By now, for those who have risked mental stability by reading my inaugural posting, you have probably come to some conclusions. Before I even dare to think of what those are keep in mind that I am fully capable of self deprecation, in fact it is my own personal opinion that such honesty can become far more entertaining for readers. Yes, Lord save me, I can be more of an empty headed braggart and ass than El Capitano, the unsympathetic military commander from Italy's Commedia dell'arte. For the sake of the reader I will attempt to tone down some of my pompous literary references but be aware that I am just as surprised as you that the $40,000 piece of paper I picked up recently has gone to good-well...let us just say, 'use'. Oh, and I think with that I have found a decent segway on to something of more relevance, finally!
Being a student of not only the English language but also English literature has taught me many important things that I hope will be uncovered one day from beneath the haze of those ever-reoccurring all nighters. You know those moments, where you have just awoken but were never literally asleep and you look down at the cluster of words that you've miraculously put in a decent enough order to submit and say, 'how on earth did I manage that!?'. The real kicker is when you get the mark back and the professor has either sympathized with you because of the coffee stain on the reference page or you have actually created something of value and worth. I was, of course, never alone in such battles and because of that have never been more grateful for the amazing people that were there to accompany me through the first lectures and last ceremonies; that brief second in time, 3 if I am feeling generous, when you are finally recognized...along with the geography major you walk across the stage with, thank you very much Nathan Pontius! Ah well, it was all in good fun and what fun we had!
One of our favourite watering holes had to be The Merchant Ale House, a fantastic on-site brewery. That place was where our lowly arts crowd would frequent, alongside some of our professors we would drink late into the night and often into the morning talking about film or culture and never once feeling out of place but always under-read. I remember one evening we had just released a collection of creative writings put together by the university down the road at a some tiny wine bar. It was a more classy establishment but after a few of the contributors, including yours truly, presented their works we found our way down to the Merch, no surprises! The upstairs area was always packed on a Saturday night so we spent our time between there and the basement, where the true regulars would converse. Now by this time we are feeling quite happy, professors included, and I was upstairs amoungst them sharing a few beverages discussing some of the readings, poetry and fiction alike. I had read a short story I had constructed for the anthology and was given a good reception by the, according to us, elite of Brock's English department when Dr. Martin asked if I had ever thought of getting them published in the grander sence of the industry. Modestly I replied, 'Well I don't really, I-I write for myself, you know?". The four of them were all in agreement about the matter, especially Tim (Dr.Conley), a published writer, who said with great conviction, looking me square in the eye, 'You know what I have learned about publishers? Fuck publishers'. We all had a good laugh, especially Dr Betts who had just poured the rest of Matthew Martin's beer into his cup. I will never forget the commradery that was established at that place, where we all became students and educators alike.
Now, it was at this period in time where I had begun organizing some of the preparations for what would eventually lead to my first departure from our brave colony to the land of the colonizers; a place which had once boasted of how 'the sun never set on the British Empire'. It would only be for a few months but I was eager to gain some culture while further educated myself in a place that had a true grasp for literature. I am once again reminded of the night of our anthology's release. I was at the bar discussing the concept of Ballard's mental geography with Dr.Conley, it was a topic I was pursuing for a paper, when I had briefly mentioned my trip. Tim had told me about a few places I should visit and he and Dr. Martin - a native of that isle - were both very encouraging even though I would be missing some of their classes. We cheers-ed to my first grand adventure and carried on with the drinking. I remember feeling quite excited after that night, though it may have been the company and drinks alike, and my classmates were all very supportive unknowingly to them I would be saying 'so long' quite often during the next few years.
The entire process had gone on without a hitch. I had been interviewed by both schools I applied to and being, to my assumption, turned down by a school in Southern Wales I was to ship off to Staffordshire, mid-western England. I am fairly certain this was the first time it had occurred as I have never met a more selfless and welcoming people then the Welsh. If there was any sheep shagging going on in that beautiful country you can bet those furry creatures were taken out for breakfast the next day.
With the time I had before departing for Britannia I had won a few scholarships from the University and Government that would be promptly deposited into the bank of Keele University since I would paying for a full years worth of accommodation. So, to your surprise, the drunkard that I can be did not rush off to the nearest pub on campus upon arrival, and consume in celebration with the money generously given to me our dear government...that was what OSAP was for and I will need to pay that back one day! With my gargantuan hockey bag packed full of clothes for every type of weather I said goodbye to my friends, reassuring them over a hand full of paid drinks (you didn't think I would pay when it was my going-away party, did you?!) that it would only be for a few months and we would be right back to it! I also said goodbye to mum, who, after much confusion only got a few minutes with me before I left to make my flight. The poor woman wasn't only saddened but frustrated. All this would be forgotten as I was able to share a solid week, and several bottles of wine, with the family before departing for New Zealand, but I am getting ahead of myself.
So off I went, dad being my chauffeur as we arrived at the airport. It would be a 7 hour flight over the pond and I would arrive at 9am British time. And wouldn't it be my luck as I checked in my one and only piece of luggage I was informed that since I had broken weight restrictions by 4kg it would cost me. Superb, I haven't even left the country and I was already in the red.