Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oh Oh Oh, I'm on fire (Bruce Springsteen)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 5)

Destiny was working for me in the mid to late eighties. It was the best of times.

Pretty sure this was taken in the Te Kanawa courtyard 1988
Big changes were the norm in those years as both Adam Lennon Purdy (1986) and Samantha Mary Purdy (1989) joined Keegan, Jacky and me in the Purdy household (more of this coming in the Family Man chapter).

3PY of 1986 - Everyone a star!

From 1986 to 1990 I was wildly happy at Macleans College, working with and for some truly exceptional people.

First and foremost, there was Colin Prentice. An exceptional human being and a charismatic Principal. Period. 

As Seth Godin says, "Sometimes, if we're lucky, we get to glimpse those ripples as we stand at the crossroads." During my Macleans years I was privileged to experience Colin's helping hand and to travel on the back of one of those ripples. Colin moved many people forward. I'm lucky to be counted among them.  

We were still in contact up to a few days before his death in 2014. Uncannily, his time on earth deeply touched everyone he came into contact with. We all loved him.

In 1985 he interviewed me for a teaching position at his newish school in the eastern suburbs of Auckland (1980 was its first year), and subsequently Jacky, Keegan and I moved up to Auckland in time to start the 1986 school year.

The school yearbook's staff notes welcomed me with: Miss C L Jensen and Mr W N Purdy...both arrived from different New Plymouth schools to teach English in a variety of coloured clothing.

Hey - it was the eighties and Jacky had taken over my wardrobe. Out with frumpy seventies gear - in came skinny ties, fluro jerseys, bright shirts/socks/shoes and trendy bomber jackets.

Inside T14 with media studies
And so started four incredibly rich years under Colin's leadership. With preternatural brilliance, he knew exactly how to inspire his staff and get the best out of us. Although his standards were high, they were not impossible, and he made it a pleasurable journey to attain them. His decision to leave Macleans was a prime motivation for me to seek promotion elsewhere.

Twice, I broke down in his presence (the only times I have lost it with Principals). Both times he consoled me and we moved on. The first was an angry meeting that, he agreed, we both handled badly. I was upset about a way another teacher had handled an incident and didn't hold back when in Colin's office. 

The second was during a seventh form camp in 1988 when I felt wretched. I believed I'd let a student down by insisting she participate in a staff organised pillow fight (organised by Colin actually). Donna Denize didn't want to but I insisted and she ended up with a dislocated shoulder injury. He was understanding and helped me realise how to learn from these moments. When he asked if I wanted to pray with him I felt honoured and by the end, repaired.

With Kylie and Robin
I cannot imagine repeating those scenes with anyone other than Colin. God bless you C.J.

Whenever the subject of old schools comes up I find myself being quite enigmatic in my Macleans' comments. Summing up the Macleans experience to skeptical outsiders is quite difficult.

Picture a combination of unique geographical location (looking over Eastern Beach out to sea), a staff all working in one direction towards a common goal, a staff refusing to take second best, students expecting the best from their teachers and themselves, and a strong sense of whanau (Te Kanawa was my House).

Similarly, it's tough to pick out my highlights from those four years. There are an incredible amount. 

Kylie and Jody in T14
Here's a list, by no means comprehensive: my car pool buddy for all of that time - Graeme Sterne; runathons, including when standards slipped and Colin called for a repeat - as we ran a rainbow appeared above us - remarkable; my prefab classroom - T14; Te Kanawa House meetings and the Taniwha; all my classes - especially media studies in 1988; 3PY of 1986 containing some of the sharpest, wittiest, brightest minds I've ever come across; Sue Miller as leader of Te Kanawa and our 1986 Form 3 camp; students like Nathan Bradley, Jeanette Harnish, Denene Martin, Catherine Day (whose goodbye note still really humbles me), Tania Pocock, Simon Milton, Lance Dunn, Grant Bodle, Jodie Doherty, Anna Giles, Angeline Allright and so many more; ANZAC services; sports days; assemblies in the gym; Colin's farewell and The Rose sung by the prefects; the staff like Kent Fenneman, Pete Garelja, Steve Lewis and Margaret Methven; Colin's notes on yellow pad paper on a Monday morning...and on and on it goes.

Jody, Julie and Kylie
It was an altogether marvellous, wonderful, stimulating time.  

When it came time to leave in 1990 it was a tough tough thing to do. I had started loving the school too much, there was no clear promotion pathway, Colin had gone to Mt Roskill Grammar, and my dad had remarried and being in Auckland wasn't so important any more. It felt like the time was right.

Tell all your buddies - the one to take is media studies!
Apart from leaving Te Kanawa, it was a big wrench to leave my little sister behind. Jeanette Thomas is now a household name in NZ - radio and TV have become very successful homes for Jeanette.

With Jeanette and Samantha
Back then she was Jynette Harnish (styled after her idol Johnny Farnham). As well as being my student she had become a friend and I had somehow become her big brother. The Harnishes and the Purdy families had become close over the four years. Jacky and I even shared our Christmas dinner with her one year.

Teaching her was easy and being a friend was easy too.

But then we had to go and I will always remember her face when our loaded up van left Macleans, outside the gym. 

She now has a beautiful family, and a successful career, but I'll always remember that farewell day and waving her goodbye.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Come inside, the show's about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart (ELP)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 4)

Eek - all those walk socks! Wozza (top left next to former All Black hero Murray Watts) is joined by Alan Elgar (in front of him in the snazzy vest), Rosie Mabin (row two second right), Terry Heaps (front row second left), and captain of the team Tom Ryder (mouth always open in pix).
As a newly married couple, we lived in three New Plymouth flats through 1983 and 1984.

From Lorna Street to Devon Street East (corner section on a busy intersection) to List Street (the pink house). The last two with our new baby boy - Keegan Warren Purdy (the Family Man chapter will detail his, and our other children's emergence).

With Nana Pat and KW in Pukekura Park (NP)
After my second year at New Plymouth Boys' High School, I graduated from List 'A' to List 'B' and was a proper teacher with a certificate and everything. 

In many ways NPBHS was the perfect place to start my career. Although a traditional and well disciplined environment, it still gave me plenty of challenges. I knew where I stood with both my HOD (Terry Heaps) and my Headmaster (Tom Ryder). They didn't suffer fools!

Holed up in Pridham Hall, I taught English and (ha) social studies. I was close to the boys in age, being 26 when I started. The oldest boy I taught in my first year is turning 51 this year and I'm only 59.

I was game for anything - cricket team? Sure! PTA rep? Why not! Magazine helper? You bet! Football coach/manager/player? Crack on! School newspaper editor? No problemo. Organising speech competitions? Sign me up!

I never said, "No".

Staff Notes in 1983's Taranakian has this to say about me: Mr W Purdy, a teacher of social studies and English, also joined the ranks. He has shown an early promise, taking a full part in the life of the school. A dynamic class-room teacher, he coaches the second soccer XI, cricket and has edited The Whistle.

Player/Manager with a great bunch of lads (Bill
Lawsons Snr and Jnr - coach and captain, are also featured
- these guys will be getting on these days!)
Football was awesome. After my apprenticeship with the seconds, I was given the first XI in 1984. They played senior league teams and we were able to play some overage players. That would be me! 

It was fantastic. I managed the team and played during the regular season. Ar - Sunday football injuries - how I miss you!

After three years I started to feel the pull away from New Plymouth. The lure of Auckland and my dad became too strong to resist. Keegan was one year old and needed some firmer connection to his grandad we felt. At that time Jacky's whanau were all spread out and not in physical contact with us. Pat was still in Southland, Brian was overseas working on oil rigs and Sallie was not grandma. So, Auckland!

I applied to three schools and in stark contrast to previous attempts I was offered two of them - Keri Keri High School and Macleans College.

Keri Keri was too far away, even though we loved the northern lifestyle. So - Macleans College in Auckland's eastern suburbs! 

I'd been up for an interview with Colin Prentice, the Principal, and loved the school. I remembered, too, how Colin had been encouraging on my earlier application back in 1982. In the flesh he was imposing but I have good instincts and knew it would be a great fit.

As it turned out, it was an inspired choice. The next four years came to represent the pinnacle of my teaching in so many ways.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'll always love you, I promise I'll always love you, 'cause I think the whole world of you and you can't change that, no, no (Raydio)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 3)

When the accident happened on April 20, 1984, the cassette in the car was playing songs from a Nambassa concert.

As our Chevette went through the Devon St., lights, I indicated to turn right into The Devon Lodge, our wedding reception venue for the next day, slowed to a stop and glanced into my rear vision mirror.

Margo Clay and Chris hang out
The next few seconds would play out in my head in slow motion as I watched the car behind me travelling fast, too fast, through the lights in the right side lane. Instinctively, I knew he was going to rear end me - my fear was that he'd push us into the on-coming traffic.

Nothing I could do but warn Jacky in the passenger seat, and brace for impact.

Which came.
Bride of the century

Our heads snapped forward and mine hit the shade vizor in front of me, leaving a few cuts and bruises; Jacky had some whiplash. Luckily we only moved forward a few metres and avoided the cars coming towards us.

In a numb shock, we all waited on the curb for the police to show up to get statements. Someone must have contacted the police - I don't remember.

It may sound silly, but we'd been lucky. Our car was severely damaged though (insurance would fix it eventually by joining a whole back section to the car) and we were due to go on honeymoon in two days time. Ah well, what are you gunna do? 

During April 21, 1984 Jacky was getting ready in Lorna Street while I was having Margo apply makeup to my cuts and getting dressed at the Devon Lodge (while Singing In The Rain played on the TV in Margo and Clay's room).

Soon enough it was time to head to St Joseph's Catholic Church for the wedding of the century! Of which I loved every minute!

When doing our vows, we both faced the congregation of friends and family - that was a nice touch. 
The Purdys and Smiths

Dad and Ross were there, Margo and Clay (my best man), Greg and Wendy, Phyllis, Roger and Deirdre, Patrick, Chris, Michelle and her first husband, Warwick, Mervyn and Catherine...and a whole load of people I didn't know (friends of Brian and Sallie's I guess - he paid for the reception so that was fine with us).

GNP with Alison, Mabelle
As luck would have it, rain and wind meant we needed studio shots rather than the normal ouside ones taken at weddings. This proved a blessing in disguise - the photos are great!! Lots of combinations of the Purdy and Smith axis, as well as Margo, Clay, Chris were possible.

Greg, Wendy, Phyllis at a table with Terry Heaps and the Ryders
The reception was back at the Devon Lodge and I loved that too. The traditional speeches went well - Clay and I spoke. During the night we all danced and had a great time. 

Patrick and his possie, including Lindsay Loveridge

Thanks to Sallie lending us her Honda Prelude, our honeymoon was spent in Wanganui and Wellington, places I'd never been to. The Sharella was relatively new and right opposite the botanic gardens - a great location for walking and exploring Wellington.

During our stay we were abruptly woken at 1.00am with a shrill fire alarm sounding in the room. The flashing words 'Panic Panic Panic' were sent from my brain to nerve endings throughout my entire body. Jacky, bless her, was a picture of calm and poise as she ushered me from the room, down the fire escape to the car park in the drizzly rain. Whatever had happened was dealt with and we returned to our honeymoon.

Days were spent shopping (Unity Books!!), and visiting touristy spots like the gardens and museums and the zoo.

I had a blast!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It was a hot summer night and the beach was burning (Meatloaf)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 2)

Lorna Street, New Plymouth, 1983

During the long hot summer holiday break, at the start of 1983, I went to Taranaki, and stayed with friends from my tutor group. 

As a couple, they were both heading to Melrose High School in Hamilton.  As it turned out, she was a Landrigan, a well known New Plymouth family, and her parents had a holiday house down the coast a bit, at Oakura Beach. Would I like to come and spend time there while searching for a flat? You bet I would.

So, in between swimming, lounging around, having fun at the beach, I placed an advert in the local New Plymouth paper and did the rounds of the real estate agents. 

They had nothing and the holidays were starting to run out! Uh Oh! I had to face the possibility of having nowhere to stay, and maybe accepting Tom Ryder's proposal to go into the boarding school at NPBHS instead (I'd already politely turned it down and I suspected Tom wasn't a man who was fit for turning).

Then Anne Selkirk phoned me. Phew! 

Turned out Anne was a lovely wee Scottish girl who worked at the local radio station as an advertising manager. She'd been away on holiday herself and had just seen my advert and hoped I was still keen. We hit it off and she invited me to rent a room in her flat. She had a third flatmate, Moira, who also seemed nice.

It was Parris St., Spotswood, late January 1983.

As I wrote about earlier, 1983 was a huge year, full of changes in my personal life.

During the year I moved from Anne's flat and into Jacky's in Lorna Street. Moira's bulimic behaviour made it difficult to stay and besides, after meeting her in February, I had fallen in love with Jacky.

Jacky took a little convincing. She was flatting with Patrick and he first needed to move out. She also intended travelling to Europe. I was pretty desperate to prevent that!

Ultimately, Patrick moved out (the same day as I moved in) and Jacky stayed in New Plymouth! Wahoo!!

The months that followed were really happy ones. Teaching was going as well as a first year of teaching can go (Anne and I had drunk a lot of red wine, Bull's Blood, during the year); I was mostly enjoying NPBHS and had made some tight friends with Rosie Mabin and Alan Elgar, both of whom started with me at the school in 1983. Terry Heaps was our HOD and he was a great person from whom to learn.

Jacky and Pat
During the summer holidays we went down to Invercargill to meet her mum - Patricia Mary Smith and the rest of the Southland clan.  

The visit was memorable: I couldn't believe how empty Invercargill was - wide as wide streets with no one around; it stayed light till midnight; we went into a dairy and it was empty - no shopkeeper or customers...for ages...eventually someone served us; we had cocktails - loads of cocktails, at some place by the racecourse; we went to Bluff and some botanic gardens (where these photos were taken); we got to meet all of the maternal side of Jacky's family. It was cool!

We also had a great time being together as a couple. Road trips are great relationship tests.

The trip also gave me a good idea how my teaching career had altered my life. In New Plymouth, at the movies, the lights would come up at intermission and we'd find ourselves surrounded by NPBHS boys saying a grinning "Hi, Mr Purdy". Now, as we boarded a plane home, I heard the same greeting! Hmmm, I thought - this is now the norm - being recognised in public situations. Another good lesson to learn.

As 1984 dawned I knew I wanted my future to be forever linked with Jacky Smith's. I proposed. She accepted.

The wedding date was set - 21st April, 1984.

Another massive year was in store for us both!

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I've waited years for you tonight (Carly Simon)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 1)

I've waited years for you tonight 
My faith in love has been my guiding light. 
I've heard your voice, I've read your heart, 
I fell in love with you though we were miles apart 
Tonight and forever - I am yours!                  
Carly Simon (Tonight and forever)

Warren Purdy - English teacher.
Pridham Hall, NPBHS
(complete with hilarious board notes)

An omnipotent force with a gruff manner, Headmaster Tom Ryder was a formidable presence at New Plymouth Boys' High School (NPBHS). 

The no nonsense phone call I took in the kitchen at Ramelton Road was brief and to the point. It was Mr Ryder calling. There were a few questions (which I don't remember much about except that I must have answered them okay). Actually Mr Ryder did most of the talking (he was very much that kind of guy!). He told me that my college report was impressive and then he said I could expect a telegram offering me a job the next day!!

I hung up the phone in a daze. What had just happened? After no real interview at all, suddenly, after all of those applications, I had a job. Out of the sixty plus applications I'd sent off, no other headmaster/principal had phoned me.

Huh. Destiny. I was off to New Plymouth.

First I had to figure out where exactly New Plymouth was. And what kind of a school it was. And where I was gonna live.

When I was a young kid, we'd passed through New Plymouth on a family holiday, I think. I have a dim memory of a North Egmont car park, dad is backing the car, of snow, trees, and vague strange thoughts that the car was going over the edge, backwards. Yoikes.

Apart from that I drew a blank on New Plymouth. Okay! I was about to leave Auckland and go some place I knew nothing about. Great!! A big challenge, but I was ready. It was my first step.

Unfortunately, it also meant not being close by for mum. Her cancer had spread and I was under no illusions. Things were not going to get better. She realised that, I realised that. But we didn't talk about it. It was too hard. 

Looking back on it, I realise I was pretty exhausted mentally.

She and I both knew that moving to New Plymouth meant only physical distance, the bond was and is unbreakable, but it was hard all the same.

In December, 1982, she and I drove to New Plymouth, staying in a hotel at the base of the hill on Coronation Road. During this trip I finally met Tom, my HOD Terry Heaps, the Deputy Principal Lyn Bublitz, and another new staff member Allan Elgar.

My face ached from smiling, body was sore from shaking hands, and my brain hurt from all the new sights and information.

NPBHS is a great school: the grounds, buildings, boarding houses - all with traditions going back over 100 years. I felt at home, it was so like MAGS. I left relieved that serendipity had rescued me again.

Now I had the summer to find a place to live.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, September 5, 2016

Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life (Yes)

Hot for teacher (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 5, part 2)

October 1982 found me on section in Keri Keri (hand printed T shirt? Of course)

In the end we'll agree, we'll accept, we'll immortalise 
That the truth of the man maturing in his eyes 
All complete in the sight of seeds of life with you.                  
Yes (And You and I)

Rutherford High School, in west Auckland, was my first 'section' (teaching practicum) in 1982. It was handy to home and university where I was doing Roger Horrock's Film paper as a certificate (he'd been on leave during my MA).

In the end, that combination proved tough to juggle. Most definitely I can only focus on one thing at a time. Although I loved writing in it, I struggled to keep up with my film journal AND go away three times to teach classes AND attend Training College. I did okay and passed it but I had to miss quite a few lectures which I regret.

On that first 'section' with me were Cherie and Judy from my tutor group (the three of us also went to Hawke's Bay schools together for our second practicum). 

I had really interesting associates and classes: Lenore Webster was the HOD and I enjoyed her advice but John McKenzie was soo cool! He perfectly fitted the ultra cool laid back English teacher stereotype to a T. Everyone loved him. THAT'S who I wanted to be!!

Four weeks of practicum actually goes super slowly. Generally, it follows the 'learn by doing' maxim. There's the constant stress of teaching, of being watched by associates and lecturers, of learning stuff and finding out who you are as a teacher.

During winter, 1982, the three of us headed to Hawke's Bay. Cherie was at a Napier school, Judy was at Taradale. I was at Havelock North High School.

My winter digs in Whakatu, Hastings.
Hastings was cold! Even colder opposite the Hasting's freezing works where I was staying with a Scottish family. They were nice, but the smells from the abattoir were pretty rank at times, and a fun household it wasn't as they did battle with their obstreperous daughter. They also had a dog. I don't much care for dogs.
We did not bond.

To add to the mix, my new contact lenses were a daily battle to get into my frozen eye sockets. 

Sounds bad, but on the whole, I actually enjoyed myself. 

Being 1982, the World Cup was on, and we watched as many of the games as we could. New Zealand and Scotland were in the same group so there was friendly rivalry.

Fellow student teacher, Cherie and Wozza
hit the Turoa slopes (and I do mean 'hit')

The actual teaching was a mixed bag. I remember spending Friday afternoons in a local Hastings pub with Judy and Cherie doing group moans about the bitter cold, classes and staff. During the section the three of us went skiing at Turoa, staying in an Ohakune caravan park. Good times.

Keri Keri High School, a lovely smallish school set in beautiful northern Keri Keri was my final practicum. 

My summer digs in Keri Keri. My mini in front of my sleep out room.

In direct contrast to the frigid Hastings' weather, summer in Keri Keri was divine. In those days Teachers' College students were billeted for the length of the section. This time I was staying with a farmer and his wife on a beautiful property, complete with (as the initial photo shows) a swimming pool!

I loved my classes full of bright kids, many sons and daughters of the teachers, who were all receptive to my experimental teaching.

Not so crash hot was my attempt to secure a teaching job for 1983. The October 1 gazette came out and I sent off applications to teach English in three Auckland co-educational secondary schools. Mum wasn't well and I didn't want to be too far away from her. 

Nothing. I knew my teaching reports had been glowing, so I expected to be offered all three and pick the one I wanted most. What gave?

In pre-interweb days, the October 15 was the next gazette. Casting my net a little further, I sent off more applications. 

Nothing!!! Colin Prentice wrote an encouraging note on my rejection letter for a job at Macleans College, but that was rare. Mostly it was just a 'don't call us'.

Back to Auckland, and I began to worry a tad.

November 1 gazette: this time I went for broke, around 30 applications were sent to co-ed, single sex, North Island, South Island, private, state, rural, city, big, small schools.

I waited. Nothing!!!!

With a rising feeling of impending doom I again threw everything at jobs listed in the November 15 gazette. I was clearly looking at unemployment to start off my teaching career.

For some reason I was visiting mum and dad at Ramelton Road during the Christmas holidays.

Specifically, I was in the kitchen, when the phone rang...

Love and peace - Wozza