Being a programmer on a project is like being a goalkeeper. If you make a mistake or are careless, people will notice immediately. Basically, stuff won’t work. You are easy to blame as you’re the last line of defence
Being anyone else on a project (designer, project manager, tester) is like being a central midfielder. If you make a mistake or are careless, people don’t really notice in the long run. You can still rely on the programmer to pull the project out of any hole.
People may give the impression they are not blaming the programmer when a project goes wrong (even when it clearly isn’t their fault), but a programmer can sense the frostiness that is reserved for them from management.
A programmer may attempt a weak askance glance at his/her team-mates, but he/she knows everyone is blaming them. The slow-motion Sky Sports replay showed they quite clearly could have worked evenings and weekends to make up for the project’s estimating/project management shortcomings.
Here ends this metaphorical mumbling as I am quite clearly being idiotic.
Yesterday I had a rather uncomfortable experience. I was laid back in a dentist’s chair and made to stick my tongue out. Then, a doctor who didn’t speak much took out a HUGE needle and started stabbing my tongue with it. After several prods, he then did something and asked me if it hurt. On my answering in the negative, he chopped off the irritating polyp and then started sewing the flesh back together, confirming these were the type of stitches that disintegrate after a couple of weeks. I answered by making some sort of gurgling noise (the best I could do in the situation I was in).
I had closed my eyes throughout.
When he was finished, he marched out of the room and I never saw him again, leaving me to a couple of nurses who told me to sit up and just relax a bit. My tongue was obviously still numb from the anaesthetic, I remarked to the nurses that it felt like I had a gobstopper-sized ball of flesh in my mouth, or a coiled lizard-like tongue and could probably catch a fly off one of the walls - which they chuckled along to politely.
After a while and armed with a pamphlet (“So You’ve Had Part Of Your Tongue Chopped Off”) and a form for my doctor, I was on my way home. After about an hour, the pain, was… memorable, but thank goodness for the wonderful people who invented paracetamol and ibuprofen. Thank goodness. Part of my stitching came out that evening, which worried my slightly, but the wound didn’t open up. I slept fine, but had only consumed a couple of protein shakes throughout the evening that my wonderful wife had bought for me (along with the painkillers).
Today, I am really hungry, but afraid of eating anything. I even had to turn down the traditional Friday bacon butty. So glad I didn’t have this done before Christmas as was originally planned.
A lot is made of the word ‘heyday’. By the strictest definition I could find, The Frontier (as I shall refer to it as from now on) had its heyday sometime in the late 60s/early 70s when acts such as The Bee Gees, Shirley Bassey and Louis Armstrong would play to a packed Batley Variety Club (as it was then known).
Aside: I’ve always thought of a heyday as a personal thing and when I was there. Take Facebook, for example. Back when I first joined it in 2007, it was a fairly simple web-based tool and it was tremendously exciting to find all the people you used to go to school with and connect up with them again. However, as became clear over the next few years, this excitement is fleeting as it slowly dawns on you that you don’t really care what these people are up to and they don’t really care what you’re up to either. So, for me, Facebook’s heyday was in 2008 when through it was organised a fairly successful 10-year school reunion and friend requests were being received on a regular basis. Now, the new privacy controls mean no-one generally gets to see what you’re up to and I haven’t had a friend request in months as everyone I actually know in the world is on it.
So, for those lucky folk who got to see Satchmo doing his thing for six shillings and six pence (dinner included) back in the 60s, they will quite rightly claim that was the heyday of The Frontier. However, I wasn’t born back then and that’s not my fault, so I can only go on when I used to go to The Frontier on a fairly regular basis - between the years of 1996 and 1998 - or, as I know it as, the heyday.
The Frontier in Batley, West Yorkshire in the mid-late 90s was a place of familiarity. You knew virtually everything that was going to happen every single week and you kept going back for more. Sometimes, the lure of the bright lights of Leeds proved too much, but the chances were that you would end up in the Frontier on Friday or Saturday night (Friday was usually the preferred night of the college/6th form crowd as Saturday was when an older crowd tended to take over the place - including a rather odd chap well into his 60s dressed like Elvis with a huge medallion. I think he might have been some sort of sex-pest but, again, my fading memory is letting me down).
After getting home from college/6th form and watching TFI Friday, you would be immediately on the phone to everyone who was going out finding out what pub we were meeting and what time. Sometimes it was the Batley Irish Democratic League Club (“The Nash”) where an ancient commissionaire-type would relieve you of around 50p so you could take advantage of the unbelievably cheap drinks inside. Occasionally, we would start in one of the crappy bars fairly close to The Frontier in the area know as the ‘Golden Mile’ (Jessops, Oaklands, Sunrise Boulevard, Legends) or the ‘partner bar’ next door to it called The Crystal Rooms. All these places had ‘normal’ priced drinks and, before we turned 18, they were where you were guaranteed to be served confidence-boosting alcohol before you limbered up to the large glass doors of The Frontier to try your luck.
The first time I did indeed try my luck was March 1996. It was my good friend Matt’s 17th birthday and I was 16 at the time. I was a fairly immature, young-looking teenager (I was still losing baby teeth aged 11!) so I was pretty worried about not being able to get in. Matt insisted I’d be alright, reminiscing of the time he first visited the place in a white school shirt and black school slacks. I had some khaki trousers and my dad had bought a dodgy Calvin Klein shirt from a ‘mate at work’ for a tenner that he was more than happy to lend me, so I was all set. I probably gelled my hair (more on my stupid hair in another post), as was the style at the time and I was all set. After taking in a few pubs/bars, I was in the queue. Shuffling forward and attempting to make eye contact with absolutely no-one, I was at the doors. With a nod of the head coupled with a stern look, I was past the bouncer and at the pay window. Unbelievably, I was in. That was easy - I shall always get in from now on. Or so I thought. I only got knocked back a couple of times - can’t remember the circumstances. I also got thrown out for boisterously leaping over the booths in an attempt to get onto the dancefloor for the Norman Cook remix of Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha. Told you I was an immature simpleton.
Anyway, the timetable of a night at The Frontier was exactly the same. I have no idea what happened before 10pm as I never went in before then, but always, without fail, there was a ‘turn’ on when I went in. Some of the more ‘popular’ turns included:
The Muldoon Brothers
Predictable hillbilly take-your-partner swingaround stuff. These guys were playing the traditional ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ song in the big F well before the Swedish eurodance combo Rednex stuck a dance-pop beat over the top of it. The Muldoon’s version was punctuated with the audience shouting ‘bullshit!’ at various points, which was great fun (being 16 and shouting a swearword in a nightclub - of course it was fun!).
Ooh, Night Games. Everyone wanted to go when Night Games were on, because they had a couple of barely-dressed girls up front on lead vocals. I can’t remember what music they did though, and were one of those (many) acts you just wished would hurry up and finish to be honest.
Madness cover band. Again, my hazy memory cannot recall how good they were. Let’s just say they were adequate and leave it at that.
<Can’t remember the name of them ‘Britpop’ act>
As was the style at the time, he tried to sing like Liam and failed miserably.
Anyway, once the (usually) miserable turn had cleared off, it was time for ‘the announcer’. I believed this to be a guy called Derrick, who owned/ran the club (many, many rumours abound of him inviting young blokes up to the offices where he had a jacuzzi). Anyway, the announcer would, in order:
Remind everyone that they were in the ‘world famous’ award-winning (UK club of the year 1986 - they still were printing this on the tickets 10 years later) Frontier in Batley
Alert everyone that the buffet bar is open, serving hot snacks including burgers and ham and cheese toasties. It is to my eternal regret that I never sampled any of the fayre on offer here, instead preferring to get roaring drunk when I was in the club and saving myself for the Oasis curry house next door for any sustenance needs.
Read out the birthdays. Everyone who was read out got to mooch up to the stage and collect a bottle of ‘bubbly’, before a generic brass version of ‘Happy Birthday’ was played. I guess stuff like that is how you remember you’re not in a bad film, as they wouldn’t have stumped up the licensing costs and would have gone with ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ instead
After the birthdays, it was time for the lasers. The green lasers. Now I’m sure that when these ‘beauties’ were first installed, they were state-of-the-art, but what a ridiculous song-and-dance (or rather tune-and-no-dance) was made of the laser show at The Frontier. No-one, and that means no-one, was allowed to dance while the laser show was on. If you got up and started to dance, that was it - game over, arm up back, frogmarched out, end of night. You had to wait for the whole 3-4 minutes that the laser show lasted - all the while the music from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ was playing.
Finally, once the lasers had finished, it was actual music-to-dance-to time. The pattern of the music was always the same too - start off with some cheesy 70s/80s disco (Nolans, Kelly Marie) and perhaps the Grease megamix, following it with some pop tunes of the day (Spice Girls, Will Smith, Ricky Martin). Then it was time for a bit of chart-dance (Gala, Tin Tin Out, Ultra Nate - nothing from the underground) and then, at approximately 01:50am, ten minutes before closing time, the chart-dance would come to an end and the announcer would intone that it was time to ‘slow things down’ and ‘grab yourself a partner’ before what is traditionally known as ‘ballads’ would start to play (‘How Do I Live’ by LeeAnn Rimes, ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams, ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints). It was said that any girl you ‘pulled’ at this point would be known as a ‘ten-to-two bird’ back at school/college the following Monday. And that’s it really. All that was left was to head to Oasis next door for a curry (or, if you’d spent up, a couple of poppadoms) and get in the taxi queue.
God bless the 90s and god bless The Frontier in Batley. Anyway, here’s that Spotify playlist I promised you. For best results, play it in order. As it begins, close your eyes and imagine there’s a load of green lasers in time with the music, but for christ’s sake DON’T DANCE!