About

I spent my entire childhood in St Albans, Hertfordshire, leaving in 1978 to study English Literature at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Immediately afterwards I trained to teach English in secondary schools but ended up a civil servant in England’s Education Ministry, formulating national education policy.

The second half of my civil service career was largely devoted to supporting our most able learners and, while we had one, I led our national Gifted and Talented Education Unit.

In 2010 I took early retirement, switching to a heady mix of househusbandry and freelance writing and consultancy, specialising in high attainment, fair access and gifted education.

I operated partly through a social media alter ego – Gifted Phoenix – who blogged and tweeted on these issues, as well as wider aspects of national education policy. His old posts are now museum pieces but they are still accessible and remain fairly popular with my international audience.

When Gifted Phoenix returned to the ashes I planned to retire from education, but was commissioned by the University of Oxford to write an independent and unpublished review of effective practice in widening participation and fair access.

I finally left education behind when my late wife Kate died from breast cancer. I was just about coping when my father’s death, a year later, gave me too much grief to handle at one time. I suffered a debilitating mental health breakdown.

For the last three years, while not struggling to come to terms with covid lockdowns, I have been rebuilding my life, mainly by entertaining the possibility that the best years of it still lie ahead.

‘Eponymous’ contains my last forays into education policy, written between 2015 and 2018.

More recently I have been concentrating on posts about:

  • Dracup family history. Like other Dracups, I’ve curated a family tree, but I wanted to develop these bare facts into richer life stories, placing individual Dracups in the historical and social context in which they lived.

  • Walking. The new love in my life is Tracy. She and I have built our relationship through walking together in the English countryside. I recount here our slow but steady progress along the South West Coast Path, the Thames Path and the North Downs Way.

I write also about bereavement and in memory of Kate, and I host occasional posts by my incredibly talented brother Mike, who can make pretty much anything but specialises in building musical instruments, largely from recycled materials.

Occasionally I publish a post about something else – often as catharsis, because I have a bee in my bonnet – and these are now filed under ‘Randomness’. They include a handful on the topic of ‘Government Covidiocy’, all relating to the introduction of support bubbles.

And I have been learning to take better, more interesting photographs, which often get published here as well as on my Instagram feed. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

If you would like to discuss anything you read here, do please use the contact form below. Especially if you’re a fellow Dracup!

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TD

January 2022

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