Sunday, 17 May 2015

Now We Are 6[0] (apologies to A A Milne)

Last Friday I was 60. It was a glorious day, spent with my family. I got up late, the sun shone, the bubbles flowed, gifts were exchanged and preparations were made for the bit of a do yesterday – which ended just 4 hours ago. Many thanks to all my friends and family who came, and many thanks for all the wonderful gifts and best wishes sent. So this morning I am just a little tired, but its that kind of tiredness that leaves you with a smile on your face. And I have much to smile about. Laying here in bed thinking about what to write, I have a million memories rushing through my mind, images and thoughts of some of what the last 60 years has involved.

I come from a large family and have an increasingly large family of my own now. My Mum and Dad are still alive and kicking, and I am the eldest of 7 children. I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, and a wonderful wife - who it is said, probably has the patience of Job when it comes to sharing a life with me. But thanks for supporting me through thick and thin. 

I've been fortunate enough to have been in employment since I was 16 years old, working first in food retail, before undertaking my nurse training in the 1970s. I was once, and very briefly a blacksmith, before returning to health care. Now I have the best job I have ever had. I get to work with a fantastic team of colleagues who inspire me and I am sure, many of our students each and every day. They are a great group of people to know and work with.

I have kept donkeys, peafowl, ducks, Jacob Sheep, and Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, made cheese from my own goat herd, and raised calves by hand. I have bred finches and looked after Billy the parrot for the last 20 years. Cello, an Australian Labradoddle, is a constant companion. And then there are the chickens. I have kept chickens for the last 40 years. I have hypnotised them, bred them for show, the table and egg production. Right now, because of the travel between Manchester and the House in Scotland, sadly the chicken pen stands empty.

However, leaving live chickens to one side for a moment I think I have the world’s largest and most varied chicken collection – some 6000 different examples, including a black cockerel, tattooed on my right shoulder. I will contact the Guinness Book of Records one day and seek confirmation that my collection IS the biggest and most diverse in the world.

I have also enjoyed walking, doing the Coast to Coast walk in my 50th birthday week, walking around the Isle of Man, the Isle of White and walked the 4 peaks of Scarfell, Scarfell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw in 24 hours. I have walked along Hadrian’s Wall, and the Great Wall of China. I've seen the Berlin wall come down and the Israeli West Bank Wall go up. I've sent texts from the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York before they were destroyed in 2001.

I'm on my 4th passport and have travelled the world visiting China, Latvia, Russia, US, Switzland, Nigeria, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Singapore, France, South Africa, Romania, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Holland, Belgium, Hong Kong, Spain, India, Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Canada, Kenya, Slovakia, Pakistan, Slovenia, Hungry and Lithuania - these days the journey I like the best is the one that takes me back to the House in Scotland.

My favourite car was always the Morris Minor, that is until I bought my first Jaguar. My favourite colour has, for many years been black, but more recently I have started buying and wearing brightly coloured clogs. I've grown my own vegetables all my life and been a vegetarian for most of my life. I didn't own a mobile phone until 2000, but now really enjoy using social media, and this blog is the 300th posting. And last Friday I had my first piece published for the Conversation. Since 2000 I've published 75 peer reviewed papers, presented 86 conference papers, 16 non-peer reviewed papers and co-edited 2 books. 

I have met many people over the years, and take this opportunity to thank all the folks I have encountered along the way, some of whom are no longer with us,. I thank them for their generous support, and help, wisdom and humour. I've enjoyed the first 60 years and I'm absolutely looking forward to the next 60 years. And Wendy don't worry, they wont be all be spent at Salford, retirement beckons, now we are 60