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THE END IS NIGH - A VISIT TO THE ANCIENT STATARIAN AND THE VOYAGE
BACK TO THE FLAT LANDS WE MISCALL OUR HOME

by Richard Karsmakers

Wednesday, July 19th 1989

08:45

I arise from the comfy bed of the "Crown Inn" for the last time
(maybe - probably - the last time in my life). I would really
have liked to sleep a bit longer, but the landlady told us we
would have to have breakfast not much later than nine - hence
this time.
I just heard a rather nice joke on the television with regard to
the train strikes: "Have you already heard the joke about the man
who jumped in front of the Northern Line? He died of old age!"
Ha ha.

Richard

11:00

We had a cab take us the Kemble station and that's where we are
right now. The train doesn't leave until 12:10, so we're sitting
here in a small garden on the station, bathing in the sun and
reading Stephen Donaldson while listening to some Great Music on
the walkman. The music obliterates the sounds of the singing
birds that would otherwise have been capable of reaching our
inner ears.
Before we left from "The Crown", we contacted Ken "Ancient
STatarian" Butler about which trains we would need to take to get
to his place - and at what time he would be awaiting us. He told
me he would be waiting at Havant at 14:58 - for which we would
have to switch trains at Swindon, Reading and Guildford.
He was kinda afraid this was too difficult for us, but we made
sure we would manage nicely. He additionally told us that he
would be wearing a light blue shirt with grey trousers, and that
he was a somewhat tall heavy-weight.
Just before we sat down here in this small rocky garden, I took
a nice picture of the railway track - on ground level. Later, it
turned out that this could have cost me a £200 fine...

Richard

12:29

We're at Swindon - the place where there's no action whatsoever
on Sunday. It turns out that the Reading train is running 22
minutes late, but this is no major problem since we would have to
wait 40 minutes there anyway.
The train from Kemble left in time, and all the way I didn't
know where to look since a female (not ugly, but not too pretty
either) continued to study me.

Richard

12:46

Still at Swindon.
Stefan just wanted to blow his nose, and for this purpose
retrieved a gino-gastro-tera-nomical quantity of pre-torn toilet
paper fragments that he had pinched at "The Crown" from his bag.
This is truly desecratingly disgusting, Stefan!

Richard

12:51

The train was indeed exactly 22 minutes late, and thus just left
for Reading.

Richard

13:21

The first stop of this train: Reading. This is also the place
where we would have to get out, so that's precisely what we did.
Reading is, just like Oxford, not as big a station as I had
imagined it to be. We were directed to a rather small platform,
at the entrance of which our tickets were immediately checked.

Richard

13:35

After waiting a bit, the train (one of the noisy ones, just like
the one we had from Bristol to Newport a couple of days earlier)
left for Guildford.
Metallica continues to blast my eardrums and Donaldson still
provides me with reading pleasure.

Richard

13:43

Wokingham station.

Richard

13:57

North Camp station.

Richard

14:07

Got out at Guildford. It's quite a busy station - not quite what
I had expected, really. The train to Havant is said to leave from
the same platform we arrived on, so we're just waiting.

Richard

14:22

The train leaves for Havant. Again, a rather noisy one.

Richard

14:35

Haselmere station.

Richard

14:45

Petersfield station.

Richard

14:58

Havant.
We get out immediately, and put our rucksacks on a bench so that
we can put them on.
Most of the passengers have already left the station, and this
probably accounts for the worried look in his eyes as we meet Ken
who walked up the platform in search for us.
I had expected him to be much heavier as he spoke about it on
the phone, but he turned out just to be a cosily corpulent man
that also looked much younger than he was (which is 64 - our
oldest co-conspirator and faithful reader).
He directly walks us to his car (a Nissan) and we drive to his
place.

Richard

15:06

In Ken's car, heading for his home. He surely knows how to put
the pedal to the metal...

Richard

15:34

We've arrived at his house, "Three Coins" in Middleton-on-Sea
(between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, at the southeast coast
of England).
It's a tastefully decorated house with lots of light furniture
and glass, built in a peaceful neighbourhood in which I suppose
many pensioned folks live - just like Ken.
We've met his charming wife Irene - who is a very modest woman
indeed, a bit turned inward, who would turn out to be able to
supply us with the best meal we ever had in England.
Stefan is soon drooling over Ken's audio equipment and the many
CD's (more than mine....Ken has over 400...). Especially the
hyper-super-duper turntable seems to consume all of his
attention.
Obviously, Ken knows the little pleasures of life.

Richard

15:54

Stefan drink some Carling Black Label beer - "The Lost Boys
Beer" that they didn't have at home the day we came. Now he can
still taste it, so he's lucky I guess.
I hate all beer except for bitter so I just drink some orange
juice.

Richard

18:50

The occasion to which we have been looking forward ever since we
arrived in England has come upon us: Diner at the Ancient
STatarian's house, prepared by the Queen of the Kitchen - Irene.
Most of the afternoon, we have spent looking at some games,
trying to help Ken with a Zoomracks file problem, and getting rid
of some nasty "Ghost" viruses he turned out to have littered all
over his disks. He also supplied me with an older copy of the
sizable Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary to take home -
since he had a newer one of it anyway (cheers, Ken! We're
eternally indebted to you as well!).

Richard

20:50

We have come upon the last course of the meal, which is the
sixth (!).
Our tongues had not expected to be caressed in such a way. Every
single aspect of this diner has been both excellently cooked as
well as sufficient in quantity - what's more to wish when you're
the honoured guests of the Ancient STatarian and his wife?
This sixth course is the liqueur phase: Stefan is indulging in
quite some Tia Maria, whereas Ken and yours truly drink lots of
Amaretto (well....Ken does the 'lot', really). We have already
drained a bottle of Rosé which went down smoothly with the
gastronomic delights we have had the honour of experiencing.
Ken is really a hell of a guy - cosy, considerate, and
interesting. The kind of guy I would like to have had as a
granddad.

Richard

21:18

I am being excused from the table, so that I can have a go at
the shower - today has been a tiring day as well, and I fear I
haven't quite gone through it without getting a bit smelly of
sweat.
The shower system is identical to that of "The Crown Inn", so I
can work with it...

Richard

23:05

Showered, fresh, and watching the last part of "The Shadow of
the Cobra" which started at 22:15.
Ken is now peacefully snoring on the couch as we continue to
watch and drink some orange juice.

Richard

23:40

Television has ended. The end was not quite satisfactory, but
not bad either. We're going to bed, for we're a bit tired.

Richard

Thursday, July 20th 1989

10:26

We're awake. I have slept divinely on a really comfortable bed
while Stefan slept on the duvet on the floor (the situation at
Peter Jonhson's place the other way around).
This is our last day in England; I have to admit that I am kinda
longing back to Holland, but even more so I have to pee like a
bull so I think that's the first thing I'm going to do.

Richard

10:50

One pair of my black suede shoes (of the brothel creeper kind)
hasn't survived the quest, and I have just parted from them by
ditching them in a trashcan.

Richard

12:23

We are slowly preparing to leave "Three Coins" again, to go to
Havant and get the train that will eventually take us to Holland.
We have had an enormous English breakfast prepared by the woman
whom I now considered to be the sole best English cook I've ever
known: Irene Butler.
Jummy. I am still licking my lips. It's amazing how she can turn
a simple English breakfast into something that appeases every
taste sense imaginable.
Pity we have to leave here - which we will do in a couple of
minutes.

Richard

13:07

We've just now arrived at Havant, and Ken went with us into the
station. We bought some combined train/coach tickets to Heathrow
which set us back £9.40 each - affordable.
As we walk on the platform, we have to go and stand downwind (I
think it's called that) to avoid the simply disgusting foul
smells of a female that seems to have been bathing herself in
strong perfume. We almost died of instant suffocation (we would
probably also have been instantly conserved for posterity by the
sheer smell).
Yuck. They should pull those people through pig's shit - that at
least tends to smell a lot better.

Richard

13:37

After shaking hands with our oldest reader and co-conspirator we
now find ourselves waving out of the train windows as it leaves
Havant station towards London.

Richard

14:35

I think this article would have reached epically boring
proportions had I summed up all the stations we went through on
this small trip that has now brought us to Woking in the usual
way. So I'll do it in a more concise fashion: Petersfield 13:50,
Liss 13:55, Liphook 14:01, Haselmere 14:10, Godalming 14:19,
Farncoombe 14:22 and Guildford 14:28.
Better like this?

Richard

14:47

Woking.
We have found the coach that will be taking us to Heathrow
airport and stuffed our rucksacks in the back luggage
compartment.
It is terribly hot in here - so hot that a bar of Lila Pause I
had bought has been totally melting in its packaging to that it
is now completely remouldable.
Yuck.
By the way: We don't quite know at which Terminal we have to be,
so we'll just have to inquire at the first gate we'll stop at.

Richard

15:00

There surely is a lot of work going on along the roads... every
road seems to be partly blocked by workers, and diversions are
everywhere.
The coach just passed a sign that stated that it's only 12 miles
now to Heathrow airport.

Richard

15:08

We're getting close to Heathrow. We can already see the planes,
and there are quite some planes in the air as well.
Holland is drawing closer!

Richard

15:10

Sweet thoughts of our good friends The Lost Boys bubble up in my
mind as the coach passes through Heathrow again - just like a bit
over two weeks ago when we were in a bus with Tim and Michael,
and the Concorde came flying over.
Now I come to think of it: It seems ages since we have entered
England, whereas it seems but yesterday that we awoke in Utrecht,
preparing to go there.
Sigh...
Everything is very active here. Planes are flying to and fro.
The planes are but parted from us by quite a high steel wall.
Isn't it awfully easy for terrorists to do something here?

Richard

15:15

We have arrived at Terminal 4, which indeed turns out to be the
proper terminal for us to get out - provided we indeed want to go
to Holland.
We do.
We walk in, carrying our rucksacks for one of the last couple of
minutes.
Where's that damn check-in desk?

Richard

15:45

Just passed through customs. They didn't open Stefan's bag
(filled with tapes, disks, battery chargers, and a whole lot of
other things that would probably have looked extremely suspicious
on the scanner), but they wanted to have a look into mine.
It contained my diaries, the walkmans, the Z88 and quite a lot
of weird miscellaneous stuff. The guy looking in it regarded me
with pity in his eyes (probably doubting my sanity) and gave it
back.
We arrived at the check-in desk at 15:22 by the way, and since
that time we have again parted from our dear rucksacks.

Richard

15:55

We're wandering through the tax-free shops at Heathrow. Stefan
is eying a large bottle of Bacardi rum with greed like I have
never ever before seen in his eyes. I just walk around a bit in
the perfume department, for I have sought to give pleasure to a
girl by getting her some of her favourite fragrance ("Anais
Anais").

Richard

16:05

Since we will probably not be needing our English money any
more, we are now exchanging it for Dutch paper money.
This action is performed by a girl of rare beauty indeed, who,
according to her badge, is called Stephanie Hazelby. Her slender
hands are much too beautiful to handle something as crude and
common as money, I think.
She thought our 'dubbeltjes' (1/10th of a Dutch guilder) to be
rather cute, by the way. We gave her not exactly enough money for
a ten guilder note, but she gave us one anyway.
The darling.

Richard

16:10

Back at the money exchange desk, for we have just now purchased
some Irish Coffee-and Cognac chocolate, paid with Dutch money,
and got English change back.
Under the motto "you scratched my back; I'll scratch yours" we
gave all the change to her for nothing.
We really felt warm and ginormously galant inside.

Richard

16:39

One of the many monitors hanging off the ceiling of the airport
just changed, and stated that the boarding gate for our flight,
BA0442, will eventually be boarding at gate 7.

Richard

17:03

In spite of the fact that it should have started EIGHT minutes
ago, we're still not yet boarding. We can already see our plane
standing - it's a Boeing 737 that is currently being loaded with
what we will probably get for lunch.
A slight anxiety is starting to manifest itself in the upper
part of my cranium...

Richard

17:09

Boarding started about two minutes ago, and we're now indeed
seated in the flying device which will transport us to the
direction of Holland ("Dull old flat stupid country. I will have
to work again, creating dull programs, speak Dutch and listen to
loads of nagging!" Stefan quote).
There was a slight panic just now as we turned out to be seated
in the wrong chairs (15 a and b instead of 14 a and b). The
people originally destined to have our chairs didn't make much of
a fuzz about it and went to sit on those that were destined to be
ours.
Ha: We have a better view, sitting at the back of the wing
rather than sitting at the wing (like on the voyage to England).

Richard

17:28

We haven't quite left, yet. As the plane was scheduled to leave
(again) EIGHT minutes ago, some anxiety is striking my heart...

Richard

17:30

Aaaahhhh... The plane starts moving towards the runway. The
buildings of Heathrow Terminal 4 slowly disappear from sight.

Richard

17:32

The familiar tape with the prerecorded message regarding
emergency exits, oxygen masks and safety vests has started. A
little child is constantly prodding its filthy little knees in
the back of my chair and I can't particularly say that I like it.
On top of that, there's a nauseating constant sound of beeping
that arises from somewhere.
I feel a sense of foreboding of something going awfully wrong
during this voyage...

Richard

17:40

The plane was barely stationary at its runway when we were
already thrown back in our chairs and had many g-forces exercised
upon our poor bodies: The plane accelerated, and started to
shudder, shake and tremble.
We will soon take off as I look outside and the scenery scrolls
by at an ever increasing speed.....yes....YES!....we're airborne!
(It's 17:41)

17:46

We're happily munching the Irish Coffee-and Cognac chocolate we
purchased on Heathrow. This stuff is surely delicious, and the
liquor gently strokes our tongues.

Richard

17:47

A lunch package was just now distributed. It contains a date
(yeck!), Pourshins orange juice, a tea-cup (later we were to get
tea), a croissant with cheese, milk (for in the tea) and a small
hanky to wipe our hands.
British Airways, I guess, is pretty OK.
Not exorbitantly luxury, but OK.

Richard

17:55

We are now flying over the part of the English coast where the
Thames approximately runs into the North Sea (I think).

Richard

17:59

That damn tea is f*@king hot!
We are now above the sea, and all I see are but the blue sea,
scattered clouds.....we are flying along nicely...drool...drool.

Stefan

18:03

"When a man dies
He murders some part of the world
These are the pale deaths
Which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot bear
To witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation
Take me home?"

-- Metallica

Richard

18:07

The "Fasten Seatbelts" light just went on, so I think there's
reason to believe that it shan't take long before we will
eventually hit Dutch soil again! There's still only sea below us,
however...

Richard

18:10

We are flying over a beach of Holland now, probably that of
Scheveningen near The Hague. Since we have now arrived above
Dutch soil, I think the time is appropriate to switch to Dutch
time again - which is one hour ahead.
Under us, Holland glides by...the country of social wellfare,
awfully high taxes, cheap trains, and....ST NEWS.
Gosh. It is really minddevastatingly flat!
The plane already seems to be slowing down. The houses become
bigger slowly, and our ears seem to be imploding. The wing flaps
are turned up as many square farmer's parcels glide quicker and
quicker under us.
We see many little houses with their sunshades out - for it is
25 degrees down there according to what our Captain just said
(which is still 5 degrees cooler than England).

Richard

19:13 (Dutch time!)

I don't really feel that I have just lost an hour.
Everybody down there is now probably watching television as the
wing flaps are being folded in again.
It won't take long before we will start the final descent and
set foot on the soil trodden by our forbearers again.

Richard

19:14

The landing procedure has been started.
Everything is now becoming rapidly bigger. We can even see cars
with Dutch number plates.
The runway appears under us...and....we....we land! It is 19:15.
The flaps are now folded open a bit further, and we see
intricate machinery due to our position in the plane - behind the
wings.
There's an enormous noise.
The plane is slowing down really fast now, and as I write this
taxi-speed is reached. The plane turns towards the towers of
Schiphol looming at the nearby horizon.
Thank God nothing went wrong in spite of my sense of foreboding!

Richard

19:17

The plane halted, and the "Fasten Seatbelt" light is out again.
We are standing erect, prepared to enter the Kingdom of Holland
again.

Richard

19:21

Yep. We're there. We are now actually standing on the solid
floor of a Schiphol pier - in Holland.
It's strange, but I don't particularly immediately feel at home.
Though I am looking forward to seeing someone soon.

Richard

19:31

We've spent about ten minutes going down the pier up to the main
airport buildings, and have not yet gone through customs.
A luggage port 2, we are now waiting for our rucksacks to
arrive. I cannot express how much relieved I will be when I will
finally hold mine again.
("And I!" Stefan quote)

Richard

19:38

We have our rucksacks and have just gone through customs where I
had a very interesting conversation with one of the customs
people: "Where did the trip come from, sir?" he asked. "From
England!" I replied, with some pride in my unstable voice. "Only
from England?" the man inquired further, raising an eyebrow as if
I looked like a potential drug trafficker. "Indeed," I answered -
"Great," the man said.

Richard

19:43

We have just acquired our train tickets for Den Bosch ('cause
that's where Stefan lives and we'll go there - me too). We're
waiting at platform 1 of Schiphol station, so that we will be
able to go to Amsterdam Central from where we will head for Den
Bosch.
In Utrecht, I will get out, dump my rucksack, and meet someone
that I have kinda been longing for.

Richard

19:51

The train leaves from Schiphol train station. I can already
almost smell home - and I am looking forward to a good (and LONG)
night's rest!

Richard

20:05

Amsterdam Central. Here, we have to wait a bit less than half an
hour to take the train that will take us south. The train that
will take us home.

Richard

20:12

We're sitting on platform 2b. We're precisely synchronizing our
watches with the one on this platform, while eating some real
Dutch Venco liquorice that we had missed so awfully in England.

20:32

The train leaves - down to Utrecht (first stop) and Den Bosch
(second stop). My heart is already beating faster.

Richard

21:01

I have arrived at Utrecht. Stefan will simply continue to Den
Bosch, where I will join him later this evening. First, I have to
get rid of this rucksack and talk to someone...

Richard

Narrator: "And thus ended a most remarkable quest. Will we see
both our computer journalists back again? Will they recover from
their exasperations? Will they ever in their lives regain back
the energy needed to finish even more issues of ST NEWS? Please
do not refrain from getting your hands on more stuff made by
these guys, for it's worth every effort!! When they get by, I
think they wouldn't mind seeing you all again in ST NEWS Volume 4
Issue 5..."

Disclaimer
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.