Dark Ages

Prior to 1996 I had to make a living the old-fashioned way. I’ve had quite a few paying gigs, here’s a collection of some of the more memorable.

Window Cleaner
I was 15, my first job out of school. I lasted less than three months but I still get twinges in my right shoulder from carrying that ladder around. Also counts as my first foray into “transparency”. I cleaned windows owned by Agatha Christie and HRH The Prince of Wales, among others. I got to explore the nooks and crannies of numerous Glamorganshire hamlets, which still hold a special place in my heart.

Electronics Sales Assistant
I learned most of my electronics while selling the stuff in a Devonian department store. In between selling over-priced TVs, Laserdiscs, separates and hi-fi cabinets, I had to solder a lot of things. Got arrested on the job in a not-quite-hilarious mix-up, but that pretty much wound that career up.

Chef de Rang
I’m a classically-trained silver service waiter, notable hotels I worked at are the four star Belmont and the three star Fortfield. I only ever had one punter die on me but – and I am not joking – this happened immediately after she ate the “Death By Chocolate” dessert I recommended. I also trained as a chef de cuisine, but my cooking career does not merit more than this slight mention on this page.

Lead Singer
I sang lead for Out Of Order, a punk rock band, which was an amazing experience. I bounced around a few other bands here and there, but Out Of Order is the highlight of that effort. Yes there are tapes. No I don’t have one.

AV Engineer
I worked theatrical sound and light for a few years in my spare time, got to mess around with pyrotechnics, which resulted in me losing all the skin on my face and right hand. It grew back.

Shopkeeper
I owned and operated a magickal supply store (Merlin’s Cave) for a short while in Wales, selling lots of spell books, tarot cards and incense. The business did not last long, but the lessons it gave me have lasted decades.

France v USA
In France I worked an American restaurant (Molly’s Lone Star) that sold USA-style burgers and chili to the French, then I moved to the USA and ran a gourmet bakery (Food Attitude) selling fine French pastries and bread to the Americans. Neither of these establishments would be exceptional in their home country, but once displaced to foreign parts both of them were the hippest, happeningest things around. Go figure.

Cybercafe Owner
Opened the World’s first walk-in Web host (MerlinWeb), which coupled Web hosting services with a cybercafe so the punters could come work on their sites. There was no coffee, as I thought the fancy coffee thing was a passing fad. For a wee while there was no Internet either, as Bell Atlantic sold me some DSL they didn’t know how to connect, so for three or four months we were the only cybercafe in the world that had neither cyber nor cafe.

MerlinWeb was right across from Nick’s Diner (home of the Jazwich), and I prompted folks to go get their own coffee if they so desired. I Co-hosted The Net Radio Show during this time, an actual radio show about the Internet, which I like to think was one of the very first fake comedy news sources (Internet-enabled toasters!). I was sued by Arnold Schwarzenegger for hosting videos of actual ads he filmed in Japan that made him look pretty silly, and therefore did not want them appearing in the USA. Youtube was not a thing yet.