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Thought From The Corner

July 4, 2012

"thoughts from the corner"

Recently, in my role as a one to one English teacher, I was looking at characterisation. The student was heading towards GCSE English examination day and I thought that looking at what ‘makes’ a character would be useful revision for the BIG day.

We spent some time discussing personality traits, physical attributes, giving characters dialogue, etc. I then set the question. ‘Write a descriptive essay of your grandfather’. Off he went, dying to make a start and not wanting to spend the initial five minutes writing a plan; a jolly good idea for settling the nerves and plotting out the direction your essay will take. Students seem so reluctant to do this. Why is that – something to do with the ‘instant gratification’ society that we live in perhaps? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told this pupil to write a plan – sometimes I feel it’s like casting pearls. . .

That was it. . . straight back to my childhood. In my head I, too, was writing an essay about my grandad. That warm, gentle, softly spoken man of so many years ago. It was said that if he had money he would have been a ‘Gentleman’. Instead, he didn’t have a lot of money, he was what I would term a ‘real’ gentleman. A title earned by wonderful human attributes, not one inherited because your parents were wealthy.

I have so many wonderful memories of that wonderful man. If I can beg your indulgence for a number of lines there is one such memory that I would like to share with you.

Every time I visited he would be in his favourite armchair by the side of the coal fire with a mug of steaming tea on the hearth. ‘Hiya grandad’, I would say.

‘Hiya, ar kid. Come here, come sit on my knee and I’ll tell you a tale.’

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It was always like that and that was what I really looked forward to when my father would say, ‘I’m going grandads, do you want to come?’

You bet I did!

I ran to grandad and flung myself at him as he gathered me up in his arms and put me on his knee.

He would say, with a wonder deep, resonant timbre, that thrilled me then and brings a tear to my eye now, ‘One dark and stormy night three men sat in a cave and one said to other, “Tell us a tale” ‘.

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There was a long pause as I let this sink in.

Then he would begin again. ‘One dark and stormy night three men sat in a cave and one said to the other, “Tell us a tale” ‘.

Again there would be long, long pause as I sat there expectantly, hardly daring to breathe.

Then he began again. ‘One dark and stormy night. . . ‘

Of course, he would say the same thing over again and every time I would wait for the story to continue.

As my private English lesson came to its conclusion I let grandad recede into my inner-consciousness, leaving me with a warm inner glow as I walked out into the cold, wet night to return home to a mug of steaming tea.

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