I am reaching the age – or perhaps I’m past it – where you start looking back and working out what you’ve achieved in life. Early on I was aiming to be a novelist, but it was easier not to be. I was never very career-orientated, maybe because I didn’t have a father to give me a push (he died when I was ten). I guess I never really knew what was going on, as my friends will no doubt confirm.
However, I was fortunate to marry a lovely girl who became a lovely woman – and still is. Between us, we produced a son of whom we are immensely proud for many reasons, and he – with a bit of help – came up with two exceptional grandchildren. Let me get back to the lovely woman, though.
Despite giving some wrong answers in the 11-plus, she was head girl of her secondary school and, with the right encouragement at the right time, took a large number of O-levels (GCSEs). Eleven, I think it was. Best in her year at Norwich City College, she progressed to teacher training college, where she excelled at history and even more at teaching. She was a natural.
Like me, however, she did not push herself forward, and although she was a gifted deputy head fairly early on, it was some time before she became a head teacher. When she did, however, it became rapidly clear that she was brilliant at it. Her 19-pupil village school quickly grew to 80, and required building expansion. She adopted a pioneering method called Philosophy for Children which opened the door for less academic children while also encouraging the others.
When she retired she turned this into a partnership with another teacher, and the two of them travelled across the country, introducing P4C, as it was called, to many other schools.
Later she was recruited by the Norwich Diocesan Board of Education to act as a mentor to head teachers in church schools across Norfolk – or a Diocesan Schools Support Officer, to give her her proper title – and she proved a natural at this too. They loved her. I could understand that. I love her too.
Earlier this month, having been one of the first DSSOs, she retired (again) after 15 years as the oldest. She received a lovely send-off, including large bouquet and Christmas meal at the Marlingford Bell, plus gift voucher and eulogy.
Now I have her to myself. Or I would do if she wasn’t so full of energy and keen to be involved in family, church, orchestra and community (as long as it’s not early in the morning).
Needless to say, while struggling to keep up, I am hugely proud of her. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising. I am honoured to be her partner. What did I achieve in life? I am married to Dot. Any questions?