These two should never be allowed out in public, but here she is... This week Monsy gets to interview Shazz.
The knock on My Office Door heralded the start of a worrying couple of days.
Hiding under my desk didn't work, as Monsy knew me too well and extracated
me without too much trouble. Tying me firmly to my chair, I was then subjected
to a gruelling round of questions.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
was the first question posed.
How long do you want this to be?
I have all day...
... and all night, if necessary. I know your reputation for not needing much sleep!
I could see from the beginning that there would be no escape!
I better just get on with it then!
OK. I was born in Derby, not too far from the Peak District, and attended a local village school. One of my best friends there was Julia Watson who went on to become an actress, most notably playing Dr. Baz ( who married Charley ) in
My family were very music-orientated. My dad was a keen keyboard musician, playing both the piano and the pipe organ. He was always in much demand as an organist and choirmaster, so one of my earliest recollections is of sitting next to him on the organ stool, fascinated by the speed of his feet and hands. It should, therefore, be no surprise that I was soon clamouring for lessons!
Every Saturday morning my brother ( just over a year older then me... and boy did he always rub that in! ) and I would board a bus and go to the home of two delightful elderly ladies... the sisters Jansen... for lessons. I don't actually remember ever having to learn to read music, I think that it was inbuilt.
At the age of 10 the whole family moved to Abbots Langley, a village roughly halfway between Watford and Hemel Hempstead, which led to some serious teasing about my obviously strange accent. It was here that an interest in Astronomy was cultivated, as I was lucky enough to have not only an Uncle who worked for NASA, but also my form teacher was keen on the subject and ran an Astronomy Club... and a Chess Club. I became an eager member of both.
I followed my brother to Watford Technical High School, which probably wasn't the best school for an artistic soul such as myself. It did give me the opportunity to take up the Flute, however, and I worked my way through at least three teachers and countless concerts and festivals before having the luck to be tutored by Robbie Dawes, who was the second flute for the BBC Concert
Orchestra. I was also very fortunate in my piano teacher, Graham Garton, who was Head of Music at the Royal Masonic School for Boys, very conveniently positioned right next to my school... and I always enjoyed having to go there for extra lessons or to take exams!!
At the age of 13 I started to play 'in the pit' at the Palace Theatre, Watford,at first for book tokens, but eventually for pretty decent money. I think that I have always enjoyed this aspect of my musical career for, despite also playing in countless orchestras and once making a recording for a BBC Radio play ( No... not THAT one! ), I had the fun of meeting lots of showbiz personalities and, of course, there were always the after-show parties! By the time that I had left school and was attending Dacorum College of Further Education... a neccessary
move if I wanted to study A-level music, I was regularly playing for about six shows a year.
I finally realised my dream and was accepted to the Royal Academy of Music in London. Due to family circumstances, namely my son Warwick, I wasn't able to complete my B.mus, and found myself teaching to generate some extra cash. They kept an open place
for me, but I never did get around to going back. Over the years, my teaching practice grew until I was working in schools five days a week and loving every minute of it.
Good, good! So, no obvious connection with computers and the internet there then! How did you find yourself at h2g2?
About two years ago I bought a computer. It was ostensibly to help me keep track of my pupils and accounts, but was actually stuffed full of RPG games which I had first played and enjoyed on a games console. Frustrated beyond belief by a particularly devilish game and, knowing that help was available on the web, I finally 'got connected' in February 1999. It wasn't long before I had the ICQ programme, invaluable for long chats with the host of Magic Grounds from whom I was getting help with the game. I was always up early and watched The Big Breakfast, where, of course, I saw DNA promoting his new Web Site 'h2g2' I can make pretty good scrambled eggs' I thought. Let me have a look at this.
I had heard the radio series, watched the television series, read the books... I hadn't got the T shirt ( yet! ). I think that I spent the first couple of weeks pestering Mark Moxon by email, until he gently prodded me by telling me to: Get in there and post something!
The rest is history. I met many new friends from all over the world and eventually found myself working for the Post. Vegiman was, at the time, the visionary responsible for its inception, but pressure of work and a dodgy computer led to a fairly bloodless coup by Pastey and I, and I found myself in charge.
~Monsy unties one hand, provides me with a huge mug of steaming tea, and allows me to indulge in one of my many vices.~
Come on shazz! You're not getting away with THAT! What about THE story? Remember that I know all about it as your close personal friend!
You mean about the Mayor?
I ask innocently.
~Monsy giggles, and then reties my hand.~
Of course not! We already know all about that. I want some personal details.
Personal? This is already turning into a novel!
I parry, desperately.
If you don't tell... I will!
she replies, with just a touch of malevolence in her voice.
Let us just say that I met TowelMaster in the forums sometime at the start of my h2g2 travels. I persuaded him to install ICQ and we chatted as often as we could. In September,we were asked to do a small favour for Wowbagger, which involved meeting In Real Life, a camera, and seeing rather more of each other then was maybe wise. All I can say is that it felt as if we had known each other for ages. We 'hit it off' straight away and, by Christmas, it was looking fairly inevitable that we would end up together. TM formally
asked me to move in with him on 01 01 2000, and then began the months of hell... living apart, but wanting to be together,giving my notice to the schools, winding up things in England, and saying goodbye to all my pupils and family. My kids were all great about it... after all they have the prospect of holidays in Holland now ( My youngest daughter is here as I write! ). I have been here over seven weeks now, and we are very happy indeed. That is as much as you are getting on this subject, Monsy!
Fair enough. It had to come out eventually... better out then in as the saying goes! Now, what are your thoughts on h2g2, and what, if anything, would you like to see changed?
That question is much easier Monsy. It goes without saying that I am completely hooked on h2g2. I love the feeling of community which is generated, the variety of subjects found in both forums and Guide Entries, and the opportunities to meet both 'The Powers That Be'; and fellow researchers.
Change one thing? Hmmm. Being an ACE, I think that it would be useful to be able to post a welcome to new researchers even if they haven't 'activated' their homepages. I know that mine lay barren for the first couple of weeks as, at that time, I knew nothing about
coding or what was expected of an h2g2 homepage. It can be very frustrating, sometimes, to visit, say, 20 Newbies, and only be able to say Hi to one or two.
What about changes to the POST?interposes Monsy.
Well, we are in the process of moving all of the POST articles onto the h2g2 servers, which should make things much easier for us. Pastey is working away behind the scenes creating article formatters and other cool tools, although I suppose that I will have to give him a few weeks off soon for his forthcoming wedding and honeymoon! Greebo.T.Cat is kindly running a survey for us at the moment, which should hopefully give us more idea how researchers see the POST and what changes might be appropriate.
I see. Any funny experiences you care to share?
Well, I find myself constantly amused by the antics of all of us who start improbable forums. The speculation over the 'NM' tag for Fairly Strange was a funny forum, as are all of Vegiman's and Garibaldi's parties and the shinnanigans over at The Rambling Misfits. My House of Relaxation keeps popping up unexpectedly and the goings-on at the Ladies and Gents cause me great hilarity, although we all seem to be crossing our legs at the moment.
~ Monsy then whispers yet another question in my ear~
I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it might incriminate me! Let us just say that, thanks to Yoz changing my sex for a few weeks, I have experienced life from both sides of the great divide, and reserve judgment accordingly! It is a well-known fact, however, that I am rather fond of beer!
Do I have anything further to add?
Could I just say a big 'Thank You' to all the researchers who have either written articles specifically for the POST, given permission for them to appear, or helped with editing and the art work.
Ermmm! Monsy? Why have you turned the light off? Could you please untie me now?? I think that I need to visit the ladies over at The Aroma Cafe!