25 Things about Mark Cathcart before he was 22!

I've been tagged on Facebook a few times already, including by mojojoey so decided to have a go this evening finally... I'll add facebook tags later when it shows up as a note on my facebook page. I thought I'd do all 25 on jobs I'd had and things that happened at work before I was 22. I had a blind date Friday evening, she kept asking questions, I kept talking. I suspect I was a bit of a bore but inspired me to write this.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. 

1. I was paperboy when America Pie was a #1 ... But february made me shiver, With every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep; I couldn''t take one more step. [and it really did... I used to take my bike and have this song and others on a cassette tape player with the piano style keys on the rack at back of my bike; iPod players eat your heart out...] My paper round went from the real Corner Farm on the corner of what is now Pennine Way, along the original houses on St Agnells Lane, before Grove Hill or Grove Hill school were built, and both sides of Redbourn Road down to, and including the Brocks Fireworks Factory. 1968-71

2. I worked in Brockets hardware store in the Old High Street ala That Thing You do  probably 1972-73

3. I was a odd job boy/bouncer in the Coach and Horses bar/restaurant in Hemel Hempstead probably 1977-79

4. I worked on
Wembley market in London selling pub mirrors and other assorted junk probably 1976-1977

5. The guy that owned the wembley market pitch, Tony Clifford, also owned Hearsay Records in Hemel Hempstead market square. I worked sporadically there and met Dave Sinnet. Dave was the guy that got me to move from 70's glam rock, Bowie, Roxy Music etc. to emerging funk music and sould music. Probably late 1975. I'm eternally grateful to Dave, although I've never seen him since those days, he got me into music and friends that opened up my world.

6. I worked on 
Rupert St market in Soho selling 45's - but only for 4-weeks 1976

7.I worked in the butchery dept. at Sainsburys in Hemel Hempstead, mostly my job though was to seperate out great tubs of frozen lambs liver from New Zealand, putting it on styrofoam trays and into a wrap-n-seal machine along with Ox Tongue, stomach aka offal and other gruesome stuff - 1974

8. I took photographs of the Bay City Rollers, David Bowie and Mud for money, they were used in all sorts of rip-off goods such as badges, rosettes, scarfs etc. Hey it was the seventies. These were mostly for Tony Clifford, see 4. 5.

9.I used to smuggle camera into gigs with the body taped to my stomach and the lens taped to my legs - see 8.

10. See 9. I got caught once, locked in room behind the stage and left there... thats the last time I did that.

11. My first fulltime job after leaving school was as a photographic junior at the Gazette Newspaper in Hemel Hempstead; I hated working in the dark all the time and only going out to do cr*p jobs like jumble sales in peoples back gardens. 1974

12. I quit the Gazette, after just a couple of months, but still managed to get a speeding ticket while out on a job, riding a 1967 Honda moped with the engine in the back wheel, going down hill at 38MPH in a 30MPH speed zone out by the Ovaltine Factory in Abbotts Langley.

13. My next job, age 16 and some, was as a relational database at Attwood Statistics in Berkhampstead. I worked in a room full of punch cards, people would come to the window with a request on paper that said something like names and address of all women over 25 that smoked. I'd sort punch cards for hours, take the results to the computer room and print out name and address labels, which often took overnight on the IBM 360/40 mainframe. Thinking about it, this was a slecet statement, and I'd sort on rows and columns and thats what essential a database does today. These days you could do this in Excel in less than 2-mins, although the printing might take longer, you can do it at home! 1974-1975

14. I soon moved into computer operations as I got good at fixing problems that arose out of punched cards(13). 1975-1976

15. While the computer was busy running a single program, which could take hours, I used to ride my Honda XL125 up and down the banks in the parking lot at the back of the office. Later I graduated to riding it up and down the internal stairs on the four story building. Bizarre when I think about it now... 

16. I quit my job at Attwood Statistics after a couple of years when my manager, Terry Childs left and offered me a job with him at P&O Computer Services.  1976, 1976-1978

17. During the time of the late 1970's, I worked on and off for Jim Petty. Jim owned and operated the last full size horse drawn (70ftx14ft) barge on the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. We used top take Womens Institutes, School parties out during the day, I could work then as I was working shifts in the computer room. In the evenings and at w/e there was a disco and bar on the barge. I used to mostly do the gates at the locks, and lead the horse, Patience, a full size Shire horse, we were on Magpie, a childrens TV programme. While writing this I went and searched Google and much to my surprise found
these pictures which are definately the horse and the barge. I don't think thats me stearing in the pictures though...

18. I quit my job at P&O Computer Services after being passed over for a Senior Operators job; the guy that got it was more mature and had A-level qualifications. 1978

19. The first real woman I dated with was from P&O Computer Services, she wouldn't date anyone that worked there but when I left we went out a few times, she was about 12-years older than me. Nothing really happened between us, but to this day, I still remember her fondly, Are you out there anywhere Glynn/Glenn?

20. One of the things I did before leaving P&O was to leave the salary of my boss on his desk in a sealed envelope to prove a point about how unsecure the data on the computer was. I'd previously restored a copy of the first ever computer game, Adevnture[aka the Colossal Cave, by Woods and Crowther ] on our VM System. These days Virtual machines are all the rage, this was my first experience of VM and it would have been in 1977-78. When working evening shift, we'd often stay on all night playing Adventure and drawing a huge map on continuous computer paper to follow along the adventure.

21. My next job was at Bovis Construction in
Borehamwood. I took the job with them because they offered me the Senior operator position I'd been bypassed for at P&O and more money. This was the worst job I ever had, and a useful life lesson.

22. Within 6-weeks of starting the Bovis job I was back playing football/soccer for Borehamwood reserves after one of the guys from the office suggested I try out. This was despite having had a minor leg break and two major ligament and patella /cartilage problems over the preceding years which I thought ended my soccer career. When asked what position I played, I lied and said striker. I'd never played striker before and had always been central defender, mostrly due to my height and general strength. I scored 2x goals in my first game, played only two more games. See 23.

23. On Thursday 21st September 1978 I left my parents house early in the morning to ride my brand new Honda XL250 over to Clarkes Motor Cycles dealers in Luton and then on to afternoon shift at Bovis. I never got there. I was involved in an accident with a double decker bus which changed my life and my Mums(sorry Mum).

24. After 8-months off, 2-months or so in hospital including my 21st Birthday, for which I was in a medically induced coma, I started work at
Addressograph Multigraph, later to be renamed AM International. I was still in computer operations. I took the job as I could get there on crutches from my parents house, it was little over a mile to the office.

25. I used to work the w/e shifts. My Dad used to bring up my Mums home cooked Sunday roast lunch and I'd go down in the freight elevator at the side of the building to collect it from him, or through a window on the ground floor.

26. The first American woman I'd ever spoken to worked at AM International in Chicago, actually if I remember correctly, Rosemont Illonois or was her name Rose? We used to chat online to each other in short messages typed on a teletype over a syncronous communication line made up of two telephone lines dialed to each other and connected via modems[ and accoustic couplers  Thinking about it, there were no accoustic couplers, we dialed each other and manually set data buttons on top of the phones in the same way as fax machines connect]. This speed of the line was 4,800 baud. That was about as fast as the went in those days, thats 4,800 bits per second. Todays broadband lines support around 700,000 bits per second. This would have been 1979, eat your heart out twitter users...

It took me some 30-years to get over not going to college and feeling that I was in some way, held back and not as good by not going. In reality, I did go to college, the college of life. It was great fun and I learned a fantasic amount, and did some great things, and met many people who changed the direction of my life. All the above happended before my 22nd birthday. I've got 34-years in computer industry now....
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Dude, you have lives within lives. This is just fascinating. I love conversation between folks but who knows to ask such things. btw, as inappropriate & macabre as it may be, I'm most intrigued by the "accident".
I have a bunch of stuff including a full page newspaper interview and picture from the accident, it's another very long story of being reckless as a teenager...

Man hits double Decker bus while riding motorcycle on on one wheel... Bus=1 man=0. Looking back not only was it stupid for me to have done, but because the bus driver got prosecuted as a result, it probably affected his job, and thus his family. Very selfish of me...

The actual story is much longer, and now days makes me very sad, it explains why my leg is the mess it is etc. Not sad for myself, but sad about some of the things I experienced while in hospital and sad for all the familys that are still going through the same pain from reckless drivers.

Edited at 2009-03-16 04:20 pm (UTC)
More of your rich history. At the time you would have done things differently if you had known different. SO it was a pricey lesson with sustained damages but I bet the lesson went deep & with this story you can even encourage others to learn from your experience & not have to go head to head with a bus for themselves. *nods*
26...or 25X
(Anonymous)
Mark you just became 26x more interesting than I already thought you were!! ~Mercedes
Only if you are a highly motivated type-A personality who can find the right environment and opportunity...
Dude- OMG!
I've ignored 99% of these 25/life things and never reciprocated with my own, however, you Mr Cathcart, made my night! As thorough as always, your writing is always both honest & paints the picture vividly.

From American Pie on my cassette to the canals & Shire horses, it brought on a wonderful fit of nostalgia for me. Why does just about every UK town have a Coach & Horses pub? I remember my elder brother's amazingly long continuous paper printouts of all night computer games. . . Hertfordshire at my cousins, Sunday roast lunch etc.

Thanks the memories, glam rock star! :-)
Re: Dude- OMG!
DO I really need to answer the coach and horses question... nah. That was what was interesting about the whole blind date thing, and she, much to much surprise has declared she was my date on facebook, which I'd never done. I just tagged a bunch of people who I thought might be interested, inclduing a couple of Secondary school friends. I talked about a lot of stuff I hadn't given any thought to for years.

I must admit, I bashed those off as an aid memoir. I definately think there is a book in there. I did a ton of things that were not work'ish related. I was Greg Edwards gopher for a few weeks one summer at Capital Radio... that alone would make a great retro 70's movie...

Then there were the trips to Caister, Yarmouth, Margate and Manchester/Wigan...

Enjoy the move, very pleased to hear things are workign out for you!!
What a great post. I also had a manager called Terry Childs, at Price Waterhouse in 1993. I remember that he lived in Hemel Hempstead - perhaps it was the same guy.
It was definately the same guy. I presented at Bedfont customer event once and he came up afterwards and said hello. I was completely take back. I'm pretty sure he said he was at PWC.

Small world. I liked Terry, he was the first person that had faith in what I could do, sadly through a mix of immaturity and overconfidence, I let him down...