IT Contracting Lifestyle – Why I Packed it in | UK Contractors

IT Contracting Lifestyle
IT Contracting Lifestyle

IT Contracting Lifestyle


A few years ago I packed in the IT Contracting lifestyle.

A lot of people ask me why I do this, i.e. run this website. Fellow IT contractors are out there earning several hundred pounds a day on a daily basis. They ask why I packed in the IT Contracting lifestyle.

They are contributing to their pensions and saving for their retirement, whereas I’m in a high risk business.

Why do I do it?

Well firstly there is the encouragement of the watching the Page Views and the number of Visitors increase as they have been a lot recently. Then there is the membership numbers.

Idi Amin’s Henchman

I suppose what sums it up best for me are a couple of quotations. One of them is from many years ago in the days when Idi Amin ruled Uganda.

He had an Scottish guy as his main adviser. I saw a newspaper interview with this guy, called Bob something or other, when Idi Amin was at the height of his powers and infamy.

Idi was famed for throwing former friends and henchmen to the crocodiles. He was even rumoured to have eaten the heart of one of his erstwhile buddies that he had fallen out with.

There was also the problem that Idi Amin might be overthrown (as he eventually was). The next rulers might not be too keen on his henchmen and advisers (to put it mildly).

Lifestyle Choice

Anyway, Bob was asked why he did it, why he was so foolish to be working in such a country for such a man. He said that he loved living in Uganda and the lifestyle he had.Hhe liked Idi and he enjoyed the job.

The future was uncertain, but he liked living like that. He said that he had been in London recently, and had watched at rush hour as the people crowded into trains to get to and from their offices.

Also, he said that you only get to live once, and that he wouldn’t swap their lives for his. He didn’t consider it living at all. I don’t know what happened to Bob when his big pal Idi got overthrown and went to live in Saudi Arabia.

I remember one time, when working at Energis in Reading circa 1994. It was a beautiful summer, but no one in the office could tell. They had those tinted windows to prevent the glare affecting computer terminals.

Every day looked the same. I thought of Bob and what he had said all those years ago.

Michael Shoemacher

The other quotation was from someone (I think it was Bernie Ecclestone) about Michael Shumacher, the former Formula One motor racing champion. He said that Schumacher was one second a lap faster than any other driver.

He said that the main reason for that was that his car was looser, that he had the car set up to “drive twitchy’, i.e. that it would sometimes ‘get out of shape’ going round corners, but that Shumacher had a greater ability to get the car back on line when it ‘twitched’.

It was this that gave Shumacher his advantage.

I think that this is a good analogy for those people who throw away the safe trappings of steady employment and a steady income stream, to go for that ‘extra second a lap’.

Coasting in IT Contracting

I used to coast through most contracts and coast through life generally. So, I was beginning to come to a realisation that I might sit back in years to come and think that I had made it comfortably to old age.

Furthermore, I would have wondered what could have been if I’d really stretched myself, if I’d put the foot on the pedal and driven in fifth gear rather than coasting my life away in third.Furthermore,

I would have wondered what could have been if I’d ‘driven twitchy’ in the peak years of my life. I decided that I did not want to be asking those questions.

Systems Manager

I’d had many years IT contracting before I took a permanent job, first as a Systems Manager at a company in Nottingham, and then as the Chief Information Officer of the Group with a department of 80 IT people, a good salary, and share options to go with it.

That was fun and interesting – but it wasn’t enough. The only way to really test yourself is to take away the safety nets, and that is what I have done.

This website is in an in-between stage. We have passed the initial stages, and are getting close to critical mass.

There were a lot of exhilarating moments, and there were some moments when we think that it is not going to work.


My wi’s family think that I am a workshy loser, and sent over an article from an agony aunt type columnist which suggested that the reason why I wasn’t taking a proper job was that I was ‘clinically depressed’.

As you can imagine, I have saved the article on a shelf up the stairs. Her parents and brothers hardly talk to me now.

Driving Twitchy

My wife’s father worked as a foreman for the telephone company, and is now reasonably comfortably retired.

They’ll never understand how exhilarating it is to ‘drive twitch’, to give it all you have towards a greater goal.

So far we have had quite a few twitches, including one or two quite violent ones, but so far we have managed to avoid the concrete wall of life.

We are still a long way off from coasting home, waving to the crowd, and we may crash well before we get there. But the thought of it, the image of it, and the desire for it are keeping me going.

I think Bob Whatsisname would have understood.

Half Time Score Draw

In another sporting analogy, I didn’t come to this life to play for a no-score draw. I’d rather lose 5-4. That’s why I packed in the IT Contracting lifestyle.

I feel that we are lining up for the second half after an exhilarating first half that ended 3-3.

Now it’s all to play for.

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