One of the world's best kept technological secrets is out as frenzied major multinationals vie to buy a small English company whose intellectual property could change the world as we understand it. Martyn Warwick reports
Adge Whimster is the antithesis of the technology-obsessed geek CEOs who lead so many Silicon Valley companies. Not for him the regulation black crew-neck and sneakers - that's just not his style. Mr. Whimster is in his sixties, he's a bit on the chubby side and has a fondness for an ancient, battered and very green tweed suit which is loose and hairy enough to secrete a pair of mating badgers in the trousers - whilst he's wearing them. I interviewed Adge Whimster earlier today.
It turns out that Mr. Whimster likes a pint or two of cider of an evening. That's because he hails from the rain shadow of the Mendip Hills in the beautiful county of Somerset in the south-west of England. It's a predominantly rural area given over to dairy farming and the apple orchards that provide the raw materials of his favourite tipple, Old Ma Gordano's "Berzerker" an inexpensive farmhouse scrumpy cider of phenomenal alcoholic strength and astonishing cloudiness.
And it was over a convivial drink that Adge Whimster came up with his Great Idea. He says "Just because there aren't very many high-tech start-ups between Bawdrip and Clapton doesn't mean that one can't be started and I'm the man to do it."
I interviewed Adge Whimster at his local pub, the Fawcett Inn in Barrow Gurney where he explained to me the background to a concept that could well change the world as we know it.
He told me said, "We had bloke in here a few months back; foreigner he was, came from Bridgwater, and he'd travelled a bit in his time, been to Glastonbury and seen a few things. Anyway after a tincture or three he loosened up and began to talk about this here Internet thing. He went on about what he called "ass" stuff - like S ass, and P ass and I ass until we all thought he was a bit of an arse himelf - but he wasn't really and it turned out he was dead serious. He reckoned the "ass" stuff is what the future's all about and there's good money to be made from it."
Mr Whimster continued, "Trouble is, its all done by telephone wires and TV signals and such like and we don't have a lot of them round here - but I don't want us folk on the Levels to be disadvantaged so I read up all about this special technology and then I came up with a variation on it that is ideal for the slighly slower pace of life in the Nempnett Thrubwell and Blagdon areas."
"Turns out that "ass" is one of those acryllic things where the letters spell a word but the initials mean something as well.
So "S-ass" really means "software as a service" and "P-ass", really means "platform as a service" and so on. Clever, eh?"
"Seems it's all about delivering hosted services over the web. Well my company is going to do that too but - and here's the revolutionary bit - without using the Internet. What about that for a breakthrough?"
"See, what we're going to do is different from traditional hosting. We're going to sell our "Scrumpy as a service" on demand and elastically - a subscriber can have as much or as little as they want at any given time and the service is fully managed and customers don't even need to have access to a computer, they can just send us a letter or a postcard and then, a week or so later, the mighty machine swings into action and we deliver the goods!"
"We're also going to do 'Platform as a service" and we'll deliver churns of scrumpy straight to Yatton railway station for speedy onward transmission to the Metrollopse. And as, in addition to my trusty van, we now have two bicycles as well and so we're also toying with the notion of Infrastructure as a service. We also do Spam filtering for our clients - visiting them in their own kitchens and opening the tins before their very eyes. That's how personal our service is."
"Of course, we're still very much in the start-up phase right now but I reckon the sky's the limit. At the moment there's me and four employees that were sourced especially for me by "Swedebashers R' We", Somerset's very own high-tech recruitment agency headquartered in Ubley and run by my old butty Acker Milk. Thanks for that Acker, my old pal, my old beauty."
"Given the educational attainments and qualifications of our thrusting young staff we are calling the new company "Clod Computing". That has a nice ring to it don't you think? Clod Computing is at an early stage, with our small but dedicated crew of providers delivering, quite literally, a raft of clod-based services up and down the rhynes (waterways) of the Somerset Levels. We are also negotiating with Weston-Super-Mare Council's Parks and Gardens division about the purchase of two surplus-to-requirement pedalos. If a financing accommodation can be reached we could halve our output in a matter of months."
On the pecuniary side weem doing alright. I got some seed money and I believe I have it within me to become a cereal entrepreneur. That's why my next venture, that I'm incubating now along with the pheasant's eggs under my hat, will be about bringing the bulk delivery of wild oats right into the 19th century. The future's bright; the future's porridge."
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