Surrey Valley Coders

Don’t laugh, but I’m currently obsessed with those tacky car renovation programs on Netflix, Rust Valley Restorers being the latest viewing. I really love it, because they take the most decrepit cars and bring them back to life, in a big way. Plus they are always talking about their ‘shop’ (translation: garage). They are promoting the shop, working at the shop, hiring and training staff at the shop, returning to the shop, hating on the shop.

My daughters dislike Rust Valley Restorers, even though it would be excellent bedtime viewing, but in many ways it really encompasses what I want out of my professional life. Often after daddy daycare duties, I refer to going to ‘the shop’ (upstairs office) to ‘code the Linux kernel’ (usually C# .Net, although they don’t know the difference). I imagine the coding equivalent of cutting out panels, welding, sanding and painting. A totally awesome pastime, but sadly neither daughter seems interested in an apprenticeship in my shop, just yet.

At some point, my profession became a vocation, and work stopped being so much about earning a living. Instead, software development (extending into software requirements) became something more akin to a craft or a skill; something to practice, refine, and discuss philosophically with others. Having a community of like-minded people to do this with really helps.

I also realised I’m no longer interested in (or at peace with) the whole inside/outside IR35 waste of time. I’m pretty sure Mike, Avery and the Rust Valley Restorers aren’t either. Regardless of what tax wrapper the (innovation-killing) UK government wants to impose, clients hiring Frank Ray/Better Software UK/umbrella company still get the same thing – craftsmanship and a vocation beyond a salaried paycheck.

Nice looking branding and a clever Ltd company website are no longer necessary to ensure the control I require for good professional workmanship. Instead, I simply say ‘no’ to any requests that may compromise quality. Why should the client tell you how to install a new transmission or rebuild a big block engine? It’s a completely new approach from my previous day rate contracting, and my shop sells what it sells; most clients really benefit from what I do best; a smaller number of clients should probably buy from elsewhere.

Perhaps Netflix will make a series about my ‘shop’ one day, Surrey Valley Coders would be a good title.

Woking, Surrey, GU22, United Kingdom