The computer room at college was in the maths department, and was a popular lunchtime destination for some of the boys. Computers meant video games and lunchtimes would find the computer room crowded and noisy, with chatter and the sound of aliens exploding.
Sadly, the science block, where I took my lessons, was at the other end of the college. Only humanities was further away, being up two flights of stairs, but history and geography students didn’t seem to care much for video games.
As morning lessons finished, it was a race, that was strangely always won by the maths students, leaving very few empty desks for us science students to claim. Resources were limited, consisting of three BBC micros, four Commodore PETs and a Research Machines 380Z (which no one except Steve bloody Saxon knew how to use, and he would just saunter in at whatever time he liked).
Getting a turn required being in the right clique or having a friend who was generous enough to let you take his seat whilst he took a break to consume a sandwich (no food allowed in the computer room!).
This was tedious, but I discovered that computers could be booked for evening use. I would get some game time!
Later that day, I gleefully entered a quiet and nearly empty computer room, but the box of games was gone! Mrs. Gallagher, the head of the maths department was a fearsome woman, despite only being about 4’8″. Half as wide as she was tall, she always wore the same style floral smock. The type of dress that looked like a large pillow case, gathered around the neck and frilled at the bottom. Thick horn rimmed “battleaxe” glasses and barbed wire tights, completes the picture.
“We don’t play games in the evening!”, she gruffly exclaimed, before turning and storming off.
Despondently, I sat in front of the PET I had booked.
“READY.”, it said, but I had no idea what for. “LOAD” was the only command I knew.
As I blankly stared at the blinking cursor. The rather attractive humanities teacher, sitting at the computer next to me, got up, went to the shelf, picked up a book and without a word, placed it on my desk, before returning to her seat. I gave her a rather halfhearted smile and picked up the book.
It was a book on programming. I read the first chapter, put the book aside and started typing. By the end of the evening, I had a fully functional, even if somewhat crude, version of the dice game “Craps”, complete with pictures of the dice rolls.
This was my thing! This is what I wanted to do.
I never knew the name of the rather attractive humanities teacher, whom I would occasionally spot gliding elegantly up and down the stairs in her tight pencil skirt. I never spoke to her, but whoever you are, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.