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Friday, February 04, 2005

Jim's Travels: part 3

This is a series of emails sent to me by my friend Jim Coe who left New Zealand to travel a bit and then maybe join the British army. I have editted them to be more story-like and less email-ish. Due to my slackness of the last couple of days the following is a large post comprising of Jim's last weeks in England before he headed to Morrocco. (And I promise I will write something freash today!)


There is a baby singing to me.


Wed, 25 Feb 2004 04:08:07 +1300

It's been a while since I sent a proper email to everyone so, so here goes.

I am now in Brighton, directly south of London on the coast, staying with my cousin Dan, his wife Andrea and their 2 year old daughter Yasmina.

I was just interrupted by the baby bringing me a 'cup of tea' from her tea set. We have discussed animals and what they say, and assembled a series of numbers from one to ten. I am, in fact, getting quite clucky. She is just talking, so it beats having no one to talk to.

Anyway, I came down here last night on the train and will be here until tomorrow when I go up to Cambridge. I spent the last couple of days in London just tripping around. Sunday I went over to the City of London, the area where the Tower and St Paul's are. A lot of the City isn't that interesting what with all the big modern buildings but there are a few things, like the ridiculous Monument to the Great Fire of 1666. It was amusing just to hear Americans trying to work out what MDCLXVI was? Is it 1615? 1623? Ha, I'm such a snob. For some reason the whole inscription is in Latin, so I stood there fishing out words and pretending I could actually read it. One day...

I went across the 'Millennium Bridge' (if you're wondering, it is slightly more impressive than Mission Bay's Millennium Bridge) to the Tate Modern, which came highly recommended. I must be some kind of modern cultural Philistine, because I thought it was a load of wank. Maybe the weekend crowds of foreigners put me off, but when you've just been looking at Raphael, Bosch and El Greco, seeing a cardboard box painted like a car doesn't really cut it. Call me conservative.

I went up to St John's Wood, which is a fancy suburb just to the northwest of the City to look at the all the fancy houses and walk down Abbey Road in search of the famous crossing. My mental picture of the album cover was rather vague and I spent a fair while looking at the inevitable series of similar looking crossings until I finally hit on the fact it was probably the one with all the tourists crossing it and taking photos. Bloody tourists.

Just down the road is Lord's. Like most stadia over here, you can't see a lot from the street, but just being outside was quite something. I Was almost tempted into the Lord's Gift Shoppe.

Took a walk through Regent's Park, which is conveniently undergoing major works. Nice though.

Yesterday I finished off the National Gallery which was quite an experience. I went back to the British Museum as well and then walked back home via Victoria Station, whither I would return later to catch the train to the South Coast.

Brighton, I'm told, is just London by the sea. Buildings are much the same, rents are almost as bad, it's just there is the Atlantic rather than the Thames. I went shopping for clothes to wear to this stupid pseudo-interview. Clothes are actually remarkably cheap, and I ended up getting two formal shirts, a pair of pants and a tie for 20 quid. Not bad, I thought. Now all I need is a shave.

The sea is really nice; even though it was freezing down at the shore I sat for a while on the beach (it is a pebble beach, not sand) and watched the tide come in for a while. The whole place is just much more relaxed than London and, in a way, much nicer to be in. The people aren't as pushy, and there are obviously a lot fewer of them. However, it's still a city the size of Christchurch or bigger, so it's got all you could want city wise.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Officer


Fri, 27 Feb 2004 10:58:15 +1300

Well here I am in Cambridge. It is still cold, but at least it is sunny here. For a bunch of intellectuals, people seem to have much the same concerns as students at Auckland - shopping, boys/girls and alcohol. The only difference is a considerably larger vocabulary.

The town itself is nice. It has a street called Jesus Lane and a park called Christ's Pieces. I haven't done the whole tour of the colleges and chapels yet, I intend to do it tomorrow.

In fact, even being in this place depresses me by making me think that my entire time at the University was wasted. I mean, this is mostly my fault but I wonder how I would have done if I had been over here. Oh well, whatever, alea jacta est, no use crying over spilt milk, etc. etc.

So I'm sure you all want to know how my 'interview' went. Well, it went very well, basically. I now wait (in Morocco) until June to start the actual selection process. The woman seemed to think I had the qualities necessary, although obviously only a certain amount can be gathered sitting there in an interview situation. She is going to set up a couple of Regimental Visits for me, to the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets, both of which are Infantry. So yeah, exciting. Hopefully I will have most stuff sorted by the time I leave (Wednesday).

Well, not much news, I know, but I haven't really done much else last couple of days. The fun will start flying when I get to Casablanca. Did I just mix my metaphors?

Where do I start?


Sat, 28 Feb 2004 13:47:37 +1300

You'll be glad to know that I am making such good use of my time here.

Despite my intentions of a sightseeing tour around this ancient university town, I instead did no such thing. There was a promising journey down to the local Sainsbury's (supermarket) to fetch breakfast, which turned out to be a veritable protein feast, what with bacon, eggs, fried bread (?) and 'Toulouse' sausage. It even snowed a little bit on the way back to the college.

Unfortunately that was the only time I left Trinity College today. My day consisted of sitting around, reading, and performing the mammoth task of, for some reason, tidying Jessie's room. Yeah, I don't know why/ It was so filthy it made my room at Royal Tce look like, I dunno, something actually quite clean. So yeah, I got a kick out of that.


Quick note


Mon, 01 Mar 2004 15:17:40 +1300

Just a very quick email because it is very late and I return to London in the morning.

I haven't done an awful lot in the last couple of days, but the highlights were as follows:

- Going to Evensong service at King's Chapel. No, I'm not normally one for all this God business, and I certainly never would have suspected I would find myself queuing for a church service. But the King's Chapel is a very special building and apparently sported a very good choir so off we went. Memories of my intermediate school days flooded back to me. Anyway, the church is amazing, and the choir was small but accomplished. Still don't see what people see in this religious nonsense though.

- Visited the Botanical Gardens. They are quite extensive and the fact that I could make and throw snowballs more than made up for the rather limited sprouting of trees and plants in winter. I would have taken photographs had my camera not broken. Hmm.

- Oh yeah, it snowed big time last night and even settled all over the ground. Hence the snowballs. Very pretty.

- Went out to dinner, quite a reasonable group of us, to this Chinese restaurant. It was without doubt the best meal I have ever eaten, and the Chinese guy opposite me said it was the best Chinese he has had outside China.It was also without doubt the most expensive (in NZ terms) meal I have ever eaten, but oh well. I met some really nice people and had a good time. I have met some great people and hopefully made some better, more cultured friends here than I did at home, aha. But seriously, although some of the people here are obviously upper class twits with too much money, there are a whole bunch of people from old boys of Eton (actually) to the lowliest coal miner's daughter (possibly) who I have met and are friendly and relatively down to earth. Even if they did keep asking me about Lord of the Rings. I even met one guy going to Sandhurst in January so I might already have an Army friend.

Anyway, I leave for London early afternoon tomorrow so I need my beauty sleep. Hope all is well.

Haere ra,


'A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Marky Marx and the Funky Bunch.'

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