We arrived in Dunedin after a four-hour coach journey from Queenstown, a mention here for our kind driver, who dropped us off almost outside the splendid motel I had booked.
Day one of the Test coincided with a very important European cup-tie, so 8am found me in the Terrace Sports Bar with Red Nigel, having bacon, eggs and beer for breakfast.
After the football was ruined by a Cuneyt of a referee, we exchanged pleasantries and friendly banter with a number of lovable and cuddly Leeds fans – Dave Jones has got it all wrong, they are not all ‘Vile Animals’ at all – sat at the next table, and carried on drinking for a while – till about 9pm, to be precise.
The cricket was completely washed out for the day, although Nigel and myself got wet strictly on the inside only.
At only $5 for a pint of beer, this is probably the best value $100 I have ever spent.
Lofty rescued me by taking me home before my liver dissolved, although he could not stop me falling headlong off the bus when it arrived at our stop and the doors opened – bruised elbows again!
Nigel managed to carry on drinking a little longer than myself. On reaching his capacity he tried to hail a ride home, but neither he or Helen knew the location of the taxi rank.
He wandered up to a local. “Schuse me, mate, do you know where we can get a takschi?” he slurred.
The ‘local’ couldn’t help with the taxi rank location. Because he was England’s new all-rounder Steve Finn!
There is a more embarrassing story from Day one than ours, although you may find that hard to believe.
New Addis Army recruits Greg and Jackie were unsure what to do with their day off the cricket, so they nipped back to the accommodation Jackie is sharing with her pensioner father, Brian, for a couple of hours of bedroom olympics.
“It will be okay” said Jackie to Greg. “Dad will find some old mates from Warwickshire and stay at the cricket, even though its raining.”
Dad didn’t find his mates from Warwickshire, and arrived back home unexpectedly during the pole vault event.
Cue embarrassment all round, but at least Brian had a sense of humour about his discovery:
“Well, I’m glad somebody scored today!!”
Day two of the Test started with a horrible hangover and a series of offensive text messages from Herbie about a Tottenham Hotspur flag he had seen on tv being displayed at the ground.
I have given the large, muscle-bound Maori who owns this flag Herbie’s contact details, so that they can meet up when he arrives in Auckland.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse and it is absolutely bloody freezing at the ground – more like autumn in Edinburgh than summer in Dunedin.
The Barmy Army cheerleader, formerly known by the initials ‘JS’, has arrived in town.
He has been given a large badge to wear bearing the name of ‘Vic’, although it will be interesting to see how many of the supporters use this new moniker.
The Irish boys from the Pog Mahone in Queenstown were present once again, this time dressed as ‘Teletubbies’, although I doubt the real Tinkie Winkie and his mates have ever consumed as much beer in one day as these lads got through.
Nigel was located on the beer again-this time in the Corporate Hospitality section, slurping down white wine, eating prawn sandwiches, and hobnobbing with Giles Clarke. He lost a lot of street-cred that day!
My personal highlight from Day two: when Neil Wagner came on to bowl, Billy the Trumpeter launched into ‘Flight of the Valkyries’, or for those unfamiliar with classical music, the helicopter music from ‘Apocalypse Now’. Brilliantly played by Billy. Hilarious.
The England performance over Days two and three has been lacklustre, to say the least. A very poor batting display, followed by mediocre bowling and quite a few dropped catches meant that as Day four dawned, we were looking down the barrel of a series opener defeat once again in New Zealand.
Day three was like watching cricket at the South Pole. It was absolutely brass monkey weather.
The stand we were sat in has been renamed the ‘Exposure Enclosure’ and frankly, I just don’t know how a number of the pensioners sat around us survived the afternoon, dressed as they were in shirt and shorts.
Mercifully the weather closed in just enough to call play off for the day shortly after tea.
Next to our stand an enterprising bunch of Kiwis were serving “The $2 Sausage”, which proved to be a great favourite amongst the English crowd in our section of the ‘Exposure Enclosure’.
A single sausage, wrapped in a slice of thick sliced white loaf, with fried onions and loads of ketchup. These Kiwis were not planning to attend the match on Day five, but turned up due to public demand and probably also because of all the money they were making from this simple but delicious product. If they had also sold hot coffee, they would have cleaned up altogether.
A pleasant, more conventional meal with Lofty followed in the evening, with huge portions of warm soup and curry at a Thai eatery near our motel.
However I have discovered that Thai food seems to activate the echo chambers that are Lofty’s nasal passages and my sleep that night was non-existent due to his constant snoring.
It is hard to criticise Lofty for this when I know that I snore badly myself, but the noise had to be heard to be believed.
The only way I can attempt to describe it, is like a Gruffalo experimenting with a megaphone for six hours.
On Day four we witnessed flawless if slow centuries from Compton and Cook which gave England a fighting chance of saving the game.
In the evening, I was due to go for a beer with Steve Higgy, newly arrived from blighty and recently seen racing around the grass bank with the Barmy Army in his ‘Robin the Boy Wonder’ outfit along with the Caped Crusader.
This engagement was cancelled due to Higgy’s knee swelling up uncontrollably, meaning he couldn’t walk.
After a brief examination at Gotham City Hospital, a case of gout was diagnosed! Holy $hit, Batman, that wasn’t in the script!
Before I go further, a warning to any potential property investors regarding Dunedin.
My morning walk to the ground on Sunday, Day five ( Lofty was doing his washing – himself!!) was along Dundas Street, which consists mainly of student let properties.
The students at Otago University are a strange looking lot.
They dress typically as follows: barefoot, thin scruffy shorts whatever the weather, unkempt facial hair, baseball caps on the wrong way round, and usually carrying a skateboard and a large pack of beer.
In other words, like a scene from “The Archies.”
On that Sunday morning, the gardens and frontages of their houses resembled a war zone.
Bottles and cans piled up in random disorder, broken glass all over the road and pavement, litter everywhere, especially fast food wrappers, and all manner of battered furniture still sat outside in the garden because the lazy bastards are too idle and untidy to clean up after their Saturday night parties.
In summary – this lot make “The Young Ones” look like model tenants. The Dean of that University should be thoroughly ashamed that his students are living in conditions that vermin would think twice about.
Back to the cricket and the draw was duly achieved on Day five – thanks largely to a marathon innings by night-watchman Steven Finn, who scored a fifty and who I have already reclassified as an all rounder.
I think after our poor performances in the early phase of this Test, we can say we have got away with this one!
Our last act in Dunedin was a wonderful meal in Reef restaurant, where it took me nearly two hours to eat a bowl of chilli crab, much to Lofty’s amusement!
During our meal, an excited text message was received from the Blade family indicating that they had now landed in New Zealand.
Tension now mounts, as Mr Blade awaits his first away Test victory after ten years of striving – will Wellington be the one?
We will all find out in about a weeks time!
Regards, Midnight xxx