Martin John Sharman

I'll say farewell to you now. This page is centrifugal, and all the links will send you somewhere else on the web. Hope you'll visit again one day. But before you go, tell me - can we depend on Murphy's Law, or will it go wrong when we need it?

Outline Biography

Born 1949 in a clinic near Uckfield, Sussex, close to where the Piltdown Man was discovered. Parents were staying there while his father commuted to the London School of Oriental and African Studies to prepare his PhD field work.

As his parents moved around, he went to Woodlands infant School in Lusaka, and then to 6 different primary schools including one - St. George's in Nairobi (Kenya) - which he went to twice. The others were Oyster Bay in Dar es Salaam, Nakasero Primary in Kampala, Kenton College in Nairobi, Kingsland Grange in Shrewsbury and Nairobi Primary School. Was the only kid in the world to travel from the UK to the colonies to go to boarding school (Kenton College while his father was looking for a job in London).

Only managed one high school (Duke of York, an all-male British Public School in Nairobi, Kenya) but was the only boarder (Delamere House) in the school whose house was less than 5 kilometers away. Headmaster for the last 2 years of this throwback to another age was called Tom Brown. Had glandular fever for A levels, also Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics. Housemaster's gleeful comment on seeing him looking at his A level results: "How are the mighty fallen." Despite everything, one or two of his old classmates have done quite well for themselves.

Trainee programmer for ICL Nairobi, learned COBOL and was then given a job as a programmer in PLAN 1900 (assembler) for a waggon control programme on East African Railways.

Edinburgh University to read Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics, grew hair, dropped out, Sufi commune in Gloucestershire, Greyhound bus and hitch-hike around the USA, resat Biology and Chemistry A levels, back to Edinburgh University to read Zoology. Class prizes in Genetics and Zoology, 1st Class Honours (Magna Cum Lauda), PhD grant at St. Andrews to study Papio papio in Senegal. Joined small team from Stirling University in a camp near Mt Assirik in the Grande Parc National de Niokolo-Koba. Followed baboons, wrote up the thesis "Feeding, Ranging and Social Organisation of the Guinea baboon" in Cambridge. This became a best seller and will soon be a major blockbuster movie.

Hired as field officer by the FAO to work on pastoral ecosystems project in the Ferlo, sahelian north of Senegal. Met future wife in Dakar, she nursed me through what seems to have been a simultaneous attack of typhoid and hepatitis, married. Moved to Nairobi to work for the United Nations Environment Programme then to Greenbelt, Maryland to do post doctoral work at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Recruited by European Commission to work at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. Moved to Brussels in 1993 to work in Directorate General XII (Science, Research and Development) for the Centre for Earth Observation. Still within DG XII, handed over responsibility for Earth observation in January 1999 and instead assumed responsibility for administration of funding of research on biodiversity .

Time and space

Where are they now department

Many friends have dropped below the event horizon. Alan Fairley fell off the face of the Earth on his way to Boston. Is Nick Smart of the good old Duko still planning cities and singing tenor? And what became of Patrick Low, also ex-Thompson House and made good in the World Bank? Is Jerry Jameson, from Ohio and Embra, still riding a bike to work while working for a petroleum company? Has Steph Hall, also from Ebra, but later of the OS, cut her long blonde hair? They are probably all keeping well out of sight. If you know them, do them a favour, don't point them to this site.

On the move

Because nothing is forever, not even an email server, I registered with FREE Email! and have a lifetime email address.


For my genealogical work I use Family Origins by Parsons Technology to maintain my database of 9000 individuals. I have tried other PC software including Kith and Kin (called "Of that Ilk" in Australia and New Zealand), Family Gathering and the DOS-based Pedigree. To draw pedigree charts I depend on TreeDraw by SpanSoft.

"Sharman" has the Soundex code S655

In some catalogues, family names that sound the same are indexed together. These catalogues normally use Soundex to code the name. One such catalogue is the NARA microfilm holdings of 1880-1920 censuses in the US, which also explains how Soundex works. A Visual Basic Soundex routine is available.


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lawrence Binyon, "For the Fallen"

Brief candle

We are such stuff
as dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, "The Tempest"


This tightrope made of sound
This long thin line made of my own blood.
Remember me is all I ask
And if "remember" be a task
Forget me.

Laurie Anderson, "Tightrope"

Random ramblings

The WWW is amazing, ain't it? But it's s...l...o...w. You're a high-fashion web page designer? You just spent a month designing a snappy page? Please look at it from a real machine, linked through a real phone line to a real service provider, with real-life measly bandwidth. And then go back and scrap every un-necessary image, frame, animation, and high-tech bell and whistle. The internet should be about communication, not baubles. It's a pain waiting for the nth time for that dumb image to load - Alta Vista, Yahoo, Infoseek, you're wonderful, but get rid of the images. Strip out all those fancy backgrounds that slow things down while (on real-life monitors) obliterating the text.
And for the rest of us amateurs, why put up "under construction" notices? Like a relative, a site is either living or dead. "Under construction" is just a euphemism for "abandoned".

These musings are in line with other comments on design.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I may as well gripe about people who forward messages about computer viruses to everyone they know.

The obligatory links

No self-respecting home page is without a list of the author's best-loved links. This allows me to inflict on you my list of interesting sites on biological diversity (or biodiversity) and on Earth observation (or remote sensing).

This home page goes one better, and adds a link to a list of capital cities of the world. With their latitudes and longitudes, too. Where else on the web can you find that, eh?

Weird and wonderful

slow - slow - click - click - slow
slow - slow - click - click - slow .

Not so weird, still pretty wonderful

maps of the UK
pre-1974 county boundaries of England, Scotland & Wales
Norfolk Genealogy Mailing List
Norfolk Record Office
Norfolk Surnames List
central archive of the Methodist Church in Great Britain
Journal of Online Genealogy
Computer-related hoaxes
Computer virus myths

Contact me

If you knew me when, and would like to contact me, please do so.

Site maintained by:
Page revised: Sunday, 13 July 1997