17/7/89

CHRIS AND SANDY ARE GONE, YAY!!⁰

We spent the morning lazing around upstairs then packed up a bit of stuff and walked up to Paradise Park Zoo. We got in free because yesterday (Sunday) I had shorn their three sheep for them. The head zookeeper, Stephen “Frog” French, had picked us up in his little yellow van with three motley looking sheep crammed in the back, and we had driven to a farm over at Cuffley where there was a shearing plant (actually only an overhead dagging plant¹ but in surprisingly good order and sharp!)

They were easy shearing and it was good to do a bit after nearly a year away from a farm and Frog said we would come up to the zoo and look around for nought².

We spent 2 hours there looking at the animals with Frog telling us about them.  They have lions, camels, highland cattle, goats, donkeys, coati mundi, mountain lion, sheep, reindeer, Vietnamese pigs, a llama & other bits and pieces, all in spacious and we’ll set out cages.

After we left there we walked down to Hoddesdon through the back roads in the woods. We spent an hour and a half in the pub then Linda went to Family Planning for a new supply of pills and some advice on the effects of antibiotics on it. We had tea at Maggie’s Bar and got a taxi home.

⁰They moved on to manage another pub…and good riddance: they were lazy, good-for-nothings.

¹A dagging plant is a machine for removing dirty wool from a sheep’s rear. It consists of a suspended electric motor driving a hand-piece.

² Pronounced “nowt” and meaning “nothing.”

11/7/89

Because we had such a slack day yesterday we decided to go for a bike ride.  Linda’s bike had a flat tire so we pushed the bikes down to Broxbourne and got the tires pumped up (some prick had pinched the pump off my bike when I was in Slough last week) then we bought some rolls, pies and drinks and cycled down to the canal. We had lunch and fed a family of ducks then cycled along beside the calm, slow moving water until we came to a paddock of sheep across on the opposite side. They were grazing right to the water’s edge and as we watched them I remembered Grey’s Creek at Grampians¹ where I spent a lot of time sitting on the banks with the dogs beside me watching the sheep and cattle grazing and the deep, calm, clear water of the creek flowing past.

We followed the canal to Cheshunt and went up into the town centre and had a drink at the Rose and Crown then sat in the park and watched stupid poser school boys playing tennis.  After that, and at a loss for something to do, we went to the pictures. We got a bus to Waltham Cross and wandered around while we waited for the cinema to open at 5:40. The movie was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it was great. Non-stop action, funny, corny and great fun.

After the movie, we bussed back to Cheshunt and had a revolting tea of Super7² burgers then started home. My bike had a flat tire before we got out of Cheshunt so we ended up once again pushing our bikes for two hours to get home!

¹Grampians sheep station, in the South Island High Country, is where I had worked as a shepherd for four years.

² A convenience store chain.

3/7/89

I got up at 3:50 a.m. in order to go to work at Slough.  I biked down to the station and caught the 4:38 train to Liverpool Street.  It is beautiful at that time of day – cool and damp with ground fog hugging the base of the trees and creeping along the waterways.

I got the Circle Line to Paddington and a train out to Slough.  Went to Extra-staff and got sent to a job with a Welsh guy. After 2 hours of waiting in the sun for the truck we were supposed to be unloading to turn up, I rang to find out what the fuck was going on. “Sorry, we sent you to the wrong address.”  We ended up doing one and 1/2 hours work at another building site & the guy paid us 8 hours for it. Not bad. I spent the rest of the day watching TV at Bernie and Sue’s. Spent the night at the Bernie and Sue’s and spent Tuesday working at Fullers Transport opposite the Mars Factory¹, unloading bags of coconut from Sri Lanka and the Philippines and bloody heavy 140 lb sacks of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast.  Went home in reverse order to the way I got out there.

¹The Mars Confectionery factory. The sacks of cocoa and coconut were being used to make Bounty Bars.

2/7/89

There was a big Gipsy¹ fight in the public bar.

¹Pikies…fucking scum! Thieves, vagabonds, liars, violent con-artists. Not to be confused with the traditional Gypsies of folklore: these people are vermin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pikey

The fight erupted over an unpaid debt and involved about twenty males viciously beating each other with fists, bar-stools, bottles and glasses. The fight ended when one of the original two combatants bashed the other with a full bottle of Carlsberg beer, knocking him senseless. By the time the police arrived the bar was empty and we were cleaning up.

There was a big Gipsy fight in the public bar.

26/6/89

Sandy gave us a ride down to Broxbourne and we walked down to the station and caught the train into Liverpool Street. We caught the tube to Piccadilly Circus and went to New Zealand House and collected our passports and letters of introduction for Zaire. From there we went around to IMC for some more shots. I had meningitis and Linda had meningitis and tetanus.  We also both had blood samples taken to find out our blood groups. That lot set us back a further £76 and we went to a nearby chemist to get the antibiotics and the malaria tablets he had prescribed for us – they cost us 43 quid.

Back on the tube, we made our way to Covent Garden and the YHA shop where we bought 6 bottles of insect repellent and across the road, we bought closed cell foam Karrimats.

We spent an hour or so watching life on the Thames go by then walked up and sat in Parliament square and watched the sun set on the Houses of Parliament while jets descended through the clouds overhead and Big Ben told the passing time.

With nothing else left to do we headed back home on the train. We now have nothing important left to do in London and probably won’t return there until a few days before we leave for Africa.

20/6/89

Dave¹ lent us his car and we spent the morning cruising the country lanes of Hertfordshire. Had a Ploughman’s² at a little pub and went and saw the Duke of Wellington where Chris and Sandy³ used to work. It is no wonder they are so lazy – a sleepy little pub in an even sleepier little village!

Jason⁴ took us cruising in the afternoon and Ray & Joan took us for a drink at the Fish and Eels in the evening.

¹Dave was a New Zealander who also worked at The Woodman.

²A Ploughman’s lunch consists of various pickles, bread and cheese.

³Chris and Sandy were the third of four sets of managers at The Woodman while we were there. They were lazy, slovenly and inclined to let the Pikies (gypsies) into the pub.

⁴Jason Roach was a young guy who also worked at The Woodman. He went on to become a Professor of Criminology at Newcastle University.

19/6/89

STARLIGHT EXPRESS, STARLIGHT EXPRESS.

We caught the train into Liverpool Street and from there went to Jessops Cameras in Oxford Street to do a couple of things, then to NZ House on Haymarket Street. We applied for letters of an introduction for Zaire¹ then went up on the roof. What a view!!  It is said to be the best view in London.

From there we went to the IVC for the first of our “ab-so-lutely painless”²(!!) vaccinations.

  • Polio (oral)
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid               OUCH!!!

We had tea at the Hard Rock Café (SAVE THE PLANET) after an eye-opening trip to Harrods in Knightsbridge: the place is mega, to say the least, and sells absolutely everything.

Another mystery bus ride took us quite by chance to the Apollo Theatre where Starlight Express³ has been playing for five years. We went and got our £20 seats for £8 and saw an absolutely marvellous 2 1/2 hours of singing and dancing, all done on roller skates with brilliant special effects and music. We both went home singing the tunes!

¹ We would be visiting the corrupt, dictatorship of Zaire during our Overland trip. I order to be granted visas to enter Zaire (the actual visas had to be obtained in Nairobi) we needed letters of introduction from our embassy, guaranteeing that we were people of good character. This was, indeed, ironic as the President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, was a corrupt, murderous, psychopathic megalomaniac whose personality cult held total sway over the brutalized population of his country.

² The doctor who administered our vaccinations declaimed in his very posh accent that the jabs would be “ab-so-lutely painless.” They fucking weren’t!

³ Starlight Express, written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, went on to be one of the world’s longest-running musicals, playing 7,409 times between 1984 and 2002.