1. I was born and raised in Manchester, England, moved to London after I married and have lived in the area ever since. I'm 5ft 2ins tall, short, light brown hair, blue eyes, weight 47kg
2. My star sign is Libra, as is hubby’s; makes for harmonious relationship – we are both fully paid up members of the procrastinator’s club, never making a decision until absolutely necessary and all the options have been weighed, and weighed again.
3. My real name is Patricia – I HATE the name with a passion and prefer to be called Pat (well I’d prefer to be called something entirely different but my middle name of Vivienne is not much better; suppose I could use my confirmation name JOAN. Now where have I heard that name used before recently by someone who was suffering from Amnesia?)
4. As a child, I used to ride a lot. When I was 11, I fell jumping a wall and broke my right arm. The X-ray machine didn’t pick up the break so it was never re-set. As a result, the arm is crooked. I spent 6 weeks with it in a sling, until the swelling subsided and the X-ray then picked up the hairline fracture. As a result of the time spent immobile, I am fairly ambidextrous; the only thing I can’t do left-handed is write.
5. At the age of 13, during a maths exam at school, I experienced sharp pains in my left shoulder. I was rushed into hospital with double pneumonia and a collapsed left lung. The resultant lung damage left me with a tendency to recurring bouts of bronchitis, pleurisy and pneumonia during the winter months. I spent every Wednesday afternoon of my secondary school life in physiotherapy at the local hospital. Wednesdays were Home Economics’ classes, or Art so I never learned to sew or cook or draw.
6. I taught myself to play guitar when I was about 9, because my parents wouldn’t let me have piano lessons. My elder sister (11 years my senior) was allowed have lessons and, when she discovered boys, in her teens, gave up. The parents’ reasoning was that I’d do the same. I went on to study music as a minor subject at college and was greatly disadvantaged by the lack of piano. The guitar came in handy though as I was one half of a girl-duo called Shades of Brown. (hair colour; I was ash-blond at the time, the other half was brunette). We played the pubs and clubs in Liverpool to help boost our meager student finances.
7. One of the other things I missed out on, because I was a girl, was being allowed to have toys that I wanted. I was a real tomboy, always in jeans. I never wanted dolls or girlie toys. I wanted a mechanno set (pre-cursor of technic lego in a way) and a train set. I had to make do with being allowed to play with the neighbour’s son’s toys. I did get a bike – but it was a girly one. At least it wasn’t pink! I was also not encouraged to think seriously about taking maths or sciences at college. My father was a great provider of mental games which developed my ability with logic. He was a believer in girl-power (a man ahead of his time, he grew up in a family of 2 boys and 6 girls (all six strong-minded women) However, as was common in those days, it was mother who had the day-to-day responsibility for encouraging the school work, testing the revision for exams, attending parents’ evenings etc. ) Mother was a woman of her time and could not input into the science studies. She excelled in the arts. Hence my choice of subjects. I was the first member of both sides of the family to go to College and study for a degree.
8. Not being allowed to have a dog was one of my major gripes against my sister (yes I know she must have hated me as a child, too, I must have really cramped her style with the boyfriends as she had to allow me to tag along when she went out.)The issue was resolved on her wedding day. I was thirteen and agreed to wear the awful green bridesmaid's dress she’d had designed and have my hair permed AND wear stiletto heels, only because I was promised a puppy in return. That puppy was my first love. His name was Whiskey. He was a Heinz 57 with a lot of Old English sheepdog. He was 7 when he died, just two weeks before the husband and I were going to reclaim him from my parents on our way down from Liverpool to our new home in London. He was the first of a long line of animal members of the family. We have been owned by two cats and have loved 6 dogs.
9. Met the husband-to-be at College in Liverpool. He was a tutor at college and it was hate at first sight. He tried to persuade me to take my (then) boyfriend back as said boyfriend had cried on his shoulder. I told him to stop interfering in my life – he ignored me. The rest, as they say is history. We married a year later (to claim the married person’s tax allowance to help fund his way through an MA – yes, very romantic. That was when I was 19, he was 25, in 1970). Still together – the fine line between love and hate eh?
10. Moved to London and had to give up college to finance living in London. Husband (MWNN) had taken a teaching job and the salary wouldn’t even cover the rent on the flat in which we lived.
11. I had a series of jobs, starting with marine insurance in the City of London, moving to the Industrial Training Board’s grant-awarding section, operating out of Threadneedle Street and then into peripatetic music teaching in a variety of London schools.
12. I am, by vocation, a teacher.After the birth of the sainted daughter, in October 1972 (she’s a Scorpio) I continued with the music teaching (guitar) and, when she was 4, did a one-year teacher training course for mature students. (I suppose, at the grand old age of 26, I WAS old compared to the usual age of 21.) I taught full-time until 1997 when the poor old ailing lungs forced me into early retirement in my mid 40s.
13. One of the things about teaching is, you can never switch off. With both of us in the profession, we needed an escape. We found it through boating. After many years hiring, we bought our own narrowboat in 1994. She became our refuge; no phone, no TV on board, just the water and the fens. – glorious. When MWNN joined me in early retirement in 1999, we planned a greater escape, to France. As soon as the passport for pets materialised, we shipped the boat over to France where she has been ever since. It is the most glorious was of seeing the real France, (with the dogs) away from the tourist areas, with the real French people. We DID spend some time in Paris during our first year. We spent 6 months cruising, from April to September. We spent a week in the Paris Arsenal in the heat wave that hit Paris in early May that year.
14. The scientific side of me blossomed as I developed my teaching career. I started out as a remedial teacher (responsible for ‘slow learners’) Most of my time was spent on literacy skills, but I took on some maths skills teaching in my first full-time year. With the introduction of computers into schools, I discovered what a wonderful tool they were for taking the boredom out of repetitive exercises. I had to learn how to use the computer for my work in school and very gradually moved out of remedial teaching and into I.T. teaching.I finished my teaching career as head of I.T. in a large comprehensive school, where I was also responsible for running the three pupil networks. Strangely, because I was the I.T. person, I also ended up teaching business studies ( a subject about which I knew absolutely nothing) because of the I.T. requirements of the course.
15. On retiring, I finished the degree I had started at Liverpool, joint honours in Literature and History. I graduated two months after my 50th birthday.
16. Decided to write a history for the new Millennium and started researching a book about my old school. Set up a website to help trace the old girls and secure pre-orders for the book. That is the achievement of which I am most proud. Not the book, the recreation of the school community. Through the website, I found some friends I thought I had lost forever. My very best friend, Liz, e-mailed me early in 2001, from Columbus Ohio, here she’d lived since the 1970s with her South Carolinian husband, Berl. She flew over to see me in August 2001. It was one of the happiest and exciting moments of my life when I opened that first e-mail. You could hear my squeal at the end of the street.
17. My musical taste hasn’t changed much over the years. I love most classical composers,( except for the atonal modern ones. )Wagner, Holst, Motzart, Bruckner, Mahler, Richard Strauss are among my favourites. As for pop/rock, I was a HUGE Beatles fan – saw them live, twice, in Manchester. I was also a great fan of Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker) and a little-known band called The Incredible String Band. As a performer, I stuck to what we did best – modern folk/pop; Incredible String Band, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Judy Collins, Joan Baez. The duo broke up when I left Liverpool to move to London and I have never performed live since (well except a couple of occasions when I played guitar as part of a group at various school events) I’ve added to my list of favourite bands through the years; The Who, The Small Faces, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Lead Zeppelin, Pink Flloyd, Police, Billy Joel. Recent additions include Beautiful South and Robbie Williams.
18. Despite missing all those Home Ec. Classes at school, I love to cook; favourite dish of the moment is steamed salmon fillet, with pasta, in a creeme fraiche tarragon sauce. I asked for a bread maker for Christmas 3 years’ ago because I was sick and tired of the awful mass-produced bread in this country. I got a panasonic. We have not bought a loaf since. We use flour bought at the local flour mill, local honey instead of sugar and no additives or preservatives. We have yet to find bread as good when we shop in the bakers in France.
19. Another "spite missing Home Ec. Classes" is my love of needlework. I cannot use a
sewing machine and I loved doing embroidery at primary school. I started embroidery again when I was at my lowest point just before I retired. I have since learned lots of new textile skills. I worked a tartan cushion cover in needlepoint for MWNN’s 55th birthday. The tartan was an Elliott, his mother’s maiden name. I have learned how to work various stitches for silk shading (a kind of painting with threads) and have also done some dying and batik work. I discovered that I have a flair for colour but that my drawing skills are crap. I use the computer to help overcome the lack of draughtsmanship.
20 My reading choices have changed a lot over the years. At school,I read a lot of non-fiction. I started enjoying the classics in the 6th form (grades 13 & 14)I moved on to CS Lewis and a lot of science fiction in my 20s and 30s. I found Terry Pratchett in my 40s and I reclaimed the classics as my first love after I retired.
21 Before I retired, had I taken any of the on-line personality tests I have done recently, I would have come out at the opposite end of the specturm. Back then, I was a compulsive, introspective perfectionist control-freak with paranoid tendencies. These days, not so much! Heh – tests what do they know? I can cheat convincingly. Seriously, I’ve found a balance. I like to mediate, de-fuse. Let go! life’s too short! I’ll be posting more on this theme tomorrow.