The Road That Should Be Taken

In honour of Robert Frost and Paul Herron, and written after one pal decided to wander off down a road when we three friends went the other.

The biker sat on the hill side, thinking of his future
He pondered the twisted route that he would now take.
And as he sat there, thinking of the delights ahead
He thought of the destination, the glittering lake.


He thought to himself, now should be a good time to go
Upon this, one of life’s great adventures to master.
And as he pulled the throttle back, he saw the road
Fall and appear before him, daring him to go faster.

He thought of all of those less fortunate than he;
Those for whom this sight would never please,
And chuckled to himself as he continued to ride,
A faint, but growing laughter that would not cease.

For he knew the truth of it all, the one, undeniable fact
That there would be others who he could only call
‘The ones who travelled a road that he would not take;’
The ones whose names were not Chris, but Paul.



Writing Rules

The last time I taught was a few weeks ago. I started a job not knowing I had broken my foot when I dropped my motorbike on the thing, the day before I started, so in time, I had to stop the job, but in the last lesson, something happened. I asked the A Level students I was teaching to write something for me and to write it properly. They all looked at me slightly quizzically. I hinted at the two rules for writing in such a way that I knew they would be confused. I then had to tell them the difference between typing and hand writing, for exam purposes. You are, after all, chasing points in an exam.

The exam you are taking has something called a “mark scheme,” which the marker has to use to mark your exam scripts. It will say that to get so many marks, which is an A*, you have to do this and that, but it will specify one thing entirely and if the marker does not see it in your writing, then he or she has to mark you DOWN. It is called SPAG in GCSE English and also A Level GCE. Spelling, Punctuation And Grammar. But the thing it then specifies is that in GCSE, to get a C, your hand written work has to be paragraphed properly, in most of the cases. Most allows the marker to allow the odd error.

In other words, the first word has to start on the red line, or black line at the left. Then, when you start the next paragraph, when hand writing, there should be no line missed. You are not typing the answer after all and pressing ENTER once or twice, depending on the word processor you are normally using. For those who are typing an answer because of Special Needs provision, then go ahead and use ENTER as normal.

Otherwise, it should, when hand written, look like any good novel, so here is an example. It is written by Jane Austen. It is the opening to her book called Emma.


Note the beginning of the second paragraph. Yes, this is typed because it is in a book, but her manuscript went to the publisher as a hand written text and would have been exactly the same. Keep that in mind. Note how and where the second paragraph actually starts. No missed lines. Just the next line down and a small indent, the width of your pinky [little] finger.

Now notice the next paragraph break…


Yet again, no missing line and just an indent.

That is how you do it. If you, like so many students I have taught, say to your tutor, “I don’t give a damn about doing it like that,” as has been said to me in my last job, then my response is the one I gave to this young lady. My reply was forthcoming, short and swift.

“Don’t expect anything higher than a D then!”

Ask yourself what grade you want. Then write clearly and properly – a new paragraph is started when there is a new subject or a movement in time. It also has to be started in the right place.

You have been warned!


Unsuspecting Populations

Chances are that one day soon, we shall all be wickedly wiped out
Of our life on this earth by a single, deadly, disturbing virus.
Rationale and logic dictates that this will always be the case;
Of that, we can be certain, as certain as God’s love for us.
No one will be safe. Everyone will be at risk. Those who are left
Alone on this earth will be the fortunate few who are immune;
Virtually indestructible because their blood will be the purest
In every way, able to withstand the hazards and commune
Regally with the thing that destroys the rest of humanity.
Unsuspecting populations will be demolished from this earth;
Showing us all just how tragic and fleeting all life is [really].


Today’s piece is not going to have a lengthy analysis, but I ask a simple question. How long does it take you to realise what sort of poem this is? Can you name the type of poem? If you cannot, then you need to learn some more technical terms.


Now try to analyse it, looking at how the writer has used language and structure, the two things that Language papers tend to question you on.