We’re very proud of our Julie


Sidney           Back in the seventies on a visit to Houghton Mill, we were invited to look over a barge moored to the bank of the canal. As I stepped over the gap, little Julie said “Be careful daddy”. The barge owner was visibly impressed for, as he pointed out to us, it was usually the parent that warned the child.


Mary               Julie was always a good scholar. wanted to be a teacher. On her way to nursery she would trace out the letters on the street signs. At home she would line up her teddies, make worksheets for them and then do them herself. When Ruby came along she was delighted because now she had a real live pupil who completed all her worksheets perfectly – with a little help from her teacher.


Sidney           At six years old, while we were living in Holland, Julie learned to ride a bike by using it first as a hobby horse until she was in control, and only then putting her feet on the pedals. Later, on our rides together, I would give her a little push to help her up the hills. Then the day came when I knew that she was a natural climber – I went to put my hand on her back but she was gaining on me. Now when we are riding together she is the one who has to wait at the top of the hill.


Mary               Geography was one of her best subjects at Prendergast School. After one weekend in Wales, laughingly called a field trip, she came home with her clothes caked in mud, which I had to wash off with a garden hose. She’d been pot-holing with her geography teacher and a rather droll guide, who asked them if they wanted to do the easy-peasy one or the other one. They of course chose the other one and this turned out to be as close to being buried alive as makes no difference. Not the best thing for a parent to know.


Sidney           There I was, looking at maps in 1989, planning to ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End, when a voice behind me said “Can I come, dad?” I have two contrasting memories of Julie on that month-long ride. On the first and longest day, after 50 miles the hills got steeper and the headwind got stronger. It got so bad Julie stopped, threw her bike to one side, sat down in the middle of the road and refused to go on. Four weeks later and a few days from Lands End, we climbed Porlock Hill – one-and-a-half miles long, 25% gradient at the start - the rest 16%. At the top Julie again threw her bike to one side but this time she stretched out on the grass in absolute ecstacy. One thing is certain, the End-to-End ride gave her a taste for travel.


Mary               Julie was a violinist with the Goldsmith Youth Orchestra, but the orchestra was short of viola players (not surprising with all those viola jokes) so she upgraded. Later she travelled in Europe with a group called ‘Under the Gun’. One of the group members had a curious talent – he could set fire to his farts, with only occasional injury. The group had a big fan base in Poland and she made many friends there, although she strongly denies that this is the reason for the recent influx of Polish plumbers.


Sidney           After her A-levels Julie went to university but came home after a fortnight. She realised she was not ready, so she got a job with Wellcome Laboratories doing dastardly things to eggs. This motivated her to go as far away as possible and she back-packed around South-East Asia for a time. In India, as someone who had always liked her food, she became very close friends with Baz, who turned out to be the best chef in the universe.


Mary               Julie and Baz settled down in Hove and after a while she realised that, after a nine-year gap, she was now ready for university. The way in was through the one-year access course at Lewes College, and then on to Sussex University for a degree (first class), at the same time as Ruby did her degree. The PhD followed and now our Julie is teaching at the very same places where she was a student – Lewes College and Sussex University.


We’re very proud of our Julie