When I graduated from Manchester University I joined Greater Manchester Police in October 1977 and moved into the singlemen's hostel attached to Bury Police Station. After my initial training I was posted to Bury and stayed in and around the Bury area right up till 2005. There was no proper Bridge Club in Bury at the time. Instead there was The Bury Athenaeum, where a few old farts used to gather for a game of billiards and occasionally a few tables of rubber bridge.
I started going along there and eventually persuaded them to try having pairs events once or twice a week. I also started teaching beginners the rudiments of the game. I hooked up with Chris Stuart and between us we dragged the Athenaeum into being a proper full-blown Bridge Club. The billiards table went.
We completely refurbished and refurnished both floors and over the next 10 years the Club went from having between 3 and 8 people sitting around, playing billiards or rubber bridge, to a modern, comfortable Bridge Club with duplicate 4 or 5 nights a week, teaching classes at various levels on a couple of nights a week, and upwards of 60 people attending on the busier nights.
I had a number of regular partners during my time at the Athenaeum besides Chris Stuart, but all of those partnerships were playing variants of Acol with multiple gadgets. Although I had been weaned on natural approach/forcing bidding, I thirsted for something more scientific and 'precise'. I was busy developing and licensing conventions such as the 2-way Two Diamond response to 1NT that my system still uses today. Besides getting into teaching Bridge, I also got into Tournament Directing in a big way and even started teaching people to direct tournaments in classes I ran at Bury Athenaeum.
In those days I was playing Bridge at every opportunity, travelling to congresses around the northwest of England. I'd also head around to the Young Chelsea Bridge Club in London any time I was down there visiting my parents. It's great being a bachelor with no family responsibilities LOL!
I even found a further Bridge connection within my family: Liz, my younger brother Paul's first wife, was the cousin of Sally Horton (as she was then), and I once spent a fascinating and enthralling evening playing a foursome with Sally, Tony Forrester and Raymond Brock at Sally's home when on my way to a tournament in the area.