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 and continue 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 the one fixed point on the calendar is the annual trip back to UK to see family and friends.
When not writing software …..
- I belong to City on a Hill Church, Melbourne. In the UK I belonged to Twickenham United Reformed Church. I authored the church history Chapel next the Green, published 1982.
- I’m a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Victoria
- I’m a volunteer at the Australian Railway History Society Newport Railway Museum.
- My best photos on Flickr – mainly of Melbourne.