Published by Austin Macauley, London  207 pages

 'Book of the month' September 2020

Chosen by Middlesex University Alumni. See Facebook and LinkedIn.



"An Unexpected Development -  
Clacton to Melbourne - the long way"
9781787100398  paperback
9781787100404  e-book
Target audience:
Memoir lovers and armchair travellers
Those with an interest in the technology industry and its development
Young people looking for encouragement
Back cover blurb
Born in the second World War in London to working-class parents without a book in the house, Derrick was not expected to do or be anything except a blue-collar worker.  Most of his childhood was spent on the Essex coast where he enjoyed the seaside life.  After a parental fight to remain at school into the sixth form he studied mechanical engineering and worked as an engineer before finding opportunities in the emerging computer age.  He worked for four large engineering companies and the largest UK supermarket group of the time, and describes the change-over from primitive punchcard and paper tape equipment to leading-edge systems from the viewpoint of a software developer, business analyst, project manager then manager of an I.T. Department with Plessey, a giant electrical engineering company in east London.  He became a training instructor, consultant and partner in a UK I.T. training company and worked around the world before starting up his own training business in Australia.  He relates amusing and insightful anecdotes of his work with many companies and in many countries and affords glimpses into the common mistakes that were, and still are made when organisations spend huge sums of money building large software systems.  


I grew up in a household without books and where culture of any sort was scorned.  I broke the mould when I passed the eleven-plus exam and went to a grammar school. This experience and membership of the boy scouts opened my eyes to other worlds.  After qualifying as a mechanical engineer I worked in engineering for a short time before making the switch to the emerging computer industry.This was in the sixties when computers were as big as houses.  My interest was in putting computers to use to solve business and manufacturing problems.  After working for Marconi I joined the Sainsbury supermarket group and there I managed a project to revolutionise the distribution of products to the supermarkets.  It involved the world’s first use of bar-code labels and was the subject of my first public speaking events.

I then went on to manage a computer unit at the head office site of the Plessey company where I was able to further develop my leadership and managerial experiences.  Changing direction a little, I then became one of a team of four in a tiny I.T. training business.  We soon grew this and expanded into overseas markets.  I became a roving presenter of short training courses, visiting many countries and working for a variety of organisations.  I moved to Australia when the business was sold, starting up my own company in Melbourne.

Along the way I married twice, divorced once, bought, sold and knocked houses about and had a great deal of fun.  The latter years have been spent bushwalking, adventuring and travelling the world.

Book Synopsis


The book follows my life from a bookless childhood, where I was brainwashed into believing that I was of no consequence and had no future other than that of following the family tradition of compliant, blue collar workers.  My early days are described on the Essex coast in the fifties when seaside holidays were popular.  A parental struggle ensues when I have the option of an education after the age of sixteen.  The Boy  Scout movement and an engineering course assists my development and a career path evolves, working for large companies and one of the smallest as I move into the fast-developing computer industry.  My confidence rapidly improves as I move up the ladder with anecdotes from travel, training, managing  and consulting situations with directors and senior managers of government, public and private organisations who are often making expensive mistakes with huge software projects.  Workers, managers and the general public are introduced, cautiously at first, to the electronic technology wave which was to wash over the world and in which I had a part to play.  A move to Australia follows where I start up my own business using these experiences to make it a success.  Along the way my personal life of marriage, fatherhood and DIY is covered as I make my mistakes and learn to survive and succeed.


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