THE LATEST NEWS QUEST STARTS by Richard Karsmakers
Tuesday, July 4th 1989
We wake up making sounds that are generally made by youngsters
that get up far too early for their usual daily routine. The air
outside is blue with pale pink at the horizon. There are still
some lights turned on outside, in the early morning of Utrecht.
Through the window that is widely open the sounds of the
morning's blackbirds enter in their full glory.
I slept very bad, like I always tend to do when something is
going to happen the next day. Yesterday, we went to bed at around
11 PM, and I immediately started thinking: "If I now go to sleep
quickly it will be tomorrow sooner."
It's exactly thoughts like this that make sure you can't sleep
at all, and hence the reason why I slept very bad.
Stefan slept OK, though six hours also tend to be a bit on the
short side for him.
But we're ready for everything that might be coming towards us
in the following seventeen days. YEAH!
The train leaves from Utrecht CS, and we find ourselves seated
quite uncomfortably in the train, carefully watching over our
gear: Two enormously packed rucksacks and two other, smaller bags
that are also filled way beyond their ordinary capacity.
Eating our breakfasts was a very fast job: BreakFAST. I ate some
cereal and Stefan was satisfied by eating nothing - mere
breathing seems to suffice for the master editor of ST NEWS. When
we left my students' flat, we immediately realised that those
rucksacks were surely VERY heavy. After walking to the busstop,
which was at about 100 metres distance, our collarbones already
ached and we felt gruesomely tired.
When the bus came around the bend at 06:02, we were considerably
relieved to be able to stack the nasty things on the floor while
we transported ourselves to Utrecht station.
We made it easily in time for the train, in spite of the fact
that some moron had decided to throw rubbish bags all over one of
the streets the bus had to pass through. When we looked back
through the bus window, we saw bursted rubbish bags with their
various filthy contents splattered all over the street.
Utrecht Central Station was remarkably quiet. Well....maybe not
quite so remarkably considering the time of day. The sun had
gained enough power to shed its fragile light through the
transparent roof of the station as we bought our single tickets
to Schiphol Airport.
The last Dutch train we'll be needing for several weeks departs
from Amsterdam CS, where we arrived precisely five minutes ago.
We had exactly enough time to switch trains in order to assure a
fast way of getting to Schiphol Airport. Lucky enough, we weren't
entirely on our own, for we were able to follow some people
dressed up in pilot's costumes that seemed to be pretty sure of
where they were heading.
We're ready for it. How about you?
We have arrived at Schiphol Railway Station. The rucksacks are
again heaved upon our poor little backs and Stefan immediately
starts to quest for a place to perform some sanitary relaxations.
The first difficult task has been overcome - and quite
successfully, I might add. We've passed through customs
unscathed, in spite of the enormous amounts of electronics we're
carrying with us. We're drinking some Coke in the tax-free area,
and Stefan has bought an enormous tablet of Toblerone chocolate.
After Stefan finished his duties in the Railway Station toilet,
I decided it might not be altogether that bad an idea to do it
myself as well.
So I did.
Checking in was, just like our breakfast, done within the time
needed for Math to solve an adventure. Our rucksacks were stacked
upon a special vessel for transportation towards the British
Airways ('The World's Favourite Airline') plane, and we were
considerably relieved when we found out that they were indeed
allowed on board - quite to the contrary of some rumours that had
worried us about aluminium-framed rucksacks not being allowed on
board of airplanes (eh, Linda?).
Sitting in Pier B, Schiphol Airport, gate 22. We already behold
the plane we will fly in within ten minutes (that's when boarding
The plane will actually leave at 08:20 Dutch time. I am kinda
thrilled for I have not actually flown in my entire (short) life.
And this flight will actually take me to England - the land of
inches, feet, ounces, llamas, smooth horizontal scrolling,
fabulous adventures, railway strikes, Samanthas and lotsa unions.
I always liked airports. This is kinda exciting, but hardly as
exciting as when I went to America all by myself, boarding that
flight to New York....yeah.
We have checked in and I bought an enormous, gigantic
"Toblerone" piece of tax-free chocolate of 400 grammes. I already
tasted it and it is GOOD! When I went through customs, the guy
sitting behind the high desk told me that I had a speeding
ticket!! Boy, my boss will not like the little green paper he
will receive soon....
Richard is very nervous and is now inquiring about the safety of
British planes.... We asked the people at the scanner and they
assured us that computer diskettes are not affected by the rays
used to scan our luggage.... We are now happy!!!
We are walking down the 'trunk' towards flight BA0445, after
having passed the actual boarding-scanner.
They never even asked us to open our bags? Is it then true what
they say about Stefan's 'innocent looks'?
As we enter the plane, we find this the right moment to switch
over to English time - one our back. We reset our watches, the
walkmans' built-in clocks and the Z88's internal watch.
07:12 (English time, mind you)
We are now sitting in the plane. I am sitting at the window, but
there is not much to see as there is a huge piece of metal in the
way - a typical wing.
When we entered the plane, we saw this incredibly gorgeous
stewardess. She is now standing at a relatively short distance
from us, one compartment in front of the one we're sitting in,
and she is bending over....but unfortunately not over us.
We are now taxiing towards the runway. The Captain's name is
Saunders, by the way.
As I write this, the plane is coming to a halt, waiting for
permission to actually take off. A plane ahead of us now
disappears from sight rather fast - probably that is now taking
The engines just outside our window start bulging forth enormous
heaps of noise. The plane starts shivering and creaking and
motion starts. Within seconds, we are pushed back in the chairs
and experience what it's like to have a couple of G's exercised
upon our bodies.
Richard looks out the window eagerly, and seems somewhat aghast
as he sees the landscape pass by faster and faster.
Then...it happens. The plane starts a sharp curve into the sky
and we're airborne. It's 07:32 as we lose touch with Dutch soil.
We see everything shrinking below us rapidly. There are small
cars, long motorways that gently reduce to mere threads in a
patch of needlework, small brooks and minute lakes.
We see a thick layer of dark dusty clouds hang above the city of
Amsterdam - the notorious smog that is barely visible from the
ground. It is very clearly visible, by the way.
Breakfast is being served by a raven-haired stewardess that is
not particularly beautiful but that has a really incredibly
lovely smile. Now, I will get the chance to have some true
breakfast at last - for even master editors cannot live on the
mere breathing of air.
Breakfast is served in a small and very economically designed
package that contains a healthy sandwich (salad on it), orange
juice, tea, sugar (for use in the tea, as can be expected), a
piece of delicious chocolate and a napkin, completed by means of
a towelette (a piece of hermetically packed paper soaked in lemon
juice or something of the kind).
All around us is but blue. The dark blue of the sky; the lighter
blue of the North Sea, and between it a layer of white and
occasionally more or less grey clouds.
A sandbank is barely visible below at the right.
It is very quiet in the plane, except for the stewardesses that
keep on walking to and fro to satisfy those who need to lavish
themselves at yet more tea or coffee.
Breakfast is in us, and everything is just great.
Whereas I just still thought to be flying above Holland, I just
looked out of the window and beheld the port of Dover, with its
familiar steep white chalk cliffs. Many, many, fluffy white
clouds hang in the sky like desolate sheep in need of a herd - I
think enough to make Jeff go quite out of his mind, probably.
In the distance, the white of the clouds is already neighing
towards a more greyish teint - the smog of London, the city where
the Public Traffic will be on strike tomorrow. F@*k them.
We are now in the process of landing. The plane is shaking a
little, the ground is coming nearer at a slow but steady pace. I
see already the Gatwick parking lot with many small cars on it in
many strange colors, forming strange patterns to be seen from up
At this very moment, we experience touchdown. The ST NEWS
editorial staff has landed.
Behold thee, England! We have come!
We are now in a British Rail Intercity Express train from
Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station, London. The train is crammed
with passengers, and Richard is sitting behind me on the floor.
Lucky for me, I was fast enough to find a more decent place to
sit - on one of the benches.
Checking out at Gatwick was just as easy (and FAST) as checking
in at Schiphol. According to Murphy's laws, the other queue was
of course faster, but we still did it in a fairly good time.
We were taken from the plane by bus, as the plane turned out to
have landed beyond people's walking distance from the terminal
building. The bus trip took a bit over five minutes. An unmanned
monorail took us from the terminal buildings to Gatwick railway
station, where we started a quest for our first train ticket:
What turned out to be a £5.50 ticket to Victoria Station, quite
near to the centre of London City.
The actual start of our quest will soon be.
We've arrived at Victoria Station. Actually, what is known as
Victoria Station is something quite huge that also involves a
shopping precinct and a subway station. Our plan was to buy a
Visitor's Travel Card that would allow us to travel unlimited on
subway and London Red Buses for seven days, but the guy at the
counter told us that he needed our pictures for that.
So we have located an automatic photo machine and are right now
waiting for the pictures to be revealed to us - no doubt to our
(and everyone's) utter disgust.
The pictures look awful. Awful. I look like I haven't slept for
ages, and Stefan looks like a decaying criminal with a busted
We hope the guy who wanted our pictures in the first place won't
die laughing when he lays eyes on them.
We have now actually arrived in London - outside Victoria
Station, that is. I am sitting in a Post Office, where Richard is
buying for £10 worth of Telephone Cards, so that we can call
people when we run out of coins. That should do it.
Finding a Post Office might be an easy job - but it sure as hell
isn't when you're a tourist, when you're carrying an enormous
rucksack, and when the sun is trying desperately to melt every
fragment of hope still left in our sweating and gradually more
and more aching bodies.
The London smell is penetrating and awful. Traffic everywhere,
and we have to look out pretty damn good not to be run over by
We must surely adapt soon to looking in the proper directions
when crossing a road or we'll end up in hospital with no quest
Why did those English start driving on the left in the first
place, for God's sake? It couldn't be just to annoy the French?
Or could it?
The Post Office is busy; there's quite a sterile carpet on the
floor, lamps everywhere, and a TV screen is constantly showing
Post Office commercials with flashing screen and distorted images
- I guess something is wrong with the video attached to it. Poor
Richard is slowly getting used to the queue system, and some
people jump ahead as he is figuring out everything.
Several minutes after we leave the Post Office, we head back
towards Victoria Station - this time to lurch into the notorious
London Subway System. Our first visit was to be to Mastertronic,
and their Public Relation Lady, Lesley Walker, had told us that
we therefore had to go to Notting Hill Gate tube station.
After our first seconds of getting used to the London Subway
Ticket System (and after a first hit with the 'Seek Assistance'
message), we jumped on the Circle Line and got off at Notting
Hill Gate, at approximately a quarter past eleven.
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.