Wednesday, 20 January 2010

(Dr.) Ed Down

Posted by Hodge on behalf of Ed . . .

Had great couple of hours reading about the various antics of those reprobates I spent a few years with in the dark, dim past of my youth, so I suppose I should give you something to put up about me.

I recall doing an awful lot of travelling between Halton and London during my apprentice years. I was mates with the some people in the independent music scene there who went on to make an awful lot of money with bands like Oasis. My brother, a mate and I started up a record label while I was at Halton. We had some degree of success (Front cover of NME, John Peel sessions, etc), but we never managed to find that band that we could sell on to the majors for huge amounts of cash so, even though we ended up with a house in London out of it in ’84, none of us ever made a living out of it, and we wrapped it all up about ‘88.

I ended up going to Marham to work Tornado first line on 27 Sqn straight out of Halton (Remember the scrum outside the office when the paper was put up with the postings on it?). I volunteered for every deployment there was, and managed to see quite a bit of the world at a time when the Air Force seemed like that sort of thing was something of days gone by. I suppose I had a really great time of it looking back – Who can complain about 3 or 4 trips to Vegas for Red Flag (Or was it Green Flag?). Then the other one up in Dakota. It was always interesting staging over through Goose bay in the winter and being kitted out with the huge parkas and the big flappy-ear hats with the obligatory hammer and sickle drawn on the inside of the peak by some prior wag…. I put my never-ending battle with the pounds down to a particularly nasty night in the bar there where we managed to consume about 30 gallons of white Russians. (There was a girl, a snowmobile and a fence involved somewhere as well…) I wonder if the story about the fire suppression tank in the hanger being capable punching holes through wings was true? The thought was that the hanger was more valuable than any aircraft that could be in it, but I’m not sure…

I continued to be involved with music in London and Brighton after leaving Halton (I was in a Brighton band called the Doris Days), and I suppose the lack of time to really get into that type of scene completely first put the seed in my mind to move on from the Air Force. I started taking Open University courses (Never let your wife go to an OU summer camp…), and put in my PVR in ’89 I believe. I had been at Marham for a while, and always wanted to go to Scotland, so I asked for a place up at Leuchars, and spent the last year of my RAF career in the hanger up there doing Tornado work and living in a flat on Whitehall Crescent, down by the waterfront in Dundee. So I suppose I timed stuff pretty well for my military career: Joined just too late to go to the Falklands, and left early enough to miss the Gulf.…. Anyone remember those rumors we were down for cannon fodder in the Falklands after basic training?

I applied as a mature student (No A levels of course), and went to City University in London for an undergraduate degree in Aero engineering, freely stealing from my Halton course notes for various projects in subjects I had not attended any lectures in. I remember one particular course that I had one hour a week, on a Thursday morning. I didn’t manage to make one of those lectures, as I was always still recovering from the Wednesday rugby binge… Much like my RAF rugby days really.. I copied a whole set of notes on helicopter rotor control from my Halton notes and got the best mark in the class. Anyway I ended up with the standard Desmond (2:2), but managed to do a pretty good final year project and I was offered a place at City doing some industrial research, leading to a Ph.D.

So I spent until 1998 (was I really at college for 8 years?) finishing up that Ph.D (Well, playing rugby and MUD’s mainly, truth be told, but I’ve got the certificate!), and had by then teamed up with a Scottish journalist, Gillian, and was living with her in Clapham, south London. But we were both getting a bit pissed off with the City life and wanted to move. Plus I needed to get some sort of ‘real’ job for the first time in my life, so I applied for a few things, including one for Allied Signal over in the US. The US people came over to interview a few guys in London, I got the job, and found myself in Tucson, Arizona in late ’98, with a wife (no marriage = no visa for her, so…) and two very stressed cats.

So I’m now 12 years into my ‘real’ job. I design aircraft electric power systems (Funny, I hated electrical stuff during training…). Tucson is hot in the winter, and oven-like in the summer. We go to the beach down in Mexico as often as we can (Closer than California) and somehow have two American kids (Abbie, 8 and Lewis, 3) and the same two cats: George and Spider. I have a pool, and a separate guest house for the in-laws (Which all sounds posh, but is really very normal here, honest). Until recently I was the proud owner of an ‘89 Pontiac Firebird (Not up to Andy’s classic, but she did me proud for a quarter-million miles!), but have now seen the light and drive a small car.I’m now playing what I plan to be my last year of ‘competitive’ rugby, after which I intend to breed pigeons.

Well, it turned into a bit of a never ending story I’m afraid, but hopefully not too boring.

Cheers, Ed.

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