Time off for bad behaviour:
UMIST Computation 1980-1983

[A brief note of explanation: this is intended to be humorous. It was written for an alumni meeting/party in 2001.]

As I sip my dry martini here on the shores of Lake Songkhla, a tropical paradise of unbridled passions and fulsome wishes, it is with fond memories that my alcohol-suffused senses stagger serenely back to those halcyon days of innocence, and batch processing punch cards.

Can it really be 20 years since I was honoured with a time, so brief, and yet so very, very academically rewarding. Could I be here now, the middle-man in an international network of false-teeth smuggling mafiosi, without my deep knowledge of assembly programming? Without my grasp of Trade Unions of the 1880's, which always seemed to sit so perfectly with the needs of high-tech realities?

As my favourite dancing girl begins her twilight invocation rites down at pier's end, some of my fellow travellers on the rocky road to COBOL splendours drift shadow-like before me.

Was his name Dr._EnviroNment, the lecturer we so rarely saw apart from his videoed pronouncements? Did he ever get rid of those woodstock-influenced ties? What of the intrigues that befell the Pascal groupies, were they quietly compiled to something altogether more executable? Did the under-cover CIA operative, disguised as the World's most boring train-spotter, ever come in from the cold (that is Crewe in December)? What of the budding entrepreneur who sold rulers for counting punch-cards -- did his grasp of future trends eventually translate into think-tank membership?

What about UMIST itself? I remember the concrete, and the cold, but mostly the concrete. Rearing up in threatening stances, in many varied radical directions. And the cold, let's not forget that. Even in my animal furs and lined satin robes I felt the cold. THE COLD.

So many questions, so few answers. Now I must quell my questioning heart, and join the ceremony of the cooked spam cutlets.

- Andrew

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