28 August 2011


On Thursday, I met up for lunch with two former colleagues at "The Meadow Farm" pub-restaurant , Ecclesfield on the northeastern edge of the city. Part of me just wants to relegate memories of my long teaching career to history and move forwards but Sofia and Emma are such nice people that for them I'm happy to resist that urge.

It's been two years now. There have been no regrets. If I hadn't taken my early retirement package in the summer of 2009, I wouldn't have got to teach in Bangkok or experience the naturalness of one-to-one teaching in two other Sheffield secondary schools or travel to Easter Island. Looking back, the job, its associated pressures, the ten hour days and the thankless weekend and holiday work were squeezing the life out of me like a medieval press. However, unlike Giles Corey in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", I certainly was not crying out for "more weight". Quite the opposite.

It's nice to see Emma getting on with her life. She's twenty eight now and I'm rather proud that I was instrumental in giving her a first real break as a teacher. She was dogged, reliable and resilient. Next month she'll be my old school's new Second in English. With her boyfriend, she has bought a house and has recently had a new kitchen fitted.

Sofia was my English department's very capable teaching assistant. Having extricated herself from a difficult marriage, she has raised two teenage daughters pretty much on her own and, to her credit, they have both turned out well. She was practical and effective, intervening sensitively when behaviour flare-ups in classrooms occurred or when troubled teachers had just about reached the ends of their tethers. We got on famously and I'm pleased that she is proceeding nicely with her foundation degree which will ultimately lead her to a full teaching qualification and therefore a much better rate of pay.

After sitting in the late August sunshine at "Meadow Farm" I captured some photos of northern Sheffield for the Geograph British Isles mapping project. This is what I saw:-
"The Meadow Farm", Ecclesfield

Elliott Lane, Whitley

Barnes Hall

Church of St Paul, Parson Cross Estate

Sheffield Lane Top


  1. It looks as though it was a lovely, sunny day too. I still get a thrill out of walking Paddy after 9am and realising that I don't have to be in school. :)

  2. gawd
    not been to lane top for ages!
    its been a week for reunions YP eh?

  3. My old teaching co-workers still include me in their social gatherings in school holidays which is very nice of them. It's nice to catchup but I find the conversation is usually school related and I'm afraid it bores me to tears now. I am soooo glad I escaped ( that's how it feels when I hear of the mounting pressures of teaching) and am just sorry that the job I once loved pushed me to the edge towards the end. They all say how relaxed and happy I look ( does that mean fat and content ???)I have to say that's how I feel.

  4. JENNY Talking to Emma and Sofia I realise that the pressure is as relentless as ever. The only teacher who was older than me at my old school has now left so if I had remained I would have most certainly been "The Father of the House".
    JOHN GRAY Yes. It has been a week for reunions what with your trip to Manky and some of Gaddafi's political prisoners being reunited with their friends and families.
    HELEN I know what you mean about being "bored to tears" with school stuff that used to be as familiar to us as the air we breathe. Standing back from it now it seems amazing that it flooded our lives. Thank heavens we survived it and have enough energy in store to taste more of life's delights.


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