Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Don't surround yourself with yourself (Yes)

Hot for teacher (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 5, part 1)

The preacher trained in all to lose his name,The teacher travels asking to be shown the same.        
Yes (And You and I)
In my case, it was training and travelling in 1982.

Most trainee teachers will tell you that Training College is largely a waste of time while they are doing it. Going 'on section' and learning on the job is more highly rated.

Then and now, I disagree with them. I loved Training College! After fighting tooth and nail to get there, I was determined to enjoy it!

First though, I had to move out of the family home. During the five years at university I had been living at Ramelton Road. I loved my parents and saw no reason to leave home. In a first tentative independent move, I had moved downstairs to a smaller room. Ross and I had subdivided the large games room and I had that set up as my music room and study area.

My study area, Ramelton Road. Records and books man!

For a number of reasons it made sense for me to move out now. As luck would have it, Deedoo's old two bed flat was in Windmill Road, just a few streets away from the Secondary Teachers' College in Mt Eden. The existing tenant was being a problem so it all made sense.

A lovely set it up it was too - the middle flat of three with elderly neighbours either side, with it's own garage; nevertheless, it was really really weird living on my own. I didn't like it much, but I did learn three important life lessons: I prefer having people around me; I hate silence; I'm a lousy cook!

Good friend and fellow Kevin Pound fan,
Judy Snowdon with Wozza
While doing the one year graduate training programme I had some inspirational tutors, Kevin Pound and Ron Martin in particular. Kevin, it has to be said, polarised our tutor group into love/hate extremes. You were either with him and his methods, or you were against him and them. Fellow students, Judy, Cherie and I were with him, so we enjoyed life.

Ron Martin was a picture of hyperactivity, full of ideas and energy. His enthusiasm was infectious! 

The third of our English tutors was Trevor Dobbin - a cliched laid back English teacher dude maan.

Between them they had all stereotypes covered. Interesting, too, that they were all males. At university, the female population vastly eclipsed males in arts courses like English. It was what I had become used to after six male dominated years at MAGS. Our tutor group was nicely split in gender, but I guess I subconsciously synthesised all of these male teacher models and drew from them different inspirations.

It wasn't all peaches and cream: 'education' classes were bizarre, the Audio Visual technician was a boorish prat and 'social studies' classes were a bit of a joke.

Hanging out with my tutor group in the cafeteria, and 'English' with my friends made up for any negative vibe.

Three 'sections' were an integral part of the course. This entailed travelling to new and exciting places (see - told you there was training and travelling).

West Auckland, Keri Keri and Havelock North schools were going to host Wozza during the year!

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pushing the barriers, planting seeds (John Lennon)

The power and the glory (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 4, part 2)

Hair update - the fringe years were over, although
the George Harrison 1968 fetish was alive and well.

Master of Arts (1980-81)
First I had to do battle to stay the course. The teaching studentship people argued against me enrolling in the master's programme - they wanted me at Teachers' College in 1980.

Politely, I declined to acquiese to their request. They blinked first.

At the start of 1982 I was capped MA (Hons) in front of my family, my friends, my peers. Finally, the dream had come true.

Film festival tickets 1981: good
times, good times!
The previous two, utterly self indulgent, academically stimulating years, had been amazing. 

Retrace the route with me as I take the bus along Dominion Road or drive to the gully car park in my mini, go to the movies, go to lectures and tutorials, browse the record and book shops, work for hours on my own in the library, meet friends at the coffee shop or in Albert Park, see plays with friends, and all the while totally engross myself in my studies: 2oth century drama, 15th century drama, Chaucer, 2oth century poetry, the novel, and language papers. 

Student life was very heaven.

The result - second class, first part honours was beyond what I had hoped for ten years before.

MA students perform - Wozza left, Margo second right.
Relationships were becoming more intense as well. Up to this point, girl friends had been just that - friends who were girls.

Coralie Bines was my first date back at MAGS. Mike Budd played middle man and introduced me to her. We went to the school ball and she was still on the scene when I had my 21st dinner party at the White Heron Lodge (Purdy's are pretty classy). Coralie was (and, I bet, still is) lovely but we were just friends.

Phylis Omand was a friend of Greg's and we went out a few times (me and Phyllis that is, not Greg; he was busy with Wendy I suspect). Again though, we were just friends. Soon enough she'd moved on to Anthony Harris.

Friends from my courses, who were girls, went with me to movies, the theatre and lunches but nothing serious was ever on the agenda.

When 1980 rolled around, I meet fellow MA student, Dallas Smith. She was a thing apart, a different prospect, and certainly didn't fit the model of my previous female friends. Intense, moody, artistic, she was a crazy mixed up kid if ever there was one. Fair warning - she told me she was trouble and she was right.

Dallas collage 1981

Of course, it didn't last. She deceived me and I was crushed. So it goes.

Christine and Chris kirkham 1981
Another relationship, began at the same time, has definitely endured. I would have loved an older sister in my house growing up. Christine was away in England getting on with married life to Chris Kirkham, and email was a way off yet. I loved her letters, cards and cassette tapes but she wasn't as easily accessible as she is now.

Margo Buchanan-Oliver was also a fellow master's student, but in a different league to the rest of us! A curious mix of English refinement, social rebel, academic genius, tough business woman, tender and loving feminist - Margo is one dynamic package. 

She'd been married and had gap years in business before deciding on further study, with first the masters degree, then her PhD. Quickly, she became a big sister.

Clay, Margo with Mr and Mrs Purdy
But wait, there's more: Clay Bodvin was and is Margo's partner: an American Vietnam vet, artist, painter, gentleman, visionary, big brother substitute.

What a perfect twofer package! As friends they became a huge part of my life. When I got married, Clay was my best man, Margo - director of ceremony.

In 1980, I was 24 and yes, gasp, still pretty naive. Still living at home, but growing, incrementally, more independent. Academically I was definitely hitting my peak. Through their adoption of me (and kindred spirit, Chris Loud), Margo and Clay helped introduce new worlds - arcane worlds of possibilities and intellectual argument. They can cut through bullshit in a nano second and I love them dearly. 

Chris Loud
It was the most stimulating time of my life. The windows were thrown open, the doors of perception were hinging off their hinges.

I was immersed in great literature: The Romance of the Rose; Chaucer; Robert Bly: Robert Creeley; Moby Dick; Huckleberry Finn; Wordsworth; Coleridge; Shelley; Allen Ginsberg; Ferlinghetti; the Wakefield pageants; medieval lyrics; Pynchon; Titus Groan; Easy Rider; Star Wars; Ionesco; Beckett...

Great people influenced my thinking: Wystan Curnow; Stephanie Hollis; Roger Horrocks. They turned me inside out. As I progressed through those five years I kept an eye out for their courses. I was there!

Wystan and Roger formed a dynamic duo on poetry, film, Americana and art. Thanks to them I was turned on to artists like John Coltrane, Patti Smith, Charlie Parker, Dylan. A previously untapped world of poetry and film as art and expression. It's a debt I can never repay.

Peter Dane made Wordsworth's words, images, and experiences from The Prelude come alive and breathe for me. I can still hear his voice when I read from it.

Stephanie opened my eyes to Chaucer. After one lecture one night, I walked through Albert Park in a heightened state of mindfulness - I saw leaves on trees, bark, the filtered light - everything, it seemed to me, for the very first time. I felt transformed!

By becoming so immersed in what they taught, these people provided models that I could learn from; they provided priceless experiences to sustain me for the rest of my life. Is there any greater gift?

Sadly, as 1983 dawned, the five self indulgent years devoted to study and a search for self had to eventually come to an end. It was time to move on. 

It was time to learn a trade.

Love and peace - Wozza 

Monday, August 22, 2016

We're playing those mind games together (John Lennon)

The power and the glory (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 4, part 1)

Fringe days were numbered. T shirt by Wozza.

We're playing those mind games togetherPushing the barriers, planting seeds -                     John Lennon (Mind Games)

Every December, I enviously wave off the year's Year 13 students who are heading to university.  Little do they realise the super intense changes that are in store as their glory days beckon!

Leaving a dodgy school record behind was extremely liberating for me. I guess I should have been concerned about my ability to cope, instead, I felt eager, confident, and thirsty for university life.

Finally...finally I was going to get that long dreamed of Master of Arts degree. I became even more single minded in its pursuit. 

Ramelton Rd - Ross arriving, my mini already ensconsed.
Throughout these years (1977 to 1981) I continued to live at home - number 4 Ramelton Road, Mt Roskill South, with mum, dad, and Ross.

Woz and dad, Taupo holidays at Te Rangiita were full of fishing adventures

During these years we enjoyed our last holidays together as a family in Taupo, as I was on the cusp of a new life on my own.

But not yet!

Woz and mum, Taupo holidays were full of fun!

Stage One (1977)
In three years time, to achieve a master's degree in English the fine print said I needed two papers in another language. The long summer holiday of 1976 was spent poring over the University Calendar and figuring out what to do.

Help was required, so Greg (who was also going to Auckland University to do a science degree) and I went to see Warwick Gibbs in his Auckland central flat that he shared with his elderly mum for his advice. Even though I'd studied French since 1971, I knew I wouldn't cope with it at university. 

Explaining the situation to Warwick was easy. He understood my situation. His advice was to take two Spanish papers - one on literature, t'other on language. Being new to all Stage One students meant that I had more of a chance to pass. So that's what I did.

Again, to his eternal credit, even though he may have been thinking it, at no point did Warwick nay say my aim to get a master's degree.

As explained previously, I was turned down for a teaching studentship during seventh form, but I knew I was destined to be a teacher so I took two education papers anyway.

English and history, my best subjects at school, made up another four papers to make eight in total for that first year. 

At the end of 1977, another application for a teaching studentship was made and again it was denied, but I passed everything with good enough grades to pick up a B Bursary and ploughed ever onwards.

The self indulgent years - in double exposure. I love this shot taken at Ramelton Road.
Stage Two (1978)
Now I concentrated on history, Asian history and English. Early into this second year, the studentship people rang me - someone had dropped out and a place was now available - was I interested? You betcha baby!! After only two rejections (ha!) I was on my career path at last.

As expected, Ross breezed through
MAGS, and gained a BSc a year
after my graduation for BA.
In exchange for a bond agreement (teach as many years as the studentship lasted) came financial freedom. Great stuff - my record collection blossomed and I could afford my first car, an orange Mini. Result!

Even though Stage Two was an academically demanding year I again didn't fail anything and even picked up an A Bursary.

During these first few years, I was lucky to find an amazing group of friends. Many came via Greg (he's a popular lad), then some via Simmsy (also a popular lad), then some from other sources.

Among the supporting cast of The Wozza Show: Kevin Simms and his then girlfriend, Helen George, both were doing commerce; Phyllis Omand, finishing a BA; Lynley Wood, law (co-incidentally, sister of old school friend Brian Wood); and, of course, my school chum Greg. What a talented bunch!

We hung out, a lot! Our routines involved finding each other in the library (we had set possies), putting study on hold to grab a drink in the coffee bar on campus and meeting in the new recreation centre for lunch. Mum's afghan biscuits (a.k.a. camel dung cookies) were a regular treat with the troops!

Frequently in stitches, we bonded. Some of the bonds endured: Kevin, Greg and I laughed hysterically at the same things and loved music with a passion; Kevy was a Glenfield Rovers stalwart so we had football in common (Man U vs Arsenal); Phyllis and her new boyfriend, Anthony Harris; Lynley and I were platonic friends from day one; Brett Reid, a football mate of Kevy's, and I went to the three day Nambassa music festival in Waihi.

There were other friends as well: Jo Priddy - we all went to her 21st; Kevin Carter and Phil Coombs I knew from football; Kevin Prewitt; Wendy Knowles (Greg's wife, she typed up all my essays - in days before PCs so there were loads of drafts. Literally, she saved my bacon*! Big shout out to you Wendy - I still have them and they still look amazing - many thanks!!).

* The deliberately inappropriate use of 'literally' is an in joke that my students and Jacky will get. 

We all had a heap of things in common: young; achievers; talented; not one smoker among us; white New Zealanders; sporty: middle class backgrounds; well behaved and wanting to enjoy student life to the full.

BA grad - MAGS tie, my mini!
Stage Three (1979)
Six English papers flew past and I had my B.A. Understandably, mum and dad were thrilled but to me the job was only half done. For me, the bachelor degree was purely a necessary stepping stone.

Unfortunately, at the end of those three intense years, the crazy gang broke up as they left to start their careers, leaving me to do my two years of Masters' papers on my tod. 

It's a shame how important people come and go in life. Thankfully, Facebook was invented to allow Kevy, Greg and me to remain in contact. I value their on going love and support! Plus, they are still hilarious!!

Next up - a new supporting cast and the pinnacle of success.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all (Bob Dylan)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 5)

Okay - quick recap: 

  • 1971 - Third form at Mt Albert Grammar School - relegated down a class, where I came 38th out of 38!
  • 1972 - bottom of my 4th form class
  • 1973 - failed School Certificate
  • 1974 - second year fifth.

All the while I was telling friends,  parents of friends, my family, my teachers, everyone, that I was going to go to University, get a Masters of Arts degree and become a teacher. To their eternal credit, no one laughed, no one told me otherwise. 

Actually, maybe they did, but I never noticed!

I was focused. University. MA. Teacher. 

No longer the smallest guy on parade - third from left, third row.
Sixth form, and getting accredited for University Entrance was the focus for 1975. I guess my teachers weren't that surprised that I'd scrapped through. 

In some ways, in that I don't remember much about classroom activities, the year was a repeat of 1973. At the end, though, I was able to excel in English and get by in the other subjects and was accredited. 

Football remained one area of huge success. In my second year in the first XI we won the Auckland championship in cliffhanger fashion in the last game of the season at Takapuna Grammar. That game is tattooed into my consciousness. 

After a sliding tackle, I got the ball; I can still feel myself chipping the ball with my left foot to the far post for Peter Sarapu's goal. One nil.

A back headed equaliser - one one. 

The wind was strong as we attacked and scored - two one, the result we needed as we hung on for the famous victory!

Heroes! In the changing rooms we sang about being champions, in assembly we received our winning caps from the headmaster. Mine's tucked away with my precious stuff.
Next to Howard Atkinson with Warwick.
Howard's brother Geoff in back row.

In 1976 I returned for a largely lackadaisical go at University Bursary (now replaced by NCEA Level 3). Sporting wise I was captain of the first XI, won the badminton cup and was a demon fast bowler in Warwick Gibbs' cricket team.

Girls go crazy for a sharp dressed man - LOL. Far right, third row.
After a memorable interview (all the candidates had to be interviewed by the Headmaster in front of the whole staff!), I was made a prefect. My ability in English continued to improve even though I had disagreements with 'Daddy' Weir's geriatric teaching style. Although he was sympathetic to my complaint, Barry Gough couldn't help my cause much.

On the failure side of the ledger, the football team couldn't repeat 1975's success, and I failed to get any kind of bursary. 

After mum taught me to drive, I failed my first attempt at the driver's license. The oral bit did for me. On the second attempt I succeeded and drove myself to school when mum's car was available.

At school I heard the government gave teaching studentships to students to study at university in return for a bond to teach. Perfecto I thought. 

I applied, was interviewed and was unsuccessful. Oh well - I'd go to university and try again next year!

As MAGS said farewell, Senior Master Ron Hemus gave me a slip of paper headed 'Higher School Certificate'. That and my University Entrance meant that in 1977 I was heading to Auckland University.

After six years I was leaving a place which I'd come to love. My legacy at MAGS was my name on the hallowed walls of the school hall for being captain of the first XI and prefect. 

However, no matter how much I'd loved MAGS, I couldn't wait for a new start!

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Close to the edge, down by a river, not right away, not right away (Yes)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 4)

You can't always get what you want...but you might find you get what you need (Mick Jagger).

Great hairstyles of the seventies part 396 -
Wozza (top left) with the wonderfully coiffed
Greg Knowles, a.k.a. Grub, a.k.a. Gregarious
G-String (bottom right), in 1974

Clearly I needed to pause, settle my brain, grow as a person, and refocus.

So, in 1974, God sent me chicken pox, Warwick Gibbs, first XI football, Asquith Avenue, Greg Knowles, and a second year in the fifth form with Laurie Belsham. 

It became a watershed year. Without it? Who knows.

I was a failure. Nobody expected anything of me. And I wasn't alone. Looking at the 1973 and 74 Senior V photos is interesting - a few faces reoccur! Mates like Mike Budd, Vernon Kingstone, Stephen Sinclair and others kept me company.

I'm above the regal figure of Mr Herbert.
Back row - Stephen Sinclair and Peter Sarapu bookend the row
Third row - I'm next to Vernon Kingstone (4th from right)
Second row - Nicky Singh (4th from right), Greg Knowles (2nd from right)
Front row - Laurie (Lorry Driver) Belsham, Mike Budd (centre)
Yes, I was a failure, but I survived. Better than that - I came back from the brink of disaster after three solid years of failure.

Second time around I had a cruisy, much reduced programme - only having to do the three subjects I'd failed: French, maths and chemistry. Although I'd got the bare minimum in geography and English (both 50%) I didn't have to resit them. Wahoo!! 

During those classes I went to the art room: chilled out, listened to music, discussed music with friends (Beatles vs Stones was a hot topic still), screen printed T-shirts for the rowing teams and for myself. I had a ball in art class. Sheer bliss.

Asquith Avenue: We'd sold Korma Road, mainly because of a dickhead neighbour who had put oil in our swimming pool (we couldn't prove it but we knew he'd done it). We had also outgrown the place. That sounds weird because there was only the four of us. I think our parents wanted a bigger place for me and Ross, for dad's electronics, mum's floral display hobby and they wanted to get away from a really built up part of the suburbs. Korma Road was full of flats and they were looking dowdier and dowdier as time went on. 

I remember being at Brian Wood's house in Kerr Taylor Avenue (we'd bonded over music - Deep Purple In Rock to be specific that afternoon). When I phoned up mum to get me, she told me we'd bought a section in Ramelton Road, Mt Roskill South, at the end of the Dominion Road extension. Much further away from MAGS. I said, "Oh, okay".

My own children's awareness and need for information is light years beyond what mine was just then. They would have been part of the decision and interested in what was going on in terms of family decisions. I wasn't included in the decision making, ever. And I didn't mind.

I went with the flow.

While it was being built, dad rented an old house in Asquith Ave. Close to Peter Cahill's house, closer to Mike Budd's Grey Lynn place, really close to a railway crossing, really close to a dairy, and an easy walk to school. I loved it!

Before heading up to Whangarei, Mike was a constant friend during this time and a constant visitor to Asquith Avenue in his Morrie Thou. A very genuine, generous guy is Mike; I still have a copy of a Split Ends (sic) single that he scored for me while working at the Heard's sweet factory. He's a big guy and a big personality, and a talented goalkeeper. Not so hot in the outfield, though. He's too big! It was no surprise that he turned to rugby in North Auckland, playing at lock, and captaining the team. I was really proud of him.

At this temporary rental, I was given the small bedroom/porch by the back stairs and got on with it!

Cosy, warm, different, old, exciting: it was everything the new house couldn't be.

Chicken pox can be vicious if you're not a kid and I was 16 (turning 17 in October) when it hit early in 1974. I was laid up (pun intended) for weeks in that little porch area that was my bedroom. It was painful and embarrassing in extremis. I will spare you the details. 

While I read Lord of the Rings, mum nursed me through the illness. Every cloud has a silver lining. This one had quite a few. 

School work continued and I developed a new self-disciplined independent learning style in those weeks. Mr Gibbs set and marked French material for me and guided my learning. I loved the work I was doing for him and was amazed to find that it got easier to concentrate. Once I'd recuperated (pun intended - coups - work with me) I was a different person (but still in teenage boy fog).

Sports like tennis, softball, football (a.k.a. soccer in NZ), and badminton were the only things I was consistently really good at while I was growing up. Football especially.

I'd been an Auckland representative through the grades while playing for Eden. Adept with both feet, my position was at left back in the defence. Eventually, at MAGS, I made it through three years of age group teams to make the First XI team for the first time in 1974. Next year we would win the Auckland championship for what would be many years - until Kevin Fallon took over coaching the First XI in the late nineties, but we were pretty crap in 1974.

Warwick Gibbs was my French teacher again in 1974 and we bonded. He's an amazing teacher with an extraordinary gift. It must be a gift because somehow I won the Fifth form French prize that year. Many years later I framed the certificate and gave it to him - he deserved it more than I did!

W.O.H. Gibbs 
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops (Henry Adams). This is the title to the most popular post on this blog. It celebrates mentors, and Warwick Gibbs takes a starring role.

He has a great knack for making lasting connections with his students. His Facebook page bares testament to his continuing popularity at MAGS and influence. He was and is an amazing person.

While he was teaching me I wrote him a note saying that I would be back to MAGS some time in the future as Head of English. He showed it to me again when I left the teaching staff at MAGS to take up a position as Deputy Principal at Cambridge High School.

Inspirational people have been around me all my life, I am truly blessed.

Two young codgers - Buster and Gregarious

And then there was Greg Knowles, a.k.a. 'Grub'. Soon to become Gregarious G-String to my Buster Bloodvessel (we made tapes which cracked us up!). 

We were in the same class in 1974 because I'd failed and he'd caught up to me. Thank goodness! I can't imagine my life without Greg in it somehow. A third amigo, Kevin Simms, would join the party when we got to varsity.

All MAGS classrooms had tandem wooden desks with a seat that flipped back and an angled surface for writing. No plastic in sight in the seventies (or nineties - they were still there when I joined the staff!). Greg sat next to me during a chemistry exam at the end of 1974. I was struggling with stuff as usual and he was doing a paper in something else. Subsequently, he told me that he had looked at my answers, aghast at my stupidity! We became close friends.

Turns out we liked the same music, and had the same warped sense of humour. We have remained friends, mates for life, and our friendship hasn't changed!

When my second set of School certificate results came out, they showed that I'd passed maths and French but failed chemistry again. Dad must have been horrified but he never let on (Greg wasn't surprised). I was just not interested in sciences/ maths/ chemistry. At all!

I had experienced the humbling three years that I needed to experience. My maturity had caught up a tiny bit and I felt I was more or less back on track to fulfill my teaching ambition into my last years at MAGS.

The sixth form would be a challenge, but what the hell. I was finally done with School C.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, August 8, 2016

Here I stand head in hand, turn my face to the wall (The Beatles)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 3)

One more year of abject failure still had to be endured before school life would start to improve. 

Look for the smallest guy in row 2 (behind Mr Herbert)
As 1973 dawned I found myself in Senior 5. I guess it was called that to make us feel like we were seniors but I was woefully naive and deep into teenage boy fog.

In retrospect, as there was 'Upper 5', 'Junior 5' and so on, there may well have been other reasons for calling it Senior 5 as it was made up of new fifth formers and some incorrigible repeaters; some real hard nuts, like Brian Wood, who gave the teachers complete crap whenever they could. A renaissance man with a poem published in 1973's The Albertian, Brian was hilarious!

Fifth form meant sitting School Certificate: the first big hurdle that had to be negotiated to get into sixth form. It was replaced by Level 1 NCEA in NZ.

Truly, I spent the year in a daze. I can remember nothing specific about the year - who my teachers were, or what I studied. Nothing. In terms of the classroom, it's like 1973 didn't exist.

Instead, I lived in another world: an alternative universe - writing to my cousin Christine who lived in the far off kingdom of England where my music and football team came from, playing football and listening to music. That's what I remember.

After Deedoo and Grandma came back from their world cruise in 197o/71, they brought me back two wonderful presents: a magazine from the Daily Mirror celebrating Arsenal's double (I instantly fell in love with Charlie George and the team), and an address in Rochdale.

When I started writing to her,  Christine Purdy, a few years older than me, became the big sister I never had. Only a few family relationships now survive: little brother Ross and Christine.

When November rolled around and the exams started I was terribly nervous and amazingly immature as a student. As per 1971 and 1972, it's not that I didn't try, it's that I didn't know shit and I was found out big time. We were living at a rental in Asquith Avenue in Mt Albert while Ramelton Road was being built. I remember throwing up at home in the garage before heading off to my maths exam. Clearly, I wasn't in the best shape for three hour exams.

To pass and move to the sixth form I needed to get four subjects over 50%. When the results came out in January, I had failed spectacularly in French, in maths, in chemistry, in geography.  

The good news was little consolation: a prize for art and a pass in English, but just barely, with 50%. Subsequently, my 48% for geography went to 50% on a recount.

Two subjects was a long way off the target. Those days, at this school, the next year meant a repeat of fifth form and another attempt at School Certificate.

Crap. My brother was catching up to me. There was no chance the boy genius wouldn't fly through School C. I was worried.

Under 16A -Look for the smallest guy in the back row - I was  really immature! In front of me - Pete Cahill, to his left Steven Sinclair, and to his right goalie extraordinaire: Mike Budd.
Championship co-winners! 
Luckily some of my friends also failed and had to repeat. Michael Budd and Pete Cahill were two. When I phoned Mike, I felt a huge sense of relief - he too had missed the magic number of marks needed. Mike, Pete and me. We had a few things in common - we were dumped back in Senior 5, and we were all footballers who'd been playing together for two or three years, and we loved the same music.

What would 1974 do to us? Would we pass and go to the sixth form? Would we fail? What would that mean?

It was a scary time, but I had no choice in the matter. I was a second year fifth!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do you remember how it was, we had the moon and tide behind us (Dragon)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 2)

Welcome to teenage boy fog
(1971, third form at MAGS)

Again, my first day at a new school is a vivid memory. I was physically sick that morning - terrified at what might happen; the fear of the unknown.

All the new third formers (turds) met first in the car park outside the huge school hall. Being out of zone meant that, apart from a couple of my team members from Eden Football Club (Ian Johnson and Grant King), I didn't recognise anybody that morning.

We were herded past the photos of distinguished old boys and school teams into the gigantic assembly hall. The names of old boys dating back to 1922 were all over the walls: prefects; sport's captains; academic scholars. Little did I imagine that my own name would join them in time.

Our names were read out and we walked endless imposing corridors to get to that first class.

I was placed in 3A - the top third form academic class. The school drafted boys into classes studying two language, Latin and French (the A and B stream), one language or science (the C stream), commercial (3 Com), or lowest of the low - agriculture (the 3 Ag boys were nutters!!).

This was cause for celebration in the Purdy household...until three weeks later when the school realised its mistake. There had been a mix up over names, or so I was told. It was obviously a sop to let me down easy. 

There were two Purdys and one Purdie in the year group. Denis Purdy, a cousin, was brilliant and deserved to be in 3A - he'd later go on to be dux, and Ian Purdie from Dargaville, a houseboy, and a thug who was already in 3B. Meanwhile I was struggling with the demands and lost beyond lost with the work given the geniuses in 3A.

So - I was politely advised of the situation and immediately placed in 3B, where I also came bottom of the class!!

From 3B to 4B I became an academic casualty, consistently struggling and coming bottom. My report comments indicate:

An unsatisfactory result - greater effort required. Place in class 38 out of 38.
The teachers got it slightly wrong - I WAS trying! Statistics didn't lie though - I was failing, big time.

Second row, second left behind rubberguts, in front of David Wadhams
Teenage boy mist had well and truly descended and much of the third form remains a blur. Fourth form (now called Year 10) was notable for a few things.

First up, I had to toughen up to survive in 4B's more bullying atmosphere. Don't get me wrong - I loved going to MAGS but 3rd and 4th form were tricky to negotiate. 

Although there were some really good guys in the form like Peter Yandell, Ian Johnson, Ricky Hellreigel (who died tragically of a brain tumour after surviving the Rose-Noelle capsize), Stephen Sinclair, David Freeman and David Wadhams, there were also guys like Ian Purdie, Butterworth, David Solomona and others who were not taking prisoners!

If you were sporty and quiet (like me) you skated on by most of the time. If you were slightly different (Enoch or David Freeman) you were targeted. I was friends with David who had to put up with being called 'hoe'. It wasn't a fun time.

The teaching staff were special prey for the pranksters. Our Latin teacher, the eccentric Bill 'tooth' Mitchell, put up with sheer hell.

Of our teachers Graham '
Rubberguts' Bean was having us working on the cricket pitch most periods, 'Mouse' King was caning everyone who stepped out of line (so that was someone every period really), and the pommie PE teacher was trying to interest us in gymnastics ( thanks) but...hang on... two young guys were making an impression.

Barry Gough for English and WOH (Warwick) Gibbs for French saved my life! No exaggeration!

For both, it was their first year teaching, ever! I bet they cursed their luck getting 4B - it was a rough ride. Particularly for Warwick, who was soon tagged 'Penguin' for his choice of clothing (black suit, white shirt, black tie). Both came across as serious kinds of guys but they made class fun and stretched my imagination, and they could still cane with the best of them!

As my junior schooling came to an end, a different window on my future was beginning to prise itself open an inch or two at a time.

Love and peace - Wozza