Tuesday, December 6, 2016

There's no discouragement shall make us once relent (School hymn, Woodford House)

Rambling Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 10 part 2)

The Purdettes at Alpha Street

Elsewhere. Further out. Forward.

Recently, one of my students asked me if I'd ever moved to a school and regretted it.

My immediate answer was, "Nope". Then I corrected myself a bit - the first term or so at Waimea College was a tough adjustment, but then I loved it. The first half year at Woodford House was another instance of that.

So, no, I have never regretted a move forward, but I have regretted any collateral damage that happened to the family along the way.

Cambridge High School posed a whole new series of challenges which I also loved. This was where I washed up as Deputy Principal in 2000.

The Principal, Alison Annan, was a great boss and mentor for me. She's not for everyone - working for and with Alison was like having an ice bucket challenge every day. Some wouldn't like that, but it was exactly what I needed!

She made it clear in my interview that my children would be expected to go to the school as well. Hindsight is wonderful. Keegan hated that idea and I should have listened to him and fought his corner much more than I did. Suffice to say, Cambridge High School was not a happy place for him. Adam had a much better experience and Samantha loved having me at the school when she also started there.

The Barney dress
Jade meanwhile was sorting out the staff and fellow students at Cambridge Primary and then taking on Hautapu School. She thrived at both in her mature and self assured way.

While all this education was happening Jacky started work at Hamilton's Southern Cross hospital as a theatre nurse and then moved to Waikato Hospital in Cardiac Care.

Our Alpha Street house from 2000 to 2004 was quirky, cool, and large enough for us all to have our own spaces. I even had an office set up to tear my hair out on my UNITEC masters degree (in educational management). I had a computer set up and woe betide any child who messed with my set up!

We had chickens. We had a couple of sheep. We had lovebirds, in the outrageously amazingly wonderful aviary that I had built before leaving School House. We had cats - Persia and Lewis from our time in Nelson.

And, after Wynton, we had Bazil.

Samantha worked on me (with help from Jacky and Jade) for two years before I gave in and okayed her puppy present for her 13th birthday.

Grandad and grand daughters

And so Bazil - a border collie, arrived and would become a focal point for family love for evermore, until I had to take him to the vet last year for a final visit. By that stage he was old, deaf, night blind and in pain. It was still a terrifically hard thing to do.  Bazil was always Samantha's dog but he was a buddy to all of us. I sat with him and cried my eyes out before the vet put him to sleep.

Back at Alpha Street, though, Bazie was a puppy and a particularly messy, noisy pain in the ass puppy. The first few nights were horrible as he howled and whined from dusk till dawn.

Samantha was devoted to Bazil, teaching him a variety of tricks and eventually started his training. She created increasingly elaborate agility courses around the house. He loved doing those but otherwise, puppy training with Bazie was a disaster. Socialising with other dogs? Disaster. Walking on a leash? Disaster. Trying to 'work' sheep? Disaster.

And still, he became the coolest dog in the world. 

Whenever I went out to do chores around the farmlets we owned, Bazie was only ever a few metres away from me. Until his hearing went in old age, when he'd disappear after  the scent of a rabbit into the furtherest spot in a paddock (his appetite and sense of smell were always a constant).

Your sis-ter (Purdettes with Ma belle and Kerry Dix)

During our Alpha Street life Keegan finished his education via Correspondence School, and then moved out of our family home to go flatting with some friends from Cambridge High School.

During 2004, things at school started unravelling for Alison Annan and I decided to leave the school after she reneged on a promise she had made to me to resign and recommend me for the Headship. I'd now been to Scotland, visited my relatives in greater Manchester and fallen in love with English life.

We (Adam, Samantha, Jade, Jacky and me) decided as a family to leave Cambridge. We sold Alpha Street and moved to a rental (owned by Cambridge High School). I remember spreading out a giant map on New Zealand on a table there and we all wondered where we could go next.

We couldn't decide an anywhere. In the back of my brain I was thinking England. The family were okay with that so I sent off applications for senior management positions. I was shortlisted a few times, phone interviewed even, but ultimately - nothing came of it.

By now I was anything but daunted by the scale of what I was attempting. Instead, it was clear that I couldn't get a job from New Zealand. I would need to travel to England and front up in person.

So I did. 

When Jacky dropped me off at Auckland Airport before my three week trip to London, staying with friends Tina and Paul in Balham, I promised I would come back with a job!

Love and peace - Wozza 

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