I have to stop thinking…

Have you ever wondered what you might have been back in the 1700s, or the 1800s in England, or whatever country you reside.

I live in Australia, so I suspect I would be a convict or the descendant of a convict. Certainly in those past years, there is nothing to suggest that I would have been much else, based on the fact I used to be a tradesman, and later a computer programmer, only one of which existed back then.

In England I have often imagined what it would be like for the underclasses, and very definitely where I;pd finish up. A servant maybe, like a stable boy or footman, or an agricultural worker before the industrial resolution, or a coal miner after it. Poor people it seemed had no prospects.

In the 1900s, my time on earth, and before the computer era, I trained in a trade school, doing woodwork, machine shop practise, and sheet metal. There was also farming. For the select few there was Accounting and business studies, but to be a clerk you had to go to a different school.

My family couldn’t afford it.

When I left school, as soon as I could, and therefore without the benefit of a good education, my prospects for work didn’t amount to much, and among my first jobs was mail sorter, telegram delivery boy, a packer for a book wholesaler, an odd job boy in an abattoir, and later a clerk.

Perhaps then I formed an idea that one day I might be a writer. I certainly had a go, but never did anything with it. I guess, even then, I knew my limitations borne from what I perceived was my station in life.

What did I want to do though? It didn’t matter. People from our social strata couldn’t afford university fees so I was never going to get a tertiary education. That just about ruled out everything.

So what happpened to change all that?


From as young as I could, I read. Not only stories about people who lived so very different lives to me, but reference books about everything. It gave me an understanding of what it might be like to be something else, then gave me the impetus to actually apply for what I would call ‘a real job’.

Whether I could do it or not was irrelevant. I just wanted the chance.

It took a wile but then someone gave me that chance. That door was prised open just a little, enugh for me to get a foot in.

I had several tenets to abide by, don’t speak unless your spoken to, respect your elders, and don’t say anything unless it’s relevant.

First job was mail boy under a very crotchety old man who thought I was a waste of space. I learned everything he knew, listened to everything he said, and did everything I was told, better than everyone else.

I moved up to shipping clerk, creating manifests for ships cargo. It was the golden age just before computers, the days of the mainframes that had the computing power of an IBM XT.

They fascinated me.

My next job was for a new company, working for a mining and shipping company, as a distribution clerk maintaining a shipping timetable. That led to a role in communications, the days of telexes and internal couriers and memos, and memorandums for board meetings.

It wasn’t heady stuff, but I was in management, learned communications, and understood accounting.

When I left there, I became a computer programmers. It was dumb luck, my brother in law was an insurance salesman, created listings of investment outcomes using insurance products, and his individualised reports used to take in a week or so, restricting the number of clients he had.

This was the days of the first Apples, and IBM’s. I had a small personal computer, and told him I could create a program to work out his calculations in seconds not days, and he gave me the opportunity.

The rest is history.

So, it makes me wonder had I been back in those 1700s and 1800s, whether or not I may have started small, and made something of myself. A lord of the manor I would not be, but perhaps something more comfortable than a coal miner maybe.

I guess I’ll never know.

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