BACS To The Future

A couple of days in Bedfordshire with two long-term mates, has meant nostalgia, beer, Thai curry and pizza have been my metaphorical weekend mistresses.

I first met these amiable chaps in 1983 when I started working at British Coal’s Gateshead computer centre…… One of the lads is called Bill, the other (like me) isn’t.

Not only did we work together in the north east of England, we relocated to work in south east England with our families in the late 1980’s. This move predominantly the consequence of the UK coal industry’s decimation by the government of the time.

Bill and Alan (the one who isn’t Bill) were my mentors; showing me the ropes as a trainee computer operator in 1983. I’m not sure why they were so proud of these ropes, or why they hung from the computer room ceiling, nevertheless I was appreciative of this introduction to the twisted fibre.

If memory serves me correct, I was nearly moved to utilise the rope with a noose in late 1983. The result of being subject to Alan’s mind-numbing anecdote about how exchangeable computer mainframe disks got their name.

Only kidding!….. They are both top lads who possess a wealth of interesting tales from their existential journeys. It’s just a shame they rarely choose to share them!……. As a 20 year old lad the exchangeable mainframe disks yarn wasn’t one of them. Coming to think of it, it still wouldn’t be now in my 50’s.

I wrote two years ago of Bill being the nicest bloke I’ve ever met with false teeth, and that Alan is the nicest bloke I’ve ever met without false teeth. To update you, this is no longer the case since meeting Dougie Dentures and Bert 20/20 Teeth**.  Amenable acquaintances made whilst undertaking voluntary charity work at the end of 2017. They’re much nicer guys than my two idiotic long-term mates.

** – Incidentally, I know 20/20 is a descriptive utilised for perfect eyesight, not dental aesthetics. However as I haven’t got a bloody clue what the proper terminology is for top of the range gnashers I improvised.

Despite Bill and Alan not being as affable as Dougie Dentures and Bert 20/20 Teeth, it was great to meet up with my old muckers, along with a group of other old Vocalink (BACS) workmates.

Additionally, it was gratifying to make the acquaintance of lads I’d not met previously. They seemed a nice bunch, although they appeared to distance themselves after I’d recanted Alan’s exchangeable disk story.

After a rubbish few months for yours truly, it was a much needed weekend of memories, recollections, computer room nostalgia and laughter.


Disenchanted with my existential lot at the time, I left the company in 1996 to move back to my place of birth and roots up north. Bill and Alan stayed down there, though, where the latter still works; as did the former until his recent retirement and relocation north.

Alan now lives a life of luxury, dining on quails eggs and the souls of the proletariat, while driving around recklessly in a Jensen Oscillator. A ruthless man, the Dunstable geezer is also renowned for admonishing his servants (Oompah Lumpahs from Tring) for not having enough £20’s on the fire and over the top orangeness.

Meanwhile, I reside in northern poverty in a Monty Python sketch of West Yorkshire squalor. That being said, I bear no bitterness towards my two mates and their accumulated wealth. Affluence formed on the back of me tipping them the wink in 1987 about a well paid operators role in our capital city.

Who am I trying to kid!…. I’m chuffing furious they’re minted and I’ve not got a pot to p*ss in!….. Oh, and before I forget, Alan you can shove your exchangeable computer mainframe disk story up your arse!

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