9 April 2021

Encounter

Can you see the line of runner ducks walking across the lane? The picture was taken on Tuesday morning in Abney, a sleepy little Derbyshire village, seven miles south west of  our suburban home. Clint  had  kindly driven me out there for another long walk. The territory was all very familiar to me.

Descending from Offerton Moor, I saw a man, a woman and a teenage boy climbing over the stile at the bottom and heading my way up onto the moor. I was twenty yards from them when the woman greeted me by name. I had not seen her in over eleven years.

Bamford seen from Offerton Moor

I recognised her voice immediately but as she was wearing glasses and a woolly hat, I did not recognise her and at one point I even had to ask, "I'm sorry but I have forgotten your name?" Louisa was a teaching colleague for some fourteen years and though her main subject was French we had occasion to work closely together as pastoral form tutors.

Immediately, she was rapping about the school where I worked and its latest news - all the people who have left and how its challenges have intensified. To tell you the truth, I didn't really want to know. That place is way behind me now though it took  a few years to expunge its bitter aftertaste from my memory. There I often felt like a hamster on a wheel, running as hard as I could but getting nowhere. You had to be bloody tough to endure it as I know Louisa was and most probably still is. She was dogged and had patience in abundance.
Ruined barn at Banktop

I said my goodbyes as they prepared to walk up the hill. Seeing them shrinking with the perspective, I felt as though the bed of a crystal clear chalk stream had been disturbed. My mind was unexpectedly clouded with scenarios and half-remembered things and voices from long ago. It took a while to clear as I headed up to the telecommunications mast on Shatton Moor.

It is likely that I will neve see Louisa again in my life and I like it that way even though she was one of the good ones. She is now probably older than I was when I took early retirement in 2009. I wish her all the best which ever path she chooses to take.
Signpost on Abney Moor

33 comments:

  1. It is sad that something like teaching should be so bogged down in politics and negativity that it actually drives teachers away. I am sorry for their loss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A significant number of teachers I worked with were on anti-depressants - either long term or temporarily;y.

      Delete
  2. I'm pleased I am not the only one with a bitter retirement aftertaste. You seem very high up. Is there a lift? Elevator? Funicular?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To get up to heaven you must be a good lad Andrew. There is no "stairway to heaven".

      Delete
  3. I like looking back and meeting former colleagues. some of us meet occasionally for lunch. I sometimes meet former students. Two former students live on my street. I keep in touch with former students who are teachers. They were good times. I think this lady remembered you and looked up to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your experience of teaching was wholesome and happy. That is certainly how it was for me when I taught in Bangkok at the end of my career. I am so glad that I live several miles away from the last Sheffield school I taught in. That school is the reason for my pen name - Yorkshire Pudding.

      Delete
  4. I can understand that and how this encounter left your serene walking mood disturbed, but as you say, your former colleague sounds like a nice one - the fact alone that she greeted you by name after so many years of not having seen you says something about her.
    The area you walked in is very beautiful and I am glad it helped to clear your head again.

    Sometimes when O.K. and I walk near the village, we meet other villagers, more often than not O.K. will know them as neighbours, friends, relatives or musician colleagues from the village band. Sometimes it is possible to just say hello and walk on, but some encounters take longer to break up; chatty people starting to talk about all sorts of other people, many of those completely unknown to me. I must say I rarely cherish such chance meetings; when I want to walk, I want to walk. Does that make me anti-social? By the way, I am always friendly and polite - I never start yawning, picking my nails or playing with my mobile phone while O.K. and the other person(s) talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your mum and dad brought you up to be well-mannered. I thought you would be stomping your feet and pulling OK's arm - "OK! I want to get going NOW!"

      Delete
  5. I find people in general irksome, I love the computer and contact online but in real life I prefer the company of tom and the cats. like you say people cloud my mind and i find them niggling away at my thought for the rest of the day.
    sorry, no capitals at the moment and as you can see , my keyboard is playing up.
    briony
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No capitals? You are like the American poetess - e.e.cummings!

      Delete
  6. Bad memories sometimes make me feel discombobulated for a while. A walk in scenery such as that shown in your photos would be enough to ckear my head I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The walk was meant to be joyful and tiring but Louisa had unwittingly sent me swirling down a plughole.

      Delete
  7. Excellent photos as always YP - love the ducks! Is that Clint parked in the lane?
    How sad that meeting a former colleague should almost spoil your day, and that it took a while for the wonderful scenery and sunshine to restore your good mood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No that is not Clint. I parked him on the edge of the village and I confess, forgot to lock his doors! He was furious.

      Delete
  8. I went to a work reunion of people from where I worked just after leaving school. It disturbed me for weeks. Like post traumatic stress disorder. It wasn't quite so bad when I bumped into a more recent colleague in Leeds. As Briony implies, you can ration and limit online contact, but real people from the past can be overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose it depends on how our minds work.

      Delete
  9. I like the first picture with the stone houses and drystone wall. Stone is a wonderful natural material.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shame how in modern times we seem to go for the cheapest available options. Many is the time I have seen new fencing next to tumbledown drystone walls.

      Delete
  10. Visitors from our past can can stir the pot in way that's sometimes delightful and sometimes disturbing - occasionally both. But I rather like chance encounters that remind us of how our lives, even in tiny ways, are interconnected - how the paths we travel branch and converge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your last thought Mr Shed - it's rather poetic.

      Delete
  11. I am so glad that you could take early retirement from a job that wore you down so. I have to say that it sounds rather horrible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am envious of my wife who has enjoyed a long nursing career that began when she was sixteen. With maternity leaves and a movement to part time in recent years she has nevertheless worked for 45 years in our National Health Service.

      Delete
  12. It is sad that your encounter with Louisa stirred up some deep-seated memories and experiences you had rather pushed away and hoped to forget. I hope at least your walk in God's countryside managed to restore your status quo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks ADDY. I was resilient then and I am resilient now.

      Delete
  13. One of your most surprising posts, Neil.
    Happenstance?
    *There's a divinity that shapes our ends/ Rough-hew them how we will* as Hamlet (or Edward de Vere if you prefer) said.

    Don't go swirling down that plughole, mate.
    I need my virtual walks in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
    Hamlet Hamel(d) Haggerty.

    P.S. I am rereading a book of memories by William Saroyan titled:
    *Don't Go But If You Must Say Hello To Everybody*.
    Jack Trevor Storey (a very funny English writer) was a Saroyan fan.
    Jack wrote *Live Now, Pay Later* filmed in 1962 with Ian Hendry and June Ritchie.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Funny how looking back isn't always a positive experience, especially when you're out on a mind-clearing countryside adventure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe I would have greatly enjoyed teaching in your school Steve.

      Delete
  15. I'm feeling that way about my workplace right now. Our medical director is allowed to bully everyone. I work my ass off and still they just want more done. Eventually things break.

    We have an outbreak at work right now which we found out about on the news and of course it's a fucking emergency now and everybody has to be vaccinated. What a surprise. Nobody could have seen that coming.

    The good news is that now Miss Katie qualifies for the vaccination and she gets her on April 28th. I'm thankful.

    It's good you took early retirement. Life is far too short. I want to retire in a year and a half and we're looking at how to figure that out financially right now. I have far too many patients younger than me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could move to a different kind of nursing - perhaps in a part time role. A couple of my wife's nursing colleagues now enjoy working in the local hospice - it is a pleasant, kind and unhurried work environment.

      Delete
  16. I understand completely how your encounter with Louise affected you.
    By the time I ended my 24 years in banking I was very much in endurance mode, living frugally and hoping my health would last until retirement age and freedom. I loathed what my workplace had become. What started out as a great service job had become profit driven with enormous pressure to sell products and meet displacement targets so that closures could be legitimised. Once you see that everyone above you is living off your work you realise that you are just a modern galley slave being whipped by an overseer relying on your output for his own promotion. It took me at least 12 months to leave those feelings behind and 2 years on I can't bring myself to go into my old branch and be reminded by the grey stressed faces of those still there.
    I'm happy with my new, still frugal, retirement life. Every day has possibilities of my own choosing - pottering in my garden, cooking and preserving what grows there, reading my large library of mostly 2nd hand books, following your always interesting blog ( and the lives of the characters who comment) and preparing for life's next big stage of becoming a grandparent before this month is out.
    Somedays I just spend the day outdoors watching the weather, the cows and pukekos in the paddock over the hedge and the trees changing colour as the seasons inevitably roll on .
    We're here for such a brief time, too brief to focus on the past.
    It must be time for a Phoebe update.
    happy solo walking, Adele

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have much in common Adele and I thank you for your thoughtful, supportive response.I consider myself to be a tough guy. I was not one of those teachers who resorted to anti-depressants. I faced it all like bloody St George but now after all these years I recognise that I emerged from that job with something resembling PTSD. Perhaps I would have benefited from counselling.
      P.S. Make sure you let me know when the precious little one has arrived.

      Delete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

Most Visits