Year 1 at Uni: 1966 and all that

1966: England won the World Cup and I went ‘up’ to Cambridge. I’d had the best part of a year out, nowadays it’s called a gap year, and I was going to be back in full time education again. It was a major discontinuity in my life. I wouldn’t say that I was well prepared but some how I got though this first year successfully.

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Exam results remembered

It happens every year these days. Exam results are published, students go into their schools to pick up their envelopes and the TV cameras are on hand to capture the delight of these who’ve got what they need and/or exceeded their expectations. Some are interviewed, generally the better looking ones with a nod towards ethic diversity, then there are photographs of jumping with spontaneous joy. It’s all grist to the media mill but it hasn’t always been like that.

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5 life (career) changing decisions

Everyone’s life is the result of a mix of chance and decisions. You can’t do much about chance but it’s the decisions you make which map out your life. I reckon that there’s five decision which I’ve taken which, successively, have meant that I didn’t become an academic, a long term oil industry employee (and very possibly an American citizen God forbid), an old Asian hand, a senior Dow Chemical manager or a salary man through to retirement. 

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5 business trips (which didn’t go to plan)

I’ve travelled enough so that I’m pretty adept at avoiding the pitfalls of business trips and the stresses that go with them but even then stuff happens which is outside your control and then you have to adapt. It’s happened to me several times, fortunately never catastrophically, but in today’s world the consequences of the earlier ones wouldn’t have been so easily managed.

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That was 2020 that was

I generally keep a diary when there’s something special going on. That typically includes travel and special events so I’ve been keeping one over the last few days and included in it my reflections of 2020. This is what I’ve written.

We’ve had no holidays. We were due to go to Italy in May but that fell foul of Covid and we got our money back. Otherwise we had just a couple for nights at the Windmill in Linton, that’s the one near Wetherby, early in September when we went to see the Bradburys and to celebrate Sophia’s 5th birthday. Of course we’d also planned Xmas up north as well but cancelled that as infection rates began to climb.

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My mother didn’t have a happy life

I don’t mean that it was uniformly unhappy but after a promising start she suffered a misfortune which, despite her undoubted mental strength and determination, was to blight the rest of her life.

Audrey Vickers was born in 1923 and as far as I know enjoyed a happy childhood in a stable and loving but fairly strict family environment. Her father was a successful butcher and the family lived ‘over the shop’ in Wepre Buildings in Connah’s Quay. She went to the same schools, and was taught by some of the same teachers as me: Dee Road Infants, Custom House Lane County Primary and then Hawarden Grammar. From school she went to teachers training college as was the norm in those days for many girls who’d made it through to the 6th form. She secured a place at IM Marsh in Liverpool.

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Leaders are only as good as their teams

The All Stars, Lensbury’s 2nd rugby team: I’ve always enjoyed sport, as a spectator and a participant. Unfortunately I’ve never been that good at it and in school, although I’d have happily swapped a few academic grades for a place on the school team, I never got the chance. However later on, first at college and then when I started to work, I found that enthusiasm was a pretty good substitute for ability. It wouldn’t get you into the first team but at least it got you onto a team sheet. Then I chanced on the discovery that if you would take on the chore of organising you would not only secure your position but you could even become captain, choose your position and take all the penalties! And so I became a ‘professional’ second team captain and my first shot at that was in the early 70s when I played for and captained the 2nd XV at Lensbury, the sports club of Shell in London where I worked.

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