Week 69: His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

Mum and Dad drove Indy and I to the airport early on Monday morning. Everything had been packed up, all my suitcases, my bike and all Indy’s stuff. Indy was coming to visit me in the UK for the next three weeks, a ploy by my parent’s to get her out of the house.The check-in line was a little chaotic, but it wasn’t long before we were through into the departures hall. We waved goodbye to Mum and Dad and went through to the plane. The immigration line was slow too, due to a computer error, but we soon were at the gate waiting to board the plane. We were flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, and had a mostly smooth flight there, watching increasingly trashy films and getting a little bit of rest. Our layover in Hong Kong was short, but our connecting flight was delayed a little. Another long period of sitting in one seat followed. Having booked well in advance, I had a seat with enough leg room, but we weren’t sitting together.

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We landed in Heathrow late in the evening, and had to spend over an hour stuck in the immigration queue. From there, we had to wait another hour in the Heathrow bus station for our coach back to Cambridge. It wasn’t until after midnight that we eventually made it back to Cambridge, after a 15 mile detour on the M25. We all hit the pillows pretty quickly after that.

In the morning, I decided that I wanted to try and kick my jet lag as soon as I could, so I went out to run some errands. I went and got a hair cut, did a bit of shopping, grabbed lunch at college, signed in for visa reasons, and went to the GSCR and began to process the reimbursement receipts that I had collated as Gates Council Treasurer over the past few weeks. I had intentions to write a script that updates the accounts sheets automatically, which would save time in the long run and permit me to focus more on work. Indy, meanwhile, enjoyed still being on Australian time as she could text her friends back home in the middle of the night. It was hard to get her to leave the house due to the cold and dark, even for food. She did eventually go wandering around, going to the bookstore and exploring the best lunch options near to our house.

On Wednesday evening, I went to the Trust’s welcome tea in the GSCR to catch up with the dozens of other people slowly migrating back to Cambridge after the Christmas break. Staff from the Trust were also there, and I got to meet with the new Director of Finance, who, as I had heard through Kevin, was planning some substantial changes to the scholar’s room. Later that evening followed something else I was looking forward to; the first of the weekly cricket training sessions for the college cricket team. It looked like we would have a decent number of people this year, possibly enough to make a team, even if we did have to merge with another college.

The highlight of the week came on Thursday evening, when I went down to the Real Tennis Club, which had been set up as an entertaining space instead of a tennis court. We were hosting royalty; in particular, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; Queen Elizabeth’s fourth child. He had taken up the sport of Real Tennis in Cambridge as an undergraduate, and was about to embark on a worldwide tour of all of the Real Tennis courts as a fundraising effort for the Duke of Edinburgh awards. His plan was to play three doubles matches on each of the courts.

As students at the club, we were tasked with carrying around the champagne and canapes to the guests. There were a few hundred people attending, some keeping to themselves, and others trying to sneak a few words in with HRH, as he was called by his handlers. I was carrying glasses around the room, followed by a bottle to top people up. Meanwhile on the other court, the top players in the club were participating in an exhibition game, but nobody was really watching them, instead focused on the alcohol. Those that had paid for it left after a few hours to go to a formal reception at Jesus College, while the club members and the students stayed back to tidy up. An hour later, the court was back to it’s usual state.

The next morning, I went along to the club to watch HRH play. He played three doubles matches, which meant finding nine members of the club to play against. There was a £300 charge for the privilege, so I stayed in the galleries and watched; I wasn’t good enough to challenge him. Krittika came along a little later, and got chatting to the handlers. She was a former Duke of Edinburgh recipient, and so they were very receptive to her conversations. HRH ended up losing each of his matches, as his handlers were mumbling about how he would be late to visit the children’s hospice. After the matches, there were some photographs taken on court, and Kees, the pro, introduced Krittika and I to the Prince. After a brief conversation, where he tried to understand each of our areas of study in an admiral way, we got a picture with him and he left off to the hospice. We left too, for me, it was back to the GSCR to finish off the code I was writing to semi-automate the job of the Treasurer.

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That evening, we managed to get Indy out of the house. I had arranged tickets for a formal at Darwin. Jacqueline and Callie were coming too; I had invited Callie at the Trust reception earlier in the week. I figured she would be talkative enough about the right issues to make Indy feel comfortable, which kind of worked. She did come out of her shell a little bit over the course of the evening, which consisted of a main of roasted fish or cauliflower. Callie even recommended some bookshops in London for Indy to check out when she eventually got there.

I was searching for things to do with Indy on Saturday afternoon, and we managed to agree to head out to the Fitzwilliam museum. We headed out in the rain, and then spent a couple of hours wandering the museum. Indy was in particular interested in some of the older artefacts in the Egyptian section, and spent most of the time making notes on her phone.

On Sunday, though, Indy opted to stay at home, while I went out to Hatfield for a Real Tennis club match. I took a train out there, and it was snowing for most of the morning. The local church yard was covered in white, which was exciting for me coming from the usually warm Australia. I played doubles with Charles, and we ended up winning, but losing the tie overall. On returning to Cambridge, I had a council meeting in the evening.

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