#52 Stories Academic Achievements

 

My early Academic life was not good, way down the class at junior school. Failing the critical 11+, I was off to a technical school which then merged with the secondary modern next door. I started to achieve academically at secondary school when subjects became less a memory test, more working things out.
So I was quite good at Maths and Science, but still struggled with English and memory subjects such as Languages and History. Geography was my favourite, but we couldn’t afford the felt-tip pens.

Consistently top of the class at Physics and Geography,  I sailed through most my GCE’s (let down by English Lit, an only fail), and could then dare to think about getting to university.  But first I needed to switch to the High School, actually next door on the site.

There, I was good but no longer the best at my subjects, but did manage to get into get good A-Levels.  I actually got better results in Chemistry than Physics. Our teacher spotting what we had to do in the practical part of the Chemistry exam. He gave an intensive coaching on how to run the experiment and most got excellent marks that year.

So, it was off to Durham University to study Physics. I felt like I had returned to junior school. I was very much an also ran in my subjects and after managing to scrape into the second year, I drifted into other things, like running the college bar and joining the Mountaineering Society. My scaling of the Academic heights ended with a gentleman’s degree.

While working at the Post Office I was lucky to gain a place at on a sandwich course to train as an Accountant and so gain qualifications in quick time. Now this was something I found I could do really well. I sailed through my exams, A for every paper, apart from a ‘B’ in Business Law, another memory subject.

When the results for Part I came out, I was called into the office of the Head of the college.  I was actually being trained at the Royal Army Corps base at Worthy Down, Winchester so I had to meet the Colonel.

He said, ” I have some good news and some bad news for you.”

“First the good news; you have achieved Third Place in the country in the overall exams and won a prize for your Cost Accounting Paper.”

“The bad news is that your employer hasn’t paid your fees, so you can’t have the prize.”

But we eventually sorted the fees and I got a certificate and a cheque for £50 along with some great congratulation letters from the CFO and Head of Finance of the PO Telephones as it was then. I even got to meet the Chairman, Sir George Jefferson, who was very pleased with my  results.

I have looked high and low for the photo I had of the presentation, but it has got lost in my appalling filing system. When I come across it, I’ll share that!

 

 

 

#52stories #2 Feeling Proud

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Difficult question this one, there’s really not one moment I can think of that stands out. But this stories must have had some impact.

At junior school my academic stars had yet to shine. I was always down at the bottom of the A-stream at Linthorpe School, not a good place to be in the days of the 11 plus. My  English was particularly poor and so one day I was surprised to be top of the class in our latest punctuation test. Mrs Hughes, our dragon of a teacher, was so shocked she insisted on a re-mark. I lost a few marks, dropping my place down to second or third. Nobody else was re-marked and the unfairness was made worse by spotting that Mrs Hughes changed some answers to make sure I lost out.

Rather than let that injustice upset me for the rest of my life, I went home and told my Mum I came top of the class. That was the first and last time I was top in anything at that school, but I do remember the pride I felt that day and the love from Mum for doing so well.

Anyway, I was one of the few kids from that year that ended up going to University, so I suppose it turned out OK. But my punctuation still stinks.

#52Stories

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In my last blog, Defining my Dash, I committed to writing about my personal history, the dash between Birth and Death.

““A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives.”  Dennis B. Neuenschwander

There’s a particularly Mormon sentiment to this quote not surprising given its source. But it’s worth reflecting on how much we are shaped by the history of our ancestors, if at all. Perhaps I’ll write about that in due course.

To reflect on my whole dash, a bit of structure and focus is needed. The way I’m going to do it is through #52Stories. That’s one a week, for the quick ones reading this that adds up to year.

52 Stories may sound like a lot, but breaking it down into a list of questions actually feels like its going to be a struggle to fit it in. So here’s a list;

  • Goals & Achievements;
  • Thoughts and Values;
  • Occupations & Hobbies;
  • Home;
  • Health;
  • Education;
  • Mothers and Fathers;
  • Travels;
  • Holidays & Traditions;
  • Events and Milestones;
  • Loves and Friends;
  • Causes and convictions;
  • Music, Books and Art
  • Pets…

Time to stop planning and move onto storytime.

Defining my Dash

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Gravestone of John Crowther Greenwood (d 1891) in Adel Cum Eccup Churchyard. (My great great Grandfather)

On nearly every gravestone is carved a universal symbol. This is a Dash, seperating year of birth to year of death. Each of us, currently around, are currently in our Dash.

One of the best Family History resources,  Familysearch.org, which is run by “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”, (ie the Mormans) is running a personal story project. They have called it “Define Your Dash”.

 

 

 

A poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash,” speaks of this symbol:

“For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.”

Linda Ellis, “The Dash,”

So a New Years resolution is to define my own dash, to record some of the details of my life or personal thoughts. This is to record them for posterity for my own satisfaction and for those that follow me. Or maybe to answer those questions I should have asked my parents and wished I had asked the Grandparents I knew. To me, this is filling in the gaps around the raw facts a genealogist gets from the records collected when building a Family History.

This fits in with the aim for this Cardboard Castle blog, to reflect on my life, collect my personal thoughts and make sense of experiences. Some of it can also relate to My Greenwood Family history or to this collection of personal thoughts and muses.

According to the introduction to this project in familysearch.org, it is also a theraputic excercise, giving a sense of purpose and control. It helps build patterns, increase gratitude, foster a stronger sense of self. Apparently this will make me happier and more succesful. All this sound very positive, and despite being somewhat of a sceptic on these self help strategies, I’m willing to give it a go.


Heres the science;

mad-scientistIn his book The Happiness Advantage, Harvard professor Shawn Achor cites research that shows how “explanatory style—how we choose to explain the nature of past events—has a crucial impact on our happiness and future success. People with an optimistic explanatory style interpret adversity as being local and temporary . . . while those with a pessimistic explanatory style see these events as more global and permanent. Their beliefs then directly affect their actions” ([New York: Crown Publishing, 2010], 187–88)

So, the plan is to write one brief story about my life, past or present, every week this year.

I’m going to post it here, in this blog. Maybe some could be too revealing or emotional, in which it will stay as a draft for a later posting. Posts will follow suggestions from this familysearch project, but this may go off track when away or bored. Some may end as part of the family history as well.

So here we go;

This has been number 1 in Defining my Dash; my resolution.

8 life lessons we learned from Dr. Seuss

Reblogged from MNN-

Melissa Breyer

February 27, 2014, 3:45 p.m.
An illustration of Dr. Seuss characters on a London benchDr. Seuss’s books taught all kinds of lesson with their colorful worlds and characters. (Photo: Ron Ellis/Shutterstock)

 

March 2 marks the anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as that whimsical wonder of a wordsmith, Dr. Seuss. I’d like to honor the day with some life lessons for which we can thank the good doctor.

Consider the following.

1. Self-pity is an unnecessary indulgence

Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France.
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance,
To escape from the perilous pants eating plants.
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy,
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I.
Some people are much more,
Oh, ever so much more,
Oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!

From “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” we learned to remember that there are people muchly much less fortunate than us; like, say, those who must live in fear of pants-eating plants! If we have food, water, clothing and shelter … then lucky us! We should spend more time on gratitude and less time on feeling sorry for ourselves.

2. Be flexible … and appreciate the strange birds

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know,
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step,
Step with care and great tact.
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft,
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

The last book Seuss published, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” may be most famous for what has become a perennial message to graduates: “Your mountain is waiting, So … get on your way!” But rather than that snippet of encouragement, we learned more from the “life can be messy, you’ll make mistakes, learn to navigate it” part.

Plus, strange birds!

3. Philosophy doesn’t have to be hard

Today you are you,
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is youer than you.

When discussing René Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” assertion, philosophers can talk in convoluted circles so complicated you feel your head might spin right off your neck. Yet when Seuss tackles the topic in “Happy Birthday to You!,” it makes us think: “ahhh, existence, self-awareness, I get it!”

Bonus lesson: Tossing out the rules of proper spelling and grammar can result in wonderfully expressive language.

4. Reading has its rewards

The more that you read, the more things you will know,
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

In “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!” we learned the profound truth that reading expands the mind, and consequently, life. As adults, we may already know this; but for a kid just entering the extraordinary adventure that reading is, the confirmation is completely validating.

5. It’s up to us to give a voice to the voiceless

I am the Lorax.
I speak for the trees,
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.

If a furry little creature-man with a giant golden mustache can go up against a greedy ornery Once-ler for the sake of the trees – as well as the Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans and Humming-Fish who rely on them – so can we. After all, as we’re reminded in “The Lorax,” unless someone like you “cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

6. Quirkiness is next to godliness

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

If there was anyone who best-served as an example of this simple nugget, it’s the author himself – and look where it got him: a remarkable legacy … and 16 books on “Publishers Weekly’s” list of “100 Top-Selling Hardcover Children’s Books of All-Time.”

7. The universe is profoundly mysterious

“You mean…” Horton gasped, “you have buildings there, too?”
“Oh, yes,” piped the voice. “We most certainly do.”
“I know,” called the voice, “I’m too small to be seen but I’m mayor of a town that is friendly and clean. Our buildings, to you, would seem terribly small but to us, who aren’t big, they are wonderfully tall.”

While the takeaway for most adults from “Horton Hears a Who” is about defending the little people and listening to your heart; for some of us, at a wee age too young to grasp the infinite nature of the universe, Horton had much more profound lessons to offer. Like: There could be a whole world in a speck of dust; within that world, there could be another world in an even tinier speck of dust; ad infinitum. And conversely, perhaps we are living in a speck of dust, and that speck of dust exists in another speck of dust, which exists in another … and so on. Because really, you’re never too young to be blown away by the utterly confounding thing that is the universe.

8. Being open-minded can be surprisingly wonderful

Say!
I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!

While few things may sound more revolting to a kid than green eggs, the unnamed narrator of “Green Eggs and Ham” was so surprised by his liking of them that it served as a lesson to us all to not knock something until we’ve tried it; it also gave many parents ample opportunities (for better or worse) for fun with green food coloring.

My name is Andy and I’m a blogger …

My mate Andy wrote this and it’s worthy of a Cardboard Castle reblog. My comments on its are…

“I like the idea of exploring the difference between a Journal and Blog.
My journal is a diary, a record of events and people I have met. I spend time picking the right bit of stationary for my journal, particularly as it is part of my job and is there with me around on expedition. I dug one out this morning to find out what I had to eat on Monday 16th July 2012 in Kenya, it was important to me at the time. A lovely leather, hand- crafted journal book was a present from my daughter from Venice. I save that for family holiday stories.
A blog is much more crafted. Time is spent on collecting events, stories, thoughts, ideas, pictures, maps. It’s spell checked and proof read usually many times until I get it reasonable. I even run 3 blogs covering different aspects of my life. Much more disciplined and a very different part of my life.

This reply is getting so profound I think I’ll cut and paste into my own blog”

 

SpinningHead

Of course you knew that, regular readers, but you see I’m doing a ‘Blogging 101’ course through the kind people at WordPress, my blog hosts. I want to try and improve my blogging, and my first assignment is to re-do my introductory blog, to re-visit and re-answer the basic question:

“who I am and why I’m here”

When I first did this at the very beginning of my blog back in 2012, which can be found here, I made up all sorts of excuses about how random and unpredictable my blog would be.  But I was right! It is random, sporadic, unpredictable. My blogs are like London buses, nothing for days and suddenly two come along at once.

So why do I blog? Because I love the edginess of blogging. I could write in a diary or journal, and in fact I used to do that but I found it…

View original post 488 more words

Spiderman and Me

We all have secrets.Spiderman and Me.jpgI saw this picture in the Sunday newspaper and thought, “That was me when I was around 10”.

I collected and read and re-read all the Spiderman comics I could afford.   Much of my pocket money went on these comics. I even branched out into Daredevil, Fantastic Four and Thor.

Captain America was a bit too American so I passed him and the Avengers by. Whereas Peter Parker was a Science whizz, just like me.

My collection was stored neatly in an old cardboard box and kept under my brothers bed, (we had bunks and being the oldest I had the top one of course). But leaving home to go to Uni, Mum insisted I get rid of the lot. So I loaded the lot onto the bus into town. I went into the second-hand Comic Book shop on Gilkes Street near the old Swimming Baths and got around £5 for the lot. I think I may be underestimating it to say they would be worth around £10,000 nowadays.

I still miss my Marvel Comic collection.

Three Things

There’s a story behind each answer, someday I’ll explain…

Three names I go by
1. Tony
2. John
3. Sir (when on exped with a school)

Three places I lived
1. Freetown, Sierra Leone,
2. Gibraltar
3. Winchester

Three places I have worked
1. Mr Rose’s Lingerie Emporium
2. Gibtel
3. Leon, Nicaragua

Three things I love to watch
1. Homeland (TV program about CIA)
2. Coal Tits on Garden feeder
3. Sunsets

Three places I have been
1. Vietnam
2. Angor Wat
3. Sanibel, Florida

Three things I love to eat
1. Curry (has to be mild now 😦  )
2. Gambas a la Plancha
3. Galician Beef Rib at Levanter Ramsbottom.

Three things I am looking forward to
1. Christmas
2. Star Wars
3. Next Expedition (Thailand)

My Semi Colon;

I was clear about this blog. It was going to be one of muses and thoughts and good times. It was definately not a cancer blog.

But the last few days have brought a lot of thoughts to the front.

  • Celebrating my Wedding Anniversary a year after I was given the all clear, was certainly a good day. That was also the day a year ago we got our nice new Smart TV, good investment!
  • I’ve had my first annual follow up scan, and despite all the assurances and survival stats saying I’m OK, theres still a chance. Being filled with the dye and enhancement fluid this week also brought back a good/bad day I had in hospital. I’ll leave the details of that to a night when I’m boring who-ever with the after-effects of the operation. Don’t ask about results they are not yet in.
  • In the sunday paper there was a review of a book based on a blog which tracked her cancer story. This led me to a few other blogs. If you ever want to feel miserable, a cancer sufferers blog is the place to look. Anyway I came across Charley’s story. It doesnt have a good ending; but is written with such humour and poinioncy, I really felt and shared in her trials. But what caught me was the title;
  • I just think the idea of having ones own Semi-Colon is something to be made up about, wish I’d thought of it first. Mine may not be a semi-colon more a three-quarters, but I may use the monica again.

On the other hand, another review of the Stats put me up there at 95% survival rate for 5 years.  About the best place to be.

If you want to follow another blog on Cancer, the most uplifting is http://alrighttit.blogspot.co.uk/

Again, not a happy ending, or the same type nor treatment as mine, but such a good story.