Sep 29, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Gerald, of Wakefield.

I watched him through a lens of shyness. But mainly I read, researched, and thought. He made me want to. Back then, I was too busy making teenage sense of Homer, Thucydides and Plato to appreciate his influence fully. It’s so much easier now that I’ve walked in his shoes.

Gerald Thompson was a West Riding grammar school boy, with brainpower that allowed him to enjoy the same sort of mildly intoxicating Cambridge years he helped me to experience. Perhaps his ‘humble’ origins made him more at home in my unpretentious East Riding hometown. Larkin called us a ‘cut-price crowd’, but Gerald didn’t treat us like that. He wanted so much for us. He showed us the beauty of learning, and the narrowness of the syllabus. Above all, he gave us an example in how to live. I’ve never seen a teacher suggest so unintentionally that it wasn’t about money or status. He stood out.

Every boy in the school called him ‘Hermes’. And why not? He might as well have been Greek. In time, that was his identity: citizenship, orthodoxy, ways. He walked away from the unromantic restrictions of a heavy-handed management brigade. I know that walk now…

Gerald lies buried in a cemetery on Aegina, the island that became home for him. Our school trip to Greece in 1979 included a few days there. Remembering how at ease he seemed in that environment, it was no surprise that he settled into a life there so completely. We can all learn something from Gerald about marrying temperament with rhythm and milieu.

It was some years into my teaching career before I realised that I was holding the baton which Gerald had gently passed to me. I tried to grip it firmly and proudly. And I passed it on, Gerald.

Contribution offered by Paul Gamble

Twitter: @gegegamble

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Oct 6, 2022·edited Oct 7, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

The Quieter One

She was the quieter one, kept things turning over in a house with more children than money, scraped mud off potatoes and sliced knobbly carrots while he led us on adventures into the mountains or unexplored corners of the city. “Nice time?” she would ask as, with a toddler in arms, she paddled through soapy puddles - the overflow from the clothes wringer – to put steaming soup on the table.

While we debated politics, music or books, around plates of stew or Queen of Puddings, her fingernails would drum continuously on the tin teapot, her gaze drifting towards the windows.

There were hints that, at one time, she led a more interesting life: a pink silk ballgown in the dressing-up clothes, cracked leather ice-skates in a plastic bag under the stairs, a collection of stilettos and old perfume bottles in the dressing table made from wooden fruit boxes.

“Never let your interests go,” she would softly suggest, as she led me across the peninsula before everyone woke up, to paint watercolours or watch rabbits; “find something you love,” she would tell us as she snatched moments to escape into novels and biographies; “you need to find a way to support yourself for the rest of your life” she would say as we moaned about homework, “you may not have a man to support you.” And as she organised yet another flag day or bring-and-buy she would declare firmly “remember how lucky you are.”

It took until my middle years to understand how effectively the quieter one had led me, from behind; how she lost sight of no-one as she navigated the world she found herself in, least of all herself. In the drifting gaze and the drumming fingernails she was holding on to her very soul.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

When I think of mentors, teachers ,great bestowers of knowledge I think of Dr Maya Angelou a woman I always have and will always look to, to show me strength in character ,kindness and self respect ,she is the epitamy of self will to be better , to not be the victim of circumstance , that your beginnings do not have to dictate where you will end up.

She did this in so many ways from her teachings ,her activism, poetry and writing. The boom of her voice alone would command my attention .

Dr Maya has been a inspiration to millions now in the age of YouTube and she will continue to ,thank god but this i feel was all started with the simple faith her grandmother had in her and was central to the presence she would later become in the world .

When Maya was a child she was mute for many years after a terrible abuse at the hands of an adult ,it was her grandmother who would speak to her whilst braiding her hair telling her with absolute certainty that she believed in her ,that she was ok just as she was right now in her silence but when she did decide to speak the whole world would listen .

How right her grandmother was ! This taught me the power of having faith in another persons abilities, can help them to move mountains , or simply come home to ourselves when life takes us down strange and unfamiliar paths .

Whatever the results I know the power of an mentor ,a inspiring teacher in life

can change your world and then maybe the world.

I will always thank Dr Maya Angelou for showing me the way , Thank you Maya .

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Sep 29, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Not realising it at the time, my elementary school headmaster was a mentor. He was kind and opened this heart and school to those who did not have a place anywhere else. And he wanted us to learn, experience the things we did not have in our rural households. He opened up our worlds and was a great story teller. He lived his motto, I feel, 'knowlegde and patience is power'. I hope I repay his debt in small ways by helping and encouraging others.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I’ve stood (secretly) open since memory first came to me, open souled, open handed, open eyes, waiting, wishing, hoping. Rocks unearthed, trees felled, relationships excavated, letters written, windows watched from. I’ve looked, searched, scoured, begged, whispered, pleaded, first feet, then hands, then knees, until I’ve found myself laid upon the floor in recent life with little search left in me. An only, of a single mother, unrooted to place, running into stories, books, movies, a screaming scared child asking, waiting, watching, a mother now, and wife, hoping, and looking and yes, still asking in cities, fields, oceans if there was one, just one who would stop and look and take my hand, and lead and help and guide. So I stumble, when feet are once again found, and I make my own way while (secretly) waiting, and yes, still I wait. And yes, I hope. That just maybe.

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Oct 8, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

From a time many years ago...

I knew my mentor was close by. In the field where the black knapweed grew, at dusk, where the fox cubs fell over themselves to tear at the sole of an old shoe, and a roe deer looked me in the eye, she was beside me. Her hand on my shoulder told me not to move. Her whisper in my ear slowing my breath, and I clung to her signs, desperately wanting to understand the nature she was showing me. If I devoured every morsel, I was sure I’d find an inner peace, could cope better in a world turned upside-down. But peace was fleeting. Soon, inevitably, I’d need to leave. But for a few precious minutes each evening, my mentor would sit with me, and life seemed a little easier to bear.

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My mentor lives deep inside me. I’ve come to realise that for way too many years I’ve ignored her, overruled her, shut her down, dismissed her. And yet, there she is always loving me, patiently waiting for my silence allowing her to speak. Some days she’s my younger self, the little girl I have a black and white photo of that sits on my desk. That Rebecca is about 3 years old and sits on a swing staring into the camera some distance off with a furrowed brow which I like to believe is a ‘don’t mess with me’ look. I love her, she’s cared for me many times in my life, during post natal depression, during my divorce, during my daughter’s anorexia. She takes no nonsense, she believes in me utterly and completely. She gets me moving when I simply want to curl up in a ball. She strokes my head gently and says, ‘you’ve got this.’

Sometimes my mentor is an older version of myself. A wise woman with a big heart. She holds me closely. She knows me intimately. When times feel incredibly tough and I start to imagine and believe all the wild stories I’m creating in my head, she simply says, ‘No, not now, these are not true.’

They love me endlessly.

They love me unquestioningly.

They’ve been speaking up more recently, in fact since my breast cancer diagnosis in November last year. As my world was shaken to its core, they stepped forward and held me close, whispered in my ear that all was well, that between us we are resilient, courageous, open hearted, in love with life and ready for healing. I know I’m not on this journey alone and that gives me confidence and hope.

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Dec 7, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

My dad died on January the 8th, 22 days exactly before I would be 18. Life really changed in a moment. I don't know quite how I got through all the crying, no the wailing and all the pain. Pain like I'd never ever known and hope I will never know again. It was the suddenness, I think. No planning, no goodbyes except the one in the mortuary, a place no child should have to visit like this.

I did get through though. And I never really thanked some of the people along the way.

Maybe this short tale will go part way to a thank you to Miss.Bliss.

I'm nearing the end of my A ‘levels but I have my geography course work to complete. Not too much to go but I can't fathom where to begin let alone how to meet the 3 week dead line. Time's gone weird on me. Everything looks, tastes, feels, sounds different.

My "Project “is all about towns and people, roads and shops and the routes taken over and over again. It's human geography, the stuff I like best. But I'm struggling to get out of bed, to function, to take the routes I've always taken. To the park to walk with the dog, on the bus to cook at the care home or to college with friends. It's all so difficult and all so filled with random tears.

Until Miss.Bliss helps. I'm at sixth form college and we're on first name terms, Sophie Bliss turns out to be just who I need to pull me through the next month.

Come to mine she says, on Saturday morning, we’ll look at your course work together. Can you get there for 10? Really? She's going to give up her own time to help me? How does she know I just can't do it on my own? How does she know how broken I feel?

It doesn't much matter. But it matters that she asks and that she's noticed me. I'd never been to a teacher's house before, but then Dad hadn't died suddenly on the way to hospital before either. Like I said, the world was altered beyond recognition.

I arrived at her flat at 10 am. Walked up the steps and rang the doorbell before she opened the door to let me in to her neat little grown-up space. I sat at her kitchen table, and we looked at my project so far. Diagrams, tables, results and conclusions. It could be salvaged. Her voice encouraged, and I managed to put it in order, to make sense of it and get it into the WHSmith folder I'd bought especially.

Miss. Bliss had shown me it was all going to be OK. Not straight away, not really for some years. I would need others to notice me, others to listen as I retold the trauma I'd lived through and others to be kind. But she was the first and I will always remember her.

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Nov 15, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thank you very much for reading Tanya. I’ve just finished the book and thought it was brilliant!

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Nov 10, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

She used to read Thomas Hardy while drying her hair. A nugget I still remember fondly as I blitz my own with an empty left hand. A love of ink on a page that seemed out of reach.

Structured, unrelenting and purposeful in her teaching, there was no immediate rapport. I cannot pinpoint a specific moment of inspiration but can retrieve the sensation I started to feel that summer; to be engaged, enthralled and excited by the world and texts surrounding me.

As she introduced me to the Brontë sisters, her favourite Mr Hardy, and Much Ado about Nothing. As we argued for hours over her love for John Donne sat in the relic classrooms of my comprehensive. By now, reading constantly, I was relishing in the sunbeams that she emitted; soaking up every last inch of sunlight from her lessons.

As a teacher myself now, understanding the sacrifices it takes to be a good one, I walk into my local swimming pool. It’s six am. There she is, almost a decade later, in the changing rooms. I greet her as if no time has past and I can see her struggling for my name. We have an amiable conversation but I arrived unprepared for such a rare opportunity; blurry eyed and tired from a week of school.

You showed me how to love books. You showed me how to be a woman living on her own, divorced and real. You helped prepare me for a life of One’s own.

None of those words came to me as I stood on the tiled floor in the chlorinated changing rooms that morning. But, as I left, like exiting the airport and arriving home to British rain, I was rejuvenated once more, by the simple presence of her rays.

Caitlin Cornec

Instagram: @caitlincornec

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Dear B

I remember our first meeting; in a narrow room, beige and bland. The window, hastily covered with cardboard to hide the famous face inside. The singing teacher asked me to take part in this event. I owed him a favour. Could I be a sparring partner for the famous face to test their new skill before showcasing it to the world? I was a safe pair of hands, and you the voice of reason, able to give critical feedback without ruffling feathers.

During the first break you beelined over introducing yourself unnecessarily, because I, of course, knew who you were. The words came flooding out like a dream: I’d like to work with you. I let them hang in the air to savour as I gave you my number, holding my breath while you rang it there and then, so that I had your number too.

Wow. You really meant it.

Then we worked. Oh, how I loved it. I loved it more than I could ever tell you. More than you will ever know. You told me to be bigger, bigger, bigger yet still there was room to grow. Braver. Deeper. More honest. More raw. You told me to trade pretty for real. And I did…just as you did not.

Someone younger, bolder, more-connected with grander prospects tag-teamed me out. An easy swap for which I don’t blame you. Such possibility, such adventure - who could resist? She soars so lofty now and shines so bright - even I pay for her glow. But she’s forgotten it was on your wings she once flew.

So here we are. Again. All these years later. Emerging from boxes we didn’t know we were in. You the resentful sage and me the path not taken.

Whaddya reckon, friend? Shall we go again?

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Oct 31, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick


A leap of life took me from flicking pitted marbles in a secondary school playground, to being mesmerised by a long - flowing skirt; flapping like sea sails in a grasping wind. She sailed through the school gates like a jamboree on wheels; all festival, fiesta and carnival unravelled into one. A red beret poppy topped her head; a parade of roses flowed around her ankles; her thick knitted cardigan bulged with heads of cauliflowers.

There was I, lost in my tracks. a newly fledged teacher at twenty seven. A late starter digging into a dream of making a difference; a mere puppy in the hands of others. She strode across to me cutting through the air with sharpness of intent. Her right hand, gloved up to the elbow in black satin shot out, arrow straight towards me waiting for a connection. I stalled, cut out and faltered; self conscious waves slapped my insides, made me unsteady-unsure-unable to couple with the velvety thrust of hand. She flowed closer towards me casting a shadow over my feet. " Hi " she said. " I'm Jan" She looked into my eyes and grasped me from within. I unlocked my arm and invited her hand into mine. The lustrous, sheeny cloth felt comfortable and safe. I stuttered out images of words which she made whole by a squeeze of hand. She loosened her grip, then tangled me up in her gaze.

I knew she was special, an angel fallen into the laps of children; her heart an Aladdin's cave of kindness. Me! I was uncut-unpolished-unshaven for such honest tenderness from a stranger. Her smile unknotted the tightness of my breath and settled my near casualty of heart. The hands of friendship was written in law that day. The chemistry of life makes alchemists of us all.

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Oct 29, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I never thought I would say these words , but I have a sponsor !

She has my back , she freely shares the wisdom that was passed onto her from her sponsor , she is without judgment.

Stopping drinking was the first best decision I made and the second was letting the small and committed meditation group that I am part of , know this in our WhatsApp group chat one day.

Later that day I heard a *Ping* , it was a private text message from a women in the group , she had picked up on my mentioning that I had stopped drinking and was reaching out to say , that she stopped drinking 14 years ago and she was 'here' should I need to chat. I found this sweet at the time but little did I know how important her reaching out would turn out to be.

I had been riding my new found sobriety wave for over a year by then and the novelty was starting to wear off , I had read 'all ' of the sobriety books and had become increasingly irritable , I was also isolating a lot. At work I would micro - manage everyone and gossip. At home I would crash on the sofa and experience suicidal thoughts. I later found that the term for what I was experiencing is ' dry drunk' and that I had been 'white knuckling ' my sobriety .

When I started to obsess and worry about a 'possible' holiday plan to visit my partners family in Italy in a just under a years time , I knew I was in trouble . What if I relapsed ? It would be so easy with the wine flowing and lets face it sobriety wasn't looking so great either at that point .

I made the call . The women from my meditation group answered and she listened . She listened so well . She suggested that I attend an AA meeting , " but I don't drink anymore ", I gasped "But you did and you will ", she responded .

I attended and I cried . I cried with relief , the warped thoughts of what I thought AA would be like dissolved , I felt accepted and understood . I wanted a slice of this ! I was no longer alone !

I attended meetings and slowly developed an understanding of this mysterious programme. I was encouraged to find a sponsor so I could start to work the 12 steps. "Choose carefully " other AA women would say . "Choose someone who has a good length of sobriety , works their programme well and has values that seems to align with your own."

Today the women from my meditation group is my sponsor .

I have not drank alcohol in nearly 2.5 years but only when I started on this honest programme of recovery did I start to become emotionally sober .

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Tanya this is a fantastic topic ! Since I saw it this morning it's been bubbling away in my head ,on the walk with the dog and round the local shops

I hope to write something

so much to say on this subject! Thanks for posting 😊

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