I can see myself at seventeen,
we've relocated down to Bristol.
My new school is not my scene
and what I've got to do is crystal-clear to me.
So, I go to the school deputy.
"I'm off to get a job, I've got to go."
He smiles and says "Stay on a while,
At least secure a job before you go, John."
And I say "No"
Because I'm seventeen and stupid.
I cannot get a job, although I try and try,
I cry and cry...
"Dad, stop trying to console me!"
Then I decide to stuff my pride,
I'll go back to that deputy and see if he'll agree to re-enrol me.
Knocking on his door, I'm sure that I'll be
no more welcome than a rat
but he makes me feel I'm wanted
I'm seventeen and stupid, he knows that.
"We're here to teach you, we're here to reach you,
that's what we're here to do
Even though you're seventeen and stupid."
But I'm not like that any more.
Now I'm stupid and I'm fifty-four.
This is me, in football kit, in Bristol, in Rodway School 1st XI at 18. I'd nearly left the school the year before because I hadn't fitted in after leaving London when Dad retired. I was quite bad at the sport but managed not to show it in the photo.
John Hegley was born in London, educated in Luton, and - on his father's retirement - at sixth form in Mangotsfield, Bristol, where he had a shaky start. He went on to study Literature at University in Bradford, where he worked with youths outside the school system. He went on to Children's Theatre and potato poetry.
Another poem for Eve to mark out of 10 on a post-it note is included in Diamond Twig's anthology The Ropes: Poems to hold on to, a collection of poems chosen to appeal to teenagers. You are invited to join Diamond Twig for the launch of The Ropes on Friday 4th April, 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm at Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, in the attic.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Another poem for Eve to mark out of 10 on a post-it note © John Hegley 2008: used with permission.
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This page last updated 20th March 2008