Day 19 - Andy

Day 19 - Andy (1st person I approached)
January 19, 2015 - I saw Andy in a crowded coffee shop. He was sitting at a community table, working away on his computer. I approached him, told him about my project and asked if he would chat with me. He readily agreed, closing his computer and making room for me at the table.


Andy was born on Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency, located in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland.

“I have one older sister. We got along, you know the usual brother sister battles. But for the most part we got along,” he said.  


For elementary or ‘primary’ school as it’s called in the United Kingdom, Andy went to a regular school.

“I attended a state school for primary and then the equivalent of junior high was a state school as well,” he said. State schools meaning they were taxpayer funded.

“Then I went to a private school (referred to as a Public school) for a couple of years. I attended King William’s College. It was the school my father had gone to,” he said. During the time Andy’s father attended, it was an all-boy’s school.

“It was co-ed when I went there. The international students boarded there, but I was a day student, I went home every night. My main interest in school was the sports. There was a big focus on athletics. I played rugby,” he told me. (*Fact Check - see link below.)


“I went back to state school for my last few years. The private school was expensive too. I think it was like £3000GBP ($5400CDN) per term. To be honest I think I did better in my GCSE’s (General Certificate of Secondary Education) having gone back to the state school. I had never really liked math, and it suddenly made sense. I stayed on at school and sat my ‘A’ levels (Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education). I passed Math. I think that going to a private school helped me to mature, and learn to pay more attention to my schooling,” he said.  


“After finishing school, I went to Sunderland University,” Andy said. I mentioned that I had spent a week in Sunderland when I lived in England. I was touring with a theatre company selling souvenir merchandise. I told Andy my most vivid memory of Sunderland was of the sand in my bed at the B&B I stayed at. “No,” the landlady told me, “the sheets are clean.” I was there for work, otherwise, I likely would never have gone to Sunderland. Andy agreed. 


“I went there to study automotive design," he said.

"My father had always been into rally cars. He and I built one together when I was younger,” he told me.

“Ironically, I failed the first component of Math and had to repeat that class.” After a year in Sunderland, Andy called his parents to say he didn’t want to continue studying there.

“It wasn’t for me, I didn’t feel I should be wasting my time and the support my parents were giving me. They persuaded me to stay for one more term, just to make sure. I left after that semester.”


“I went back to the Isle of Man, and got an office job with a life assurance company (a hybrid mix of investment and insurance). I liked being an employee and working. And not being in school,” he said.

“I did that for a while. I’m also a singer and a musician. A friend of mine suggested that I should consider going to London and pursuing a career in music. That’s what I ended up doing.”


While pursuing his music career, Andy got a job in television.

“I was working for a television broadcast company as a technician. There were about fifteen channels and other companies would provide us with content. My job was to enter it into our system, format it, and then make sure it went out on the satellite we used. We broadcast to the Middle East, Asia, all over the world,” he said.

“I did that for about three years and ended up running the department I was in. The only problem with that was there was me, and then the CEO of the company. Which meant there was no room for growth for me with that company.”


He landed a job with an online microgaming company based back on the Isle of Man. He had met a woman and was dating. Natalie was working as a website designer, coding and building the sites, with some graphic design work as well.

“I had always wanted to travel around the world and Natalie wanted to travel as well, so we took off and spent a year travelling. We started in Nepal, then Tibet. We saw fifteen countries in twelve months. Sometimes I felt we were seeing too much. We spent an average of three or four days in most places. The longest we stayed was about ten days in one spot,” he said. I told him I thought it was a great test for a relationship to be able to travel together like that.

"Yeah, it almost ruined things a couple of times, but we made it through,” he said with a big smile.


They returned to London after travelling.

“I got a job working for a casino company," he said. The new job meant moving to Guildford, in Surrey, England, 43kms southwest of London.

"We were married and had two children, a boy and a girl,” he said proudly.

“A friend of mine was a deep sea diver and we had been talking about this course that he had done. I had been thinking about it for a year or so, before going for it. I went to Fort William in Scotland and took the seven week course,” Andy said.

“Natalie and the kids stayed in Guildford. The course was all about learning how to operate an underwater ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle). They weren’t manned. they were being operated remotely from on land. I was really good at it too. I spent five months afterwards trying to get a job in that field. Perhaps if I had gone up to Aberdeen I might have gotten work, but there just wasn’t much going on in the industry,” he said. 


“We ended up moving back to the Isle of Man, and I got a job in Microgaming. We knew that it wasn’t going to be long term. I love the Mann, but it wasn’t where I wanted to live longterm,” said Andy.

“We were considering moving to either Cape Town in South Africa, or Vancouver (Canada). I had heard so much about Vancouver. When I was looking for information, I couldn’t find a single person that had anything bad to say about Vancouver. Not one. The plan was that I’d come out to check things out, then go back home and get the family and we'd move. I came home from work one night and we talked it over for a few hours. It seemed like a waste of time and money to do it that way, and we decided to make the move. I arrived two months ahead of Natalie and the kids and then they followed after,” he said. 


They’ve been in Vancouver for about sixteen months now.

“My wife has picked up a few jobs doing some graphics stuff, and looks after the kids. They are five and three years old now,” he said. Andy has done some contract work. He is currently looking for a more permanent position in the technology customer service field. 


We spoke about the start-up boom happening in Vancouver, and about the many technology companies that are now based here. Every company I mentioned, Andy has already done research on.

“If it was just me, or me and my wife, we could live a bit rougher while waiting for everything to settle in place. But when you’ve got two kids, you want them to have a good experience,” he said.


“We all want to be here. We ask the kids what they think about things. I mean they’re only five and three, but we want them to understand what we’re doing, as much as they can. The kids love it here. There are so many more playgrounds here, than on the Isle of Mann. It’s like there’s playgrounds all over the place,” he said, a little incredulously.

“As a matter of fact, I took my son to the playground the other day. When we got there, he looked at me, and said ‘Dad, I’ve already been to this one!’ Like he expected it to be a new one.” #notastranger 

*Fact Check - King William’s College -
**Fact Check - ROV course -