The screaming sirens are silent, the air breathable once more, and the whole world is suddenly a luscious green. No, we haven’t gone back in time, we have escaped from the maze of London’s skyscraper metropolis, and returned to the familiar, quieter community of the Medway Towns.
For the first time since mid-February, the academic year has briefly paused. The days are longer, the weather warmer, and Easter is gradually drawing nearer on the calendar. This week, each unbound day has gone at its own pace- a refreshing contrast to working day-by-day schedules, and intensely operating in coordination with deadlines. With many others returning from their respective stations around the country, for the first time in a while we have been able to gather together once more. It was almost as if exams had been called off this year.
It’s been another door into summer, a glimpse of what is so near, a glimpse of what every week could be once the exam season is over. It’s important to visualise your goals and ideals to know exactly what you’re working towards, and what rewards you will receive for having persisted with this work; this week has been an embodiment of that very vision.
Monday morning greeted me with natural daylight, and the songs of countless families of birds. This time there was no half-open curtain and 7:30am alarm to boot me out of bed, but instead the prospect of visiting Bluewater, while tucking into my favourite Aldi cereal, Harvest Morn, a name unbeknown to any supermarket in London.
Walking around Bluewater was energising, even without the view to buy anything. I wondered if there would be any nice clothes on sale, but I then realised that despite the overwhelming volume of brands, each of them sell nothing but plain shirts and jumpers. It puzzles me how every shop effectively sells the same items. Another accompanying thought was the fact that I’m not into my twenties just yet, so I should make the most of the days where flamboyant and colourful patterns are the norm on one’s attire.
Speaking of fashion sense, and as Autumn mentioned the other day, Medway has definitely become much more indie since we were shipped off to university. I won’t lie, I do admire the identity Matt Webb has forged with his baggy jeans and Slazenger jumper, the latter of which I have represented faithfully throughout my tenure in London. People definitely know how to dress here; London disappoints with its stale meta of long coats and white Adidas Originals accessorised with branded coffee- alright, we get you’re rich.
Other than a couple of sessions at the local basketball court, a large portion of this week has been spent playing football at our main ground, Palmerstone, and most recently the park at which we all used to meet for ‘Half-One’ during our earlier secondary school days.
By Friday, it became apparent that our archaic limbs were growing too old for football. We realised it was time to grow accustomed to our new pastime, and headed immediately to the nearest golf course.
The sound of pinging balls must have triggered a signal to somewhere in High Halstow, as before long Harry Lattimore turned up.
With a sack full of clubs, and I assume plenty of Rizla, the big man channelled his anger to drive his bucket of balls to distances beyond the capabilities of the naked eye. A quick burn then followed, alongside a recap of his latest quoted memories.
Unsurprisingly, Mark was a skillful driver, although who did surprise was the ambidextrous Brandon, who proved very strong on his first outing. I suppose considering he was equipped with a special golfing glove, Lattimore was probably the most capable golfer out the group; with grey hairs sprouting from one of Medway’s most loved sons, it appears Lattimore has been a keen golfer for quite some time.
As for the rest of us, well we’ve got the rest of our lives and retirement to hone our skills, for me personally I have to learn to play right-handed- I lost count of how many times I missed the sodding ball.
While Lattimore sped off to Casinos in his bright red Corsa (I’m not sure if it’s a VXR, leave a comment Harry if it is), Mark returned in his silver Focus, Rob in his C1, me in the Warren Whip, and Matt in a courtesy car.
The action for the week was far from over though, and the next day following the end of Gianni’s shift, Mark, Ethan, and I met in ASDA, where later Matt and Brandon would join us ahead of a night inside Fantetti Residence that would consist of Brass Eye, Alan Partridge, a hefty bout of baking, and some VHS tapes we picked out of a skip.
It was also a night where Baking with Ellis returned to the internet. This time we mixed the old with the new- some sponge cake from ASDA’s new baking range, and then a fudge kit which I bought on one of our many lunchtime excursions to ASDA back in the summer of 2016.
The stream was initially plagued with connection issues, but thanks to Brandon lending his phone, the second part went sublime. The premise was largely unchanged, while everyone chilled in the living room, I stood in front of the camera and spattered complete nonsense for a solid two hours. However, the finished products went much better than expected, and most importantly they gained the approval of those in the living room. Extra housewife points for Ellis.
A late excursion into the Gillingham night evoked one of the defining essences of Medway. We walked around the narrow, double-parked streets, under a large crescent moon with a chill down our spines from the plummeting temperatures of some late hour, but encompassed in the scent of someone’s Dark Fruits can.
Our adventures are great because we always stray from our initial intention- we went out to buy drinks from the corner shop, but came back with a stash of binned VHS tapes. It made for amusing viewing once we got in, the tape which had been exposed to the elements flickered with static as if we were in some kind of horror film; Gianni’s handy VHS player struggled to produce an image. Before long however, the tape closer to the spindle began working like a dream, and we sat through a solid ten minutes before growing bored, and putting on Brass Eye and clips of other programmes while the hours ticked by.
Mark and I both faced a morning in the gym and a fourteen mile run respectively, yet ironically we were the ones asleep before the night at Gianni’s came to an end at 5am. Eventually though, after dropping Matt and Brandon back I embarked on the long road back to Maidstone, with the sun beginning to breath through the night, and with Tomoko Aran’s I’m in Love soothing sound on my radio- it was one smooth journey ahead of a slow Sunday.
A mere four hours sleep did not bode well for this week’s long run, while the terrain around the Hollingbourne area meant I was set for my most difficult adventure yet. With great determination, and a refusal to stop before the distance was complete, I accomplished a new personal best distance. Progress is looking steady for the time being, which is good, as we are on target to achieve full completion of the marathon training programme. Next week shall be sixteen miles, and right now we are upping the distance by a couple of miles each week, before we hit twenty-four; after that there will be a mere fortnight until the Kent Circuit Marathon in Gravesend, and we will be taking it easy to ensure we’re ready to give it our all on the big day in May.
I’ve had a very enjoyable week; not only has it been relaxing, but my friends and I have been able to go about it at our own pace- the stresses of university feel distant, approximately forty-six miles distant. However, while the adventures here in Medway may continue further into Easter, unfortunately so must the work. The exam season is essentially among us right now, and while exams are not until May and June, the first part is always Easter revision. It’s an unfortunate realisation, but the work has to be done- we’ll be glad that we pushed through it now when we look back later on.
Each moment of this week is a glimpse of summer, and a glimpse of life after the academic year. This week was an incentive, not a reward, and so forth we go into the pile of seven-hundred flashcards, knowing soon we will be facing the biggest test of the year, but also knowing that right now, for the time being, we’re preparing for them with those important.