Cambridge Lite

I’m going to be honest with you. I’d rather be continuing with my Hercule Poirot movie marathon than writing this blog post, but maybe that will make it mercifully brief for the both of us.
I though I’d just note down a quick little description of what I did last week before I forget it all, because it really was quite de-lightful. Perhaps not quite ‘Brideshead Revisited’, but we tried out best (and, yes, ok, I know Brideshead Revisited was set in Oxford not Cambridge, but, really, people, who are you kidding? They’re essentially the same place. *Jenny proceeds to be torn violently to shreds by various Oxbridge acquaintances and luminaries*)
I arrived in Cambridge late on Monday night and friend Michelle picked me up from the train station. She has just been to a ‘hop’ (a 1950s swing dancing session! For reals!), so was appropriately attired and on her beautiful bike with a beautiful basket. Essentially, she looked like she had time-warped to pick me up. What a lovely start to my stay.
Tuesday I met up with my wonderful cousin, Kathryn again and we wondered all over town, admiring the river, the bridges, the punts, the men on the punts (we actually admired too loudly about one and had to run away. We decided it didn’t matter because he was clearly inviting such comments by what he was wearing, at which point we realised that if anyone had dared to say such a thing about a woman, we would have bitten their heads off. We left such disagreeable and confusing thoughts and continued on our way…) and I even managed to have a short Spanish conversation with some very enthusiastic Latin children in the punts below which delighted them no end (it consisted of them yelling, ‘Say, ‘Hola!’ at me, which I did and then I followed with ‘No hablo espanol.’ To which they replied, ‘Un poquito,’ and I said, ‘Si, si, un poquito’. Earth shattering). At the market, I bought 50p worth of fresh dates (sold in a paper bag), which I had never encountered before and delighted me no end. Kathryn was not as enthusiastic, her face went through several permutations before she declared, ‘it takes a long time for me to get used to new things.’
That night, after a heated discussion on Australian politics with Michelle and Kathryn, Michelle and I headed out to her favourite pub, where we made friends with a wildlife photographer who worked for the local Zoology museum and then got invited on an excursion to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens the next day by a man with a ponytail, bow-tie and checked scarf (I’m not even kidding, these people exist!) It was all rather cool.
We headed to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens the next day and were shown all the highlights (meaning the plants that were in season and in bloom), plus many scientific names and facts that I have since forgotten. Michelle took me to the hothouse with the Australian plants, which was like walking into a great big wall of home-smells and made me feel a little bit homesick and very small.
That afternoon, I sat in on a workshop of a paper of one of Michelle and Kathryn’s friends, which was very interesting. Essentially, its like a work in progress, just as we’d do with a script in the theatre. The paper is presented, hopefully people have read it all ready, the author poses some questions or talks about the things that worry them and then everyone puts in their two cents. I read the paper beforehand (though didn’t venture any comments in the workshop, being a lowly Australian actor with no claim to being a Cambridge scholar) and felt suitably intelligent and studious. This, combined by my attendance at a seminar the next day makes me feel that I am eligible to use the phrase, ‘I studied at Cambridge’. As long as people don’t probe too deeply, I should be fine.
That evening, Michelle, Kathryn and I went to a formal dinner, which involved getting very dressed up in my new favourite dress (its black, purple and green silk, probably a 1980s riff on a 1950s design, tight bodice, flouncy skirt with tulle underneath to make it stick out. IT IS THE BEST THING EVER) and then drinking lots. I also got to eat treacle tart, which is Harry Potter’s favourite dessert, in a hall that could look like it was in a Harry Potter film (see previous comment about Cambridge and Oxford essentially being the same place). So, that was pretty good and all.
The next day we did something that I can’t tell you anything about. It was that top secret. No, seriously, I promised I wouldn’t tell. And, now that MI5 is probably monitoring this blog because I mentioned Thames House and smiled weirdly at the CCTV cameras (seriously, and the CIA owns Gmail – just WATCH YOURSELVES), I don’t want to take any risks. Rest assured it did not involve breaking the law. But, maybe the Russians would want to know. Or the Israelis. Or somebody else… 
On that note, I might end. Before I type something I regret.
Back to that wonderful little Belgian: 

‘Ze little grey cells….’ Found at: http://thegrimview.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/hercule-poirot/

NB Any passing security agencies, please take the above comments in the spirit in which they were intended. That is, irreverently. I know you guys are really great about that sort of thing. You know, with your sense of humour and stuff.

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