IPH profile


IPH (2008-03-23)
This is about who I am and where I came from, without straying into what should be left to some other page.

Hi. If you found me via my love of multilingual puns, excellent.
Want to get in touch with me but don’t yet have my email address? Use my Contact Page.

Family & education

Note: For the beginnings of my life story (it is barely started so far) see my autobiography.

I am the eldest of five children of middle class parents. I was sent to Roman Catholic schools including a boys-only Jesuit grammar school (1961-8), and therefore confidently abandoned religion on leaving home for university; I have remained free from any religious beliefs or superstitions ever since. I went to Bristol University, where I ended up with a BSc degree in mathematics; but also studied particle physics with the honours physicists for my first year, during which I was officially a physics major supposedly going to be an academic or research physicist, and ancient Greek with the honours classicists (who had all passed Greek A level about 5 months earlier, whereas I had merely passed Greek O level about 5 years earlier, which gives you a clue) for my third year*.

Work

I trained at university as a schoolteacher and obtained the Postgraduate certificate in Education; but, after only months in that profession teaching at a comprehensive school in Moss Side, inner south Manchester, I abandoned teaching realizing that (although it had its rewarding moments) teaching schoolchildren was not intellectually rewarding enough for me: I had got bored with the work.

I had a few months in my Whalley Range first floor bedsit room with no job, during which I was unsure what career I should seek to get into. During that time, a friend living in the room across the landing asked me to paint some pictures for him because he had seen one by me on my wall and he was moving out into a house he was buying. He was a professor of Economics at the University of Salford.

I did get a temporary job while unemployed, working backstage at the Palace Theatre, in Oxford Street Manchester, during a two week season of English National Opera there, in spring 1973. While teaching and then working subsequently in Manchester, I also belonged to the Manchester Opera Company, which put on professional quality productions with pro soloists and an amateur chorus and stage hands; for them I sang and was in the chorus, and also made stage scenery and props.

After 2 to 3 months, I saw an advert for a job with Philips Electrologica in Manchester, and decided that I would like work in information technology. I got the job, and worked for Philips for a year programming their early small computers. I subsequently worked in I.T. in southern England, France, Germany, and the USA, and at the EU in Brussels for a year once before work dwindled to nothing (2002..2006) and I finally retired (winding up my little consultancy company at the end of 2006) to work on my abstract paintings.

Hobbies and interests

For a detailed discussion of my interests see my interests profile. For a discussion of things that often interest other people but leave me cold, see this page.)

My only hobby done with other people was the amateur theatre. I gave that up years ago; I had been there, and done it, and I had no intention of doing it for money! The last thing I would want would be to become famous or be recognized in the street.

Other practical hobbies (that is, with a physical output) include DIY, gardening, model railways, electronics, playing and composing music, writing, and setting (rather than solving) crossword puzzles. Latterly, I can add I.T. based hobbies including creating this website, and contributing to Wikipedia and other knowledge websites (but I do not mess with “YouTube”!) and helping with the websites of a couple of good causes. Yes: an example of a job that I did for a while, a bit like a hobby, was being webmaster of a small number of charitable sector groups of which one in the past (2006-2010) was Opera South. Another cause was that of Dr Tuppy Owens for whom I looked after (and created new looks on) the TLC Trust and Outsiders websites for several years from 2008 (but others took them over and their look and content have changed completely since my day). My other interests (those with no particular output) are many. They include watching movies and a few other kinds of good quality TV programme, and lots of reading (of books and web pages) on all of my many interests. I read very little fiction.

I still have an interest in languages and linguistics (see Linguisticians are not all linguists) and was once pretty well fluent in French and German; I did an O level course in Russian, about 45 years ago, and was just about up to being polite and shopping a bit in Russian and Spanish in my 40s. And of course I studied Latin and ancient Greek at school, and I also got a 2-1 final exam mark in the Greek component of a university first year honours classics degree course. Whatever Lewis Carroll, the Bellman, and the Snark thought of them, I like puns, especially bilingual or even multilingual ones, and am proud to assert “Je suis de la calembourgeoisie”. (Indeed it was I who added that paragraph to that page of French Wikipedia although I did not register as a French Wikipedian and I found later that my English Wikipedian User ID did not register for this.)



* I got the equivalent of a 2-1 score in the Honours Classics Greek exam taken the same summer term as my maths finals. The fact that I did not, as it happens, get a brilliant maths degree can be put down to distractions throughout my undergraduate years more than to particular ineptitude in the subject. I was never going to be the sort of person who would spend 3 or 4 years of his life on a doctorate or even just one year doing a master’s in mathematics. At that time, I did’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and indeed I spent the year after getting my degree on a PGCE (postgrad secondary school teaching course) before realizing after only two terms actually teaching kids that being school teacher was definitely not what I wanted to spend my life doing. To I get onto that Greek course at Bristol I wrote some hexameters that you can see under Verse.