Life Story, Chapter Three: Swindon and How to Survive It

"My life history", by Michael Riversdale aged 37 and a bit
(from the mikey_boyle Yahoo! Website, all those years ago)

Anything that I may have said about anybody is totally my memory/impression - anyone wants me to change/delete it then I will without hesitation, simply leave a comment. If you find any links that no longer work again, just leave a comment.

< Chapter One: The Travelling Years
< Chapter Two: The Monmouth School Days

Chapter Three: Swindon and How to Survive It

So, there I was, working at The Kings Head as a waiter and missing out on the Live Aid concert, when the call came from GlosCat (Gloucester College of Arts and Technology). "We hear you didn't do so well with your A Levels, how about coming to see us for an interview?" they said. So, off I trolled and I got a place on a 3 year Computing sandwich course. I moved into halls of residence with a schoolmate of mine, Taff , and spent the first year learning COBOL (first program had a massive 15+ pages of errors), Lotus 1-2-3 and design methodology. I managed to stay awake through all this by sneaking back to Monmouth for "fun".

The middle year was one spent "out in industry" and after 2 failed interviews, I managed to score a job at St Ivel Ltd, Swindon in the county of Wiltshire. St Ivel, part of the Unigate group, is a large dairy company and I worked in the Budget and Forecasting Department using EPS on a Unisys 1100 mainframe. It was here at St Ivel that I learned that I do my best work under pressure, how to deal with real people (we in IT call them "users") and what it means to get paid money. I also met a two wonderful women called Lorie and Francie - Lorie was my boss and I have still yet to meet one better (sorry JC, David and John). Francie was my day-to-day boss and also a stunning 6 foot blonde - life was sweet.

I lived in Swindon for about 12 months, flat sharing for the first time (the memory of the smell from the lower flat still knocks me back) and "being away from the nest". To my eyes Swindon was amazing - it was a city, it was out of Wales and it was more than a "pop down the road home". In reality it was, and probably still is, a boring dump in the middle of no where.
I left Swindon in 1987 (we're into "CV time" now) and returned to my final year at GlosCat. And, to my joy, I learned that many people knew me only by my nickname, Billy (after 2 people - Billy Whizz from The Beano comic due to the athletics and Billy Boyle, the sidekick to Basil Brush ) - ha ha ha. I also made a flaw in my choices of subjects for the year and chose a mathematical based subject - forecasting (OR) , ick! The final year I lived with a wonderful family in Gloucester and spent a quiet time. I failed the final exam due to the forecasting subject but didn't care as St Ivel had already offered a full-time position.

Back at St Ivel I settled into the life of working with users and sorting out their IT issues. Had a great time and started to get "close" to Francie. And so, she left St Ivel to travel the world, we had a brief yet cool as fling, and I even moved into her rose covered cottage in Uffington for a while - all much better than the bedsit that I had called home for a while. After Francie left (and subsequently met an American and married him) I moved into Taffs place and he came to work for me - yep, I was a team leader earning the vast amount of £26,000.

And so, how does one survive Swindon? First you meet a gang of graduates from Ireland, Scotland and Somerset and go wild in the pubs and "curry alley". You then move out of Swindon into a house with one of your closest mates, Rob, and meet some crazy people called Mike, Mikey and Michael (seriously) and have the best drinking time of your life. I got wheels after passing my driving test (took 4 attempts) - a yellow Volkswagen that only lasted about 6 months.
And finally, you meet a wonderful person at the Reading Festival called Fiona. She opened my eyes to so much that was possible in life and deserves a huge thumbs up from me. Fiona was a Geordie (from Newcastle ) and we spent much money travelling between Swindon and the North which, eventually, we could not sustain. And so, much to my sadness (I cried for many weeks), we broke up. I thought, at the age of 25, that life was passing me by and nothing would ever come of me.

During this time I had, thank goodness, moved on from heavy metal to "Madchester", Carter USM and the best of times at Glastonbury Festivals.

And then, in 1992 I met my first true "partner in crime" - Judith. And this deserves a chapter all of its own.

Chapter Four: London and Engagement >

Also related to this is my 'Life soundtrack: Side One"


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