Length of service at Prior's Field (in 2020): 8 years
1. Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing after you left school?
No – almost the antithesis of it. My mum once asked me what I wanted to be, and I apparently replied, ‘A farmer’s cat’. Still hoping. After school I was going to be a rock star, or at least the piano player with The Rolling Stones. With the arrogance of youth, I decided failure at school was an option, and left with a measly four O-Levels, going on to waste a year at college before dropping out. I was keyboard player with various bands through the 80s, as well as a session pianist and, more often than not, a busker. When work got thin I did whatever to get by – cleaner, roadie, running a vegetarian restaurant in St. Martin’s Lane, a Health Food Shop in Fulham and working as a label and tour manager for an independent record company. The latter killed any lingering love I had of the music industry, and I left to run a ceramics shop, before deciding to become a teacher, which required me to do evening classes to make up for my desultory qualifications before going onto Uni and teacher training.
2. What would you say is your biggest achievement, the thing you’re most proud of professionally or personally?
After my distinctly wobbly and somewhat extended adolescence, I am most proud of 22 years of marriage, two brilliant kids and a 23 year career doing something I love. I’m pleased to have started the Huxley Essay Competition and to have kept Word of the Week going for eight years.
3. If you could have an inspirational leader to a dinner party, who would it be and why?
Other than Tracy Kirnig? Oh well, let me see…I would probably choose John Smith, the Labour Party leader who began the process of rescuing the party from the ravages of the Michael Foot years. I heard him speak a number of times and he had, I think, some things we have nearly completely lost in politics – a genuine vocation for service, a fierce and deep intelligence and a strong sense of decency. I rarely get emotional when the famous die, but there are three people about whom I will admit to shedding tears on their passing – John Peel, the voice of my youth, Nelson Mandela, my generation’s inspiration, and John Smith.
4. Do you have a favourite quote, expression or mantra which inspires you to keep going?
I have a head full of poetry, so quotations are something I have a store of. However, if there is one I try to live by, it is ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’. One that keeps me going? Emily Dickinson ‘Forever is composed of nows’.
5. What advice would you give to today’s girls who may be wondering which path to take beyond school?
I spend a lot of my life giving advice, but my best would probably be one that it took me a while to learn, which is to seize your opportunities now to give yourself a choice – you can always change your mind later. That and Groucho Marx’s ‘The secret of life is honesty and truth in all things – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.’
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