Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Poet has an Existential Crisis

I’m special. I’m chosen.
I’m special. I’m chosen.

I’m chosen. I’m special.
I’m worthless.

I’m what?

I’m what? I’m forgotten.
I’m certain of one thing.

Forgotten. For certain.
                  A lot.

I’m lucky. I’m grateful.
I’m grateful. I’m lucky.

I’m lucky. I’m grateful.
For what I have lost.

The truth is a lie.
Tied up with some lies.

The truth is tied up.
I    t’                    sa     
   d                            i

Look at it this way.
Look at it this way.
I am what I am:

I am (not).

Nobody’s blameless.
I’m grateful. I hate you.
I’m nobody’s son.
I’m chosen. I’m nameless.

I hate this. I’m special.
I’m lucky. I’m worthless.
Look at it this way:
I’m nobody’s son.

I’m certain. I’m special.
I’m certain of nothing.
I’m nothing for certain.
I’m lied to.
                    A lot.

I’m chosen. I hate this.
I’m hateful. Forgotten.
Look at it this way:
I’m lost in the lies.

I am what I am.
I’m nobody’s son.
I’m certain. I’m worthless.
I’m nobody’s choice.

I’m special. I’m chosen.
I’m grateful. I’m not
I’m nobody’s truth.
I’m the son they forgot.

And I’m me. But I’m not.
And I’m me. But I’m not.
And I’m me. And I’m me.
And I’m me.
                      But I’m not.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Ice-Cream Blues

'... Magnum ice-cream...' - Jeremy Clarkson

‘I don’t eat ice-cream. It’s something to do with being straight. Ice-cream is a bit you know...’ – Richard Hammond

‘...hahaha ... (ice-cream)... hahahaha... (you know)...’ – the audience

What massed inadequates are these? What fools
whose foul, unlettered laughter spills like shit
from fetid mouths and vicious hearts? They are
not men, but weaklings all: too delicate
from fear of sexuality not theirs
to feel the brutal damage which they cause.
   How fitting that such lame unsavouries
should take their flaccid cue from one who is
so pusillanimous he fears to eat
an ice-cream on a stick. But what’s to fear
from mere confection? What’s to fear when all
that’s there is nothing more than ice-cream on
a stick? What’s seen depends upon the man
who sees: he sees the thing he wants to see,
and thus reveals himself. And this man sees
no harmless, childish ice-cream on a stick:
he sees a large, intimidating cock.
His masculinity under attack –
from whom? Himself of course; his mind; his thoughts –
he cannot shake this phallic vision from
his troubled, scared imagination. Look!
For now the ice-cream in his mind is oozing
its sticky cream all down his manly hand.
‘Out! Out! Damned spot!’ But from where? And as what?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

ST Centos I-III

[from Sunday Telegraph Letters 02/10/2016;
one word/phrase per letter, per cento]

Cento I

cut off the money supply and
on junior doctors

Cento II

There is nothing beautiful about
Sam Allardyce

Cento III

in Scotland
wasp nests
are on sale at £1.50 each

Bonus Analogy Cento

is to

Sunday, 18 September 2016


Corrupting every schoolboy’s favourite quote –
that rulers were made to be broken –
I shattered it before I had
a chance to use it even once;
the see-through one I stole to measure
the many distances between us.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Real No-Brainer

“All the Democrats needed to do was find a warm human body to beat Trump. Maybe not even that; a wardrobe or perhaps a ham sandwich could have won the race. It’s as though they’ve scoured the country in order to find the only person who might be able to lose this election.”

      - Guardian Comment is Free contributor

The President need be no more
Than Cupboard Space or Parquet Floor,
Or Garden Gate or Sparkly Wig,
Or Tutu-Wearing Dancing Pig.

The President this year could be
A Biscuit Dunked in Builder’s Tea,
A Doorstep Sandwich Filled with Ham,
A Wardrobe or the Hoover Dam.

They’ve had a Bush, they’ve had a Carter,
They could have picked a Burning Martyr,
A Smoking Gun, or Frying Pan,
To beat the Odd-haired Orange Man.

Instead they chose a Coughing Fit,
A Can of Worms, a Lying Twit,
To do their bidding on the stump –
And in so doing, gave us Trump.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

I dream of rusted pipes

I dream of rusted pipes
my margin notes proclaim.

As far as I’m aware, though,
I’ve never dreamt of rusted pipes.

It isn’t much of an ambition, either,
to dream of rusted pipes.

But there it is, in grey and white:
I dream of rusted pipes.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

you said you wanted timelessness i gave you a mindreading clock

carved with a tight grip
sealed with a sideways glance
tears glum faces
awkward conversations
r   a   i   n
wednesdays will be good
in the opinion of flowers
no more poetry

Monday, 29 August 2016

DT Centos VII-IX

[from Daily Telegraph Letters 28/08/2016;
one word/phrase per letter, per cento]

DT Cento VII

I believe


voted for
heartwarming moments

DT Cento IX

Holy Grail
is obviously surplus to requirements

Saturday, 27 August 2016

DT Centos IV-VI

[from Daily Telegraph Letters 27/08/2016;
one word/phrase per letter per cento]

DT Cento IV

Jeremy Corbyn
is the new God

DT Cento V

What is the point of
deeply unsettling pictures
Jeremy Corbyn’s

DT Cento VI

Mr Corbyn
the Seventies
social and economic decline
control over society
sitting on the floor

Friday, 26 August 2016

DT Centos I-III

[from Daily Telegraph 26/08/2016;
one word/phrase per letter per cento]

Telegraph Letters Cento I

It’s time for action
injury lawyers
slow-cook them

Telegraph Letters Cento II

a bridge to connect the Isle of Wight to the
Isle of Wight
has more support than
Jeremy Corbyn 

Telegraph Letters Cento III

on French beaches

Friday, 19 August 2016

Trio Rio Cento the Third

[from Daily Telegraph letters commenting on Team GB, 19/08/16;
only one word/phrase per letter per poem]

Rio Cento VII

I believe that
an Olympic bicycle
could win
the diving

Rio Cento VIII

I have decided not to buy any more

Rio Cento IX

lottery tickets
expensive equipment
and the wonderful
Team GB

Bonus Rio Cento III


Injuring Crystals

Exactly same as
healing crystals
except thrown in face
of New Age Practitioner.

Crystals surely
more effective
when used as
injuring crystals?

‘The Hilarious Trajectory
of Poetic Velocity’
as my cat
would no doubt say.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Hymn to Indifference

Having just read my great-aunt Edna’s Poems,
I am a little sick of love and death
(and wrenched grammar, and rather feeble rhymes).

It’s not all bad: the four lines on page two
are called Indifference. More of that, I think:
Indifferent Poems by Edna Clarke Hall.

Entire collections: Songs to Nonchalance!
A Modern Requiem for Lack of Interest!
Detachment Be My Guide! Not death. Not love.


Trio Rio Cento Due

[from Daily Telegraph letters praising Team GB, 18/08/16;
only one word/phrase per letter per poem]

Rio Cento IV

More should be done to promote
my sailing club.

Rio Cento VI

Britain’s successes in the Olympic Games:
gold medals
my sailing club

Rio Cento VI

I am enormously impressed by
my sailing club

Bonus Rio Cento II

my sailing club
the Olympic Games

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Exciting New Paint Range

Dental Hygiene
Train Timetable
F# Minor
Injuring Crystals
Shopping Spree
Humorous Disease

Trio Rio Cento

[from Daily Telegraph letters praising Team GB, 17/08/16;
only one word/phrase per letter per poem]

Rio Cento I

Britain is back

Rio Cento II

it is remarkable
the times
we have to endure

Rio Cento III

unrelated to the Olympics
I am wondering
my right thumb has grown considerably

Bonus Rio Cento

Rio has never been more annoying
like one of those things one puts in a fish tank

The Ultimate Found Poem

The f.p. or object trouvé is
the presentation of something ‘found’
in the environment – a piece of
expository prose, a snatch of poetry,
or dramatic dialogue, a newspaper
page, document, map,  painting, photograph,
etc. – as a lineated text
and hence a poem, or the incorporation
of a prior text (see ALLUSION) into
a larger poetic structure.

[re: pointless argument (ii) from footnote to 'Here Be Dragons']

Here Be Dragons

[Radio 5, summer 2010, a one-line ‘found’ poem]

First, I talked to a man dressed as a dragon.

          *          *          *

But what is a found poem?

I think that the f.p. would make quite a fun diversion, if only I could be bothered (they don’t sound that fun). I’ve written a few centos, which I gather are considered a type of ‘found’ poem; they aren’t really, because you have to look bloody hard to find the damn things.

Pointless arguments: (i) all poetry is found poetry; (ii) all 'found poetry' is not really poetry.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Love Song to a Poetry Tutorial

Today, the monsters have arrived en masse
and you are hiding in a passageway
hypnotising your redundancy pay.

Blank verse?! A total no-no, and lines two
and three have accidentally rhymed themselves;
but it’s a weak rhyme, so we will allow it.

Their deconstructed reconstructed verse
plays tennis with the lights turned off. They can’t
complain, because they didn’t bring their racquets.

I should have said: most readers will be quite
confused by all your muddled images,
and this is great (but drop the metric feet).

Young poets steal their voices from each other. Listen:
cadences from each mouth.. are just.. like this?
They accidentally use iambic feet
which make/ the faux/ets bounce/ upon/ their feet?
Before the bounce disappears into normal speech patterns,
and the audience is hit in the face with a plank of triteness:
Bam! Which masquerades as insight.
What’s wrong these people?
Don’t they want find their own voices?
An entire generation with the same idiolect:
maydaymaydaymayday! Facepalm, banalbanalbanal.
They know how to write poetry the same way
that you or I know how to write a Béla Bartók sonata.

Changing targets mid-shot? Rhyming ‘feet’ with ‘feet’?
Losing the metre? Inconsistent line-count?
You’re getting there: only let down by the fact that
it seems to make sense. One last, completely irrelevant
‘versic paragraph’ and I’d say you’re done.

The poetry collective places its shoes
upon the smouldering hatstand. Elision
on smouldering; ‘loose iambics’ end line one.

You’ve totally lost them now: mission accomplished.

Elision on totally.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Passive Subversive

You’ve all heard of passive aggressive behaviour, but have you heard of other equally used passive behaviours? No? Well, never mind, because this week on ‘You and Your List’, Dr Desdemona Yoghurt, Professor of Headbutting at Hangover College, University of Luton Airport, lists the Top Ten passive behaviours which you all ought to know:  

10 Passive Competitive 

9 Passive Counterproductive

8 Passive Effusive

7 Passive Disruptive

6 Passive Suggestive

5 Passive Offensive

4 Passive Incommunicative

3 Passive Hyperactive

2 Passive Vindictive 

1 Passive Neoconservative

[All examples of passive behaviours can be taken as modules in the University of L.A.’s Combined Studies Degree (B.A.) which leads to a professional qualification as a vegetable handler.]

Shallow Wisdom

Of the far-too-many things
which grate against my inner peace,
it is the shallow wisdom

of the ‘I’m more spiritual than you’ brigade
which inspires me, deluded peacenik that I am,
to think thoughts of senseless violence.

Recently, I encountered one such quote,
from a beatified Archbishop,
on the mantelpiece of a holiday home.

In blissfully ironic ignorance
of where it was located, this postcard exhorted me:
Aspire not to have more but to be more.

Be more what? Insightful? Wise? Full of bullshit?
It’s difficult to know where to begin, really, isn’t it?
So let’s not even start. No, I jest.

Let’s start with a knuckle-duster,
and thwack this sanctimonious little comment
full square in its faux-enlightened face.

‘You should aspire to be more quiet,’
I say, above a cacophony of distress,
while lacing up my Size Ten comment-kicking boots.



Sensing that my work with this quote
is nearing its conclusion, I douse it with lighter-fluid,
flick a match, and stare in holy wonder

at the death dance of its briefly flowering flames.
I walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea
and notice a quote from the Dalai Lama stuck to the fridge.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Family Album

Me and my brothers (snapped between April - August 2016)

Wordydoodle II

Triolet (also during first staff meeting, spring term 2010); 
over page from 'Wordydoodle I'


Oh great! So, here we go again,
Another bloody stupid meeting.
Try not to lose the plot, but then...
Oh, great, so here we go again.
I know that it will end, but when?
The whole affair is vapid bleating.
Oh, great! So here we go again,
Another bloody stupid meeting.

Wordydoodle I

From notebook pulled from stack of recently bagged old notebooks.

Abandoned unfinished parody of Owen’s Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori (during first staff meeting, spring term 2010).

Bullshit et B-boring Est Bore Boria Bori

Bored shitless, like dead zombies in a hearse,
Dull-eyed, whining like dogs, we cursed our Head.
Towards the busy term, each turned a face,
And, thinking of the work, then ran and hid.
Some wept aloud; the rest just sat and groaned
Or fell asleep. Many had lost their minds
[But held on, brain-burned
Drunk from Christmas, deaf to all the

-                                                               ]
Work! Work! Quick, staff! An agony of planning:
Writing the wretched lessons, wasting time.
While some remained, just standing there and chatting,
Already some were running out of steam.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A Rare Victory for the Pictures

for M.S. - thanks

Being a wordy bastard I’ve never really gone with the whole ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ blah. I’ve often read a poem, though, and thought that it painted a thousand pictures, so, you know. There we have it. I haven’t really. I’m exaggerating. Two hundred pictures. Okay, seven.

And then I came across this image... 

...and I just thought, ‘Ooh, that’s a bit fucking hell.’ 

Not because it's funny.

Not because it's surreal and absurd.

But because it explains adoption.

While managing to be funny, surreal and absurd.

It's the much more intelligent and educated 3rd cousin-once-removed of my favourite joke:

Q. How many adopted people does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. It's best to keep them in the dark.

Anyway, I must thank an acquaintance who heroically runs an adoption Facebook group (of which I am an occasionally contributing member) for the image. She read my previous post ten times while sitting in Tescos car park. And then she messaged me: 'it says more in a few lines than books full of adoption analysis.'

Which is pretty much how I felt when I saw that picture. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

share the luck

when i was young i kept a list of all the interfering adults who had no right to tell me that i was lucky to have been adopted but did so anyway and thus it was years later that i arranged one by one for their grandchildren to share the luck that i had once had but at the end of the trial they all explained in their victim statements how terribly traumatic it had been for their grandchildren to lose their mothers and i just thought well you said i was lucky make your mind up luck or trauma which one is it and when the judge ruled that after all this time it was in the best interests of the children to stay with their adoptive families i just thought ha the lucky things

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

It’s Not the Money, It’s the Principle (Oh, Sure)

I asked for a small pay rise,
They said, ‘Are you trying to be funny?’
I replied, ‘It’s not the principle...
That bothers me. No, it’s the money.’


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Heston Blumenthal’s Menu’s Revenge Menu


Corn on the Carpet

Ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong Soup

Roof Tiles on Toast

Act I

Cigarette Tikka Masala

Slap on the Face en Croûte

Off-road Moussaka

Act II

Badger Meringue Pie

Rocking Horse Ice-Cream (fleeing Nazi Germany)

Television Crumble served with Rat-a-tat-tat Custard


Coffee-coloured Wallpaper 

A selection of Garage Cheese served with Plate-glass Biscuits

Not Fixing a Hole

I would not fix the hole.
I’d let the rain come in.
Allow my mind to wan...
...der off... in search of... sleep.

Have You Checked Your Face?

I recently started wearing glasses for reading and writing. I won’t, however, be posting funny anecdotes on Facebook about how I’ve lost them. Anecdotes like the one I posted after having walked around the house searching in vain for my mobile phone so that when I eventually called its number from the house phone, I heard its sneering ring-tone singing ‘Who’s a silly boy, then? Who’s a silly boy...’ from my left hand (being right-handed, my left hand has to resort to such infantile prankstering in order to get itself noticed; I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about). My left hand has pulled this devious stunt twice now, and Son 5 has recently taken to quipping, whenever I’m mid-search for something, ‘Have you checked your hands?’  I only have myself (and my attention-seeking left hand) to blame.

Many people who take to wearing glasses in middle-age spend a few irksome years mislaying/searching for, mislaying/searching for, etc., their glasses until they finally admit defeat and attach said glasses to a piece of string to be worn around the neck so that the glasses stop absconding and are available at all times when a teenager is not on hand to read the jar’s label. Of course, the real reason why the recently long-sighted take so long to wear glasses on a string is that they secretly feel that they’re not hanging glasses around their neck so much as a sign which reads ‘Great. Now I look like a grandmother.’ Which is a bit of a mortality moment.

Middle-age may not have yet brought me wisdom but it has at least imparted a modicum of self-awareness, and I decided to wear the ‘I look like a grandmother’ sign around my neck pretty much from Day One of Glasses.

And there we have it. I have yet to lose my glasses (one small step for a Fergus; one giant leap for Ferguskind).

Postscript: Even I won’t wear two pairs of glasses round my neck, so obviously I’ve already mislaid/searched for, my spare glasses.

Post-Postscript: While writing this pointless piece of frippery I suddenly slammed my palms on my chest – where were the glasses which now permanently reside there? You can almost hear Son 5’s voice, can’t you? ‘Have you checked your face?’ 

Patron Saints!

The late Pope John Paul II (now St John Paul the Great, Patron Saint of Hairdryers) resurrected the papal vogue for canonising people (this has nothing to do with snooker).

He was right to do so: there is still much Patron-Saintlessness in the world/nonsense in my head, and they clearly both need Patron Saintifying. Many saints, like St Anthony of Padua, already have four departments dealing with intercessions (where does St A of P find the time you ask? Simple – he’s the patron saint of travellers, and, as every catechist will tell you, this includes time-travellers).

Generous-hearted individual that I am, I have saved the current Pope a whole load of time and effort and written up a list not only of new saints but also the departments for which they are responsible. I’ll only feature the top ten; you can probably guess the rest.

Take it away St Miscellaneous, Patron Saint of Unnecessary Lists:

St Miraculous – Patron Saint of Leicester City FC
St Anonymous – Patron Saint of Nondescript People; 
                             and also Failed Poets                      
St Tarquin-have-no-Chin – Patron Saint of the Entitled Minor Aristocracy
St Calamitous – Patron Saint of American Politics
St Posthumous – Patron Saint of the Labour Party
St Vacuana – Patron Saint of Heat Magazine; 
                        and All Other Gossip Magazines
St Buffet-the-Hunger-Slayer – Patron Saint of All You Can Eat for a Fiver.
St Erroneous – Patron Saint of People You Disagree With/
                          People With Whom You Disagree
St Coward of Custard – Patron Saint of Keyboard Warriors Whose Online 
                                        Moniker is Justice Warrior 999, but whose Actual 
                                        Moniker is Colin Tremble
St Fergus of Nowhere Fast – Patron Saint of Silly, Silly, Silly

NB Not to be confused with a Patron Stain – a person who is a stain on humanity and shouldn’t be a patron of anything, even if it has his name on it e.g. Tony Blair is the Patron Stain of the Tony Blair for God Foundation. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016


From my notebook, which is full of exquisite handwriting, I have just misread the word fingernails as fingernauts (see picture below; word circled).

The full phrase was, I'm at war with my fingernauts (sic). I’m not sure what the fingernauts were doing for me to declare war on them, but as I rarely declare war without a very good reason (your hair is the wrong shape, you're not as tall as I thought you were, it's raining, etc.) then they must have been doing something pretty shocking.

Of course, we are all at war with our fingernails, aren’t we?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Taking a Walk Through a Slogan

Today, I am going to walk you through an analysis of Mr Trump’s slogan. Bizarre as it may sound, we shall be looking for signs of poetry on our journey.

Before we set out on this adventure, remember to pack three As in your bag:

(i) Accent:                  which can be either strong or weak

(ii) Alliteration:           why would ­we want that?

(iii) Assonance:           hey, wait till I’ve made my points

All packed and ready, then? Off we stroll. (Keep up at the back, and no complaining.)

(i) Accent
Make     A    mer   i    ca      great     a   gain   

Ignore the words, tap the accents. The rhythm of the phrase is quite bouncy. Bouncy is positive and echoes the positive nature of the message.

The strong accents on Make and great complement and echo each other, which reinforces the positive, because the two words, Make and great, are positive.

The strong accent on great has a little added strength; so, if boiled down to just one word, the slogan is: great.

As long as Mr Trump sticks to this slogan, then every time an American says ‘great!’ they are, in fact, echoing the core of the slogan.

You might think that: again should be: again

I agree with you, depending on how you say the slogan:

Make America great (slight pause) a gain.   

This might make the slogan read:

Make America great: a gain.   

Thus, making America great is a gain. It’s a plus. It’s an increase in whatever you want it to be an increase in. Probably money. And jobs. And your standard of living. And whoop-de-doop and yeehah(!) for all I know.

Okay, what’s next? Oh, goody. Something simple.

Time to unpack the alliteration. (Well, I said it was something simple, didn’t I?)

(ii) Alliteration (a pedant snack, if you want one, is at the end of the walk)

Make America great again

Two examples of simple alliteration.

Makes it more memorable.

A little alliteration is a good thing.

Too much alliteration is a tongue-twister (Make America more magic, man).

But no alliteration? You’re missing a trick.

And so on to the final leg of the journey: Assonance. (Don’t give in now! We will be finished in a minute.)

(iii) Assonance

Make America great again.

The assonance amplifies the effect which the strong accents have on Make and great.

If we put in that (slight pause) then the assonance could be like this:

Make America great (slight pause) again (or: a gain).

The assonance here could amplify the bouncy rhythm and the connotations of ‘a gain’.

So, much as it might astonish us, when we take Accent, Alliteration, and Assonance into account, there is a lot of poetry to be found in Mr Trump’s slogan.

And that’s the end of the walk. What did you think of the views along the way?

As you make your way home, here’s one final point to talk about (I left it till the end as it’s an English teacher point and not a poet point):

Just a reminder of the four types of sentence:

1. Statement:  ‘America is great again.’

2. Question: ‘Is America great again?’

3. Command: ‘Make America great again.’

4. Exclamation: ‘Great!’

By using a command, Trump is commanding the American people to: ‘Make America great again.’

Like a Commander-in-Chief.

Also known as the President.

What does this mean? It means that every time Trump says ‘Make America great again’ he is being presidential. (Furthermore, any time an American says 'Make America great again' they are being commanding, and that feels good, and if you feel good when you say the slogan, then you will associate feeling good with the person whose slogan it is: Mr Trump. So you'll be more likely to vote for him. Unless Mrs Clinton has a better slogan; but that's a post for another day.)

[Pedant Snack  re: alliteration.

I appreciate that, strictly speaking, alliteration should start the word. However, a quick glance at the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics states: ‘...close enough to each other for the ear to be affected...’ So, while the ms and the gs in ‘Make America great again’ aren’t pure alliteration, they have the same effect on the ear as alliteration; we might more accurately say that they are alliterative (but I was trying to avoid steep hills on this walk). Furthermore, it sounds to the ear as though there is an indefinite article before the not-alliteration-but-alliterative words: a (merica); a (gain).

Obviously, there’s no such thing as a merica, but your ear doesn’t know that, and I personally think that the phrase ‘obviously there’s no such thing as a merica’ sounds bloody funny, and, what’s more: you can’t disagree with it.]

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A former English Teacher’s Take on (teacher) Trump v (teacher) Clinton

To start with, we have Mr Trump’s part in this analogy:

Unlikely as it may sound, Mr Trump is like an effective teacher whose lessons are memorable. Such a teacher got into a red-brick university through clearing, and only scraped a 2:2, because he was too busy dicking about. However, he knows enough to teach the curriculum and understands the average child. An effective teacher knows that the average child can only take in so much information in one lesson; he knows that an overloaded curriculum is an impediment to a good education; and he teaches his lessons accordingly. This means sticking to one or two points which he will elaborate upon a little, return to again and again and again, and intersperse with digressions in the form of eccentric red herrings – which may be true, a pack of lies, improvised, well-rehearsed, funny, etc., and which make the lesson compelling. And memorable.

In this analogy, the purpose of teacher (politician) Trump’s lesson (campaign) is to teach his class (the undecided American voters) two main points (1. His slogan: Make America great again; 2. How he would like them to see his adversary: Crooked Hillary). He returns to these two points again and again and again and again, so that his pupils remember them. All the other stuff which teacher Trump says and does (build a wall, ban Muslims, climate change is man-made because the Chinese invented it) belongs in the realm of the red herring: these may be true, a pack of lies, improvised, well-rehearsed, funny, surreal, etc., but they make the lesson (campaign) compelling. And memorable.

Some of the other pupils in the school (in this case, the Americans who have decided to vote for Mrs Clinton), have heard about both his lesson and his red herrings, which they all agree are in very poor taste and have bugger all to do with education (politics). They also really, really hate the way that he takes the piss out of some of the pupils. These other pupils often talk about teacher Trump as they play in the playground (post videos about Trump on Facebook and Twitter, etc). While they may talk about his dreadful red herrings with disapproval (click on angry face, etc.), they are also, weirdly, able to articulate his lesson’s two main points at the drop of a hat (Make America Great Again and Crooked Hillary).

So, on to Mrs Clinton and her part in the analogy:

Mrs. Clinton is like a super-clever teacher, a super-duper clever teacher, who knows absolutely everything there is to know about her subject – apart from how to teach it. Mrs Clinton went to a top university, got a First, and enjoyed her time there: she was so clever that she could do both. By the way, her husband used to be the Headteacher (the President of the USA), but the less said about that, the better.

As alluded to above, super-duper clever teacher (politician) does not always equal effective teacher, and teacher Clinton, while being a super-duper clever teacher, with experience as a Head of Department (Secretary of State) is also an ineffective, or useless, teacher. Teacher Clinton wildly overestimates her own abilities as a teacher, and likewise, she overestimates the interest levels and attention spans of the pupils in her class (the undecided American voters we met earlier; they are, after all, being courted by both Trump and Clinton, and you take more than one class in school, as we all know). Thus, she overloads her lesson (campaign) with a Gradgrind-esque nightmare of facts, facts, and more facts, some further facts, additional facts, extra facts, new facts, a handful of supplementary facts, a few more important-sounding facts, lots of relevant-looking facty facts, and yet... more... fucking... facts (which are her slogans, plural: 1. Hillary for America; 2. Fighting for Us; 3. I’m with Her; 4. Stronger Together; and... How she would like these voters to see her adversary, which is not encapsulated in one, overarching memorable image, but is, instead, a total shower of shit: Mr Trump is dangerous; he’s unprepared; he’s thin-skinned; he has no ideas; he’s a climate-change denier; he’s a racist; he’s inexperienced; he’s temperamentally unfit.)

Her lessons go from one fact (slogan) to another (thing about Trump) to another (slogan) to another (thing about Trump) to another (slogan) before her pupils have had a chance to digest the last fact (about Trump) which has just fallen out of her mouth, leaving them confused, uncertain and switched off before she’s even walked into the classroom (their house, via TV and the internet). In addition to this, some of the boys have become really pissed off with teacher Clinton’s perceived favouritism of the girls. Not all of them, of course (hmmm...).

Some of the other pupils in the school (in this case, the Americans who have decided to vote for Mr Trump), have listened at the door to teacher Clinton’s lesson. Although some of them can follow what she’s saying, none of them can be bothered to do so and many of them furiously join in with the conversations about teacher Trump as they lark about in the playground (post videos about Trump on Facebook and Twitter, etc). They ignore his red herrings and instead remind everyone about teacher Clinton’s time as Head of Department (Benghazi, emails) and her husband’s time as Headteacher, when he didn’t have an affair with someone who wasn’t his secretary. They are, unsurprisingly, able to articulate his lesson’s two main points at the drop of a hat (Make America Great Again and Crooked Hillary).

Now, there’s going to be a Student Council (the American General Election) on November the 8th which will ask all of the pupils in the school to decide who they think would make the better Headteacher (President of the USA): Teacher Trump or Teacher Clinton? However, it is mainly the pupils who sat in on Teacher Trump and Teacher Clinton’s classes (the undecided American voters) who get to swing the decision one way or the other. It is highly likely that almost all of these pupils will base their decision, not on who was the smartest teacher, but on whose lesson was most memorable: teacher Trump’s two-point lesson, or teacher Clinton’s Factful Encyclopaedia Trumpiana?

The School Council’s decision is very important because it will determine who The School Governors appoint as their new Headteacher.

You can work out what last line means all by yourself.

Happy campaign following!

Background/context to the analogy:

I recently had a conversation my father, who’s a retired Deputy High Court Judge and therefore no slouch, about the current American election campaign. “Trump’s talking about make America great again,” he said, which I took as my cue to interrupt him.

“You know his campaign slogan, then?”

I had derailed His Honour’s train of thought.

“What? Oh... yes.”

“What about Mrs Clinton’s campaign slogan?”

 “Errrrrm...” His Hon. never normally says “Errrrrm...” and I knew he was a bit nonplussed. He knew Trump’s campaign slogan but not Clinton’s? How was this possible?

I changed tack while Monsieur le Judge considered this.

“It’s interesting how the Trump campaign has characterised Clinton, though, isn’t it?” I asked.

“What?  As Crooked Hillary?” came the reply.

“That’s the one,” I said. “With Clinton’s equivalent characterisation of Trump being.....?”

“Errrrrm...” He instantly knew how Trump had been characterising Clinton but was not immediately certain about how Clinton had been characterising Trump? Yet he had, to a certain extent and albeit from a distance, been following the American election campaign? What was going on?

While he sat there pondering his response, I jumped in and started talking about the analogy which I had been constructing (this had been my intention all along, devious bastard who loves the sound of his own voice that I am). I hoped that my analogy might go some way to explaining his respective knowledge/lack of regarding the Trump/Clinton race - which I had assumed he would demonstrate (gotcha! Dad). It’s a flawed analogy, but I hope you agree that it has its good points. Thanks for reading.