This was narrated as part of the celebration of Julie getting her PhD
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
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.
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