Up early for our practise session at Melbourne Cricket Club, and following our normal breakfast of coffee, corn flakes and toast - how much better this is than the French rubbish - we were taken by Marlon to Courtney Walsh Way and the ground. The weather didn't look at all inviting, but it was hot. We began, at Simon's suggestion, with a lap of the perimeter. Half way round I could hardly see as the sweat poured down my face. Fozzie met us at the pavilion, cigarette to hand, with the words "warm out there lads". Indeed.
Next, Pram spilt us up into two teams, and one set practised batting and bowling and we did some fielding with Sir Geoff the wicketkeeper. It struck me during this session, that there we were, 4000 miles away from home, 38° of sultry, sweaty heat in the shadow of the Blue Mountains doing nothing better than chucking a leather ball around, and we had paid the best part of £ 1000 for the privilige! I could have been back in the office looking at Moodle or feediing the e-mail or driving down the M6. Tough choice. We then had a go at bowling on the concrete ramp they had for a practise net. Hmmn. The net was mainly surrounded by concrete walls and we managed to lose a few balls over these - mainly in peoples gardens. Was this like being Nine again?
It started to rain somewhat which brought out our true English characteristics to the fore - we carried on. Well why not - it was like having a shower anyway. Eventually though, it rained heavier and heavier so we called it a halt and returned to the pavilion, and the the hotel.
Lunch was a strange affair in that it took the hotel staff some 45 minutes to come up with Cowdrey's (Ian) jerk chicken sandwich, much hilarity ensued about this. After this ordeal, some of us set off for the Bob Marley Museum. Another reckless drive by the taxi man took us to Hope Street where in the pouring rain, we were dropped off.
I remember Bob Marley very well for his fame was at its height when I was at Polytechnic. Since then, I have collected some of is albums and it was more of a memory jolt to go back to 1979 and relive the days when reggae mixed with punk and ska in a new dawn for music in the UK. Great days. After seeing where someone had tried to shoot Bob and his missus, we then saw a documentary in rather damp theatre before moving on to the shop, where T-shirts for the neice and nephew were purchased. There were "other" items of a combustible nature available if you wanted it, but not for me.
We then called the taxi man and waited in the bar for 45 minutes for him to turn up, so Red Stripe was in order again whilst it still poured with rain. It was more like a scene out of Blade Runner than anything. You just needed the airship over the top. The Taxi turned up and we crawled back to the hotel, average speed 10 mph. Ahead was the evening meal and the infamous Spicy Potatoes.
And so to the evening and a return to the Arabic-Italiano restaurant of the previous visit. Nineteen of us turned up and I'll never forget the look of hooro on the waitresses face as we announced "Table for n-n-n-nineteen please". The chef mustn't have believed the waitress and he popped his headout of the kitchen with that dis-believing look about him. What was going through his mind I can only guess. Starters were duly ordered but that caused some confusion as it required two waitresses to handle the order and they had quite a discussion about where the boundary was going to be. Haydn seemed to be somewhere near the "green-line" of salt and pepper pots. Evetually, the waitresses set off and returned with vast quantities of beer.
Starters were served and consumed although Haydn appears to have been short of his starter - the infamous "Spicy-potatoes". Having taken the mick out of Ian a.k.a. Cowdrey, earlier in the day over his jerk chicken, it was quite amusing to see Haydn crossing his arms and looking for the elusive waitress. "What did you order?". "Spicy-potatoes". The waitress reappeared with some main courses after which Haydn was getting quite frustrated but in a flash, the other waitress appeared with the aforementioned "Spicy-potatoes", followed by the chef himself with Haydn's main course and a cross expression on his face. "I wonder what took so long?" Haydn said. "Too complicated for him mate, trying to get those perfect cubes right - didn't you see the expression on his face?" At this point, half the table collapsed in laughter for as you know, Spicy Potatoes aren't that complicated are they? Haydn now just chucked his starter on his main and ate the lot together, much to Ian's amusement.
Much hilarity reigned for the rest of the evening with Fozzie unstoppable and Haydn doing the upset chef routine. Unfortunately, this banter was to carry on for the rest of the tour. Oh dear! As usual, much Red Stripe was consumed before bedtime, good preparation for the official duties tomorrow.
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