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.

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1989: Times of change, maybe not.

Wednesday 4th October 1989

A rather run of the mill day today. Fiona had a Harvest Festival at school so it was a car load of guitars and tin cans this morning. She also had a school P.T.A. A.G.M at 8 so I decided to nip down the Albert while she was out. No one in particular was there so was home again by 9. Call from David re Saturday. Refereeing at Wycombe. Again Wycombe Vets V Aylesbury Vets. Not sure that this will last long as don’t seem able to shake off the old boys asking for me to do their game. Fiona back at 10.30.

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1988: Active Learning and all that stuff.

Monday 26th September 1988

Fiona dropped me off at Denbigh for 8. Had a quick check of printing for the week and ran off my notes for the team. Staff meeting at 8.45 and tutor group before 9. All good and nothing much to sort. Nicola was in today and seemed o.k. Routine sort of day. Took some photos of lessons for a display I want to do on the way we might work and as evidence of active learning as I see it. Dinner duty in playground. No meetings after school Fiona picked me up at 6. She had a meeting with Father Glenn. I managed to get some marking done in my room before she arrived. Fiona did marking at home so I wrote out minutes for tomorrow’s department meeting. Also prepared a notice for the sixth formers who want to come to see Tony Benn in Westminster Hall. Then watched the Olympics on the TV. Britain 3 India 0 in the Hockey. Watched Panorama on the Solihull CTC and then off to bed Fiona not feeling well. She may not go in tomorrow.

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1987: A Birthday, Bletchley Rugby and Denbigh

Friday 18th September 1987

Diary entry

Cream cakes for team. Duty in main playground. Sort out first assignment assessments for “A” level group. Fiona to pick me up at 4.30. Bus to Stony Stratford for 6. Crawl: Vaults bar, Bull, Fox and Hounds, Crown, White Horse, Bekash for curry, taxi home. Joined by Roger S and Tim in Vaults on return. Up early tomorrow for visit to MIL this weekend. No Rugby or cricket so R.T.W. and a bit of stately home or beach visiting.

A Friday night and my 29th birthday. What to do? We decided after school without a plan that a beer and later curry in Stony Stratford would fit the bill of not getting blind drunk but having a celebration with friends who might happen to be around. The drinking crowd in the Vaults usually included fellow teachers, in this case Roger Siewert and Tim Hawkins. Eileen Brackenbury came in later as did Tim Gulliver from Leon. Alex dropped in for a short while but left to do Kate duties in Northampton. Later in the year I would be his best man but for now he was still in the “impress the girlfriend” stage of getting to know her.

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1986: Popacatapetl, pupils and possible promotion

Monday 1st September 1986

We were up early this morning for a walk before we went into school. I hate these days just before term starts. The walk is pretty quiet because we are both thinking of things that still needed to be done. We looped around from Bradwell through Bancroft and back down to home via Linford Wood. Fiona dropped me off at school and I intended to make my way home by bus but cadged a lift from Alex.

I managed to start writing the policy document on working with gifted students. Bruce wants to have something that stretches those who might be able to achieve higher grades at “A” level. The problem we’ll have is in identifying those pupils and trying to get intervention / support early in their school life. By no imagination is Leon a school with a long and cherished academic tradition. I think we will have to introduce some tutoring beyond the normal for students in the sixth form and extension activities throughout the school My enthusiasm for this is tainted because I have absolutely no intention of being here beyond next year. I still haven’t any class lists for next term and I will be peripatetic again. At the last count my timetable has twelve different rooms. Even the registration room is temporary, using the lecture theatre while a room is sorted. P.E. has now gone from my timetable and Maths has become a new and novel addition.

I collected a couple of adverts from the Times Ed. Wrote for details of Head of Department jobs in Cirencester, Oxford and Aylesbury. The school is also after an assistant Head of Sixth Form. Will apply, if only for the practice.

Fiona came home in a much happier mood. Her school is brand new and the head, Peter Murtagh, is a bit of a control freak. The journey to work is so much easier than the trek to Aylesbury and she will have a lot more opportunity to do things her way. She has already started transposing music for a Christmas concert, something of a modern Christmas tale rather than traditional carols and shepherd nativity.

We went to the Countryman for a pint or three. Chinese takeaway rather than cook.

Some names are referenced in this diary entry. Alex is Alex Grant, one time lodger and then groom with this best man. Alex married Kate and left Leon to go to Aylesbury Grammar and we have long lost touch. Bruce was Bruce Abbott, Head at Leon and now sadly deceased. Leon and Stedders had rather come to a separation that would suit us both. I had applied and been rejected as Assistant Head of Sixth Form. The practice did give me some insight into the thinking of school promotion procedures. I resolved fairly soon that it is not worth applying internally unless the senior staff had suggested you should apply. Similarly the first question one should ask externally is whether the internal candidates had been similarly been given the nod to apply. When a Headteacher gives you a local county council circular with a job circled within it then it might be a good idea to ask some questions about that vacancy. Applying for internal jobs does no harm and just raises your profile with the Head as someone who should be given some sort of responsibility, if only as a C.V. filling activity. I had an interview later in the year at the Cirencester School. Reflecting after the failure to get the job I think I had a lucky escape in this one. The excuse I was given was that the department needed a Head who had more expertise in Computers within Geography teaching. In 1986 this was limited to using very poor computer packages and applying data bases to record information. This was a classic fobbing off of an external candidate with a statement that reflected the interests of the successful internal one.

Much of Fiona’s spare time was spent working on school music. She developed a specialism within her school that led to school productions at least three times a year. I had to listen to endless versions of the songs on the recorder, guitar and later piano. I learned the words to school plays. Did you know that Popacatapetl is a big volcano, far away in Mexico? Popocatapetl old, Popoacatapetl goes bang, sizzle sizzle bang, so you won’t forget that…

leon school sixth c 1986

The Sixth form photo of 1986

A sixth form of 100 or so pupils was really unsustainable and soon had to be supported by student courses being shared between all the Bletchley schools. At this time there was an anxiety that the students would not come back in the numbers to have an “A” level group. It was good feather in the cap to get a viable group beyond 6 students. At Leon this involved recruiting adults like Denise Robson to study Geography and in doing so add something special to the mix.

Rs Tim Gulliver and Jane Freeman

Three Staff sixth form teachers

Stedders in scruffy teacher mode. No patches on the jacket elbows but this was my attempt to move beyond the young novice into showing capability to take responsibility. Next door is Tim Gulliver who was well on the way to teaching stardom. He became a senior teacher in Sussex and a Head in Kidderminster. I remember his friendship in offering his house as a lunchtime refuge when we were effectively barred from the school site during the strikes of the previous year. Jane has recently come back into contact. As a History colleague we spent some time doing some advanced stuff that was useful throughout our careers. You too should look her up as her teaching has taken her to Guyana and back, setting up her own school and now writing about a life that has been beyond that of the average young Historian. My memories of her include the whole school visits to Biblings in the Forest of Dean where, for a week, we would offer a cross curricular field course under canvas to whole year groups as a team building pastoral experience. That was truly innovative and ground breaking at the time.

laraine and Lorraine (Ficken and Williams)

Sue Cooper

marlon morgan

Some members of Pine 1981 who made it to the sixth form. They didn’t know how proud they made me feel at the time.

Top; Laraine Ficken and Paula Williams

Middle; Sue Cooper

Bottom: Marlon Morgan

They had various different tutors as they went through their school carers but they were all part of that first ever registration that started:- Bramham (Suzanne), Chatfield (Alison), Cox (Philip)………….

james follows

debbie jessiman

Tony McMurray

Some Geographers

Top: James Follows

Middle: Debbie Jessiman

Bottom: Tony McMurray

I have no idea what James or Debbie are up to nowadays but Tony is a facebook friend. We all paid close attention to his athletic prowess at the time. He was jumping around in sand as a national champion at the time. More lately he has been climbing big mountains and talking about the experiences.  I claim absolutely no credit for either of these feats. I do promise to visit his tea room in Towcester sometime soon though.

I can remember many others on the picture but that isn’t the point of talking about it here. This represents a good aspect of life at Leon. These pupils achieved so much. We had children of teachers and folk from the Brickhills learning alongside Lakes Estate wide boys. We had some excellent teachers and students who were at times battling the system as much as the exams to get relatively outstanding success.

By the next year I had moved on to Denbigh School on the other side of Bletchley as Teacher In Charge of Geography.

ON THIS DAY:-

1990       Open University A W 26 1c 1-0-6-0

2001       Shrewsbury H 0-0

2007       Nottingham Forest H 2-2

2009       Hereford A 0-0 2-4 pens

2010       Derbyshire

2011       Glamorgan

2012       Morecambe H 0-3

1985: Honeymoon, Hertford Hospital and Housing.

Monday 26th August 1985

A Bank Holiday spent at home is quite a rarity. We decided that, as MIL is away, we would do something local. The Vic had a band playing in the garden in the afternoon and we went along to listen and sit in there rather than walk too far. We are off to RTW in the morning if Fiona is up to it. The appendix relieved love of my life says she is recovering well but she would wouldn’t she? I will pick up the photographs from the honeymoon in the morning and we will set off around 10, only if she is up to the journey. The band was o.k. a bit too much playing of popular standards to be worth watching again. We chatted with a bloke called Les, or Smiler Smith, for a while about his cows and the toot. We came home and I had made a beef in orange casserole for us to have after a G and T in the garden. The walk was just about far enough for Fi. She would like to move to a bigger house. In reality what she  wants is for us to move to a house that is ours rather than just mine. That is fine by me and we will look at estate agents in the next few days. Another alternative is to buy out the share in my house. I will talk to the bank when we get back from Tunbridge Wells. Rovers lost 3-2 at Reading.

stedders

Stedders, 1985 version

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1983: Cricket Tour, Leighton Buzzard and courting.

Wednesday 10th August 1983

Cricket Tour with Bedford Athletic Cricket Section.

Breakfast by 10. Got up and read papers in the garden before all were down for the full breakfast. Yesterday’s game was good, it is always good to play on really good grounds like the one at Bath. Today is apparently very different. We are playing in a pub garden against a very good village side with special rules to account for the size of the field. Full breakfast to get over the need for a large lunch and a walk with Digger Timothy down to the viaduct and back.

Pub lunch was at the Wheatsheaf in Combe Hay. One pint of, guess what, Courage Best and a sandwich for me. Nick Proudman was in top form in starting the team games and fines. Avoided fines so far but will have to watch out this evening.

Dick’s Car to Winsley game. The pub is the Poplars in the nearby village of Wingfield. Significantly the Proudman car was late for the game and missed the instructions of local rules. The main one was that a six is scored when the ball hits the boundary walk on the full and is six and out if the ball goes out of the ground. This is because they would lose too many balls and annoy too many neighbours on the postage stamp of a ground. They batted first and scored a total that didn’t look that high. We were left needing 6 off the last over with one wicket left to win at the end. I contributed exactly nothing to the total. Nick Proudman came to the crease having apparently slept all afternoon. He slapped the ball for six, turned to take the applause and left to a round of questioning scratching heads. We were declared winners but by 0 wickets but Nick was given the task of going, naughty schoolboy like to the neighbouring house to get the ball back.

Back in the Junction we resumed the peanut and Guinness drinking sessions. There was plenty of Bedford Ath. Rugby club traditional singing and I got fines for slow scoring and lack of appropriate tie for evening wear. My biggest fine-worthy event went unmissed as I phoned Fiona from the telephone box on the main road without anyone noticing my absence. There was no reply as before.

 poplars wingfield

The Poplars Wingfield today on Google

 bath cricket club

 Bath Cricket Club

I was invited to join this tour by Dick Timothy, a legend of a teacher at Leon School. The club was made up of the cricket players of a famous Rugby Club in Bedford. It was a quality tour with games at Bath Cricket Club the day before. The next year fixtures included Calne and Bath Rugby Club. It involved a lot of drinking in Rugby Club style but that wasn’t a problem. We were staying at the very tolerant Junction pub in Limpley Stoke. Over the two years of my touring I managed to score enough runs to make it worthwhile being a ringer for them. I would probably have toured again with the chaps but my life was to change significantly in the next two years. At the time I was young and very, very, single.

August the 10th was exactly two years before I was married. I had met Fiona earlier in the year. I was however in something of a Fiona-inspired limbo. The meeting was at an end of school staff disco. I had played cricket in the afternoon so turned up to this staff event later in the evening, after everyone had been there for some time. I knew she might be there because Pete Gunn, a colleague, had mentioned that a friend of his wife Anne, would be coming from Aylesbury and she too had gone to University in Southampton. We had met each other at a party at their house a week earlier. She was stunning, looked happy and very confident when I made my very nervous advances. She had the attention of my best friend Alex at the time. Awkward? Not at all. We talked, we got on, and sadly danced to Baby Jane. For once I made sure I was relatively sober for a Saturday evening. There was however a problem. The school holidays meant that Fiona was off on holiday with her mother, to Rhodes, and to her home in Tunbridge Wells. I had nothing but her number and a promise to phone me back in August. So I was on a cricket tour hoping to be contacted but phoning a number of an empty flat in Aylesbury. The call I made while on tour was one of many speculative calls that were unanswered as she wasn’t at her home for the summer. Her call back came a week before the start of the new term.

We made a plan to meet in Leighton Buzzard. Fiona was coming by bus from Aylesbury, I was on a train from MK. This was in the days before mobile phones so when her bus didn’t arrive I was left with the option to either wait in the hope it was just late, or go home. I walked the mile from station to town three times, in a dithering panic until eventually I found a bus going to Aylesbury. The driver said the last bus had been cancelled. The next bus would arrive at 8. I expected her to have cut her losses and gone home. I waited in puddles of self-pity until the last bus from Aylesbury was due to arrive and didn’t. I was walking to town for a final time when she appeared walking towards the railway station. Neither of us had given up. We had about an hour before the last bus home, which she caught. I went home a very happy man.

I said I was living the life of a single man. Part of this was the attentions of Sue who lived at the end of Hadley Place. She, like me, was a teacher, of French in her case at Stantonbury School. The next day she told me she was going to cycle around Willen Lake. I was on my bike to find her. I caught up with her and with schoolboy enthusiasm announced that I had met the woman I was going to marry. It was a thoughtless and rather arrogant statement and she obviously wasn’t going to be my best mate when I described Fiona to her. I proposed to Fiona twice, once in Leighton Buzzard town square (refused as a stupid idea) and a second time over a beer in a pub.

 stedders at hadley plaqce

 Stedders outside No. 1 Hadley Place Bradwell Common

 fiona at hadley place

Fiona later that year

 stedders81

The Single man no more. London hence shopping at BHS and British Museum.

The two years of courting Fiona involved the following social events. She was a middle school teacher in Aylesbury and I lived 20 plus miles away in Milton Keynes and neither of us had a car. The X15 from Aylesbury became well used as did the train to Leighton Buzzard. Post sports games she would often come to MK. For a few evenings we would go to the Pink Elephant Night club in Dunstable or the Black Lion in Leighton. Tim and Karen Plumb led the way with lifts to the former. Fiona had high maintenance costs of Gin and It as a drink of choice. Back in MK the usual meeting point on a Friday evening was the now long gone .Rose and Castle pub in the market area.

 The Black Lion in June 2008

 Black Lion Leighton Buzzard

 X15 Aylesbury Bus 654 rX15  Reading Bus Stn  Feb 90 Steve  Warwick

The X15 at Aylesbury

Fiona had to put up with plenty of selfish behaviour from me. I played Rugby every Saturday in winter and cricket at least one, if not two, days at the weekend in Summer. She was a very conscientious teacher and would work at least one of the two days so I had to change and give her my time when she did make it to my home. We rarely went out in Aylesbury, that wasn’t a loss for either of us. I was lucky that our social life was pub related. At the time I had little knowledge of her love of Football. We walked miles at weekends, usually to a country pub. I had to learn to be the friendly boyfriend in Middle School Social events at her school. Things soon changed as redundancies loomed within 1893 Education. Fiona was last in and as such was redeployed to Milton Keynes when the cuts came to her school. St Mary Magdalene School in Greenleys was newly opened and it made sense for her to come and live with me. It also meant she would say yes when I asked her again to marry me.

ON THIS DAY:

1974       Hambrook W

1983       Bedford Ath. Tour V Winsley W 0 2-0-12-1

1984       Bedford Ath. Tour V Bath RUFC W 32 2-0-18-0

1985       WEDDING

1988       PARIS

1989       PORTUGAL Estoril, Sintra, Cascais

1990       USA New Haven

1991       USA Grand Canyon

1992       USA Frankfort Lexington

1993       USA Custer Nat. Park

1995       USA Salida

1996       Port Vale A 0-4

1998       USA Denver: Colorado Rockies V Montreal Expos

1999       Luton A 2-0

2000       USA Concord Lexington

2001       Chippenham

2002       USA Mt Ranier

2003       USA Newport

2004       NEW ZEALAND New Brighton, Lytleton, Governors Bay, Christchurch

2010       Oxford A 1-6

2013       Scunthorpe h 0-0