How High is This Hog We Are Riding On?

Waking up on a Monday morning to discover it’s cold and wet outside is something we have grown used to over the years. Bloody Mondays! Bloody English weather! Sick of both of them. Let’s bugger off to somewhere where those things can’t bother us.

So here we are in Sydney, Australia and its Monday morning and it’s cold and it’s wet. I didn’t know they did cold and wet here. It was bad enough to discover that they had Mondays. We have been sold a lie! On Saturday we went to Bondi Beach and it looked like Tynemouth in November (except with less dogs), (and the sea was clean), (and it’s not near Whitley Bay).
I went out with my friend James on Saturday night to see Newcastle v Blackburn and a freezing rain was being blasted along Oxford Street in Paddington and the manager of his local wouldn’t change the channel from the Liverpool game. This being despite the fact that everyone else in the place was, not only not watching the telly at all but (as it was midnight) were all too drunk to notice what was on the bloody telly anyway. Did we travel this far to be walking home in the rain feeling disappointed? Apparently we did.
The worst part was that we were supposed to be looking after James’ mate’s house and dog but had delayed going over there because the nanny hadn’t gone on holiday with the family and could feed the dog. James also assured me that they didn’t like sport so wouldn’t have Fox Sports.
So we turned up for the house sitting gig on Sunday to find Doogie, the terrier, in good health and the nanny departed. This place is ours for a week. Hang on while I count the bathrooms (the pitter-patter of bare feet can be heard disappearing into the distance…. there is a long pause…. then the feet pitter-patter back to the monitor) I counted six then got frightened that I might not be able to find my way back. Yes readers we are staying in a mansion. Sharp contrast to that dusty hostel in Argentina with the shared toilet that was next to our bed, I can tell you.
The first thing we did was to put the massive TV on. Yes they have got Fox Sports after all, yes we could have seen the match here. Hmmm. On the upside there is a drum kit in one of the rooms, a pool, beer in the fridge and the extended highlights of our magnificent victory over Blackburn is going to be repeated. On Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. after Norwich v sunderland has finished. We had considered trying to avoid the score until then, like some Likely Lads episode directed by Ridley Scott, in that it goes on for 18 hours, but James says it is almost impossible to do that here.
He popped into his local to catch the re-run of our game at QPR and the barman said, “why would you want to watch a 0-0” before he could take the first sip from his schooner. (A “schooner” is smaller but strangely almost the same price as a pint.) And I myself thought to watch the rerun of Villa v QPR this morning but found the score out from three separate places before I got the chance.
So following Newcastle live here in Oz involves expensive technology and/or the ability to get through the day without any sleep. Not keeping up to date with all sporting news seems impossible because they like sport down here. A lot. The domestic league struggles for air against the rugby and Ozzie rules but the partisans who like their balls round (as nature intended) have taken great encouragement from the arrival of a couple of star names. Harry Kewell pulled in 3,000 fans for his first training session with Melbourne Victory and Brett Emerton (or “Emmo” as they insist on calling him here) has swapped Blackburn for Sydney FC. Nice of them to arrange for Lancashire style weather to help with his reintroduction….hang on…. the sun has come out. I’m in mansion with a pool in the garden and I’m sitting here, not bloody likely…. this must be why Australian Sports journalism is so bad (a pitter-patter of feet can be heard running… in the distance there is a splash… and possibly a scream).
A day later

Right where were we? I Woke up at half 5 this morning so wandered downstairs to feed Doogie and remembered sunderland were playing Norwich. I enjoyed watching the East Anglian Barcelona in the Championship last year so was extra pleased to see them embarrassing a hilariously desperate and shoddy sunderland. Glum gibbon-faced creatures in red and white and Mr Bruce looking fed up is a good start to any day. I thought Norwich’s 2-1 victory flattered sunderland immensely then, after a hearty breakfast, Fox Sport showed extended highlights of Newcastle 3 v Blackburn 1. Steve Bruce had somehow arrived there from Norwich… no hang on… this was before then (is this still the jet-lag or am I just stupid?) Anyway, I wondered if Bruce expects to get the Blackburn job after both he and Steve Kean get sacked next month? Incidentally is it true that Steve Kean was a double glazing salesman who did a part time football management course and got the Blackburn job despite never having actually seen a match before in his life. He talks like this is the case and my instant urge to want to slam a door in his face must come from somewhere.

So forgive me for being two and a half days behind everybody else’s enthusiasm but didn’t we play well? Balance, pace, organised, patient are not words we expect to see in a description of Newcastle United without the words “utterly” and “lacking” being tossed in there as well – so we have every right to be chuffed. Obviously Blackburn are pish but they always are pish and that doesn’t stop them winning in Newcastle usually. Granted there were less offside goals and folk punching the ball into our net than we have grown accustomed to but we seemed to make them look extra pish on Saturday. (That’s enough with “pish” – I don’t want people to think I’m Scots – but it is a great word)
We are stuck here in this mansion with Doogie until next week which has somewhat bollixed up our plans to visit the Melbourne Mags, which is shame because they sound like fun. I will be apologising to them sincerely but would appreciate it if someone tells them I mean it. We are due in Brisbane a week on Friday and Christchurch in New Zealand the Tuesday after that. We will try again to hit Melbourne in the New Year. Now if you excuse me the cleaners have just turned up.
I know, “cleaners”, this place will be the ruin of us.

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