Five questions for… Giles Turnbull

1. What do you do in your day job?

I’m a freelance writer, mostly about computers and internets. I fell into it. I started life as a trainee reporter on the Cambridge Evening News in the early 1990s. Normal trainee reporter stuff – cats stuck up trees, car crash on the A14, body found in the Cam in the early hours of the morning, phoning Jeffrey Archer for comment on scandals, to which his answer was always “No comment,” and you can see why really – but the big thing that happened was that CB1 opened just down the road from my house.

CB1 was the first cybercafe in the UK outside of London, and after writing an article about it I started going there quite frequently. I taught myself how to use internets while they were still very young. The machines were a mixture of Macs and NeXT boxes. God knows what the software was, I can’t remember.

A couple of years later and a journo friend called from her job in London. “You know about the internet, don’t you?” she asked. Well, sort of, yeah. “Well we need an internet correspondent. Fancy a job?” And that was that. After a few years of London I got sick of it and went freelance. Shortly after that we moved to Bradford on Avon.

2. What do you do outside of work, in your 10% time, or when your boss isn’t looking?

I have a five-year-old. That should be answer enough.

But if I’m honest, I do get time to myself. On Thursday nights I go singing, and after singing we singers go to the pub where the landlord glares at us if we show any signs of singing some more. If I have a free day with no five-year-old and no work (all you fellow freelancers will know about those days), I like to take my camera out for a walk.

3. Why are you attending BathCamp?

Same reason as everyone else. I didn’t get invited to FooCamp. Also, because I think it’s good for my sanity, my career and my sense of well-being if I go to local geek events. I get on with geeks, even though I lack the expertise that a Computer Science degree or a career in programming would have given me.

4. What are you passionate about?

Passions change over the years, don’t they? Stuff I used to get all hot and bothered about doesn’t trouble me as much as it did. These days I’m growing interested in two strands of environmentalism that I label “waste” and “simplicity”. They’re linked, of course. I’m interested in minimising waste, and in all aspects of everything that make life simpler. Other things that start me swearing include: the poor quality of daily newspaper journalism these days; the poor quality of most TV; the poor quality of food offered by most supermarkets. I’m nearly middle-aged, can you tell?

5. What would you fill a bath with, and why?

A cloned copy of myself, who could do the childcare when I need to get on with some deadline-specific work.

About Giles

Giles’ online presence can be felt at http://gilest.org/.