Five things you didn’t know about me

Hi, I’m Oliver’s ego and I’ll be your blogger today, thanks to Jeff Freeman :)

1. I don’t have a degree. Infact, I’ve only had one year’s formal computer education in my life, and I spent most of that working on my own game or randomly picking one-year certification courses and taking the exams for fun. (If I made the effort, I actually have 11 technical qualifications that I could collect to my accreditation, though I never studied for any of them; this perhaps reflects more on the qualifications than my talents). After being invited to meet Richard Bartle at Essex University when I was 14 or 15 (1985/6) and meeting him shortly after, I had my mind set on developing online games, but the world just wasn’t ready for anything more advanced than MUD.

So when one college lecturer challenged me with “If you’re so good, why don’t you just get a job”, I foolishly did. I was incredibly lucky, though, that it worked out for me. That decision lead to my winding up being employee #13 of the UKs major pioneer in dialup ISP in 1992 (Demon Internet) and being able, in very real ways, to contribute to seeing online gaming made feasible.

2. I was a dock worker for 2 years. My first employer folded and several of our customers tried to hire me. Still wet behind the ears, I opted for the company who’s staff I felt a connection to and which didn’t involve leaving my home town. I was actually employed as a programmer but I also had to work in the coldstore/factory when things got busy. I have a ~20 year old scar from a squid bite on my arm… We were taking squid out of kit boxes and packing them for IQF. Turned out one wasn’t quite dead, and didn’t appreciate my handling it. On my first day, in my expensive business suit, I learned a valuable lesson: Never try to push a pallet of dogfish bellys into a blash freezer by pushing the boxes, unless you want to wind up wearing an awful lot of fish goop.

3. I’ve shared stages with the Four Tops and Ben E. King. I spent 6 months in a 12-piece Soul band called the Rumble Band as their stand-in keyboard player. Butterflies? Jeebus, I was visited by flocks of gargoyles. When we were introduced to Mr King, the rest of the band approaching reverently, it occured to me to test a theory I had long doubted, so I walked up and said “Hi, you know my mum”. How they laughed. Until I said “from Frankfurt about 25-30 years ago”, and he said, “The pink flamingo?”, I nodded, and he said, “Uhm, Ursula?” <i>(My mum’s name)</i>
Mum, bless her, almost set back Eric Clapton’s career. Returning to the stage after recovering from his drug issues in the late 60s, Eric was opening for another band in Frankfurt. He walked onto the stage and said, “Hi, I’m Eric Clapton”. Mum, bless her, having only seen Mr Clapton on the record covers my dad had shown her, yelled out “You’re not Eric Clapton, Eric Calpton is scruffy!”

Mr Clapton walked straight back off the stage.

4. I’m a prophet but I’m trying to give it up. I was raised a christian, and in my late teens and early twenties I was variously picked out at “happy-clappy” meetings as having the gift. I could write a whole bunch about the experiences that resulted. Although I’m no-longer a believer, I still can’t wholly explain some of the things that happened, although most of it was, I think, down to my environment as a young teen. My parents were “good samaritans” so when my brain was learning to read social signals, it had a continual supply of bad and hidden vibes to learn to read.

5. I like women… That way. I just seem to have a knack for making people think otherwise. I blame Mandy, Desiree, Amanda, Mari, Helen, Shimrit, Jo, Jo & Jo and … well, you know who you are :-P Oh, and Shimrit again for that damn phonebooth photograph.

Ok, so who to tag. Actually, who to tag that’s also a blogger. Without that constraint I’d tag Daniel S. Goldin, B. B. King, HRH Queen Elizabeth, Jenna Jameson and Bloo. And maybe I ought to try. So, now that I’ve clearly established those listed are second choices (only kidding), I tag: C. J. Cherryh, Bruce Patanude, Dan Rubenfield (no, its not cursed), Jean Michel Jarre (Je ne pourrais pas trouver votre blog encore) and Dana “Gophur” Baldwin.