Australia Tour 2013/14
Thundergoose are go
The dawn chorus at the Nowra Motor Inn is loud enough to wake the dead - Wonga pigeons squawking to each other about the usurious APR, no doubt - and I check the football results early Thursday morning.
My own team lost again yesterday - as is becoming usual.
Herbie's team were playing last night and - what's this - another 5-0 defeat?
That's three in the space of a week, I must put the Guinness Book of Records on alert!
Fallout from the Ashes thrashing continues with allegations of a rift between KP and Andy Flower, and there are reports of an ultimatum from the latter along the lines that he will resign his position as coach if Pietersen stays in the team.
KP, can you bat at three for the next five years please?
The BBC Sport website is full of other tittle-tattle, 'Where do England go from here' type pieces abound which frankly, contain a load of codswallop.
Four pundits pick their 'New England' team for 2014 featuring some amazing revelations, with comments like this one from Simon Hughes, the Analyst:
"Gary Ballance has shown enough aptitude to be worth preserving with."
Eh? He's a cricketer, not a bottle of vinegar!!
The pundits teams are almost exactly the same as the one that lost so disgracefully in Australia and offer scant promise of change.
In a complete and utter irony, Phil Tufnell has also written a separate article entitled 'Pietersen - not a great player'.
No matter what anyone may think of KP's performance on this tour, that headline just invites comment.
Errrm....exactly how many Test Matches did you win, single handed, for England, Phil?
There must be a strong case for Wycombe to be put in charge of these journalists and vetting their copy before it sees the light of day.
In a stranger turn of events, reports are coming in of Stuart Broad and Matt Prior rescuing a would be suicide jumper from a bridge in Darling Harbour after the Barmy Army end of tour party. The poor guy was from Cheltenham. I had a feeling when I saw the story for the first time that an England supporter would somehow be involved - more on this if and when we get it.
Back on the road for us, however, and a full day drive to New South Wales' Sapphire Coast, where we had booked two nights accommodation in a pub called The Merimbula Lakeview Hotel.
The journey down to Merimbula was in two parts.
In the morning, I drove at a leisurely and relaxed pace accompanied by soothing pastel shades from Paul Simon on the CD player.
In the afternoon, 'Murray Walker' took over behind the wheel, and with Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs booming out of the stereo, our petrol consumption rose empirically with each tight racing line and slam on of brakes. Lofty reminds me of an older and more crotchetty Dick Dastardly behind the wheel. Caravans are his sworn enemy, and any attempt by another vehicle to overtake us is regarded as a personal slight.
Despite Lofty's Senna-like tendencies, we arrived in Merimbula intact, and what a truly gorgeous part of the world this is. Merimbula, despite sounding like a black 1970's wrestler, is justly famed for its oysters.
The hotel we are staying at has a wonderful lake view from its bar, and a happy-hour at 5.30 on Thursdays and Fridays , by co-incidence just the two days we are staying, which will no doubt make the view seem even better.
My room even has a resident lizard.
During the happy-hour, a fish draw took place in the bar - similar to those on Lofty's home turf at the Drunken Duck pub in St. Peter Port, Guernsey.
Unlike in the Drunken Duck, we won, and a huge plate of prawns and oysters became our starter for ten.
A decent restaurant meal followed, and Lofty turned in early after I suggested a bottle of Malbec to augment our post-meal liqueurs.
Lofty asked me what Malbec was, so I bull******d my way around the question.
I remember slurping it at a Mr & Mrs Doubter of Dobcross wine tasting soiree a couple of years ago, but I must have been too pissed to remember any details.
One thing I can add to the encyclopedia of wine is that the Malbec got me through several games of pool doubles with the friendly Aussies, and I performed a lot better than the England Cricket team, finishing the night unbeaten in the company of a local chap called Andrew.
We beat a bunch of young fishing / surfing dudes on holiday from Melbourne, which, under the current circumstances, made me feel rather good.
Only one kind of breaks those Melbourne lads excelled at!
I ordered another bottle of Bleasdale Malbec to take back to my room after the pub closed, and for the tasting notebooks of Herbie and Spud, I would like to advise you that it went as far as the fridge for some ice cubes, then into a very large glass, and finally miraculously disappeared.
In the morning, I discovered that the hotel had fitted an old Nazi experimental shower, which emitted jets of freezing and boiling water alternately at twenty second intervals.
With frozen gonads and a frazzled back I set off with Lofty in the car to a place called Eden.
At the very tip of New South Wales, Eden was heavily promoted as an early capital of Australia by Ben Boyd, a wealthy entrepreneur of the time - from the descriptions provided he sounds like a latter-day Nigel Farage.
All Boyd's dreams turned to dust, and Eden is now a beautiful if quiet backwater.
It is also home to Old Tom, the killer whale.
Unfortunately for poor Old Tom, he is now nothing more than a boiled and whitened skeleton, having been terminally harpooned 150 years ago, and any thoughts he had of being the star attraction at Sydney Sea World, he must have kept to himself.
Moving on from Eden we went inland to some wonderful rural Australian towns - the standout for me being a one-horse town called Wyndham.
On the main road, surrounded by vegetation, stood the Robbie Burns Hotel, which had a corrugated iron roof and an old, rusting metal red frame as seen in outback movies.
On leaving the car to take a photo of the pub I was accosted outside by the owner who, despite it being only 2pm, already seemed a little worse for wear.
"Do you wanna buy the place?" he asked, followed by:
"You must come inside and meet my mother - she comes from Rochdale!"
Despite having been in Australia since 1969, the lady still had a northern accent.
Just as well she isn't applying to join the Barmy Army!
On our return to Merimbula we watched an exciting KFC™ (I'll be saying 'Barclays Premier League' all the time next, like big Sam Allardyce!) Big Bash game between the Sydney pinkies and the Perth oranges.
The match was tied, so a Super Over™ had to be played. Steve Smith, one of our Ashes banes, faced the first ball and played a horrible ramp shot to a top of stump full toss, and was clean bowled. The second wicket fell with the fourth ball.
The pinkies could not even bat out their Super Over™, and scored the majestic sum of 1.
Not very Super.
Ha ha ha - needless to say Perth won!
We watched the game in the company of two of the Melbourne dudes that I had beaten up at pool the previous night - Andrew and Luke, an electrician and plumber respectively. The boys were not looking forward to returning to work in Melbourne next week after their Xmas break, but I think the ordeal that happened next to us all made them less regretful about leaving Merimbula.
At about ten pm the street-front bar we were drinking in closed, and we were ushered upstairs, to a larger music hall type bar, where a local group, Thundergoose, were strutting their stuff, direct from their appearance on 'Aussie's got no talent'.
Spinal Tap isn't even close, this truly was music for the wholly deaf.
The singer looked like one of the Hairy Bikers, and was constantly out of tune.
The drummer was the worst I have ever heard - one paced and pedestrian throughout, with the occasional sudden clatter, he must have learnt his drumming from the England batting coach.
The guitarist, who appeared to be the Hairy Bikers son, knew less chords than Status Quo.
As my dear departed dad used to say about my progressive rock music in the Seventies, this was a 'dreadful dirge'.
Thundergoose drove Lofty to bed, although I do not know how he managed to sleep, as the hotel rooms were vibrating and shaking like the Wellington Museum Earthquake Experience Ride.
Andrew, Luke and myself eventually went outside into the beer garden to drink, but this group would just not go away. Unrequested encore followed unrequested encore, and they finally called it a day at about 1am, to the relief of everyone.
The only song I recognised during the Thundergoose set was by the Arctic Surrender Monkeys - boys, may I suggest more cover versions in your next show - perhaps 'Crime of the Century' by Supertramp and 'Louder than Bombs' by The Smiths are two albums you could learn.
Off to the Snowy Mountains today - hopefully for a bit of peace and quiet.