Hey guys! It’s been ages since I’ve posted an instalment of this series: click here and here to catch up so far. In this post, I’m going to be sharing an interview that I conducted with my Grandad. He turned 70 back in May of this year and he had some really in depth and interesting answers to the questions I asked him. We talked about his childhood, his marriage and his favourite memories just to mention a few things. My Grandad is one of my favourite people ever and he is so funny and understanding. He is kind, caring and calm. He takes his time to really enjoy life and take everything in which is something I really admire in him. I enjoy spending time with him and I think we became closer through doing this interview! I hope you all enjoy getting to know my Grandad!
AMELIA: How does it feel to be 70?
PAT (GRANDAD): It doesn’t actually feel much different from when I was 69,68,67.
AMELIA: So age is just a number?
PAT: Exactly! I think that just because you’re 70, it shouldn’t stop you from doing things you want to do. In my view, you need to be able to do everything you can and want to do for as long as you are possibly able to do it and then when you aren’t able to do it, you’ll be glad that you experienced it.
AMELIA: What have been some of the most important life moments for you so far?
PAT: Well way back when I was successful at school and college and when I got my first teaching job as that was quite an achievement. It wasn’t the route I’d intended to take because I was going to become a pharmacist but I didn’t get my required grades to get into the university that I wanted to be trained at. I fell back into teaching and it was a move I never regretted.
AMELIA: I knew you were a teacher but I didn’t know you were going to be a pharmacist! What initially drew you to pharmaceutical work?
PAT: One of my father’s greatest friends was a pharmacist and he was a really good, old fashioned type of pharmacist. He genuinely wanted to help the local community by giving them treatments for their ailments so they could get better as naturally as possible. I was quite impressed by him and so I wanted to be a pharmacist like him. Additionally, I was interested in the sciences at school which fits in well with pharmaceutical work and the teaching work that I did.
AMELIA: Could you just talk to me a bit about your career path?
PAT: When I qualified at the teacher training college in Dudley, I got a job at a secondary school teaching general science and also, as an extra part to my job, I had to teach sex education to 15 year old girls. That was awkward to say the least and that was in 1970. I did two years probationary teaching in Matlock and then I moved to a school in Chesterfield. I became one of three science teachers and we all specialised in one science so I specialised in biology. I found it really interesting and it linked back to pharmaceutical work a bit too. However, I was very ambitious in this post and I wanted to become head of department. My head of department was a great guy who clearly wouldn’t be going anywhere and there were very few opportunities for me to progress further. At the time, I was working in an education system where in the first two years of secondary, we had all the intake at our school. The next year, there was a selection process where parents could move their children to one of the two gender seperate grammar schools. Year upon year, I was losing the most able students so job satisfaction was becoming a problem for me. Also, our own two children were in infant and primary schools so we would often visit their schools to see their work and converse with their teachers. I found myself becoming more enthused with this sector of education as time went on and I decided I wanted to be teaching in that sector. I was well known in the secondary sector for the animals I kept in my lab and I’d been asked to speak to other teachers in the secondary and primary sector about use of animals. From that when I applied for a job at a new primary school near where I lived, I was surprised that the job description included developing science which was exactly what I wanted to do. I went for an interview and was offered the post. I never looked back after. Within 2 years, I was a primary school deputy head and within another year and a half, I was an acting primary head teacher. I got my first official headship in 1990. It was my ideas, my philosophy and I wasn’t acting for anyone else.
AMELIA: What have been some of your favourite memories so far?
PAT: My two daughters becoming married was important for me and it’s one of the reasons that I’m talking to you now. They were really special times particularly because it’s the Dad that gets to be with his daughter for the last time and give her over to her new husband. Rachel had planned every part of her wedding down to the nth degree which I would expect from her. She looked absolutely incredible in her dress and I can remember thinking “Wow what an amazing dress. What an amazing person. What an amazing life ahead.” Our other daughter decided as she came down in a dress that filled the stairs that she needed the toilet. I didn’t expect that helping the bride to be go to the toilet would be one of my duties. Another memorable thing was sending our daughters away to university. It was hard at the time to see them leave home but they came out with amazing degrees and so are doing excellent work in their field now.
AMELIA: How did you and granny (Helen) meet?
PAT: At secondary school, my headteacher was my wife to be’s father and I was friendly with his secretary’s youngest son. Every Monday, I would come home with Pete and stay with him and his parents so I could go to the Inkberrow youth club. Helen and I attended the youth club together so we met there. It wasn’t easy to chat her up by any stretch of the imagination and it took a long time to win her over. I’d been out with one of her friends, Ruth, before and what really helped me to decide I definitely wanted to be with Helen was when she went abroad to work in Germany and I missed her quite a lot. That was when I knew it was her that I wanted to spend my life with. Thankfully, she said yes to my proposal!
AMELIA: How many years have you been married for now?
PAT: We got married in 1971 so that’s 48 years. We’re two years away from our golden wedding anniversary.
AMELIA: You’ve nearly been married for 50 years! What’s your secret?
PAT: To keep saying “Yes dear!”. I think realistically marriage in life is a partnership and there are equal partners in both sides. You should try to do things together but accept that sometimes you will have to do things separately for the greater good.
AMELIA: I’d agree with that. Moving forward, could you talk to me a bit about your childhood?
PAT: Dad was in the building trade and Mum worked for the Royal Enfield making motorcycle parts and cycle parts. I came along first in 1949 and my sister followed in 1952. We all lived together in an upstairs flat on the outskirts of Redditch before my sister was born and then we moved to Pine Tree Close. We had a huge field behind our house which is now filled with houses! I went to an infant school in Webheath and walked miles there and back every day. After that, I moved to junior school in Redditch for four years and I took my 11+ and passed that to go to the grammar school. It was the school that my future father in law would become headteacher at. Interestingly enough, my father and his brothers were involved in building the school that I attended! From there, I went to Dudley teacher training college so I could become a teacher.
As I previously mentioned, I enjoyed science at school and maths but I wasn’t a big fan of PE because even then I was fond of food! I did enjoy cricket though and I was captain of school second 11 for a couple of years. I hated swimming and never really took to the water. However, I do regret not being very confident in the water as I realise how much I’ve missed.
I enjoyed music at school and I used to watch lots of TV programmes with bands in them and I had an interest in the Shadows and drummers that were playing. At 15, my parents bought me my first 3 piece drum kit and I formed a band with some friends at school which we called ‘The Triffids’. We had a long, drawn out discussion about the name of the band but I think we decided on that because of a TV show that was out at the time. We played our first gig at the Palace Theatre in Redditch at the end of the pantomime season. We also did some free gigs at our secondary school and I can remember that a piece we played had a really long ending with a drum solo near the end. On one occasion, the lead singer desperately needed the toilet so I had to draw out the drum fill so he could return to end the piece.
It was a happy childhood and it was a childhood of the era. One of the memorable things we did as a family was building our own house and I can remember french polishing some of the kitchen surfaces as part of that. I persuaded my mum and dad to let me paint each wall of my bedroom a different colour and it was colourful to say the least.
When I was a teenager, I used to get a job at Christmas as a postman and I also had a job with a baker delivering bread. The smell in the van was amazing and it brought in money that was useful for me.
Also, I used to enjoy fishing and I’d go and do it with my Uncle Les. His family used to make fish hooks and rods in Redditch and in the loft upstairs, I had my own fishing rod with my name engraved into it. I wasn’t always the most successful fisherman but I enjoyed the peace and quiet that it brought.
I was also a good skier … not! I went on 2 skiing trips at school and every lunchtime 2 months before, we did exercises to strengthen all our muscles. On the first morning of the first day of skiing, I couldn’t move because I’d pulled so many muscles. On our first lesson, we were learning how to stop on this nursery slope with a stream running at the bottom. We were going down this slope and I was trying and failing to stop and I think you can work out the end of that story.
AMELIA: If you could, would you relive your 70 years of life?
PAT: Yeah I would.
AMELIA: So you don’t really have any regrets then?
PAT: The regrets I have are not being able to fit in everything that I wanted to do. I would learn from mistakes I made and fit more into the 70 years I’ve had. I would definitely travel more as there are so many places I haven’t even seen in the UK let alone in the world.
I found it so interesting talking to my Grandad. He had so much more that he wanted to tell you all but we literally ran out of time. I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview! We had a really good chat and I thought he answered the questions in a lot of depth which was great. There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull