Monday, 31 December 2012

A Tribute to Karen Clougher

By Stanley Collymore

On Christmas Day I received a phone call from a former student of min, and who for several years since leaving school has become a close friend of mine, wishing me a Happy Christmas and to proudly inform me as well that she was pregnant with her second child.

She and her husband, also a former pupil of mine at the school they both attended and where I was their English Master, already have a gorgeous daughter who is three years old; is as delightful as any adorable child could possibly be, and to whom I was graciously asked by her parents, even before she was born, to be her Godfather, a request I was most delighted to accede to.

During my telephone conversation with both these former students now personal friends of mine, and of course interjected with comments by my God-Daughter, we naturally reminisced over those schooldays of yesteryear, chatted animatedly about classmates who’re now our mutual friends; what everyone involved was currently doing, and generally had a laugh about life, its ups and downs, but specifically concentrated on its positive aspects which was always the significant hallmark of the social and instructive intercourse that existed between my pupils and me. And I’m quite proud to say that I successfully managed to imbue in all of them this specific criterion as was well evidenced in this particular phone call as well as the others I recurrently receive at varying times from others I have taught.

At the conclusion of this invigorating, most pleasant and thoroughly delightfully entertaining phone call I sat down in the enrapturing presence of my other half and decided there and then to do some reminiscing of my own with the added advantage of a practical dimension.

One that entailed the perusing of my personal teaching archives with a focus on the earliest years of my teaching career; and with the enthusiastic support of my other half who became actively involved and was just as impressed by what she saw and read as I still was after all that time, as she didn’t feature in my life then since that occurrence was still several years away from our meeting for the first time ever let alone my getting to know and subsequently becoming involved with her, I did just that.

Together we unearthed a lot of brilliant work created by and engaged in by those distant pupils of mine; all of whom are now I’m delighted to say immeasurably worthy citizens of their respective countries, most notably so in those incredibly challenging early years the United Kingdom, as well as commendable adults by any benchmark that one could reasonably devise, several of them now with families of their own, and each of them making their own invaluable contribution to humanity and life generally, their own accomplishments and those of their families in particular.

And as such it would be a massive understatement on my part to say that I’m immensely proud of all of them, and point out that this citation is as much a tribute to them and their outstanding work at school and on leaving it as it is to the one item that was finally and representatively decided upon. That item is Karen Clougher’s poem “loneliness”, written when she was in the third year at Great Barr Comprehensive Scholl on the outskirts of Birmingham in the English Midlands, and aged 14.

It was unanimously selected by my partner and me because of its compellingly touching, down to earth and straightforward narrative that none the less was coherent, moving and thought-provoking in the manner in which it dealt so persuasively with the subject of loneliness in its most empathetic forms. Significantly too, it intensely reveals a most perceptive insight of life well beyond Karen’s physiological age at the time, as well as displays her adept command of the English language and mastery with words.

There’s much more as her former English Master and class tutor that naturally I could say about Karen Clougher and her excellent poem especially at this Christmastide, but would much prefer in both instances after you’ve read her work to let you be the impartial judge of what I’m presenting you with. Now with my fullest recommendation I heartily present you with the poem “loneliness” by Karen Clougher.


All about you there are lonely people,
some of whom are wealthy, others poor;
nevertheless, they’re all lonely
whatever background they
come from. Old and young alike
they need your help. And as
inflation attacks, the poor are
the most vulnerable;
the most needy.

Vivid in the minds of the old are scenes
of conflicts fought on behalf of their
country; now they have nothing to
show for their efforts except the
painful memories they hold.
What thanks did they ever get
from you for saving your
country and guaranteeing
you your freedom?

So give generously the next time a charity
association calls, as this is one way of
repaying the old soldiers, their wives
and widows who gave so much
when their services were so
desperately needed. Don’t
turn your back on them or
treat any tramp with
customary disgust.
Chances are their predicament isn’t
their fault and more likely is
probably yours, partly.

© Karen Clougher.

All rights reserved by the authoress and publisher.


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