Previously on the Furious World Tour: the titular idiot Furious, with his brain made of diesel fumes and moon beams, left England in June 2011 with Wifey, his long suffering and considerably better half. A trail of bewilderment, empty beer bottles, train tickets and abandoned hire cars was left across North America before 3 weeks were spent in Costa Rica seeking the mythical scarlet macaw which turned out to be something of a wild goose chase. Strangely wild geese were spotted as were live TV pictures of Joey Barton aggravating Arsenal. There was less luck in finding exotic parrots and live Newcastle United matches in South America where the red wine is cheap and the steaks are fat and bloody. Better fortune in Australia amidst marvellous company and expensive beer. After landing in earthquake ruined Christchurch, a tiny hire car beat the long and winding State Highway 1 through New Zealand to Auckland. The joy of having their own fridge in a kitchen free of thieving French backpackers meant there was little travelling for 10 weeks. Now the tour begins again…
See that picture of Auckland? We have been living over the road from that Sky Tower thing, which means we have become accustomed to living in the centre of a city for the amenities if not for the noise. I long to fling empty beer bottles at vehicles with noisy engines but don’t trust my aim and don’t think that is any way for a guest to behave in a country even in a state of extreme provocation.
To stay in New Zealand long term you need to bring skills currently in demand and my skills on offer are: “complaining and offering unwelcome and unrequested criticism” which I don’t think is on the list; “You people are too fond of rugby, drowning and earthquakes and your Prime Minister (who would attend the opening of a privy door if he thought there was a TV camera on the other side) is selling your country out from under your feet,” I could say and they could say, “if you don’t like it, piss off.” But I do like it, the drinks are splendid and the tattoos magnificent. Unfortunately “tattooed drunk” isn’t on the list either.
The staff opposite our apartment at TVNZ took a month off for Christmas which meant there has been no morning news since Christmas Eve and now they are back they are having a party on the roof. I will need some sort of catapult to hit them with a beer bottle from my balcony but my admiration for the Kiwi work/life balance forbids this despite the fact that the music is as awful as the programmes on the schedule.
Otherwise Auckland has been a cracking city and we will miss it. The Newcastle fans we have met here have been universally excellent and sociable but they all live some distance out of town so catching matches together means meeting at seriously unsociable hours. For example a Sunday afternoon kick off in the UK will be in the wee small hours of a Monday morning here.
We don’t have Sky so rely on the 24 hour bars and coffee shops to see games. If a game is on live that generally means getting up in the middle of the night, if is not we are at the whims of the TV schedule as to when we see the delayed showing. Our mate James was over from Australia (trying to murder us with alcohol again) and we had to wait until midnight Monday to see the drab 1-0 win over QPR. The horrible battering at Fulham was shown at 10.30 Sunday morning. We successfully avoided the score for both games but there is something slightly silly about performing any kind of pre-match ritual for a game that has already finished.
None of the channels here show the FA Cup so in a strange reflection of our feelings (now we have been dumped out) the FA Cup doesn’t exist this season and we will be on our way to Australia when the Blackburn league game is on so we have two weeks off Newcastle United. I’ve got to say this is a blessed relief because while I feel like a warrior walking into a football stadium to see Newcastle play I am a gibbering twitching coward if I have to watch the same game in front of a television set (I’m even worse when it comes to the radio but we haven’t got one). Perhaps this is because I feel I can do something if I am at a game, even if that something is shouting abuse or encouragement at people who can’t hear me. Watching the Fulham game, a game that had been completed hours before I started watching it, I was fidgeting with terror and awaiting disaster despite the fact that we should have been 3-0 up by half time.
This was not because I had a foreboding or because I knew the score, I didn’t, this is simply because this is how I go on now. As you are all too aware that disaster was forthcoming but I’m waiting for that to happen in every game I watch on television. I think my nerve might be shot, that I’m suffering some sort of Newcastle United related shell-shock. Is it just Newcastle fans who expect their team to implode like we did at Norwich and at Craven Cottage? Are we so accustomed to the first bump in the road being sufficient to send all the wheels flying off and for the engine to explode (like in the home game against Chelsea) that we can’t enjoy a game until it is finished? Or is that just me? 3-0 up against Manchester United and 20 seconds left on the clock and I was still expecting something awful to occur.
It would be better for me to ignore that there is a game on at all and while we remain in New Zealand I can’t. I lay wide awake at 2am when we played Swansea willing myself to sleep then was relieved I hadn’t wandered down to the pub in my ‘jamas when it turned out to be 0-0. Looking back over our travels my favourite game this season was the win at Stoke and I didn’t see a second of it. In my imagination brilliant black clad heroes meticulously destroyed lumbering red and white monsters while the evil Pulis twitched and raged impotently from the sidelines.
We are off to Sydney again then we have a date with some Newcastle fans in Melbourne then after that we pitch into South East Asia; Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam where I intend to bask in blissful ignorance despite the excitement of having a new number 9 in the squad. For example when we play sunderland we will be on an overnight train to Danang and as Wifey so succinctly put it “we’ve f***in’ had that then.”
So I am getting my excuses in early, if you don’t hear from me for a while, don’t take it personally, it’s just that I am ignoring you all.
On the other hand I will be answering emails (specifically from Mags in Melbourne) at firstname.lastname@example.org