As Thai Airways TG 992 glided into its final flight path, Jacky Purdy in 49H nudged me to look out the window. My bookmark went into the middle of Bill Bryson's A Short History Of Nearly Everything and I peered nervously past her - she always takes the window seat.
Below me the 11th of June 2003 dusk was a perfect end to a sunny summer day. The farmers' carefully manicured fields in Kent and Essex were gleaming as we sped past.
Instinctively, as the plane's flight path took us over Westminster and London Bridge I knew that I was finally where I belonged. Home.
|Edinburgh July 2003 - Ron and |
Alison Annan with Wozza
The Assistant Principal, Marty Blackburn, and I were in the hall fine tuning arrangements for our 2002 end of year prize giving ceremony. I was now into my third year as Deputy Principal and, although we were chalk, cheese and cheeseboard, we worked well as a team - me, Marty and the Principal Alison Annan.
Alison came into the hall and wanted a word. Seems she was going on a sabbatical for Term 2, 2003 and I'd be Acting Principal while she was away. Wahoo, I thought - what a great challenge!
I refocused as she continued - at the end of her sabbatical in July 2003 she was going to a Worlds' Principals' Conference in Edinburgh. She offered me a deal: I could either take the higher duties allowance for the term OR the school would pay for me and Jacky to also attend the conference.
I distinctly remember thinking in that moment of blind panic, "OH SHIT!"
That means flying. Oh shit. I'll have to tell Jacky. Oh Shit. She'll want to go. Oh shit shit shit.
Somehow, through the daze, I made my way back to my office and called Jacky.
While a teenager, I'd had a bad flight back from a family holiday to Sydney in 1973 and it had put me off flying big time. I remember looking at the plane before boarding and wondering how on Earth it stayed in the air. During the bumpy flight back to Auckland the turbulence knocked me out of my seat. Since then, a fear of flying had crept over me and apart from some hair raising flights within New Zealand (I especially hate flying into Wellington) I had not flown internationally for thirty years.
Jacky answered the Alpha Street phone.
Fantastic, she said - we're going to Scotland, she said. But... I said. I'm terrified of flying, I said. Warren, it's Scotland, she said - we've got to go - you have to get over this, she said. But...I said.
Then she said the five words that changed everything: What. If. You. Love. It?
July 2003 - heatwave in London and looks like (shock horror probe) we'd been
to the Arsenal shop in Finsbury Park!
What are the odds?
Love and peace - WNP