This website is written and maintained by David Bayliss; now from Delray Beach in Florida. Any part of this website may be used for any purpose; I simply ask that you include a citation - or better yet a link if you are producing a web-page.
Odd. That is probably the most common one word summary I hear. I would prefer eccentric but will settle for odd if that is all that is on offer. Born as the fifth illegitimate child 21 year old girl at a time when illegitimacy was not fashionable I was adopted by a couple called Eddie and Betty Bayliss. Both had been reared in a tough part of London and escaped school (at 13 and 14 respectively) to make their way in the outside world without a qualification between them.
They met in their early twenties, fell in love and eloped (much to the annoyance of Betty's first husband the leader of a British ton-up motorcycle gang). Seven years later (divorce laws were stricter then) they married and 7 years later yet they acquired me.
What a disappointment! Dad was a wrestling champion in the air-force (Grandad made his money street fighting) and along came baby David barely tilting the scales. Sleeping almost twenty hours a day and hardly having the energy to cry, I really wasn't the kind of bouncing baby a man's man wants. Fortunately my parents believe in loving people for who they are, not what they are, and I received all the care they could provide.
For Dad that meant spoiling me something rotten, Mother had a more interesting trait. It turned out she was a rabid educationlist. From about three months (I have since seen this with my own children) playtime consisted of being walked around, shown things and given names. Stairs being climbed have to be counted. Cars are sorted by colour. Nappy changing is described in graphic detail for the benefit of the minor. Each day starts with turning the calendar and the name and month being described. Wherein lay the first concern. During my first year mum was content to talk. During my second year my peers started making noises and sounds. I didn't. By the third year everyone was talking, I had two or three words tops. By my third birthday concern was mounting.
The one day the first word came out and Bayliss minor decided to make up for lost time and started talking incessantly. My fourth year also showed a love of arithmetic and a loathing of wasted effort.
Half way through year five the smallest kid in the class turned up for school. A few days with a reading primer got me moved up a class and progress could be made. Boy, did I love reading. My poor mother spent hours each evening reading with me to the point where I had exhausted three years books in one year. I got moved up again and then the trouble started.
I'm sure the teacher thought she was being reasonable. All six year olds need to learn their tables and the table to start with is two. So why was that tiny kid with the squeaky voice refusing to join in and sitting with his head in a book?
"David, you have to join in, you need to know your tables"
'You are doing the 2x table, I know that one already!'
'You may think you know it, but when I've finished with you, you'll know it backwards!'
Small boy stands on chair, recites 2x table backwards, returns to book and reads.
By the time I was seven the rebellion had got severe enough for my parents to get spoken to by the teachers. The conclusion was that I was focusing too hard on academic work and needed breadth rather than depth. So the broadening started; Judo, Cub Scouts, Chess, Photography, Gardening, Swimming, Acting and helping Dad at work. The latter was for two reasons, firstly because I enjoyed all the office equipment but secondly it was the only real way to see Daddy.
My voracious appetite for books, the fees for the 'broadening' activities and rapid boredom with any toys that came along meant that a single income wasn't going very far. Dad was doing 10/6 at work and then working at home writing comedy scripts for extras such as holidays. Dad had started work as the errand boy, by the time I was 8 he was sales office deputy. He still had no training or official skill set, he just had 100% determination and the kind of quick-tongue that tended to get deals closed.
Things at school settled when one of the teachers agreed to take me under wing. I was allowed to leave any lessons I found boring and he would find me something to do, science was his hobby and rapidly became mine, it is amazing what you can get up to with a camping stove and stuff scavenged from around a primary school! He also discovered that I could memorize a 30 minute script (I wonder if he knew how many times my Mother drilled me on those) and had natural comic timing. The result was a class assembly that resembled a revue and had people crying with laughter. It was hard work but I discovered something interesting, I had more confidence in front of a hundred people than I usually did in front of two.
Dad was now Sales Office Manager, which meant mum, & I had to go to trade shows to socialize with 'the staff' & I got to wear my first suit. Looking at the photos I looked ridiculous but I thought I was the business. At the trade show yours truly instantly disappeared to look at the new technology (Dad was in the home-electronics industry) and was quickly fascinated by the new TVs that did Teletext. I came back to find Dad and his sales force having a hard time persuading the British Public that they wanted all this modern fangled technology. One elderly couple were standing with a remote control pressing buttons furiously and not getting anywhere, it was with a top-end set I hadn't had a chance to play with yet. I don't miss those kind of opportunities.
"Can I help you?"
"I don't think so sonny, we're trying to get this television to tell us the news and its very complicated.."
"Not at all, it's a piece of cake, let me show you!"
After a couple of false starts up popped the news, then the football results and finally the weather. A little crowd had gathered by this point. Dad and the team swooped, order pads in hand. By day 3 of the show the reps all knew that 'Our systems are so easy to use an 9 year old demo it' and had a set of schemes in hand to ensure that no-one other than the 9 year old were allowed to get near the remote.
As my age approached double digits it became clear that I had to move on. I done about all the home science there was and working on my own was making me insular so it was decided to jump me a year and send my to secondary school.
My parents were extremely proud of me and set about providing me with all the best equipment they could. This turned out to be a mistake. Being smaller and younger than everyone else makes you stand out. A squeaky voice that spoke standard English (rather than London slang) and an abnormally large head gives you the appearance of a smart-Alec. Turning up to school with a complete set of top-end equipment really was the last straw.
'Posh-Paws' and 'Professor' were the two main names that stuck, I actually liked the second one as I had already decided I wanted to go to Cambridge when I was older. What I didn't like was having my stuff chucked around the room. We didn't have much and I had always looked after things very carefully, wanton damage just didn't make sense.
However the real blow came when we started getting marks back for our work. There were a couple of girls in the class that were ahead of me. This had never happened before, I had assumed that #1 was my rightful spot and competition threatened my perception of what made me, me.
It is hard to say how much of me is genetic and how much by observation of my parents but I reacted to this exactly the way my father would have. Work. Work and more work. Not just to catch up, but to get ahead, clearly ahead. One of the girls dropped out of the race fairly quickly but the other stuck at it for four terms, I had the lead in Maths and sciences, she was ahead in arts and languages.
The turning point came when the head of history stepped in when our history teacher was sick. He had a whole new approach to history. He explained it by taking people out of the class and getting them to act out scenes and he had a dry sense of humour that made it all seem like real fun. Suddenly I was hooked, no matter how dry something seemed you could make it fun if you knew it well enough and tried hard. With this attitude I could work shorter hours than I had been but my brain absorbed more. With the exception of Art and English language I now had a clear lead and could settle down to enjoy myself.
Unfortunately my new found academic zeal didn't help the social situation at school. By now it wasn't just my stuff being thrown around the room, it was me. I bottled this up inside myself but steadily it got me down. The sense of humour went, I started loosing sleep and went off my food.
Dad took me to one side and eventually I told him what had happened. I still wonder what I would do if one of my children told me he was being bullied. Modern educational theory is that you tell the child not to retaliate but to go straight to the teacher. My Dad does not subscribe to modern education theory.
"There is only one way to deal with bullies, you just pile straight in and give it everything you have. At your size they will paste you all around the playground but eventually they'll learn to leave you alone."
He was half right. In the next year I lost two teeth, got a permanently crooked nose and had my tie cut away by a teacher after turning blue.
Half way through the third year we had a new economic teacher that was a trainee. She was hopeless, she had no discipline and little understanding of the subject. The class rioted, I sat in the corner with my feet on a desk reading a book (we were preparing for exams). At the end of the lesson she gave everyone 1000 lines to be handed in under threat of a visit to the senior teacher. Most got the lines done and gave them in. Those of us that didn't were sent detention slips, five of us didn't go. Next economics lesson the riot started, I read my book and suddenly the headmaster stormed in. He was brand new and clearly had decided to show his mettle.
Everyone went quiet and he paced to the front of the room and called out the names of the five of us that had refused attention.
Headmaster: "What I want to know is why you five didn't turn up for the detention." (I haven't put a question mark as, with the benefit of hindsight, I can tell this was a rhetorical question.)
David: "She had wasted enough of my time already, I've got exams to revise for."
Headmaster: "What do you mean she had wasted your time!"
David: "We're supposed to be learning economics, you heard the noise, do you think we can learn with that din going on?"
Headmaster: "That is not the point! You are here to learn and do as you are told!"
David: "And what was I going to learn by writing out the same thing a thousand times?"
Headmaster: "Nothing; but you had to do that because the class had been so noisy."
David: "So I lost an hour of lesson time because she couldn't control the class and was then supposed to lose another hour scribbling mindlessly as a way of making it up?"
Headmaster: "You must do as you are told!"
David: "Even if it stops me learning?"
Headmaster: "It will not stop you learning, teachers are trained to help you learn"
David: "Then this one hasn't been trained properly!!!"
Meantime the headmaster had done his homework and discovered that the troublemaker in his office was actually top of the class in most subjects. I however was rather concerned. These days if a child goes home and says the teacher hit him the parent would be up at the school complaining. In my house if I had gone home and said that I'd have been hit again on the basis that I probably deserved it. However, the headmaster didn't know this and figured that in any showdown he was going to look worse than me so David was allowed to stay in school and was exempted from writing lines provided he showed a suitable quantity of hand-written study notes instead.
I enjoyed my O-level years. The teachers had learned to leave me alone and this gave me a certain cult status with my peers. I had also acquired my first computer and was hooked. It was at a time when the school was desperately trying to appear computer literate so I went around the different departments helping to set them up. This also earned me certain privileges (like being able to stay indoors at breaks) and meant that some teachers actually liked me.
Dad was having nightmares in the office. They had decided to computerize him and like many early computer projects they had decided to computerize his office without first actually finding out what the office did. Chaos ensued to the point where Dad brought home a vast pile of papers each weekend and sat down working out the figures and reports by hand. Enter David with his $70 computer automating the process. What had taken Dad 32 hours of work now took two. He called out the numbers, I typed them in and my little thermal transfer printer, printed the results. It wasn't long before people started asking why all the company figures were on tiny little rolls of silver paper. Dad explained and they called me in to ask what my program did. I explained the ideas and they set about implementing them on the mainframe and I was asked to verify the results. This consumed most of my Saturdays for about three months but eventually we had a working system. The company refused to pay me so the computer guys generously gave me their lunch expenses instead.
This set me thinking that there was money to be made in computer software so I set about producing some. I had already produced a computer language to control a CNC lathe for the metalwork department (in return from an exemption from all the horrible messy metalwork stuff) and set about extending that to be a generalized compiler for low level control work. I sold my first copy of that a week before I turned 16.
It was also around my sixteenth birthday that another significant event happened. I had become largely a recluse. When at home I read or worked on the computer. At school I read or worked on the school computers. But this had stopped my razor sharp senses from noticing a subtle change in some of my peers. Not only did they have longer hair and higher voices than the rest but they had also started changing shape! As a true scientist I decided this warranted further investigation.
The first problem to present itself was finding a suitable subject. Not particularly easy when you are six inches too short, 25lbs too light and have little or no street cred. Having tried my charm on two or three particularly cute members of my class I kind of gave up and became rather cynical.
Around this time we started preparing for English Literature exams, one of the books was twelfth night. We acted out some of the scenes in class and for some completely unknown reason I was chosen for Malvolio (A pompous and pretentious butler loathed and despised by all).
One of the most comic scenes is where Malvolio receives a fake love-letter from (supposedly) his mistress declaring her love for him (although as a riddle). The scene then becomes Malvolio confronting his mistress and declaring his love for her.
This is an extremely tough scene for self-conscious teenagers to act out and was made tougher for me by complete inexperience in this field and the fact that the leading lady was actually rather pretty. I hardly slept the night before fretting about how to handle the most embarrassing moment of my life. Right up until I stood in front of the class and uttered my first line I had no idea what to do. But once the first line came out I knew what to do. Go for it. Big time.
For those of you unfamiliar with the scene the highlight is the sequence of lines (uttered by M) "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them." I think she could tell from the tense body language as I said the first clause that I was going to act this one out. By the giant stride I took whilst uttering "...some achieve greatness..." any possible doubt had been removed and by the time she was flattened against a desk with a squeal for the third clause she new exactly what was coming.
The class roared, the English teacher had acquired a new lead actor for the school play and I had my first girlfriend.
My O level results came through and it became clear that if I wanted to get to Cambridge the pathway was open. I chose four subjects for A level, Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. In many ways this involved leaving behind many subjects I found fascinating, but these four I had quite safely under control and it gave me time to pursue other interests. By this time I was spending two or three evenings a week acting, one singing. Along with this I was captain of the school chess team, a cub-scout leader, a fundraiser for many charities and a form assistant. I even started skipping maths lessons (the teacher was relieved as I kept correcting him) to help out in the remedial classes.
With all this going on you would think I was too busy to reflect, but I wasn't. Deep inside I began to have this nagging doubt that something was wrong. Sure, everything was going well but something was missing. Analyzing myself (I had read widely on psychology by this time) I decided that it must be some throw-back to my adoption so I set about trying to find my birth mother and siblings, of which I have at least four.
One other minor source of irritation was my "Further Math" teacher. An extremely bright guy, one of the few teachers I actually respected and listened to except he had the ridiculous habit of starting the lesson by writing a verse of scripture on the board. He finally persuaded me to turn up to the Christian debating forum, I'm not sure if he ever decided whether or not this had been a good idea. I felt like a lion in a den of Daniels. It is amazing how uncertain many people are of what they believe, by the time I had finished a number had decided that they didn't actually believe anything and some stopped attending their churches.
Exams came and went, reslts came and I went off to Cambridge.
When you have spent ten years of your life working towards something which you then achieve it is very hard to describe the feeling when you finally get there. Part euphoria, part confusion. I was there, now what? I had known since childhood that I was going to go to Cambridge but I had never really worked out why. Suddenly I had to think of something to do.
Work was out. I had gone to Cambridge to read mathematics because it was the toughest subject to qualify for (I also picked the toughest college to get in to) but I had worked out a couple of years previously that I couldn't actually stand the subject. It was tolerable because I was bright enough to do well without working but the thought of three years actually reading mathematics was revolting.
I decided on throwing myself into the society scene instead. Acting, Archaeology, Backgammon, Badminton, Ballroom dancing, Chess, Computing, Country Dancing, Community Action, Cycling, Debating, Folk dancing, Hiking, Oxfam, Photography, Rowing, Squash. It is very easy to fill a week. I also teamed up with a good set of friends, there were about ten of us, most of them were in two or three of the above activities with me. We were sitting down in the college canteen one evening (affectionately known as trough) when the college chaplain asked us back to coffee. I was inclined to decline but the other nine readily accepted. I trudged along. You can imagine my horror to discover that each and every one of them were members of the Christian Union (generally known as the God Squad).
Over the next three months my battle with Christianity intensified. I was an active member of the college-debating forum, joined a CU debating forum (which I later discovered had been set up for my benefit) and started reading the Bible daily to provide further ammunition for the debates.
November 25th 1985 I was debating upon the issue of evolution plying the standard well-worn arguments. I won the debate, but at a cost. Around half-way through the summarizing session my stomach began to feel like I had swallowed a stone. I knew I could win the argument but I also knew I was wrong. I was not an overgrown ape, I was a creation, a creation of God. The empty feeling was not a longing for a father that had run away when he found out I was coming, it was a longing for the father that had been there all the time and that I had been ignoring.
By the time I excused myself from the debate and ran back to my room the tears were streaming down my face, there was a God and I wanted to know him. I took down my Bible, which was now quite well worn and started reading the New Testament. I had done this before but this time it was different, I didn't want to know about the Bible, I wanted to know about the person that had dictated the Bible.
Having taught myself speed reading (as well as speed arithmetic, touch typing, shorthand and memorization techniques) I now ploughed through the pages. By the time I had hit Romans 3 I knew that verse 23 was correct. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This was kinda devastating. After 18 years I had come to know of the creator of the universe only to discover that I didn't make the grade. Thankfully I am not the sort to give up that easily and continuing I found that we are not saved by works (doing things ourselves) but by faith in the Lord Jesus' death for us. I resolved that after further due study I would probably become a Christian.
There wasn't too much more of the New Testament so I decided to read to the end before I want to sleep. I don't know if you have ever read Revelation but it is terrifying. I decided I wasn't going to wait until the morning and so I prayed, in a very stumbling way, that I knew the Lord had died for my sin, I was sorry for all the things I had done wrong and could I now follow him.
I went to sleep with a smile on my face confident that I would awake to a new and better life. The birds would sing better, it wouldn't rain and I would never do anything wrong again.
Boy was I wrong. Actually the birds and the weather were ok but the third one really didn't fall into line. The pride was still there, as was the foul language and the interest in the more shapely members of the college. Being scientific I tried to work out what had failed, I came up with three possibilities
Somehow I knew that one was not the issue which left me with the latter two, and being a determined character I set about trying to fix both. I figured number two came down to theology and number three psychology so I set out a plan. In the mornings I would study the Bible for an hour to track down the theology problems and in the evening I would scan through the psychology books trying to find ways to correct the behaviour I felt needed correcting.
The theology went rather well, I enjoyed it thoroughly. As a scientist I'm used to testing and proving everything, few things get beyond the position of present theory. Suddenly I was reading a book that seemed to make complete and utter sense. The scientist in me also realised that the consistency of the book, written over two thousand year ago, long before computers, is a testimony to its divine origin.
The psychology was less successful, I tried all the tricks I knew.
and none of them actually worked. Some of them worked for a while, a particular transgression could be avoided, but I just couldn't shake the tendency to do things wrong.
The worst feature of this is that I desperately wanted to talk to God but didn't feel I was really in a position to do so until I got things sorted out. I even began to doubt if my prayers had been real as they "hadn't worked". I began to feel quite down and wondered what was going on. I vividly remember lying on my couch one afternoon and suddenly without premeditation I started praying and essentially said that I couldn't make this work and as God was so great and powerful couldn't he help. I was doing all I could to get to him but it wasn't working! Why not!?!
A little thought popped into my mind, because He has already bridged the gap but I hadn't noticed! My behaviour had not changed as much as I would like but my desire had changed. I had always worked on the basis of thou shalt not get caught. Now I wanted to do the right thing, I wanted to follow the Lord. The change had already started and now I had to sit back and patiently watch the changes God was making in me.
Whilst I am glad I went to Cambridge and reading Math was probably the correct course I would have to be honest and say that very few of the lectures had a long reaching effect on my life. Except the first one. I am very short-sighted and so positioned myself on the front bench beside a girl who judging from her glasses had a similar affliction, probably caused by the furious rate at which she was busily scribbling notes. The lecture got quite boring quite quickly and so I started cracking jokes to the assembled gathering. The studious girl beside me turned around and said quite brusquely "Shut Up!" It was some years since a teacher had told me to do that let alone some spotty schoolgirl and so I raised one eyebrow and replied "No-one tells me to shut up."
After such a good start the conclusion was inevitable and the same lady became the mother of my four children; although she never persuaded me to shut up.
But that is getting ahead of the story, a year into college life things looked rather differently. Helen (also know as Clare) had started dating one of the brightest, most business minded and success prone members of the math faculty. She slowly found herself dating a rather different person. Much of the drive had gone, the need to dominate was going, the thirst for success abated and even the sense of humour was dwindling. The world seemed so much more serious than it had done. The last of these also worried my parents, the carefree teenager that could bulldoze through anything that came his way had gone quieter and spent ages on his bed 'daydreaming'. Dad was also disturbed that many of my extra interests such as acting and debating had dwindled down to nothing.
The thing that worried Helen most was that my whole scientific understanding seemed to be falling apart. Rather than accepting traditional scientific theory I was proposing and defending alternatives. The biggest battles were on evolution although we also went around the gender differences as enforced by biblical writings. We rowed about this through to the small hours of the morning on many occasions.
My mother was quite interested in my new religion, she had always had a yearning for God but was held back because she could not understand how a God of love had let so many bad things happen to people.
By this time I was doing three Bible studies a day and had learnt that if there is an answer then it is in the book, the problem was how to get Helen and mum reading the book. I had had so many debates with both that trying to study the Bible with either was just going to lead to a me versus them argument and not a Bible study. Then my devious nature came to the fore. I told Helen that I wanted my mum to read the Bible but that she wouldn't do it with me so would Helen do it for me. I then told mum that I wanted Helen to read the Bible and that she wouldn't do it with me so would mum help. (Note that I actually got away with telling the truth both times!) They set up their Bible studies and carried on reading.
Helen was saved early in 1987.
By this time Christian activities of one form or another had just about taken over my life. I didn't like math and now didn't have that incredible need to succeed so I started skipping lectures and not doing any work. I had decided to go to computer science in the third year and just wanted to scrape through with a third in the second year.
Exams came and went, I had a summer job with the MOD in Malvern (I actually published some papers whilst I was there) when I got a very subdued call from Helen. I had failed. The pure maths papers had been abnormally tough, every pure mathematician had dropped a grade. One grade away from a third was a fail.
As someone that had never failed an academic exam in his life (or been significantly below the top grade) this came as a shock to the system. More shocking was the effect on the people around me. Staunch and true allies suddenly turn and kick you whilst you are down. Even Helen expressed the opinion that I was certainly not the sort of person she had thought she was dating.
I had some very long dark walks across the Malvern hills that week. I had thought (and said) that God was the only thing that mattered, but was it really true. I prayed and I read the Bible. Again and again. God had certainly been a pleasant addition to my life but was he really worth losing everything else for.
By the end of the week I knew the answer. Yes, without a doubt. It may hurt, you may want to cry, but at the end of the day the only thing I have that no-one can take away from me is my God.
Queen's college decided to take me back and give me a shot at a third year. For many people the third year is the toughest, I enjoyed it. I loved the course and I was getting further involved in church and Bible study. The interesting thing was that my attitude to work had changed. I wanted to do it because I enjoyed it and although I wanted to do well my main motivation was to quell some attitudes growing amongst the tutors that CU members under-performed academically because they weren't motivated.
By the end of second term the essays I was turning in had convinced my tutor that I should do okay and at the pre-exam pep talk he suggested that if I really pulled the stops out I could shoot for a two one. I smiled and raised an eyebrow; "Actually sir I'm shooting for a first." He smiled "That's a good attitude, if you manage it I'll buy you a bottle of Champaign."
I don't drink now so I didn't go to pick up the bottle of Champaign but I was pleased to pick up the years highest first.
In the months before I left college I had had a growing feeling that I should find some way of serving God full time. My burden was to make his word available to a wider audience and I thought that the Wycliffe Bible translators would be a way to do this. We went on the explorer and training courses and I felt certain it was for me. The leaders of the organization suggested that it was not a suitable task for someone fresh from college and that I should get a couple of years work experience first. So I started working for a company called Prospero Software writing Pascal and Fortran compilers. In the summer of 1989 I also persuaded Helen to marry me and we started saving for a house.
Then the phone call came from Dr Walker. On the basis of my exam answers and result it was felt that I would make a very strong PhD candidate and why hadn't I applied. This was a tough test, a doctorate had been an ambition for some years but I didn't want three years at university I wanted two years in industry to pay my way through Bible college. I declined although with some regret.
Helen's parents disowned her when she announced her intention to marry me (a Christian from a poor background was not their ambition for their daughter) so she stayed with my parents. We married and bought a house in August 1989.
Students of English economics may just have a little bell ringing in the back of their minds when they read that date, if you do then I can tell you why. It was the peak of the English housing market and the start of one of the most aggressive interest-rate rising periods in recent history. By summer of 1990 our house had lost 25% of its value and our mortgage had doubled. I decided that if we were to keep our heads above water I had to get a job that paid some real money, I moved to Regency Life to help run the micro-systems division. Whilst I enjoyed some aspects of the work the red-tape drove me crazy, I spent more time justifying myself than doing work. After six months it was time to move on and I got a job with JPI the writers of JPI Modula-2 (formerly the Borland compiler team).
My salary had more than doubled in two years and we could keep ahead of the mortgage but there was no way we could pay off the money we owed on the house in a short time period. A number of people were calling the bottom on the English house prices and so by 1992 we decided to try moving to a more expensive house (our credit was good by now) in the hope then when house prices went up the more expensive house would gain value faster than the cheaper one. We found a nice Victorian house, organised the papers and prepared to get moving when my boss called me into his office. "David, I'm not really allowed to tell you this but we're in financial trouble, you really shouldn't be taking on a bigger mortgage just now." I stopped the house move and we started the process of trying to keep the company going. Central to this was our relationship with Clarion software, a database company that was using our compiler technology to develop its next product. As part of this relationship Neils Jensen and I were to go to Florida for the developers conference, he was doing the big opening with Bruce Barrington and I had a small technical break-out session to take. The flight over horrible, I have always been travel sick on a variety of vehicles and 747s are no exception, the exception was the flight takes nine hours. By the time we touched down I could barely stand, my sugar levels had dropped completely giving me a splitting headache, had it not been for a kind taxi driver I wouldn't have found my hotel. I crashed out in my room drunk three sodas ate a load of chocolate and took a pain-killer dose that is probably illegal.
There was a knock on the door, in strode a tall, large, sun-tanned gentleman who shook my hand so warmly I could feel my brain bouncing off the insides of my skull.
"Hi, I'm Bruce Barrington, pleased to meet you. Neils' plane caught fire and had to turn back over the mid-Atlantic so you'll have to do the opening spot, that isn't a problem is it?"
"Err.. no I guess not."
"Great, it's going to be a really major event, the most important announcement we've ever made, we're having it video recorded for the road shows. I've done a script, all you have to do is fill in three or four minutes on these questions, looking forward to it, have a great day!"
Exits through door.
If my mind had been functioning it would probably have reeled, it wasn't so all I could do was go and lie down on the bed and stare at the ceiling. It was almost six years since I had appeared before a large crowd of people, I had given up acting because many of the sentiments expressed were incompatible with my faith. Suddenly I was going to be thrown into the biggest situation I had ever faced with my mind and body in a wrecked state, less than an hour to prepare and no real idea what I was talking about (I had not been with the company long enough to learn the Borland story).
Glancing at the script Bruce had all the best lines (he is a naturally gifted presenter) and the questions were just about unanswerable. The opening one was "So you have been very rich and successful in the software tools business but just what have you done to actually help the development community?"
Man has spent many centuries cultivating and manufacturing medicinal chemicals, I still do not believe he has found one with quite the effect of adrenaline. As I lay on the bed staring at the ceiling I could feel the pulse quickening, the mind clearing and then racing. With twenty minutes to go I was showering (in ice cold water), donning the suit (I still find a suit and tie helps lift my thought patterns) and striding towards the auditorium. I still didn't really have any actual information to give so instead I tried to think of what I did know and how I could bend that towards the questions. I knew we were a compiler house and were trying to make programmers productive and I had a fair idea of what stopped programmers being productive so I figured I'd try to work something into that.
So the evening started, a number of special guests came and went from the spotlight, each with prepared and precise speeches rather like an academy awards and then I heard Bruce giving the introduction and I climbed onto the podium - with the spotlights glaring down and looked out over the sea of faces. I heard Bruce going through his script and then out came the question that was my cue. He had very kindly softened the question down so that I had a reasonable chance to stumble out a simple response and end my pain as quickly as possible. Had I been running on anything other than adrenaline that is exactly what I would and should have done. I didn't. Bayliss logic dictates that if you are in front of five hundred people each expecting you to give a quiet and sober answer then that is the one thing you don't do.
"Well Bruce, we asked ourselves a very important question that I'm sure many of the spouses in the audience will have asked themselves, which is : "What the hell do programmers actually do?"
This was probably the first sentence the spouses had heard all evening that they could relate to and I had instantly won half of the audience, the laughter hadn't abated when I launched into the second line. Same trick, an extremely serious opening followed by a voice change and the punch-line at the end.
"We looked at this question from three angles, commercial, technical and psychological. We studied empirical and anecdotal evidence collected from hundreds of developers over two years from three different continents and came to the inevitable conclusion that on the whole programmers waste their time."
The roar of laughter was so loud and long it almost threw out my timing (American audiences are much warmer than British ones, it takes some getting used to). I decided it was now time to do a bit of technical stuff and then bow out whilst I was ahead.
"And they waste their time in one of three ways; a) They write code someone else has already written, b) They do things they don't have to because the don't know what their tool can do c) They spend time trying to force their tool to do things it can't"
The audience was nodding furiously, I was able to share how JPI had tried to solve these problems and then handed control back to Bruce. There were a few more questions backwards and forwards which I answered far more weakly but first impressions count and as I walked back to my chair Bruce told the audience that he had had an agreement with Niels that Niels wouldn't upstage him, and that he wished he had had a similar agreement with me.
The following day we had multi-track breakout sessions, mine was more like a break-in session. The chairs, the isles and the walls were all filled before I got there. This time I knew my subject and the session went without a hitch.
This event really marked the start of a new phase of my employment, here was a bona-fida techo-geek that could actually speak, and well. In the following years I did main-stream presentations on three continents and always came out as the top-rated speaker.
But why? Whilst it is good to be able to entertain large audiences for work, as a believer I don't think God would have given me an ability like this without using it. Church life was going well, we were at Mill Lane Chapel where there are many lovely Christians and we made a lot of good friends. But what were we doing? Missionary work was out, we had horrendous negative equity and anyway Helen really didn't like the idea of foreign lands. Then I was asked to help out with a Sunday school, I agreed but was apprehensive. I study scripture at the level of the Greek how on earth should I approach a Sunday school task?
I actually followed an example I had seen from my father. Everyone that knows him will tell you he is naturally funny, he can make up thirty funny stories at the drop of a hat. I know better. I have seen him up day and night writing out hundreds of pages of notes phrasing and re-phrasing sentences until he has one that flows naturally. I did the same thing, I had to do a fifteen minute story, I spent 35 hours preparing. The Lord honoured the work and I have since delivered hundreds if not thousands of Sunday school stories and have had the joy of seeing children come to know the Lord for themselves.
By 1994 I was working for Clarion and my job was stable. My salary had risen again and we were in a position to move into a bigger house (although we still had negative equity). A house came on the market about a mile from where we lived, it was one I had liked since I was a child and was thrilled that we could now look towards buying it. We put our house on the market and waited, and waited, and waited. After a year of waiting it began to dawn on us that we were being stopped (we had dropped the house price another 25% in this time). We felt that maybe we should be moving out of Cheshunt to Clacton-on-Sea. That may seem a strange choice, the only connection we had with this place was that I had been there on holiday. We got the estate agents to send details, the first house out of the envelopes looked rather uninspiring but the rest looked fantastic. House prices in Clacton are less than half the Cheshunt equivalents and we were able to consider places that to us looked like palaces. We went to look at some of them and they all had good and bad points except for the uninspiring one, that was fantastic. The photos didn't do it justice. It was a little run-down inside but somehow it just felt right. We had had an offer by this time and so we placed an offer on this house. The paper work started moving but our buyers started getting evasive, then they pulled out and we had to withdraw our offer.
We were now completely confused, what were we supposed to be doing? Maybe we should stay in Cheshunt so we reduced the house price some more and started looking at Cheshunt houses again. By spring we had been trying to sell for 18 months. Helen was getting involved more with the church and we regularly holidayed with church members. I was getting restless though. I enjoyed Mill Lane, the teaching was superb and I loved my Sunday School group but somehow I didn't feel I was being used fully. Cheshunt has many, many skilled brothers, I was learning vast amounts but was pretty much a spare part. I prayed about this and came home from a Wednesday evening meeting convinced we were supposed to go to Clacton. I told Helen, she was unimpressed.
"I don't want to go, I have friends here, I have things to do here?"
"But I think we're supposed to go to Clacton"
"Then why didn't we go last time?"
"I don't know but we're supposed to go"
"Okay, then if God wants us to move to Clacton then let him sell the house in the next month!"
I didn't sleep well that night. I knew inside we were supposed to go to Clacton and I had confidence in the power of God and if the deal had been six months I would have slept well. But a month when we had been waiting 18! That was a stretch.
Thursday morning I went on the train to work, when I got there a message was waiting from Helen, "four young men were coming around that evening to look at the house could I get home so she wasn't alone". I couldn't but a friend of ours could. She needn't have worried, one of the four lads had been taught math by Helen the previous year. They made an offer for the full asking price and we had the lawers working on contracts by the weekend. We were moving to Clacton.
The job of moving to Clacton was going fairly smoothly, contracts were signed, boxes were packed and it was time to come up with a plan of campaign for moving in. Although the house itself was structurally sound there was a lot of work to be done and over some years a lot of money to be spent. I rather enjoyed planning which rooms to decorate first, whilst building tasks to tackle, matching financial expenditure with time expenditure and coming up with a balance of efficiency and habitability. I was just completing the plan, dotting the 'I's and crossing the 'T's when Helen sat down with a serious look on her face and said -
"Actually, I think you need to start with bedroom 4"
"But that room is just the junk room, I don't need to do that until everything else is settled, that won't be for three or four years"
"No, I think you have to start with bedroom four and get it done inside the next seven months."
"In time for the baby!"
Exit carefully laid out and executed plan, enter blind panic. I have always liked children and in truth I have always wanted children of my own, next year. This one was a bit of a blow to the system, moving into a heap with a new baby is really not smart, but then again we could simply divide and conquer, Helen could tackle the kid and I'd tackle the house.
We moved in Summer and by Christmas I had bedroom 4 tackled, I had also done most of the really nasty building jobs that couldn't wait. Junior was due early March and so we started getting all the bits to turn a bedroom 4 into a nursery. Our thoughts also started to turn towards what sort of child we would produce as we have such different temperaments. I tend to major on raw intelligence and quick thinking, Helen on concentration and tenacity. When people asked us what we thought the child would be like we had a stock answer.
"If it has Helens concentration and David's intelligence it will be unstoppable, if it has Helen's intelligence and David's concentration it probably won't even find it's way out!"
We went to a parenting class where the first lesson was on the delivery (Yuk) and about the only useful tip was to get the travelling bag ready way ahead of time. 3AM on January 13th Helen came in to my room, switched on the light
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Eh.. ar.. wot? Helen it's three in the morning what are you on about?"
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Why would I want a cup of tea?"
"My waters just broke!"
"Do you have anything stronger than tea?"
To cut a long story short, Junior had decided it was time put in an appearance. We were rushed into hospital where Helen was checked by the head surgeon, he felt everything looking very serious and then smiled, laughed and said "Just a very big (for his age), very active baby, he stamped he way through, I don't think there is a problem." By early evening out had popped Matthew Edward Bayliss and 5lbs 6oz. Children in the UK are measured at birth, 5 minutes and 10 minutes for alertness (with various tests) on a scale of one to ten. A healthy full term baby will typically score 6, 8, 10. A 'normal' premature (Matty was 6 weeks premature) would score 4, 6, 8, much lower and they start panicking. Matthew came in at 9, 10, alertness wise he was way ahead of schedule, physically he still had a way to go and for the next 3 weeks I travelled back and forth from the hospital whilst Matthew spent his time in an incubator.
About 8 months later I was lying in bed dozing pleasantly (sleep was a short supply commodity) when Helen said "David, is it the 13th today?" "No dear the 15th," "Oh."
Luke Alexander was born the following summer. If ever two children were different, these two were different. Matthew had kicked so hard they couldn't strap monitors on, Luke used to sleep for days at a time. Matty came in six weeks early and always looked physically fragile (on the scales his head-size is 99th percentile, height 80th percentile, weight 30th percentile). When Luke lumbered into sight he already weighed 8.5lbs and was short. He did get 10,10 on the alertness test but then went to sleep, and slept for a day and a half (the longest time period Matthew slept until he was three years old was four hours). People were getting concerned, the doctors had told us that high birth-weight babies tended to loose weight at first but this was looking odd.
English maternity theory says breast is best and they have a selection of mid-wives who hang around the maternity wards trying to persuade Mothers/Babies that this is the case. I remember one occasion when I came into the ward, my wife had tears streaming down her face, everything was cracked and dry and little Matthew was lying there too exhausted to suck any milk and some mid-wife was refusing to let Helen use the syringe because Matthew had to learn to suck. It is incredible how strong the protective instinct inside a man is when his baby whom he has known for less than a week is being physically threatened. With hindsight a feel sorry for the mid-wife, she was probably just doing her job, but whatever by the time I had finished she had handed over the syringes and we didn't have any more problems in that regard.
With this history in our heads we were wondering what to do with Luke. We wanted to have a go breast feeding but if he wouldn't wake up should we set up a drip system. By the 36 hour mark the decision had been made to move him down into special care, Helen lifted Luke out of his cot to carry him down, when he opened one eye and started making sucking motions. They thought they should let him see if he had the energy to suck so they put him to the breast. The best description of what followed is best summed up by one of the mid-wives: "Good grief! doesn't that hurt?!?" Luke had latched on and it was now time to feed. Helens milk build-up was consumed in one sitting as was an 8oz bottle of formula milk. Satiated Luke retired to sleep. This pretty much set the pattern and 'Luke the Lump' has continued to grow in strength and character.
Insofar as it is possible to settle down in a house with two pre-schoolers we started to settle down. The majority of the work on the house has been done and I started to work on the garden in earnest. Our aim was to produce our entire vegetable requirement ourselves and to produce it organically. One of the major benefits of this is we actually get to taste vegetables the way they are supposed to taste. I grew up in a house where eating your greens meant wading through half a plate of cabbage that had been boiled to a mush. We are now able to produce five different vegetables for the plate which are in such good condition you could eat them raw.
Within our church life things have grown and expanded, I have regular opportunities to preach the Gospel and exposit from scripture both locally and in churches further away. We've helped with the Sunday school and embarked upon a tracting campaign.
One of the key advantages of working for TopSpeed (as Clarion had become) was the ability to work from home when I want (although rather more than you might like).
Everything was looking rosy except I started getting headaches, not the little niggly ones but the ones that have you vomiting with pain for hours on end. Finally in October 1997 I went to a chiropractor that identified a neck problem which she set about fixing. There was one longer reaching ramification though, as part of checking in to the practise I had a routine medical, which revealed a blood pressure of 210/160. It was suggested I went to a doctor but as I didn't have one in Clacton (and couldn't remember where the Cheshunt one was) I declined. After a few weeks of those reading the chiropractor insisted I needed medical help so my wife got me booked into her practise. As expected the doctor went through the usual stuff and said he was going to give me some tablets to take and that I had to start low-fat food and taking life easy.
I laughed, sure, sure, but I'm kinda busy right now so maybe I'll come back after Christmas and see what we can sort out then. He looked me straight in the eye and said "Mr Bayliss, with readings like those unless we get this treated now you probably won't last until Christmas."
As a Christian I have no fear of death, when I go it will be to a far better place. I also do not believe in chance, when I go it will be at the appointed time. But I do have some loose ends I would like to tie up down here first. At the time my children were 4 months and just under two. I remember walking along the seafront in the dark and just praying that I'd have long enough down here to tell my children I love them.
On a more practical side we started making some lifestyle changes. Helen adapted our diet to radically reduce my fat intake, I took the proscribed medication and tried to slow down. The latter was the tough one. Learning to say no. I still struggle with this. Blood pressure is now monitored daily and has settled at about 155/85, not exactly ideal but much better than it was.
As the months and years ticked over we started looking ahead again and begun to plan for the life we want to lead. One consideration was schooling for the boys. Although I enjoyed school I didn't think it particularly helped my education. As a school teacher Helen was aware how much the British curriculum had degraded over time and also the low moral and spiritual standards encouraged by modern secular schools. We had a look around but couldn't find a school we would even consider entrusting our children to so we took the decision to home educate. Some friends of ours had used the School of Tomorrow curriculum and so we decided to try that. We were extremely impressed with the materials and so Matthew started on that shortly after his third birthday. Four months ago it was time for him to set the end of year exam. School of Tomorrow believe in mastery so an 80% score is required to go onto the next stage. We looked at the paper and it was extremely tough, designed for 5&6 year olds, Matty was just four. With some trepidation we let him do the test, he came out with 94% in about half the allotted time, this one may be unstoppable.
We also kept going with the house and garden and both are nearing the state where we are happy with them.
In September of '99 I found out that eData.com was taking an interest in the TopSpeed Development Center, this didn't concern me overly. I figured there would be some new and interesting work but didn't expect anything else to change significantly. I was wrong.
Christmas Eve I was stripping wallpaper off of the walls in the kitchen (removing wallpaper in our house involves fairly large chunks of plaster coming too so is an arduous process) and was covered from head to foot in muck when Helen handed me the phone.
David: "Who is it?"
Helen: "Hank" (the found of eData.com)
David: "Ok ! Hi Hank!"
Hank: "Hi David! I need you to work with me on something."
David: "Sure, what is it?"
Hank: "I need you to be in a meeting, I can't tell you who with or why but it's important you're there."
David: "No problem, where do I need to be?"
Hank: "Here in Boca"
David: "Er, okay. I'm sure we can fix that, when do you need me?"
David: (weak laugh)"I'm not sure flights can be organised that quickly but if someone your end can sought out transport I'll be there."
One this you learn very quickly about eData.com is that things happen. The plane tickets were couriered over and I turned up in time for the two hour meeting, and then I flew home again.
Whilst I was willing to help the company in any way possible I could see a problem here. My stomach doesn't cope with flying and my blood pressure doesn't cope with my stomach. Flying backwards and forwards was not going to work so when Hank said he had nine or ten meetings planned for January we decided the only way to do this was from Florida. So on January 10th 2000 we set out for Boca for a month. A decade later we are still here - although an many things have changed.