MK plus 9340 (T minus 150)
I first came to Milton Keynes in the summer of 1988, though in truth I did so reluctantly.
This is the first of an occasional post on my (our) time in MK.
1988 – 1991
Like many people (even possibly you) I had an impression of MK. I thought of a concrete jungle full of roundabouts linking Tarmac roads and with Concrete Cows in Concrete Fields (as far as I knew). Not a blade of grass nor leaf to be seen for miles. This was not entirely true (though I didn’t know it yet).
I was just finishing university in Nottingham and was looking for my first teaching job.
I had already been for interviews in Wisbech and in Ipswich which had not been fruitful and so another job came up in Deanshanger. This was a job in rural Northamptonshire. I did not then know that Deanshanger was on the outskirts of Milton Keynes (just over the county border) – if I had I probably would not have applied.
I got an interview and booked the train – realising then that MK was the closest station. Even when I was offered the job I began looking for housing in Buckingham. After some fruitless phone calls to landlords I knew I needed to explore MK itself – so bit the bullet.
In my new X reg Ford Fiesta I traveled down to MK via London (having met up with friends first). Driving in MK was very different – the roads looked identical and for a long time I went round and round looking for a city centre – not realising the big glass building was a shopping centre. Finally I found a place to get a map. Grasping the V & H coding system was actually quite straight forward and so I headed off for a pre-arranged viewing in Stony Stratford.
This was to become my home for the next three years. My landlady Joan was welcoming and kind. My room, small but functional, enough to give me a space to live and work. I had the run of the house and preferred to cook for myself – though Sunday meals were always shared (at Joan’s or her daughter Carrie’s) The house was a little on the messy side and cats had free reign – but as an ex-student it was nothing too shocking.
Initially at weekends I would travel down to Northwood, London to the rented home of a University friend Jon. His landlords were a very welcoming family and I paid regular visits whilst getting used to life in MK.
On other weekends I ‘d explore local towns – sampling the delights of Buckingham and Aylesbury (neither were too impressive) Bedford and Northampton, as well as the local villages.
I started going to the local Baptist Church but didn’t feel it was quite right for me and eventually found myself at Carrie’s suggestion visiting St Mary’s Bletchley.
I came through the door of St Mary’s at about 11am in early November of 1988. I had chosen the wrong service!
I was looking for a lively and engaging service – but found something old fashioned and a little dull. I might never have returned but for a friendly man in a red sweater by the name of Tony. He suggested that I might prefer the 9:45am service as it was more modern than the 11:15 I’d just attended. He gave me a service book so I could see what it was like as long a I brought it back next week.
Of course I did and so started a relationship with the church that has spanned more than a quarter of a century.
In work I was employed as a Science Teacher, but had an interest in Computers which grew over time. In my second year I took on a co-ordination role in Science – nothing major but a chance to do something.
Deanshanger was a good proving ground. I had probably one of my toughest classes in the first year – a group of low ability year 11 Science students who were not keen on science. Most of time it was a bit of a battle – even now no class will ever come close to matching them in terms of behaviour and attitude – but I survived. I did have the last laugh one day when demonstrating a Chip Pan Fire – using a tiny quantity of oil in a crucible – heating it to flame and then (at a distance) squirting water from a wash bottle. They, of course, were not impressed to begin with and only reluctantly sat at the back of the class. The resulting flame and the immediate rise in temperature as the flame licked (temporarily) at the ceiling tiles – was impressive, even to them.
The house in Stony was close to shops and close to work. I gradually got to know MK and soon realised it was not the concrete jungle I imagined. There were many green spaces to walk and yet the town had lots of amenities. It was quick to get around – even from Stony to church in Bletchley only took a short while.
In church I was getting to know others of similar age and began to help out at the Young People’s group, as well as being part of an older Teens & Twenties Group (Clive, Richard, Beth, Stuart, Maureen, Sue, Lorraine, Loz, Andrew & Becky; later Andy, Tim, Pete, Katy, Ailsa, Zoe, Rachel, Juliet, Jon and others.
I became part of a Drama Team (One Way) and joined the PCC. I joined the Badminton group at school.
After three years I felt it time to move on and applied for a job in Bletchley not far from the church at Lord Grey School and so began the next phase.