The Eaton Diary of London 2001
Can you believe the year is half over already?
‘No news is good news’ goes another cliché, so you can assume by my long silence that we’re having a wonderful time here in London, and of course you’d be correct. I think many predicted my Diary instalments would dry up once I got into a ‘proper job in a proper school’ and all the interesting experiences gave way to normal stuff. Well, I guess I have found it hard to find anything noteworthy to say about 5.30 am starts and 3–4 hours per day on public transport – particularly now in the hot weather. There’s nothing much to commend cuddling up with 100 other hot and bothered commuters in an airless Tube train carriage. Especially since some Londoners seem to want to 'live without their Mum'. It has been a case of 'once bitten twice shy', and where I can I find alternatives rather than staying underground - walking even!.
However despite some little testing times we are continuing to enjoy a rich experience in this amazing city.
Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School has been a great opportunity and I’ve not once had to drag myself there or resisted the thought of the travel, because I’ve enjoyed the time there very much. I’ve just got three more weeks and then it’s the summer break and I’m currently looking at other options for the Autumn term. One opportunity may be tutoring in Music Technology at a Further education college that has a campus at the end of our street. (Right by where I saw ‘Superman’)
However, as I sat down to write this instalment of my Diary, I pondered on why it was this week’s challenges that prompted me to put pen to paper (or mouse to icon). I concluded that I wanted to assure folk at home that it's not all beer and skittles here, and that we’re not having such a wonderful time that I would never want to come back home. Besides 'truth is stranger than fiction.'
In fact I haven't indulged in either beer or skittles, much to the dismay of teachers at school who are under the impression that since I'm an Aussie I must be good at 2 things:
'This one's on me' - downing a pint, and
'It's not over until the fat man bowls' - namely playing cricket.
They've suggested I join their staff cricket team and then join them for a pint or two after their monthly social matches, weather permitting. (There's only been one game since I've been there, but they probably have the post-match drinks even in the rain.) I've gracefully declined so far. I figure it's a bit like keeping quiet and letting everyone think you're a fool, rather than opening your mouth and proving it! If I were to attempt cricket, I would definitely prove that not all Aussie's are naturals at the game. Anyway the Brits invented the game, so I'm amazed that they would even consider recruiting me. It was kind of them to ask, however.
By the way this is the middle weekend of Wimbledon. Did you see me sitting just to the right of the Royal box of Centre Court last night? I'm not sure if the camera caught me or not.
Yesterday we spent a quiet day walking the greyhound in Putney Heath for an hour or so and then doing a little shopping and watching a Lleyton Hewitt doing it one game at a time in his win on TV (it’s nice to be able to watch Wimbledon live in the middle of the day instead of the wee hours in Australia!). I simultaneously kept half an eye on the Crow’s loss to Collingwood on the internet, and noting the Lion’s mauling of Australia at the Gabba. I never have been much of a Rugby fan, but I know I’m going to be given heaps by the rugby mad staff and students at school tomorrow, so I try to be vaguely up with what’s going on. Never mind, there's always next week.
After Pat Rafter had won his first set last evening, we decided to try to get to the Wimbledon tennis centre by the end of his match at least. We walked down to Putney High Street to catch a Wimbledon bus. We waited for over 30 mins for a bus which the timetable says come every 10 minutes. Never mind, things could be worse! When we eventually got near the tennis centre we saw streams of people walking away on overflowing footpaths on both sides of the road. We felt very much like salmon because we were the only ones heading in. But the bonus was no one asked us for a ticket so we just swam upstream towards Centre Court. I saw by the results board that Rafter had won in straight sets, but we walked straight into Centre Court and stood in a holy hush by the hallowed turf with a number of others who hadn't managed Centre Court tickets but wanted to soak up the atmosphere and take photos. It felt remarkably similar to the holy hush of the tourists in St Paul’s Cathedral last Sunday. It is a very intimate arena - you feel very close to the court. The covers were partially over the court. I did pose, sitting by the royal box, but the TV cameras were well and truly off, and the Royals had all left - although as we walked around outside, Tony Roach did pop out of a side door with a young player I didn't recognise. So yet again, I managed to get to an event once it’s over and conveniently blamed the inconvenience of public transport! I shouldn't hide behind yet another ridiculous cliché - 'Better late than never!' Of course the real reason I missed this event was that I was too mean to camp out all night in the queue for tickets.
We took a look at some junior matches being played on outside courts - It confirmed that this cliché is actually true: ‘There is nothing like being there’. It is definitely different from watching on TV. Centre Court matches must be awesome.
There were still crowds everywhere and when we left an hour or so after we arrived, it was so crowded the buses just crawled. So we walked all the way home to Putney. It only took 30 minutes so it was quicker than our bus trip there.
...and we're having fun!
© Copyright 2001 H Grant Eaton Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org