At 18 I left home to become adult and I was very glad to leave as I found home stultifying and boring. No reflection on my Mum. She left school at 14, came from quite a middle class family who had a house on Epsom Downs, but her dad drank it all. My dad died a year after I was born of liver failure (not drink related!) so she was poor. It’s to her credit that she encouraged us all educationally and to leave in search of opportunities, but we all benefited from grants and scholarships.
I was not very worldly at 18 so my three years at Warwick University were really spent growing up. I travelled in the holidays – Europe then – Greece and Italy etc. After Warwick I went straight to York University and did my PGCE. This was a great year. I met FH, but we did not stay together at that point. After York I got a job teaching in Bushey, near Watford. There were no jobs in the north at that time. I married (at 25), had A* (26), J1 (27) and J2 (31). My 20s was my teaching decade. After Bushey I got Head of Department jobs in St Albans and Bedford, but I was never a rules person. I have always been interested in the holistic development of young people so for that reason schools felt restrictive to me. I had useless careers advice. I remember clearly the deputy head saying to me that clever girls were teachers, nurses or secretaries. I left teaching on the cusp of my 30s.
My first year of marriage was quite stressful, but I learnt to adapt quite quickly. I remember my 20s and 30s as predominantly happy, productive times. I loved having children and I was firing on all cylinders at work. FH and I had lots of holidays and we seemed to be moving forward together.