LGBT / London / Writing

The Faerie Queene

Faerie QueeneIt’s my birthday today and I’d like to share a little poem that my English teacher, David Steddall, wrote in the card he gave me when I reached sweet sixteen.

I know you’re not a fairy queen

I know you’re not a donkey

Perhaps you’re something in between

Like a hairy gnome gone wonky

It reads worse than it was. It’s certainly true that I was relentlessly bullied as soon as I entered the gates of my ancient and prestigious South London grammar school. The other kids knew I was pink-leaning even when I didn’t (well, actually I did but that’s another story). I survived the ordeal by developing a sharp tongue and fast legs. But, by the time I reached my O Level years, the torment had subsided and I’d won the grudging acceptance of my peers, and high praise for my compositions. What Dave was actually telling me was to pull my finger out in the poetry stakes. “It’s not that difficult,” he wrote in my final school report after I miserably failed my English Literature mock. You see, I just didn’t get it. Simile, descriptive prose, analogy, word play?  It just flew right over my cute curly head. Do I get now? Well, let’s see:

“I know you’re not a fairy queen”

Because we’re not all camp as a row of tents (ok, I can be a little lary and loose-wristed, particularly when on the sauce).

“I know you’re not a donkey”

I’ve never claimed to be hung like Eeyore.

“Perhaps you’re something in between

Another sexuality reference, perhaps?

Like a hairy gnome gone wonky”

Well, my balls did drop sooner than most of my cohort and I was (and still am) vertically challenged. And the wonky bit? Another allusion to the Friends of Dorothy? I have a feeling in my water that this isn’t about Shakespeare’s sonnets after all.

There you go. Sorted. Now, where did I put my Chaucer?

PS.  I’m sure this degree of familiarity wouldn’t be allowed these days. We live in more hysterical times, imagining a pedo lurking round every corner. And, just in case anyone’s wondering, as far as I remember, Dave was a straight as my school ruler. No mucky business going on or intended.

18 thoughts on “The Faerie Queene

  1. Enjoyed you latest, as usual, especially the ‘poem’! Anyway, its your birthday, so here’s to you with best wishes, knowing you must have many more years ahead. Warmly, Julian

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  2. . . a poetic prophet scorned in his own land! It’s Midsomer Murders – or was that Nights Dream? It’s all there, Queen Titanium and that donkey fellow called Bottom! The wonky comes later with the love of the fermented grape, which some say is embedded in the human g-nome. Happy Birthday, old chap!

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  3. Well, I am most put out. Dave Steddall never gave ME a birthday card!! Perhaps it was because my birthday was always in the school holidays (and still is) so I’ll let him off. He was one of my two favourite teachers at our school. Those were the (bad old) days! Happy Birthday, Jack xXx

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