Robert Hampton

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It’s My Life

30th December 2015

All Good Things
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Changed Priorities Ahead

It might have been an omen. On Monday afternoon I tried to log in to put the finishing touches to this post, only to find my blog was inaccessible due to a database snafu at my web hosting provider. The site was restored by this morning, but for 36 hours I was worried that twelve years of blogging had gone down the swanee. (Backups? What are they?)

I started this blog back in March 2003. In that pre-Twitter world, all the cool kids had blogs. I wanted to be a cool kid, so I bought myself some hosting, installed Movable Type (remember that?) and off I went.

Back then, things were rather uncertain for me. I was lonely and rather bitter about the way things were going for me. The one thing I had was my words, and the one outlet for my feelings and opinions was this web site. Through it I found my voice, albeit one that was shaky and unsure at times. I made friends and shared experiences, both good and bad.

And now, over twelve years later, it’s time to stop.

Wait… whaaaat?

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3rd December 2015

Posted by at 8.26pm | It's My Life | No responses

Just going to leave this here…

Two-thirds of a degree.

A photo posted by Robert Hampton (@hampo) on

16th September 2015

Stuff happens
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As August gave way to September, I found myself in something of a low mood. There were actual tears produced at one point.

It had been a stressful few weeks. Work has been difficult, I’ve had an End of Module Assignment to deliver to the Open University, and on top of that, I’ve moved into a new flat.

You may remember that, when last we met, I’d just acquired the keys. The apartment was devoid of furniture, fittings and most of the other things that are required to – ahem – “make a house a home”.

I didn’t immediately realise what I was letting myself in for, but it turns out that being a grown up is hard.

It didn’t help that there was a long list of niggles to sort out. The Virgin phone line didn’t work and required an engineer to come out. I phoned up Liverpool City Council to sort out council tax and was put on hold for nearly an hour because the telephone operator forgot his computer password. I had to phone Scottish Power on three separate occasions to actually get an account set up. United Utilities asked me for a water meter reading… and I couldn’t find the meter. The sofa I ordered failed to turn up on time.

For the first couple of weeks, I spent my evenings eating ready meals on a deckchair in the bare living room (because I had no dining furniture). I would probably have had a nervous breakdown, were it not for my amazing family and friends who rallied round with practical, financial and emotional support. Too many to mention individually (and I don’t want to forget someone and upset them) but you know who you are… and THANK YOU.

After all that, it was fortunate that September brought several events which cheered me up no end.

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15th August 2015

Flat tired
Posted by at 9.31pm | It's My Life | 2 responses

So today I picked up the keys to a flat I’m renting…


now what do I do?

10th February 2015


The first Acorn computer I ever owned (and the third computer overall, after a Commodore VIC-20 and C64) was an A3010. It was bought for me in May 1993, purchased from Rapid Computers on Childwall Fiveways. It was a reward from my parents to celebrate my passing the entrance exam for Merchant Taylors School; had I known how that was going to turn out, I would probably have stuck with my Commodore 64 for another year or so.

Acorn A3010

The A3010 was the “budget” Acorn computer, an attempt by Acorn to escape from the classrooms and science labs where their computers were usually found and get into teenagers’ bedrooms with a games machine. There was no monitor supplied, but you could plug it into a TV for glorious 640×512 resolution. Only 1 megabyte of RAM, an ARM250 processor running at a blistering 12 Mhz, and no hard disc – why would you need one when an ADFS floppy could hold 1.6 megabytes?

It was cheap’n’cheerful and, to me, it was computer heaven. For a year or so before, I had gazed longingly at the BBC A3000 in the corner of my primary school classroom, enviously looking on as my fellow pupils typed away in the Phases 2 word processor, printing off their rubbish poems on the noisy Epson FX80 printer. Now, finally, I had a RISC OS machine to call my own.

A few years later I got a big power increase when I upgraded to a RiscPC, and the A3010 was relegated to a secondary machine. But it will always hold a special place for me. It was on this machine that I bashed out my first BBC BASIC programs. It was on this machine that I stayed up until 1am doing a project for History that I’d put off until the last minute. It was here that I wasted more than a few hours playing Sim City, and Lemmings, and probably my favourite of all, Fervour:-

When we moved to our current home there was no space to have my Aladdin’s Cave of computers on display, so the A3010 got put away in a cupboard. But it gained a new lease of life for a few years, as I wrote a program to run a game of Family Fortunes. Being able to code the game directly in BBC BASIC and then plug the computer straight into the TV to run it gave it a big advantage over the newer computers which we were using by now. It got dragged out regularly at Christmas get-togethers, with me playing the role of Les Dennis.

I thought long and hard about getting rid of this machine. Sentimentality can’t always win out, though: it’s been sitting in a cupboard for nearly three years. It needed to go, so tonight a nice man came and took it off my hands. I hope he loves and appreciates it as much as I did. Or uses it for parts. Whatever.

With the advent of the Raspberry Pi, I’m still using a distant relative of the A3010 every day, so I haven’t cut ties with that world completely. Even so… the feels.

2nd January 2015

I bought a diary from a pound shop
Posted by at 5.32pm | It's My Life | No responses

2015 Diary

I’ve tried to keep a diary for several years, to record hopes, dreams, idle fantasies about chaps I fancy, that sort of thing. Usually my efforts have been inconsistent. I forget to fill in one day and before I know it I’ve slipped out of the habit and there are months of blank pages.

I might do better this year, because this diary is AMAZING. It’s chock full of useful info! Too good not to share, in fact.

According to this diary, France still uses the Franc, Greece still uses the Drachma and Germany is clinging on to the Deutsche Mark. And Deutsche Mark is spelled incorrectly.


It thinks Berlin is still split into West and East, giving separate dialling codes for them (even though the codes are identical).

2015 Diary

Best of all, though, is the First Aid advice. Here’s what to do if someone is choking:


“A small child can be held upside down and thumped. If this does not work tickle the back of the throat with the finger-tips in an attemt to make patiens cough or vomit.”

Hm… hold a child upside down, thump him and then stick your fingers into his throat. Seems like a guaranteed way to get yourself arrested.

1st January 2015

Travels with Hampo

Happy New Year to all three of my readers!

On a personal level, I think what I’ll remember most about 2014 is the travelling I did. The start of the year set the tone, as I headed down to that London to say goodbye to 2014 in the company of Ian Jones. We checked out some interesting theatrical stuff and I also saw one of the most precious artefacts known to man:-

Tom Daley's trunks

I suspect a gay man is curator at the Museum of London, but I can’t be certain of that.

Ian was also around in March when I headed out to Amsterdam. We eschewed the budget airlines in favour of the rail-based option, travelling to the Dutch capital via Eurostar and Thalys. That was a fun trip, but I feel that what happens in Amsterdam should stay in Amsterdam (actually, we checked out some museums, rode the Metro a bit and we looked but didn’t touch in the Red Light District).

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21st November 2014

First the ballet, then the inevitable discussion
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I have never been to a ballet performance before last night. But then I discovered that the English National Ballet was bringing its production of Swan Lake to the Liverpool Empire. It was Mum’s birthday a few weeks ago and I wanted to do something special for her, as well as try something new myself, so I snapped up a couple of tickets.

Our seats were in Row B near the front. So close, in fact, that if the orchestra conductor’s baton were to slip out of his hand, we were at risk of being skewered. We were happy with the view we had, but a woman in the row in front was unhappy as she didn’t have a proper view of the dancers’ feet. Either she wanted to appreciate the technical skill of the dancers, or she was just a foot fetishist; I wasn’t sure.

The show was three hours long with two intervals, so nobody can deny that we got our money’s worth. Going in, I thought that would be a bit on the long side, but that three hours actually flew over quite quickly. I will admit, I didn’t follow the story too closely, but the actual dancing was amazing. I can’t pretend to be an expert on ballet, but the skill and dedication was clear to see – especially in a series of pirouettes which left me feeling quite dizzy by the end.

In a strange way, it made me grateful to be gay. I come from a working-class background in Liverpool – a straight guy in my position would probably never even think of seeing something like this, unless he was dragged under protest by his girlfriend. But I, now comfortable in my sexuality, can sit and enjoy the show without any threat to my masculinity. Ahem.

Oh, and it has to be said: the male dancers’ tights leave very little to the imagination – they cling to the buttocks so tightly, they might as well be naked. It was spellbinding.

17th November 2014

Flight of Fancy
Posted by at 8.42pm | It's My Life | 1 response

Regular readers (all three of you) will recall my flight from hell back in September, when my plane was delayed by seven hours (SEVEN!) en route to Berlin, after funny smells wafted into the cabin. It was not a fun experience.

At the time, the sole compensation offered to me was a £3 gift card to buy snacks from the shops in the departure lounge. EasyJet did offer a refund of my ticket – but only if I didn’t fly at all.

What the airline was keeping secret from me was that I was in fact entitled to €250 compensation. This is thanks to legislation from the European Union – the same EU that never does anything worthwhile for us, according to UKIP and the Tories.

I thought this compensation offer may be too good to be true, but I decided it was worth the cost of a stamp. So a few days after returning home from Berlin, I composed a letter to EasyJet customer services.

I heard nothing for a few weeks. Then, on 9 October, I got a generic e-mail, advising me that my claim was “on hold”. There was a legal dispute over whether cases like mine, where the delay was caused by a technical fault with the aircraft, are eligible for compensation. A court case involving Jet2 had ended with the High Court awarding compensation, but the airline had decided to take it to the Supreme Court.

The e-mail advised that the case would likely be settled… in late 2015. Well, that’s annoying, I thought. But there was nothing I could do, so I shrugged my shoulders and put it to one side.

However, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, meaning that the High Court judgment stands. On 31st October I got another email from EasyJet, conceding that my claim was eligible for compensation, and asking me to confirm my debit card details to process the payment.

And so today, £197.76 (equivalent to €250) was deposited into my bank account, representing the full compensation which I was due. To be honest, I would have been satisfied with a refund of the flight cost, but this is even better – apart from anything else, that’s most of my Christmas shopping money sorted. 🙂

It’s likely that this ruling will open the floodgates for more compensation claims. Any flight departing from an EU airport (or an EU-based airline landing at an EU airport) within the last six years is eligible. It’s a rare David v Goliath battle where it seems David has actually won.

I highly recommend pursuing the airlines and getting back the compensation you’re entitled to. has a guide on claiming, including form letters that can be used as a template for your own letter to airlines.

12th November 2014


I’ve had a changing attitude to the Poppy Appeal. Through my childhood and early teens I always dutifully wore one. I distinctly remember floods of tears one year when I lost mine in the playground at primary school.

As I entered my twenties and increasingly became a bleeding-heart liberal, I stopped wearing one. My opinion was probably soured by seeing Tony Blair laying a wreath at the Cenotaph, at the same time he was happily starting wars in the Middle East, on dubious pretexts, with seemingly little regard for the men and women he was putting in harm’s way.

I’m also concerned at what Jon Snow calls “poppy fascism” – the increasingly-prevalent attitude that anyone who isn’t wearing a poppy somehow hates their country and the armed forces. If that’s true, then approximately 75% of the commuters on my train to work fall into that category.

Woe betide you if you’re in the public eye and choose not to wear one. ITV presenter Charlene White received death threats when she chose not to wear one. Perhaps a similar fear explains why Chris Kamara turned up on Sky Sports the other day, wearing two poppies.

After all that, I’ve come back around to wearing one again. To my mind, the soldiers fighting on the front lines should be separated out from the politicians back home giving the orders. To face the horrors of war full on is no small task – I freely admit I would hide under my bed if I was asked to fight.

There are many ways to serve your country, and not all of them involve picking up a gun and heading out into enemy territory. But for the people who do put their lives on the line, I’m happy to put a few quid in the tin and show a bit of support in return.