Well, here I am again at the end of another diary, another year and, this time, another decade. It is 5:45 PM and Linda and I are watching the video “Cocoon – The Return” upstairs at The Red Lion pub in Lambeth, London. We have been working here for 3 weeks now as a live-in bar couple. The pub is owned by Brian Bradley, a Kiwi from Moeraki¹ and most of the staff are Kiwis so it is a good atmosphere to work in.

We spent four days at White Stubbs Farm² after we returned from Africa. Joyce filled us in on what had been going on around the area while we had been away and it was still the same back-biting, narrow-mindedness that we had left behind 4 months before. The Woodman was once again in the hands of the Pikies³ and Terry & Lorraine (the publicans) are gone. It sounded as though Terry had gone on a binge of barring people from the pub including old Nobbie (a local drunk) which would have been a bad move as the locals would have complained to the brewery who would have told Terry and Lorraine to shape up or ship out. I guess they shipped out!

We had a good sleep-in on our first morning at White Stubbs Farm and went down to the Woodman for lunch. It was dead…the only people there were AK Top Roy and his scarecrow wife.

About 2:00 that day we caught the train into London and mucked around for the rest of the day until 7:00 when we met Mike and Scotty on the Tottenham Court Road. We had a few drinks at a pub then headed to Break for the Border, a Mexican restaurant where we’d arranged to meet the others from the overland. We had a good night there and slept on the floor of Robyn’s sister’s flat.

Next day we went job-hunting and got an interview at The Red Lion. It is a busy inner city pub and we were very busy over Christmas and New Year. In the week leading up to Christmas, Linda and I spent all our wages [we were earning 100 pounds each per week with full board and lodging] on new clothes and Christmas pressies for each other. It was a really good feeling to have money to spend and not have to worry about saving.

The Red Lion, 121 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1.

We also rang home. Linda rang Helen one night after trying a few times to get through without success. Everything is fine at Dry Creek† and it was really good to talk to her again. Brian was away that day so we didn’t talk to him. I rang Joe [my brother] early one morning and we had a good yarn. He was going to spend some time with our cousin Tig over the Christmas break.

Christmas Eve was a Saturday night and was very quiet but the Friday night was horrendously busy. Linda and I had a quiet Xmas by ourselves at the pub. We cooked up a huge christmas dinner and had all the trimmings with it – chocolate, nuts, crackers, christmas pudding. We both gave each other Swatch watches and I gave Linda a new address book, a scarf, 3 photograph albums and some other bits & pieces. Brian and his wife gave her a top and a toilet bag and Harry (another of the bar staff) gave her a scarf. Along with the watch Linda gave me some Kouros aftershave which she dad bought duty-free on the boat over from Spanish North Africa, a shirt and a few other bits. Brian and Sue gave me a diary and a rugby jersey and Harry gave me a shirt. Quite a haul!

On Boxing Day we had a sleep in then went for a walk over Westminster Bridge, up through St James Park to Buckingham Palace where we joined a throng of tourists watching the changing of the guard.

In the evening we went and saw the stage production of Allo Allo‡. It was really good with the original members of the TV show in the cast.

Last night, for New Years Eve, we had a beach party with a disco. The party went on till 7:00 AM this morning and we had a pretty good time. Later on tonight, Linda, Louie, Jennie and I are all going over to SoHo for a Chinese meal. It is a cold and rainy night but our new home is warm and comfortable.

¹A small fishing village on New Zealand’s South Island.

²A small farm owned by our friends Joyce and Ernie Stubbs whom we had met while working at The Woodman before we went to Africa.

³Gipsy thugs

‡The stage version of a popular TV sit-com set in WW2.

†Linda’s mother Helen lived at Dry Creek Station, the high country farm where I had worked as a shepherd and where Linda and I had met.

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