<Insert Applause here>
It was very difficult. I wager I did more study in two weeks than I did in years at high school. I was lucky that my hotel was only 3 minutes from the Marine school and I did not have to walk past any pubs. I did do some nice walks early in the morning and I marvelled the dampness that pervades urban England. You can feel it encroaching your senses. It made a pleasant change after having sand enter your pores for five months.
After the first week I was spending so much time with my books that I had to pass up a trip to Cambridge to see some old young friends. I did have a study break of sorts and went into Newcastle. I wrote earlier how I was struck at how friendly the people were. I was told later in my trip that the Southshields locals think of the Newcastle people as being stand offish. I guess nice is just relative to what you know.
I engaged in some retail therapy. I returned to my hotel in Southshields. I have created some rockstar hotel rooms in my lifetime. This is about as rockstar as my hotel room got in my time up in Newcastle.
By about the following Wednesday the participants in my course were starting to get a bit frayed. I was still gaiting around and trying to seem uninterested but some of the practice exams were making me angry. We were to have our real exams on the Thursday and a practical Oral exam on the Friday.
The following Thursday our sole master mariner on the course broke out in hives right before our exam. It was at this point I started to get a bit uneasy. The two Irish and Scotsman on my course went for pints while they waited for results. It turned out we had all passed. Most of the tension disappeared.
I passed the Oral exam on the Friday. I then had the perfect post exam relaxation. A session with the Brumbler the Pocket Battler who just happened to be doing a course at Southshields.
We met at a cheap pub and started drinking. It turned out it was the wrong pub as we were supposed to meet some Engineering cadets who had been doing advanced firefighting with him. Advanced firefighting sounds very dangerous. Brent was sporting a burn to his foot after getting up close and personal with fire. After witnessing somethings later I could see why this happened.
Reunited with his classmates I set about showing there are clearly defined boundaries between New Zealand and Australia. We are longer limbed for starters. We also are more cultured and less prone to rash things as would be demonstrated. Brent and I have spent good chunks of time in Italy, We both look forward to returning to Italy at a later date. Our charming company meant we were added to the Cadets table at a classy (for Southshields) Italian restaurant.
Upon reaching the Restaurant we were told to behave to an impecable standard. There was some nebulous connection for one of the Cadets to the Restaurant. We destroyed this rule after about 30 seconds of getting our first rounds of drinks. One of the Welshman overturned Brent’s Italian bira showing us all how flexible he wasnt.
We were ushered to our table to stop disrupting the diners waiting to get tables. We then started swearing a normal amount for Sailors and soon to be Sailors. We were warned multiple times for making too much noise (swearing) Brent and I then decided to stop swearing in English and start swearing in Italian. I started ssshing pretty much all interactions of a non volatile nature.
We ate a very average Italian meal to Brent and my own best of Tuscany standards. The menu was definitely the most Italian thing in the place. Brent and I had a celebratory Brumble which was vodka/barcadi and a local energy drink. We dubbed it the Newcastle Brumble.
At some point Brent decided to start cooking a spoon with a candle. The candle resisted ssshing.
I remember something else refusing sssshing.
After dinner we decided to treat the cadets to some Limoncello.
I made the very brave have an espresso with a little drapple of milk a Machiato if you will.
It is here the night took a turn for the unknown. We went to a very vibrant rock bar in Southshields. Brent swears he felt very amplified. I saw things I have never seen before on a dance floor but I had to leave with one of the Cadets pushed someone to the ground a couple of times. Apparently nothing came of it, maybe its a local custom. I did not hang around to find out.
The next morning I arose early with a considerable hangover. Brent however slept through our taxi and I had to ring him late to wake him up. He did come through a taxi eventually. We had a very amusing ride to the airport. Brent had footprints all over his shirt from the night before. I told him he had been all over the dancefloor horizontal so that was the logical explanation.
And fair readers that was the second time I have known Brent to affect airports by just going out for a couple of drinks.