Menory Lane; Alba 2

Being at ESCA exposed me to the world of academia.  Not as a student (at that point), but as a researcher and number cruncher.

The department I was in worked directly with farmers.  At first my work was pretty much all on farm accounts. This was a service provided mainly to the small-holders and hill farmers over the entire lower East quarter of the land.  Showing dexterity and something of a head for figures, I was seconded to the Horticultural statistician and the 'Potatoes' man.  Edith was your typical 'blue stocking' academic; slightly eccentric, hidden behind piles of papers and books, working at the oddest hours.  She was an absolute delight to work for though and trusted me with taking up some of her lesser research; meaning I learned a considerable amount about berries and cucumbers...and the nasties they were sprayed with to improve production.  It was about this time I started to think organic!

The work I helped with for John Anderson (other than the accounts work), was proof-reading.  He was a prolific commentator and publisher of papers, articles and - a cook book!  On the multifarious recipes for potatoes of course.

It was a happy place to be; small in staff numbers which encouraged great team work and a family atmosphere, further encouraged by many organised outings together.  Beer and traditional skittles sticks in my mind; then the curling.  They were very supportive of this total klutz on the 'sheet'. There were weekends away camping and 'munro bashing' (hill walking - BIG hills). There were the cycle races picnics. There was the madrigal society. Yes I picked up where I left off from Nigeria. Three consecutive years there was a fringe show, complete with wimples and codpieces.

Not together on the same person I hasten to clarify.

One of the colleagues was a member of the St Michael's Youth Club Musical Society (SMYCMS - smickums) and it is through her that I landed up in such as The Merry Widow.

More than anything though, I learned that I had a brain in my head.  I began to overcome the sense of 'duncehood' which had pervaded since school days.  This was further enhanced when the whole computer thing started.  This was 1979.  Input to the college mainframe, taking up a full room up at the main campus buildings, was via punch card batching (I kid you not!) and also through LANs - input terminals on the desk resembling typewriters... it has to be admitted that ESCA was a tad behind the general flow of the computing world, because it was also the era of the microchip.  Fully self-contained and discrete computing units were appearing and one finally arrived before yours truly late 1979.

The Commodore PET... oh yeah I could stroke that baby!!!  It turned out I had a real interest and aptitude for the things.  The father purchased for my 21st birthday (1980) the Sinclair ZX80, soon to be upgraded to the ZX81.  I learned BASIC and had a fun time with those amazing 64 kilobytes. Sigh.  Those were the days.




6 comments:

  1. I remember those punch cards!!!! sigh. The 'good old days!' :-)

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  2. The first computer I ever touched was a Commodore !!

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  3. What a nice place to work that sounds.
    And yes I too remember punch cards. And do not regret their passing!
    Cheers, Gail.

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  4. I remember those old Commodores, they were great. The first computer I ever owned was a Mac SE in the mid eighties but I had used the Commodore at at work.

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  5. We were just talking about Commodore the other day and couldn't remember the name of it!!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  6. I've worked on some old computers too. I just love the look on that dogs face!

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