The History of  I


As far back as I can remember I have always been into finding out what makes something tick, and yes that included old clocks, not the digital rubbish you find today, but the ones with cogs, hands and springs.
I discovered the clock spring when it leapt out at me when I opened my first clock. One of my aunts lived above a clock shop in Fulham, London, so she was able to ask for some old ones I could play with.

True when I was young I had a Scalextric and a train set, but they went round and round the track, and there wasn't much exciting inside them, besides, my parents didn't like me to take them apart when I was young, had to wait till I was able to put them back together.


So yeah, I have been a geek from about the age of 12 or 13 (I'm 57 as i write this), but the word 'Geek' wsn't banded about so much, people like me were just called 'weird', I remember at that age that I made a buzzer with a couple of wires going down the sleeve of my school blazed, it kept the bullies away, it was so good that I was able to ditch the buzzer and just use a piece of wire sticking out, they were still afraid.


A little later when just approaching my teens, I was interested in old radios and TV's, the type with valves, i would often be seen dragging one home after it being put out for the waste truck, once home I would plug it in and try it out, then if it didn't work it would be pulled apart so I had a collection of valves, on subsequent waste collections and trials of the radios, I would try changing some of the valves from a previous stripdown, often I would get them working.

My first experience with driving was sitting on my Dad's lap steering the car along a large flat beach, later at the age of about 14 I used to go with my Dad during school holidays, I was able to drive the lorry (truck) down the long drive into the yard and to the fuel pumps at the end of the day, the lorry was a 30 foot flatbed.
I also used to help with car maintenance, sometimes we changed the engine on some old cars, during my teens when i owned my own cars, I completely stripped my Triumph Herald down to the chassis and rebuilt it, all in a week.

From the age of about 16 my free time was spent on building and running a mobile disco, repairing and rebuilding my cars and vans, general DIY in the houses i've owned, buying gadgets, computing (starting with the BBC B+, and working through a Commodore 64 and ZX81) and now using Windows.

I left school just before I turned 16 to start a job, my job title was Impregnation Operative, and before anyone gets excited, this was to do with transformers, after a transformer is constructed, I would put the core into a chamber, draw a vacuum, then let impregnation oil into the chamber, this would penetate the windings.
The other task was dipping the completed transformer in thick varnish and then baking them in an oven.

That job didn't last more than 9 months before I found a new job in telephone exchanges, I started as a wireman conecting the various parts of the exchane equipment together, it was on that site that I got noticed as someone who knew how to read circuit diagrams, and was put forward as a tester.
I was with the company travelling to different exchanges to do the testing, loved the job (though it often got boting), but the travelling was getting to be a bit too much.

I found another job more locally on a large research estate, I started as a mechanical handyman, but in the electrical department, my role was to service the mechanical parts of the installations, this included motor and fan bearings, pulleys, belts, heating and cooling batteries for the large aircon/air handler (these batteries look a bit like a car radiator, and need to be cleand occasionally)
From there I was trained to become an electrician, mainly around the 2000 acre site that was a mix of farms, office buildings, labs, hostels, and houses.

In the later years I became involved in just about anything that had a wire attached, I took over looking afetr the internal telephone exchange, and later when the exchanfe was upgraded to VOip I was brought into the discussions and the swwapping over. I also got involved in CCTV, Access control (badges to unlock doors etc), Controls for the building (BMS), radio communications (walkie-talkie and data comms). Switching of the 11KV substations (we had 5) and a host of other technologies that were introduced.
It was a job I really loved, unfortunately the management system didn't work, too many changes all at once, plus they were closing that site down in a few years, so after 32 years I decided I wanted a complete change, and that included a move from Oxfordshire to Wales, still looking for another job.


(the History of I in the title was inspired by The Story of I by Patrick Moraz)





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