1992: Change, very much not by design.

Sunday 1st November 1992

Sunday evening Last day of a fairly typical half term holiday. Not particularly enamoured with life at the moment. We have moved in to Denbigh’s new site but I am getting more and more disgruntled with my life within it. The change has meant we no longer have the Lord Grey pupils supporting our sixth form groups and Scrivener’s carpings are endless and in my mind pretty pointless. There is only so much research in to the transfer market of the last ten years can do to give me another outlet. Jon is doing a good job in getting our team to work together and I hope I am being as supportive as possible and not just groaning on about the job.

In the background all the time is the ever present issue of having children. Fiona is in hospital again tomorrow afternoon. More tests and more poking and prodding that she could well do without. We might get an answer soon but we both know that our time for making a choice is running out. Tomorrow she has a consultation over having a laparoscopy. They suspect endometriosis and if so that will probably put an end to our worries. No more sperm counts, temperature guessing, consulting charts and monthly crying sessions. We have agreed that we will not adopt or seek any further interventions. By agree we mean we are both being too bloody nice to each other and not saying what we really think. There is one big argument coming soon, I am sure.

So it was that the next day the consultant confirmed what we had dreaded and there was to be no tiny Fiona. The argument did come but not for quite some time and is best left to describe at another date. We were fairly young for this news i.e. I was 34 and Fiona 31. Adoption was ruled out fairly early as was any thought of interventions that might challenge Fiona’s faith. My thought was one of frantic hope that a miracle might happen once we stopped worrying about it all and that I would go blindly on in total ignorance hoping for the medical evidence to be incorrect.

So what was that typical half term holiday?

Saturday 24th: Birmingham City 2 Bristol Rovers 1 We caught the train to Birmingham and walked out to the ground. When we got back we got off at Wolverton and headed for the Vaults bar in Stony Stratford. The Bekash Indian was our curry house of choice and we were home by 12.

Sunday 25th: Working all day. Fiona did her lesson planning, transposed some more music and I finished some outstanding marking. I then set to work on my football transfer planning exercise. Since I have told Mrs P what to do with her offer of “leading the disparate team” in to the brave new world of Denbigh Humanities I have needed something to fill my time at home.

Stedders Proposal for post graduate research thesis. C1992

My theory is related to the patterns of transfer movement in the English Football league. My thesis is that there are definite Geographical influences on how far and at where players move between clubs. Using my extensive collections of Rothman Football year books as a data source and back copies of the monthly publication of transfers in the Daily Telegraph I have been able to map out on large sheets of “transfer” paper the patterns of movement of players to and from all English league clubs. Some patterns are emerging. Footballers do not leave the north very easily. Many moves follow the moving of managers. The South West suffers major losses of players to the South east and Midlands. Players rarely move to the South east from the North in the lower leagues. I ought to contact the Leicester University Department that looks at Professional Football. Maybe not. I will get back to proper teaching sometime soon.


The girls at Bexhill

Monday 26th: To Royal Tunbridge Wells and meet up with M.I.L. I am one of the rare people who actually liked his mother in law as a person. Yes she was a Tory, a Daily Mail reading one at that, but Kathleen Slater was a genuinely good person and cared massively about her daughter. We weaned her off the Daily Mail over time, but only by introducing her to the Torygraph and its crossword. She was fiercely loyal to her now long lost husband Gerard, who had been Mayor of Tunbridge Wells in 1973 While we were planting trees in ’73, Kathleen, not Kathy, was Lady Mayoress. He died soon after and Fiona and her Mum plus Chris had spent some considerable time with a massive hole in their family life.

Every half term this lumbering mass would cross the threshold of her house and the peace and quiet of a lady with a circle of friends would have me to deal with. We arrived and the first thing we would always do would involve a trip into town, and something nice on the Pantiles.


Tea for two

Tuesday 27th: The Lamb at Hooe for lunch. This was a regular country pub stopping point. They liked the meals and location. I liked the beer. We then drove to Bexhill for a walk along the seafront. From there we did a rather circuitous route via Maidstone and back to Yalding for early evening. Chris is Fiona’s brother. We were visiting him and his wife Maggie plus their four year old Jessica and even younger child Tom.


Doing the uncle bit.

Wednesday 28th: Plough at Upper Dicker and on to Eastbourne. You are probably spotting a pattern here. Pubs in the country, walk along the seafront and back home for MIL to sort out her long prepared steak pie for evening meal. Throw in an early evening G and T and it was home from home with the seaside thrown in for variation.


Not the Plough but Mother and daughter at play.

Thursday 29th: A trip to Notcutts Garden Centre and Sainsbury’s and some last minute planting in her garden before we headed home to Milton Keynes.

Friday 30th: Chris came to visit in the late afternoon. He often did when his work took him to the North of England. Fiona wanted to work all day and I decide it might be best to get my planning for the day done. When Chris arrived it seemed impolite not to go to the pub for a beer or two. The Albert it was then and the usual Friday night crowd were in.

Saturday 31st: I was virtually thrown out of the door as Fiona wasn’t going to be interrupted by me as she wanted more time on school work. I called Gareth Sampson, a friend, West Bromwich Albion fan, and fellow cricketer; to see if he fancied a round of golf. Rovers were at home to Millwall but we were not doing games in Bath this season. We headed off to the Three Locks course at Stoke Hammond. It was a fairly typical wayward round interrupted by occasional holes of tidiness. Out in 48 back in 42 and I was happy with a winning 90 to Garth’s 93. Considering it was one of only three games a year, to break 90 was good for me. I only lost three balls in the round so that was also something to remember.

I was no longer Head of Humanities at Denbigh. Technically I had responsibility for Geography. The Head Teacher offered me another responsibility within the next year. I was soon to take the post of Work Experience Co-ordinator. It suited me fine. It gave me a chance to be innovative, support the department by working out a programme that fitted our new curriculum and gave Fiona some peace and quiet when I was at home doing my own planning and preparation. Mrs Parkinson will probably see it as a stroke of genius to get me to do this. The move from the old site to the new perhaps had a part in invigorating my interest in getting back to the career progress game.

Let me finish with a bit of paranoia. The staff room at the old site had Mrs P’s pet spider to listen in on our staff room conversations. The new site had no spiders as expected but a matrix of air ducts above and connecting each room. Within those passages it was speculated that the swooshing of her voluminous dresses could be heard patrolling the site. I also took on the role of Health and Safety rep for the Union. It was time to clean out those ducts and make the school a healthy place in which to work.

On this day:

1986       2nds V Old Verulamians H W 4-0

1994       Cambridge A 1-1

1997       Northampton A 1-1

2003       Swansea A 0-0

2014       Telford A 1-0

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