1/1/90

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.

19/5/89

CAMBRIDGE

We had told Eddie and Pauline that we would be taking today off and had planned a trip to Cambridge.  

Our adventures started early.  We got up at 6 a.m. and showered, packed up some stuff and got out the bikes. The distant rumble of thunder told the story of what we were in for and as we cycled along the lanes towards Wormley, the air was full of the sweet, damp smell of approaching rain and bolts of lightning flashed across the sky.  Thunder crashed overhead and we were getting a bit nervous of being out with such a storm going on. We were halfway between Wormley and Broxbourne when the downpour hit us and soaked us to the skin. But, despite the rain we carried on and caught the 7 a.m. train.

The trip to Cambridge took one hour, the train stopping at every station as it travelled past canals and tree-lined fields then through the rolling grain growing area of Hertfordshire.

By the time we got to Cambridge the sun was out and we biked into the centre of town and had breakfast at a little café. We banked our wages and wandered around the market which has been held on the same spot for 1000 years. We decided that the best way to see as much of Cambridge as possible was to get a ticket on a sightseeing bus that would enable us to get on and off when we wanted to. So, we caught the first bus of the morning and sat up on the top in the open air and listened to the commentary telling the long and fascinating story of Cambridge.  The town was founded in 44AD by the Romans (the High Street still follows the exact path of the Roman road). They were there for 360 years until the fall of the Roman Empire and then in the 5th century the Saxons came and ousted the Danes (Vikings) who has established a fine inland port. The Cam River is navigable from the sea right up to Cambridge.

The university was founded in 1209 by scholars who had fled from rioting in Oxford. The first College was Peterhouse and was founded in 1284. The newest College is Robinson which was founded in 1977 and there is now a total of 31 colleges:  24 undergraduate, 6 postgraduate and one teacher training. The names of the colleges include Kings, Sidney Sussex, St Johns, Christ’s, Jesus and Trinity. The latter is the largest and richest of the colleges and is the largest landowner in Britain after the queen and the Church of England. Most of its land was bestowed on it by Henry the 8th after it’d been taken from the monasteries and it is said that it is possible to walk from Cambridge to Oxford without leaving Trinity Land.

Some of the other sites we were to visit were the American War Memorial and Cemetery where more than 3300 white crosses bear witness to some of the American servicemen killed in Europe in World War 2. Included on the wall of remembrance are Glenn Miller and Joseph Kennedy.  We visited the round Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built in 1138 and one of only 5 round churches in existence, and drove past the College Library which contains over 4 million books on 86 miles of shelves.

Around midday, we got off the bus and hired a punt and spent an hour on the calm and peaceful waters of the Cam, along behind the colleges – this area is known as The Backs. After a lazy hour of punting we had a shandy in a nearby pub then caught the bus for another 2 hours of getting on and off looking at the hundreds of lovely old buildings.

We got off for the last time outside St Mary’s Church and climbed to the top of the tower where we had an impressive view out over the old university town. Then we wandered down a back alley to get to St John’s Chapel.  What a wonderful building. We were both or struck by the beauty of it – a huge rectangular gallery with the only partition being a wooden bridge halfway along where the huge organ was mounted. The sunlight streamed through the huge stained glass window on the western end of the chapel and the huge columns rose up to fan-shaped vaults 80 feet above.  The acoustics were perfect.

From there we wandered the streets and bought a pizza for tea which we ate after having to move from one park to another after being accosted of by drunken, foul-mouthed beggars.

After our feast of pizza, garlic bread and Coke we cycled round nearly empty streets back to the river, where we bought a drink each at the pub and sat outside on the banks of the river and watched the punts and ducks drift slowly by as the sun set lower and lower behind the skyline.

Our day in Cambridge was at an end and we biked back to the station and caught the train back to Broxbourne.  It was cold and dark when we arrived so we left our bikes at the station and got a taxi home.

Here are a few interesting bits from the history of East Anglia.

  • BURY ST-EDMONDS AND MAGNA CARTA.  Bury St Edmunds is named after King Edmund of Anglia who was martyred in 870 by the Danes for his Christian beliefs.  The 15th of June 1215 is rightly regarded as one of the most notable dates in the history of the world. Those who gathered at the high altar in the great Abbey church in November of the previous year could hardly of known the consequences that were to flow from their proceedings. The granting of Magna Carta at Runnymede marked the road to individual freedom,  parliamentary democracy and the supremacy of the law.

          The principles of Magna Carta which had their foundation at Bury St Edmunds and           have been developed over the centuries by the common law,  are the Heritage not               only of those who live in these Islands, but of countless millions of races and Creeds           throughout the world.

  • CROMWELL (LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND) Oliver Cromwell was born of middle-class parents on April 25th 1599 in the last year’s of the reign of Elizabeth the First.  Born in Huntingdon, where he went to the free Grammar School ( along with Samuel Pepys) Oliver afterwards spent a year at Cambridge University (1616 Sydney Sussex College)  before completing his education at the Inns of Court, London.

         General Ireton,  although born in Nottinghamshire,  when the Civil War broke out,            raised a troop of horse and in 1643 served with Cromwell in East Anglia.  One of the          most famous quotes from Cromwell was “it is an odd thing Mr Ireton, that every               man who wages war believes God is on his side. I’ll warrant God must often wonder         who is on his!”

16/5/89

Eddie gave us a ride down to Wormley and then John, a regular at the pub, picked us up and took us to Hoddesdon.  We went to the library and got a couple of books,

We did a bit of shopping and had a beer in the White Swan pub.  Then we walked back via the public footpaths over Bass Hill. We stopped and sat in the grass out in the middle of a paddock and watched the sunlight playing on the hills and houses over on the far side of the Lee Valley.  The only thing about being this close to London is the constant roar of traffic on the A10¹ and the noise of aircraft overhead that destroys the peace and calm of the countryside. The air was full of the lovely sweet smells of spring and birds were everywhere.  I can’t wait to get to the remoter parts of rural England.

¹The A10 is a major arterial road linking London (the road begins at London Bridge) with King’s Lynn in Norfolk. Parts of the road follow the original Roman road known as Ermine Street.

15/5/89

After work Rene took me to Enfield.  I changed my two left shoes for a left and a right.  Wandered around for an hour or so then met Rene and she took me back to Wormley.  I walked up the road to the pub and took some photos on the way including a couple of some headstones in Wormley churchyard.

 

 

14/5/89

We had a couple of letters from Colin and Dill¹ and in them, written in Colin’s peculiar note-form were the paragraphs:

“A fellow shot a Black Power² member who was stealing petrol out of his car the other day, only one thing wrong, his mate got away. But it would be hard to hit a black moving target at night with a 303.” And: “Jill has just gone to bed in a huff because I wouldn’t let her slobber on letter or lick the stamp.”

¹Colin Johnson was the fellow renting our house in Geraldine. Dill, real name Jill, was an old sheepdog of mine who had been retired to Geraldine as Colin’s pet.

²Black Power are a New Zealand gang whose uniform is head to foot black leather.