]> SQUAREWHEELS.org.uk – About this website’s author


About this website’s author

This page is correct to October 2018

Wheels!

If it has wheels, chances are I’ll be interested! My work and hobbies mostly relate to transport in one form or another. However, I also have time for non-wheels things sometimes!

It was natural that, being brought up in Cambridge in the 1980s, I made local journeys by bicycle; many longer-distance journeys were by train, which was always exciting to an inquisitive 8-year-old. At school in Hampshire in the 1990s I discovered the fantastic countryside and the rewards it offers to cyclists; a couple of summer cycling-holidays followed, one round Wessex and the other to Marseilles. Moving to Oxford (and working deep below ground in the University’s Bodleian Library), I was immersed in a world filled with bicycles and books.

[PHOTO: mugshot of author: 17kB]

Whilst working at the library I developed an interest in London’s ancient and unique Underground railway, about which much has been written within this website; I also began doing volunteer restoration work on heritage trains for Hastings Diesels. At this time I was also teaching myself how to use mother’s Linux PC. Thanks to the latter, to Physics A-level and to limping through Maths A-level in spare time, I spent a couple of years at the University of Kent at Canterbury (as it was then called), pursuing a career in Computer Science (as well as establishing this website); but I found that this non-wheeled endeavour was not my passion.

Returning home and needing to find gainful short-term employment, it was suggested by a friend that I try my hand as a bus-driver; this I did in late 2000, for the Oxford Bus Company; it turned out to be lots of fun and an enduring source of pride, as well as requiring very long and highly antisocial hours. I liked it so much (and/or was too tired all the time to plan my next move!) that I stayed for nearly 4 years, soon graduating to the express coach services (Oxford Espress to London, and Airline to Heathrow & Gatwick).

Closure of the 80-year-old bus-garage and relocation to a soul-less and poorly-designed “purpose-built” depot coincided with the parent company seeing fit to re-structure the company by eventually sacking all its own old-school well-respected managers. Besides, I wanted to work on the railway. A successful application was made to London Underground, for whom I worked initially in a stations-based role; I then drove trains on the Jubilee Line, and subsequently the half-century-old Metropolitan Line trains which by 2012 were replaced with modern stock.

I count myself fortunate to work in a job where I enjoy what I do; in this regard I am nowadays a train-driving instructor.

Not wheels

First and foremost I was a musician. Between the ages of 9 and 14 I was one of the choristers of The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, directed by the late Dr. George Guest CBE. We rehearsed for an hour every morning and sang 5 Choral Evensongs and a Sung Eucharist each week; we also broadcasted services on BBC Radio 3 and, during my time, went on tour to Europe, Canada, America, Brazil, Australia and Hong Kong. Looking back on it, a remarkable experience and a true privilege.

Aside from singing, I was a violinist, a pianist and latterly learned to play the (church) organ. Most of this became dormant once I left school at 19, though I greatly enjoyed singing and playing violin in the orchestra during my time at University. There remains a frustrated musician within me at present, though latterly I have become a member of the Spelthorne Choral Society.

My parents instilled in me an appreciation of the outdoors, with many family camping/hiking holidays in which we were entirely self-sufficient for days at a time. By the age of ten my two feet had carried me over several Alpine passes, to the highest point in Portugal (Pico mountain, 2351m), and out of the Grand Canyon (just 4 weeks after being severely ill with peritonitis).

I have an interest in Astronomy, the result of my parents’ line of work, which led me to far-flung mountaintop observatories and showed me the huge instruments within.

I am married and live in the London area.