Defining moments

Looking back on an event, you often realise how important it was while, at the time it doesn’t seem so.  My wedding day, the birth of my children, becoming a partner in my law firm, passing my finals: these were all important in and of themselves – a sort of holy trinity of importance – you knew they were going to be important, they were and, in retrospect, they have remained so.

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Great knees

Yet each of these events was the culmination of a process. My wedding followed a long courtship (how Jane Austen). I met the current Mrs Le P at a law fair in October 1976; the wedding was May 1984. But even that original meeting depended on my being at that particular university at that pint doing that degree so the defining moment had to be before that – completing my UCCA form in 1974 perhaps; passing my A levels; acquiring a place on that course?

Not it was further back than any of those. Undoubtedly choosing Bristol and choosing law involved more than one influence but both components were the outcome of Bob a Job week in the spring of 1971.

Bob a Job was a Boy Scout event which inflation and health and safety zealots ruined. The idea was as a Scout you offered yourself to do small jobs for a Bob, a shilling in old pre 1971 money, 5 pence these days. I don’t know when the price was set – probably when the Scouts were founded after the Boer War, in 1903 or whatever. Anyway, by 1971 it was just a label for raising funds for your Scout troop – or it should have been – one old sod offered me a shilling for scraping mold off his caravan. He was the exception and Dad was livid but as with a lot of Dad’s ‘this is appalling’ moments it didn’t translate into anything as constructive as telling the old boy where to stuff it.

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I’m the huge cub on the left. No idea why I stopped growing…

Anyway, one job I secured that Easter was to do some gardening for a friend of Mum’s – Iris Gosling . Iris and Mum were what were known as stalwarts of the local Woman’s Institute in much the same way that Kim Jong-un is a stalwart of the North  Korean government.

Mrs Gosling paid well, beyond a bob anyway and was impressed that I said it would all go to the Scouts. She liked my ‘ethic’ – I remember her saying exactly that and not having the first clue what she meant beyond she was pleased with me. She offered me a regular job, two to three hours on either a Saturday or Sunday gardening. I think I was paid half a crown an hour – that’s 25 pence today. It seemed a good deal to me especially as Sundays tended to be filled with homework and home chores for which the rate of pay was zero.

Mrs Gosling lived with her husband, a bluff hearty lopsided man in an enormous house and an even bigger garden, on the corner of Silver Steeet and Vaggs Lane in Hordle in Hampshire – Silver Thatch, I think. With luck that lovely blogger Derrick Knight who does me a great service by living about a mile from here and regularly stirring memories of my youth with his sumptuous pictures – you can view him here – will post a picture of the house sometime!

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Mum had me practicing for Mrs Gosling

Over the next four years until I went to University I worked for Mrs Gosling and learnt a lot about gardening and life. The ‘life’ bit came from David her son and his various and varied girlfriends.

David was in his twenties, a qualified solicitor who appeared to be having the time of his life and most of it spent with a  range of gorgeous women. To me he was an exotic who saw his legal career as no more than a way of earning the money and respectability that would allow him access to some beautiful people and interesting times. He had done a law degree at Bristol University. If he could and end up with such an epicurean lifestyle, then it followed I could too.

Such is the naïveté of youth. I lost contact with David a while back and doubt he will read this blog. Were he to do so then thank you old fruit for unwittingly being the cause of my life’s most defining moment.  I owe you a curry.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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39 Responses to Defining moments

  1. colinandray says:

    I would suggest that your first defining moment was your first breath. Without that … ! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Helen Jones says:

    This is a great post! In some ways it seems a variation of ‘the butterfly effect’, that a small event in the past can have so much bearing on the present. I often look back on my own life in the same way, chance events shaping so much of what I’ve become. And yet these events, as you say, aren’t celebrated as being significant when in fact they very much are. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve often thought about this. Digging deeper (no pun intended), keep going back…because, really, every choice you make, everything you do (or choose not to do) creates the life you have today. It’s simple as that. And also mind-boggling if you think about it too much.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. gordon759 says:

    You will not be surprised when I point out that half a crown equates to 12 1/2 pence. According to the currency calculator I use this is about 2.31 in todays money.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bob-a-job quite a contrast to lawyers fees! loved this throwback post of boy scout knees and threaded humour e.g. Kim and the WI

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice piece. So many things have to line up for folks to get together in a meaningful way. I wanted to be a teacher; but what I really wanted was to put distance between myself and 4 younger siblings for whom I had too much responsibility. That resulted in meeting my husband, who grew up 300 miles away. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. trifflepudling says:

    Very nice piece, much enjoyed. “The stealthy convergence of human lots”, George Eliot called it. Meeting my husband stemmed from my father going into a new ‘local’ when we moved house in 1960, where the landlord (a man, aka Diana Dors) told my father about a school, which I ended up going to 4 years later, making a particular friend through whom I ended up going to work in the US and meeting my intended there in 1976. It’s all very odd.
    What’s this with the ‘current’ Mrs Le P?!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll find the house, Geoff. Thanks for the plug.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Judy Martin says:

    What a lovely story, Geoff. It is amazing what being in the Scouts eventually led to! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful unravelling Geoff – the mystery of life and the way it unfolds from the choices we make even when we don’t know what we are doing………… Being able to pinpoint the people who may have so briefly intersected with our lives and yet had an effect that sent us off in a certain direction is fascinating isn’t it! [My life is littered with unknown saviours and influences] I like that you have done this and paid tribute too. Also love the knees!! And the digging – love the digging and love the stylish look while doing it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. jan says:

    Lovely memories! Love the idea of Bob a Job – which I had it in my neighborhood!

    Like

  12. Sacha Black says:

    lovely memories, I was in the cadets, it too gave me lots of amazing experiences. I wish, as always though, that I had your memory as the detail already evades me!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. willowdot21 says:

    I have read this before loved it then as I do now! Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I find it illuminating what feeds young imaginations and nurtures passions from tiny seeds to fruition.
    This post makes me smile. Funny what unexpected exposure in early life makes an impact. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lisa Reiter says:

    Interesting to ponder too whether Mrs Gosling might have taken you on later or whether you can remember anyone else who later on might have introduced you to the idea of Law or even Bristol Uni. Very sliding doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Rachel M says:

    haha, that’s so funny! Do you think you would have still done law had you not met David?

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      Ooo tough one that. I had a school friend who chose law and I met a couple of law lecturers from Southampton at a careers evening who seemed cool ( I know, but I didn’t have many comparators). I guess so but it was a foregone conclusion after I spent time with him.

      Like

  17. Pingback: A Family Outing And A Disappearing Act | derrickjknight

  18. roweeee says:

    Isn’t it interesting tracing back how these moments come about? I find the same thing with my writing. I’ve actually realised that my train trips to my dentist in Sydney have probably produced a volume of poetry over the years. The trip takes about an hour and a half and I’m in a heightened emotional state and my dentist and I have philosophical discussions…same with his wife who is now on the desk and lovely. So I can attribute some of my writing to my illness and my pesky teeth.
    By the way, speaking about young desriables, I don’t know whether I even mentioned that Hugh Jackman went to my brother school and was quite the heartthrob on the North Shore train line. I had a few friends who used to catch the train looking out for Hugh and this other guy Cameron, who I think she might have dated.They were beyond my comprehension. Let alone in the same league. I was reminded of all of this catching the train yesterday and was chatting to a woman about my age with a dog about Hugh. She knew exactly what I meant and said that Hugh used to work at the gym she went to and used to hand out the towels. Very nice.
    Now, just think how fate could have changed if I’d been hanging out at the gym instead of having cappucinos and chocolate cake at numerous cafes…
    Hope you have a great week.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

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