Fifty not out

image1963 was an interesting year.

The grey post war austerity of the 1950s gave way to the thumping rhythms of Merseyside (she luvs you, yeah yeah yeah), a naughty political scandal and an audacious train heist.

The Rolling Stones played their first gig. Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a Dream‘ speech. JFK was assassinated in Dallas. The first James Bond movie, Dr No, hit the cinema screens. Dr Who is on British TV for the first time (I used to hide behind the sofa and made sure Mum was in the room with me), and my favourite movie Dr Strangelove is released.

England suffered the coldest winter in a hundred years. Bob Dylan released ‘Blowin in the Wind‘.

George Michael, Johnny Depp, Jose Morinho, Whitney Houston, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan, Mike Myers, Quentin Tarantino, were all born in that year. So was I. 50 years ago today.

My parents had just returned from 10 years in Africa, where my two elder brothers were born. My earliest memories include family gatherings on the back lawn, aunties, cousins and grandparents. Laughter. Simple things. Money was tight. A loving, close knit family.

50 years has flown by. Half a century. I feel young. May it be so for a long while yet!

49 UP

49 UP

[tweetmeme source=”ChazGunningham” only_single=false] SBS are currently showing 56UP, the latest catch up with a dozen or so people they have been filming since they were 7 year olds back in 1963. I first came across the series in the late 1970s (must have been 21 UP?). I was captivated by the people’s lives, a soap opera of sorts, reality TV well before we knew what that dreadful thing was. It somehow seemed extremely raw and real. The people were from such diverse backgrounds, and to see how their lives had changed from 7 to 14 to 21 was fascinating. And so I have tried to catch up with it every 7 years.

For those of you who know the series, my favourite is Bruce. The teacher with a heart of gold, who taught in the tough schools in London, did a year in Bangladesh, and then got married quite late to a cute bubbly wife, and now has 2 teenage boys. He went from teaching in a state school to a comfortable private one. He still has the best intentions, and is a classic “Mr Chips” character. All schools need them.

My own life runs exactly 7 years behind the 7UP series. I was born the year it came out, and today I am 49 while the participants are all 56. What has struck me this time is to examine what my life has done every 7 years (imagining I was a participant in the series)…

  • at 7, I was living with my parents, attending the local primary school in Wiltshire, UK
  • 14, boarding school in Somerset, UK (I “left home” at 10!)
  • 21,  university doing an Economics degree in Hampshire, UK
  • 28,  teaching Business/Economics in a Singapore expat school
  • 35, now married, had moved to Perth, Western Australia, bought a house and was doing an MBA
  • 42, running my own dotcom, had 2 children & had extended the house (still in Perth)
  • 49, having sold the company, am working at REIWA; my parents had both passed away; kids (now 9 and 11) at primary school

Where will I be when I am 56? Who knows? That’s part of the fun I guess.

The day I walked into Twitter


This is the true story of some sad grown ups or 10 year old girls – you be the judge . The conference in San Francisco was over and a couple of Aussie friends and were relaxing in ‘Little France’ (it’s barely 2 side streets) finishing off some palatable French red wine and pate’ when I chirped up “isn’t the Twitter headquarters a couple of blocks away?”

Well, after a few bottles of red, anything seemed possible, so 5 minutes later we found ourselves following the blue Google maps dot to a nondescript looking 6 storey building in the SOMA (South of Market Street) district, where some household name ebusinesses reside. To be honest the beige coloured 1970s office building looked more like a tax office than the throbbing heart of social mediasville, but we thought “what the hey” and marched inside, half expecting to be turfed out 10 seconds later. Turning briefly to the security guards in the lobby we confidently announced “Twitter?” as if we were rushing to an important meeting. “Sixth floor” they replied pointing to the lift lobby.

‘Hey we made it to the lift lobby’ we giggled, ‘no way this lift is allowing us up to the 6th floor, you probably need a smart card or something’. But, on pushing ‘6’ we duly rose up and before we could express our surprise we were standing in the lobby walking to the Twitter reception desk. Now, no doubt, this scene plays itself out many times a day, so we thought we better own up and see if it was OK if we could hang out. The receptionist (her card called her ‘Communication Officer’) smiled and said it was fine. She even gave us a password for free WIFI. So for the next hour we photographed ourselves, tweeted, foursquared and facebooked from Twitter HQ, used the facilities, sat in all the seats, read the framed newspaper and magazine article covers and watched the tooing and froing of Gen Y computer whizzes as they moved between offices (they needed smart cards for access here of course).

Yes, a sad middle aged wannabee story – but have you ever been to Twitter HQ? No, I didn’t think so 🙂