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St.Stephen's writers
Showcasing the talents of local writers


We know from the Arts and Crafts Fairs that we have many talented artists St. Stephen’s and following on from our new artists page we bring you a page to showcase the talents of the writers amongst us in St. Stephen's !

Email us for a chance to show us your work via: Contact Page.
The first thing about Kate
Is that she’s never late,
And when she gets to work,
There’s no chore she will shirk.
She’s always cheerful too
In all she has to do.
She makes the house as clean
As ever house was seen,
And when her washing’s through
Each shirt is bright and new.
Though more I could afford
She asks for small reward.
The virus may be round
But she will keep us sound
With lotion and with mask
She does what the rules ask.
To see her in the drive.
Makes me feel more alive,
And, for that pleasant while,
The whole world seems to smile.
How marvelous that Fate
Bestowed on us our Kate!

Edward G.

When nighttime comes then sadness comes once more
For it is clear that fewer days remain,
And those that now are past leave so much pain
With their sad toll of loved ones now no more.

It is not like the goods inside a store
Which one can count and docket, making plain
A clear inventory of loss and gain:
Life is no game where one can check the score.

The summing up eludes the what and why,
We cannot even grasp a single stage
Of what has been life’s long unfolding tale.

A true survey of all that has passed by
Escapes us as we all look back in age,
It seems the more we try, the more we fail.

Edward G.

The teachers in the staff room looked up in surprise as the headmistress walked in. She had recently been promoted from deputy head of the school which was a large mixed grammar school. Her visits to the staff room were now rare and usually momentous. This promised to be no exception.

The headmistress looked around the room and at the teachers. Carefully choosing her words, she began to speak. “This is the year that the Olympic Games are coming to our country. I think that we should have our own school Olympics. We have four houses and each can represent a different country.” She paused. The assembled teachers looked at each other. They stayed silent. The headmistress spoke again. “Well,” she said somewhat sharply. This time there was a response. The older ones groaned inwardly at the thought of the extra workload. The younger ones showed more enthusiasm, particularly two of the women teachers with ambitions towards the vacant deputy headship, both Oxbridge graduates and regarded their present position as a step to higher things. Both had read Classics and both had a Blue for running, but not from the same University. They carried the enmity between Oxford and Cambridge to an intellectual level, to the amusement of the rest of the staff. They both realized that this could be the ideal opportunity to further their career prospects through the vacant deputy-headship, as it was in the headmistress’s power to appoint.

Preparations began. In true traditional British fashion, a committee was formed and naturally the two blues elected themselves as members, while each unsuccessfully tried to block the other. It was decided that the school would concentrate on the original classical Olympic Games. Running, High and Long-Jumping were easy choices. Wrestling, Boxing and Discus were more difficult and were discarded. Much to the surprise of the two blues, a recent member of the staff revealed an intimate knowledge of the ancient games. He explained that all the athletes were male and competed naked. Women were not allowed to participate. The committee almost unanimously decided that sports clothes would be worn and girls would take part.

The Cambridge blue saw an opening. “I think we should invite the parents and have a joint parent-teacher race.” The other, an Oxford blue, looked up in surprise. She had a sinking feeling that her opponent could just be faster than her. This would not look good in front of the headmistress and the school governors. Reluctantly she agreed. The events programme was decided and published. Each house promptly held trials in great secrecy, which were spied upon by the other houses. Form was noted and two of the more enterprising sixth formers carefully worked out the odds and started a book on the results. The odds on the blues were evens.

The headmistress gave further thoughts to the events programme. She decided that there should be a race in which everyone could compete. She suggested a Cross-Country race and that it should be house against house. The house-masters warily agreed and eyed each other. There was much speculation in the different houses. The bookies had not taken this development into their calculations. They were seriously alarmed and had no idea how to calculate the odds. They decided to spread the risk by recruiting further members to their syndicate, so that each house was represented.

It was decided to hold the games on a Saturday so that parents, siblings and others could attend. A refreshment menu was drawn up and the cooks were encouraged to give up their day off by the offer of generous overtime payments. All had been carefully budgeted by the time-honoured process of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The presence of the school governors could be vital if, later on in the year, there were any unexpected financial consequences.

The arrangements and re-arrangements continued right up the day of the Olympics. Finally, the great day dawned, fine and sunny, to the dismay of the more corpulent members of the staff whose idea of exercise was walking from the pub car park to the saloon bar. The school was fortunate that their large sports ground had not been sold off to the covetous local builder and property developer, thanks to the determination of the recently retired headmaster.

The guests arrived, the governors in their Sunday best and an assortment of parents, siblings and others. Some were already dressed ready for their race. The others were suitably clothed for the occasion. The younger siblings had already been warned by their parents to behave responsibly, so that there would be no black marks against them when it was their turn to apply for a place at the school.

There was a final briefing for the teachers. The headmistress reminded them that some of the parents were fiercely competitive where their child was concerned. She went on, “If there is a close-run finish, with a potential dispute between parents, I suggest you declare a dead heat.” The teachers muttered amongst themselves. They knew the problem. It arose from trying to referee the annual inter-house football league. More than one father had been given a red card for trying to intimidate the referee. One of the more experienced referees muttered to his colleague, "It’s bad enough without the parents being there."

Everything was in place. The crowds were waiting. When the public address system started to have tantrums, the science master, using his considerable experience and scientific training, hit it smartly on the top with the flat of his hand. It worked. The chairman of the school governors announced, "Let the Olympics begin." The competitors for the first race were lined up and ready. The sports master drew a very large and heavy starter’s pistol from his pocket and held it up so that everybody could see it. There were expressions of envy from all the small boys, either competing or spectating. The crowd was silent. The sports master gave the ready, steady, pulled the trigger and they were off. The bang startled the spectators and woke two babies who immediately started crying. So began the school Olympics.

Race after race went without incident. Only two fathers complained about unfair tactics – a record for such an event. The jumpers jumped and a satisfying number of school records were broken. Two houses were a few points apart with the other two houses trailing behind. It was all down to the final event, the cross-country race. This was a three mile team event, through the woods and grounds of the school. Teachers were strategically placed at convenient places to prevent enterprising runners from taking advantageous short cuts. The pistol roared again and they were off. The competition between the houses was intense. Clever fielding by one fifth former allowed his team to slip by while holding up the opponents until one of the opponents accidentally on purpose tripped him up so that he fell amongst the bushes. Another lost one of his trainers by fair means or foul but continued running.

The lead runners came into sight and the crowd broke into a roar of encouragement, which woke the babies up again. The winners swept over the line. The sports master looked puzzled. The best runners from the fourth placed house were missing. He watched as runner after runner came in until he saw a large group of runners being shepherded by their two best runners. He grinned to himself. So they remembered. It is a team race, not an individual race - the tortoise and hare effect. They may have pulled it off and won.

The last event was the teacher and parent event. The two blues appeared resplendent in their university running kit, intended to intimidate most of the opposition. The headmistress was going to start the race. The sports master gave her the gun. She expertly checked the magazine and replaced the spent cartridge cases. She smiled at the surprised sports master. "My father was in the army." There is more to this lady than we realized, he thought quietly to himself.

The race began. It was the mile, a distance carefully chosen by the blues to eliminate the competition so that the blues could fight it out between themselves. It did not quite work out like that. Three other runners were still with them at the three-quarter mark. The blues increased the pace until there was only one runner with them, a slim young mother of one of the new boys. Nearing the finishing line, the young mother put on an astonishing burst of speed and to rapturous applause, won hands-down. The two blues were dumbfounded. “Where did you learn to run like that?” “I’m sorry, it is a bit unfair, but I could not resist running again. I was a silver-medallist at the last Olympics.” The sports master overheard the conversation and kept quiet. He had recognized the young mum and enjoyed watching the two blues being brought down to earth.

When all the points were counted, the fourth place house had overtaken the others and had won the overall victory. They were declared the School Olympic Champions. The cross country race had proved crucial, just as the sports master had predicted.. The headmistress had also watched the events unfolding and enjoyed the winning tactics.

The following day, the sixth-form bookies were summoned to the head’s study. The sports master and a number of other teachers were there. The bookies’ visits to the head’s study were rare. They looked round the room and caught sight of a large and powerful pair of expensive binoculars placed on a table by the window. The window overlooked the back of the bicycle sheds where they had transacted all of their business. They looked at each other and then at the headmistress. She began to speak. “We estimate that you have made (she quoted a figure).” The bookies looked at each other. She was very close. “We have been watching your operations and were very impressed by your diligence and professionalism, particularly as we knew you were collecting towards new sports equipment for the school. I am sure your philanthropic gestures will not go un-noticed when I and my colleagues are asked for our views on your suitability for university placement.” The bookies looked at each other and slowly put money onto the desk. She counted it and looked up at the bookies. Crestfallen, the bookies emptied their pockets until there was a substantial pile on her desk. “That’s much better,” she said, “Thank you. Your generosity will not go un-noticed.” She smiled at the bookies and then at the teachers who were grinning happily at each other. She spoke. “I am sure we will all remember our successful school Olympics.” They all agreed.

John Redwood