One of my subjects in high school - years 7 - 10 - was woodwork.
My handyman skills were next to nothing. Sure I was only 14 years of age so no one came down too hard on me.
Our final project for the year was to make a bedside cabinet. Well, I struggled and was running out of time to complete my task. The name of my woodwork teacher is lost to me. I do remember him giving me so much of his time that the project was completed and I received a pass for woodwork.
Technical Drawing was another subject. Oh sh*t. My mind never worked that way. Technical Drawing, I struggled severely and if it was not for my teacher, Mr Rush, I most definitely would have failed.
Mr Rush was a teacher who was aware of my struggles going on at home and he gave me so much of his time I came to like the man.
With his help, I passed Technical Drawing.
Three years after I had finished school, Mr Rush contacted me and asked if I would give a talk about the struggles of life and what is required to get through it.
Here I was, 18 years of age being asked to give a talk to year 10 students about adversity and how to deal with it.
My instinct was to immediately say no and we left it at that.
I went home and thought a whole lot about what Mr Rush was asking me to do. I realised, even at an early stage in my life that I had put in coping strategies to try and keep some semblance of self.
I gave that speech to a small class of twelve students. Most of them were not interested but there were a couple who were listening intently. I surmised that they might be going through some bad stuff so I talked a little about there are many children struggling and how difficult it is to talk to adults about the fears and anxiety afflicting young people.
One student approached me after and thanked me. He was grateful to know he was not alone and he gained a little confidence from listening to me.
I done my first year Fitting and Turning apprenticeship training at the Mt Lyell Copper Mine on the west coast of Tasmania in 1977.
My instructor was Mr Sturgess. He was a great trainer with an abundance of patience.
I was really hopeless at math and critical thinking. Mr Sturgess went out of his way to ensure I passed the first year of my training. He went as far as tutoring me at his home 3 evenings a week.
When the exam came around I passed, but only just. Still, it was enough for me to progress to the next stage.
I am truly indebted to Mr Sturgess for all his help and encouragement.
Our training was held in a building on the mine site and we shared that building with the Electrical trainees.
Their trainer was Mr Mcnair. He was from a military background and was far too strict on not only his students but also the fitter and turner students.
He ran things with military precision and standards. All apprentices disliked him, he was great at imparting his electrical knowledge but his military attitude was a real downer.
Someone was writing graffiti on the toilet cubicle walls. His reaction? Remove the doors.
We had to take a welding screen to place in front of the door so as to have some privacy.
Mr Mcnair was let go two years later.
Writing this has seen tears come into my eyes because it takes me back to bad times.
What this also shows me was that there were more people than I remember doing their best to see that I progressed through life despite all the turmoil.