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About

I’m Ashton Mason, and this is my personal website. A South African by birth, I currently live in London and work as a software engineer in Guildford, Surrey. If you’d like to contact me, you can email me at ash@ashtonmason.net.

A South African by birth, I grew up in Joburg and Cape Town as the only son of British immigrant parents. Although my parents are both English — and I hold a British passport as well as a South African one — I think of myself as South African and I’m proud of my country and fond of its culture.

My mum and dad met and married in Birmingham in the 1960’s, and emigrated to SA in 1969. I was born a few years later in 1972, in a small town west of Johannesburg called Randfontein. For the first part of my school life we lived in Roodepoort, an unglamorous bit of suburbia in the West Rand, the western part of the sprawling conurbation that is Joburg.

When I was 13 we moved to Cape Town, to a town in the northern suburbs called Table View. This was the formative time of my life, where I attended high school and then university, finally completing a PhD in computer science.

Cape Town in the 90’s was a fabulous place to be. After the hell-bent commercialism of the 80’s, and the dreary isolation of Apartheid, the 90’s handed South Africa a dose of optimism and spiritualism. Cape Town, with its heady, intuitive sensibility that comes from living at the foot of an implausibly shaped mountain on a rocky peninsula at the tail end of a continent, took it with both hands. As a twenty-something student I spent my days learning about the new science of computers, my evenings delivering burgers with surfers at a beach-side burger takeaway, and my weekends dancing to goth in alternative clubs, house music in dance clubs, and finally trance music under the stars in fields and on beaches.

That phase of my life ended abruptly in 1999. In July that year I finished my PhD and decided to move to the UK. Handing in the final printed copies, I headed straight for the airport. The next day I arrived in London, where I lived in a house with five friends from school, in a room the size of a large walk-in-cupboard on the bitter end of the northern line. Before long I moved south-of-the-river, to Putney, a delightful riverside suburb of southwest London.

Gradually over the next ten years I moved further westward, stopping in Richmond to meet my Polish wife Ania, Twickenham to rent our first flat together, Strawberry Hill to rent in style on the banks of the Thames, and finally Whitton, where we bought a modest Victorian house. We don’t yet have any children.

Today I’m a software engineer, employed for ten years now by Electronic Arts, the game developer and publisher, at their UK offices in Guildford, Surrey.