1st Interviewee- Colin


Life is full of crazies ups and downs. Start from living in Birmingham slum …Although nothing much is happening, I have got nonetheless a comfortable life style; I have been in a nice house, a nice place and I got plenty of friends. I don’t have any health problem. - Colin

Colin is a 71 years old men who lives in Timperley. He is a member of Mensa since 1968. Colin said: ‘Although I have no job and no money at that time, I still met some friends in Mensa.’ (Mensa was founded in England in 1946 .They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ). Colin never get married, he is from a single parent family, even his parent was from single parent family. He believes “you are what you eat”, which is what you eat will all reflect to the body. He eats health and stay away from junk and unhealthy food in order to control his healthy on hand.

Glass in tulip pattern and Colin’s little garden

He told me that there is some tulip pattern glasses on the garage’s window. He said the worker installed the wrong of the direction of the tulip. At the beginning he didn't know until a friend told him about it. There are few small plants Colin bought from a charity shop and put them in his little garden. He said he want to do gardening but he haven’t got spare money to do it. Therefore, he only invested for a little garden.

His bedroom and dinning room
Kitchen and sitting room

His hobbies are rock climbing and foreign language learning. He started rock climbing 10 years ago by an invitation from his neighbor. He has a full set of climbing kit and he has been to many places, countries and cities to do climbing.

I was shocked that he said he still go climbing and already planning for his next climbing trip. Although he is 71 years old, first he doesn't looks like 71, second is he have such a good body condition to support him to do this kind of high physical strength sport. I think his diet really play an important roll to keep him health,strong and looks young. Below are some images from his previous climbing trip that he sent and shared to me.

The place we stayed is Calpe. It’s near Benidorm on the Costa Blanca Mediterranean coast (Source: Colin, 2015)

He learnt Spanish when he was young, therefore, he already got the basic knowledge of it. For now, he is renewing his Spanish and learning French and German at the same time. One the day I visit him, he shown me his handmade learning cards, English on one side and Spanish, French and German on the other side. As he said he doesn't got a job, so he keep finding things to do and learn in his daily life. When he had shown me his cards box, again, I was really shocked and very impressed. Although he is an elderly, he still keep learning and Value himself, he even made something to make the learning process more interesting that suit himself.

Below is what he shared with me, I also did a recording (will attach it at the end).

Colin: I’m seventy-one, which is far too much. I was Born in middle of Birmingham in a terrace house, largely descried as a slum, I never knew what a vacuum was when I am 13. Both my parents were very poor educated, my father’s parents broke up when he was seven and after that he has been left; he brought up by his mother. He left school at 14. Then he got a work in a factory and did a qualification in engineering and got a better job as a machine operator. My mother was the only and the oldest girl in the family and her father died when she was young, I don’t know why but I knew that he drinks a lot. Consequent she was home most of the time, looking after her brothers and helping her mother. At that time, school insisted that she has to attend until the next trimester crisis. Therefore, she She She could read or write but not very well and she could handle money. She was very good in reading personalities and behave successfully.

I did Chemistry and Math in university. In high school, my main subject is Chemistry from school suggested but it wasn't a good choice for me to do because the problem was I was not good in laboratory but good the theory. Of cause in the school, laboratory is nothing as only 2 hours a week, I made a mess, clean it up again, no one thought that was significant. Overall, I still got 70–75% and that was good enough for me to go to university. For the laboratory work, 2 hours a week at high school was not a matter, but twenty hours a week in university it did matter. Unfortunately, my dad infused me to do and change to anything else in the university. My poor performance got me trouble with my tutor, so between two of them I ended up with disaster and messed up three years with no degree, my tutor nearly killed me. Graduated with no degree caused me a lot of troubles.

I messed up to my 20 and think what kind of job do I do, I celebrated my birthday at the slum but after that I moved out with a friend and stated at a nasty and cheap house. I went to a job office and they suggested me I can try computer programming as I did Math in university. Maybe I am no good but it was possible, nothing will happen if I do nothing. Therefore, I went to a course in Open University and get a Math degree, then I went into the computer science industry until I was fifty-five. As I am fed up to stay at that nasty slum, as soon as I could, I saved every penny I could and brought this house. At that time, I only got half of the money to get a mortgage, when I went to the office, the officer said they can’t allow me to get it. But when they knew that I am a computer programmer at the council and there was no problem anymore. I got a job and finally bought a house, applied a Master degree course for Computer Science in Open university. I was doing nice for money and with my life before I went to the USA.

My older sister died when she was fifty-five because of breast cancer. My younger sister got married and lives in America, as she wants to live in some place warm, it was the reason that took her to California. By that time, my contrast was ended and she consisted me to go to the America, she said it would be nice if I were there and everything was good. So I went and I got a job in Florida, but wasn't happy about it, so I came back to the UK and I found that I couldn't get back into work. What happened is the company gave me a critical work instead of what I did as usually which was technical works. I requested about it, but they said I was doing well. I requested a few more time but nothing was done, and then after year, I am on my half way of my Master degree, and I needed to come back and do my exam. So I flew back, and some way between home and the airport, I lost my passport and I think it was left in the taxi accidentally. Therefore, I lost my passport and couldn't get a new one, ending up I will need to back to USA later as I thought, I am really sorry. Then I noticed from the company, they thought I quit as I was complaining my job and I was not back even I still got three year contracts with them. Anyway, I hated this job, so I stayed, but then I realized I couldn't get a job anymore. I was not surprised, as I did something that was not related to Computer Science for a year and the people in this industry won’t trust a man who works in this industry for 30 years but got a gap year in his career, they will rather pick a fresh grad student instead for an old man. I am sad that I can’t live successfully with my knowledge.

Colin is a very nice old men, he shared everything to me, his life and his family, he even shown me his family birth and dead certificates. Although he experienced something bad and unemployed, he choose to tell himself, past is the past, decided to look forward and live with a happy life.

Birth and dead certificates of Colin’s family

A sentence from Colin left me a deep impression which is ‘I’m seventy-one, which is far too much’. Aging is a natural phenomenon that each of us is facing everyday and no one can escape and hide from it. How we enjoy and live our life is depends on the attitude. See as Colin, although he is seventy-one, he shows that we don’t need to worry too much about aging; he set himself as a role model, he keep learning new knowledge, go climbing and take good care of himself. I am very glad I met Colin and got so much positive attitude from him.


Contact sheets and sound clips

Sound clip: http://vocaroo.com/i/s06SdkcmmSaj

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Karen Chui Photography’s story.