How I Tripled My Pay With Excel

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Friends Expenses Challenge

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The Fantasy Land of the social media influencing industry

I’m brainstorming the many aspects of trolling to accompany the article that I wrote on trolling and social media, and how this whole phenomenon has developed over the last 25 years since internet communication and collaboration and communities began

this is not that clear cut, there are gray areas there are degrees and also purposes that are well served but can turn into something sinister So, I’m going to explore


let’s start with how the the phenomenon of the internet and the sharing of ideas, communication of insights and learning from others began on the Internet. The Internet was created by those people or by people who democratically unilaterally created files that had an extension of htm or html and placed those files

on a computer that served as a server for the World Wide Web. So this is something I discovered in 1996 Have you heard of the internet

the penny dropped for me in the summer of 1996 When I first received the package from CompuServe which I had to go to the post office walk to the post office is Macau was working to pick up in terms of meet where I lived. It was exciting and open the box and I looked in there and there was all the sign the sign up the sign in package for the competition. And also it included floppy disk which had

I can’t remember what it’s called.

Anyway, it was called homepage. Yeah, I think it was called home page with that on my CompuServe account I could create an HTML page which was you can reach in the browser what is the route the Netscape at the time? You could put Sorry, you put http colon forward slash forward slash forward slash Huron. And that took you to this page is the page that I had uploaded to CompuServe as a cold published CompuServe. And that page, that file was at the name, H o m e home dot HTML. And, to my amazement, this page that I composed using the copy serves home page application and clicked publish If I could go into the browser and put that URL in, or that string of characters that I learned as to be called the URL. And then that became, that came on my, in my browser, that was a enormous thrill for me. And then what can I use this for? With? Why should I be embarrassed about Zillow, I created a version of Playboy because I had some pictures that I had, I mean, when you talk about pictures in those days of competition, right, you had a plate you had a Playboy and yet your others have other other commercial

paper presence presence of like

images of naked, semi naked girls that you could download and, and to download an image took about, you know, five or 10 minutes slowly so I had some of those images on my computer. So I put put those onto my, as I created this page, this one page actually became more than one page because you could put hyperlinks to other pages. So you had to have and then what the next one the other things that did after that was, was where I used an image from the cover of Cosmopolitan. And that became my homepage. So anyway, the point is that I discovered suddenly that the internet is something that everyone created. Right. And it was growing that domain thing, it was growing enormously. People were creating pages with the html extension and then uploading it publishing it to a service provider some some CompuServe in my case, for some years. Let me see, let me see how many years it was my first internet celebrity happened in 2000. So here we are talking about CompuServe 9096. What was it called by that time probably was the UK on the conduct Internet Service Provider got direct connection

which I signed up for. Because I had cable one of the first areas to have cable

we were living in. So video Tron cable. And there’s a company called direct connection that

was selling the internet service provider.

Offering through through that anyway, I digress. Total total diapers all of this. What I’m really trying to get to is that the Internet became to be came to be because people were creating HTML pages. And that then grew and grew and grew. Now, here’s the thing, this is what I’m getting at all that often is to get to this point, which is that as the internet was growing, how did anyone know that there were resources, articles, insights, discussions, taking place? No, it’s difficult to today because we’re used to the internet of today to try and understand what this was. What this was basically at the time was a static HTML page, right that you could create and publish in that in that page. You can you can have images right now images, when people began to realize that oh, images that looks nice, made the page look like a magazine page or some sort of really colorful thing. But before that, before people understood that they hadn’t quite Penny and quite dropped. It was mostly his textual explanations of things. articles and that sort of thing. The word blog did not exist, right. And what people were doing, were, they were. And the great thing about the internet. And the only thing about the internet, one of the one of the big, big things in the internet that I was hyperlinking. So so that is something that that we had not witnessed before, we had not experienced before. You had encyclopedias, you had books and so on that we, that we bought. But what we didn’t have was that the book, we mentioned another book, see my you go to the library or the bookshop, and then source that book. And that’s how we did did these things up to that time. But now with hyperlinking, you get something referred to in an article, or on a web page. And you could click that, and it’ll take you to that place now. enormously exciting thing for people of 25 years ago, thinking 26 years ago, for the Camino for the early adopters 2016, seven years ago in the mid 90s. So what we have here now is that opportunity, where people are discovering through hyperlinking, people are discovering more and more things and more and more web pages, right. Everything on the internet was a webpage at that time. And they were discovering that, hey, look, there’s something here, here, there’s something here something here. And they find that through clicking the hyperlinks.

Less less in terms of incident avoid volume incidence occurs, less less likely that you would come across something that is mentioned outside the internet, it will be something you will find on the internet because you found something mentioned outside the internet. But mostly everything you discovered on the internet came through this mechanism of hyperlinking. Right. So what this means is that we discovered things that you felt, Oh, I’ve stumbled across something that is Mind Mind blowing. I didn’t know this. And, look, there may be other people who would want to know this. Right? I know a lot of people I know a lot of people in real life, because in those days, there was this thing called two worlds, you two You two universes were called IRL, right? In real life. And then on the internet. Online. Yeah. Remember what term we use for that, but IRL, and internet. So you knew people in real life, and also you knew people on the internet that you you have stumbled across, you come across through Internet Relay Chat. And you want to communicate that you what you want to say that oh, look, I found these things on the internet. Right? And because the internet is massively growing, with new and new content. And actually, we didn’t even use the word content in those days, but new or new web pages. So there was a practice where when you came across something, you wrote a new web page saying I’ve come across this, it’s about this and this guy is brilliant, or this guy’s suggesting this and and I’ve tried to document it works. And basically saying, I found this thing, it may be useful to you I’m sharing it right? Free of charge. That became the refer to as a web log. Web log, right? So the World Wide Web www is now being shortened to where people refer to it as the web. And web log is web log. You are logging what you have discovered and people were following web logs Right, and weblog became shortened to blog. And people had therefore blogs in which they were saying, This is what I found. Okay, love. Stay with me on this, because the two things, this is what I found, this is my original insight, this is what I found. All those things went into web blogs, right? This is this is something that I have known for a while, and I’m saying this, they want to find out and then also linking up those things as well. This is what I knew this is what I found. And therefore, this is something additional that I have progressed because of this that I found. And basically, what that means many things, one of them saying, Oh, look how clever I am. The other aspiration is, I found this may be useful to somebody else. Also. Or it may be people saying, Oh, look, I have an internet presence. And look at me, right. Now, the whole, the whole thing called blogging was something I started doing in 2002. And gosh, it was called Radio, radio something was the blogging platform that I was using. So I was by by now we have blogging platforms, you had blogger, radio blog, I think it was called Radio net. I don’t know something, I read your blog.

And I and I had a

oh yeah, I also bought a domain called Restore domain called Radio This was in 2002. So sorry, 2002. It was actually two years after my, my famous tutorials, the ultra dev cookbook, which which became quite important in that particular industry. So radio blog, is something I had into this into remember this, right, and I use the this first blog by the end of it as a radio something anyway, that was that was a practice at that time called aggregators. So we had all kinds of blogs with and there was something called RSS. Gosh, what the hell was a feed a protocol, where you signed up, you signed up your blog to the protocol with that protocol. And then that became like a protocol Internet Protocol, where people could subscribe to your blog through their protocol. Right? So whenever you had something added to your blog, they’re what’s called library aggregation. So the idea had visibility or they had visibility to your insights and the things that you were publishing. So, so this so the background, right, and this is to say that in that time, there were these motivations. One is to say, hey, real cool enough to date and here I am, I got a I got my own blog. Right do those 2002 is when I was dabbling in that with Rs I can’t remember what the hell it was called

RSS feed

those things have disappeared into the mists of history now. Things have moved on RSS feeds and things like that there was always that little button there. If you want to subscribe to someone’s blog that you came across you just click the RSS thingy, but there was social media, the socials in those days. Anyway, coming back to the point here, the motivation that that Ty was saying, Yep, attention in me. But genuinely passing on things of interest that you found that is often that that you stumbled across because of some interest that you have in that topic. And you’re passing it on to those people who are following your insights following your travels, right.

So that’s a positive thing. And people were creating blogs of other blogs and other other internet publication issues.

Okay. So that was a situation a good 20, over 20 years ago. Now we had something called Web 2.0, we had an explosion in social media, how did that come about? That came about because more people had computers, right. And when I say computers, I’m talking about PCs, laptops are very heavy in those days. And the rising apple after Steve Jobs came back to Apple, Apple just skyrocketed and caught up with, with Windows, Windows PCs were, like 90%. And Apple had a market share of about 7%. But now, Apple caught up and catching up. And then people started having their own personal computers that they could carry around with them, that were like they’re getting lighter and lighter, more easy and easy to carry. So we had democratization of the internet dropped rapidly in the low days. And so it opened up this whole thing. Now, this is when the new motivations came in. So I’m fast forwarding now to present day over the last 510 years. But what’s developed in the last 10 years, now, you had all kinds of new motivations, you had something called social media and social media clout algorithm.

A new

industry, a new behavior of patents have started.

This is where there is

a some suppose a benefit, let’s assume suppose would benefit because I don’t think it’s even fully believed, but there is a there is a belief that

there is some score that scores you

know, as to how much influence you have in the world, or the on the internet. And there’s a belief that those scores are being kept by Google primarily, and other places. And that the way for that, and and the higher that you are with that clout, the more visibility you will get, the more important you will be in, in the on the internet. And the more important you are, the more people will see your your content right now compare this with the webinar culture of 20 years previously. So you have a mechanism, now referred to as the algorithm that works out that monitors clicks, how many people have clicked on your things? And how many people have mentioned you see, in the bigger beginning of Google, Google’s rankings were on the basis of how many other places who were linking hyperlinking to your blog, right? The or your internet presence, your page. So that is now gone further, now it’s on clicks or no phones, on your whatever, everything gets aggregated and goes in some kind of ranking? is the belief that that is important is the belief? What does that do? What that does is that there is a new generation of people who are described as falling into the group called social media influence. Meaning that their goal is to get up whatever it takes to get higher and higher up those rankings. Whatever it takes, right? Because there’s a belief that the higher you are, the more prosperous you will be. And of course, you will take people like Russell Brand, notice people millions of followers, right. If you’re into that league, you you’re actually able to live celebrity life From the income that comes out, why the income because these internet service providers like platforms like Google and Facebook and Twitter and all the other platforms YouTube, they sell advertising and they sell targeted lists to industry that will finally define a target market and will provide a mechanism to reaching that your desired target market efficiently through those connections, the joining of the dots that they have done, and all to do with the algorithm.

So, therefore,

there is some truth that the higher your cloud, the more valuable you will be to these big businesses, and therefore, they will encourage you to do more of that and to pay you small amount that comes out to the income out of that. So, if you’ve got millions of followers, it’s likely that the advertising revenues that is gained by people engaging with your content, which, for example, Google will run ads on your content. And you will get an income from that. Right? So it’s a that’s a new industry that simply exploits that system. Now, think about what does that make, to the practice that existed with the web logs of 25 years ago? What it now means is that there is a culture now quite widespread, and it’s no secret, you will now have content that will show you how to become a social media influencer. Now if you look at that, you find the universality commonality in what people are saying what you have to do, they’re basically saying, You need to publish something every day. Right? on your preferred social media platform, say, Twitter. YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, you probably something every day. Common sense says that means people will see your name and will remember you Yes, of course. But more than that, the algorithm picks up on this and gives you more clout, or gives you a score that says you got more clout. So why don’t we have here? Contrast that with the weblog culture of 25 years ago, where you’re genuinely passing on

what you have discovered,

right? It’s a bit like Captain Cook. cartographers discovering new lands and then mapping the ancient mariners sailing to places where no one has documented, made them have been there before but haven’t documented. So they were going round documenting shorelines and then publishing it so that other Mariners and other people will know where it is, and, and how to, you know that, you know, around that horizon around that URL that we know that shoreline is that there’s a bay there or there is something else that you knew that because you had these maps. Today, it’s like almost as if people are creating their own shorelines. This is a very good analogy, actually. The people are creating their own Shoal shoreline artificially in order to be recognized as a person who has discovered that shoreline or their publishing shorelines that have been drawn whether it’s real or imaginary, and publishing it as if their own work. It doesn’t matter. You don’t actually have to prove that it’s your own work or anything just as long as it’s, it’s been labeled and is on your account, right? It’s on your Twitter account, it’s on your YouTube channel. It doesn’t. There’s nothing they’re saying to, to, to check whether that’s your original work or whether they’re, you’ve copied it from somewhere else. Right? Now, that brings me to a very, very prevalent practice, people are simply copying and pasting that someone else’s content onto their blog onto their site, onto their social media content. And passing off. Now, the thing is, it doesn’t actually it would look as if it does actually matter whether you’re saying it’s your work or not. Because people are simply reposting what other people have reposted without any shame, but on the basis that oh look, the same reason on the basis as if it was like in the old days, I found this thing I think it might be of useful use to you, and you and you and you and many other people. So thank me for it, right. So there is an element of that sentiment, as well. And there is a mechanism on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. So that we just one click, you can repost. Like you’ve seen something on one site, I feel like network of people, and then you think and then you click Reports, which means that you’re now that you’re sharing that to your network. And so that goes on, right. So that’s what the social media platforms have created, very clever, to get this viral virality and people are exploiting it, it’s there to be exploited exploiting it. So now we’ve got PDFs, carriers, watsco carousels you can serve in a multi page. Documents are colorful and big letters that people are publishing and putting it on LinkedIn. And it is very easy to repost it, right? So what I’m getting at here is that we now have a culture of social media influence. And we’re getting further and further away from reality. Right? Because we have something here that I mean, I’m going to use a cartography analogy, again, we have a situation where say, 200 years ago, Captain Cook was drawing the shorelines of Australia, which must have been enormously satisfying job. Right? Just imagine just sailing all the way around Australia. No one’s done this before. I mean, I’m saying people have done that before. But no one has done that in order to record to document the shoreline. Right, that’s an enormously must be enormous, a satisfying thing. Because you have here a map and a shape of this continent. I actually you wouldn’t even know that it’s a continent until that until you beans all the way around it. Right? You wouldn’t know that because ancient mariners were doing doing this all the time, but it was enormously useful and necessary thing and went hand in hand with exploration. So that’s something we had right in the days of Captain Cook. Today, what we have is we have maps of places that do not exist. Right? I mean, this is a very, very good analogy. Today, maps are being created or places that do not exist. But it’s a fantasy. It is and the people who are then now reposting and sharing it or reposting and sharing it without any regard to whether it’s factual or whether it’s fantasy, or it doesn’t matter, because that’s that that’s not relevant to their objective, their objective is to make it for you to look good, and for your algorithm to be served. Right. So why do you care? Why should anyone care if this is real or not? And this brings me back to something I was looking at earlier about macros. And then today we have Python in Excel and there are these social media influencing influence seeds that have been planted with the hope that it will go viral. But this is don’t have to have any factual basis. Right? This macro thing is a good one because I just Googled this morning macros in AWS. And it’s really quite depressing reading this stuff. Because that whole idea of macros as that is being communicated mostly sheer volume of it actually refers to something that became obsolete 30 years ago. Today, that con whole concept, and that concept never really applied to spreadsheets in the first place. Right? It was a concept that was very necessary and very useful in word processing of the 1980s. But the people are still selling that you got the LinkedIn learning course. And that was, of course, the 35 minute one, and the introduction

and then mixing it up with VBA. object, which is basically object oriented programming. Is that what this is a travesty? It’s a it’s a bizarre, it’s

absurd, right? But how does it come about? It comes about, because somebody thinks that, oh, this will be trending. But we put, you know, these offices in a highly, you know, a lot of clout, and no one’s written, you know, it’ll be useful if also selected as a does a course on macros. He hasn’t done a course on macros when, and after I’ve been trying to find this Excel TV spot that he did when he talked about how he came to do that. And I’m sure he’d regret saying what he did, because basically, in that he said that he was no, he didn’t, he didn’t. I know that because I worked with him. And he hates VBA. And any kind of programming. So how come how does it come to be doing a LinkedIn course, he’s excited, admits that he doesn’t know anything about and he said. But LinkedIn, LinkedIn learning had asked him whether he would do one, and he jumped to it, he Well, he didn’t jump to he went and asked a friend, you mentioned and the friend had showed him how to record a macro. So he went and did this 35 minute course, based on what his friend has shown you, right, that is the basis on which this is the authenticity, this is the expert. Basis bases direction from which this teacher is coming. So anyway, to run this thing off. You we have peep we have the lower attraction of the social media, clouds, social media, influence the algorithm, things going viral. And that has nothing to do with reality, authenticity. Right? Doesn’t what you’re teaching doesn’t have to be genuine. It has to be, it just needs to be something that people will click on clickbait. Right. And this analogy of the cartographer, is extremely brilliant. I hadn’t thought of this before, right. And here is where people are docking, documenting, or, or creating maps, of things that do not exist, but they would become go viral because they look attractive. So into that I will call this Power Query. And I was thinking this morning about the three way financial model, there is a lot of what’s called unicorns out there. Myths, things, people and the macros that he talked about the things that potentially can be written about, and causes made that people will buy, why they will buy because everyone is everyone is talking about it. Right? And therefore, people will click on them because they can go I’ve heard this, I’ve seen this guy this name all over the place. You know, it was just Danielle Stein fest, Leila Grauniad. Miss Excel catalog, they will click on those things, because they’ve seen them before. But if you look at what is it that you have seen before you find that it is a map of a country or a land that does not exist in real life, right? How do we know that? You go there? And it isn’t that right? So in other words, you take one of those things and you take it into real life and say well how does it work or you Go to those people and ask them, right? Okay? You’ve written so much about this. You’ve, you’re obviously a highly influential person in this field of technology and knowledge and skill and know how. Now here’s a real world problem, right? Here’s a real world problem, where what you’re teaching is smack in the middle of right. And these people will, if they’re reaching out looking for solutions for how to solve it, and the Google search, your name will come up on top, right. So now they’re asking you, please, can you show us how to solve this thing?

And you can’t write,

I’m gonna I’m gonna leave this with a humorous anecdote. A humorous story. Okay, just for completeness. I don’t I don’t know the chat GPT is going to pick up on this there was an actor who’s said a bit part actually signed up for like extra extra hours and acting agencies looking for little jobs, any kind of job we take any kind of job right. So he goes to the agency got everything for me so well, we’ve we don’t but we got something that you might be interested in. Or something you could do. Not exactly the kind of work that you’re looking for. So the actors say Go on, tell me I’m desperate. I’ll take anything. I do. So we said the London Zoo. Funny

actors at London Zoo. You said yes. Well. They have a gorilla cage. And the gorilla it’s a sad story. The gorilla was very popular with the kids. And it’s very popular at launch. A great attraction unfortunately the gorilla has just died and the zoo is really stuck because they don’t want to disappoint the kids right

so they have asked if we could send someone

in it that they will supply the gorilla suit. And that only needs to do is just act like a gorilla in the cage. He says can you pull that off? Is it our I think I think that comes within my skill set of acting and yeah, sure, take it so it goes a lot of zoo puts on the gorilla suit and is in the is in the cage and kids throwing in bananas and is having a great time going whoop whoop whoop or whatever the gorilla glue and that’s all fine it goes really swimmingly. everything’s hunky dory of course very pleased with it until someone has left the gate of the lion cage open stupid mistake lion escapes comes into the gorillas cage

oh my god right.

And so the gorilla is now wondering Oh shit. The gorilla is having an oh shit moment. Like kids out there and everything. The lions in the cage and lion is looking menacing. Right at the I think he might have missed the the feeding time and either white lion comes up to the gorilla looking very menacing and jumps on the gorilla. Right? And gorillas trying to get away but cod lion is too much to cope with and the lion opens his mouth and he’s about to gobble up the gorillas head oh my god. And at this point, great the gorilla the actor decides to luag I’ve got to break I’ve got to break character here because I’ve got to call for help. Right and in a panic and highly reluctantly the gorilla starts to shout help

which is rather unusual for the spectators watching this horrific as it might be. It is always a bit confusing that the gorilla is shouting help in English, not any African language and they will be more believable At this point, the lion says Shut up before Oh, we’ll both be out of one job.


So that joke was about, just in case I need to explain it is about people pretending to be something else for a particular purpose. That may mean may not be a purpose that they have there that they have invented. But it’s a purpose because the, the, the culture, the system, the industry, the world of today demands it. Right? There is a and what it the absurdity that it brings up because we are here having now using my latest, extremely powerful analogy, we’re having maps and maps and maps and maps of lands that do not exist being created. And they’re very sexy maps, they’re very attractive maps they’re showing on those maps are showing some really cool places. And people are buying those maps. Why are they buying those maps, because it is really cool. And sharing those maps with your friends makes you look really good. But wait a minute, those maps are fantasy, those maps do not actually exist in real life will not actually help you. Because those places do not exist. Okay. But the culture and the system and the algorithm doesn’t care and the people who are trying to do this, they don’t care but the place exists or not. What it what they do care about is that they’re getting a like lot of likes and subscribes. Right, which is the name of the game, which is what everyone believes is the objective of all of this all of life and the meaning of life is to get likes and subscribes. So it doesn’t matter if the map is showing a fantasyland or whether it’s reality right whether that map is going to help you navigate any kind of real life situation. So, to bring this connects up to the my article about trolling and then the article about the swamp that I did yesterday Right. So, you have

trolls who are

sharing reposting these maps of non existent lands

right such as a three

way financial model Yes, it does exist, but it doesn’t exist it doesn’t exist to the proportion that social media is promoting. And it is showing us sending out the wrong signals that all modeling and financial modeling is about

it that all a financial modelling is to do with a three way financial model no it isn’t

it is a small

footprint in the area of financial modeling

and his ad hoc

which makes it even more niche makes it even more narrow

is not an ongoing modeling modeling. Yes of course modeling can be ad hoc. But there is more incidence of modeling that is ongoing.

Right here’s another

analogy another illustration of this in the back in the day when you looked at your map to see how to get from A to B and you looked at a map and he then so can go from here to there. Right. That was a you looked at the map before the journey and then you made the journey right. According to what you decided that was an ad hoc exercise today you You sat nav and that is a model that is constantly monitoring and is feeding back where you are compared to where you expect to or needed to be all along the way also, it will Change the route that is giving you is the most desirable advantageous route to take depending on other conditions that that come in, that will change the your choices. And maybe a choice and a suggestion has been made for you on the basis of all that. So it’s an ongoing thing. And if you are traveling from one place to another place, another place to another place and you have the sat nav is constantly being updated with your new destination and the sat nav is there for calculating from all these things and giving you it’s that’s an ongoing model, right. And you’re traveling every day, all over the place. And the modeling that the setup provides for you is a whole lot different from what you what we used to do where we got a paper map out and did a one off ad hoc exercise that doesn’t get constantly updated with anything, basically. Right? So that’s a kind of illustration, analogy between this three way financial modelling in order to get in order to satisfy the lenders with with a loan application, which was a necessary thing for small businesses, they need to do that, or something that the bank or the lender is saying, Look, we can you please send us an update? And that’s simply zoom, just one file it right. Tick the box saying bank magazine got an update from that customer. It’s not supposed to do anything. No one’s actually gonna go to look at it. Right.

It’s just gonna be filed.

So there you go. That’s another thing. All right. So let’s see if GBT can make an article out of the points that I’ve raised in this monologue.

Transcribed by

School and beyond

Question: Hey Hiran! I remember you from schooldays. But you suddenly disappeared at around 6th form. Where’ve you been hiding?

Answer: Ah, good question! Here’s the short version!

At age 18 I had never been away from home and family. Not one single night.

Yet, I found myself at a Notary Public on Havelock Road one morning swearing a declaration that I was relinquishing my rights to citizenship under the Citizenship Act of Ceylon 1948 in order to leave the country (alone) for good, moving to another country where I was also a citizen. That’s quite a bit more than going away from home for a few nights. I was allowed to take £150, a Ford suitcase (with largely unsuitable clothes), and a one-way ticket; the same deal as our classmates who emigrated to Australia. As an added bonus, I had no place to live. There was a last-minute hiccup when one of the requirements for emigration was a clearance that I owed the country no tax (long story. I had only earned Rs 40 by then for one gig with Shorty and the Tall Boys in 1970. But they needed a tax clearance on my father, which he protested as he was not going anywhere! For context, at the time you couldn’t take money out of the country, including buying air tickets. And you needed a permit to leave the country during the insurgency)

Passport 1971

You can see the look of fear in the passport photo.

The previous day I had been to the principal Bogoda Premaratne in his office and received my school leaving certificate. He also signed the photo for my new passport and a little chat ensued about my impending adventure. My father had taught him. I had a place at University College London to study Chemical Engineering. I was born across the road at University College Hospital, where George Orwell died, and also got married though in reverse order, Ringo Starr had his tonsils out, and was the backdrop location for the early Doctor films.

My Royal journey began at Royal Primary School in 1958. My memories there are scatty. On my first day, I was sitting next to a boy whose older sister had the same name as me. That simple fact sealed my path for the next years and many decades to come.

Bishops College with Mahes. 1957.

Coming over with me to the same class was a boy who was also at Bishops College. His family emigrated to the UK in 1963. It took me 50 years to track this guy down. Others at Bishops with us didn’t come over to RPS for the simple reason that RPS is a boy’s school. And they were not boys, as far as we could tell. And as a bonus, the son of my teacher at Bishop’s was also in our class. What could possibly go wrong?

My sporting prowess was hindered at RPS by the fact that I was apparently good at arithmetic. So, Mr. Willliam (our class master and cricket master) made me the official scorer in all the house matches in 1963, except the one in which I was made to play for Bradby House. Two runs were scored while trying to dodge the meeting of one hardball against two other rather delicate ones. My innings was over within one over. I was ejaculated from the crease prematurely. It was hardly worth the effort of putting on my pads. But it made me realise that score-keeping is one thing; making the score is another. (Not to be confused with ‘scoring’ on a date, or dealing in drugs)

Aged 16. Drain pipes and Beatle boots.

My next sporting encounter was in tennis but not at school. It was brief. I had already been ruled out by DDN Selvadurai, who figured (as I was attempting to hit backhands with two hands) that I should be trying my hand at cricket. Both. Hands. Been there, done that. However, tennis became my new religion at age 25, and Bjorn Borg as my new god. It led to many significant things in my life (such as meeting a 17-year-old Swedish girl Charlotte and getting married for a 34-year fixed-term. Does anybody remember a song on Radio Ceylon called ‘Svenka Flicka’?), also playing amateur singles tournaments until about age 40. I stopped when I was beaten in straight sets by a 12-year-old. I think he was cheating. LOL. I guess I was trying to be the tennis sensation from Sri Lanka ‘Biyonanda Borgadasa’.

Then there was the vacancy for a cox in the rowing. I could shout. But couldn’t swim. It wasn’t a requirement or necessary. Unless one had fallen into the lake. We won, helped by my shouting no doubt. The highlight of last year was being taken to the Henley Royal Regatta by my old rowing captain. (Aptly, Royal keeps appearing throughout my life)

1978. That kit cost a fortune. Shoes specially ordered from Italy by Jaroslav Droby, Wimbledon Champion in 1954. He had a shop in South Kensington, London.

It’s interesting that many of the things that dominated my adult life had their seeds sown in my school days.

I did no drama. But I was in awe of those who did. My father was an actor in his day, famous for some well-known roles. I took to the stage late in life, learning to act, sing, and dance. I was mostly given comedy parts. I played Margaret Mead in HAIR (in drag. In the original she gets to expose her manhood. A sort of ‘gender reveal’?), two Cole Porter musicals, Sweeney Todd where I got to do stunts, a Dumas-inspired new musical where I got to sword fight; but not for long as I was the first to be despatched and play dead. In Copacabana, I played a character called Willy. Appropriate. After a production of Jesus Christ Superstar recently (apostle Hiran) I hung up my codpiece. Though it wasn’t at school, my early training with Wendy Whatmore (in what I later learned as RP ‘really posh’!) came very handy in all my personal presentation and communication endeavours, with some help from the BBC and some good teachers in the early 70s.

The Beatles thing began around the time of our entry to college. A small enclave of Beatles and pop fans at college kept me updated on the latest tracks, particularly those heard on radio stations other than Radio Ceylon. Again, I had no idea at the time that that topic would dominate my later adult life. I had my 45 minutes of fame in 2009 at Abbey Road single-handedly starting a sing-along with 3,000 fans (of the Beatles. Not me. LOL) being seen on TV around the world for one day. I set up the Beatles Jam London where we congregated each month to make music.

1973. Second year at UCL.

The pictorial magazines that were passed around in school for reference and education were another seed that I had no idea would feature heavily in my later life and career. Although leaving home at age 18 was a little scary, it were these publications that gave me hope that in the country I was permanently leaving for, girls, underneath their clothes, were mainly naked. At age 30, I was required to constantly verify this fact as part of my job within my responsibilities of ‘balancing the boobs’ at one such publication. My boss became a billionaire. In contrast, I don’t even have a billion hairs.

But it wasn’t accounting that drove me, it was my passion for how things worked. And how they could work better. At age 12 we were trying to make cardboard aeroplanes fly. Since 40 years ago, I discovered a passion for programming spreadsheets and related technologies. Now I’m working on publishing my work, as cloud tech has moved the significance of what we did in more interesting directions.

I live in the Royal London Borough of Greenwich, in SE London. Royal, again. The 0 longitude runs through my flat. On a good day, I have one testicle in the West and one in the East. Not quite, but I like to think so (it gives a tingling feeling). I hope to move closer to my son’s family and two grandchildren (Reuben 5 and November (Novi) 2) who live 40 minutes away in an area that used to be a WWII airbase, where famously four German ME109s landed in thick fog by mistake thinking they were in Northern France. I bet they regretted that. Occasionally I get the urge to pick up my guitar and go perform solo in a pub in Central London. Me and my music adventures can be found on the usual socials YT, Insta and TikTok.

So there. Everything I have had the pleasure of enjoying in the 50-odd years after school leaving had some seed (or weed!) planted in my school days, though not necessarily within the hallowed walls. I’m eternally grateful to those who fed this joyful process. But in all these, I had no idea at the time what magic lay ahead.

Hiran de Silva Thenabdu. Sep 2023.

Copyright: Not to be reproduced without express permission of the author, in whole or in part. Especially not to be reproduced in edited form.

Trafalgar Square, London. December 1952 with parents Richard and Myrtle (Meta). During the infamous London smog.
Semi-nude appearance in the 2006 movie ‘Scenes of a Sexual Nature’ with Ewen McGregor and Douglas Hodge, and Joe Kloska who was then at RADA and later in the popular Netflix series ‘The Crown’ as Porchy.
Marlborough Arms pub. I was born just across the road from this pub in Central London, a few years earlier (!). April 2023.
Digital art inspired by pictorial inspiration from schooldays and later being in the men’s magazine industry. Not quite oil-on-canvas!
In October 1971, I had just landed in London the previous day. I was sitting on this very same park bench in Soho Square, wondering where the hell am I (LOL!).
1978. I was a trainee accountant with a London firm Mann Judd, now part of Delloite.
The Princess Royal, Princess Anne in my office. On the left of the picture is the right arm of my boss, now a billionaire ex-media tycoon. I was his right-hand man in financial matters. 1984.
Henley Royal Regatta 2022.
Charlotte. We were married in 1980. One of the bonuses from my relentless obsession with Bjorn Borg in the 70s. This was at the Royal College Dinner Dance at the Churchill Hotel around 1998.
This is when I thought I was George Harrison. When he died in 2001 I went to Abbey Road and performed a tribute.
Family holiday in Sri Lanka,1987.
Musical: As Willy in Copacabana. 2009 Bob Hope Theatre.
Musical: Smoky Joe’s Cafe 2009. Bob Hope Theatre. ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
Pete Howarth, lead singer of The Hollies in Sri Lanka 2007. He was touring with Cliff Richard.
Abbey Road Studios 2019. On the 50th anniversary of the cover photo. With friends, Beatles Jam members Iva and James.
February 2023. Liverpool. On a Beatles pilgrimage on the 60th anniversary of ‘Please Please Me’ LP recording.

A gig at a school in North London. Ursula and Jim.

I was a big fan of Madeline Smith, actor, and Bond Girl in Live and Let Die. 2022.
Maternal grandparents and their siblings with spouses in Matara, Ceylon in the Colonial years. My grandfather Sylvester Jayawickrama and grandmother Agnes are seated in the centre. Could be the 1930s (if there was colour film then).

Son (Jason) and granddaughter (November ‘Novi’) in 2023.

Hi, this is Hiran.

A jump station for all my stuff.

Obviously a work-in-progress!

This is the personal blog of Hiran de Silva. aka. Hiran de Silva Thenabadu. If you stumbled across me here you can email me here ( or call me on 07798 748345.

The Many Faces of Hiran

Microsoft Excel thought leadership – The Good Spreadsheet Project

Microsoft Excel thought leadership – Excel.WTF!

Musical Theatre – Bob Hope Theatre (mostly)

Tennis – the way it used to be!

Gigs – Beatles Jam and Open Mics around London

Cool Friends – my real-life inspiration. Thank you all!

Current Projects – what I’m doing right now.

Family – and other animals 🙂

Backstory – start here if you haven’t seen me for decades!

Contact – or 07798 748345