52 The Moor, Carlton, Bedordshire MK42 7JS
1978 – we moved to the Ouse Valley, to a village that had apparently been featured in a News of the World wife-swapping piece. But it was a little like when you go on holiday and they tell you how amazing it had been the week before you arrived, or was about to be after you left!
The house had been owned by the previous Chief Planning Officer of Beds County Council and it felt as if he had grabbed every tree intended for this longish road and put them all on our front lawn. I spent much of my spare time raking leaves!
Almost as soon as we moved here I switched jobs and joined Dixons/ACE so I was travelling to Wembley.
Jane quite rightly concluded that the children’s schooling meant we should stay put and not move home – the excellent local Harpur Trust schools were an added attraction. We had both gone through single-sex grammar schools and wanted the same for our children.
It was my exit package from Dixons that allowed me to set up for the first time on my own, first in consultancy and later with Micronet and Prism.
We formed Prism to source and sell modems for Micronet 800, but signed a deal with Clive Sinclair to become his distributor. I agreed to take 1,000 ZX81s a week together with the associated peripherals and software. When the first shipment was dispatched I called home and told my wife to get the driver to put them in our double-length garage, I was envisaging a small transit van of goods.
Jane and the kids would barely talk to me when they had ended up doing the offloading and having filled the garage, the lounge, dining room and a bedroom they were none too impressed by my new deal. After a week of ‘Arthur Daley-esque’ comings and goings at the house we needed to establish a proper approach.
We found a sealed area within a garage in Islington but couldn’t get insurance. So each week when a shipment arrived I had to sleep in my car inside the lock-up until we could ship it all out. I didn’t sleep a wink, starting at every creak. But we did a £m in turnover within just a few weeks!
We moved into Bedford proper.