A rather ridiculously early start for the shortish trip to Coventry. Why we had to be in town for 10.50 only the good Lord knows but we were not alone at the station nor on the train. We were among the faithful 4000 ticking off Coventry as a new ground. Most hadn’t the chance to do so the last time Rovers played there in 1963.
Bought a new phone and spent the day doing Facebook type things. Will be uploading loads of photos and finding old friends to make it look like I have some in the next few days. Bought the phone in Burnley, an IPhone that is quite up to date. The cyclists were in this evening. This meant quite a late night sitting outside chatting to them and watching them set off safely at the end of the evening. Called Ray to arrange for him to come up on the 25th with Colin. Takings quite good for a Thursday.
Everything was very rushed today and not too good for our nerves. Fiona was on a Technology course at Westminster College in Oxford. It was something to do with teaching kids to lay bricks and do the Maths of as building site. I quite like the roll of Fridays in Wendover House. Once the boys had gone home I was free to get away earlier than normal and as usual, pick up Fiona at Peartree roundabout. I had to miss the Friday night three a side session but no doubt they will have coped without me filling their space. Because we were so early we could get a pint in the Full Moon. We had enough time to compile a few lists as is appropriate at this time of the year. Pub of the year went to the Burton Bridge in Burton on Trent. Hotel of the year went to the Henbury Lodge in Bristol.
Wheels coming off this season? After the disaster of Wigan we needed a good performance. We left feeling like we had played really well but were stuffed 4-0. Four nil at home on a Friday night. Man of the match tonight, No one. It was a long and fairly quiet drive home. Back by 12, Coffee and Brandy before bed.
Woke up to a decent covering of snow. Both our schools were closed to pupils as too was our local one so there was nothing left to do but make the most of a rare day off. Fiona of course decided it would be a good idea to finish off some preparations for the school concert and shamed me into doing some marking and report writing. The good thing about the pupils at Wendover is they don’t create a lot of marking. The bad thing is there are always some reports to write or records to complete.
I was bored silly by 11 so persuaded Fiona that we should go for a nice long walk in the snow. We set out around 12 and arrived in Stony for 1. The route took us through Bancroft, New Bradwell then Wolverton and along the canal and river to Stony. It was only right that we should drop in the Vaults to check that everyone was o.k. in this weather. It was like an old school reunion of Denbigh folk so we were able to catch up with Roger Siewert and Tim Hawkins over a pint.
We walked back through Galley Hill and Two Mile Ash, getting home at around 4. A good walk and well worth it. A night of watching the T.V. Third rock from the Sun, Crocodile Shoes and Question Time. Snowing again, looks like tomorrow may be off work wise as well.
Ron had a plan for us all. He and Bob would meet for breakfast at the Knights Templar Wetherspoons. They would then travel by local train to Clifton Down Station. I would arrive from Severn Beach at the same time coming from the other direction. We would then spend half an hour in the pub before going on to the first of the two micro pubs in Bristol. It seemed not to matter that I now tend to get the bus in to town or that Bob would spend most of his morning wandering from bus stop to station and onwards. Or that Bristol City fans would be leaving for London while they thought of having their quite breakfast in the pub. Nevertheless we duly met at 11.25 at Clifton Down Station. Ron was like an excited schoolboy having used a local train. “It was just like an away trip without the away bit” proclaimed our Coventry friend.
School was all but finished. I had left the envelope for exam results to be posted but in any case would go to school when the results came out. I had offers of BCC from Southampton and CCC from Liverpool. Both were to do Geography. When the results came through later that summer my BBD was accepted by Southampton and I was off the following September. In the meantime there was a summer of part time work, cricket and planning to do. This particular Monday was one where I was taking more than giving back.
Rode moped to school for 10
Common room till break time – White Riot on again continuously.
Nets till 1 with anyone who was around – Spence, Wislon, Mas, Studs and Jonny Evans.
Then off to BAC for interview at 2 re groundsman job.
Got the job starting next Monday.
Back to Severn Beach – let Mum know about job.
Took Sam for a walk along sea wall.
Need to open bank account – Lloyds in Westbury looks best. Will go tomorrow.
Went to find Lewis – see if he wants a bike ride in to town. His Yamaha FS1E is new while my Puch Grand Prix is definitely not. His is reliable but mine takes some temperamental love to keep it going. I don’t love it so it doesn’t keep going.
We went into town up Blackhorse hill, down Cribbs Causeway, over the Downs, around the docks and back along the Portway through Avonmouth and along the coast road.
Watched TV from 9 till bed.
At the end of my school life I was definitely not in the “in” crowd. I was particularly envious of those who spent their times forming bands, clubbing in town and having the social life that goes with living up the hill. The band did blow the sound system when they did their only gig in the school hall. I didn’t play or sing so was never going to be asked to join with them on the classic guitar and then Saxophone and keyboard punk band. They came back on Monday morning with tales of the Dockland Settlement in St Pauls and clubbing in the city centre. A fifty against Old Cathedralians no longer cut it with them as cool. Car versus Moped? No comparison. University versus a job that paid? That was also something that I was having to get used to very early. I wasn’t the only one off to University but it seemed a long way to a proper job in four years time. I had a plan but didn’t know if it could be shared so I didn’t share it, with anyone. If things went well John Butler was also off to Southampton. Studs would be going to Cardiff. My other mates were destined for jobs in Bristol.
Why Southampton? At the interview I was asked that very question. Yes, the official reply given to the panel included wanting to work in a department with R.J.Small, author of our ‘A’ level text books, and my rating the department as the best Geography department in the country at the time. Also I remember saying that geographically it was far enough away from home to not go home every weekend but close enough should emergency demand. Other more pressing factors came from the promotional handbook. One of the halls of residence had a direct view over the Dell, little did I know it was for postgraduates only. Southampton were in the second division so at least I could see one Rovers game. What did Southampton do? They only went and won promotion to the First division so I had a diet of watching them in the First Division on a regular, usually evening match, basis. My first year home was to be E block in Glen Eyre Hall of Residence. John Butler was to have the room next door. My record collection consisted a few Supertramp albums and some Bob Marley. Kitchen equipment was cobbled together from donations in Albert Road. I still have some pots given kindly by Mrs White across the road. The most important factor was that I felt comfortable in Southampton. I had interviews for Oxford and failed uncomfortably. I had met a future Tory politician in my interview and was thoroughly unimpressed. Liverpool would have been good but was distant and disconnected from my rural reality
White Riot? Yep. Every break time White Riot and then God Save the Queen until the record player was turned off in a fit of teacher pique. I never told anyone that I had bought Supertramp’s Even in the Quietest Moments, it just wouldn’t do. We were given free run of the cricket nets for a while. So long as there wasn’t a lesson we would go and bat for as long as the rest would bowl. Wislon was Martin Wilson, known as Wislon not Wilson. We four, Jon, Spencer, Wislon and myself, had recently taken a holiday to Port Talbot / Aberavon. For a weekend away it took some beating. Armed with Johns C.I.U. card, and a space to rest our heads at his Nan’s house we set about sampling the working men’s clubs of Aberavon. We learned plenty of the skills of cigar smoking, chatting up Welsh “ladies” and drinking Federation Bitter until bells were ringing. The chatting up was of course purely theoretical, given we were drinking with welsh Welshmen in Welsh Union Clubs in the seventies. Followed by impromptu cricket in the park beneath the sea wall, we dined on fish and chips and micky taking until the Inter City 125 whisked us back home on our last ever child rate tickets.
Saving for University was essential for me. I had applied for a student grant and would get a full one. I also had access to the family allowance allocated to me and saved for years in my post office account. I was on my own with finance unless in a dire emergency. In my time at Uni. I never needed to ask for anything extra. I am a fervent supporter of a grant system, long lost to modern student life. I benefited enormously from the security of knowing that the grant would cover essentials of accommodation and fees. It was one of life’s learning experiences to budget and keep my own earnings for the next year. The order from the bank manager when I opened the account was to make sure I was never an incorrigible spendthrift. I chose Lloyds solely on the basis of free gifts and my anti Barclays stance (apartheid and South African investments and all that).
This entry has an oddity. It says I walked the dog. Sam, our poodle / terrier mongrel, rarely entered my circle of friends. The Mutt would have been dragged by me to the sea wall due to losing some sort of bet. It had no reason to be, let alone reason to be seen, with me. I learned far later that dog walking generated pulling power but for now a chance meeting with any of the beach beauties would have produced only extreme embarrassment in me.
The last day of the season has various rituals to be performed. Winning promotion is never one of them. Writing this blog all season was all about this end result and how it turned out was as dramatic as dramatic could be. It true Stedders style it started and ended in the mundane and gloriously normal.