Thirteen years ago, my wife Dimitra wrote a children’s story about a magical kite for the teacher training course she was doing in England. Today is Clean Monday, a day when Greeks traditionally fly kites, and next week she would have turned forty, so I thought it’d be nice to publish the story. I think it is very good.

Chapter One

Somewhere in the middle of Greece there lies a big, flat plane; and on the edge of it, where the river meets the sea, there is a little town, where I lived for a few months, years ago. And in that town, a long time ago, before I ever moved there, there lived a little boy and a little girl, not much older than you are now.

Their names were Nicholas and Ellie, and they had lived across the street from each other their whole lives. They had met when they were babies, in the park, and their mothers joked that they had hardly spent any time apart since. They were usually together; and when they weren’t, they were usually to be seen standing on their balconies (most houses and flats in Greece have balconies), communicating in a strange sign language of their own invention. They were the best of friends.

Nicholas was a few months older than Ellie, and he had changed most of his front teeth already. And so had most of Ellie’s classmates at school. Ellie was beginning to think that she would be the last one to lose a tooth, if it would ever happen, that is. Some days, she wondered if it ever would. And then one day it did, just like that, really, and Ellie found herself with a brand new hole in her mouth and tooth in the palm of her hand. Now I have to tell you that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t work in the same way in Greece. Children don’t put their teeth under their pillows, and there is no money involved; instead they throw their tooth on the roof and make a wish. And this is just what Ellie did.

Or at least this is what she wanted to do, but then her grandma had said that you need a proper tile roof for this to work, and Ellie had got worried: their block of flats only had a flat roof. But her dad shook his head and took Ellie up the stairs to the top of the building, from where you could see the sea, and the mountain, and the setting sun, and Ellie had thrown her tooth high up in the air, and, on a whim, wished that she could fly like it had. On the way down, her dad told her not to worry, because the wishes of those that believe come true sooner or later, in some way or another.

That day went by and nothing happened; then another, and another one. By the third one Ellie had all but forgotten about her wish, but someone, somewhere, must have still remembered, because that evening, when her dad came home, he brought with him a present for Ellie. It was a kite, but not just any kite: it was the most beautiful kite Ellie had ever seen. It was yellow and orange and red, with a star in the middle, and it seemed to shine like the sun. It looked completely out of place in Ellie’s bedroom, between the bookcase and the bed. It looked like it just couldn’t wait to fly. Ellie couldn’t wait either.

Never before had Ellie jumped out of bed so early on a Saturday morning, or eaten her breakfast so fast. She was nearly out of the door when her dad stopped her.

“Oh, Ellie? There’s one thing you have to remember.”

Ellie thought it would be something about staying away from trees and wires, but no. What her dad said was very, very different.

“This is not an ordinary kite. It is magical.”

“How do you know?” was all that she managed to say in her surprise.

“The man who sold it to me told me so,” he said. And then he added:

“He wore the greenest hat you can ever imagine, and he smoked a pipe that smelled like a garden in the spring.” As if that settled that.

Speechless, Ellie nodded and left. When she told Nicholas about it, he seemed to contemplate it for a while, and eventually he said: “let’s try it out then”.

And so they did. They stood a good distance from each other, in the direction of the wind. One held the kite, while the other held the string, and at the moment the first one let go, the other started running. It took a few attempts, but eventually the kite was up, sailing in the blue light of the morning and the breeze. The children spent the morning taking turns to hold its string, look up at the sky and feel the wind in their hands.

And although neither of them could put it into words, the truth is that they had never before felt as happy as they did when they were holding on to that string. The world looked a little different when they did, bigger, full of discoveries to be made and adventures to be had and stories to be told. They wished the morning would never end, but of course it did. Their mothers appeared on their respective balconies and called them in for lunch, and Nicholas and Ellie had no choice but to tie the kite’s string on a fence post and go in, promising to each other that they’d be back as soon as possible.

The kite, however, had different plans. He was enjoying flying very much, so much, in fact, that didn’t ever want to stop flying.

“I,” he said to himself, “was made to fly. I don’t belong in a bedroom, between the bookcase and the bed. I belong up here, between the shining sun and the bright blue sky. And I am never going back there. No. I am going to see the world!” And he set off to do just that.

Chapter Two

The kite closed his eyes, made a wish, and tagged at his string three times; and with that, the knot was undone. Once free, he whispered a prayer to the four winds. The North Wind was the first one to appear.

“What is it that you want, young kite?” he asked.

“To see the world!” was the kite’s bold answer.

And so the wind blew and blew and the kite flew, higher and higher, faster and faster, further and further away, so that he was only a small dot in the sky when Ellie and Nicholas came back out. He flew over the sea, dotted with islands big and small, a country divided in two by a great river, surrounded by an even greater desert; then, as night fell, mountains and more mountains; and only when day began to brake again did the wind stop. The kite found itself looking at a village of small, square hats with pointed roofs, half-hidden by some trees, and a little boy with brown skin and curly hair who was looking right back at him!

The kite bowed, happy to have made a new friend, and the little boy got hold of his string. They spent the whole day together, exchanging stories. The little boy talked about his mother and sister, about the stories they told and the songs that they sang; but most of all he talked about his flute, how much he loved making music with it, and how sad he was that he had lost it. The kite told him about the sea with its islands, the coast with the beaches, the great river, the desert and the mountains. But eventually the night fell once more, and the little boy had to go home.

He tied the kite to a tree branch and promised to be back as soon as possible; but of course you all know what happened next…

The kite closed his eyes, concentrated, and tagged at his string three times, and with that, the knot was undone.

Once free, he whispered a prayer to the four winds. It was the West Wind that showed up this time. Without a word, he picked the kite up and started blowing. He blew and he blew, and the kite flew higher and higher, faster and faster, further and further away. All night the kite travelled, caught between the stars in the sky and the lights on the earth; and only when the sun came out did the wind stop. The kite slowly floated downwards, towards a small village perched on a mountain slope, on the edge of which a little girl and her goat stood, greeting the rising sun. When she saw the kite, she jumped and clapped her hands.

The kite bowed to her, and she got hold of the string, and told him all about her life: about her goat and her grandmother, and all the stories and the songs that she taught her. But most of all she talked about the doll that the grandmother had made for her when she had turned five, and how sad she was now that she had lost her. The kite told her about his night time journey, about the little boy and his flute, about the mountains and the desert, the river, and the sea with its islands. They had a great time together, and the kite caught himself thinking that it would be nice to settle down in a place so green, and have a goat for a friend. And yet, when the night fell and the little girl tied his string around a heavy stone, he didn’t hesitate.

He closed his eyes, concentrated, and tagged at his string three times, and with that, the knot was undone. Once free, he whispered a prayer to the four winds. It was the turn of the South Wind this time. He gave one look at the little kite, and he started to blow. He blew and he blew, and the kite flew higher and higher, faster and faster, further and further away. This was the longest journey the little kite had been on so far. For a whole night they travelled, but the wind did not stop when the sun came up. Instead they still flew and flew, over mountains higher than the kite thought possible, a sea, and then, great plains full of fields that seemed to go on forever, or until the night fell for a second time. More than once during that second night the kite wondered whether this wind would ever stop blowing; and in the end, he did. It was still dark when the kite found himself at the edge of a shiny, frozen forest.

At first the kite could not understand why the wind had left him there. There was nobody around. But as the light began to change he noticed a small building; and the sun came up, a child came out of the forest and knocked on the door, which was answered by a kind-looking man. Soon more children came, six in total — two girls and four boys. It was the last of those, the youngest boy, who noticed the kite and called to the others. Soon there were seven smiling faces looking up at him. Never had the kite been so happy to meet someone. He bowed, and another friendship began.

The children told him about their teacher, and their school, because that’s what the little building was. They talked about their games and their lessons, the stories that they heard and the songs they sang, but most of all they talked about their favourite books, and how sad they were because they had lost one of them. The kite told them about
the nights and the days of his journey; about the mountains and the plains, the river and the desert, and the sea with all its islands. He talked about the girl and her goat and, the little brown-skinned boy. Nightfall came all too soon on that day. The children went home, and it started to rain. Much as the kite did not like rain, he was sad to leave.

And yet, he closed his eyes, made a wish, and tagged at its string three times… only to realise he was not tied to anything this time. Instead, he found the teacher holding his string. “You have a long way to go still, little kite, don’t you?” he said as he let him go. With a heavy heart, the kite whispered a prayer to the four winds, and waited for the East Wind to come and take him away.

Chapter Three

If the kite had hoped to escape the rain, he had hoped in vain. Even though the wind blew and blew, and the kite flew higher and higher, faster and faster, further and further away, he never seemed to get away from it for long. It seemed to be raining everywhere in the world that night. And so the kite travelled through rain and clouds, sometimes even hail and thunder, and darkness worse than he had ever seen before. Only occasionally did he catch a glimpse of his old friends, the stars, through a hole in the clouds, and each time he felt a little better — but only a little. Eventually the clouds cleared, and the sun came out, and the sky turned a brilliant blue. And still the kite was travelling, high up in the sky, and the East wind didn’t seem to show any intention of slowing down and stopping. And, worse still, all he could see bellow was the sea, stretching out in all directions for as far as he could see. More than once, he wondered where he was going, or even if he was going anywhere. At long last, an island came into view, the wind slowed down, and the kite landed. It was an island unlike any other the kite had ever — and by this time, he had seen a lot. It seemed to float on the sea instead of being anchored to the sea bed, like other islands are. And there were no children on it, nor any people of any sort for that matter

And yet it was far from empty. In fact, it was full — full of things that looked as lost and lonely as the little kite felt. Toys of every kind and description; gloves and scarves; pencils and crayons; socks missing their pairs; the hat I forgot on the train to Bristol. All around were things that had once been loved by somebody, somewhere, but had come to be lost. They all had a story to tell. The kite recognised a flute, a doll, and a book of fairy tales. He sat there for a long time, listening to everybody’s stories, about the places they had come from and the people who had loved them and the lives they had lived with them, and even though the things weren’t sad, and the land of lost things, for this is what the island was, was not a sad place, the kite himself did feel sad — and homesick.

He thought of the man who made him, who smoked a wooden pipe and wore green shoes every day without fail, and of the little girl he had been given to, the little girl he belonged to, and he wished he could be back with her. And because he was no ordinary kite, because there was still some magic left inside him even after all his travels, the four winds, who had become quite fond of him by this time, swooped him up and took him back, back to the small town where he had come from. That journey was long, too, and it wasn’t easy: rain came once again, and the kite narrowly avoided getting hit by lightening once. But in the end the sun came out again, and the kite made it back, just as the rain cleared and a rainbow came out over the small Greek town where it had all began.

It was Nicholas who spotted him first, a dot in the distance getting bigger and bigger. And even though he looked very different from the last time they had just seen him –he was wrinkled and tattered, his tail was half the size it used to be, and the string was all but gone– the children were very happy to see him again, and began running in his direction. They ran and ran, and got to him just in time to see him land on a tree and hear the ‘crack’ as one of the sticks of its frame broke.

“We were too late,” Ellie said, and she nearly started to cry.

Nicholas did not say anything. He just stared at the man with the green hat and the pipe who seemed to have been there the whole time, watching.

“Is this your kite, little girl?” he asked.

Ellie nodded.

“I happen to know this kite really well,” he said. “And I know that he had had a very long journey. He had spent all his magic, and he was very tired. He needed to rest.

“But I know another thing too,” he went on. “I know that he spent his very last magic on a present to you. Before he died, he told all his stories to his friends, the four winds. And he made them promise that, if the two of you made another kite, the winds would whisper all the stories in his ears, so that he could, then, tell the two of you. That was his present to you, the children who taught him how to fly,” the man finished.

And that’s what happened. Nicholas and Ellie went back to the man’s workshop with him, which smelled like a garden in spring, and he helped them make another kite, which they took home and flew on every windy day. They never let him out of their sight, and neither did he leave them. And yet, every time he came down, he had another great story to tell.

mental health


I’ve long had this vision of you suddenly coming back to our house: the cat running down the stairs to greet you and you smiling and noting how little has changed since you died and don’t we have a lovely house.

But now the cat is dead as well.

And there’s a pandemic going on. Everything has changed.

After you died, it was very important to me that I continued living our life. I often wondered if you would be proud of me and then usually decided you would be ─ and that mattered a whole lot. It matters a lot less now. Maybe I am doing things you wouldn’t approve of. And that would be fine: it’s not like I always fully stood behind everything you did.

It feels liberating to go through the house and move your things out of the way, or simply throw them out. You won’t come back to ask for them. It turns out, there aren’t that many things that I feel emotionally attached to.

Are we still married? I have found it increasingly strange to refer to you in conversations as ‘my wife’. It feels like you kind of stopped being that, if not two years ago when you died, then at least gradually in the time since.

Mind you, it does hurt a bit to write this. Part of me wants to say what I feel I am expected to say, that I think of you every minute of the day and that you are the light that guides me the rest of my life. It would sound lovely. But it simply isn’t true.

I do wish we could hug once more. Then I could promise you I would always look after our teddy bears ─ because some things really don’t change ─ and then we would say that our ways have now parted. And that it is okay. After all, on that hot June day in 2006, we promised to stay together until death would do us part.

You died long before the pandemic that has changed everyone’s life. This isn’t your world any more. We talk about the new normal, and that will not be the same as the old normal. I don’t know what my new normal will look like. It will definitely be very different than my old normal. And I know I will be alright.

mental health


In the early hours of 19 July 2018, I found myself in the half-deserted corridors of a hospital. My wife was being treated for a life-threatening haemorrhage she had suffered the evening before and I was convinced she wouldn’t survive.

So I spent the night making plans for my life after her death, thinking about the things I would do ─ including things I would be more free to do on my own ─ and convincing myself that in the end I would be alright. This conviction helped me a lot in the following days, as she lay in an induced coma in the hospital’s ICU. It helped me even more when she died, actually somewhat unexpectedly, a short week later: despite the shock and sadness, I knew instantly I would be alright.

Being an optimist isn’t about avoiding worst case scenarios: it’s about confronting them and thinking them through. In a sense, the life I am living now is the one I thought through that July evening.

We ─ and that is literally all of us ─ are going through quite a rough phase at the moment. We’re all sad about what has already happened and anxious about what lies ahead of us, knowing it will get worse. Because it will get worse.

Here is a small consolation: eventually, this will be over. Maybe next year, maybe this summer, maybe at Easter. (Actually, no, not at Easter.) Things will be different. There will be traumas to process. But we will also be able to build new things.

Now is a good time to plan ahead, at least in our heads. We don’t know what the post-COVID-19 world will look like, and there’s probably not much point in making very practical plans (but if you can, don’t hesitate!), but making plans is a well-known coping strategy and it’s one you may want to try now.

I have already spoken to people for whom the current situation ─ from the global crisis to self-isolation ─ has been an inspiration to think about changing their lives: move abroad, look for a stable relationship, start a new hobby. Perhaps this is what you needed to realise how your current relationship is holding you back.

Maybe the realisation that your job isn’t one that the government considers ‘essential’ makes you want to look for a new one when this is all over. I can understand that. Never before in my life have I felt such admiration for the actual difference healthcare professionals are making ─ not even during that week two summers ago.

Or maybe you want to make a serious effort trying to change society. That would be awesome: the pandemic highlights many things that we all knew were wrong in society but could somewhat comfortably ignore until now. It seems inevitable that society will change and now is the time to think about your role in shaping its future and helping to right these wrongs.

And actually, even if you’re not the kind of person who thinks in terms of changing society, now is a good time to think about how the crisis is affecting many marginalised communities. Have you wondered how homeless people can follow the recommendation to stay at home? Can you imagine how sex workers survive for weeks or months without income? Do you know that domestic violence tends to increase when families are confined to the same space 24/7?

The advice from scientists and governments around the world is to Stay! At! Home! And while there are things you can do already ─ if you can afford to make a contribution to support groups for those marginalised communities, they need it now more than ever ─ a lot of time will be spent doing nothing and waiting. And thinking. So you may as well think of future plans, big or small.

As the government has put me on indefinite house arrest, I am making plans to visit new people and places. I am thinking about how I can make sure future jobs make an actual difference somewhere. And I wonder what role I can play in creating a more fair society that shows it has learned from the lessons we are all learning the hard way now.

Things are difficult and they will remain difficult for quite a while. We need to be kind and compassionate ─ to others and to ourselves. But we should not stop dreaming about leading better lives and building better societies. Because we need these dreams more than ever.

mental health


A few days ago I dreamed Dimitra was lying next to me and said she wanted to have sex. I woke up feeling a strange mix of arousal and confusion, but it was also very comforting lying there next to her.

A friend, who once was very close to her, told me she had recently appeared in his dream too, probably under different circumstances, and I thought how beautiful it is that as long as dead people are still remembered, they will keep appearing in people’s dreams, as alive as they have ever been.

Aside from that, she recently made small differences to the lives of two friends of mine she never met. This I find very touching.

All the same, she remains as dead as she has been for more than eighteen months. And I miss her.

I have long considered missing an unhelpful feeling. It seemed to get in the way of my moving on ─ an oh how I wanted to move on. In grief too I am impatient.

There was also the at times difficult relationship with a beautiful but complex person that I am still digesting. It somehow seemed more difficult to do that while also focusing on missing her.

But as I have been able to give my brain some breathing space recently, I realise that I do miss her.

Yes, I miss cooking for someone. I miss sleeping next to someone. And I miss making love to someone. But I also miss her being that someone.

That of course is fine. Missing someone is actually a very beautiful feeling, even if it does at times feel bittersweet, especially when you realise you can’t ever fix things that were broken and you can’t do more of the things you didn’t do enough of ─ for there is that too.

It is possible to miss someone while also being fine. I am. There are many good things happening in my life and I owe them all to her, including being given the chance to become a better person.

I look forward to her visiting me in my dreams again soon. Maybe I can tell her about those things.

mental health


I saw the snow on Mount Hymettus from the bus yesterday and wanted to tell you, like there are often things I suddenly want to tell you. This time, for some reason, it almost made me cry.

I have been thinking a lot about you lately. About us. I used to think that with your death everything suddenly became alright. The things I struggled with. The things you struggled with. The things we should have been working on. The things we should have talked about but didn’t. None of them seemed to matter any more.

But they did. It bothered me that there were questions I could never get an answer to. I hope you don’t mind I found an answer to them myself. I am certain you don’t mind that I have been trying to be more honest with myself. That I want to be the person who would talk about the things we avoided. That I know I need to be that person, even though it doesn’t matter to us any more.

Us is past. Except it isn’t. It’s still our house that I live in. With our things on the wall. Our things in the kitchen. I still get a little sad when I remember that one of the four little coffee cups has broken, for these are our favourite cups.

I got a Christmas tree again this year. A little one, but our lights are in them, as are the hearts you once made. And of course I had the teddy bears sit underneath them, as they used to do every year.

The bears have been travelling the world with me. We have been to eighteen countries on four continents since you died. I look after them well. I know you know I would.

So many good things are happening and I think they would excite you. My life is going well. I know I have said this before and you know I have a tendency to say that too early but I think I am right this time. I hope you agree.

And yet I do miss you. Which is something I have sometimes forgotten to do. The other day I thought I heard you snore in the bedroom and for a second I wanted to check if you were covered well. You would probably find it funny that I miss your snoring.

I miss making you breakfast or ironing your clothes or going out quickly to buy some food. I miss calling you on my way home to ask if I should bring ice cream.

On that July night the previous summer you didn’t make it to the other side of Mount Hymettus, to the airport from which you would fly to Crete. Instead you were taken to the hospital, then another one and then your final resting place at the cemetery. On the slopes of Mount Hymettus.

Yesterday I finished my job. I finished the project that was very much our project. It is good. This morning I took a train to the airport. I waved to Mount Hymettus and flew to Crete, finishing your trip from 18 months ago.

I went for a run along the seashore here this afternoon. You will be pleased to know I finally took up running again, and quite seriously too. I felt so happy running there. And so grateful to you, for everything. And I love you so, so much.

mental health


After Dimitra died, one of many reactions was from someone who pointed out that there was “no right way to grieve”. For some reason this stuck with me.

Sure, I knew that everyone experiences grief differently. But my grief always seemed really more different than everyone else’s.

For a long time, this was the narrative I held on to. I carefully avoided grief literature and didn’t feel much connection to other people who had gone through something similar. I didn’t look for professional help because, so I told myself, this would only focus on the grief and I didn’t need help with that. I was fine.

If I could go back in time about a year, I would really urge my slightly younger self to be wiser than that. And from my current vantage point I would like to apologise to all mental health professionals for underestimating your ability to see through my narrative.

Grief is complicated. It’s about far more than missing someone. It includes many things people don’t often talk about, including new life opportunities and a relief that certain difficult things won’t have to be dealt with. Those are fine feelings to have. And I am of course far from the only one to have experienced them.

But by sticking to my narrative and my story of my grief being really very different, I slowly got stuck. The past six months, in many ways, have been about getting unstuck a little bit and then every time discovering I was actually more stuck than I realised.

I am fine. It would be wrong for me to claim otherwise: I am healthy, enjoy life, have many friends and good things are happening to me. But being fine isn’t everything and as there is still plenty of work to do, being fine shouldn’t be the defining part.

Even now I often catch myself focusing on the “I am fine” part, talking about professional help in the context of “I want to do great things” as if is below me to seek help with something I have been dealing with for the past sixteen months. I am silly.

And maybe that should be how I define myself at this moment.

mental health


When people hear the story of Dimitra’s death, they often comment on how beautiful our relationship clearly was and how much we loved each other. This always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

Yes, we loved each other and I am forever grateful for the time we spent together. And yes, looking back it was beautiful, if only because an unexpected early death makes it easy to see the beauty of what was before. But there were also things that weren’t working and that we both, for different reasons, were ignoring. Things that couldn’t have lasted much longer.

I can only guess Dimitra’s reasons for not facing what wasn’t working. I know mine. I was afraid. Afraid that we couldn’t fix things without doing irreparable damage to the relationship.

When I say I felt very peaceful in the months after her death “because death brings you close to what life is really about” this is only partly true. I also felt a sense of relief that I wouldn’t have to do this difficult work.

That isn’t pretty and it isn’t something I am proud of. I am okay with Dimitra’s death. But as a consequence I got a very easy way out of doing something big and important. I am not okay with that.

There is a famous phrase from The Leopard: “everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same”. I have started to interpret this freely to mean that if you really want to change a situation, you should be willing to accept having to leave altogether, which is still better than not doing anything about it.

Belatedly, I am working on that. I keep saying I want to do “great things” (and then quietly remind myself that merely writing these things isn’t good enough). I won’t be able to do so if I keep avoiding difficult things in professional and personal situations.

I am okay with what happened last year. But I owe it to myself, to Dimitra and to the world to learn from this not-so-great part of our life together and to do better.

mental health


I started using this blog for ‘mental health blogging’ a little over four months ago. The motivation was pretty obvious: I had lost my wife, found processing our relationship to be more complicated than initially anticipated and struggled with moving on. I thought writing could help.

I certainly did help.

I never had a clear idea of where I wanted to take this writing, but in the back of my head, I always had some implicit end goal in mind. Getting over something. Working through something. Being ready for something.

But what if I change that goal and instead try and become a bit better every day for the rest of my life? A better human being. Better at dealing with things that happened in the past. Better prepared for things that may happen in the future.

Of course, I might not always be writing on this blog, which is only ever a means to an end anyway. But making this end a moving rather than a still target seems a much healthier thing to do.

And while doing that, it is good to note that writing on its own is never going to be enough. Writing doesn’t ask questions. It doesn’t ask whether I really was okay when I describe periods when things were fine, or whether that thing I write about is really what had been bothering me as I claim it had.

And thus I need to remind myself that I am not always the most reliable narrator when it comes to my own life, especially when things move beyond facts. Or, as I put it to a friend the other day: on my blog I write what I feel, or maybe what I want the world to believe I feel.

So let me not forget that talking to people, both personally or professionally, will always be very important too.

Onwards and upwards. Forever.



that day I went to the post office
even though I didn’t want to
but I still did
but then lovingly too
and picked up your parcel
and got ciabattas on the way back
for lunch
because you liked ciabattas
and you were so happy
and said you loved me

I often think of that day
to remind myself
that in our own funny little way
we really loved each other

and also
because it would be our last day together


In which I am looking for new work

So I am looking for new things to do. This is a post that provides some background to that.

I joined Virus Bulletin in January 2007. I was hired to do maintain its website and make sure it didn’t fall over when the BBC and Slashdot linked to it, which I did, but then there were more things at the company that needed doing and I realised I kind of liked security so I stayed on. I built a test for email security products (we called them spam filters back then) which is still running. I started doing other things too, such as write blog posts, give conference talks, and build a web security test framework. I also became heavily involved in our conference. Then, in 2014, I became Editor, which in VB’s funny set-up means I kind of run the company and I am pretty involved in just about everything the company does, from making budgets to writing test reports, and from doing pre-sales talks to putting together the conference programme.

But the time has come for me to move on. In part because I think I have done at VB what I can do. In part to close a chapter in my life. And in part ─ and this is actually the most important part ─ because there are so many other exciting and important things to do.

My main requirement for future work is that what I do is meaningful and makes an actual difference. I have a strong interest in work related to civil society, but I know a big difference can be made elsewhere too. I would like my dozen years of working in security, and thus getting a pretty good grasp of how security works beyond the sales pitches and scary headlines, to be turned into something really good.

I am looking for a full-time, or mostly full-time position, at a new location, but I would be happy to work on short term and possibly part-time projects for a while. I do like working towards a clear, tangible goal, so that could actually be exciting.

I think my understanding of security and my experience in it is rather broad, which is one way of saying I am not necessarily good at one particular thing. I can do a lot of things reasonably well and I think I would be most useful in a broad, varied role.

I can do research. Though never a core part of my job, I have analysed spam campaigns and, based on C&C traffic, malware families. I have done many smaller, ad hoc research projects. I have a background as an academic researcher in pure mathematics, which gives me a pretty good understanding on topics such as machine learning and cryptography. I have given a number of technical talks on the latter subject. I am familiar with a wide range of research tools and can program and design technical systems.

I can write. I have written a great many blog posts for Virus Bulletin, as well as guest articles for various sites such as Forbes and Ars Technica. I write a weekly newsletter on threat intelligence. I have written technical reports and edited a many often technical papers written by others. In the past, I have written articles on music, history and mathematics.

In can speak. I have spoken at more than a dozen industry conferences around the world including RSA, Nullcon, AfricaHackon, NorthSec and TROOPERS. I have given talks at private industry events. I have given both technical and non-technical talks, depending on the subject and the audience. I have helped others prepare for talks and sometimes speak to the media.

I can plan. I have been the main organiser for the Virus Bulletin conference since 2014 and have been a member of various industry committees. I currently serve on the board of AMTSO. I was chairman of the students’ association for maths students and a student member of the faculty council at my university. At VB, I have worked in implementing various regulations and managed a remote team.

I also know a lot of people in infosec. This can come useful in future jobs, especially when it comes to using their help in achieving a goal.

I have over the course of my career in infosec come to learn that the challenges we face are far less of a technical nature than we are led to believe. I would like future jobs to be technically inspired rather than purely technical, but I do enjoy the occasional deep technical challenge. Working with an inspiring team is even more important to me though.

Two final things. First, I am a white man working in an industry with an abundance of white men. If you find yourself discussing possible work with me, which undoubtedly will involve me trying to convince you I can do that work, please try and be critical and consider whether it makes a difference to you that I confirm to the stereotype of an infosec professional.

Secondly, it is important for me to work in a diverse and inclusive work environment. Not only do I believe that as individuals we have more to learn from people that aren’t like us, but a big part of information security is about trying to understand other people’s threat models, thus making working with those other people, in an environment that suits them as much as it does me, of vital importance.

I you want to talk about work, please email me at thinksmall on gmail, or find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.