Childhood Fears

3 10 2013

Tonight I have taken inspiration from a blogging challenge list and I have created a list of the five top things that have frightened me since childhood:

OOMPA LOOMPA’S: They are bloody terrifying! Don’t even get me started on the song. I made the mistake of revealing this fear to a class I taught once . The next time I saw them I was irritated to discover that about three of my boys were lurking in the corridor outside my class. When I went out to admonish them for being late I discovered them crawling on the floor with their shoes placed beneath their knees, wearing homemade Oompa Loompa , masks. The kids giggled insanely while I hid under the piano in the hall. They scare me soooo much I cannot even bear to attach a picture of the orange deamons.

MOOMINS: I don’t know why! They make weird noises and have no mouths.



FISH: When I was under ten years old my parents took me to a massive water park. In the reception area while Mum and Dad paid for our family ticket I amused myself by watching fish in the large tanks in the foyer. I was intrigued by the idea that all the fish were local and swimming in the beach adjacent to the water park – I had been swimming there a day earlier. As I pressed my nose up to the glass just in time for a large eel to pass the glass right in my field of vision. I haven’t liked or eaten fish since.



NEEDLES: This is an entirely rational fear. Substances being put into or taken out of my body via a needle is not natural and rarely good news. Whether its antibiotics to cure an illness or the removal of a blood sample to check my general health – it’s never good news. It also hurts and one must trust that the medical practitioner is using a clean needle and is well trained and empathetic.



DENTISTS: No further explanation should be required but should you feel you need one:



Flashing Lights and Trinkets

1 06 2013

Arcade Machine

On our trip last week we visited Brighton Pier.

It was a day full of nostalgia for me.

I fondly remember my family holidays to Portrush as a young child. These holidays always included two absolutely compulsory events:

1/ Dinner at Grahams

2/ A day at Barry’s

Grahams was a family restaurant clearly intended to keep children pacified so their parents could enjoy a meal in peace. Tom and Jerry was played on an endless loop, and when you cleared your plate you were rewarded with an image of a disney character smothered in bean sauce and ketchup and there was even a toy shop downstairs to visit on the way out.

Barrys is a funfair and amusement park. I remember being too frightened at age 6 to go down the helter skelter so my Dad had to come to the top to carry me back down, I loved the totally naff ghost train, almost threw up one time after being on the waltzer and couldnt visit even now without a ride on the merry go round.


Brighton transported me right back to my 6 year old self. None of us expected to spend so much time on the pier but the second we saw the coin machines we were as mezmorised as each and every one of the children enjoying a family day out over half term. FFOMC has always had a weakness for anything with flashing lights and it was only minutes before a crisp 5 pound note was exhanged for a tub of copper coins. I begged him to try to win me a Nemo on the claw machine but he failed in his quest so I set my sights on a keyring monster composed entirely of colourful elastic bands resting on top of a sea of copper.

One coin after another perfectly timed worked its way through the maze of pins until it finally came to rest and edged my prize ever closer to the edge. My heart stopped whenthe monster finally fell – only to have his elastic talons wedged under the weight of the coins – robbing me of victory. Try as I might I could not release him from his flashing perspex prison and walked away disappointed. FFOMC giggled at my failed attempts. My persistence was largely due to an experience on another family holiday to Spain  – it was our last day and although I didnt realise it at the time Mum and Dad had clearly run out of money. My Dad always had a soft sport for our well rehearsed puppy dog eyes and frittered away the last few Spanish pesetas on a pink and blue elastic band monster for each of his girls. Had I won a similiar monster last week I would have posted it to my Mom – although she probably doesnt remember my joy at this simple gift given on a Spanish holiday many moons ago.

The Brighton trip came to a conclusion only after we took many photographs with our faces wedged through spaces provided in comedy caricatures, FFOMC and bromance partner FNOMC (Future Nanny of my children – all will be explained in a future post); took a ride together in the Ghost Hotel and we all ate chips out of a paper cone.

I love that such simple pleasures kept four 30somethings entertained for such a long time and the way in which the fondest memories of childhood are quick to resurface and take us back to the endless summers of youth.

Spell Cauliflower

23 03 2013


One of my students recently wrote and performed a really clever monologue. I cannot remember the content in detail but the premise was that events in childhood have an impact on adult life.

She had painted scars all over her body and when questioned about this she explained that they were not meant to be literal but symbolic of the damage caused by childhood events. In her performance, written as a piece of poetry, she pointed to each scar and linked it to something that had happened in childhood that her character had carried with her throughout her life.

I am a fairly confident person but I am far from perfect and I am often reminded of my imperfections.

When I was making the transition from primary to secondary school at age 11 I didn’t make the grades to be accepted by a grammar school. However with a lot of work and consistently good grades I was invited to interview at a grammar school.

The interview went extremely well, until the head of English decided to give me an impromptu spelling test. I was fine until he asked me to spell cauliflower.

To this day, my face flushes red when I think of that moment and I relive the panic of knowing that my acceptance into grammar school was hanging in the balance because of a word I am confident I had never written down in my life up to that point.

I was accepted by the school but my parents have always mocked me about my spelling and I was a little scarred by the experience.

No one is good at everything and as an adult I can accept my faults – but if I could have the opportunity to speak to 12 year old me in that moment of my life – filled with anxiety and fear that I was about to ruin my entire future because of one misspelt word I would take the opportunity to extol the virtues of spell check and explain patiently to my moronic younger self that despite me many faults I would do alright for myself.

I'm part of Post A Day 2013

Sleeping Lions

28 02 2013

sleeping lions

In a recent A-Level lesson, I decided to give the students a sense of ownership by asking them to select our warm up activity. I was extremely surprised by their suggestion of ‘sleeping lions’ but at the same time touched by their childlike enthusiasm and warm fuzzy feeling about this game.

I always try to ensure that any ‘games’ I play have some sort of link to the main topic and objectives of the lesson e.g. wink murder suits ‘Murder Mystery’, and improv games are suited to lessons devoted to devising drama.

If you don’t know the game; sleeping Lions is designed to calm children down when they are excitable or over tired. They must all lie on the floor and pretend to be sleeping while the teacher attempts (usually unsuccessfully) to spot anyone who moves, if you are ‘caught moving’ you are out. I occasionally play sleeping lions with the 6 year olds at the end of a lesson I teach and they are ALL AMAZINGLY GOOD AT IT in the sense that I never seem to catch anyone. It is a means of sending them off to their break or back to their parents, relaxed and calm after a lot of physical activity.

I asked my A-Level students to consider the last time they had played sleeping lions – they agreed that it was at primary school. I also asked them to consider how successful they were and whether they could recall ever losing a game of sleeping lions – they could not. It took some time for them to connect the dots and realise that this wonderful game is a teaching strategy that gives the teacher some downtime at the end of the lesson if they have a couple of minutes before the break and gives them a chance to calm down the more ‘enthusiastic’ children.

I felt like a monster in a fairy tale revealing the real purpose of this game and witnessing the disappointment in my student’s eyes. I also felt a little bit sad that these ‘almost grown ups’ – who will be legally allowed to vote in a few months along with the other privileges that adulthood will afford them – are in many ways still children themselves and despite the desperation of most 17 year olds to be accepted as adults in many ways they are still clinging to the childhood that will soon be over.

I'm part of Post A Day 2013