New Zealand Tour 2013
Picture the scene if you would. We are sat outside an Irish bar in Napier. It is 1.30am.
Lofty is spangled, and gets a taxi home to the Mc Lean Park Motel where we are staying.
I fancy another pint and wander inside the bar.
I am assailed by six kiwi guys ( two ex-Huddersfield ) who are sat at exactly the same table as Jesse Ryder and his pals last time we were in this bar some five years ago.
After some initial banter they ask me over for a drink, and another six or seven pints rapidly follow until 3 am, when the bar closes.
Then, their people carrier draws up outside the pub. If there was a 'designated driver,' he must have been designated to limit his beer intake to less than twenty pints.
"Where are you going Midnight? We will give you a lift home," they offer, and like a fool I get in.
After a five minute road slalom we arrive at their motel - The McLean Park Motel - which is of course also our motel, where I discover that the lot of them are staying in the next unit to our own.
Their fridge is rammed with beer, and I am invited in to sample it.
At about 5 am I finally get to bed, and on waking on the day of the game with a massive hangover at 9.30am, find my new friends outside their unit having breakfast - a barbecue, accompanied by more bottles of Steinlager.
They are all members of the New Zealand Cricket Club that spawned Jesse Ryder and Ewan Chatfield, will be going to the Wellington Test match, and have offered to take me to their cricket club for a drinking session with Mr Ryder if it rains during the Test.
Any readers who may know my doctor, please do not spill the beans, and I can only say that with friends like these, it is little wonder that Mr Ryder is allegedly a bugger for the bottle.
Hats off to : Block, Andrew, Silver Dave, Matt, Baz and Tinkle - from NaeNae Old Boys CC, Lower Hutt, Wellington.
A special mention for Block who, when reading the previous tour diaries on his mobile phone later that day at the cricket, noticed my deliberate mistake in referring to Auckland as the capital of New Zealand. Unlike all you Poms. However, Block, you must remember that this is supposed to be a cricket blog, not a f*cking geography lesson.
The Napier game itself was an anticlimax, with an easy win for England, so we travelled back up to Auckland, where dropping off the hire car should have been an easy job - except for the fact that Lofty was navigating.
When we originally took out the car, the girl at the hire car office had given him a map highlighting the way in, and out, of the airport.
After about three hours on the road and then thirty minutes of driving round the airport perimeter and over a motorway bridge spanning an estuary listening to Lofty screaming incorrect instructions at me, I got rather tetchy, and pulled the car up to look at the map myself.
Lofty was reading the map upside down.
As you may probably imagine, unkind words were exchanged.
Eventually we did get back into Auckland and I spent a very happy couple of nights in my favourite local , the Newmarket Mac Brewbar.
Posh Margaret and Bob have now arrived, and despite being bleary-eyed after their flight, they joined us on the Friday night for a few drinks.
We are now staying at Mount Albert, a six-station train ride away from Newmarket, and I feel I should give New Zealand Trains a nice plug here, as they make British Rail look glowingly efficient and in fact simply wonderful by comparison.
The trains run, it seems, when Ivor the Engine feels up for it. Which at his age, isn't very often.
Nothing ever arrives on time.
The station staff are uniformed automatons incapable of rational thought, who are unable to answer any query about the train timetable or services - viz:
" You want the last train to Mount Albert. Aw - well - I don't know that off the top of my head. Look - here's a timetable in my pocket - I 'll give you that to read."
Maybe he should have added "Because I don't understand it" as well.
The ticket machines on the stations are as user friendly as bad-tempered Daleks and are incapable of issuing return tickets. They issue change only if they feel like it.
Best of all - the 'emergency stop' notice on the train itself, which reads:
"EMERGENCY TRAIN STOP. IN AN EMERGENCY, BREAK THE PLASTIC TIE BY JERKING OFF, LIFT PLASTIC COVER AND PUSH BUTTON."
Frankly, I'm not sure I would have much appetite for masturbation in the event of a train crash happening while I was on board!
Back to the cricket. The Auckland game was billed as a Series Decider, but it turned out to be a complete damp squib.
In front of a 17,000 crowd New Zealand were inserted and their innings was like watching a dinosaur give birth - grim, ugly, painful to watch and the whole process took ages.
The only highlight was a banner made by some kiwi fans out of a white sheet, sprayed with black car paint, which simply read:
"BJ OR ROOT."
At least BJ Watling could start calling himself 'Brian', or whatever his name is.
I hope young Joe is taking note, as he cannot change his surname, and I suspect he will be subjected to a much greater degree of animosity of this type by the convicts this winter.
When New Zealand were finally dismissed for just over 180, about 120 runs short of a par score, I gave up the game as a spectacle, left early, and boarded my favourite train service back to Newmarket for a quiet twenty pints or so with Renz, Zac and the lads behind the Macbar, leaving Lofty watching the run-crawl, which mercifully ended after just 36 overs.
My evening was rounded off by a free train ride home at midnight, as the ticket producing Dalek had seemingly itself been exterminated, accompanied by about three thousand feral, pissed-up youngsters returning home to the boondocks after their night on the town in Auckland.
Even better the next morning, when Lofty and myself had to get up at 6 am to catch our early morning flight to Queenstown.
In the departure lounge I met Everton fan Eric, without his fellow Barmy Army pals, and he had not enjoyed the Auckland ODI.
A bunch of drunken kiwi yobs had kidnapped Eric's blow-up Swann, with the intention of popping it, and he had needed to resort to a Cantona kung-fu style attack to reclaim this.
It must be the name.
As I boarded the plane to Queenstown with a massive hangover, reeking no doubt of 'Sassy Red' beer, my mood was lightened by bumping into 'Lord Halifax', who happily told me the following wonderful joke:
Q. How many Liverpool fans does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. Instead, they will all keep telling you how good the old one used to be!
Not bad for a Luton Town fan eh, and in fact by my calculations, with the addition of failed bank clerk 'Lord Halifax' to our ranks now, Luton Town are the joint most popularly supported football team in the Addis Army!
Queenstown has developed into a tourist trap of obscene proportions since we last visited, with prices to match.
I called in the Kodak Express franchise and asked how much it would be to lift photos from my memory stick and transfer to CD.
In Invercargill, this had cost me $10. Here, I was quoted $25 by the shifty, squinty-eyed Lee van Cleef lookalike running the shop.
When I challenged this price he said:
"Different world here mate. I know my prices."
Yes. I bet you do.
And I know what you are, pal.
An exploiting, robbing twat. My photos will stay where they are until we reach Dunedin.
Luckily for us, the Irish lads in the Pog Mahone bar are not of a similar disposition.
The poster of Eoin Morgan behind the bar should have given it away, but yesterday when Lofty, Charlie, Lord Halifax, Robbo, Big John and myself visited for a quiet pint in the afternoon, we found out that this pub has been annexed by the Barmy Army.
However this time, on mentioning that we were sort-of affiliated to this worthy organisation, we were immediately given cash refunds on the beer we had already bought and served cheaper ale thereafter.
How splendid, and what a nice change! Well done, Gilo, I understand this is your work.
Thanks also to our new friends in the Pog Mahone - Darren (Foggy) the barman, and Des, the walking Irish wikipedia of cricket, who knows more about Lancashire CCC than myself, despite hailing from Cork rather than Clitheroe.
His girl-friend, Lauren, is not quite so acutely tuned to cricket it seems, judging by the following text message she sent him:
"Stupid question, but is the cricket in or outdoors tomorrow?"
Today I have been swimming at the Frankton Leisure Complex - 32 lengths, or half a mile to non-swimmers, in an attempt to restore some health and vigour to my toxic, sun-burned and beer ravaged body. Monty Panesar was also in there, practising his catching in the shallow end with a large beach ball.
On leaving the pool complex feeling very proud of my athletic efforts, a car screeched to a halt on the other side of the road.
It was Posh Margaret and Bob.
"Hey Midnight! Hello! I saw your stomach crossing the road!" shouted the ever-diplomatic Margaret.
To save money, we have purchased a 7 day bus pass for $40, which entitles the bearer to free travel within the Queenstown vicinity.
Great value for most people, but not, alas, for Lofty.
On the second night he lost his bus pass whilst fumbling around at the bar of the Pog Mahone in an intoxicated state.
No doubt this has been picked up by some foreign backpacker who cannot believe his luck and now believes once again in Santa Claus.
Needless to say, the following day Lofty rushed straight down to the bus company office to blow another $40! Money no object.
He said it was worthwhile, as now he gets an extra two days out of the ticket - one of which, we will be spending travelling for eight hours on a coach down to Dunedin.....
The warm up game has now started and Decco has hit town , accompanied by his two travelling companions Little Bugger, and Little Weed.
As you may imagine, Decco's arrival has livened up proceedings somewhat and I am pleased to announce that yesterday at the cricket I proudly signed Decco and Little Bugger up as full members of the Addis Army, along with Coups, Cathy, Red Nigel, Helen, Foggy and Des.
Nigel and Helen were fortunate enough to see the Stone Roses live in Auckland this week, and gushed to me on the grass bank at the cricket about how good they were.
After my feral experiences at Heaton Park watching the same gig last year, I have to say that unlike Joan Collins, for me "Once is definitely enough!"
Queenstown has shot to number one in most peoples lists of the best ground to watch cricket.
Lovely steep grass banks, large jet airplanes taking off behind the sightscreen every couple of hours for gawdssake , free food at lunchtime courtesy of the excellent people at the Pog Mahone, and Speights beer on sale at only $5 a pop.
And that view. My god, it makes Cape Town look like Old Trafford. Remarkables!
It doesnt get much better then this folks. I am going to chill out for the remainder of the game and will send a further report after we hit Dunedin.
Love, Midnight xxx