The small bedroom is turned into a library, and is nothing but bookshelves and cardboard boxes of books. I have my files of poetry manuscripts there. I have run out of storage space for my poetry magazines and books. I live in cardboard boxes. There is a spare bedroom for visitors, with an orthopaedic mattress.
My computer sat in the front window, not far from my TV set and music systems, until I was burgled. I hid it away so as not to attract attention to my house but now every house has a computer and for Broadband I have restored it to the front window. The burglar was only looking for money and jewellery to finance his drug habit and although he destroyed my back door only stole Alison's ten pound note. The floor has racks of CDs. My cats enter the house through the cat-flaps. I wrote the Cat Poems about my first two cats, Fritz and Ferdia. Ludovic, my last cat, was a great hunter and stayed out in all weathers. I wrote a poem on his death. He died of a bone marrow disease at six years old. I now have a new cat Marty which I got as a kitten. He is totally unflappable and is a great companion. I wrote the Kitten Poems about him. My poems can be found at Douglas Clark's poems and for my 60th birthday, which I celebrated over a fortnight's festivities, I designed a pamphlet Alive which contains my life-history. Alison, my friend, used to come in and clean for me once a week then I had an agency once a fortnight but now I have to do it myself. I am not very good at dusting.
For the pubs in Bath see the Great Bath Pub Crawl. My local pub is a walk down the steps and up the narrow path. It is the Trowbridge House. I used to visit the Englishcombe Inn which is within easy walking distance but it is being turned into a care home now as, like so many pubs nowadays, it became uneconomic. Everybody knows me in the pubs and many of the regulars have books of my poetry. Once or twice a week I go into Bath and visit the Raven or Barley Mow. where I meet with my friends. I normally go to three pubs in Bath during the week visiting friends in each one. I have a routine to occupy my afternoons. My liver was causing problems, although I am not a heavy drinker, so the hospital kept an eye on it but now I am left to my own discretion, which means moderation. It got hammered when I was kept alive on drips after catching MRSA after emergency operations for blood clots. I did voluntary admin work three mornings a week at the Citizens Advice Bureau at Midsomer Norton, which is ten miles south of Bath. It was good for me cos it got me out of the house to meet people. But it was sheer drudgery. At least it gave the car a run. And on Friday afternoons I used to go to Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institution in Queen Square where we were scanning their museum in order to put it up on the World Wide Web, but that job seems to be completed. I am idle now. So I go out to the pubs more.
To occupy myself, as well as buying mainly non-fiction books, I subscribe to many magazines including The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, The New Scientist, Prospect, The Scots Magazine, Scientific American, The New Humanist and poetry magazine: Acumen. Harry Wainright at the Oldfield Park Bookshop at the bottom of the hill in Moorland Road is marvellous at ordering books and can often get them delivered to his shop the next day. By contrast Waterstone's can take weeks.
I have been researching Family History on the World Wide Web and the Pettigrew findings for my mothers' Pettigrew family are available. We cant get back before 1699. My fathers' information is contained in Clark Kin.
My car, a Citroën Saxo, sat out in the cul-de-sac. I drove my previous car, a Citroën AX, for twelve years before giving it away. Then I bought the new one. I have a garage which I don't use.
My Saxo was stolen. The burglars came into my house after midnight searching for the keys. Found the spare key in a pot on the mantelpiece of the living room after ransacking the living area and that was the last that was seen of the car, which was parked outside. All they took was the key and how they knew my front door was unlocked is a mystery I dont like to think about. It is always double-locked now. The reason I didnt lock the front door was that with all my health problems I didnt fancy being taken ill in the house and no-one being able to get in to me cos these houses are built like fortresses. That was a silly mistake. But fortunately the insurance company paid out generously and I got the full value of the car back. Rather than buy another car I have decided to hire one when I need it and this seems a sensible decision, cos the Saxo was unused most of the week. I have an excellent local bus service in Bath which I use with my free buspass and am now learning the trains for travelling further afield.
I came to Bath in 1973 to work handling Statistics in the Computer Unit at the University from my previous job as Research Investigator at British Steel Research on Teesside. Before that I had dabbled in studying to be an actuary at the Scottish Widows Fund in Edinburgh, and in postgraduate work in Statistics at Glasgow University, after taking my Honours degree in Mathematics at Glasgow.
My first experience of computer networks was in 1974 when the South West Universities Computer Network was set up. From this there was early access to the DARPANET via ancient modems to Imperial College in London. SWUCN was a Computer Board experiment and was the prototype of the nationwide Joint Academic Network (JANET). From these beginnings I was involved with what became the Internet from its earliest and, of course, with USENET and the World Wide Web, where I soon set up this website. Sergey Brin of Google noticed that one of my published books was up on the website and used the fact in one of his academic papers. He didnt realise that the book was registered on Amazon UK, and not Amazon USA.
Eventually Bath and Bristol Universities combined to install a Multics system. Multics was the Rolls-Royce of computer operating systems, the baby of MIT, out of which most modern systems, such as UNIX, have derived. I was lucky enough to be able to write commands for Multics. Unfortunately it was based on hard-wired 36-bit architecture so was doomed in the long run, and Bath University replaced it with UNIX machines which I never really got to grasp with as they were relatively primitive.
After my redundancy for ten years I accessed the Internet through my external account at Bath University. For the first five years I had a Nimbus 286 and used a 2400 modem to access their UNIX boxes. I used the `lynx' browser to access the Web and got a very scrambled screen because I had Procomm over 8 bits, I didnt like using Windows preferring MS-DOS. Then I bought a Dell 486/33 from a friend and was given a 28800 modem so I could use Netscape Navigator 4.08 on my Windows 3.1. It was a whole new world. I had to revamp the 320 plus files in my Webspace for the graphics screen. I still used Procomm and `lynx'. Then I lost my Windows 3.1 access to Bath University and couldnt use Netscape anymore. But I realised I had to say goodbye to MS-DOS and bought a eMachines 770 Pentium 4 Windows XP machine and left Bath University for an ISP, PlusNet, entering the 21st century. The first thing I did was to put some pictures up on the Web: the cover graphics of my publications and a narcissitic kaleidoscope of photographs of myself from the ages of 20 to 60. I also have a photograph of my 30th anniversary Glasgow University reunion from 1992. I also have a photo of the Clark Brothers at my brother Ron's wedding. And here is a fotie of Susan of the Poems.
What I know of the city of Bath is basically Waterstone's bookshop and the CD shops. And of course Sainsbury's, the supermarket. As when I lived in Edinburgh you don't notice the architecture. You take it for granted. But now I have learnt of the importance of the little local shops which the supermarkets would like to deprive us of. So I use the corner shop and once a week walk down to Moorland Road, which is about the last shopping street in Bath where you can find butchers, greengrocers, petshop, bookshop, hardware store and much much more. Although I still do my bulk buying in the supermarket Sainsburys but also in the Coop Scala supermarket off Moorland Road.
The big event of the year is the Bath International Music Festival where I am a Friend, when I go to a dozen concerts. I have an elitist taste for classical music but also head for the best folk music. I only rarely go to a concert during the year. I also go to Bath Literature Festival where I am a PenFriend. I am a Friend of The Chantry Singers. And I am a Patron of the Bath Mozartfest which is now better quality than the Festival for classical and various music. Bath Festivals Trust is on the Web as is Bath Mozartfest. When I had the car I used to go to the cinema in Bristol where there are three luxury complexes. It was cheaper to go to the pictures than to spend the afternoon in the pub. I am very selective about TV and now use the BBC iPlayer a lot. But I prefer music and reading and gossipping in the pub. I was given the lovely present of a DVD player, and enjoy them.
It is a quiet life and I have just enough income to maintain a suitable lifestyle for me and the cat. All that mattered was writing the poetry and getting it published, and then sitting back and waiting for a hundred years. But now I don't write at all. I put my energies into my Web magazine `Lynx: Poetry from Bath' for three years, but I terminated it due to lack of quality contributed articles.
But it is all academic anyway because every 4-5 years until I went on Warfarin my incurable bone marrow problem, polycythaemia, which affects my blood tried to kill me. The last time was in the summer of 1997 when I had two serious operations to remove a section of my small intestine smothered in blood clots, and caught MRSA putting me in Intensive Care for three weeks. It was a very close-run thing. The next time I may not be so lucky. I note from analysing my finances that since I nearly died I began spending an extra 35 pounds a week on living, with the knowledge that my pension was now index-linked and my income increasing by 20 pounds a week, putting me up from 30 pounds a month to a then 65 pounds a month in the red. It must have loosened up my Scottish frugality. Now that I am getting my Old Age Pension I dont need to dip into my savings to subsidise my everyday living and after sixteen years am out of the red and actually have spare cash. But everything that comes in goes out as there is no point in saving at my age.
If you want to know about my life all you have to do is to read my books of poems. They are my history. I have a good degree, in Mathematics, from a great University, Glasgow, and have been extremely fortunate in life. I worked at another good University, Bath. It has all been swings and roundabouts so there are no regrets. I intend to live forever.
Douglas Clark/ Bath/ Benjamin Press, 69 Hillcrest Drive, Bath BA2 1HD, UK/ email@example.com