My story so far...
I have lived in Scotland and France and now reside in Berkshire in the south of England. I am married with two children, who are no longer children.
My first love is history, which is what I obtained my degree in from Leeds University. I had gained some of my love of history through some wonderful teachers at school, the most famous alumni of which was Kazuo Ishiguro, who was there for some of the same time as me.
The modern world: my part in its creation (with apologies to Spike Milligan)
History may be my first love but I have spent several decades helping create the modern world. If you love the world of mobile communications, personal computing, spreadsheets, instantly being able to search for any answer in the world and online financial transactions then I played a small part in its creation. If you hate a world in which people spend all their time on their phones, can’t be bothered to remember anything because they can always look it up, you are asked to fill in yet another spreadsheet and can’t deal with an individual because you are always dealing with a computer then I am sorry, it wasn’t all my fault.
My first experience of this transformation of the world was in the early eighties was working for a company called Racal, that few people now remember, but it set up Vodafone. I joined the company as they were developing the technology for mobile phones, which was new in the U.K. In 1983 Margaret Thatcher visited the research site where they were doing the work, accompanied by her husband Denis. The Managing Director naturally got to show the Prime Minister round and Denis was accompanied by one of the other directors. He enthusiastically extolled the virtues of mobile phones to Denis. He said that if Denis had a mobile phone, the Prime Minister could reach him anytime and anywhere. Whether he was on the golf course or in the clubhouse bar after a round Margaret could call him. Denis Thatcher’s response was short, “I would never ever get one of those things.”
Following Racal I joined Lotus Development who brought spreadsheets to the world. I know everything thinks Excel when they think spreadsheets, but 1-2-3 was the first spreadsheet king. I also met Macintosh and started a love of all things Apple which has endured to this day. As a result I joined Apple and spent five years working at their European headquarters in Paris. After this I ran my own software company for five years, then returned to corporate life joining the company who developed the internet’s first search engine long before Google got there.
People may be saying but what did you actually do in all these companies. I was in Human Resources and climbed the corporate ladder up to the dizzying level of Senior Vice President!
A few years ago I decided that wanted to do something different. I first thought about writing a book one Saturday morning many years ago. I was reading the newspaper and saw that an American I’d known and worked with at Apple, Thad Carhart, had won a ‘Best Book by a New Writer’ award for The Piano Shop On The Left Bank. The book is a wonderful read (and rightly went on to be an international best-seller) but it stirred something in me beyond appreciation for the writing. When I’d known Thad, he’d actually told me some of the same stories included in the book. And this planted a seed in my head. Maybe I could do the same. I just needed the right story.
This came along when I was reading Simon Sebag Montefiore’s excellent biography of Jerusalem. The book includes a handful of pages about an expedition to Jerusalem of young Eton-educated men searching for the Ark of the Covenant. The brevity was understandable; compared with many of the events that have occurred in Jerusalem it is a relatively minor episode. However, it sounded so bizarre and captured my imagination; English aristocrats digging for the Ark of the Covenant based on secret cyphers from the Bible. A crazy combination of Downton Abbey meets Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown.
So I have come back to my first love and have now written a book, which seeks to shed new light on an almost forgotten episode. I hope you will enjoy it.