1978: First Love, infatuation and new found friendships.

Tuesday 11th July 1978

Diary entry

Home at last. I have this week before I start work in Portishead. Living in the back room with the geraniums. Mum had a present for Helen. How embarrassing. What will she do with a knitted woollen poncho? Of course Helen was politeness personified but I honestly didn’t know she was going to do that. Helen is here for a couple of days and she has the front room.  We went up to Val and Tony’s for a bit, just to get out of the house. We then went to the White Horse. John Scriven and Neil Malpass were there so we played darts and chatted about jobs and things. Tomorrow I will be showing Helen around Bristol before seeing her off from Temple Meads. I will miss her like mad but will have to content myself with phoning her from the telephone box at the end of the street. She will be working in Oxford, probably with Oxfam. Will be visiting a bit later but will have to wait for her to let me know when is best.

Mum is quite well at the moment. She hasn’t been complaining too much about the voices and going to church doesn’t seem to be the most important thing in her life any more. The troll at the bottom of the garden has become less important in her social life, so too the zealots of the Methodist thought police. Dad is very chatty for Dad when Helen is here. I haven’t seen much of either Derek or Gerald. Derek will be in his final year at school next term and Gerald goes off on his motor bike to work and is out most evenings with his biker mates in town.

gerald and derek with bike

Derek and Gerald with his bike


 helen on the way home

A Temple Meads Goodbye

It took a long time to get home from Southampton at the end of my first year there. I had a place sorted to move in to in September. 4 Derby Road in Southampton would have new residents in myself, John Butler, Mark Dodds, Martin McMahon and Philip Barrington. We had all lived in the same corridor in Glen Eyre Hall. John was studying Physiology and Biochemistry alongside spending much of his time flying with the University Air Squadron. Doddsy did Economics, Martin, Maths, and Phil was the Medic in the Basement. The house was on three storeys and my basement room traded one window for easier access to the communal outside bathroom. The house was flattened for a road widening scheme and the street was a genuine mix of students, prostitutes and work wary West Indians.

 derby road

4 Derby Road

My route home took me to various friend locations. Firstly there was a camping holiday in the Isle of Wight. At this time I was rapidly learning the difference between love and infatuation. My education came from Helen who shared our cycling trip. Miss Brunning – Geog told me quite clearly that I was infatuated rather than, as I thought, in love. She had taken my attention and demanded much of my will for having a friend from another, very different, world. A Vicar’s daughter from near Oxford, Helen would be the focus for phone calls from the end of my street, subject of my never ending bore-chat of Uni life and was long suffering of my childish attention.  On my way home I went via Oxford for a time and also stopped off for visits to Z (Jo Seddon) in Salisbury and Sally in Trowbridge. I was pretty content with life and would be glad to let anyone know. In short I was a smug, smart assed, tosser.

 student on sea wall

The Smug Smart Ass

That was to end soon after and I had to tune my attentions to a Brunning free existence. I failed at this also, but I did not want to lose the friends of my friend. While she found proper and appropriate love with Tim, I became the pain in the kitchen when visiting her Burlington Road house. Our friends, Liz and Sally, were now my friends to be visited on the way to and from Saints games. We shared essential cups of tea and I loved their gentle humour, mostly at my expense. Back in Derby Road the houses at the bottom of the street became a wider group of friends that were separate from Burlington Road mates or those from the Geography department. The P and B house crowd at No 8 were Jackie, Annette and Louise. They were supplemented by Dougie, our token Canadian friend and Norman Black. Between the two houses there was always enough people for a beer or company in St Marys Road. My friendship groups, like those of most people, were very much compartmented. The Geography crowd was also split between the lads who played for Geog. Soc. and my smaller Historical Geography mates of Munday, Rose and Z, This I suppose was Malcolm Wagstaff’s not so barmy, army.

The Physiology and Biochemistry Girls

 O.K for the record here is another list.

 Lecturers whose lectures I enjoyed at Southampton.

  • Mike Clarke – Coastal Geomorphology – he liked to use the word manifest as often as possible. I am sure he was playing some sort of key word bingo. He had a surly delivery style but he had content and knowledge that appeared to be at the cutting edge of engineering.
  • John Small – Landforms and fluvial stuff – the football fan, cheerful writer of textbooks and favourite of a good Hampshire field trip. Likes a decent sub – Eocene surface.
  • Steve Pinch – Urban stuff that hinted at an interest in changing society through urban design. He was the clever perceptive chap who suggested that I should never ever become a teacher after my delivery of a seminar on the optimum city size.
  • Malcolm Wagstaff – Historical Geography – For content rather than delivery. These group sessions on a Friday afternoon would test the interest of the almighty. Most details came from his archaeological research on Greek Islands but of more interest to me was his jaunt through mediaeval landforms and settlement structures.
  • Keith Barber – Ecology with him was a pleasure if not only for the bog hopping in the New Forest.
  • Angela Gurnell – Meteorology- what’s not to like about an explanation of a dry adiabatic lapse rate?
  • Mike Witherick – Urban stuff, especially good when on the field trip details in the Netherlands. Good case studies and appeared as up to date as anyone on the course.

 Lecturers who shouldn’t really be let loose on students.

  • Robinson – Economic Geography. He was apparently a legend to students of the sixties. Unfortunately it was now the seventies. He was consistently disorganised and grumpy. The ultimate manifestation was in his strop on a field trip to the western margins of Southampton where he threw a tantrum and refused to carry on with the day because not everyone had their own map. Like naughty schoolkids we had to come home in disgrace.
  • Jim Bird –Philosophy stuff and seaports. He was the head of department and destined to vice chancellorship in time but he came across as a jolly nice uncle with plenty of anecdotes but little deep content to share. He tried to get us to understand the various paradigms in the Philosophy of Geography but lacked any real enthusiasm for anything that didn’t have a practical and concrete manifestation.
  • Mr Woodruff – Rural Geography, an expert on Bricks! He had a big chip on his shoulder about his Mistership and could bore for England. The content was good and very interesting when read in isolation but not when delivered by this bearded one.

 There were others who sat somewhere in the middle.

I should mention the troll while I am talking of friendships. This one should have known better but at least she represented a change from the religious influences on the thoughts of my mother While the hypocritical Methodists shouted messages of sin in the ear of my mother for not being the perfect parishioner, Evil Eva wanted to coerce mother in to hating the rest of the neighbourhood putting doubts in her head towards her long held village friendships. When Mrs Penny loosened her god fearing grip, Evil stepped in well before her long established friends could offer, in my opinion safer, advice. In the end it took a period of E.C.T. and visits to Glenside Hospital to straighten and reorder her logic pathways.


1975       St Stephens Press W 0

1976       Rumney Legionnaires H D 2

1981       Bethesda A L 61

1982       New Bradwell II H W 0

1987       Kempston Methodists H D 58 2-0-16-0

1992       MK Overseas H Ab 1no

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