Author: My Name Is Not Sir

About My Name Is Not Sir

Reading and Writing Therapy

It’s raining

On the train. More info. coming soon ..

The Book Making Sessions

The Curious Cats Sessions


Do you need to analyse poems?


Well, learn this sentence:

“All curious cats think mice smell lovely, don’t you think?”


Because, if you do, you will be one step closer to remembering all the stuff your teacher asks you to write about when it comes to a poem.

How come?

It’s a mnemonic.

Oh, OK ..

A ll – A uthor

C urious – C ontext

C ats – C ontent

Th ink – Th eme

M ice – M ood

S mell – S tructure

L ovely – L anguage

Don’t you think? – Reader response


So, when you’re analysing a poem, you can do it by working out the answers to questions like these:

All – Author

Who wrote the poem? When did the poet live? Where? What was his or her childhood like? What did they do apart from write? Did they write other stuff?

Curious – Context

When was the poem written? What was happening in that place at that time? What is the poet’s perspective on these places and events, and the characters involved? What was the general public’s perspective on these things at the time? Have these views changed since the poem was written?

Cats – Content

What is the poem actually about? Does it describe something? Does it tell a story? What places or characters are mentioned? What do we know about them? Is there a literal and also a metaphorical or allegorical meaning to the poem?

Think – Theme

If you can answer the last question in the Cats section, you will already be thinking about the themes that are dealt with in the poem. Does the poem have an overall subject or topic? What is it? Does it have more than one? Does the poem have a message for the reader? What does the poet want the reader to think? What does the poet want the reader to feel?

Mice – Mood

And if you can answer that, you are ready to start thinking about what it actually is that the poet actually does to convey all of the above to the reader.

Is the poem dark or light? What situations, places, characters, phrases or words make it that way? Does it make you laugh, cry, think, cringe? Why? Is this how the poet wanted you to feel?

What other things has the poet done to influence the way the reader feels?

Smell – Structure

Is it long? Does it have stanzas? How many? Are they all the same length? Are the lines all the same length or are they different? Is there a pattern to the stanzas or the lines?

Does it rhyme? is there a particular rhyme scheme? What is it?

Is the poem a sonnet, or a ballad, or even something as weird and obscure as a villanelle (not likely, but ..)? How do you know? Why did the writer choose this type of poem? Was it a popular or common type of poem at the time? Is it popular now?

Has the writer made the poem this way for any particular reason? Does the structure of the poem do anything to enhance the message or the themes of the poem?

Lovely – Language

What emotive words has the poet used? Are they adjectives? Are they adverbs? Does the poet use alliteration, repetition, personification, enjambment or any other fancy poetic devices to help us understand the poem’s message and feel the poem’s feelings?

Don’t you think? – Reader response

Do you like it? Why? Why not? Who would like it? Why? Who definitely wouldn’t like it? Why not? Are particular types of people more likely to like it than others? Did more people like it when it was written than now? Why? Why not? Will people like it in the future? Why? Why not?


This Is The Safe House C.I.C.

Click the dog in the van for more information on projects at The Safe House.


Fill in the form at the bottom of the page for news and information.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

This IS The Safe House

“We can take you to a better place.”


struggle to sketch the flowFlash Fiction and Creative Writing with The Safe House

An introduction to the sessions including rationale and suggestions on how to use the sessions.

Read the introduction here.


VAN 3The Kit List (Coming soon .. )

An inventory of equipment, tools and resources to make your writing practice more enjoyable and more productive. 

View the Kit List here.

stick figures on the beachPractitioners of the City

A walkshop session, either carried out in the real world or your mind. The product? A single sentence to describe a place where you walk.

Have a go at this session here.

photo boothElsie Ethel Court

A session to inspire if you want to create a character who is close to the heart!

Have a go at this session here.

downloadA Bit of People Watching

This session involves going out and about with your imagination and your phone to practise character description.

Have a go at this session here.

lowA Walk in The Park

A session that invites you to go inside your mind and describe, in the third person, how a character perceives his or her surroundings

Have a go at this session here.

day by day 002Day By Day

This is a session that stimulates practice in writing about the mundanity of routine in daily life.

Have a go at this session here.

(Don’t Go) Back to School

A simple ‘end of story’ stimulus invites reflection on the purpose of school.

Have a go at this session here.

the mortgaged heart“I Live With The People I Create”

A look at how Carson McCullers introduced character followed by an invitation to try it yourself. This session also suggests an opinion piece on the writing presented.

Have a go at this session here.

profile picLizard in the Luggage

Reading a newspaper story provides the stimulus for an imaginative piece of narrative writing. A classic case of ‘what happened next’!

Have a go at this session here.

Realms of Gold Hand written manuscriptRhyme

A challenge – 30 words. A single verse. Four lines and two rhymes. What can you do with it?

Have a go at this session here.

Brian at VictoriaWith Expert Eyes

Alexandra Horowitz’s book, ‘On Looking’ provides the idea for a walking session to practise writing  from a particular point of view.

Have a go at this session here.

ceilingThe First Time They Met

This session is about creating dialogue.

Have a go at this session here.

Abbey Park Bricks and LightsInnocent As Strawberries

Get into the mind of a frightened character and write a first person account of thoughts and feelings.

Have a go at this session here.

23-05-2010 405Voices of the Heart

Reading and the spoken voice provide the stimulus for a different form of recording words in this session.

Have a go at this session here.

open door on the canalSoup Like Windows

A session that uses a description from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera to practise presenting a scene.

Have a go at this session here.

the safe house clock ten past three‘Smash yr face into my textbook’

Using an emotive and emotional poem by Dominic Nolan, this session invites creative comment on the stresses of meeting deadlines.

Have a go at this session here.

books for wordsIrreclamable Vagabonds

The villains of the piece, words themselves, are hung out to dry in this session. Can you hang them together into a coherent line?

Have a go at this session here.

There are mapsMaps through your Bones and Skin

A first person account considering the effects of experience on a character’s life. This session presents an exercise in describing and accounting for change.

Have a go at this session here.

You can get more from The Safe House

We can come to you or to your group and work with you on any of the sessions described above. Fill in the form below for more information.



What are The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions?

Welcome to The Safe House Flash Fiction Writing Sessions.

The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions are exercises for writing skills development.

“The Safe House Flash Fiction Writing Sessions encourage the expression of individual visions in individual ways through learning, bending and then, if necessary, breaking the rules and surviving to write the story.”

At The Safe House, flash fiction means short bursts of creative writing, although we do not say that you can’t put these bursts of energy together and create something bigger, so the Flash Fiction Sessions are about all sorts of writing.

Through the Flash Fiction Writing Sessions you will:

  • practise creating writing that will sustain our attention through your use of language, imagery and metaphor.
  • become more confident in making your own choices of language, perspective, style, technique and poetry to create characters with distinctive voices that we will love, admire, hate and fear.
  • develop technical control of sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, grammatical agreement, use of verb tenses and other forms of expressing time, space and energy.
  • explore styles; critique, share and engage with feedback.

Fiction / non-fiction .. Can we always tell? Surely, everything is defined by culture, context, content, style and technique so that boundaries across realities become blurred. Writing can be based in truth or invention or a mixture of both.

Prose .. novel, short story, article, column, review, editorial, biography, autobiography, memoir, journal, diary, letter, e-mail, blog post, tweet, text message..

Poetry .. sonnet, ode, sestina, song, with rhyme and stanzas or in free verse, short or long; to be spoken loud to an audience or kept quietly in your head ..

Form .. book, pamphlet, webpage, script, screenplay, radio play, even a pitch; writing in all sorts of shapes and sizes ..

Medium .. on the page, through performance, in a theatre, in the street, in your own bedroom in front of the mirror, on the small screen or big, on the radio, via digital media, web content, graffiti ..

Purpose .. No writer’s true intention is to bore the reader, is it? There are so many better reasons why you, the writer, might want to manipulate your reader. Usually, you will have more than one purpose for writing, and different parts of your writing will have different purposes. It’s quite complex, but really quite obvious, if you think about it carefully enough ..

Audience .. only you, best mate, brother, mother, one or more; the whole wide world, those chosen few, the boy next door. Anyone who has a minute, someone who’ll take time to appreciate the words you’ve used and the meaning you hoped to create ..

Process .. getting in the mood, developing habits, routines, procedures, researching, drafting, re-drafting, reading, re-reading, editing, re-editing, presentation and the aesthetics of writing, dealing with feedback and criticism. And then doing it all over again ..

The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions ..

“The sessions are quite complex sometimes and should be dealt with over an appropriate period of time. As a general rule, the more time spent the better but, as always, it is about quality not quantity!”

If you are good at paying attention to this sort of thing, you can probably do the sessions by yourself. You will need to be disciplined, though!

Or you could get in touch with us at The Safe House and we will support you through the sessions. Fill in the form at the bottom of the page if you would like information about this.

Go here for Flash Fiction Writing Session No. 1.

For more information, complete the form below:

Book Station

bookshelf at The Safe House

italian dog logoAt The Safe House we read, write, create, buy, sell, exchange books from, to with, anyone, anywhere in the world. If you’d like to know more, fill in the form below and we will tell you about our books.



 This IS The Safe House

“We can take you to a better place.”


The Three Ball Juggling Club

jugglerYou might think that learning to juggle is something that some people do to pass the time away, or even to waste time, but it is actually of great benefit to people in many different ways.

Juggling certainly is a great way of taking a break and enables you to return to more intensive mental activity feeling refreshed. On the other hand, though, there are cognitive and educational benefits to learning juggling skills and at The Safe House we use juggling to develop our understanding of patterns and procedures and to devise strategies which help our learning in other areas.

At the same time, research has shown that juggling can help people with dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity and even Alzheimer’s disease because it is an activity which challenges the brain and keeps it active and ready to deal with the complex tasks of everyday life, including learning.

Juggling facilitates the development of problem-solving skills and can help to develop qualities such as patience and perseverance. At the same time, as a person develops the skill, it can stimulate imagination and creativity, qualities that are vital in the modern world.

The Safe House Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions begin with learning how to juggle. This can be a short or long part of the sessions as different people learn at different rates. However, once you know ‘the trick’, it is usually a matter of individual patience and motivation.

For this reason, The Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions are an ideal medium through which to assess your own motivation and, through this assessment, to develop ways of getting stuff done even when you maybe don’t feel like it.

These sessions focus on the skill of three ball juggling, but also incorporate a range of other areas of learning depending on the needs of the participant(s).

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting The Safe House Juggling Club, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”


Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project

suitcases keatsThe Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project at The Safe House bridges age gaps to facilitate personal, collaborative and shared learning of skills. The project is based on discrete 1:1 and small group sessions through which young people and older people teach, learn and exchange skills as diverse as:

  • welding and metalwork
  • carpentry
  • sewing and needlework
  • mobile technology, IT and social media skills
  • languages and literacy skills
  • science, maths and numeracy skills
  • cooking and baking
  • online shopping
  • government and the electoral system.

At The Safe House, we coordinate, develop and facilitate teaching and learning sessions across the age ranges for mutual understanding and shared learning.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting the Intergenerational Skill Exchange Project, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”


Pre* – Proofreading and Editing

The Safe House brings you Pre*, a proofreading and editing service that gives you more.

At Pre* we will help you:

  • obliterated parking sign close upcheck for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and issues of sentence structure.
  • communicate your meaning and your voice to your audience.
  • get your message across clearly and accurately.
  • develop your writing, proofreading and editing skills.
  • make the most of your communication.

Pre* can help all sorts of writers with all sorts of writing. We will help you with:

  • assignments, essays, portfolios, dissertations.
  • job application forms, introduction letters personal statements and biographies.
  • flyers, leaflets, posters, business cards.
  • reports, e-mails, business and official letters.
  • blog posts, stories, poems.
  • long texts, short texts.
  • fiction or non-fiction.

italian dog logoIf you would like more information about Pre* – Proofreading and Editing at The Safe House, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of this part of the work of The Safe House.


This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

hand black and white square logo

Click the image for more information.