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Job 16 System Programmer, Cable & Wireless

Another missed opportunity. Mar 1977 &ndash Feb 1978
This page is part of my CV, Resumé or Work Record. It describes my time as a systems programmer at Cable and Wireless in Hatton Garden, London during 1977. To see this in context, look at my CV.
The old Cable and Wireless offices in Hatton Garden, at least I think that is the building. This pic was taken in 2010 by which time C&W had long gone elsewhere.
On contract, I headed a small team of systems programmers while a permanent person (who turned out to be Kerry Walsh) was recruited. The systems programming team wrote the operating system scripts that controlled the running of the mainframe applications.
I had a special friend there called Mary Maguire – she was known to all as my special friend. Many people believed that I did much of Mary’s programming for her but that was an extreme exaggeration. Mary worked for a small team that did something, I never quite found out what, that involved visits to C&W installations around the world. I should have got much closer to Mary, rather than just flirting with her, then perhaps I could have become part of that team too, her boss was very friendly to me where he barked at most people.
Another missed opportunity, though I suppose it might have meant putting career (and possibly Mary) before family which perhaps would not have been right had I chosen that path. Instead I developed rather an arrogant stance to my job and left in a less friendly atmosphere than had been the bulk of my time there. I blew it rather. Most of my time there was very enjoyable, quite apart from chatting to Mary.
Aside from Mary, I worked quite closely with Pauline, close in the sense that her desk was near mine, I don’t think our work was much connected, but Pauline was entertaining as she was a Mormon who was struggling to find a husband. She also played the double bass. Pauline had been sent by the Mormons to Italy to convert the natives, and the stress of this had caused all her teeth to fall out, which the Italians were most unsympathetic to, telling her to ask her God for help, since he was so universally powerful. I imagine not all Italians were so callous for that would be most un-Italian like, but Pauline’s memories were of receiving little sympathy.
The upshot of this traumatic episode was that Pauline had false teeth upper and lower, and no husband, and if you are a Mormon with no teeth and no husband it is especially difficult as the acceptable choices are, well if Pauline’s experience was anything to go by, a bit heavy on the weird front.
The men that Pauline met each had something about them that was too much for Pauline to contemplate, for example there was the chap who kept pet snakes that were allowed to crawl, among other places, around his bathroom. Pauline told the story quite philosophically but we got the impression she had come away from tea at his flat rather bursting for a pee.
One of the other programmers who worked there was a gay man named Tim, and he would studiously scrutinise the lonely-hearts columns in Time Out magazine and then say rather inscrutably, ‘Here’s someone who you might be suitable, Pauline, it says, “Energetic 92-year-old seeks virile 18-plus. What do you think?”’
For a while Pauline’s desk was alongside mine and in the afternoon after a long morning’s coding Pauline would sometimes begin to nod off, her head would loll forward and this would cause her false teeth to break their moorings and slip forward. Pauline then would wake up, clap her hand to her mouth, and rush off to the bathroom with her handbag, to screw them back in again.
Eventually Pauline met a rather dull-sounding policeman, some years older than her, and was on the way to marrying him, full of joy, when my contract at C&W came to and end.
As for Mary, she was clearly finding the conflict between her romantic/sexual feelings and her Catholic upbringing a bit of a conflict, she told me as much, and said that she was going to have to go and have a talk with the priest – fat lot of good that would have done her, if she ever did actually do that.
I was trying to remember where I went for lunch while at Cable and Wireless. Sometimes it would be Ye Olde Mitre pub, usually this would only be if others, and especially Mary, we going too, it wasn’t really a place to go by yourself. There was also a pub in the street that runs under Rosebery Avenue, near Mount Pleasant, and I liked an Italian café in Clerkenwell Road, though I remember this most un-impressing Kerry Walsh. But where did I most often go? I cannot remember.


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