Paws appeared on the Web before the rest of the family- his picture appeared in the funny pictures section of www.cats.org.uk
I bought a Texas Instruments TI99/4 home computer in 1982. 16k of ram which was also used for the screen display. Learned compact programming. As one of the first UK owners of a TI99/4a, I was also almost the only UK owner of the first version of the Extended Basic module (Version 100). Slowly added to the computer gear with a TI99/4A, 32k ram, disk drive, 32 column thermal printer, then an Epson FX80 - all still in working order except the thermal printer.
I founded a software supply co, concentrating on the TI99/4a exclusively. Programs were sold under licence from USA sources and programs were sold written by UK authors. The trade name used was "Stainless Software" - and was well enough known to attract commercial pirates, with many pirate copies sold retail in Scotland.
Just before TI ceased production in November 1983 I was asked to write a book (Getting Started with the TI99/4a) which is now available on this web site. Sold enough to pay me a welcome income.
A very early member of the first UK TI user group and continued with successors.
Owned a PC since 1994- original now deceased, a 66MHz DX2 with Win 3.1, used for a few classic games such as Tris, Solitile, Pinball, and then- since 1997- for researching the world wide web- using IE2 or Netscape 2.
Replaced with a 266mhz PC running W98 in 1998, and then with a 2.6GHz PC running Linux in 2003.
Interest in SF, Trek, B5 and Anime...
I have been reading SF since 1958 - and saw "The Trollenberg Terror" on BBC TV on first broadcast before then. Saw first episode of Dr Who on first broadcast. Greatly enjoyed first UK runs of The Outer Limits (less gore than the later remake), Star Trek, and Out of the Unknown. Member of UK and Official B5 fan clubs and have met the Great Maker (jms).
At a Manchester Star Trek convention- the first Con I attended- I met with a new
artform called Anime, before the genre was overtaken by Manga video, who
made no distinction between Manga (comics) and Anime (animation) but did
concentrate on blood and sex and bad language in their releases. MY anime
preferences are the softer coming of age tv series such as Koko no Greenwood,
Uresai Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku and so on. I especially like My Neighbour Totoro.
As a human owned by a cat I naturally like What's Michael?, and have several episodes on video plus the Dark Horse comic (pity their Web site won't let me in- you may gather I have a low opinion of techno-phile web masters who insist you must have the latest software to see their pages, instead of giving you an option of seeing a less advanced page)
The introduction to Anime led to an appreciation for Manga and from there to some interesting Western comics (my favorite being Fish Police).
And having to search for rare anime on video has led me to also collect rare tv shows on video, such as the almost lost "Out of the Unknown" or the comedic "Kinvig". I even have a tape of a program broadcast by the BBC on the first night of official UK tv.
I worked in a bank from 1968, and was in Manchester, in several roles from 1979. Did things banks simply don't do anymore- bought, accepted, protested bills of exchange; opened overseas bank accounts; bought and sold shares; looked after safe custody items; dealt directly with overseas banks. Refused to push payment protection insurance. The bank habitually reorganised- doors and walls move every so often, as well as jobs being changed! and wholsesale moves from one building to another... In 2003 my job was finally removed- redundant. So on to an admin role in Manchester Crown Court for the Probation Service. Tory government pushed ahead privatising probation, abetted by short sighted management, and I gratefully took retirement.
Brief summary of the years...
From 1950 to 1952 I lived with one of my grandparents in Mold (North Wales) while my parents waited for a council house to rent.
In 1952 we moved to a newly built council house in what was then a new small village of Mickle Trafford, near to Chester and handy for the historic delights of Chester. Chester Zoo was within walking distance. My first school, in Mickle Trafford, had three classes and outside toilets. My father worked as a government employee in Chester and also part time at the Chester Variety Theatre- allowing frequent theatre outings to see the recently formed Ballet Rambert, and many long gone stars of the time such as Jazz great Nat Gonella.
From 1957 to 1959 my father worked in London, so we moved to rented property first in Wimbledon (Gladstone Road). This involved a move to a very big school (more than one floor high!). We then spent several months in rented premises above a butchers shop in New Malden, and another new school- a small Church school this time. These years involved visits to the London sites, parks, museums, galleries, and walks along the River Thames.
My father having been told (incorrectly) that terrorist activity in Malaya had
been settled, in 1959 we sailed on the P&O SS Corfu, (to make its last voyage within the year) - to Singapore, for three years.
There I attended English schools (junior and secondary), and soaked up the very cosmopolitan world there, with peoples of all races living alongside each other. The armed police, armed bank guards and occaisional armed guard on the school bus was nothing. At this time Singapore had none of the very high buildings it now has.
We had three homes in Singapore- an extended stay in a Guest House (Tresco); a long period in a flat on Moulmein Road, and finally a detached house in Winchester Road in an English "colony" in the countryside.
Then back to England, sailing on a cargo ship, the Glen Line MV Glenorchy, sharing the trip with naturalist Gerold Durrell, who had been filming the series "Two in the Bush" for BBC tv. The boat carried 12 passengers! and travelled at a leisurely pace, taking a detour from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) back down to the equator to avoid a storm, before heading up to Suez.
We enjoyed a good stay in Ceylon, visiting the Botanic Gardens, the ancient sites at Sygaria (watch Red Dwarf series 2 for a post card by Listers bed of this unusually shaped rock mount) and Polonnarua. We also attended an evening rehearsal for the Kandy celebration parade (perehera).
From this exotic excursion we returned to England in 1961 and initially rented a house in Stockport (Brownsville Road), finally moving to a house of our own (our first) in Gower Road, just behind the Poco a Poco night club (star of the book "Taking Apart the Poco Poco") . I attended Stockport School, not a terribly happy place for me, and obtained 5 "O" levels and 2 A Levels.
Stockport School was then for boys only, so it was not until 1967 that
I noticed girls (I was then age 17), especially during an extended stay
with an Aunt in St Ives, the "flower town" of the era.
Due to this late introduction to the other sort of human, my first relationship was more a learning experience than a success.
After school I went on to work for what was then Williams Deacons Bank, starting in Stockport. Studying for Banking Exams in the evenings at Stockport College I met my (now) wife, Catherine Wainwright and we married in 1972.
We lived at first in a very cheap rented flat
(not in very good condition) and
finally bought a large old semi detached
nearby in Heaton Chapel.
1974. Cathy worked for Barclays Bank, whilst Williams Deacons became
Williams and Glyn's and then The Royal Bank of Scotland.
We spent the next decade getting to know each other, walking around the countryside, going to concerts and so on. I moved from branch to branch of the Bank -Stockport to Levenshulme to Poynton to Disley to Stockport to Handforth to Wilmslow and then Manchester in 1979, where I have remained, although in a variety of jobs.
For several years we served our local Church of England (myself as Treasurer) and I researched and wrote a history of the over 200 year old place of worship. I then moved on to be treasurer of a regional Footpath Preservation Society, however increasing legal duties on Charity officers and increasing work loads at work, have led to this external work ceasing.
Our neighbours' cat Chloe adopted us and when they moved away Chloe (a cute tortoiseshell and white) stayed with us until her age caught up with her (about 18 we think).
In 1984 our son George was born and of
course started life with a regularly used computer in the house.
When Chloe died, we took on a rescued Tabby tom we called Paws. George found writing difficult and seemed to have other difficulties. After long struggles he was diagnosed as having Dyspraxia (aka Developmental Coordination Disorder) and for his last year in Junior school the local education authority supplied a portable word processor and printer to help him with his schoolwork, which promptly improved immensely, as did his own enjoyment of school.
George then had use of a portable PC at school, and we purchased a bubble jet printer to help him present his school work a little better than our ancient but still very usable Epson FX80.
In 2000 George passed 10 GCSE exams, all at grades A star, A or B, and moved on to Aquinas College to study for A levels - taking five AS levels in his first year (2000-2001) plus the government imposed Key Skills tests.
Subsequently George has passed five A levels as well as a small Scholarship to study Software Engineering at Aberystwyth University.
It took us a little while to become used to George's not being at home.
In 2000 the Bank took over NatWest Bank, and increasing job uncertainty finally led to my early retirement in 2003 and a period of job hunting - although government statistics insist that I cannot be counted as formally unemployed.
I have an active interest in old tv and radio programs, and in the absence of many watchable tv programs or commercial films, have also rediscovered the joys of foreign films and old classic films.
I have "lazy eye", which was not cured by an operation in 1955, and as mono-vision is not really very clever for driving in busy crowded streets, once I passed my driving test (a driving licence is so important for id) I have never driven again, travelling around by public transport. Fortunately Manchester area has good busses, trams and reasonable trains. This also fits in with my "green" leanings, which probably owes something to spending my early years in a largely car-less countryside.
My earliest memory of BBC Radio Drama goes all the way back to 1956 with a specially written play by Agatha Christie, which I recalled very exactly- it was never rebroadcast but in 2018 I finally have a copy. We then had one radio, a KB Toastrack, quite expensive at the time. Never heard of KB? Part of Standard Telephones (STC) as was their next door Brimar valve factory.
My earliest memory of tv is visiting a neighbour in Mickle Trafford to
see such early shows as Dragnet (da da dummm) and an early BBC live drama
The Trollenberg Terror - which may have started me into SF. When we moved to
London we had our own tv and I was able to see (in black and white) early BBC
colour tv test transmissions. (Colour tv started in the UK in 1968).
Singapore had no tv in the early 60's, and upon our return to England the first tv show we saw was I Love Lucy! and from then on tv became a part of our lives until I married in 1972, when there were more entertaining things to do for several years, after which we again had access to the worlds tv programmes. I can now enjoy videotapes in stereo from any part of the world.
Christmas 2002 saw our purchase of Digital Radio, to enjoy the then classic radio programs the BBC was transmitting on Radio 7. The imposition of digital tv and the absence of family entertainment programs led to our once again ceasing to watch broadcast tv, although we still have many years of DVDs to watch. And several feet of threatening letters from tv licensing advising we are under constant surveillance!
May Day 2003 and I am jobless thanks to redundancy but after a short break I find a job in
an admin role working for the Probation Service.
Curiously, after years of below inflation pay rises at the bank (in my last year my salary increased by a not at all generous 1.5 per cent) I find my pay in probation increasing quite nicely- averaging 5 per cent per annum in the first three years, just over inflation. And my bank pension is increasing in line with inflation... so I seem to be better off...
Amongst my tasks in probation is maintaining statistics for post sentence victim contact, and making a return to the Home Office. When my wife's employer was bought out and her job became insecure, she also moved over to probation- and again has now started to receive pay rises. Curiously probation are perenially short staffed and have recruitment problems, so the work is not well enough paid to attract the numbers required.
Reaching age 60, government cutbacks and poor leadership in probation led to the removal of local management, replaced by management by ignorance, and at last Cathy and I retired to enjoy concerts, real ale, and some of the lighter things in life.
That should be enough.....!
Take a look at the longer version for more...
Stephen's Entry Page || TI99/4A book, articles, programs || History of St Thomas Church, Heaton Chapel