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Peggy’s story: Sometimes Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Posted by carryapoem in Stories.

It seems vital to start by mentioning my schooner-sized desk, a pivotal part of the revision story and by extension, the memory of what this poem means to me. I had reclaimed it from my English teacher (with permission!) when our school upgraded from the elderly lock, key and pharmaceutical drawers variety to more modish models. My father’s face, on trying to get it upstairs and crammed into the small wedge between my bed and the back wall remains priceless. This desk was where revision for my A-Levels took place, and its size meant I had to lever myself into the chair, there to stay forseeably, the effort to get back out being enormous on the forearms. On the facing wall, there was a pin board, which drew much of my wandering attention during bleak, trapped study sessions, and on that pin board, among various other scraps of meaningful ephemera (most notably, among them, a cartoon drawn by my best friend entitled ‘where we’ll be in 10 years time!’), the poem ‘Sometimes’.

My classmates and I had gone through the usual miserable hoops of applying for university places, and as replies began to arrive, it was a terrible shock to receive rejections before any acceptances. As I made my way through our textbook, the subtly named Edexcel Anthology of Poems, the tender ‘Sometimes’ spoke to my crushed, self-pitying little soul:  ‘Sometimes things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse.’ seemed prophetic, encouraging, replete with knowing and gentle assurance; images of honest men and muscadel facing frost down became lifeboats. ‘Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well’ seemed a more beautiful way of saying my mother’s oft-repeated ‘Keep it lit pet, what’s for you won’t go by you.’

That scrap stayed on the pin board facing the hilariously large desk long after I’d been packed off across the sea to St Andrews. It’s not there anymore, but the poem remains firm in my head, a steadying reminder when things seem to be going belly up: ‘Sometimes our best intentions do not go amiss’.

Peggy is from Northern Ireland and studied English Literature at the University of St Andrews. She arrived at the SPL in December 2007 via StAnza, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and several second-hand bookshops. She is the programme director of the West Port Book Festival and co-editor of Anon Poetry Magazine. She currently manages events and communication matters within the SPL.


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