The personal bit - about me

Background

me 2008

Born 1954 in Aylesbury, Bucks
I spent my teenage years in Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.

I failed the 11+ exam (this was before the days of comprehensive schools) and so attended a secondary modern school. This was "The Grange" in Ellesmere Port, long since closed. As a kid I was interested in science - these were the days of man on the moon.

The Grange wasn't the toughest school in the state sector but not really the sort of place I could ever feel at home in. But we did good things there, not least in the English lessons where, under the direction of Dlaton Moorehouse, the teacher, we made films

 
Goldfingy - made by class 3T2 in 1967. I'm the one powering the TV with the bicycle

I left school as soon as I could which was at the end of the 4th year, when I was 15 in 1969. This, of course, was the Woodstock era.

I can thank a tech college - Carlett Park on the Wirral, which became "Wirral met" - for my further education. I gained my “O” and “A” levels there. Most of the Carlett park campus has gone now to make way for houses.

It was at Carlett Park I discovered the Hippy thing, with events like Woodstock of course, music from Pink Floyd and especially Hawkwind, which was the first band I ever saw live during ther "Space Ritual" tour in Liverpool. That gig was recorded for the Space Ritual album, listen carefully, I'm probably on the record somehwere.

In 1973 I arrived in Norwich at the University of East Anglia, the UEA, where I studied Environmental Sciences which gave me a BSc (hons) degree. These three years were wonderful, I got to meet people from backgrounds utterly different to my own, there were many a late night spent discussing issues I'd never considered before as well as doingother things more associated with hippies.

It was a challenging and rewarding time but I'll be honest, degree level is as far as I'd ever want to take education. It all became so detached from the real world and theoretical as to be somewhat meaningless.

Perhaps because of this I spent a lot of time which maybe should have been spent in the UEA library working at Hospital Radio Norwich around 1974-5, which gave me the experience required to get a job with the BBC as a technician in 1976, so after my time in UEA I moved to London and glorious Finsbury Park, the only part of London to spell "Krapy rub snif" backwards..

I lived in London from 1976 to 1980 where I worked as a technician for the BBC in Bush House (the "World Service") and Broadcasting house (Domestic Radio) and I have to say didn’t enjoy it. The job was great, something I'd always wanted to do, but working shifts and living in bedsit land meant I found the city hard to live in, anonymous and depressing. It wasn't until I quit and returned to Norwich i discovered the real reason I didn't like London.

The Norfolk sky

I longed for the big Norfolk skies, you never see the sky in London, not like in Norwich.

So I returned to Norwich toward the end of 1980, when I got a job as Media services technician at Wymondham college, a strange boarding school housed in Nissen huts abotu 12 miles south of the city. It had been a WW2 miltiary hospital originally, then converted intoa teacher training college before becoming the school. Somehow it never lost that atmosphere. Since then the place has been largely rebuilt and nearly all the nissen huts have gone apparently, although I haven't been back for years.

It was att his time I bought my house in the Golden triangle area of Norwich - early in 1981 and I have lived here ever since.

About me - the way it is

I am now getting near retirement, which is nice. I run the TV studio and edit suite area in the local college, also looking after the music studio. The job involves looking after an awful lot of computers these days, Premiere video edit suites (Adobe CC), a 24 track multi-track music studio running Logic and a TV studio based around the Tricaster 455. I work with students from all sorts of backgrounds and educational levels from special needs to degree level.

I’m single with no children, the marrying thing didn't work out.

From 1988 to 2001 I spent a month every year traveling to distant lands including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, India, South Africa, USA and Australia, some on more than one occasion and usually over Christmas / New year. I always traveled backpack style and avoided the tourist traps.

The dawn of the new millennium (new year 2000) was spent in London as the guest of some (admittedly quite middle class) squatters, which was almost like visiting a foreign culture. Over the new year period and when most people were watching the party in the Dome on TV or else packed into the crowded streets, I was in a party for the homeless in the East End, I'm pleased to say, the millennium hype passed me by and it was the only way to pass this period. Sadly the promised end of civilisation didn't happen.

Christmas/New year 2001 was another world trip, this time to Brasil, 2002 to Latvia and 2003 the Czech Republic. Then I hit 50 in 2004. Whoops.

Since then life has got a lot quieter and I've taken up gardening with an allotment, the only travelling I've done in recent years has been around Europe in my car, which included an epic trip to Gibralter in a 12 year old Fiat 500.

My musical taste has mutated over the years from the 1960's psychedelic rock, through punk in the 1980's to - as much to my surprise as anyone else’s - dance music known as “techno” in its various forms for much of the late 1990's. Once I recovered from that it all calmed down a bit. These days I'm more inclinded towards the electric folk scene, but I still have a soft spot for the weird stuff..

I've been following the alternative scene for most of my life - ever since discovering hippies. So I've long been a fan of free festivals, independent gigs and such. This has bought me into contact with a lot of travellers and "alternative" people in general. There's a whole section of this site dedicated to the alternaive scene which is now sadly behind me and worse, probably behind all of us.

Although I haven't touched "the'erb" for the best part of 10 years,my main focus of interest over the past few years has been the legalise cannabis campaign. I've laways had a somewhat different approach to this than most other "free the weed" campaigners however. I've always believed cananbis should be properly controlled and regulated, an approach that hasn't always gone down too well with cannabis users. Not being a stoner makes me a little unusual as well.

I run the website "UK Cannabis Internet Activists", UKCIA and you can see all the arguments there, I'm also the website editor for CLEAR which has largely replaced UKCIA for me. All this website stuff has entailed learning a fair bit of coding, which is actually fun believe it or not!

I also have a collection of wind up record players and sar gaze with a 5 inch Newtonian reflector.

Politically, I was a member of the Labour Party up to the point where Tony Blair took it over and destroyed it. As a result of Blairs changes I had to resign my 23 year membership of the party in 1996, now we've just seen the re-election of the Tories following the disaster that was Ed Milliband as Labour leader.

In 1999 I joined the Green Party and was an activist in the Norwich branch, but I resigned from the Green party early in 2004, for much the same reason I resigned the Labour party.

I guess I just don't like politicians. These days although I feel I should vote, I have no idea who I should vote for, I dislike all of them.

Some old pictures of me here

Derek Williams
Norwich

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me 1967
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