At the reception for our Civil Partnership, May 2006
|What do you need to know about me? I'm clearly a long-suffering and patient person, mostly as a result of exposure to my partner, John, although there have been other influences (see the last paragraph on this page). Thanks to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, John and I signed the London Partnerships Register in June 2003 - and in May 2006 we signed the UK Civil Partnerships register as well. It took us that long to decide who to invite back from the last ceremony. So now John really is my partner, which also makes him step-dad to Siân and Michael (see below) and therefore responsible for all their debts. I work as a senior manager for a well-known company in television, and I like classical music a lot.|
|When I was five, I was run over by a car as I crossed the road to school (Swanage, Dorset) one day. Recovering in hospital a few days later, I was given a bottle of orange squash. Apparently I took great delight the next day in complaining that the label was wrong. "It says 'dilute to taste' - but I can taste it without any extra water at all!" I announced, proudly. As you can see, I was an obnoxious child.|
|Schooldays as a boarder at Fosters Grammar School in Sherborne were not particularly pleasant. Judging by the Friends Reunited site I'm not the only one to have had mixed feelings about the school - it's been fun comparing with other ex-pupils who've got in touch. I had a much better time at Southampton University. There I learnt all about electronics and got a ham radio licence, complete with cards to send to people saying that you'd talked to them - a singularly pointless exercise I thought, but everyone else did it. Actually, ham radio was probably an indirect driving force behind my career for the next 15 years or so.|
After university, I found myself working for the BBC. My first interview in Manchester for BBC Blackburn did not go well, as I was mugged in the street outside just before I went in for the board. However, six months later I applied for an engineering job with BBC Radio in London and got in. A year later I moved up to the recently-created BBC Radio Manchester and got married to Pru.
Life at Radio Manchester was very hectic, frequently involving driving around the local pubs in the Radio Manchester radio car staging quizzes. However, after recording every brass band within 50 miles for our competition "Blow by Blow" (yes, really!) there wasn't much else left for me to do, so Pru and I decided to move to Botswana.
|Our time in Botswana deserves a whole section to itself, which is here. Would you believe it, within 10 years of moving to Botswana I was having tea with Prince Charles, writing speeches for the President, playing Trad Jazz in the middle of the Kalahari Desert and travelling to Geneva with diplomatic accreditation.
The picture on the right comes from the Radio Botswana programme guide for April 1978. Click through for the patronising text as well (the column in Setswana is all about the newsroom). Apart from the thermos flask, astute boffins will notice TWO telephones (=status!), and an old AVO valve tester on the desk. Ahhh - happy days...
When Pru, Siân, Michael and I came back from Botswana in 1984 we were ten years out of date with the rest of the UK. I didn't even know about Abba so nobody would give me a job. To keep the wolf from the door I had to write articles for technical magazines for seventy-five pounds a page. I was paid an extra 2p for every word over 5 syllables but didn't manage very many. One of the articles, about the broadcasting applications of small chocolate sweets ("Smartie" - from Wireless World, December 1985) is here.
I now live with a young, muscled and very handsome leatherman (who also happens to have won the International Mr Leather competition in 2003) in a little corner of Shepherds Bush where absolutely none of my great achievements are taken seriously. Life can be so unjust!
We bought our current flat on the strength of its back garden, which is larger than average for London and has a 50 foot high cherry tree at the back of it. I've been filling the borders with lilies, hostas, poppies, roses, bedding plants, mock orange, jasmine, honeysuckle - and John has a holly bush - although there's no plan. Like most garden owners I just fill in holes as I see them and let it develop over time.
|Despite being 3 miles from the heart of London our garden is regularly visited by squirrels, hedgehogs, magpies and lots of birds - even a woodpecker and a jay. In the summer months we eat out on the patio or sit in the hammock as various slugs and insects munch their way through all my hard work.|
|Until a few years ago I took a soap box with me wherever I went, preaching the good news about Acorn Computers and their operating system, RISC OS. PC users have NO IDEA that computers can operate easily without crashing every couple of hours, and run extremely powerful applications from just one floppy disc. But then Acorn's faceless, mostly institutional shareholders saw their ARM RISC processor technology was becoming worth far more than Acorn itself so they sacked their development staff, sold off their assets and left thousands of their customers in the lurch. Contrary to popular belief, the company didn't collapse - far from it, it was asset stripped and ARM Holdings is now a top 100 company. Acorn computers remain an integral component of many real-time graphics and automation systems in the broadcast industry - though you'll seldom see that acknowledged. What's more, if you own a mobile phone or a pocket organiser there's a very good chance that it contains an ARM RISC processor, chosen for its low power drain and high performance.|
|Seven or more years on, most of those original Acorn customers continue to use their Acorn computers which still refuse to go wrong or out of date. Once upon a time this could have been an opportunity to give Acorn some free advertising. As it was I almost had to learn how to use an Apple Mac instead. But now several third parties have taken up the challenge including a Foundation who bought the rights to develop RISC OS further and a number of manufacturers who are making more modern computers on which to run it. It looks as if the RISC OS platform will keep going for several more years yet.|
RISCOS Ltd negotiated the purchase of Acorn's operating system from Pace and have developed it independently
This web site is constructed on an Acorn RISC PC from 1996 (kindly note the uncluttered HTML and appropriately sized graphics) - although John wrote some of the copy on Microsoft Word as he's in league with the devil.
MusicSometimes, when the mood occurs (about every 20 years or so) I compose music ...
So far I've written about 100 songs including 3 musicals, music for string ensemble, wind quintets, and an orchestral piece which John says reminds him of a dying man dragging himself across a ploughed field. How rude. I compose cabaret pieces at the piano and classical pieces using an Acorn score-writing package called Sibelius. If you know about these things, it's NOT the PC version.
John's contribution to my musical inspiration is to play classical CDs. On random. He has also supplied 20 cabaret lyrics for which I'm slowly writing the music. And in 10 more years we may get around to having enough for an act. That's if he hasn't left me by then. I keep the piano.
|In a wild moment I picked up two offspring along the way. Siân and Michael, shown here at Michael's graduation in November 2003, are by far the best thing that ever happened to me, unless John is in the room and then he is.
Click here to go to my Botswana pages