Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fortune has its cookies to give out (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Book 1 - Pictures of the Gone World (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Book 2 - The Beatles in 100 Objects (Brian Southall)

My goal of 50 books in 52 weeks kicked off in earnest last week with the Ferlinghetti collection, and this week I'm into the Southall book on the fabs (up to page 124 at this point).

Both were recent purchases from our Christmas holiday trip to San Francisco and London.

I couldn't let a visit to City Lights Books go by without some Ferlinghetti. It's almost against the law! I read Coney Island for the Mind back in Auckland University days and the beat poets put their crazy hooks in me.

This one took my eye because it was his first collection, published in 1955.

I've had to have a few goes at it - the intensity of the word pictures is erm...intense. Rewarding in unexpected ways. 

The fabs book was bought from a bookstore on Upper Street in the Highbury/Islington area, close to where we were staying at Pat and Randy's place in Newington Green.

It's written by Brian Southall - I have another of his Beatle related books (which looks at Abbey Road), and this one is also a wee gem.

This time he uses 100 items like posters, suits, records, guitars, cars and other groovy objects to tell the story of the greatest band of all time (it's official!).

Every page has a photo of the object in question and a mini essay about it. This one, on the left, for instance, features a run down of the Beatles' bug logo used on a French LP.

Apparently it was first roughed out as a design by Macca, who passed it to Liverpool sign writer and artist Tex O'Hara (whose brother was a member...shock horror probe... of The Fourmost) who developed the idea further.

I know!! Fascinating stuff, right?

It's a quality, largish format book with brilliant colour reproductions, great stories and well, gush gush gush. It's fab and gear and I just love it! 

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The love you take is equal to the love you make (The Beatles)

Epilogue (You may say I'm a dreamer - the end)

Move on fast! Wozza shifts gear - into the future!

Age 59, looking out my window as the sun sets on Rochdene and the autobiography.

It's been a long strange trip so far. We've been through some things together over eleven chapters, with trunks of memories to come.

Although Keith Richards is right - you can't celebrate the future (things which haven't happened yet) but you can celebrate the idea of a future (the potential to come).

Hurrah!! Here's to the future!

It's the start of the school year and for my students that means setting some goals - I recommend two: a learning goal and a personal goal.

I wrote mine out while some of my students were writing theirs. My personal goal is to get back to writing blog posts well in advance of the publishing date. That way I'll build up a bank of posts and be able to edit more thoroughly than I have been able to so far this year. By so doing, my writing will improve.

My learning goal is an ambitious one: to read fifty books by February 2018! So far lately, my reading has centred on music magazines. I want to stretch my reading beyond that. At roughly one book a week, this goal will really challenge me, given all of the things I pack into a week.

As well as my students keeping me honest, this blog will trace my progress through those fifty books!

First up - a book of Ferlinghetti's poetry I picked up from the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.

Tally ho!!

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, February 12, 2017

So much serenity (Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle)

Rovers' return (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 11 part 3)

The end is the beginning.

We are, as I indicated in my previous post, up to date. The last few weeks have been a blur - settling into the latest iteration of Rochdene in Maungaturoto (this time I WILL get a sign made for the gate), and job at Westmount's Kaipara campus.

It's been something of a blur but we did take some time yesterday for tea and scones (Jacky's scones are a rarity and need to be savoured) on the deck.

How's that serenity?

Love peace scones and serenity - Wozza

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

You can't celebrate the future (Keith Richards)

Rovers' return (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 11 part 2)

Wozza and Fanfa, Disneyland 2017

So, here we are. Finally. In the present tense.

You find me and Jacky in Maungaturoto, a tiny little settlement north of Auckland - 'a real New Zealand town' of about 800 people.

Happily, we are remodelling our early twentieth century bungalow. I pootle off to work each day in Rapid Roy, my company supplied car, to lead the Westmount Kaipara campus. Jacky will start work at Whangarei hospital in due course.

I'm really enjoying both new threads in my new life.

The school is new - only about ten years old. It runs from Year 3 to Year 13 with 220 students and 30 staff. The philosophy of education is new, with a huge accent on self directed learning. It's a worldwide private school - built for Brethren families, and run in NZ from a central location in Auckland - it's one school but with 14 NZ campuses (of which Kaipara is the biggest).  

It's a friendly, vibrant, exciting, challenging place to work! A great place for me to regain my senior management skills. I'm rusty but getting there, bit by bit each day. The loads of experience I have gathered from all the places you've read about in these blog posts feels valuable again.

The house is old - originally built as a farm cottage, it was substantially added to after the second world war. One family has owned it for around fifty years. It has been a wrench for them to give it up and I can understand why. 

The bones of the house are fantastic. It reminds me of Ma's house that I loved so much as a child. One bedroom (that we've converted to a dining room) is spookily the same in look and feel.

Thirty children have been raised over the years in the house. It feels warm, cosy and well loved. 

We are lucky to have custody of it for a while. 

Oh, and more importantly, Grace (SWMBO's horse) seems to be well settled in her new home as well.

Contrary to what my Woodford House friends think, I sense we will be here for a long time. There is much to do in both the school and the house to make it feel like ours. 

I am busy and feeling appreciated. I am happy.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Oh now security, yeah and I want it at any cost (Otis Redding)

Rovers return (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 11 part 1)

Security - each day, as I drove from Otane, and then Waipukarau, to Havelock North down Stock Road I came to a T intersection and gazed on a sign attached to an orchard drive way. In large letters it read, 'Security'. The details of the firm supplying security were obscured by agapanthus but I saw the sign and I understood it loud and clear!

It's what I needed after all the rambling years - Woodford House did the trick for four years - longer than I'd intended, actually.

After Jacky's health scare in September 2012 delayed our Chinese adventure, stability was even more necessary. We were committed to Wuxi but it was a wretched time for SWMBO after the radiotherapy.

After we both learned about our new jobs at the same time (I tried to ring Jacky with my good news, but couldn't get through - because she was receiving the same news from her job application), we breathed out.

Not often all six of us are together - KW is MIA

After we finally got rid of our house sitter (don't ask) Jacky went back to work at Hastings hospital in the NICU and maternity departments and I trooped off to teach the girls each day. at Woodford House. Fun Fun Fun.

Woodford has an undeserved reputation for snobbishness. In reality it's full of normal, well adjusted girls, many from a farming background.

The staff at Woodford were (and some still are) amazing. Luckily I could practise the 'get out of the way and let great people do their thing' philosophy with my English department. 

Fortuitously, I was seated in a section of the staff work room that contained some hilarious and genuinely wonderful characters like Toni Dunstan and Ange Rathbone. We had serious fun! Jackie Barron's leadership suited me to a T (intersection) and friends/coaches like Jane Perry and Dionne Thomas made my stay a constant delight.

The students? Well, they were a different story. Notoriously, they are very slow to accept change - so getting to know me took a while. Curiously, I have not found this to be the case in any of my other schools (including my current one). The first year at Woodford, 2013, wasn't all butterflies and zebras, moonbeams, and fairy tales.

But we kinda got there in the end.

Along the way, love was in the air, every time I looked around.  Jacky and I restated our marriage vows in the Woodford House Chapel to seal 30 years of marriage and set up the next thirty; Samantha got married to Jesse in San Francisco; and Adam married Ashleigh in Auckland and moved to Melbourne. Our little chick-a-dees were dispersing and forging their own desire paths away from New Zealand.

As for Keegan, he met Diya and after a few false starts with bad boys, Jade met William. Diya didn't last, but William and Jade did.

Security and stability are great, but, after four years, and one relocation to Waipukurau, the prevailing winds of change started blowing my way again. I needed fresh challenges. It was time to get back to senior management and a return to the UK - so a plan was hatched to apply for positions with recruiters in London.

Except, an innocent little gazette notice, and Jacky's desire that I consider NZ jobs as well, put a spaniel in the works.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hate to leave you here babe, but you treat me so unkind (Eric Clapton)

Rambling Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 10 part 12)

The rambling days were to continue with a briefish Chinese connection before a return to stability in 2013.

When I left Al Ain in 2012 and returned to our new house in Otane, Hawke's Bay, I expected to get a job easily - not because I was cocky - but because I was prepared to take anything from English teaching upwards.

Instead I applied for three Principal jobs, was short listed and interviewed for all three (Dannevirke, Central Hawke's Bay, Havelock North) but in each case the job went to a Principal in another NZ school. Doh!

Not one English job came up, and no other management jobs that I could even apply for. Doh!

Instead Peter Joyce got in touch - was I interested in a job in China? Well yes Pete - sure, why not? Nothing else was happening in Hawke's Bay.

It would be working for an American guy (Luis Alcarez) and his Chinese business partner (Maria), as Principal of a school helping prospective Chinese pilots gain relevant English skills.

I flew to Christchurch to get some professional development from Airways (who were somehow involved) and, after installing a house sitter in Red Phoenix Farm, Jacky and I left NZ for Wuxi.

With no clue as to what we'd face we arrived in Shanghai and met Maria and our translator, Wood. He also drove us around, for a start to Wuxi - about 50 minutes west of Shanghai. 

It was winter, and freezing cold. 

We headed to our apartment (10th floor) and battled the cold (the heat pump ironically froze the outside water pipes and we had no water for a while), the new city (six million in Wuxi so a small town by Chinese standards), and a new job (Wood and his wife, Tina, and Lois were very friendly, as were the students).

We bought two push bikes and cycled around Wuxi in our spare time, exploring the malls, shopping centres and parks.

Funnily enough - we were the only westerners on bikes! Actually we were pretty much the ONLY people on bikes. In modern China it's all about electric scooters.

While it lasted, it was great but soon enough the American connection to the company dropped out and Maria stopped paying the staff. Doh! Kevin Simms' warnings were spot on!

During the 2013 Chinese new year we were given a one way ticket back to NZ. The (Chinese) writing was on the wall.

Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia".

So, during this time I had applied for two jobs back in Hawke's Bay - one was Deputy Principal at Woodford House in Havelock North. Didn't hear anything back - Jackie Barron must have seen the Chinese postmark and put one and two together.

When we returned to Otane, I applied for a second time to Woodford House - Head of English. This time I popped in to see her and hand delivered my application.

That did the trick. I no longer had rambling on my mind!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Midnight at the oasis, send your camel to bed (Maria Muldaur)

Rambling Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 10 part 11)

The northern Purdy clan gathers at Christine's
for Irene's 90 not out party!

Life in the Al Ain years was good. Really good! Work (as detailed in the previous post was great) but the lifestyle for me and Jacky was terrific as well.

Jacky and her ex pat wife friends used the malls as gathering places. And then they shopped! Suffice to say we brought a lot of stuff home to NZ afterwards - cushions, bedding, shoes, clothes, art work, CDs, stereos, TVs , and so on - A LOT of stuff!

Along the way we had frequent overseas trips: back to NZ and Waiheke Island; to the UK to see Christine, Irene and the rest of the Purdy clan; and memorably the Christmas 2011 trip to London for the most wonderful and gayest Christmas celebration of all time with Patrick/ Randy and their friends.

Wozza and Jade at the
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Meanwhile back in the UAE, we moved from The Gardens apartments to Yellow Jimi - another enclave of ex pat Cognition workers (think Melrose Place) - we were neighbours of Graeme and Jansy, Pete and Paula, Brett and Margie and Gavin and Noella on the top floor. They were all awesome kiwi friends.

Our downtimes were spent walking (often to the Al Jimi mall), with weekend road trips to Dubai and the Dubai Mall (OMG - I LOVE the Dubai Mall), Mall of the Emirates (playing at Ski Dubai with Jade), Burjuman Centre. We also did frequent road trips to Abu Dhabi (great music store there - Kings Recording), with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque a constant highlight. We went on tours of Dubai (with visitors like Brian Smith and Jade), Jacky went for frequent riding sessions at the Al Ain equestrian centre (while I walked for an hour around the complex). Camel rides in the desert and visits to Al Ain zoo were great too.

A lot of dates were consumed!
Life in the sandpit  was a full on experience! 

I loved it - the consistently great weather, the people, the sand dunes, the coffee treats in the malls, the shopping, the cheap petrol!

Shame it had to end but the unreal bubble life does have a use by date. By the end, Jacky had had enough extended holiday (she hadn't worked for three years) and it was time for another change. We'd bought a house in Hawke's Bay and I was confident I'd pick up some kind of teaching job - management or just English teaching would have been fine.

With my usual naive spirit of optimism I returned to NZ  in June 2012 (Jacky had left in January to work through possession of the house - Red Phoenix Farm).

The hope was the rambling years were at an end, some stability and security was the thinking. But wait...one more post is needed before that would happen!

Love and peace - Wozza