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The Original Entry:

60 Seconds Of My Time

Sat 30th Nov 2002 01:38 BST by Andrew from Bath, U.K.

Something I was doing tonight triggered a collection of memories. Then I remembered that I'll be 26 in a fortnight's time and I remembered some more things, starting with the very first thing I can recall. What follows is a Campbells Condensed soup version of my life so far (minus the vegetables and miscellaneous chicken bits):

  • I'm 4 years old and my mother is hurrying me towards Darlington town centre in a green pushchair. She stops for a moment to adjust her sandals.
  • Aged 5 I love playing outside in the grounds of the George Dent nursery school. I love playing on my sister's Space Hopper.
  • At 6 I see a computer for the first time when Mr Dobson, the then Head Master of Reid Street Primary School, shows us a black-cased home computer - I can't remember what it was.
  • It's the second-year infants class Christmas party, but it's also my birthday. The class sing happy birthday for me and let me cut the party cake - with my mother's help (she was helping out with the party).
  • Aged 8 I write a poem about a snowflake, my teacher (Mrs Jones) writes it out on a big sheet of white paper and pins it to the wall in the classroom.
  • I'm 9 years old and my father takes me to the traditional toy shop in town - I've forgotten the name. We return home with a small lego kit to make one of the models in the Space series. I feel like the most privileged kid in the world. A-ha are on the radio with "Take On Me", I think they sound great.
  • During a routine eye-test at school aged 10 the nurse discovers that my eye sight is poor. I wear glasses for the first time. Later that year I draw a poster of the Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo moon missions - this is the earliest recognisable interest I have in things astronomical.
  • Aged 11 the class goes to Earl's Orchard in Richmond, North Yorks for a week of walking, touring and exploring organised by the school. I'm away from home and family for the very first time.
  • Later that year I start at Branksome Comprehensive School, the transition is a difficult one. My best friends go to a different school. The family dog, Sam, bounces onto the scene.
  • Aged 15 I convince the Head Master to give me the position of Head Boy for the following academic year. The role helps to overcome my shyness and I open out a lot more.
  • As Head Boy I give a speech to 300 people including the Mayor of Darlington at the school's annual awards ceremony.
  • My biology teacher Mr Hurton gets over-excited at my write-up and conclusions for an experiment involving boiled variegated geranium leaves. He says it's the best report he's marked in his 30 years of teaching. He's not the only one that's surprised.
  • I realise that I like Maths, I decide to take it at A-Level. In 1994 I get an A grade in a compressed version of the 2 year Maths course. I take an evening job at the local supermarket to transport goods from the warehouse to the shop floor for restocking. My grades suffer, so does my back.
  • I take up astronomy as a serious hobby aged 17, a year later I know the names of most of the bright stars and the northern-hemisphere constellations.
  • I "go with the flow" and end up at St. Andrews University to do a 4 year course in astrophysics, but not until after a round of interviews at other universities and a day trip on my own to Leicester - my first truly independent journey. I use the Internet for the first time. It's 1995.
  • I earn the 2nd year class medal for astrophysics at the end of '96.
  • My grades suffer from lack of enthusiasm and some personal issues. I drop astrophysics to do a lesser course in ordinary physics. I graduate with a II.1.
  • Aged 23 I make a half-hearted attempt to find work. I take a temporary job for much needed cash. I write my first web page. I stop wearing glasses and switch to contact lenses.
  • I apply for an MSc course in Computing Science at Newcastle University. I'm lucky enough to win a scholarship for it. I make some good friends. I pass, but don't get the distinction that I was originally predicted to get. I only attend half of the lectures. Sam the family dog has to be put down whilst I'm away studying for my exams. My parents don't tell me until after they're over.
  • Aged 24 I have my first holiday abroad with some mates from St. Andrews Uni.
  • Aged 25 I start at Future Publishing and leave home permanently, moving to the opposite end of the country. I get bored on evenings and end up writing blog entries and become addicted to tea.
I'm currently feeling thoughtful
I'm currently listening to A-Ha : Take On Me


1. Posted by Mike [ web page link ] [ email link ] from Darlington

Sat 30th Nov 2002 12:31 BST
Some coincidences and other comments:

If George Dent nursery is the one on Albert Hill, you went to nursery with Sarah (my wife) and Andrew Egan.

Sarah now teaches at Reid Street.
I started wearing glasses at age 10, too.
I've been back to 'the local supermarket'. You know all the students who did loads of extra hours? They're all still there.

I also didn't get a distinction, but should have. First semester - AAAAB. Second semester - AABBB. Needed an A (70%) for my thesis to get a distinction, but got 65%. I just got bored of writing it up.
I now work at our old Sixth Form. I ran a staff training session last week attended by the 'Disco Mover'.

2. Posted by Rob [ web page link ] [ email link ] from Bath

12:51 BST
So, forgive me, my maths is awful - your Birthday is the 15th / 16th December, then?

I loved reading this - I have very few memories going back as early as yours. I do remember very clearly a Maroon coloured bag on my first day at school, and my only memory of nursery school was helping out at my first school's nursery, aged 8, because my ears were too bad for me to go swimming with all the other kids.

Other kids got to watch at the side of the pool. I got sent to the nursery. Surely, this was a sign of things to come.

Yes, this was a great blog entry. I'm going to read it again now... the detail in it has something of a "Home Truths" flavour, and I do love listening to John Peel on a Saturday morning.

3. Posted by Andrew from Half-way Between Bed And Computer [ Main Editor ]

13:10 BST
Hi Mike

Hmmn, I think I had this confusion with someone else before. George Dent Nursery is the one in Woodlands Road - at the northern end of Vane Terrace. I've just found out that it's the second oldest in the country, I didn't know that for all these years!

I didn't know Sarah taught at Reid Street, what year does she teach? I guess all of the staff that I knew have retired now, although it's possible that Mrs Wilde the Head Mistress is still impersonating Anne Robinson in her little PortaCabin-like office in the infants quad.

Actually Mike I'd forgotten you worked at Morrisons as well, but it's all come back to me now. They are still there?! Bloody hell, poor bastards! I can't remember if I left before you did but I walked out one night after 2 years there and never returned! Imagine filling shelves as a career. Gees, that's a sobering thought.

The MSc started really well and I was over the threshold for a distinction in the first semester. Second semester I attended a full week's worth of lectures and spent the rest of my time in bed. The second semester exams weren't as bad as they could have been and if I did a good MSc project I could still have made the higher grade. The project was difficult and took longer than planned leaving little time for the write-up. The write up was crap. The World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks occurred towards the end of it and I completely lost interest.

4. Posted by Andrew from Nearer The Computer Than The Bed Now [ Main Editor ]

13:32 BST
Hi Rob

My birthday is 6 months away from yours - to the day. I used to listen to John Peel on a Saturday morning as well, but after a few shows they all seem to sound the same to me. Quite surprised that you don't have any concious memories of being a wee nipper. Thinking about it I do remember quite a few things more about the early years:

I remember playing with my sister's lego at home before I was old enough to go to Nursery. At nursery school we had some trolleys that could hold 2 or 3 kids and I used to like pulling them (kids as well) around the paved play area, much to the amusment of staff and parents. I recall a little of the walk me and my mother used to make to get to nursery. I remember the furore when one of the plastic firemen went missing, but it wasn't anything to do with me. I have a recollection of something to do with beetroot as well, but can't recall what exactly. It might have been a class experiment. In reception class at Reid Street aged 5 we all had a piece of yellow cardboard with our names on it. Each morning we would be given a piece of tracing paper and would have to copy our names on it. I always finished last and got told off for being slow. "Andrew Urquhart" wasn't the easiest thing to trace. In the same class I remember making an "aeroplane" during woodwork - it was two thin wooden planks nailed at right angles! I also remember at the same age "borrowing" some of the very small jelly-like toy animals, but convincing my teacher that I'd brought them from home when questioned about it! Apologies to Mrs McFall, I've been on the straight and narrow ever since!

5. Posted by Mike [ web page link ] [ email link ] from Oop North

17:10 BST
Ah, different nurseries then. Sarah was out shopping this morning, so I couldn't check which nursery she went to.

Sarah teaches Year three (that's 1st year juniors for us oldies). I don't think you'd recognise the place if you went back. They've got some lovely new offices now, though the quads are still there. All of the Junior teachers are fairly recent additions, I think, but some of the Infant teachers may be from "your time".

There are some pictures of the new buildings on the website (if you can find them) at www.reidstreet.darlington.sch.uk
More circularity - I'm currently redeveloping the Reid Street website.

6. Posted by Andrew from Bath, U.K. [ Main Editor ]

22:31 BST
Mike, I haven't managed to find those photos of the changes to Reid Street School, although I have managed to find a photo of the leavers of 1983 with my sister on it! She's pretty mortified at the thought. She's the one with pig or pony tails 6th from the right on the second row.

7. Posted by Mike [ web page link ] [ email link ] from Upstairs

Sun 1st Dec 2002 12:07 BST


There are a few changes there: a new classroom, office, library and ICT suite. You see now why I'm redoing the site... I'll have to make sure I keep the former pupils section, would your sister like her name adding to the picture? :)

Mrs Wilde is now Mrs Ferguson, but she's still there.

Another link you might like to add to your blog entry is www.qeliz.ac.uk

8. Posted by Andrew from Bath, U.K. [ Main Editor ]

12:37 BST

Ah, I did find that page earlier on, for some reason I thought there were some photos of the buildings and stuff so I kept wandering around in circles looking for them. Looking through the site I recognised Mrs Wilde and noticed her name had changed.

I'm sure my sister would love her name adding to the photo, I can see her face now, she'll be so pleased ;o) BTW: I think the teacher in that photo is Miss Galloway. There are some other leavers of 1983 at Friends Reunited.

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