Random Play by Graham Reid

The French Connection

Slavishly following sport isn’t my thing. I like some sport -- rugby, a bit of soccer, that hotdog eating competition they had on Sky Sport the other night -- but to be honest I couldn’t name six current All Blacks. (I’m told Graham Henry can name about 57 of ‘em).

What I do like is the game itself for its own sake and I‘m not into who the players are so much. So like many good folks I will probably watch the rugby this weekend (I only realised it was happening two nights ago) and I’ll sure watch the soccer final.

Being trapped in rainy Raro meant I watched a few games there and so when I came back I naturally tuned in -- such is the life of those who work from home and have no work on -- for the last couple of nail-biters. Soccer is my second favourite sport after hotdog eating.

I don’t remember the last World Cup final, but when the commentator after the game the other dawn said that France had won in 98 I remembered with absolute clarity where I was when that one took place. I was at Dave and Ek’s beach bungalows on a beautiful and largely deserted Thai island.

Dave was American, Ek his Thai wife, and the rest of us there were German, Swiss, Canadian, English -- and a French couple who seemed to complain about every damn thing: one day it was too hot, the next too humid, the food wasn’t as good as in Provence, blah blah blah.

They were real pains and behind their backs the rest of us would laugh at them and swap stories about their new list of whinges and moans.

Then came the football.

It was a gorgeous night and I clearly remember standing on the beach at half time watching flash lightning across the ocean and listening to the long rolls of thunder.

We all sat around and drank beer, smoked joints and watched the game unfold half a world away. It was a wonderful experience, all these people from different places enjoying a common event.

After it was over I wandered back onto the deck overlooking the ocean and sipped another beer.

A Pommie guy joined me and we stood there in silence looking at the rain sweeping across a distant island in the moonlight. Magic.

After at least three minutes of silent reverie the Pommie guy leaned over to me and said, “Pity about the result, eh?”

I said I hadn’t really had a favourite side but I just enjoyed the game for its own sake.

“I don’t mean that,” he said in a slow and measured manner. “I mean, now those fuckin’ Frogs will be completely insufferable.”

The odd thing was, neither of us laughed but actually contemplated the weight of his words. I think we both went to bed dreading breakfast with the French who were, for the first time in a week, cheerful and laughing.

And speaking of dread.

I leave it over to others to comment on this stunning announcement on TV3 news by Mike McRoberts last night: “Trade experts are warning that New Zealand risks being shut out of the biggest economic event of the last 100 years, all because Kiwi companies don’t feel comfortable about China.
“In this final part of her series from Shanghai Ingrid Hipkiss explains why it’s time to be friends with The Dragon”

Over to you people. I’d love to know more about the biggest economic event since 1906, the many subtexts of the language used there -- and maybe whether we might never have known about this if Ingrid Hipkiss hadn’t been on a junket to Shanghai. But thank God she went, huh? The balloon is up.

Couple of other random plays:
Music From Elsewhere on my website is proving extremely popular so my thanks to those who have sent congratulatory e-mails (even those musicians asking for their albums to be included) and especially those who have subscribed. Some more good stuff coming up on Monday too.

If you haven’t checked it out it is here

And lastly another shameless plug: On Wednesday night I am going to speaking at the Auckland City Library on the second floor from about 6.30pm. Burly bouncers will be holding the crowd back until, at 6pm, the heaving throng will be let in for drinks and nibbles before my star turn.

The topic will be travel and travel writing, and I shall be reading some unpublished (unpublishable?) pieces, something from my “award winning” travel book Postcards From Elsewhere (someone from Whitcoulls will be there with copies which you can purchase and I will cheerfully sign), and spinning a few amusing anecdotes.

It should be fun, so if you have nothing more pressing that evening then pop along and say ‘Hi”. You can do dinner afterwards and, hopefully inspired by what I have said, plan a trip to Elsewhere over your entrees. Look forward to seeing you there.

Have a good weekend, and let’s hope if the French and the Australians win they don’t become too insufferable.