Friday, September 30, 1988

Good German Girl vs. 'Bad Taste Disco'

Woke up early for breakfast to get ready for a little time in Hull. After a shower and some toast, Doug, J.P. and I hopped a bus to center city Hull, which we found to be a pretty nice section of town. When we arrived, we went through the various shops and took in the scenery. Through the course of the trip, I bought a much-needed towel and washcloth, as well as a cassette tape at the HMV music store: Elvis Costello's "Out of Our Idiot." That's a hard one to find in the U.S. - a collection of mostly previously unreleased songs.

We ate lunch at Wimpy's, a fast food restaurant named after the famed Popeye character (and referenced in the Genesis song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" - "...chewing through your Wimpy dreams.") After that it was a leisurely walk through town. The last shop we went to was a fabulous Army-Navy store. Doug bought a flag and a pin, and J.P. bought a hat and a Soviet-type pin. I didn't buy anything on this trip, but I'm sure I will be back.

We caught a bus back to to the halls, where we then went out to open up our bank accounts. The school brought in representatives from various banks who were clamoring for the students to open their accounts with them. They offered various incentives, from 10 and 20 pounds, to a fancy filofax to organize your life (they are all the rage here.) I went with Lloyd's Bank, as did Doug. They just gave us the filofax, but I quite like it.

I then went to the International Students meeting, where we learned all about how to be normal. We then ate dinner, came back for the rest of the meeting, and then went to a reception. The reception was very nice. I got to meet a lot of people from abroad, but the highlight came when I met two girls from Germany and one from Holland. I sat and talked to them for awhile, their names being Karin, Suzanne, and Liesel-something (it became "Lisa"), along with Doug and J.P.

Doug and J.P. then left for the "Bad Taste Disco" event, of which I also had a ticket for, but chose instead to stay behind and talk some more, promising to catch up with them later. However, that was not to be the case. The four of us went in Karin's car (with the steering wheel on the normal side!) to get some pizza. Then we took it to Sue and Lisa's flat and ate it with some wine. One thing I've learned is that over here they eat pizza differently. Instead of slicing it, they cut it into bites and eat it. Odd.

On Monday when we ate pizza during our pub crawl in Chester, I sliced it and ate it like a normal pizza, and they found that to be odd. But they ate it the same way I did as well. (Oh, another humorous memory from the pub crawl that I forgot to mention before: Dave offered me a bite of his pizza, which I appeared to fulfill, but then at the last second took a monster bite, leaving him almost no pizza. I wasn't even hungry at that point, but hey, anything for a laugh. Anyway...)

I sat and talked with Karin, Suzanne and Liesel-something about anything and everything, but mostly on cultural differences, the Olympics and horrible landlords. After a couple of hours there, Karin and I left the flat and I was faced with the choice of going to the Bad Taste Disco, or just going home. After a frustrating decision-making process (and noticing that Karin's car arial has been bent up), I decided to return home. When we arrived at the Grange, I invited Karin in for some coffee and she accepted. It was only when we got to the room that I realized that I only had one mug (The Beatles "Blue Meanies" mug that I bought in Liverpool), and no spoon. Fortunately, she drinks her coffee black, because I didn't have any cream and sugar, either. So, being forced to improvise, I made coffee, gave her the mug to use, and stirred the coffee with the opposite side of my toothbrush. In the end it worked out fine and served as a humorous memory of this evening.

We continued to talk for about an hour more, during which time I learned that she was also a conservative (they're everywhere!) We talked a bit of politics, travelling, and whatever else we could think of until she had to leave. Since neither she nor I has a telephone, we could only exchange addresses. Turned out to be a great evening... looks like I made the right choice in taking a pass on the Bad Taste Disco. I wonder how that went?

(Photo taken by J.P.: Doug and Rick take a moment to rest near a fountain in downtown Hull. The backstory on this picture: Back at Millersville, Doug saw a photo in the exchange student brochure of two travelers in this pose, it was his goal to recreate that moment for himself.)


Thursday, September 29, 1988

Coffee with One Cool Cat

Six a.m. this morning marked the one week anniversary of Doug's and my arrival in England. I woke up around 8 a.m. to wash up for breakfast. Hey, having a sink right here in my room is quite handy! After breakfast we met up with Dr. David Foster, along with the other American students at Humberside College of Higher Education, to prepare us for life at the college. We met a few nice folk from Juniata College (located about 2 1/2 hours from Millersville)... one in particular, Katherine (Kat), whom I talked to for most of the walk on our way to see Dr. Foster.

After a briefing on life in Hull (pictured is the park at Queens Dock Avenue in downtown Hull), we were assigned to teachers who were to prepare us in our course load for the year. After a few discussions and some confusion on what we should be doing, I was able to come up with what I thought was a pretty decent academic schedule... three literature courses, a Social/Political Course, and an Introduction to Geography Course. Doug took on the same schedule, since we determined that it was perfect for us.

Once that was finished, we walked around the campus and surrounding area, eating lunch at a pub (since the college does not provide lunch for us, like Millersville does... they give us a cash equivalent so that we can buy lunch, though it's barely enough to buy an insufficient lunch here.) We then bought coffee and newspapers, and just basically mulled around Hull.

Together with Doug and fellow Millersville student John-Paul Cardoso (a.k.a J.P.), who lives in Conshohocken, near Philly. I had briefly met one night last spring by chance at a Millersville University in an apartment just off campus, but hadn't seen since him again until our arrival here in Hull. We headed to a store and bought some posters and putty to decorate our rooms. So they are now a little more decorated. Now I need to find an AC adapter to that I can plug my stereo into a British outlet and not use so many batteries.

After dinner, we gathered a group of Americans (and one Spanish-Englishman) and trekked off to a pub. I started with a lemonade (it's fizzy here), and Doug, J.P. and the Spanish-Englishman (whose name escapes me) disappeared. So suddenly I was the lone Millersville student left with the Juniata students. No problem, though, and soon after, Kat, Buffy and I left the pub to return to the Grange halls. Buffy went back to her room, while Cat came back to my room for some tea. I got to use the coffee maker they provided for us in our room for the first time, though just to make hot water.

Kat and I sat and talked for about two hours, covering just about anything and everything we could think of. I found her to be pretty cool, quite charming and easy to talk to (not to mention, she's quite attractive.) She left my room a little after 10 p.m., and then I did a little writing to catch up my journal.

I still have no idea where Doug and J.P. got to that night. Oh well, I got along just fine without them. I'd say things are looking pretty good so far here in England.


Wednesday, September 28, 1988

'Coast-to-Coast': The Journey to Kingston-Upon-Hull

Woke up this morning ready for the big coast-to-coast journey (which is not quite as daunting as it would be in the U.S.!) Ate some breakfast, brought my bags downstairs, took some final photos of the Morrisons, bid farewell to Dave and Fiona (who turned 18 today), and Dr. Morrison and I were off!

Our first stop was in the town of Disley, near Manchester, where we picked up Doug Schoener at his exchange parent's home. After loading his gear in the car, we had a tedious trek from Disley back to the motorway, which was plagued with construction. However, once we opened up on the motorway, it was non-stop at 90 mph... well, that is, until we stopped for food.

The scenery along the drive was marvelous, and quite different from what I am used to seeing along American highways. We passed by old farm houses, picturesque moors, and even a rainbow at one point added some vibrant color to the scenery. It took us about two hours to get from Disley to Kingston-Upon-Hull ("Hull" for short), and eventually came upon the largest single span suspension bridge in the world, the Humber Bridge (a toll bridge that I was told loses about 1,000,000 pounds a month in interest fees. Nice investment!) It was not long after that we approached our living quarters, The Grange... the residence where Doug and I will be living during the next year. I am living in the building called St. Martin's, and Doug is in St. Michael's. As soon as we got unpacked, Dr. Morrison bid farewell, I thanked him for his hospitality and generosity, and he drove back to Neston for Fiona's birthday party.

The excitement I'd been feeling up until this point gave way to a sudden feeling of unsureness. Not so much with me as it was with Doug. This was not what he was expecting at all. Check-in was fine, but he (and to a lesser degree, I) were not quite sure what was in store for us. The Grange Hall of Residences, where we were appointed to live, was not quite as nice as what we were used to at Millersville. The size of the room was OK, and it was interesting that there was a sink in each of our rooms, but it was an old, converted convent building with very outdated fixtures. There were actually three separate buildings, and right in the middle is an active church.

Well we decided to give it a chance and went for a meal at the dining hall (edible, but just barely), and then prepared to head to the College's Disco. From there, things started looking up again. Although it was very crowded, we were able to meet a few people and get a taste of the student night life in England... quite a change from a dry campus like Millersville, where open, school-sponsored alcohol consumption was not a part of the experience.

We met this bloke from Suffolk, John Heather, and after awhile decided to take off and head to a quieter pub, where we had a nice chat. Things continued to look up at this point. "Take it as it comes," I reiterated to Doug. "Then you can never go wrong."


Tuesday, September 27, 1988

Last Night in Neston

Took the day at quite a leisurely pace. Woke up late in the morning in preparation to enjoy my last full day in Neston before heading east to Hull and start my sophomore year in college. I ate breakfast, read the paper, and then I rested. I introduced Dave to a tape of my band, Yokel, a sort of jokey heavy metal power trio featuring me on bass and lead vocals, along with my friends Greg Swartz on lead guitar and Steve Benner on drums. We aren't very good, but we had a lot of fun recording "Shut Up and Listen to Our Lousy Album" in one day. Both Dave and Sean thought it was "brilliant" -- something I would have never thought to call it.

When Fiona arrived home from school, we all went out for Chinese food and ate it at home. Afterwards, Fiona went back to school and Dave went home, during which time I listened to the Beatles and did a little writing.

That evening Dave came back, and we trekked down the road a piece to the Wheatsheaf for a little socializing. There we met up with Albert, an old school mate of Dave's. We chatted for a bit about various topics, then successfully played some of the "fruit machines," where I ended up 2 pounds. When Fiona and Dr. Morrison arrived we continued to chat and I snapped a few photographs. When Zoe arrived a short time later, we started to play some games. We started with "Buzz," which is a numbers game, and then we played a word game that Dr. Morrison (pictured above at the Wheatsheaf that night) suggested.

Afterwards, the lot of us went back to the house, where we watched a few of Glen's home movies until Dr. Morrison went up to bed. Then Zoe and I challenged Albert, Dave and Fiona to a rousing game of Pictionary. We lost, but it was a darn close game (I blame the darn British rules...) We followed that up by having a chat, and then 2 a.m. rolled around, so I thought it was time to call home to say hello to Mom and my sister Angie (since it was only 9 p.m. their time). Last chance on the Morrison's dime! Dad was on a business trip to Ohio, so I'll have to catch up with him another time.

Still not tired enough to go to bed, we watched Dr. Morrison's video of Billy Connolly, titled "Billy & Albert." He is apparently a popular and quite hilarious Scottish comedian. I may have to pick some of his stuff up. Well after that I was finally ready for bed and headed up, leaving Dave and Albert in the television room. Another good night's sleep awaits...

(Pictured left: At the Wheatsheaf are Rick, Zoe, Albert, Dr. Morrison and Fiona.)


Monday, September 26, 2008

The Fantastic Chester Pub Crawl Birthday Extravaganza

Woke up at half-eight when the phone rang. It was Glen's friend Sean (pictured), curious about what plans we had for our day in the picturesque City of Chester. I was still suffering from "just woke up" and was relatively incoherent.

After that I fell back to sleep until about 10 a.m. when Fiona's boyfriend, Dave, called. Shortly after 11 a.m., Sean, Stewart, Dave and I were on our way to Chester.

I was there last night to see "The Running Man," but I didn't get to see all that much of Chester at the time. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so I was unable to get photos of town... although in light of how this day went, it was probably best I didn't have it with me. Overall, it was a fabulous day. We shopped in the morning, where I bought the new Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight (88 Remix)" maxi- single. We then at lunch at McDonald's (a little taste of America... except the ketchup is a little sweeter, and they charge you extra for each packet. Weird.)

Over the course of the day I bought a Union Jack flag and a map of Britain (both to hang in my dorm room when I get there), a cassette of the "Buster" soundtrack (excellent!), and a blank tape. We walked and shopped for about 8 hours, including a walk along the top of the wall that surround Chester. The wall was built buy the Romans long ago... and after we pointed out that fact, our running joke became that everything in town was originally built by the Romans. ("Oh look, W.H. Smith... did you know that store was built by the Romans?")

We also visited Chester Cathedral, which was fabulous. I wished I could've stayed there all day with a skeleton key to get into all the crypts, crannies and what-have-yous that are in that place. We then left to search for some museum Dave wanted to take me to in Chester. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure exactly where it was and we failed in our mission to find it.

Dave (pictured, right) and I finally took a break in the center of town, near the keymark clock that was covered up for repairs, and then entered the pub behind us. While we waited for Fiona and Zoe to arrive we chatted a bit, largely about political and social culture (he's also conservative like me), over a pint. Fiona and Zoe were supposed to arrive at about half six, but they missed their bus and didn't get in until half seven.

We the set off on a traditional British "pub crawl," in celebration of Fiona's 18th birthday (in two days actually... so she's technically two days away from being legal age to drink, although no one here seems to mind much.) During the course of this most festive evening, I was introduced to several British beverages, as we managed to hit, I believe, about six pubs (some of them are a bit fuzzy recollections).

There were several memorable moments during this excursion:

  • I sang the sad and depressing "Happy Birthday" song to Fiona, as taught to me by my high school World Cultures teacher, Pete Sanden, who sang it to kids in class on their birthdays. It goes:

“Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.
People dying in the streets.
Children with no food to eat. But...
Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday."

  • Fiona spilled two drinks, one of which resulted in a broken glass, and the other resulting in Dave licking the spilt beverage off of the table.
  • I accidentally knocked Zoe off of her chair... well, actually, I barely touched her and she fell back off of the "slippy" chair.
  • Air guitaring "Hotel California" in a pub.
  • Singing a rousing version of "Bohemian Rhapsody," and later marvelling that a Queen song was played at each of the last three pubs we were at. One more and my theory would’ve kicked in, that this is no longer a coincidence, but rather a tribute to one of the band members having died. (Fortunately, that was not the case, and Queen will continue to “rock you.”)
  • An Englishman who was convinced that I was English, and merely impersonating an American accent.

Some other hazy recollections include Dave blowing up a balloon (I hope it was a balloon) while walking down the street, running through the streets of Chester to get to the next pub, something called "Thumper," and then hitting a pizza place to get some food at five after 11, since the pubs closed at 11 p.m. Although the place was ready to close in 10 minutes, we were undaunted, ordered our pizza, and forced them to stay open until 11:45, when this loud group finally left the empty restaurant and returned to the streets, no doubt causing much celebration among the staff forced to endure our lack of courtesy.

Afterward Fiona and Dave briefly disappeared, and we had no idea where they went. But as quickly as they vanished, they suddenly re-emerged and we could catch a taxi back home. When we returned, Dr. Morrison was quite amused by my current state caused by excessive alcohol consumption, especially when I then took it upon myself to pay him back the five pounds that I owed him. I walked Zoe back to her house, then returned home, where Fiona went to bed and Dave and I sat in the television room, continuing to chat until about 4 a.m. He told me stories about some kid named Philip Ingram at his school, who reminded me of someone I went to school with named Mike Sim. I told him about some kid I went to school with named Mike Sim, who reminded him of this kid he knows named Philip Ingram.

The evening ended with me acquiring from him my new "pseudonym in favor" -- Thermos Fortitude. I don't know what that meanns.

What could have been finer?


Sunday, September 25, 1988

American Movies Served British-style

I took Sunday at a leisurely pace. It was more or less a day of traditional British teenage life. I enjoyed a traditional English Sunday meal of beef, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings (kind of like a flaky biscuit), vegetables and mineral water. Quite good – I still can’t complain about the food here. Spent much of the afternoon watching the Olympics, which is quite interesting seeing it from the British perspective rather than the American focus I was used to watching.

Later, I joined Fiona, Zoe and some of their other friends to go to the movie theater to see “The Running Man” starring Arnold Schwartzenegger… a full 10 months after it was released in America! Fortunately, I had not seen it when it was released in the U.S. so it was new to me, and rather entertaining.

The theater itself was rather different that what I was used to in the U.S. First of all, it was huge. Also, the seats started a lot farther away from the screen than usual and were raised high above the floor, creating an open pit between the front seats and the screen. The set-up actually makes a lot of sense… no worries about a sore neck from sitting in the front row!

Afterwards we came home, had coffee and chatted about various things with Fiona and Dr. Morrison until the headed off to bed and I was alone. At 12:50 a.m., I began to watch the Presidential Debate. It was interesting to me but irrelevant, since I’ve long since known that George Bush was the best man for the job. I even got to shake his hand at a rally that my friend Greg Swartz and I attended in York back in August. But I watched the debate anyway to see how they fielded their questions and to make sure that George didn’t make any major gaffes. No major ones, but a few minor things that I thought he covered quite well. Michael Dukakis may have had the edge, but he didn’t win by as much as was projected or needed, which I think gives Bush the advantage. I’m sure the American people will make the right choice.

I’ve had the opportunity to observe British politics as well the past few days, most notably the emergence of a third political party. The Social Liberal Democrats, as they are known, combined people from the weak Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, along with various socialists and others not wanting to join the two major parties. So far, all I’ve seen from them is constant bickering. They are pulling some support from the mismanaged and Neil Kinnock-led Labour Party, which as the #2 party appears absolutely pathetic. There is no serious contender to have a remote chance of dethroning Margaret Thatcher and the powerful Conservative Party, The Tories, anytime soon. Of course, I think this is a good thing. Good night!

(Photo: View of the backyard of the Morrison's home in Neston. Their home offered a fantastic view of the River Dee. On the other side of the river is Wales.)

  • Number One Song in Britain This Week: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" - The Hollies
  • Number One Song in America This Week: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" - Bobby McFerrin


Saturday, September 24, 1988

Magical History Tour - A Day in Liverpool

This is my big day in Liverpool – the Beatles’ fan’s Mecca. Woke up a little before 9 a.m. and left a little before 10 a.m. with Dr. Morrison and Aunt Pauline (I guess I’ve adopted her as well!) The first thing we did was take the legendary Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey (a tribute to Gerry and the Pacemakers and their famed song.). Actually, Dr. Morrison drove his car through the Tunnel Under the Mersey while Aunt Pauline and I rode the ferry. Granted, it was a touristy thing to do, but it was fun and worthwhile… and honestly, how can you not be all touristy when you’re in the birthplace of the Beatles?

When we got across, Dr. Morrison picked us up and drove us to Albert Dock, which reminds me very much of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, though on a slightly smaller scale. Just a few years ago, this was a very depressed and unsightly area full of abandoned buildings. However, those buildings were renovated and turned into small shops and a Liverpool museum. The result is wonderful. It really gives one a different impression of a city that many people simply avoid because of its reputation, when really there’s little difference between what I saw an many other big cities I’ve visited. Sure, there were run-down areas, but I discovered that the city had much to offer… and not just for Beatles fans.

At Albert Dock we went into the Mersey Maritime Museum. Of particular interest there was the Immigration Musuem, which brilliantly explained how a person would immigrate to the United States… many of whom came here before boarding a ship to America. Following that we went to Mathew Street… the location of the famed Cavern Club, where the Beatles played many of their early shows. On Mathew Street we visited The Beatles Shop, which in a word was “bliss.” I bought two record albums that I needed: “Magical Mystery Tour” (with the full booklet included) and “The Beatles” (The White Album). Also bought a cool mug featuring the Blue Meanies from the movie “Yellow Submarine.” I had to be careful not to blow my whole budget right here and now.

We then ate lunch at an Italian restaurant on Mathew Street, which was excellent… I still can’t complain about any of the food I’ve had. We then took a quick look into the Cavern Club, passed by the Eleanor Rigby statue there (very lonely), and another statue of The Beatles.

That was all nothing compared to the Magical History Tour we took… a small tour bus that took us around to many of the important Beatles sites in Liverpool. We visited the homes where John, Paul, George and Ringo lived when they were little, the schools they attended, where Lennon and McCartney first started writing songs together, the hospitals where they were born, the pubs they were kicked out of, and of course, Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Needless to say, I took a lot of pictures. I was afraid Dr. Morrison and Aunt Pauline would find it boring, but it was quite the opposite… they found it almost as interesting as I did. I guess they never really thought about taking a tour of a place so close to home until an American showed up on their doorstep.

After the tour, we went back to the car, took the tunnel under the Mersey and dropped Aunt Pauline off at her home. We headed back to the house, where after eating dinner, Sean, Stewart, Duncan and another friend of Glen’s, Vicki, invited me to join them on a trip to The Thatch, a pub that dates back to the 17th Century. It was located in the middle of what I can best describe as “nowhere.” The Thatch was quite crowded but an experience I enjoyed, being in such an old place, mingling with the locals. Afterward, we went back to Vicki’s house for coffee (of course) and a little more chatting. Returned home later and sacked out.

I now know what one of my articles to The Snapper (the Millersville University student newspaper) is going to be – “Clearing up the Misconceptions of Liverpool: City of the Beatles and So Much More.” Cheers!


Friday, September 23, 1988

The Best Beer I've Ever Had

I didn’t wake up until 12:45 p.m. Wow, that’s the latest I’ve slept in all year (or as they say here, I had a “lie-in.”) The Morrison’s must really think I’m a bum… but I haven’t done anything like that since my wild high school summer days when I didn’t have to be at Artworks in the Camp Hill Shopping mall for work until 6 p.m.

Anyway, I took a leisure day to recover from this jet lag. At 1:30 p.m., after a shower and some food, Glen’s friends Sean, Duncan and Stewart stopped in to chat over some coffee and cakes. They wanted me to go to a night club in Liverpool with them, but I decided to take a pass because they weren’t going to be back until 3 a.m., and since I was planning a big day with the Morrisons in Liverpool the following day, I thought that might not be a good idea. So instead I opted to go to a pub with Fiona and her friend, Zoe (pictured) that evening.

Since Dr. Morrison is a general practitioner, he is occasionally on-call, whereby his patients actually call his house in an emergency. So someone has to be in at all times to answer the phone, even if Dr. Morrison steps out for awhile. I’ve learned that house calls are still quite commonplace here in Britain, which is a noticeable difference over American doctors. Fiona got her Aunt Pauline (not a blood aunt, but an “adopted” aunt) to cover the calls. We drove to Aunt Pauline’s house, picked her up, and drove back to the Morrison’s house. During the drive back we saw a rainbow, which was quite nice.

After dropping off Aunt Pauline, Fiona and I walked to pick up Zoe at her house (I’ve never heard that fascinating name before, and she was a nice and interesting person as well), then walked down the road a bit to The Wheatsheaf for a little socializing. They serve a great beer there called Whitbread’s Best Bitter. Perhaps the best beer I’ve ever had. But then, I’m 19, so admittedly I haven’t tried that many brands.

After some time at the pub, we walked Zoe back to her house, then back to the Morrison’s for some coffee with Dr. Morrison and Aunt Pauline (I have been drinking so much coffee the past few days!) I actually got to bed at a decent hour this day, in preparation for tomorrow’s trek to Liverpool.


Thursday, September 22, 1988

Meeting My New British Family

Our flight landed at Manchester Airport with no problems at about 6:00 a.m., and we slipped through customs with no problems at all. We then proceeded to search for, and eventually find, all of our luggage. (Stroke of Luck #2: Baggage carts help us transport the baggage to our ride.)

We wheeled our luggage out into the lobby, looking for Mrs. Richmond (although we didn’t know what she looked like.) Fortunately, it only took a few minutes before we located her and her daughter Piper (a most fascinating name!) in the terminal. Then, with the help of Piper showing me how to operate these newfangled British phones, I called Dr. Ian Morrison, my "exchange dad," to let him know that I was now in the country.

Being quite early in the day, I wasn’t sure how he’d respond, but he was quite pleasant for someone receiving an early phone call from a strange American. However, he wasn’t going to be able to pick me up in Manchester until later that evening. (Stroke of Luck #3: The Richmond’s Give Me Temporary Shelter). Mrs. Richmond and Piper offered to keep me at their house until I could be picked up that evening.

We left the airport in Piper’s Volkswagen Polo (Polo?), steering wheel firmly placed on the right side of the car, and headed to their hometown of Disley, which is outside of Stockport, a town southeast of Manchester.) Piper then headed to the school where she is a teacher, and Doug, Mrs. Richmond and I stayed at the house, pretty much chatting about things a British person might ask an American houseguest when they had the chance.

We learned that she was a Tory (a conservative), which for me was quite a pleasant revalation, and provided for some interesting conversation. I gave her a Bush/Quayle campaign pin and bumper strip as a show of my appreciation for letting me stay at her home until Dr. Morrison’s arrival.

After a pleasant walk we ate lunch at a restaurant called Little Chef (sort of a Bob’s Big Boy-Denny’s type establishment), then returned for a short nap. After all, not sleeping at all the previous night was starting to catch up to us.

After our nap we watched a bit of the Seoul Olympic Games on the telly (wow, they only have four television channels to choose from. She couldn’t believe that we could choose from almost 50 cable channels in America!)

We then ate dinner, and I must say that all of the horror stories I had heard about English cuisine have been untrue. I’ve actually eaten quite well.

It wasn’t long after dinner that Dr. Morrison arrived at the house and we had some coffee (about my eighth cup today!) He drove me back on the motorway to Neston, a little town on The Wirral, or the little peninsula south of Liverpool. I received a warm reception upon my arrival, and after settling in, I experienced my fourth and greatest Stroke of Luck… Dr. Morrison offered to drive me “coast-to-coast” to Hull. (See, “take it as it comes” sometimes works out well!)

Once I unloaded my gear, we headed out to the Old Quay, a pub/restaurant where Dr. Morrison’s daughter and Glen’s younger sister, Fiona, (Photo: Dr. Morrison & Fiona) works as a waitress. We enjoyed a “pint” together, along with a bit of food (despite having recently eaten dinner), then returned to the Morrison’s very nice home, where Fiona and I sat in their television room and chatted until about 1 a.m.

At 12:30 p.m. (7:30 EST), I called my parents for the first time to let them know that we arrived safely and that everything was alright. Then, finally, I got my first night’s rest in a foreign country.


Wednesday, September 21, 1988

These Poor College Students

Since we were already packed for the trip, and our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 6:30 p.m., there wasn’t much Doug (photo, right) and I needed to do this morning except get up and go to the airport in New York City. When I woke up at about 10:30 a.m., Doug was already awake, watching his Duran Duran videos (He’s a big fan. Guess he wanted to watch them one last time before leaving them behind for the year.)

We left early in the afternoon and picked up Doug’s Dad at work, then made the trip to JFK Airport. Fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad, so we arrived in plenty of time and went right to work trying to get our “weighty” luggage checked in (Stroke of Luck #1… The Schoeners Help These Poor College Students Get Their Luggage Through the Airport). Then we bid farewell to Doug’s “American” parents and waited patiently until 6:30 p.m., when we boarded the mighty British Airways 747 (a nice substitute for the Concorde, which sat outside our window but, alas, was not to be our method of transport on this day.)

We enjoyed a pleasant and uneventful flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Although this overnight flight is the perfect time to catch some sleep and arise rested and ready the next morning, we were to excited in anticipating our arrival and got little sleep this night.

Around the middle of the flight, the time zone changed and it suddenly became…


Tuesday, September 20, 1988 – 3:30 p.m.

The Adventure Begins…

I arrived at Doug Schoener’s house in Yardley, PA in preparation for our departure to England the next day, where we will be studying at Humberside College of Higher Education in Hull. We made our way to Thatcher Travel, where we purchased plane tickets on British Airways bound for Manchester, England. It was slightly north of our projectorate – Heathrow – but it should actually work to our advantage, since Manchester is closer to Doug’s European parents (Mrs. Richmond), and just east of mine (Dr. Ian Morrison) in Liverpool.

Dr. Morrison’s son, Glen, arrived at our house in late August in preparation for his year in the United States studying in my place at Millersville University. He was a nice fellow, and very artistic. From what I can tell he has in interest in pursuing his art after college, and has the skills to pull it off. Hopefully he’ll benefit from a year at Millersville.

Back to today, where our biggest concern is our luggage. We had to pack for a full year in the space allotted by the airlines, and we’re not sure all of our stuff is going to meet those restrictions, plus concern about hauling our heavy baggage from here to our final destination. Let’s hope luck is on our side. I’m going to have my parents ship a box of things over to me that I won’t need right away.

At the “last supper” with my parents at Doug’s house, I bid them farewell until they visit me over in England, hopefully, next summer. It’ll be the longest time I’ve gone not seeing my family, so that will be a huge adjustment. But wow, what started as a casual conversation with Doug along the banks of the pond at Millersville last spring has turned into a reality. Little did I know that when Doug mentioned to me that he was returning from a meeting for students studying abroad that I would end up joining him on the adventure. But he caught me at the right time. The weather was warm and sunny, classes were a bit of a drag, my relationship with my ex-girlfriend Deb was coming to an (amicable but obvious) end, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. I guess we’ll see.

I spent the rest of the evening conversing with Doug about what we hoped to see and do while we were in England. His friend Lara stopped by a bit to say farewell. “Love and adventure,” as Doug says, referencing the Pseudo Echo album. “Take it as it comes,” as I say, referencing The Doors song.

(Photo: Back home a few weeks before Rick departed for England are (from left to right) sister Angela, Rick, Exchange Student Glen Morrison, Mom, and Buster.)

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