Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday 28 April 2012

I had prepared various pleas/retorts in case of provocation, but they were superseded by what happened. David Bratt started his report by stating the outcome of the dispute with Dave: that they had reached an accord under which DCB would agree not stand for re-election provided certain conditions were met: chiefly, that the trustees withdrew their accusation that he was not a fit and proper person; and that they admitted he was completely exonerated by the independent inquiry. In return Dave had apologised for upsetting them. It was hoped that a 'line could be drawn' and everyone could now 'move on'.

'Just say thank you', I hissed at Dave. Dave got up, and said thank you for that, and also thank you for the hard work you have done over the years as President. 'But', he added, 'there is one aspect of your statement that I cannot agree to. I cannot accept the matter is closed until the trustees have been held accountable for the waste of charitable money they have spent in pursuing this campaign of personal vindictiveness against me.'

Rogerson opened his mouth - but closed it again and moved on. When they got to the Treasurer's Report, Dave said 'You've got to challenge them on the cost of the inquiry. You do it.' So I did, because after all I won't be remaining a member after today. I asked the treasurer to clarify how much of the 'legal and professional expenses' had been thrown away on pursuing the criminal allegations against the secretary. It came to just under £1,000 and Rogerson maintained it was worth every penny to get the society's procedures in order. 'That's as maybe, but it wasn't why you initiated the allegations in your personal vendetta against Dave, was it?' He sidestepped, insisting the 'allegations' were no such thing and refusing to go back yet again to defend what they had done. Everybody wanted to move on; I bowed out of the exchange and Rogerson was left feeling in control, as ever. When it came to voting him back into office, we were the only two dissenters. All that was inevitable, and in truth I do want Dave to move on and sever links as he only makes himself appear peevish and bad-tempered (as I told him later). But to satisfy his honour we could have done no less, and we had made the (unanswered) point that the trustees' behaviour in pursuing Dave had been disgraceful. Yet Rogerson always comes out on top - whatever the morality of the situation he twists or overpowers or somehow asserts his power. Dave was still muttering tonight about 'I should never have agreed to resign', etc, and had to be told quite forcibly that he had made his point but would have got nowhere by fighting, that nobody wanted to know and nobody would have supported him, and that there was no option but to let it go for now, leave Rogerson to swagger, and wait for him to hand over to someone else. He is still threatening to bring about a computer failure at Taylor House that will lead to Rogerson's discomfiture. I tell him it won't; that Rogerson will bring in outside experts at whatever cost, and take the credit for putting things right again.

Well I for one will not be going to another PNFS meeting. If only we could find a scheme or job that would give Dave a purpose in life again, then he might be more willing to relinquish the battle with Rogerson, which is really not worthy of so much distress.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Saturday 14 April 2012 - school reunion

Full of trepidation - people you think of as forever 14 turn out to be 60; like a stage make-up demo only with no make-up. Thirty-odd women, each with a life story come and gone, so will the old antagonisms, the classroom rivalries and shared teenage passions, count for anything or even be remembered?

The first thing I realised was that everyone else felt nervous too. For one afternoon we were on stage in a different school play, wearing wrinkles and grey hair. But then the talking took over and we became a group of wise, interesting and interested women, each riding on the family and career she had built but turning briefly aside to rekindle other friendships. Faces and in some respects personalities were the same-but-different: kind capable Marjorie and sensible Marilyn, who had organised the event; dreamy artistic Hilary with the flair for cake decoration, who wafted back as a fashion designer under the same cloud of fair curls; short forthright Mary, who had spent the last 40+ years having five children and raising poultry and sheep on a farm near Flagg. Little Jane Gregory and tall Jane Clemson had quietly gone on being best friends at whatever distance, and worked their way through teaching careers with steady success.
Sylvia had never seemed particularly happy at school and tended to resent the accident of money that gave our family more advantages than hers, until she discovered the violin at 15, fixed on a future in music and became a professional cellist and strings teacher. I couldn't work out whether the challenge in her gaze was reflecting that resentment or my concern over it.
Georgina I have seen and corresponded with on various occasions and we could take up where the last emails left off, on our children and her 102-year-old mother of course.
Susan Morley had defied the teachers by training as a nursery nurse instead of aiming for university, and reported with satisfaction that she was now outranked them as an early-years Ofsted inspector.
Helen, who always seemed big and determined and made me feel small, had married a farmer and spent 35 years on the dairy at Chelmorton.
Susan Evans had worked steadily and sensibly through secretarial and administrative positions since leaving school at 18, and had been school bursar at St Anne's since her children started there 30 years ago.
Several had become teachers, with great success; some were civil servants, one a librarian, few if any were scientists, apart from Georgina - less surprising given the atrocious science teaching at the school (except for Mr Richardson in Biology, whom everyone liked).
The person who had done most and travelled farthest was Linda Phillips, now a charity organiser in South Africa running orphanages and AIDS clinics in a life so vivid with colour, warmth, needs, demands, rewards and frustrations that coming back to Buxton must have been like re-entering a frigid cage. But her best friend Belinda, along with five others from our class, had died years ago - a thought that cast a chill, as the rest of us neither looked nor felt our age.

Georgina and I had left after O-levels and to some extent missed out on the special bonds that linked survivors of Cavendish sixth form. It was disconcerting to find that people remembered me first for being a year younger than most of them - as if that should make a difference at 59/60 - and less surprising that they remembered my father's name. Maybe I came over as the shy anxious second-former I always felt I was, a late-comer and late developer - but I hope not, as for me it was a day of realising the warmth and supportiveness of women and the value of keeping up friendships over the years and miles.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

10 April 2012

Catherine passed her driving test! Waking at 5.30am to a clutch of fear, clawed by dread throughout the next four hours - and that was how I felt, let alone how Catherine felt. Hovering over the phone, by 9.15 I was sure it was to be like last time - she must have failed again and couldn't bear to tell me. So when she walked in and announced with a big beam 'I passed!' a great sob of relief burst out of me. In fact the sense of relief in this house today has been like the sun coming out.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Saturday 7 April 2012

Rik is 24 today - unbelievably grown up, but his birthday is still my excuse to moon fondly over memories of the tiny red baby and serious wondering little boy who changed my life.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Last night's snowstorm blocked lanes, buried sheep and brought down power lines, causing a 36-hour power cut along our road. For a couple of hours, the lack of buzzing heating and communication systems, the silent radio and the blank computer screens felt refreshingly peaceful. The novelty soon wore off. Catherine said she missed being able to flick between news and Facebook pages on her computer in between bouts of revising, which she says is the way people do things these days. I missed the everyday things like washing machine, radio, kettle, not to mention the computer that has become a lifeline to work, family, etc. Though we shouldn't be so dependent; we don't expect these things on holiday. Dave, however, rose to the occasion with great spirit, rigging up batteries and torches and full of admiration for the team of Irish engineers who turned up next day, swarmed up poles, ladders and trees and reconnected us briskly and cheerfully by 3.30pm.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday 1 April 2012

The next test is due on 10 April, so the screwing-up-to-it process is underway, and between that and the IB exams it's not surprising that she is often racked by stomach pain, which seems more like acid burn than anything else in the book. However, she is still managing to walk Baxter, look after other people's cats, go to 18th birthday parties and go driving with Dave in between feeling ill and revising, which I suppose represents some sort of work-life balance.

Something remarkable: CA, who spent the last 6 years trying to be invisible, has finally booked a holiday in Majorca for four girls (Rozzy, C, Natasha and Erika) and appears to be organising them as well as it with extreme efficiency and decisiveness.

Also remarkable: C went to Marjorie's party on 24 March, had fun, posted photos of herself and the girls having fun onto Facebook, got home on the last bus at 12.02 am without being intimidated by the drunks, wasn't pleased to be picked up by me in car, and was up again by 7am to walk the dog despite BST losing her an hour's sleep. Tonight she's at Erika's party, having made her a beautiful cake iced with a picture of a sailing boat - though she has requested a lift home at midnight.

Rik is in line for promotion already. He has been asked to help with interviewing job applicants, and is to become a team leader i/c security operations, with a view to further advancement to a senior post by next year. I said 'Talk about meteoric. If it weren't you, it would be unbelievable.'