Here are five things that you probably don’t know about me:
1. From the ages of 10-13 I lived in the UK. My father was transferred there to set up some computer systems for the Canada Life Assurance Company from 1978-81. I lived in three houses in three years all in southeast Hertfordshire. We lived in Broxbourne, Hertford and Widford. While there I attended Flamstead End primary school, Morgan’s Walk primary and Richard Hale School (also the alma mater of Rupert Grint from Harry Potter fame), Many of you knew that, but here are some facts about my life there that you might not have known:
- I played cricket and specialized in playing short leg and silly point, largely at the behest of a vindictive coach who was appalled at my batting ability. I also developed not a bad leg break (bowling style, not injury!), so to say I was a specialist was putting in mildly.
- I was bullied fairly extensively at Richard Hale and had two very lonely years there.
- I spent a few weeks living with a family in rural France when I was 12. They spoke no English and had two cats. It was there that I discovered my allergy to cats which used to be asthma heavy. Trying to get a prescription for Ventolin in Moissac in 1980 as a Canadian citizen visting France with friends of the family made for a long and interesting day. I did get to watch the Olympics though (they were blacked out in the UK in 1980).
2. When I was a teenager I had my heart set on becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. I was mentored heavily by three amazing ministers: Hanns Skoutajan, John Lawson and Will Walker and encouraged by many others. Ultimately, I chose not to work in the United Church, but my work is very much about the call to serve others in community and organization. In that respect, when people ask me how long I have been doing this work, I sometimes reply, in all seriousness, “since I was 17.” Oh yeah, and our church was called “St. James-Bond United Church.” Seriously.
3. Although not athletic in the traditional sense of playing on organized teams much, I come from a family of notable atheletes. My paternal grandfather, Jack Corrigan, played football for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the 1920s and my maternal grandfather, Maurice Murphy played lacrosse for the Mimico Mountaineers in the 1930s. He won a Mann Cup with that team in 1932, and his brother Joe Murphy went on to fame as a lacrosse player and later a referee. Joe was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1975. My sister, Suzanne, was a minor sports celebrity for a while. In the late 1980s and early 1990s she set standards by becoming the first girl to play Junior C hockey in Ontario as a goalie with the Hanover Knights of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. She was also the first girl to play boys high school hockey, when she suited up in goal for the Lawrence Park Panthers. She was part of a small number of young women in the 1980s that played hockey with young men in the light of the Justine Blainey case at the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1986. Justine was a linemate of my sister’s at Leaside in Toronto for a few years.
4. I have had a few unusual jobs over the years, but the strangest, or at least the one that seems most interesting to folks, was the cemetary worker. Mostly I cut grass at Mount Pleasant cemetary in Toronto, working for an alcoholic supervisor during the summer of 1986. My supervisor was prone to making strange staffing decision with the summer students, so he put me on a shift one day helping to fill graves. That involved helping the crew pack the earth down after the coffin had been buried and the funeral was over. Several practical jokes ensued, including one where I was asked to get down in the grave to retreive a rake after which a shovel full of dirt came down on my head prompting a highly visceral fear of being buried alive. One rainy day I also did an afternoon helping inside the crematorium. That was just plain creepy. The crematorium supervisor had a little jar of metal bits in his desk. One doesn’t ask.
5. This Saturday, god willing and the creeks don’t rise, and provided I can perform 100 push ups, 11 patterns and 10 different breaking techniques at the end of a three hour physical test of sparring, kicking, punching and blocking techniques, I will take my 1st Dan black belt in Kukkiwon style taekwondo. Wish me luck.