Saturday, 15 March 2008

Sat 1st March 2008

Bit of a slow start, the weather was forecast to close in today. Swung on down to The Oval again to see The Sherminator (Ian Bell) and Andrew Strauss clock up hundreds to put the game beyond the hosts. The heavens opened, the players came off and the tannoy man announced that play would be abandoned. Harmy and Strauss did some warm downs together. This was my last chance to get a photo with one of the players (I didn't want to look like a saddo, but this chance might not come along again). Joy grabbed my camera and winked at Harmy, who, after his heroics in the Caribbean in 2004 (the Windies fans were scared to death of him - Grievous Bodily Harm-ison they called him), was the man for me with the most talent in the whole side. He had no problems in having his photo taken with me, he seemed a quiet, a nod and a wave was all he needed and after posing for a quick snap he was on his way. Joy called him back for a second to which he obliged, what a legend! I can't tell you how much I've been smiling ever since. Every time I had a quiet moment my thoughts were punctuated with 'yeah but I've got a photo with HARMY!. This made up for the bank escapade.
Life's An Empty Beach
Went for a drive along the Otago Peninsula, through Port Chalmers (a timber exporting port from what I can make out) until eventually reaching a natural dead end which had two completely empty sandy beaches. The surf was rising and sure enough two hardy surfers showed up and donned their wetsuits (the S. Pacific is pretty cold, some wear two wet suits. (The Rear: nowhere near as cold a Windermere in November mate!).

The House Of Pain
A very sozzled looking Kiwi at the cricket had informed us that there was a Super 14s game on tonight - that is a the best state sides from the Tri Nations (Oz,NZ, S.Africa) at Carisbrook stadium in Dunedin. Now I've heard of this stadium before, it has been the graveyard of every single national side I can ever remember visiting, with the notable exception of Martin Johnson's all conquering England touring side of 2002 who just dominated everybody. The sign above the stadium read 'Welcome to Caribrook, The House Of Pain'. Says it all! So it was The Otago Highlanders verus the Queensland (?) Waratahs (Loti Tequiri/Phil Waugh/that Aussie prop who Andrew Sheridan crushed in the World Cup, et al). Twas chucking it down by now, both teams tried to throw the ball around which was a bit dim in the circumstances. Handling errors were a plenty, the ball being like a bar of soap. The students were dancing about on the terraces across from us, they all wore bright yellow workman's helmets, it was like being at a Bob The Builder conference. Good on 'em, students have their uses and being hammered and rowdy at early evening rugby matches in the poring rain is definitely one of them! Suffice to say the Waratah's outplayed the Highlanders, it was like Culloden all over again, no Mel Gibson to the rescue this time folks. 15-12 then the final score, and the best incident? ...

'On Ya Mate'

Definately when the Waratah number 8 (an 'Islander' as they big-hard tanned blokes are called around these parts) went over for a try but at the same time was scragged by the Jack Russell-like Highlander number 10. He took exception to this and after planting the ball down over the try line he then planted one on the number 10. The try was given but then the number 8 had to spend 10 minutes in the Sin Bin for cracking the whipper-snapper one around the chops. As he strode towards The Bin, a few yards infront of us, a chirpy Aussie voice from the back shouted 'On ya mate!' to the Islander. The Kiwi's were licking their wounds but Joy started laughing and informed me that the chap was commending the big lad for smacking the terrier in the face, as in 'good on ya mate'. Bearing in mind (A) how seriously the Kiwis take rugby and (B) that opposing fans are trusted enough to sit together, this made me chuckle. You gotta love the Aussies for that sort of comment. I shall be adding it to the Shandysaurus.

Dunedin, It's A Grand Wee Place So It Is By The Way
Did you know that Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh? Just as Christchurch is more English than anywhere in England, Dunedin is more Scottish than Billy Connolly. The Highlanders are so-called because Dunedin was originally a Scottish settlement. Something to do with Captain Cargill ... see Wikipedia. Suffice to say that the more Scottish you claim to be the more cool and respected you are in Dunedin. There are kilt shops and Scotland flags all over the shop. I find it all quite bemusing, but I guess that's the heritage that these folks cling on to. Fair play too. Most locals I spoke to could find a McTavish or McSporran in their lineage, one young American studying law could only muster a MacDonalds receipt, the poor thing. Wee Bry sould love it here, he'd be all over it like a rash ehhhhhhhhhhhhy by the way. Drove us home, eat in curry, early night.

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