26 May 2016

Pathways

On Tuesday, I took John and Helen out into The Peak District. Up The Derwent Valley and then we walked to the old stone bridge that was reassembled at the head of the valley in 1959. Once it had crossed the river in the village of Derwent before that little settlement was submerged beneath the reservoir waters.

Above you can see the track that leads to Slippery Stones and the old bridge.I just mentioned. Two ramblers are out enjoying the May sunshine. It was a lovely morning.

I knew John and later Helen  forty years ago. We were in our early twenties. University students had grants that they didn't have to pay back in those days but they didn't have laptops or mobile phones. 

It is strange to meet up with old friends after such a long time. You realise that a lot of water has passed under the bridge and you consider how your life has evolved in the intervening years. Did we achieve all that we might have done?

John worked in the water industry and then with The Environment Agency. Helen used her economics degree and her innate intelligence effectively in several influential positions - including negotiating better health centres and school buildings. It was easy to see how passionate she had been in her various roles, grasping problems round the throat and taking no prisoners.

What had I done in those working years? I surrendered myself to the world of teaching - a treadmill in which the daily processes are about dumbing down - helping others to advance. It is not a job in which you reach for the sky and blossom. Even the language you use is dumbed down to help children to move to the next step. There's a sense of subjugation.

Perhaps I could have done something else, something more personally fulfilling but I needed to pay the mortgage and raise our own children. Like so many workers, I found myself suppressing pretensions of who I might have been or ideas of what I might have done. I just put my nose to the grindstone and banked my monthly salary cheque. But after all,  I survived and I guess that is a hell of an achievement. Isn't it?

27 comments:

  1. Teaching is the world's greatest profession, IMHO!

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    1. Maybe...but at what cost? That's what I'm saying Mary.

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  2. Don't sell yourself short. A lot of kids had a hell of a good teacher!

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    1. I believe they did Red. I put my heart and soul into it but it was all about developing others, not me.

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    2. Exactly -- Red is right!

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  3. Yes, it is a hell of an achievement and one worthy of high praise; as is that photo you've posted.

    Teaching is a very worthy profession and one not recognised enough for being so. Be proud of yourself, Yorkie, and of the years you spent teaching others. The years have not been wasted.

    It would appear you and I have been catching up with old friends lately....and those catch-ups cause many thoughts to flow through our mind...many memories are stirred.

    This morning, by phone, I spoke with my friends I had lunch with last Friday (the ones referred to in my last post on my blog). They're finally back home at Grasstree Beach where they live. We talked at length on the phone this morning. The three of us are mutually grateful and happy about our time spent together last Friday. We had a wonderful interlude, albeit not long enough.

    The three and a half hours we spent together over lunch flew by...but those three and a half hours were so much better than none at all.

    As I said in an earlier post on my blog - "Old Friends Are Great Friends - Great Friends Are Old Friends".

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    1. Thank you for these reflections Lee. Food for thought.

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  4. I wonder how many of us look back 10, 20, 30, 40 years after leaving school or uni, nod and say that they did expect more or less to see themselves in the future where they are now. I didn't have such specific expectations as many of my age seemed to have - especially the girls, who nearly all expected to marry the man of their dreams and have babies -, and so I keep being pleasantly surprised as to how my life has turned out.
    I'm glad you and your friends had such an enjoyable time together, the weather playing along nicely!

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    1. I didn't have a clear vision with regard to work. I just drifted through the years but looking back I have the strong feeling that I had the potential to find more fulfilment and make more of a mark in life. I know that thousands and thousands of people have that very same feeling.

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  5. I can't think of anyone I know who is employed by the State. It sounds a bit naff. Pensions are good, look on the bright side.
    That is a pleasant start to a walk, the Kings Oak is a poor specimen but the bridge and the dogs grave are beautiful. Last time I went they wanted me to take a bus up there so I went somewhere else.

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    1. The king's oak was planted in 1943 but it remains a fairly small tree. Down in that shady valley may not be the best position for an oak. Was the bus specifically for old age pensioners and the infirm?

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    2. I don't know. The road was shut. The bus only went as far as the pokey little oak. I think the place was getting bunged up with cars.

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    3. They close that road at the weekend and on bank holidays. In midweek you can drive up to the oak tree. It was beautiful on Tuesday - the late spring colours so fresh and vivid.

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  6. That's a rather unusual and quite interesting take on one's life. I try never to look back and remain thankful for the fact that the decisions I took (or life took for me) were largely my own. Had I lived in many eras including my parents' era war and many other things determined your life for you. I might have stayed in accountancy or practised law in England and made more money but I worked for the state instead and tried to make a difference. Now that I have reached this age one thing I am thankful for (and I make no apologies Adrian) is my pension.

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    1. I got carried away. What I could have said was that I could never have been a (school)teacher. It takes a certain type of person with a certain type of courage and I was neither. Thank heaven there are people who do have those qualities.

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    2. Thank you for these reflections Graham. Perhaps you and I could send a small proportion of our monthly pensions to Adrian. Poor old chap - he hasn't even got a house to live in - just a temperamental camper van and even at his advanced age he is having to do odd jobs on a remote Scottish farm. Poor fellow.

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    3. A large proportion would be better. All I've ever had is odd jobs but I enjoyed them.

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    4. Where shall we send our welfare donations? The Adrian Hospital Ward?

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  7. You are still teaching... I've learned a lot about the UK reading your blog and seeing your pictures.

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    1. Thank you for that Jan. I guess it's in my blood.

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  8. It's okay to look back, but don't stare. If we undo all the things we did or didn't do, then we wouldn't be the people we are.

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    1. I love that advice Ian - "it's okay to look back, but don't stare". Wise words indeed.

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  9. I was fortunate enough to receive two pensions (one from IBM and one from Alcatel-Lucent) in addition to the stipend the government calls Social Security. Mrs. RWP receives a pension from the hospital and also Social Security. So we are literally rolling in the dough -- NOT! I remember thinking in my forties at a particularly low point, "When I get to the end of my long life and look back over my contributions to the human race, I wonder where putting together technical manuals for IBM will fall?" Now that I'm there, I must confess that the answer is "not important at all, didn't even make the list". The time would have been better spent helping a child, feeding the hungry, giving a cold person a coat, paying someone's water bill. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the pensions and our old age is provided for, but I think it's better not to look back too closely. At least you helped some children along the way to become better adults than they might have been otherwise. My hat is off to you.

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    1. Thank you Bob. You seem to be saying something similar to Ian (Mr Parrot) - "It's okay to look back but don't stare". Thank you for the contemplation.

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  10. Like so many workers, I found myself suppressing pretensions of who I might have been or ideas of what I might have done. ... I can so identify with this statement YP.
    Mind, I could list all the significant learning opportunities I was given by teachers in my own schooling and for that I will be forever grateful for how those people and opportunities shaped my life.

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    1. Thank you for your reflections Carol. Of course, you are still in the middle of the fray. I am sure that teaching is a more worthy occupation than selling insurance or cars.

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  11. Yes it is one hell of an achievement YP - and don't belittle yourself. We can all look back and wonder what might have been, what different path we might have taken. But you have brought up a family successfully and lived a full and happy life - that is a major achievement.

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