benf1.JPG (1757 bytes)Ben Frimanbenf1n.JPG (56172 bytes)

Bedales 1969-1973


Rachel 5
Howard 2


Software producer & publisher


Huntingdon, Cambs, See


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Untroubled by nil prospect of getting good enough 'A's, I had aspirations of becoming a vet and applied to 5 universities who duly turned me down. Through the clearing system, I was offered a place at Reading to do Physiology and Biochemistry of Farm Animals (yes it really exists). It's a blessing not ending up as a vet, because in later life I've become the kind of person who'd much rather tap away at a keyboard than get his hands dirty, so a vet's life is not for me.

Reading is a bit of a blur (my memory of it, not the town itself). Apart from getting involved in the university rock scene and doing quite a bit of cycling, I vegetated (OK, continued to vegetate). It was thankfully coming to the end of my bad hair era. You can imagine that the prospects for a holder of a degree in PBFA are somewhat limited. Maybe, I should have thought of that earlier, but at the end of the three years, there seemed no option other than research. So, somehow, I ended up at Nottingham University School of Ag (at Sutton Bonnington, Leics) doing a PhD in hormonal control of reproduction in the ewe (can we get the sheep-shagging jokes out of the way now: "as much fun as you can have with your wellies on", "my case comes up next week" etc). The research was badly flawed scientifically so I ended up with an M.Phil instead of a Ph.D (my supervisor, who planned the research, ended up with a chair but that's the way it goes). I got married (mistake) to Ros, who had been my girlfriend since Reading days, but we separated amicably after 2 years.

With hindsight, the research was flawed from every point of view. Funded by the Meat & Livestock Commission, and aimed at benefiting agriculture and the meat industry, the idea that intervention with hormonal treatments might make ewes able to have more than one pregnancy per 12 months was fine in theory but far too expensive from the husbandry point of view to be of any use.

Based on past experience I REALLY should have thought about it earlier, but the prospects for a sheepshagologist make the PBFA degree look like vocational heaven. During the research I did a little programming (a lot of programming actually because getting even little programs to work properly took lots of time) and decided that was my way out. I got a job as a trainee programmer at Unilever Research near Bedford, progressed through the ranks, met my current wife, Amanda, on a squash court, had a bright idea (I thought so) for starting my own business and became my own boss after 3 years.

In those days (early 80s) we got the travel bug and took a long holiday each year backpacking in Asia. We could never get enough of India (though I've had enough of temples to last me a lifetime), and Burma was so weird I had to keep pinching myself to check I wasn't dreaming.

We still live near Bedford and Amanda still works at the big 'U'. In business, I'm a survivor (only just at times) probably earning about the same as I would if I'd stayed with 'U' but having rather more fun. I developed and market a touch typing tutor (see and develop electronic catalogues. Lately I've got into the exciting but dodgy arena of business in Eastern Europe (finding my roots). Over the years we've both become very sporty (tennis, running, swimming, cycling and skiing) and my big regret is not having done much sport in my youth. Bedales wasn't exactly Mecca as far as sports were concerned. Despite a good pool, I don't remember any swimming teaching and when I tried tennis it was just a matter of trying to coerce uncooperative balls (tennis, not mine) over the net without the benefit of coaching. These days, I enjoy tennis a lot and do triathlons whenever I can and we spend as much time as possible each winter in Scotland, skiing at Nevis Range. I'm daft enough to have done about 20 marathons (best time=2:51).

At times, my urge to do something musical has got the better of me and I joined or formed various bands at various stages so have seen the insides of more working mens clubs than you could shake a bingo caller at. I can still waste hours playing the blues.

We have two children, Rachel, 5 and Howard who will be 3 tomorrow (don't ya just love birthdays!). Amanda has worked full-time throughout (with 6 months off for good behaviour twice) so they have both been through the Unilever on-site creche and have turned out gregarious and confident because of it. Luckily for them, they're both into skiing, though Howard can't understand
why we don't go in the summer too! Politically: I'm Green but not yet.

Religion: God no!

Food: Love everything spicy, especially Indian & Thai

Music: I like the Spice Girls but I couldn't manage a whole one (that's a joke).

OBs I've spotted:
Michael ... ah, his last name escapes me again - Mr Shrew! (we were cruel b'tards weren't we?) - I met him in a pub in Oxford a year or two after leaving Bedales. Possibly influenced by drink (me, not him), I mistook him for somebody quite different (like opposite) and the conversation that ensued must have seemed pretty strange to him. Got it: Wheatley.

Jamie West-Oram - I saw him on TV about 10 years ago. He was lead guitar in Tina Turner's band. I gather, since telling this to Tim Jukes, that they are in regular contact.

Alison Thurlbeck - she worked with me in Unilever for a while. She was 3 years below us, so I don't expect many of our year would remember her. I certainly didn't! She left 'U' to go to Mars (the sweeties company, not the planet).


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