The part where we got on the train was where things went wrong. To be sure, Dominic asked a member of staff which train to take to Ely; apparently, the guy said take the train to Ipswich on Platform 6. That was exactly the train that we got on. Five minutes after the train started to move, a train conductor came by and checked our tickets. She took a look at the tickets and asked him, 'Where are you going?'
'To Ely,' he said.
'This train doesn't go to Ely.'
He was so confused, and so was I. He insisted that the guy at the station told him to take the train to Ipswich. The conductor, however, just said that we were on the wrong train, and that we could get off at Bury St Edmunds and take a train to Ely, but we would get there at 5pm.
It was 3.15pm. The plan was to get there in 15 minutes and walk around, not spend most of the afternoon on the train. Alas, the plan failed.
For some reason, the conductor didn't charge us the difference in fare for our longer trip to Bury St Edmunds. I speculated that it was because of Dominic's naturally earnest face that she believed that it was a genuine mistake. In the end, though, we paid only GBP2 for a train ride that would've cost GBP6.60.
In the end, too, we had a great day anyway. We decided to just get out at Bury St Edmunds and walk around, and it was a great decision. Before this, when we were at Newmarket, he briefly considered whether we should get off there and go back to Cambridge and get on the correct train to Ely; however, he was indecisive, and I didn't want to make a decision, and so we missed our window to get off the train. As such, we stuck to the modified plan.
It was a great modified plan. Bury St Edmunds is a really small town, but it has ruins! The town centre is quite close to the station, perhaps a 10-minute walk, and it is charming in a small-town British sort of way. Of course, its charm was rather undermined by the presence of chain restaurants that are everywhere in England, such as Prezzo, Bill's, Patisserie Valerie, Greggs...and of course, Starbucks. How boring. Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable to walk around the ruins of the Abbey that was built in the 10th century! Dominic shares my love for ruins, which he calls 'very 19th century' for some elusive Dominic-esque reason that I only half-understood. I took a few pictures but I am too lazy to fetch my phone and post them, and so I shall link to the Wikipedia page where there are pictures: Bury St Edmunds Abbey.
The Abbey Gardens is quite big and spacious. Directly behind the gardens is a residential area with nice-looking red houses. It looked like a very nice and scenic place to live, though of course, I would get bored really quickly. There were also a couple of tennis courts which I insisted we had to check out (he was happy to comply); when I saw the surface, I was immediately disappointed. It looked really shit. Britain doesn't seem to have proper outdoor hardcourts; the ones I've played on are like, tarmac or something. The feeling isn't remotely the same. The ones in the Abbey looked ill-maintained, and even then, it cost GBP4 or something ridiculous per hour.
We also went into the cathedral, where I was too happy to use the toilet. There were quite a number of memorial plaques dedicated to people associated with the University of Cambridge. How interesting. He noticed that the academic titles of the honoured persons followed their names. One of them was 'MA' and something else. Dominic said, 'MA isn't even a real degree.'
'Isn't it a Masters degree?'
'Yeah, but everyone has a Masters degree.'
It should be said that when he says such things, he doesn't really mean them in the ordinary sense of the sentiment. It's ironic, I think; in any event, it is true that a lot of people in Germany (though even saying 'everyone' in Germany has a Masters degree wouldn't be a true statement) have Masters degrees, so it's not a big deal in that sense. In fact, it's totally normal for Germans to do two PhDs (e.g. Dr K). Of course, for lawyers in common law countries - and by that I speak of Singapore, of course - no one gives a shit if you have an LLM as long as you have an LLB and are qualified, so having an LLM in this sense is really not a big deal at all. There is no point to this aside. I just wanted to record his snobbish statement because I like his snobbish statements, especially when he goes on about how some people who claim to do mathematics aren't actually doing mathematics. Everytime I say that person X does mathematics because that's what person X told me, he'd say, 'No, X does [for example] physics. That's not mathematics.'
There is nothing wrong with this, is there? It is exactly like me saying Harry Potter or Stephen King's novels aren't literature; they are works of fiction. There is a difference. It is good to be passionate about something. I also just found out that Part III of the mathematical tripos in Cambridge is one of the hardest courses in the world. Needless to say, he took it and stayed on for the PhD, and the point of mentioning this is that I'm so clueless about everything that happens outside of the law faculty that I didn't even know that, and now that I do, I am suitably impressed.
Anyway, we had dinner at a pub called the Dog and Partridge, a completely 'what the fuck?' name for a pub which is also perfectly English. I had grilled salmon while he had the chicken option of the Sunday roast, which the bartender said wasn't chicken but turkey. When we got back to our table, he said, 'The bartender just said that the chicken is turkey.'
Naturally, I had to argue with him about that, because what he actually said was that the chicken option on the menu was turkey that day.
'So essentially he said that the chicken is turkey,' he said.
Then again, some arguments are simply not worth having or winning, are they? That, however, is a good example of some of the things that we talk about. I cannot properly describe how much I enjoy going out with a guy who is so intelligent and knows about things outside of his chosen field. Even when we're having bullshit arguments about bullshit, it is stimulating because I get to exercise my lawyerly prowess...which basically consists of arguing for the sake of arguing. I honestly think that my penchant for arguing with people is the only thing that is lawyerly about me.
Anyway. After dinner, we walked really fucking quickly to the train station to catch the 7.41pm train back to Cambridge. He mistakenly bought me a return ticket, but the difference between a one-way and a return is 55p, so it was practically nothing. While walking back to Magdalene after arriving in Cambridge, we had an honest conversation about my STI. I was a bit put off at first; I still cannot stop myself from feeling defective about it. But he was sweet. I knew that he didn't really know what to do when I went silent, as I always do when I'm upset about something and don't quite know 1) why; 2) how to deal with it; and/or 3) how to talk about it. But I wasn't really upset at him or anything that he said. Of course, it is annoying to have to take medication when the only perk of the strain of the virus that I have is that I don't have to take medication, but if it will make him feel better, then I should at least look into it and consider it. At least he said that he wasn't trying to enforce anything.
I think it says a lot about him that, despite being a self-professed hypochondriac, he's able to separate the virus from the person. I'm really glad that he's not a shitty person. Also, I mentioned NEB's email and explained that it was why I was a bit weird on Friday evening. He said that he did notice that I was a bit different. Thankfully, he was kind of rushing to go to Compline (some church choir thing) with some friends from another college, so I didn't have to go into the nasty details of what happened with NEB. He got the basics (i.e. NEB broke my heart and all that shit) without the details, and I think that's sufficient for now.
All right, I have to write back to NEB. I started the email in the law faculty when I was tired of reading Charles Taylor's The Ethics of Authenticity and had to stop to go to Edward and Daphne's for a very yummy Chinese dinner. I should finish it to get it off my mind.