Michael Scannell

From East to East

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With Jessica, 2004

I have spent some of my life on all six continents.

I am one of a family of four children—but my beautiful younger brother Paul dies a few years ago.

I was born in September 1943, in east London, as bombs fell. I grew up in East Africa—first Uganda, then Kenya—where my father (an accountant) worked in the colonial service. The family left Kenya in 1963.

I went to Oxford University, where I read English, and later did a D Phil: on the treatment of emotion in Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontė. My D Phil thesis can be read online—or downloaded as a PDF.

While finishing my thesis, I took what I thought would be a temporary job at Oxford College of Further Education. It turned out to be an interesting enough job that I stayed there until April 1997, when I left in order to concentrate full time on writing and freelance work.

I taught English, worked as a tutor for the Open University, and worked as a personal counsellor. (I am a trained counsellor.)

Computing

I also taught computing. I gave classes to professional programmers in C and C++, and Windows programming. I had become interested in computers in the 1960s, went to classes in the 1970s, and bought my first computer (a 'BBC B') in the early 1980s. In 1986-7 I studied for a diploma in computing at what is now South Bank University—passing with distinction.

It's important to me to stay up-to-date. In computing, this means mastering new programming languages, and being at home with the latest technologies used on the World Wide Web.

Web Design and Development

Unusually, I am home in both ‘back-end’ development and the worlds of graphic and experience design. For development work, I am at home with HTML 5, XML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, ActionScript, Perl and PHP. Also content management systems such as Wordpress and (especially) Drupal.

In the last 15 years I have designed many Web sites: you can see examples on this very Web site. In the last few years I have concentrated on responsive design.

Unfortunately, I am so busy on clients’ Web sites that I have no time to update my own—including this one. It is not representative of what I have learned in the last 20 years! Perhaps one day …

For design work I used—before Adobe took over Macromedia—to use both the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, LiveMotion) and Macromedia's Studio (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Freehand).

I now (in 2017) have an almost disablingly expensive perpetual subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud. This is how a feudal Adobe is keeping even the most creative of serfs in a perpetual fiefdom. (I have to confess that our feudal lord keeps producing amazing software.)

Family

I got married in 1969 (and divorced in 1984). I have two children.

My son Piers works in IT, at the moment for a company which used to be part of the BBC. My daughter Imogen is an accountant—like my father. She and her partner Mike got married in December 2004.

I have four grandchildren: two grandsons—Bradley and Ewan—and two granddaughters: Jessica, who was born in November 2003, and Phoebe, who was born in October 2006.

Writing

I wrote my first story at six. I have been writing ever since.

In the 1960s I wrote for IT, produced multimedia events, and wrote and composed a rock musical which toured England's ‘Arts Labs’.

My first steady job was as a singer/guitarist, in the ‘Monk's Retreat’ in Oxford. (I managed to throw in some of my own songs.)


 

While I was working at Oxford CFE I wrote articles, poems, songs and several plays and musicals—for which I also wrote the music. Almost all of them were produced by amateur groups.

Looking back on them now, what intrigues me is how oddly I managed to anticipate things about to happen.

In early 1984, in a collaborative musical featuring contemporary heroes, I took as my character Nelson Mandela, whose status as an icon in Europe was only restored in the summer of that year (with, among other manifestations, the Specials' Free Nelson Mandela and the Trotters' Mandela House).

Even more oddly, in 1980 I wrote a musical based on the Orpheus legend about a 60s pop star who had his first big hit in years and was then killed. John Lennon had his first big hit in years while we were in rehearsal. During the week of our production, he was killed.

Since 1997 I have worked on a new translation of Bizet's Carmen, which was produced at the Oxford Playhouse, and on two novels. I also worked as an editor and proof-reader, before devoting myself full time to Web work.

Film Extra

Something I was able to do when I first began to work for myself was to appear in films as an extra. You would have to peer very closely to see me in the Canadian film The Red Violin, or the nineteenth James Bond—The World Is Not Enough. But I am visible in the videos of Bridget Jones' Diary, and no one could miss me in Mike Bassett: England Manager.

Homes

In the first decade of the 21st century, I spent some of every year in Australia, where my sisters live. (From the early 1990s, my mother was also there: she died in September 2005.) In Asia I have visited Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. In South America I know Colombia, and its offshore islands, which include what is for me the most beautiful place on earth—the tiny Caribbean island of Old Providence. I stayed for some time in Mexico City. Of Canada and the USA I know only the eastern states—though my wife and I did get to Texas.

I first came to Spain in 1967. I moved here in 2001, having bought a house in Calpe (in the east of Spain, where I first encountered the sunsets which fill a valley with pink light). In between entertaining visitors I keep up with all things Web, and develop Web sites.

2006

I believe 2006 changed my life irrevocably.

2007

In January, I set up a Web hosting and design company, Web Costa Blanca, partly as a tribute to Barry Williams, to whom the site is dedicated. (Select ‘View Source’ at the welcome page.) In June that year I had a heart scare; it turned out to be a false alarm, and my health has never been better than it is now. In August I went to the wedding of my beautiful cousin Frances Williams, pictured at the church door with her new husband Meilyr.

2008

This was the year my brother Paul died. The only thing that redeems it is the hope that I have forged strong links with one or two of his friends in Madrid.

2009 - now

My Web business goes from strength to strength, and I love working for myself. Also entertaining friends and family, who come for the sun and the swimming pool.

For more recent personal stuff, you need to read my Facebook page.

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