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The Button Box. Poetry Lesson

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the button box

The Button Box

Poetry Lesson

The Button Box belonged to my Grandmother who thought that throwing out buttons was a terrible waste. When an item of clothing was ready to be thrown out because it was worn out, stained, spoilt or unfashionable, she would carefully cut off the buttons and put them in her box. She used to sew and knit lots of her families clothes so often the buttons would be recycled and used for new garments. But the best thing about the button box was the memories they held. A memory in each button. All her grandchildren on rainy days used to play with the button box, younger ones sorting them into sizes, colours, material and older ones making them into elaborate jewellery.

follow these instructions
Follow these instructions:
  • Pass the button box around and ask everyone to take one
  • Describe in a few sentences the type of garment the button was originally found on - be very specific, (i.e. type of jacket? colour? grubby/clean texture -wool/silk etc.)
  • Where can you visualise the garment last being-charity shop, cupboard, over the back of a chair, in a suitcase, etc.?
  • Who would have worn the garment last? - quickly write down a full name and age and then the detailed characterisation can begin…
now who did this garment belong to
Now who did this garment belong to?
  • Who was this person? What did they do on a Friday Night, what is the secret they've never before revealed? What do they dream about? When do they get irritable? What books are on their bedside cabinet?
  • Let’s put your character in a context e.g. in a pub garden, on a bus, at a very grand horse race (like Ascot) or waiting in a queue for fish and chips etc.
now follow this senses exercise
Now follow this senses exercise:
  • What can ……. see as s/he looks through the window of the fish and chip shop?






here s mine to give you an idea my button was from a military dress jacket
Here’s mine to give you an idea. My button was from a military dress jacket.

The frail, tired elderly gentleman signs,

After a dull Friday evening at the Working Men’s Club, he’s waiting patiently for his regular battered supper,

Trusty oak walking stick in one hand, he lightly fingers the cold coins resting in his equally tired jacket pocket.

Since old Jock Peterson, a loyal comrade, died last week they said,

He’ll be the only surviving veteran left in the village, enduring the winter of his life.

He watches the gloomy rain as it splashes relentlessly on the aging pavement,

Shinning wheels of passing cars, divide advancing puddles and trickling streams momentarily.

The weary travellers alight from the bus and struggle with umbrellas,

They are returning to busy homes full of familiar, welcoming faces.

Not Albert, a chilly, empty house coldly awaits his return,

Only a neat stack of library books requires his attention.

He listens to the lively banter of adolescent boys,

Nothing better to do then prop up the Fish and Chip shop counter.

When he was their age, he and others from the village, were standing shoulder to shoulder facing in dire fear, the wretched horror that is war,

He thinks these playful lads don’t know how lucky they are and thank goodness for that,

They leave in a sudden wave of loud and good natured bustle.

All is quiet apart from the sizzle of the chips as they jump and twist like minnows, in the bubbling fat,

The mouth- watering scent of freshly battered cod wafts seductively around the warm shop,

Rosy faced, Martha Bailey smiles over the counter and asks him what’s his pleasure, (as if she doesn’t know)

Albert smiles and chirps up:

“Cod and chips once, Bonnie Lass. Take your time, I’m in no rush me”