I was born in Twickenham, a SW London suburb and lived there until 2008, with a two year break between 1957-59 when my father was posted to the British Embassy in Mexico City. On my return I started primary school. The school buildings were primitive – outdoor toilets, coal stoves, iron desks – but it was a happy place. Less so my grammar school where I did not belong, though I remember many of the teachers with affection.
After studying Building Surveying at Reading University I spent ten years working for the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, firstly as building maintenance surveyor, then as a building control officer, leaving in 1984 to set up a design and build company with a colleague.
In 1988 I moved on to set up my own company, Survey Design Associates Limited (SDA), working on building design and software development. In 1989 SDA released its first structural design program, SuperBeam.
- How I got started in computing – It all started with a little ad in the London Evening Standard!
Over the years I made a number of visits to Melbourne, Australia. Initially I envisaged moving here when I retired, but with the internet becoming ubiquitous I released that I could move here whilst continuing to run my software business. in 2008 I moved to Melbourne, SDA’s business being transferred to a new Australian-registered company, Greentram Software Pty Ltd. Hopefully the business will be around for a good few years.
As a teenager I was made to go on a French exchange. Most of my fellow pupils went to Paris or Lyon. I was sent to a rural village where my exchange home had one cold tap and a long drop toilet at the bottom of the garden. After that I vowed never to go abroad again.
Thankfully that vow was put to bed when I told a friend that I wouldn’t go abroad because ‘they didn’t speak English and you couldn’t drink the water’. Her response was ‘Go to Scandinavia: they speak better English than the English and their water is cleaner than ours’. Felled by this argument I booked a long weekend trip to Copenhagen. Needless to say I had a great time. The next year I booked a trip to Australia – my first of thirteen trips as a British tourist – then four trips to Zambia to see friends who were working there and in 1992 the first of around 30 trips to USA. Now – but not in 2020 or 2021, sadly – each year I look forward to going back to UK to see family and friends, whilst also progressively exploring Australia.
When not writing software …..
- I belong to City on a Hill Church, Melbourne. In the UK I belonged to Twickenham United Reformed Church where I authored the church history Chapel next the Green, published 1982.
- Since 2010 I’ve been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Victoria
- Since 2014 I’ve been a volunteer at the Newport Railway Museum
- I’m a member of the Melbourne Men’s Shed, though my shed activities go no further than the weekly walk
- My best photos on Flickr – mainly of Melbourne.