I've never been to England before. It makes me a constant source of mirth and bewilderment among my more windswept and interesting friends. "Hey England virgin" they taunt, or at least they would if they had the same lack of imagination as me.
Despite this, I'm a committed Anglophile. I've had a string of imaginary English girlfriends, starting with Sam from Me & My Girl (my adolescent phase), Emma Thompson (my romantic phase), Joanna Lumley circa Sapphire & Steel (my cult TV nostalgia phase) and then Patsy Kensit (my dirty phase).
Rather than visions of dirty old London town, my dream UK getaway was always the hallowed halls of Oxford. Unfortunately a fairly lackadaisical approach to my early university years saw that dream slowly disappear like urinal cakes in a student pub toilet.
Funny how these things work out.
Despite my last (self) published work being about the relative employment merits of monkeys and elephants, I've been selected to spend three months next year at Oxford University. Yeah I know, that’s what I thought too. It's called the Chevening Reuters Fellowship. It's a journalism thing.
If I know me, and I do, it won't be the last you'll be hearing about this. I'll try and keep the crowing to a tasteful minimum. And also work on lowering my expectations. I was speaking to an English friend today, describing what I hoped to experience. "You're aware you're going to Oxford, and not Hogwarts?" he inquired, probably with some justification.
So um yeah. Huge can't-put-it-into-words-you've-changed-my-life-forever-and-you-probably-don't-even-know-it thanks to the British Council, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and everyone further up the line responsible for sending me, and to my fantastic referees - you know who you are.
If I was some cheesy Oscar actress I'd be crying right now, and mentioning the fact that I was born in South Auckland and managed to overcome huge adversity. But that's not true. The great thing about living in a small pond is that this sort of shit happens to people all the time.
Speaking of awards ceremonies, if you're around (by which I mean home) this Saturday night, the inaugural Qantas TV awards are on Saturday evening, 9.30 on One. I mention this not out of a sense of corporate loyalty, but because me and my amigo Garth are finalists in the Best Current Affairs Report category. So you might just see my teary "born in Papakura/overcame adversity" speech yet.
So it's been a good week at Cracker HQ, and to top it off, the sun has been shining wherever I've been (take a bow Wellington). Next post I'll write about something other than myself, promise. Yeah I know, why change the habit of a lifetime?
It's Friday though, so I'll leave you with a joke doing the rounds. Use it to win friends and influence people over the weekend.
A man goes to a zoo. But when he gets there, all he sees is one dog.
It was a shitzu.