‘Guest Post’ written by my late father

I’m hoping my Title above has intrigued you enough to read this very personal Posting. I’ll try to be brief with my introduction BUT I always say that don’t I!!

Dad sadly passed away early April 2019 after a long illness enough said. Well as you’d imagine we as a family have been busy with banking and legal documents etc hence a very good reason to clear and tidy through his study draws. AND AS ALWAYS HAPPENS when someone passes away, we discovered many long forgotten treasures including the typed manuscript of a fictional novel the name ‘Jennifer’ emblazoned in red ink across a Title page, but that’s a whole blog post all of its own which I’ll leave for another day!

We also discovered a folder crammed full of newspaper articles from the 1980s which I for one had clean forgotten about, and a selection of which I’ve photographed and shown below. Our local newspaper is called the Oxford Mail, every Town and every City across the world has its very own newspaper, although the internet has very probably moved them on-line however the Mail battles on in the Newsagents reporting local news to local people.

Well it turns out in the early 1980s my father wrote a ‘Mail’ guest column once a week, fifteen or so editions only and approximately 700 words long, themed on a variety of topics from family also childhood. Interesting readable pieces written with humour and from life’s experience and IMPORTANTLY Dad didn’t earn a penny because the Oxford Mail are known to be stingy with money, HOWEVER be totally aware he would neither have wanted or expected to be paid, I’d guess purchasing the stamps with glee because yes my father wrote through pure enjoyment, and I’d guess many of you reading here and now will nod your head in agreement 🙂 .

Yes Dad wrote for love enjoyment not financial reward 🙂 and that’s today’s introduction sorted. Below I’ve copied one of his Oxford Mail published article’s called ‘Facing up to the student challenge’ featuring my brother and his girlfriend, the original is of course typewriter written and yes I am rather proud of these pieces of writing, who knows perhaps he’d have been thrilled I blogged his article on the internet?

I’ll leave you with one last thought, if Dad was alive and in good health today I’m positive he would have taken to WordPress ‘like a duck to water!’

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Metro
My father’s ‘Austin Metro’ taken 1981 whilst on a family summer Holiday. Dad taught me to drive in this car and features in the Post below. Hmm? I wonder what ever became of HJO 443Y?

Facing up to the student challenge

Can you visualise days at Redbrick University in the1960s? All the male students wore coats and the girls were locked up in their halls of residence, not a miniskirt in sight.

(Blimey 😮 Dad was imagining miniskirts!)

An entire Term’s equipment could be transported in one large suitcase. This was heavy, admittedly on occasions fellow travellers on the 11.17am narrowly escaped with their lives when the case was swung up onto one of those silly little tennis racks they had in those days. The swinging sixties and the permissive Seventies (to say nothing of the Expensive Eighties) have changed all this.

Below are listed some of the items essential equipment parents of prospective students might invest in. Also included is some advice to parents culled from bitter experience.

  1. Don’t allow your son or daughter to secure a place too far away from home unless gaining comprehensive knowledge of the road works on the UK motorway network is your forte. Preferably choose one far enough away to prevent journeys home to borrow money or best non stick frying pan, but not so far away as to make the transport of incredibly heavy cardboard boxes a problem. Gone are the days when a text book costs 15 shillings. Books like those used by the student coast about £40 a nicend a quick glance will not rivet the layman like a Jilly Cooper.

Driven to tears?

2. On the subject of transport, invest in a van of fair size. If this is thought absurd, try getting three guitars, a trunk full of dirty washing, fourteen cardboard boxes of assorted shoes, cassette tapes (remember those?), books, files, a monster packet of Sainsburys monster biodegradable washing powder, a small microwave, a cardboard tube containing a poster of Madonna, portable TV and spare parts for a Citroen 2cv.

3. Students reappear at the end of June ready to unwind. This however is the parents hardest time. Struggling to get the cardboard boxes into the loft is only part of the problem. A trip to Israel and Egypt with the girlfriend is in prospect…………… paid for with proceeds from casual employment.

Watch the telephone bill. Calls to the Egyptian Embassy in the daytime are expensive. The trip will begin at 8am from Oxford bus station, so say fair well to at least one nights sleep.

Two days before departure, realisation dawn’s the girlfriend does not know where Egypt is, let alone that a visit there is rather different from a day out in Bournemouth. Search the loft for a school globe to show her. Full to the brim with typhoid injections and quinine tablets, she will take fright at 11pm the night before departure. ‘Prisoner Cell Block 11’ has a marvellously calming effect and the parent can relate to it by realising the inmates are having a better time than he is.

Reversed charges from Tel Aviv cost about £9, so budget for them. Arrival back after a month is also at 3am. Cook egg and chips, make gallons of tea while you listen to stories of spells spent in Israel and Egyptian hospitals suffering from gastroenteritis which seems to be the main feature of the trip.

A last piece of advice for the parent is to give up, at least temporarily, alcohol and tobacco and embrace the conversation movement with open arms. A crafty cigarette in the garage will pass unnoticed, but don’t throw away the tube from a used toilet roll last the green police pounce. Pay the Poll Tax, but don’t attempt to justify it…………. and pay the students as well.

When your son or daughter goes away for the first time, things will never be the same again. It is hard to negotiate the path between idealism and the demands of this difficult world but one day it will all be worthwhile.

R. Shepherdson & A. Shepherdson 2019 

(One final thought, just imagine living in an age of being unable to edit as you go and NO spell-check!!)

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