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SOME PERSONAL STUFF

I was born at a very early age in 1955 at Lister Hospital. My parents lived in Stevenage, but the hospital, in those days, was still at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. We spent nine years in Stevenage during which time the New Town saw the filming of Here We go Round The Mulberry Bush and a visit from the Queen.

In 1964 we moved to Langford - a small village near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire - and I went to Stratton Grammar and Technical School, where I learnt to spell most words properly. All wasted now that we've got word processors, of course, but then, has anything you learnt at school since the age of ten been of any actual use? Probably not. Anyway I got a few 'O' levels and 'A' levels and because the BBC wouldn't give me the job I so richly deserved I decided to go to university instead. This turned out to be an even bigger waste of time, there being no free Internet access in those days. In fact, there was no Internet at all.

So in 1974 I started a paragraph with a preposition and a job at Pye Studios, Marble Arch as a trainee coffee maker. I've not touched coffee since. But I wouldn't mind a cup of tea if there's one in the pot. Thank you.

At Pye I learnt to press the record button at the right time, not to erase the master take of exquisite violin solos too often and eventually became a fully qualified recording engineer (i.e. one with a few 'O' levels and 'A' levels). I then became interested in what happened next to the tapes I was recording... how did they become a disc? When no-one was looking I furtively followed one of my tapes into a Cutting Room and started asking awkward questions like "What happens in here?" It was therefore fairly inevitable that when one of the Disc Cutting engineers left Pye in 1977 the Management turned to me and asked if I would like to be a Cutting Engineer. I said "No, not really"; and so, of course I've been doing that, or something like it, ever since. By now LPs should have been entirely replaced by CDs but gramophone records refuse to die out and an extraordinary number of people still seem to think, quite wrongly, that LPs are somehow better than CDs. (OK, there are too many individual instances where LPs are better than CDs, but it doesn't hold true as a general principle.)

I have worked at Pye, Tape One, Wave Studios CTS Studios and Lansdowne Recording Studios, all of which closed some time after I left them. CTS was one the largest independent recording studios in Europe and during its 30-year history it played a major part in the music and soundtracks of a great many feature films and television series. Sadly CTS closed in June 2000 and some half-crazed visigoths demolished it to make way for yet another bloody football stadium.

At Lansdowne Recording Studios in Holland Park, London W11, I assumed the joint mantles of Mastering Engineer and IT Manager, but in 2003 I left to run my own business in SE Cornwall. I now have a mastering studio in my house called Original Sound (the room, that is, not the house) which probably means I'm the only person in Cornwall to have a hi-fi system mounted in a 19" rack. I am also co-founder of web hosting company Astrohosts.

During the long, dry summer (remember those?) of 1996 someone - thanks Rob! - made the mistake of giving me a 14.4k modem. I discovered the Internet and BT profits soared to staggering new heights. Youngsters today would not believe how we had to dodge round people who actually had the audacity to want to make a phone call while we were busy waiting for a page with a few small jpg images to finish downloading.

I have been interested in broadcasting and recording since at least the age of seven. My favourite 1960s pirate radio station was Radio London 'Big L' on 266m MW and my favourite DJ was, of course, the incomparable Kenny Everett.

In the past I have worked as a volunteer for Luton and Stevenage Hospital Radio and I also did a stint on RSL station Pilgrim FM in Canterbury.

I now live in Redruth, West Cornwall, where I worked as the manager of a small sub-post office but retired in January 2021. I do voluntary work as a recording engineer - and occasional reader - for the Cornish Talking Newspaper and as a producer and presenter for CHBN Radio, the Cornwall Hospital Broadcasting Network where I present a regular show most Friday afternoons. When the Covid 19 pandemic forced us into lockdown in April 2020 I, and most other CHBN presenters were unable to access our studios in the Royal Cornwall Hospital and switched to broadcasting from home. This is extraordinary. I can now sit at home and with a few clicks of a button I can connect to an FM transmitter and a web stream and broadcast to Truro and the world. This is the sort of thing I dreamt about when I was a young lad at school. So there has been some identifiable positive progress in the past 66 years. Yay. Go humans.

Saturn Swings

I still master CDs from time-to-time and now I've retired I want to get more into location recording here in Cornwall, so if anyone wants me to do anything like that, do please ask.

Other interests include reading, particularly science-fiction, photography, being very PC, as opposed to very Mac, and getting older. I seem to be doing quite a lot of that these days. Long may it continue...

Oh, me me me me me... I should also mention that I married Michele in 1994 and we have a son, Andrew, of whom we are both very proud.


mb21 by Mike Brown
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