Childhood and education
I am the eldest of five children of middle class parents. I was born in Horsham, Sussex, and lived there until I was 7 years old. By then two of my brothers, Robin (1952) and Alan (1955), were born and we moved to Leatherhead in Surrey. My parents stayed there until my father retired from work and my parents moved to Bognor Regis on the coast in West Sussex.
I was sent to Roman Catholic schools including a boys-only Jesuit grammar school (1961-68), and therefore confidently abandoned religion on leaving home for Bristol University; I have remained free from any religious beliefs or superstitions ever since.
At Bristol University, I originally intended to take a physics degree but after a year I changed to mathematics, with physics as my first subsidiary subject in the course to which I was directed; as my second subsidiary subject I took a course in ancient Greek. After completing my BSc degree I took a postgraduate certificate in education with the idea of becoming a teacher. While at Bristol I took part in the student Opera Society productions.
After my postgraduate year, I did just one teaching job at Birley High School in Moss Side Manchester, Then before Easter the next year abandoned that profession and a few months later started my career in information technology. That took me back to the south of England, then to France and Germany, the USA, and many contract jobs in England as well as one working for the European commission in Brussels and one contract in the Netherlands. The companies included such names as Philips Electrologica, ICL, CII Honeywell Bull, ITT, SESA, SESA Honeywell Communications, British Telecom, IBM, the European Commission, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. I began as a programmer but quite soon began writing courses on how to program computers, then manuals for system users, system specification documents, and even quality assurance manuals such as ISO 9000 compliance procedures up manuals for BT and PwC.From 1985 until 2004 I worked as a contractor through my own one-man company. Then the work seemed to dry up and I retired from IT and wound up my little company in 2006.
First at Bristol University, then in Manchester, and later in Haslemere, I got involved in amateur opera. I sang in the chorus in five operas, and in 1975 while at ICL in old Windsor, I sang in the chorus of a company that put on a production of Hello Dolly at the Richmond Theatre on the Green, in which the men’s chorus performed the jazzy dance for the title number.
In Haslemere, in 1984, I heard about a new amateur company project continuing from the previous amateur company but renamed Opera Omnibus. I went to join the chorus for their first production but the new company chairman asked me to take on the main principal role, the baritone part of Jupiter in Act II of Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. This was one part of the first annual production by the refreshed company, and the other half of the evening was a one act opera by Mozart, The Impresario. For this, the chairman asked me to write a new (spoken) libretto, so I also did that and it was received very well. The production was performed not only in Haslemere, but also in Farnham and Godalming.
However after this experience where my efforts to go out and make social contact with people who enjoy classical music led to such a lot of work for me, I retired from the opera stage. Nevertheless, in the 1980s I helped with scenery and props; the man who had taken over as chairman in 1984, Ian Tribe, asked me in 1988 to help with a special piece of scenery for their production of The Sleepwalker, La sonnambula by Bellini. He asked me on the phone on the evening of the technical rehearsal in the theatre, and I had to go down there to the Haslemere Hall, take some measurements come home and make a piece of scenery out of timber; and the next night, which was the dress rehearsal, I had to take it down on the roof rack of my car, and show this scenery staff how to use it. 10 years later, the man who was musical director of the sleepwalker told my wife when we met in the interval of that year's opera when he was in the audience like us, that my piece of special scenery had saved the show and indeed stolen the show!
In 2006 my friend Moyra Finlay, former mayor of Haslemere and by then helper of the opera company which had changed its name again in 2001 to Opera South, asked me to take over as the company’s Webmaster. I did that, and looked after the website until 2010.
My home in Headley Down
In July 1983 I moved into the home in which I still live at the end of 2018. It is a bungalow, which I bought from a builder who had converted it after it had stood empty for 10 years, and it was previously the telephone exchange for the area. It became too small for the needs of the area in 1970 because the development of digital telephone exchange technology did not come to British Telecom quite soon enough for this particular building. The fact that my work in Germany for two years was on a project to develop such technology, which was very new everywhere in those days, struck me as a nice coincidence. I have enjoyed living here for more than 35 years and have no plans to move even though I have become ill in the last 12 months. (See Health.)
The main rectangle of my home is 50 feet long, and 25 feet wide, most of the area having a floor of solid mahogany blocks an inch thick laid in a herringbone pattern. It has quite a large bit of garden and is on the slope of a hill in the north-western part of Headley Down. You can see photos of my house and garden on my friends and family photo album area of this website.
Since I have been here, I have built (in 1990) a woodwork workshop, and outbuilding which I constructed from scratch using timber, protected with roofing felt, lined with fibreglass insulation and plasterboard, with old double glazing panels for windows, fitted with electric light and power, and containing power tools such as a DeWalt radial arm circular saw, a bench sander, a drill press, a band saw, and lots of other equipment. I have used this to do carpentry and to cut up timber from trees felled in the garden, which I give away to friends and neighbours for firewood. This has produced many carloads and van loads of logs and kindling for people who use fires to heat their homes.
Well, this is a summary of my life so far, and I will try to add some links to pages elsewhere on this website about some of the activities that I mention in this summary of my life: writings including verse, paintings done during my periods as an amateur artist, and music which I have composed plus the symphony which I'm still working on.