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The First Seventy Years: Chapter 62 - The Hammer

Eric Biddulph becomes involved in the launch of a monthly magazine, The Huddersfield Hammer.

During the period immediately prior to the 'Thatcher Years' Mary and myself became involved with the launch of a monthly magazine 'The Huddersfield Hammer'. The remit was to report on those stories which the mainstream local newspapers declined to address either because of advertising revenue considerations or 'local establishment' positioning. Reports and news items printed in the magazine were never attributed to a named writer.

Success was achieved in raising issues which would never have seen the light of day in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. These ranged from environmental violations to undesirable employment practices. Sales of the magazine were initially satisfactory but the swing of the public mood towards a right-wing agenda saw sales decline. The magazine ceased publication in early 1980.

As we entered the 1980s I joined the environmental pressure groups Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. I supported some of their campaigns on and off but my involvement was never as great as that I had pursued with the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Amnesty International.

In 1982 Jane 'flew the nest' going to Calderstones Hospital in Whalley, Lancashire to pursue three years training to qualify as a State Registered Nurse (Mental Handicap). She came home most weekends in an old 'banger' she acquired after passing her driving test at the first attempt. During the mid-80s she began to go out with a colleague and in 1989 she entered into what turned out to be a short-term marriage; divorced in 1992. She eventually found happiness with John Baulcombe. In 1995 she gave birth to a daughter under very difficult circumstances. Gian Barrie was the problem. Chloe was destined to be an' only' child just as I was following my mother's difficult circumstances at my birth.

Just as Jane was leaving home I was beginning my daily train trips to Manchester to pursue my studies towards an MSc. I was required to pursue four courses during the first six months of the 'taught' section. I had been interested in international affairs for many years, particularly since my return from Malawi. I opted for International Economics. Industrial Economics was added as a means of seeking a greater understanding of what was happening within the UK economy. I also chose to study human aspects of organisations hence Industrial Relations and The Sociology of Organisations.

The intensity of the workload over the six months left me with virtually no social life. Each course was assessed 50% coursework; 50% end of course examination. Such relief following the fourth forth and final examination. I took myself off to Scotland with my bike for a few days catching the train to Glasgow. I returned refreshed to get to grips with the dissertation which formed the second half of the course. I chose to research the Business Education Council educational philosophy relating to business education at the national certificate level which had been in place for four years.

It was time to carry out a progress report. BEC was enthusiastic about my research project and promised to provide as much support as possible. It entailed visiting a number of colleges across the country; interviewing students and lecturers and liaising with moderators. Visits were made to locations in the East Midlands; Greater Manchester; West Yorkshire and London. Between April and October 19831 became totally committed to both empirical and desk based research. When I returned to my own college in November 1983 much still remained to be done. By 1985 I was ready for my work to be typed, bound and submitted to UMIST. Alas, my choice of typist turned out to be a disaster. I sacked her and began the long process of doing it myself.

I eventually submitted it in July 1986 just a few days before leaving for Peru. After four years of toil I eventually presented myself at the award ceremony in December 1986. Mary, her parents and my mother travelled over to Manchester to witness the occasion. My mother remarked on the day: "Your dad would have been very proud of you".

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