to make a difference to children’s lives…and to their educations, of course.”
Mr Granger nodded at this bold statement, evidently gathering his thoughts before continuing. “Very noble of you. And just how do you propose to do that?”
“Well…” I mumbled. I hadn’t anticipated a follow up question like that. I looked at my shoes for a moment before opening my mouth. “By helping them do their work, and by being friendly and kind. Things like that, I suppose”
“I see.”

* * *

Phil Jackson and I had become good friends during our three years at Sheffield University. Phil had studied Mathematics whereas I’d battled my way through a tedious Civil Engineering degree, finding out quite quickly that I had a keen knack for designing multi-storey car parks that would collapse with only a single car residing within them.
My total disinterest in anything to do with concrete or sewerage, together with my utter ineptitude for all things engineering, meant that I spent more time in the pub than at lectures. I was, of course, not the only person doing this. Phil did the same thing, as did most of our university friends.
Phil’s maths course, he told me in the pub one day, bore absolutely no relation to the real world whatsoever. “And I’ll tell you something, Jason,” he said as he raised his pint to his mouth. “I’ve had it up to here with sodding algebra. And I couldn’t give a double fuck about triple integration any more. I mean, who in their right mind is ever going to need to know how to do shit like that? It’s all a load of bollocks. All of it”
I nodded my head sagely as I took a sip from my soothing afternoon pint. I then spoke. “Look at my course; I don’t understand half of what I’m told in lectures. It’s all gobbledegook and boring shite to me. But do you something, Phil?”
“What?” Phil said, as he looked at me waving one of my arms around the inside of the student union bar we were currently drinking in.
“At least we’re students. There’s always that you know.”
And that was at the very heart of our problems. We were students, and Phil and I loved that fact. We both adored the lifestyle that allowed us to act like complete layabouts, but at the same time gave us a socially acceptable facade for doing it. After all, it was expected of students to be lazy and to drink beer. Indeed, it was more-or-less in the job description for them to do that. And Phil and I were good at being students. Too good in fact.
Both of us knew how to reduce a relatively clean room into squalor in only a matter a days. We both knew by heart the whereabouts of each and every public house within walking distance from our hovel. And we shopped at Jack Fulton’s freezer emporium! What more proof was needed? We were Super Students, and proud of it.
It was only our actual degree course that let the side down for us at university. If it weren’t for lectures and coursework, then we would have been in paradise. Phil and I, together with our various other student friends, would continuously skip lectures in order to pay regular visits to the bars. The fact that we were missing vital pieces of course information did not bother us in the slightest. We were too busy eyeing up the talent to be concerned about that.

Final Exams and Beyond

Things changed gear in our third year at university. With the ever-present threat of the finals looming up, Phil and I decided to change tactics somewhat.
Totally out of character for us both, we actually started to put a bit more effort into our studying and would sometimes take revision notes to the pub with us, occasionally looking at them between games of pool.
“I reckon I’m gonna fail, you know,” I said, tipping the last dregs of my pint of John Smiths down my throat.
“Don’t be daft, Jase. We’re in our third year for God’s sake. They wouldn’t have let us through if they thought we’d fail the finals. We’re more or less guaranteed a pass. Believe me.”
“D’you reckon?”
“Yep. Don’t worry. Stop thinking about it. Think about pool. And while you’re setting up the next game, I’ll get the next round in.”

Just before Phil and I sat our final exams, we stopped going to the pub altogether, allowing ourselves some time to revise with clear heads. Two months later we sat the exams and a couple of weeks after that, we both eagerly awaited our results.
Astonishingly, I passed my degree - with Honours! I was as proud as punch of my achievement – even if it was only a third class degree. Phil, equally as rapturous with his result (which was of a similar classification for mine) couldn’t believe it either. Neither of us cared a jot that we had only just scraped through our courses. Indeed, we were simply jubilant that we had actually managed to pass at all. We celebrated for a whole week.
The festivities stopped though when we both came to the sobering realisation that we were Graduates now and therefore had to get on with the rest of our lives. And what made this insight all the more worse, was the fact that we could only see three options ahead.
The first and most obvious choice – getting a job – would mean major lifestyle changes for the pair of us. Having to go to work would mean no more idling about drinking cans of lager until Neighbours came on at half-past three in the afternoon, something that we enjoyed doing a lot.
Working for a living would also mean no more rodent baiting. This fun-packed activity involved waiting for a mouse to cautiously appear from it’s hiding place, and then watching it as it scuttled furtively across the threadbare carpet of our living room, trying to seek out the relative sanctuary of the food cupboard. Its safe passage would be hampered by a cascade of lager cans thrown at it from all directions, none ever reaching its target though. No, if we had a job, we would be required to get up early in the morning, working well until the evening, leaving very little time for lazing about doing sod all, so we discounted joining the working masses for the time being. We each drank a can of Stella to celebrate making this sensible decision. The mice scurried for cover.
Then we discussed the second option available to us, and it was one that actually appealed to me quite a lot, as it fitted in quite nicely with my perceived life of leisure. The option was, of course, becoming dole-dossers. Phil though, who’d been on the dole before arriving at university, wouldn’t go for it, and so that only left option number three – staying on as students.
Predictably, finding a path down that particular avenue was easier said than done. Mediocre students staying on to do even harder qualifications were not welcome at Sheffield University. It was simply not the thing to do. Nevertheless, we still looked into things and begun with the most obvious choice – studying for a PhD.
Unsurprisingly, we learned very quickly that doing such an advanced qualification was simply out of the question. Neither of us possessed enough intelligence to endure the advanced studying - especially bearing in mind the fact that we had only just passed our normal degrees as it was. Likewise, doing a totally different degree course was also a no-go, as we couldn’t possibly gather the cash reserves to fund three more years of studying/drinking.
The outlook was beginning to seem rather bleak for us both, and as our options narrowed further, I began to reluctantly change my outlook somewhat. I told myself that it was time to face facts and grow up; I had to give up my comfortable life as a student and become a proper adult for the first time in my life. Wiping the sniffles away from my eyes, I reasoned that there was no point in prolonging the agony any longer, and so I told Phil I was actively seeking employment.
“What?” he said clearly flabbergasted.
“I’m looking for a job. I’m sick of not knowing what I’m going to do in life, so I’ve made up my mind; I’m going to earn some cash.”
“Yeah right,” he quipped. “We’ll see. And what sort of job do you think you’ll get with your degree? Stacking shelves? Working behind a bar?”
“I don’t mind at the moment. All I know is this: I’m sick of being skint. I owe Coleman a fortune. He knows me by name now.”
I began to buy newspapers in earnest, scanning the jobs pages advertised within, hoping to spot something that tickled my fancy, but few did. I also visited the job centre, spending many minutes perusing the cards that offered temporary work in many of the local factories. Meanwhile, all the while, Phil refused to give up hope. He carried on with his quest for Studentdom, positive that he’d be triumphant with a bit of hard perseverance.
Three weeks into my job seeking frenzy, with no sign of gainful employment, I spotted an advertisement asking for people to train as bus drivers. Sitting down in the kitchen, reading the advert further, my mind soon conjured up vivid images of me driving a bus around a large deserted piece of tarmac, skidding through puddles at top speed and nerve-shattering angles. This appealed to my idea of fun, and whilst I pondered upon the logistics of driving a bus around the wilds of Yorkshire, Phil burst into the room, which sent the mice scurrying for cover. As he sat himself down in the chair opposite mine, he was grinning wildly.
“I’ve done it!” he proclaimed as he waved a glossy brochure about in his hand.
“Done what?”
“I’ve found my true path in life!”
Phil eyes were manic, and so I asked him to explain himself, fully expecting him to describe some wacky religious cult he had just joined. Instead, he told me that he had spotted an advertisement for a Primary school teacher-training course at a local college, and so he had sent off for more information. Throwing the brochure at me, he whooped for joy. “I’m going to be a student! I’m going to be a student!”
I had a quick scan through the brochure and then looked back up at Phil, who at that precise moment in time resembled a mental patient; such was the grin adorning his face. “A teacher?” I asked incredulously. “But you hate kids.”
“Yeah I know, but listen, Jason,” he said quickly. “I went to the college to get more information about it, and it sounds like a good laugh this teaching lark. And this is the best bit - you’ll like this - on the course, the intake of students is ninety percent women! Easy pickings mate!”
“Really? And we’re eligible for the course? ”
“Where do I sign up?” It hadn’t taken much arm bending at all. All thoughts of becoming a bus driver suddenly evaporated. I was going to become a student again. A student teacher no less.
“Sign here,” he told me as he reached into his pocket, “on your application form. I knew you’d go for it, so I got you one as well. I’ve already filled mine in.”
“Whey hey!” I said. “Ninety percent women! Teacher training – here we come!”
The year was 1990, and I was twenty-one years old.


Two weeks after we’d sent off our application forms to enrol on September’s Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course, Phil and I both received letters each. Inside my envelope, I found a brief note instructing me to attend an interview at the teacher training college in a week’s time. It then stated that the interview was a necessary part of the selection process, so that the college could assess ‘a candidate’s suitability for the PGCE course’.
“Shit,” I said as I refolded the letter into its envelope. “We’re scuppered now.”
“Stop worrying. We’ll be fine.” Phil had already read his letter.
“But we’re not suitable candidates. They’re going to see that straight away. And what about when they ask us why we want to be teachers then? How are we going to answer that one, eh?”
“Easy. Just tell them that you want to join a profession where you can make a difference to a young person’s life. And if that doesn’t work, then mention your degree, because I don’t know about yours, but I know they’re crying out for people with maths degrees like mine. I heard it on the news last week.”

* * *

On the day of the interview, Phil went over to the college first, as his interview was an hour before mine, and while he was gone, I prepared myself for the grilling I was bound to get.
My nerves were shot to hell, and all I could think about was that Phil would get on the course and I wouldn’t. He would play his maths degree ace card, and that would swing it for him. He would be a student again, whereas I’d have to get a job. Probably as a bus driver. I did a spot of rodent baiting to pass the time.
Half an hour later Phil arrived back home with a stupid grin adorning his smug face. “I’m in!” was all he said as he sauntered past me towards the Room of Vermin, no doubt to torment the occupants. “I’m a student!”
I had no time to question Phil on what had happened during his interview, and so pausing only to grab my coat, I set off towards the college myself, cursing the very name of the friend who had got me into this whole sorry mess.

* * *

Mr Granger, Head of Teacher Training, looked me in the eye. I tired to meet his steely gaze, but felt unable to do so. The man had obviously seen through my silly charade. He clearly thought that I was unsuitable material for teacher training, and was merely waiting for me to dig myself in deeper.
“I also want to help kids enjoy school,” I said. “I think it’s very important that they do?”
“I see.”
I decided to speak no more, at least for the time being.
Eventually, Mr Granger opened a thin folder that was in front of him, running his finger down the page until he reached the section he wanted. “It says here that your degree is in Civil and Structural Engineering, which to me is a bit of a strange degree choice to do before embarking on a career in teaching.”
He let the statement hang in the air for a moment, which left a gap for me to foolishly attempt to make an explanation. “Civil Engineering just wasn’t for me. It was all about designing sewerage outflow pipes and car parks. And even though stuff like that might appeal to some people, it didn’t appeal to me. I know I don’t ever want to be a civil engineer. I want to be a Primary school teacher. I just did the wrong degree, that’s all.”
“Yes, but that’s precisely what I’m worried about you see, Jason,” said Mr Ganger as he closed the file and looked out of his small window for a second. “You see, as far as I can see, you’re essentially swapping one career for another. So can you see where I’m coming from, Jason? I hope you can, because basically, how can I be sure that you won’t do the same thing with teaching?”
I rubbed my sweaty palms on my newly ironed trousers (the only article I had ever ironed in my whole time at university) and began to speak. I talked about the teachers I remembered from my own childhood, describing my favourite ones, and the methods that they had used in the classroom. I told Mr Granger that I wanted to be just like them, and to be remembered by people for years in the future.
I carried on speaking in this vein for a few more minutes, realising that the interview was finally swinging back in my favour. It appeared that Mr Granger was warming to me, and so I finished my monologue by using the same tactic that Phil had no doubt used. I told him that I especially liked mathematics, and that my engineering degree was based largely on that particular subject. It was therefore my hope to specialise in that subject for the duration of the course.
That clinched it. Mr Granger smiled at me, shook my hand, and welcomed me aboard. I had been in the room for only ten minutes.
But bad news was just around the corner. Just as I was mentally preparing myself for a congratulatory pint in the pub, Mr Granger asked me something that threw me off track. He asked me how much experience I had in working with young children.
I had to tell him the truth; there was no point in lying. “Not much.”
“Well not to worry, Jason. All that you’ll have to do is pay a visit to a local Primary school, taking this letter with you, asking the Headteacher if you can help out for a week. That should give you a taste of what’s in store. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. And then, after the week is up, get the Headteacher to sign the letter, saying that you’ve completed the necessary experience of working with youngsters, and send it back to us. Then you can start as a student teacher in September.”
I took the proffered letter, thanking Mr Granger once again, and left his office in high spirits. Even the prospect of working in a school for a week couldn’t dampen my mood. I was ‘in’ like Phil. I was actually going to be a student again!
The mice suffered that night.
The next morning it was our turn.

Into School

With hindsight of course, it wasn’t such a big deal, but to Phil and I, it was an injustice of major proportions.
Like me, Phil had also been instructed to work in a Primary school for a week, but the main problem with this turn of events, was the fact that we had just finished our final exams – and therefore wanted to celebrate for at least a month. All five of our other housemates, as well as all our other friends, were out living it up night after night. But we couldn’t join them in the festivities because we had to work in a bloody Primary school. Life was exceedingly unfair.
The week prior to us working in a school, Phil and I visited a school just up the road from our house called Paisley First School. * The Headteacher, a kindly middle-aged woman named Mrs Keagy, told us that we’d be most welcome to help out at her school for a week. She then invited us to be shown around school.
For both Phil and I, it was a strange experience. Walking into various classrooms filled with small children, and even smaller chairs, seemed so different from the things we were used to. And whenever we were shown into any classroom, thirty pairs of beady eyes would stare right at us. It was most unsettling.
On our impromptu tour, we were taken into the classrooms that we would be working in the following week. I was placed in a Year 3 class full of seven and eight year olds, whereas Phil was taken next door, into the adjoining Year 4 class.
After a brief introduction with the classteacher’s in each class, we were taken back to the front entrance, where we thanked Mrs Keagy. Ten minutes later we were in the pub, lamenting our sorry plight.
“Did you see all those little kids all staring at us?” I asked Phil. “Some of them looked like little hoodlums.”
“I know. And I couldn’t believe how small everything was. Those little kids in the infants – they looked like toddlers.”
We both regarded our pints before a moment, before Phil broke the silence. “But it’s only a week, remember, and then we can relax over the summer before we start back as students in September. It’s going to be a doddle.”

* * *

For the whole week, Phil and I sat and read with various children. Both of us also tied shoelaces. At various intervals we were sent out into the playground to ‘get to know the children’ which invariably meant that we ended up twirling one end of a skipping rope or listened to endless tales about hamsters and guinea pigs.
On the second day in the school, I was out in the playground with another teacher, cursing Phil, who had managed to sneak off for a cigarette somewhere, leaving me to ‘supervise’ the small area by myself. As I held hands with various small children, a little girl, who was giggling a lot, approached me. She said, “Jasmine says she loves you!”
“Jasmine says she loves you. She told me. She’s over there. Her with the blue coat.”
I looked over to where the girl was pointing and could see a group of other little girls standing in a bunch staring over at me. All of them were giggling. Before I could say anything else though, the first girl, the one who had relayed the important news, ran back towards her friends, leaving me totally at a loss as to what to do. It was at that point that I witnessed my first playground fight.
One boy was on the floor with another boy on top of him, strangling him by the throat. A second later, the boy being strangled managed to roll his assailant over, and very swiftly, the rolls were reversed, with asphyxiation being replaced by punches. Hard punches by the sounds of them.
Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Hearing them brought me out of my stupor and so I ran over to the scene, hoping that the proper teacher would be joining me soon. Upon arriving, I asked the boys to desist from their fight, but of course they paid me no heed whatsoever. The boy getting punched was crying, whilst his eight-year-old nemesis grabbed him by the throat, saying something along the lines of, “I’m gonna bray you to death yer fuckin’ shithead!”
I was way out of my league with no way of knowing how to deal with the situation. Luckily though, I didn’t have to; the real teacher arrived and soon took control.
“Stop!” she shouted, which made both boys freeze. They both looked up at the teacher. Both looked guilty as hell.
“Get up,” she shouted, which made both boys get up, brushing themselves down as they did so. “And go in to see Mrs Keagy. Now!”
And both boys did just that. They both traipsed in after one another, and I was amazed. How did this teacher, who after all, looked like someone’s granny, command so much respect with these boys? How on earth did she manage such a feat of absolute control? It would be a question I would ask myself a lot during my teacher training.

Black Eye

During the next few days at school, as the children got more used to us, Phil and I became used to answering inane questions such as, Are you two brothers? or Can you touch the ceiling? and even, Why have you got a black eye?
This last question was directed at me. The black eye couldn’t have come at worse possible time. I had gained it on the Friday night before we were due to start our week at the school.
A lot of us had been out on the beers - and after one too many, I had, for reasons that thankfully escape me now, made a futile attempt to climb over a dry stone wall near the university campus. Incredibly, I actually managed to make it over to the other side, but unfortunately my descent had been headfirst. Predictably, all of my friends had found this immensely funny, and even I, lying there in the mud, managed to see the funny side of it.
But the next morning was a different matter altogether. With the sight of a black eye peering back out at me from the mirror, I thought that I perfectly epitomized the type of person who should not be allowed to work with children. I looked like I had been fighting, or at the very least, head butting lampposts, and what compounded my misery even more, was the fact that there was nothing I could do about it.
But it seemed I was wrong, because the next day, Phil came up with a plan of sorts. He suggested that I go into Boots, in the town centre, whereupon I could purchase some make-up.
“Make up?” I uttered.
“Yeah. Get some make-up,” Phil told me, with a wry smile forming on his lips. “Buy some women’s foundation. It’ll cover up the blue bits. Lot’s of blokes do it.”
“Make up?” I repeated, a little more incredulously.
“Yeah. I’ll even go with you if you want - to offer you some moral support.”

And that was how I ended up in the women’s make-up section of Boots, with Phil trailing behind me, relishing the amount of suffering and humiliation I was about to go through.
Neither of us had any clue about where to look for foundation make-up, and just as we were about to walk out of the shop empty-handed, a female shop assistant approached us, asking if we needed any help.
“Err…I…” I managed to utter, whilst Phil surreptitiously edged away from me. “I’m looking for some…ah…”
By now Phil, safely ensconced behind a nearby isle, decided to help me out. He said to the assistant, “He wants to buy some foundation cream – don’t you, Jase?”
“Ah…yes I do,” I said in total embarrassment. I was going red, which in turn was beginning to give my blue bits a not-very-pleasing purplish hue. “I just want to know where it is.”
Instead of answering my question though, the assistant asked me something that totally threw me over the edge. She asked me what sort of shade I wanted.
“Err…I…skin colour please.” I managed to mumble, before adding idiotically. “Brownish would do. It’s for my face.”
And then Phil, safe and sound behind his isle, added another choice ingredient into my cauldron of abject misery. “It’s not for his face at all. It’s for his willy. He cut in some bushes last night and it’s all scratched, and he doesn’t want his girlfriend to think he’s been hiding in hedges again.”
I fled the shop.
Phil was close behind me, guffawing all the way.
Luckily though, none of the staff at the Primary school ever asked me about my black eye and whenever one of the children asked how I can got it, I merely shrugged my shoulders, telling them that I was a boxer in my spare time. They seemed to believe me, and didn’t ask again.
After the week was finally over, Phil and myself each got our letters signed by the Headteacher of the school, informing us that she could see no reason why either of us should not be given a place on Septembers PGCE course. After thanking her for allowing us to work in her school, we went straight to the pub to congratulate ourselves.
We were in! We were going to be student teachers. When I told my girlfriend that I had been accepted for teacher training, she couldn’t believe it. And neither could I.

* * *

The following September, Phil and I moved into separate houses. He moved in with one bunch of mates, whereas I moved in with another group. We hadn’t fallen out or anything, it just sort of happened that way. However, both sets of friends would gather together in the local pub often enough and it was on one such occasion where I showed Phil the letter I had received from the college. I wasn’t surprised when he showed me an identical one.
Both letters informed us that we would have to attend an induction day at the teacher-training college in two days time. For Phil, this proved to be major problem. He told me that he was going away with his girlfriend for the weekend, and so wouldn’t be back in time to make the induction day. After buying his round, he said, “You’ll cover for me though, won’t you?”
“Cover for you? But it’s the first day Phil! You’ve got to be there for the first day.”
“I can’t. I’ve already sorted out the guesthouse for me and Louise. Come on Jase, cover for me! ”
“Come on. I’ll buy you a pint.”
“Two pints?”
“No. I’m not doing it. Why should you get out of going to the induction day?”
“No.” I said.
“Three pints and a curry.”

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Comments by other Members

Dreamer at 22:00 on 07 April 2005  Report this post
Hi Jason and welcome.

I liked this. Sort of got the feel it is going to be ‘How I went from aimless shmuck to awesome teacher’. I like how you start it with the adulations for a good teacher then paint a convincing picture of an aimless shmuck. I think the University part could be shorter though as the pace slowed for me there then picked up again when in the interview. A good teacher is one of the most valuable occupations. A bad one is one of the worst. I think we have all experienced the later and a few lucky ones have experienced the first. It is interesting to me how you started out. Interested to see what turned you around.

I found a few little omissions:

‘But do you something, Phil?”’ doesn’t work, maybe ‘Do you know something, Phil?’ Or ‘do you wanna know something Phil?’

‘all the more worse’ should be ‘all the worse’.

‘both received letters each’, should be ‘both received letters’, don’t need ‘each’.

I liked the line, ‘The mice suffered that night.
The next morning it was our turn.’ It works well in adding suspense.

There are times in the story where I get to see your sense of humour which is good. I would like to see more.

I realize this is setting the background and that is probably why, but I did not feel involved in parts of it the way you I did in your interview for instance, if that makes any sense to you.

All in all I liked it though and am eager to hear more. That really is the true test isn’t it?

All the best,


PhilR at 23:21 on 07 April 2005  Report this post

I was only going to read a bit of this, but the prologue drew me in straight away and I had to keep going.

Your description of student days is very close to the mark, reminds me of my own. Loved the interaction with the vermin.

I have to agree with Brian in that some of the sections unecessarily long, especially the part where the two characters are deciding on their post-uni options, and I found myself skipping paragraphs to get to the interview.

Still, found it enjoyable and very funny in parts.

My only real gripe is the fact that Neighbours has always been on at 1.30, not 3.30. I've done enough research on this myself!

Looking forward to reading more.


scoops at 09:26 on 08 April 2005  Report this post
Flock, I've only read the first 500 words as I'm pressed for time, but you have the bones of something very funny here, and even though I found the style a little plodding, every second line brought a smile to my face. I think you need to smarten the pace a little, but it looks as if you've already mastered the need to show rather than tell. It's very episodic as it is and that needs ironing out, but you can sort that in the rewriting - the imperative at the moment is clearly to get it all down. I like the way you've chosen to start the book, it's great fun and the characters show promise. Keep it up:-) Shyama

flock1 at 20:46 on 11 April 2005  Report this post
Thanks for the replies everyone. I only found them today!

I agree with you about the 'boring bits' in the chapter, and all comments have been duly noted and will be implemented as soon as I get the chance.

Scoops, thanks for your comments. You say my style is a 'little plodding' and could you please elaborate. I need to know how to improve my writing if i'm to stand any chance at all in this game. Basically, how can I unplod my work! Also, 'very episodic'- could you give me some pointers on how to avoid this.

Phil R, thanks for the Neighbours correction! I can still picture Joe Mangle even now!

Also, am I able to post up the next chapter, or is this asking too much from you all!



scoops at 13:56 on 12 April 2005  Report this post
Flock you need to cut back on adjectives, connectives and irrelevant detail, and tighten up word counts in order to unplod. This is something you have to do in your own voice and style, though I'll do it in mine as an example (see below). Remember that written speech has to be much tighter than real-time speech and pared to the essentials.

If you join the site properly you can access work by some excellent new writers who're grappling with similar problems and offer excellent pointers and insights. As for the episodic nature of your writing - what you're clearly doing at this stage is organising structure through a series of vignettes. Once the whole is complete, you'll be able to iron it out.

Right, for the purposes of unplodding I'm just going to take a few lines from your intro and treat them as I would. Remember it's not a suggestion but an example. Each writer approaches language differently.

As it is:
I had been at Burton Edge Primary School for just over twelve years when I finally realised I enjoyed being a teacher. It was a most perplexing insight.
“Mr Hunt,” asked Jade during the afternoon register of my very last day. “Tell us again, please; tell us why you’re leaving?”
I looked at Jade and then at the rest of my class of ten-year-olds, and nearly all of them were looking back at me awaiting my answer. Claire, sitting over to my left was crying again – like she had been for most of the morning - and so I took a deep breath before answering the question.
“It’s like I’ve been saying, Year 5. I need a change. I’ve been at this school for twelve years, which is longer than all of you have been alive, and I need to try other places. Besides, you’ll be getting a new teacher in September and you’ll soon forget about me. ‘Mr Hunt’ you’ll say. ‘Who’s he?’”
Claire finally decided to say something, speaking through sniffles and handfuls of hankies. “I won’t ever forget about you! Ever!” She then put her head back down on the table.

As it might be:
I'd been at Burton Edge Primary twelve years when I finally realised I enjoyed being a teacher. It was a perplexing insight.
“Mr Hunt,” wailed Jade during my final afternoon register, “Tell us again why you’re leaving?”
I looked at Jade and then at the rest of my class of ten-year-olds. Nearly all stared back, waiting on my answer. Claire was crying again as she had all morning. I took a deep breath before answering.
“It’s like I’ve been saying, Year 5. I need a change. I’ve been here twelve years. That's more than any of you have been alive. I need to try other places. When you get your new teacher in September you'll be saying 'Mr Hunt? Who's he?'"
Through sniffles and hankies, Claire finally spoke. “I won’t ever forget about you! Ever!” She put her head back on the table sadly.

You'll probably hate the cuts, Flock, but they will work if you do them in your style. Good luck:-) Shyama

flock1 at 16:10 on 12 April 2005  Report this post

On the contrary. I like your cuts - a lot. And thankyou for taking the time out to give me these extremely helpful pointers. I've got something to work on now. Much appreciated.


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