New Zealand Tour 2008

Midnight in New Zealand

Kia Ora to you all.

First off, many thanks to all those who made my 50th birthday party in Prague go with a bang, so to speak. I hope your credit cards have recovered.

After a journey from hell myself, Simon & George have arrived in Auckland safely and are now in Napier awaiting the second ODI.

So far nothing much has happened. So first a quiz. Tick which ONE of the following statements you believe to be true:

1) All New Zealanders were cloned from Stephen Fleming (including the women) and all look the same except for Jesse Ryder who was cloned from that fat hobbit in Lord of the Rings?

2) All Maoris are fat & obliged to wear totally black clothing, shades, and prowl the streets looking hard & moody in their designer sunglasses?

3) All Americans are fat lazy bast**ds who regard moving from their hotel room to the hotel lobby as akin to the Bataan death march and wish they had been fitted with wheels and a mechanical torso like Davros instead of legs?

I’m sorry it’s a trick question - all three are in fact correct. Angus Fraser, who was staying in my hotel in Auckland, had to climb over the couch potato Yanks in the lobby to get to his car.

Now about our car. At the cost of 20 quid a day we’ve hired a lovely Toyota Corolla for a month which performs similarly to a Rumanian tank in terms of speed / power. Simon used the car to go to the Bay of Islands for an overnight stay, but the weather was so bad all he saw was the Bay of Clouds.

George and myself chose the softer option - a boat trip to Waiheke Island. It was shut. I should know by now not to trust these antipodean tourist scams but I fall for it every time - should be more like Ray Winstone in Scum -- ' Boat trips - Ive sh*t em!'.

An hourly bus operated across Waiheke and we got off outside a Guinness bar for some refreshment to find this also closed and instead ended up in the next door cafe eating ' Clucking good' chicken and chips for lunch. And this in the middle of summer - God only knows what it must be like in winter!!

The next day involved purchasing our cricket tickets from Ticketek, the nice lady behind the counter used to be Peter Gabriels nanny (Sledgehammer) and sorted out all our requirements. Test tickets are $60 for 5 days (about 25 quid) and $30-40 for ODI so considerably cheaper than at home and very easy to obtain. As the Kiwis say a Clucking good deal. Whilst in the ticket office we considered the non-cricket attractions available during our stay - live concerts by Suzi Quattro, Toto, Split Enz and a farewell show by the Barron Knights - remember them? Who says NZ is behind the times?

And so to the cricket.

Eden Park ODI was without doubt the most enjoyable game I’ve watched for ages. We were sat in the upper tier behind six Yorks / Notts students in full drag plus the girlfriend of one of them ' You make a lousy woman!!' who all insisted on singing and dancing at every opportunity and making the cricket enjoyable. Music is played at the ground during every interval and their drunken performance of YMCA had to be seen to be believed.

The Sri Lanka cricket board should consider signing them up on a permanent contract.

KP's mum and dad were sat behind us (according to Simon) which I didn’t realise. When the Yorkshire boys got an acknowledgement off 'The Colonel' i.e. Mustard to some of their shouts I piped up that it was 'just as well it wasn’t KP or he would have fu**ing totally ignored you' which I don't suppose went down well with mummy.

The game itself was exciting. Jesse Ryder batted well as did Oram and Vettori and in the end NZ scored more than they should , having been 95-6.

At the interval our balcony was invaded by children from the NZ quick cricket scheme who kept standing in the wrong place and blocking Simon's view, although he'd had that many beers I doubt whether he could see much anyway. His instruction to the kids was a classic ' Hey move -- or the drag queens will toss you off ' (the balcony) must rank as a classic, particularly for someone who hasn't seen Lord Of The Rings.

When we batted Collingwood was exceptional. Hitchcock’s bowling was strictly for The Birds (nicked that from P Allott) and one of the sixes went so high he must have got Vertigo watching it (mine).

The atmosphere / banter throughout was top with plenty of England scattered throughout the crowd and we got rather drunk, followed by after the game a free bus shuttle ride into Auckland.

It was the first day at work for the hapless Chinese bus driver who proceeded to get lost and performed several circuits of Eden Park before finding his way onto the exit road and this resulted in choruses of ' Round and Round ' and ' Road to Nowhere' from both Kiwi and Brit fans alike. The journey took so long, comparison was made at one point to the Andes plane crash where the survivors ate each other.

Afterwards we retired to a truly awful Belgian beer bar in Mt Eden selling domestos and passing it off as premium lager at premium prices. I suppose the Kiwis don’t know any better, bless 'em.

The following day and it was on the road to nowhere for ourselves but not before Simon had attempted the 192 metre Sky-Jump off the top of the Auckland Sky Tower. After being kitted out in an tight overall that made him look like Super Dyno-rod and an even tighter parachute harness, and being attached to a rubber band, he fell the 192 metres in about 10 seconds , landing on the bullseye mat below like a sack of spuds and exclaiming 'That's the first time I’ve ever landed on me testicles'. How the watching mothers and their children enjoyed it.

Anyone considering a vasectomy should bear this experience in mind - at only $195 it surely represents good value for money.

And so to Paeroa.

We had been driving all day drinking in the lovely scenery and being overtaken by motorbikes when in the afternoon it became apparent that for some reason and very unexpectedly all the B&B's in our locality were full. Eventually we managed to find room at The Racecourse Motel, Paeroa (proprietor N Bates, cousin of NZ bowler) and were informed there was a local Hells Angels convention being held in the area centred upon Paeroa. The roads were to be blocked off by the police in the morning to allow them to race around at illegal speeds.

How delighted we were.

After unpacking we ventured to the local (only) pub, the Criterion Hotel, for some liquid refreshment.

Imagine 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Imagine 'Straw Dogs'. Imagine 'Bobs Country Bunker' in the Blues Brothers, complete with chicken wire round the smoking section.

None of these comes close. It was Saturday Karaoke night and the place was filled with bumpkins & leather clad bikers amongst whom were a fair percentage of the lesbian persuasion (according to Simon). There were also a number of Maoris dressed as cowboys. One of these kept getting up to 'sing' and miming to the words on the screen, which is a first. Everybody in the place was spangled. Including us. Of course Midnight just had to perform a selection of Elvis numbers, during the process attracting the rather unwelcome attentions of the paralytic wife of one of the local bumpkins during 'Suspicious Minds'. But the highlight was two of the denim / leather clad lesbians dancing, snogging, and then falling over onto the pool table locked in an embrace (during a game!!) absolutely wrecked.

Can you imagine Ted Lowe 'Well here we are at the Crucible / Criterion and Davis is going for a tight pink - oh dear....!'

We managed to negotiate our way out of the land that time forgot the following day and arrived in Whakatane with a view to visiting the active offshore volcano the following morning (another Clucking boat trip).

Our overnight digs were very much to George’s satisfaction, a backpacker above an Irish pub the Whakatane Hotel which was ostensibly open till 3am. At just $20 per night this is the cheapest I’ve ever seen. The amenities in my room as they were consisted of a bed, broken window and light switch. Light fittings courtesy of Callan. Simon had a sink in his room, the lucky, lucky bast**d.

George enjoyed his stay so much, he overslept and we nearly missed the boat to Etna . Apparently the alarm on his MOBILE PHONE didn’t go off. Don’t tell anyone on Guernsey he’s now got a MOBILE PHONE!

The name Whakatane has interesting origins. Apparently when the Maori first discovered the place the men were so excited they ran off the rowing boat ashore to explore the land leaving the women adrift and going further adrift in the boat. It was against Maori tradition for the women to paddle the canoe, but one grabbed the paddle and, rowing the boat to safety, exclaimed ' I must turn myself into a man' or in Maori, Whakatane.

How she would have loved Karaoke night at the Criterion Hotel, Paeroa.

The trip to the volcano was actually too Clucking good to take the p*ss out of here. We were obliged to wear hard hats and gas masks during our time on the island. Herbie I challenge you to get a planning permission of any sort here.

We are now in Napier staying at the Masonic Hotel which was first built in 1861 and burnt down in 1896.

Rebuilt in 1897.

It was then destroyed again in the 1931 earthquake, and rebuilt in 1932.

Another disaster is therefore well overdue so, providing I make it through the next couple of days, will report again after Napier game.


Al / Midnight

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