[Hugh Robert Smith Picture]

My life

Boring personal stuff about Robert Lane-Smith

I must start with a confession. Although I admire the music and the spirit, I'm not really a Cockney. To be a Cockney one must be born within the sound of Bow Bells. My wife, Vicky, would have been, if the bells were ringing at the time... :)

My name is Robert Lane-Smith, I was born in Chiswick, a quiet little backwater in a loop of the Thames on the West side of London, the only borough with no cinema and not within the sound of Bow Bells unless the wind was in the right direction and everything else dead quiet. It did, however, have a Chiswick Empire that presented a weekly variety bill during my childhood and it was my great good fortune to go regularly and see some of the great Cockney comedians and other stars of the variety stage. I saw the headliners accidentally and incidentally because, as a kid, the reason I went was to see the magicians and ventriloquists who were usually near the bottom of the bill.

I lost my father when I was eight and the Freemasons took over my education, sending me to the Royal Masonic School in Bushey, Herts. It was a wonderful school, I now realize. When I left school I became an engineering apprentice. At the invitation of Her Majesty (we all did two years National Service) I joined the Royal Air Force and they kindly sent me to Canada where I spent ten months learning to fly. Not long after I came back to England and out of the RAF I returned to Canada and have been there ever since with only occasional visits back "'ome".

I had completed a five-year apprenticeship with the Pyrene Company on the Great West Road while graduating from Acton Technical College with an engineering certificate. As a control-systems engineer I had to work in some fairly dangerous locations and was standing underneath an arc furnace when it occurred to me that I may enjoy playing the piano for a living. I changed careers just as slide rules were being replaced by hand-held calculators and IBM was pushing computers for small companies, not a good time to leave, 1970.

I finally got into computers in 1981 when I bought a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1. What's a TRS-80? A beast that drove me up the wall trying to run my entertainment business on it. How anybody who hadn't had engineering training could use it I don't know. I do know I wish I had gone in the Apple Mac direction from the start instead of Radio Shack and PC.

I once wrote a program in basic to make a 6-pen plotter write letters in handwriting. It took weeks, I never did anything with it, I just wanted to master the beast. I was entertaining in a hotel in Alberta and programmed every night from closing time to about 4am. I was married and out of town, you see. Kept me out of trouble.

Hopes and dreams, requited and otherwise:

I no longer live on an island in the Pacific, Vancouver Island, off the coast of B.C. I have moved back to Mississauga, a giant suburb of Toronto. It gets very cold in the winter so I have absconded to Spain for a few months, just till the temperature gets liveable.
Terry is my oldest son, he's a computer expert, see Joe Guy.
David is a sound and lighting man, currently working on movies and in theatres in Toronto.
Gayle is a business and computer whiz and has given me four grandchildren, see facebook/Upside Down Girls.

No man is a hero in his underwear or a prophet in his own country, and so to my friends and relatives may I say: this web site is not an exercise in bragging, just a necessary presentation of the facts to the industry so that if, for instance, Steven Spielberg were to browse this site he might exclaim, "Just the very man we've been looking for!".

Well, he hasn't done that to date and so, now I'm retired, this website is becoming an exercise in nostalgia. I can't complain, I started life in a fancy house in Chiswick, went to a posh school, learnt a fascinating profession, engineering, and gave that up at forty to become a pub pianner-basher. The gamble worked, I have worked all over the world and had a great time doing it.

[LONDON BOBBY] Back to bio [SPOTLIGHT] Back to home page