Category Archives: writing

all the rest

Things our teachers say

Sentences written by my tefl classes of 10-12 year olds organised into free verse by me. Starting word: Don’t. Activity inspired by Michael Rosen. Their Words. My Verse.

Don’t do that
Don’t shout
Don’t stand up
Don’t stand up without permission
Don’t talk
Don’t talk when I’m explaining
Don’t talk when I tell you not to
Don’t talk when a classmate is speaking
Don’t talk when a classmate is saying the answer
Don’t speak so loud
Don’t speak in the exam
Don’t copy in the test
Don’t say bad words
Don’t hit your friend
Don’t chat with your friends
Don’t run in the classroom
Don’t play with soap
Don’t play games
Don’t throw paper balls in class
Don’t make paper planes
Don’t hit the table
Don’t sit on the table
Don’t dance on the table
Don’t make funny noises
Don’t be silly
Don’t laugh
Don’t play with your pencils
Don’t look out the door
Don’t play with the lockers
Don’t eat sweets (dippers)
Don’t sleep
Don’t daydream
Don’t do that

One minute – One sentence

17 sentences that include the word gloves.

She wore special gloves that attracted the butterflies.
He picked up the vase with the gloves so as not to leave any fingerprints.
The gloves are off for today, meaning I’m done with today.
The gloves were kept in a basket in the cupboard under the stairs.
She had suggested wearing gloves and he had really enjoyed it.
‘Jill! Have you seen my gloves?’
The weather was conducive to wearing gloves.
All you need is gloves.
We had to wear gloves or we’d get blisters.
She squeezed into a new pair of gloves for every patient.
I often have cold hands and should wear gloves.
‘Shit! I left my gloves in the pub.’
The gloves were great but when they got wet after throwing snow I couldn’t stand it.
You are the hand that fits my glove.
‘How many pairs of gloves do you need?’
‘We’ve never had to wear gloves this late in the year!’
It was the one time that he had forgotten to wear gloves: the infection had killed him.

A Turning Point

She didn’t like school, in fact she hated it. Her marks were bad and she was stubborn and she always kicked up a fuss when she had to go.

Her father, who was very concerned, decided one weekend to take her to the beach. They stood at the shoreline and he asked her.
‘The waves they keep coming and coming. You can’t stop them. What can we do?’
‘Build a wall?’ She replied.
‘One day the sea will erode the wall.’ her father continued.

He went back to the car and pulled out a bodyboard and two wetsuits from the boot. The two of them got changed and went out into the sea. She was reluctant, she had never really like the sea and feared she would drown under the waves. Her father however, insisted.

When they were out just past the breaking waves her father told her to hold onto the board tight and move with the waves. She was in tears as she fell off the board the first two times but on the third time she caught one, she screamed with fear but that soon turned to joy as she flew across the water towards the beach. When she at last fell off she looked back at her father and leapt into the air shouting. ‘Again!’

Later that day as he prepared some pizza for dinner he asked if she had enjoyed herself.
‘YES!’ she replied. ‘It was such a great feeling!’
‘Great!.’ he said. ‘Now listen to me. I want to ask you something. Imagine the sea is your school and the waves are your classes. The waves are going to keep coming and coming and coming. You can’t stop them. ‘What you are going to do about it? Continue building a wall or learn to surf?’

Life is like…

Life is like a letter, it’s exciting to receive but one day it rots away.
Life is like a credit card, yours for free but you soon have to pay.
Life is like a leader, it comes and then goes.
Life is like a hinge, helping one door open and another close.
Life is like a slide, you’re up and then you’re down.
Life is like a button, you’re lost and then you’re found.
Life is like a fact, it’s said to be true what we’re told.
Life is like an accident, unexpected things unfold.
Life is like a cliff, ready to crumble and fall.
Life is like a bible, it’s not something most pay any attention to at all.
Life is like a race, for some it’s over faster.
Life is like a recipe, one that sometimes leads to disaster.
Life is like a dodgem car, you can’t always avoid it.
Life is like the opera, it’s dramatic but some can’t abide it.
Life is like a plate, sturdy yet fragile when it falls
Life is like a roof, it’s nothing without walls

A Ritual

Her choir practice took place in the Methodist Church on Thursday night, a gentle five minute drive from her home into the village centre.

Every week, as she travelled in, she listened to a tape her husband had made. Years ago he had carefully hung a microphone over the piano at home and recorded some scales for her.

As she drove in she sang, starting low so as not to over-stretch her vocal chords, and as she sang she left behind her tiredness that had, by that time of the week, begun to weigh her down.

She sang through the wintry evenings of rain and fog and in the summer she sang with the windows wound right down but whenever she sang it wasn’t only her voice that went up it was her spirits too.


Sunrise. Summer. Slumber. Breathe. Seaweed. Damp. Sparkly. Sizzling. Calm. Ripples. Wonder. Sherry. Salt Marsh. Running. Eggs. Candlelight. Wine. Rain. Rugby. Thunderstorms. Glow. Shadows. Warmth. Anguish. Drunk. Confusion. Downstairs. Bright. Sensation. Reading. Running. Detox. Downton. Skyline. Blossom. Bulerías. Processions. Laughs. Nut roast. Cauliflower. Sprouts. Simplicity. Market. Flamenco. Flamingo. Pizza. Silence. Landscape. Music. Clear. Sierra. Horizon. Sofa. Running. Coffee. Brandy. Organic. Light. Memory. Fullness. Wind. Curry. Connections. Sunny. Unravelled. Cumin. Showers. Fish. Sea. Streets. Countryside. Golden. Blue. Visions. Ideas. Prose. Ginger. Blazing. Sunset.

A Walk in the Woods

One day, Tom, a university student was walking alone in the woods eating a slice of watermelon when suddenly a bear ran out in front of him. Tom froze, the bear looked at him. Without thinking Tom threw the watermelon as far as he could to distract the bear but it only got angry so he ran like the wind. Tom was chased through the woods and he lost a shoe but he soon got to a road where luckily a garbage truck was passing and it stopped and picked him up. The bear growled and ran back into the woods.

‘What a relief! I hadn’t expected drama like that!’ Tom said to the driver as they drove away.
‘Bear that in mind the next time you go for a walk in these woods.’ the driver replied.


“Your grammar is bad.” said the teacher to the young boy.
Later, while the young boy ate hot stew and potatoes at home, he asked his parents why Grandma had been bad.

The Fire

Sat by the fire he sank further into his velvet armchair. He wanted a moment to truly enjoy it but his head was disorder and elsewhere. The clock on the mantlepiece ticked onwards, striking half past ten and then eleven. How he hated the chimes when they were numerous, especially if he was listening to the radio. Outside the world was silent; the earth knew and understood this silence as did the cold mud as did the tree: stripped of its colour yet not of its knowledge. So he sat by the fire, the perfect image of winter contentment, like a painting, yet he wasn’t content – his thoughts were the sparks leaping to the hearth, each glowing ember replacing another. All that was needed was a pause, a counting of breaths and he too could join them all, the fire, the earth, the mud and the tree, be the man in a painting in a state of enduring wisdom.

The Window

The moon rose as she watched from her window; the city lit up like golden jewels and the winter sky clear, fresh and sharp and only those with proof against it – like her – were able to enjoy it. There were many questions she asked herself, what was her reason for being there? Was one of them. A bug crawling up the window caught the attention of the cat sprawled on the rug below her and in the street a car horn sounded, a couple talked outside a bar – should we walk home or get a taxi? She watched them, she longed to be them, locked in her room, locked in her house. What was her reason for being there? Surely not to suffer like this, surely not to be a prisoner in her own house. The moon rose further still and played in a small cloud, the city became darker yet more golden but she didn’t move. She only questioned her reason for being there rather than being there.

Cat Observations.

Things that get their attention:

The sound of a finished crisp packet
The neighbours
A sudden movement of my foot
The seagulls in the morning
The swifts at dusk
A fruit fly in the kitchen
The westerly wind
The easterly wind
The lift coming up
The sound of the other one eating
The sound of the other one pooing
The sound of the other one investigating
The sound of a finished crisp packet


I really love watching TV but last night I got my verbs mixed up and washed the TV instead. It was soon covered in soap and stopped working. With nothing to do I picked up a book that was sitting on a nearby shelf and started to read. I found myself transported into another world and all because I had washed the T.V by mistake. Now I’m going to read everyday because I can take this other world with me wherever I go. Reading is great.


The fans she had of many colours were useful for keeping her cool before and after the performance but it was the other type of fans she longed for, as once again, only one or two seats were filled for the show.

13 Ways of Looking at a Scarf

In the darkness of summer
the scarf collects
the musk and dust of the
cupboard under the stairs.

An abandoned scarf
in the forest is
for a snake.

The loyalty of the crowd is wrapped
around their necks as they
prepare for battle.
Red scarves versus blue.
United ’till I die.

He wore no visible scarf
yet he wore
the weight of the world
on his shoulders.

Had she not been
quicker, as the branch
took it’s grip, that scarf
would have strangled
her to death.

A scarf on the grass.
The snowman gone.

The scarf hangs from the window.
The girl is free.
Until tomorrow.

Her life unravelled quickly
like a crocheted scarf seized
by a curious cat’s claw.

The children wore scarves
on their heads for the performance
to make it seem they were
from far-flung places.

He refused to wear the school scarf.
He refused to conform.
He was a patch of blue in a uniform grey sky.

He was hung up on her.
Like football scarves
on a pub ceiling.

The bonfire melted the scarves and the icy silence
from the glowing faces.

I fell down in exhaustion
like a scarf fallen from a peg.


We walked out of the movies. He said that the film had been watchable yarn and listed some of the problems with it. I bit my lip. I didn’t like people talking about the film at the movies just as I was walking out. We went for a burger, sat on plastic seats opposite each other and still he went on about the film so in a rage – and quite out of character – I threw my diet coke in his face. He retaliated by throwing a punch: the burger falling out of his mouth as he did so. He kind of missed me but it still hurt. He walked out after that. We’re still friends though. I’ll never forget what he said about the movie though.


He knew today his legs would carry him home, carry him the five or so kilometers that he had planned to run. The sun, coming up over the marshland slowly, catching the water, glimmering golden, extinguished the presence of one or two biting mosquitoes as with each step and each second he created a new moment, becoming somebody he had felt like before but never been before as the dust and debris of night fell to the path. He ran in a fairly large circle under a blue sky, running rings around the scorched overgrowth and the still lagoons of water: dark water by green, muddy, mossy banks where the odd bird with long legs was picking at the ripples. With each lap the temperature climbed and like the sun he rose to the challenge – his legs carrying him home. Towards the end, sweat fell from his face like waves of adoration from a cheering crowd and a seagull swooped near the finish line. He caught his breath in the shade radiant and regenerated before heading to the supermarket for cat litter and fresh coriander.

Pizza in Orio

Trying to dodge downpours we delved into dinky bars for drinks and drifting dialogue before we leapt into the din of drinkers and diners at the pizzeria Kaleta. Down, we immediately sat – delightful feelings approached us as did ever more delightful waitresses who demanded and danced and drove us to distraction as did the menu. Mitad a mitad (half and half) was the order of the day. Delicious pizza, decidedly hot and delectable wine for John whose eyes drifted and darted amid the deafening noise of the diners.

A second pizza was ordered which surprised the waitress. The rain still dashing down windows as diners left and we continued devouring and disbelieving I was as John disappeared his vegetable pizza without breathing. We left leaving the young dreaming faces behind the bar as they danced at the tip john had decided to leave. We fell into the drizzle and the darkness back to the dry hostel and to bed to drift into the dead of the night.

Monkfish in Orio

Two blokes, obviously British, turn up to the restaurant (Bodegón José Maria). They don’t know where to sit, they sit outside for a bit and then they go inside. One of them is immediately mulling over which wine to order – the other seems less interested. They are the only ones in the restaurant but they sense the quality hanging on the walls and the history of the building. They order a quality wine, smell it and then for some reason put it to their ear. One of them – the older looking one – seems deeply affected as he takes each smell and sip of wine like he is experiencing some spiritual touch at first hand – divine and delirious spring to mind. The other one drinks quickly with less fuss but doesn’t drink as much water as the older one.

A salad arrives, they call it a Fifty dollar salad for some reason and they make conversation with the waiter, which is nice. They laugh a lot and seem at one with the world and themselves. Either that or they are drunk. Some other customers quietly enter the restaurant. Their main course is barbecued Monkfish – their eyes light up. One of them is relieved it has no bones. They pull orgasmic faces as they eat and make sounds of deep pleasure. They eat the gristle and the burnt bits and mop up the sauce with wholesome bread like starving pilgrims. They leave no stone unturned. They talk a lot about food and wine and the past and the present. They are like two ships out at sea on their own journey, two birds in the sky or two identical leaves falling in a forest. For this moment they seem like the best of friends who know exactly what they want and how to enjoy themselves.

They order a cheesecake for dessert and tell the waiter that the town is nice and the food: excellent. The older one is unimpressed by the cheesecake though but tells the waiter it’s great anyway. Maybe he doesn’t want to rock the boat.

The bill comes and they are surprised at the cost. €56 for the monkfish alone for a moment, derails them: a wave under their boughs, a predator in the sky, a breath of uneasy wind in the forest. They soon get over it and leave smiling wide and with purpose look for the waiter to say goodbye and to shake his hand. They also thank the chef who is outside cleaning the barbecue before disappearing into the Basque summer night. They seemed like good people.


The rain tapped the windowsill gently before the thunder implored it fell harder as through the open window came the cold smell of the storm, raindrops came inside glistening, the windowsill now applauding.

It was the aftermath of a hurricane (across the Atlantic) that had turned the English summer on its head. “We haven’t seen the likes of it in August before.” came a voice from downstairs.

The garden, which had been filled with shouting children, was now bowing in the force of the storm. The children watched from the bedroom window. The rain became so fierce they pretended they were out at sea, the water striking the side of the boat. I’ll be Captain!” said the boy. “I’ll be a pirate” said his sister. I’m gonna go and play on the computer” said the youngest.


There was once a grand house by the sea. It had a large garden and every night one summer, a small group of rabbits came out onto the lawn at dusk and began nibbling at the grass. They did it every night without fail. Although the owner of the house was fully aware what was happening he never minded. He didn’t think they were doing any harm and it meant he didn’t have to mow the lawn. Night after night they came; Night after night they hopped about the lawn.

One evening the owner had popped out for a drink and hadn’t closed the front door properly. He had been to the pub around the corner for a couple of drinks before dinner. When he returned an hour later he saw all the rabbits had been in the house. He was distraught, really distraught. The rabbits had eaten all the carpets in the house. He was horrified and began shouting at the rabbits until he realised under the carpets were some rather delightful wooden floorboards and York stone tiles that he had had no idea were there.

Bowls in the Garden

She had the Grandchildren over. They played in the garden. The boys played football. The girls did cartwheels and walked around whispering. For tea they had Sandwiches cut into triangles followed by ice cream. They ate on a rug on the grass. Some Pigeons watched wide-eyed from up on the chimney. At the top of the garden a Squirrel tried to escape over the fence without being noticed. The sun passed between the clouds. The grass glowed in the summer sun. The boys carried on playing football. The girls waited a bit before throwing themselves upside down again. Grandmother watched from the patio with a cup of tea. She watched as the ball shot down the garden, onto the rug and landed on her bowls, breaking them into large but useless pieces. For a moment Grandmother wept. The Children watched her tears. It seemed trivial to them. That was the end of the football. The boys said sorry and ran inside. They became noises from somewhere upstairs. The girls carried on doing cartwheels. The broken bowls were removed from the garden. Grandmother recovered. The bowls were forgotten.

A Flight of Fancy

‘Why is the Lancaster bomber not flying over today?’ asked the young lad.
‘Too windy, far too windy.’ said the plane enthusiast. ‘They’re very old planes you know, it would be like fishing in stormy seas with an old boat’ he continued, his voice trailing off as he walked away, leaving the air show.
The boy looked sad. He did up the zip on his red jacket and frowned at his mother.
‘Maybe next time?’ she said.
They left the common and made for home. The young lad, who was on his bicycle, rode far ahead pretending he was the Lancaster bomber. He dropped bombs on passers by and swooped into unsafe territory to show his stealth and strength. ‘This Lancaster bomber won’t be stopped by the wind!’ he shouted.

A Favourite Place


Campo Del Sur, Cádiz. The Southwest of Spain. I like the cathedral with its towers and golden dome that never fail to impress me and the sea, blue and green, that depending on the weather, strikes or laps against the seawall where sometimes feral cats and seagulls can be seen fighting over food scraps.

I am sometimes found here showing visiting friends around and as we linger, considering for a moment the incredible light, colours and space giving horizon, I anticipate the next pleasure that awaits them around the old towns crumbling corners and proud plazas.

A Coffee

It was Saturday so we walked into town for a coffee.
Unfortunately it started to rain.
Fortunately we had an umbrella and found a table outside the cafe, under cover.
Unfortunately it was a wobbly table and after the waiter had put down our coffees they spilt.
Fortunately, we were able to use the end of the umbrella to steady the table.
Unfortunately we only had half a cup of coffee left.
Fortunately the sun was out as we walked home but that was soon replaced with torrential rain.
Unfortunately we had left the umbrella under the wobbly table.

Left and Right

I left the house, walked across the pavement and between the cars.  I looked left, was greeted by the morning sun and saw there was no traffic coming so walked out onto the road turning right where I fell into a hole.  Even if you live on a one-way street it pays to look both ways.

Sea Level

Once there was a baby boy who lived high in the mountains.  He was a calm, happy boy but he didn’t sleep well at night.  As he didn’t sleep well at night the family decided to move down to the coast on the advice of a friend who had told them of better air pressure and the soothing sound of the waves and the daily activities on the beach that would tire him out and help him drift off but it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference.


A pebble sat on the doormat surrounded by shards of glass. For the owner of the house it was the downside of living a stone’s throw from the beach.

Steve O

16th May 2015

The horse was up-ended by the bull: the rider falling to the sand – but that was as much fun as the bull would have as the sun left the bullring and the blood left the bull becoming smeared across the Matadors golden costume. Jerez in the afternoon. Death in the afternoon.