Unemployed IT Stories Contractor CIO now picks Winkles on Shore for Cash


This is another one in the series that we‘ve been having about IT workers who have hit hard times during the downturn and have contacted us with their stories.

No Bother

Eight years ago, in 2005, I used to regularly pull in 400 quid a day as a contract Project Manager.

I joined one company as a contract Project Coordinator, sitting above the Project Managers. I had some success with the project, earning the company time bonuses for finishing the project ahead of schedule, when it was way behind during the first phase of the project.

Because of that they talked me into taking a permanent job with the company as the Head of Systems. Partly because of my success in getting the project in ahead of time the company beat its financial targets.

As a result the Managing Director was made MD of the Group soon after and he made me his Chief Information Officer at Group level, in charge of all things IT with a department of 80 working for me.

Life of Larry

Our Head Office was in Cannes in the south of France and every month I had to spend two days there at the company management meeting, staying in nice hotels and eating in the evening at fancy restaurants in Cannes, Nice and Valbonnes etc.

I also had an expense account and was give share options in the company. That ended in June 1998 and I haven‘t worked since.

I now live at my parents‘ summer house, where it is rent free and I pick winkles on the beach for some extra cash.

I went out picking them on three days over the weekend for a couple of hours at a time. I took them over to the guy who buys them and he gave me around 27 quid for the four and a half stone of winkles that I picked. It was hard to carry them there as I don‘t have a car now. Luckily it is not too far from where I live.

Bottles of Wine

I remember the days when I would order bottles of wine for that price and more in fancy restaurants in London, Cannes and elsewhere. I remember free nights out at Bibendum, The Roof Gardens and Stringfellows.

Now I‘m happy to get the 27 quid. I‘m going to have a few beers in the pub with some of it tomorrow, where I‘ll watch the big football match (we don‘t have cable).

It would be nice to pick the winkles every day, but the tide isn‘t good some days. It will be another 6 days before the tides are any good again.

I did manage to find 3 oysters whilst on the shore over the weekend and I‘ve given them to my long-suffering wife as a treat. There are also clams as well there, so we won‘t go hungry in an emergency.

We have one of those old wood-burning stoves, and as there is plenty of wood washed up on the beach, our expenses are low. The stove gives us our cooking facility, our hot water, and our heating as we can run the water through the pipes.

Suffering Wife

We‘re pretty much self-sufficient fortunately. I‘ve been very lucky that my wife is still here, because between the two of us we used to go through about 6 grand a month a few years ago. We never thought of money at all. There was always plenty of money there.

Someone said a while back that my wife must really love me to have put up with all that. I hadn‘t thought of it that way, but perhaps its true. I‘ll maybe pick her a few extra oysters this weekend.

Well at least there‘s plenty of winkles there now, on a good low tide, although at 6 quid a stone it‘s always going to be hard worked.

It‘s well-earned money now, and I appreciate being able to have a couple of beers from my toils, much more so than when money flowed like the wine at the wedding feast at Canna.

Will the good times ever come back? They seem a long time ago. I haven‘t given up hope though, and my wife hasn‘t given up on me, thank goodness.