Blog Archive

A Beginning

Welcome to my new website! By way of a beginning I thought I would explain how a long and winding road led here.

i have my late father to thank. I don’t remember showing much interest in technology, such as it was at the time, because I was more engrossed in books, music and motor racing but he bought me a BBC Micro computer. This opened up a whole new world in the early 1980’s of spending hours at a keyboard and tv screen, copying lines of code to from magazines only to be mystified as to why the program did not work, and playing games like Revs and Elite

This was just the start. It didn’t set me on the road to a career in computing or programming, that was too technical for me, but it did open my eyes to what a computer could enable you to do. I studied history and international relations at university at a time when notes were handwritten and dissertations were typed, but computers were coming. Microsoft introduced Windows in 1985 and before too long personal computing was everywhere.

It is quite extraordinary to recall the computers I was given to use in my first jobs - green or orange type on an otherwise empty screen - but looking back the rate of progress was almost imperceptible. Step by step handwritten paper records were replaced as data was managed and stored within the screen on a desk while processing power increased.

Meanwhile, going back to my interest in motor sport, I had followed the career of an Italian racing driver by the name of Riccardo Patrese. He had been the first Grand Prix driver I had met in person, while guest of the Arrows team at the 1979 British Grand Prix. By the late 1990’s he had been retired for a few years and I thought it was time his career was documented. A book was the way to do this I thought (with no idea what that would entail), because other Grand Prix winners had books about them so why not Riccardo? One obvious answer was I had only ever written a few essays and a dissertation! Websites were in their infancy at the time and, with as little idea about how to create a website as a book, I chose the latter option.

Progress was slow but I did manage to get an interview with Riccardo and his former team manager so drafted a chapter to send to a publisher. They were interested in my idea but clearly the writing needed work. At that point I admitted defeat and tried to find an experienced writer to do the work. Unfortunately one I admired very much, and who knew Riccardo, turned the opportunity down.

At this point life stepped in and my relationship broke down - nothing to do with the book, we weren’t compatible  - and documenting the career of a racing driver took a back seat. I had folders full of research that sat on the shelf for a while, but in time I came back to the idea and in that time websites had moved on.

It was a steep learning curve with many mistakes made on the way but with help from the likes of Geocities and Moonfruit I was able to get content online and learn how to lay it out in an accessible way. In those early days I had little idea of who was finding the website, site analytics didn't really exist in any detail, other than messages left in a guestbook but it was a start.

Much more followed, and I may document it here, but all of it began with that BBC Micro.

Thanks Dad.