A London post office enticed me inside with a huge sign outside proclaiming “No Commission on Forex transactions” but when I produced my traveler’s cheques the lady told me it was 5%. When I asked whether that was fair, she replied – with a smile: “Probably not. Ask me if I care.”
I’m staying with an old friend in a one-bed flat in Earl’s Court but the sofa is more comfortable than most hotel beds. Opposite the appartment is the enormous Brompton cemetery which takes nine minutes to run around making it approximately 1.8 kilometres. There are dog-poo bins every three hundred metres and warning signs telling you that, if Fido does his stuff, you have to pick it up and pop it into the bin.
I was really hungry at The Oval last week and my only option in the press box was tea and biscuits. The queues were too long at most of the foodstalls outside – I had a radio report imminent – but I spotted an Indian food outlet with quick service and ordered a ready-made chicken samosa. It cost £4. That’s over R50. It was quite good.
The games at Lord’s are all sold out. I accidentally bumped into one of hundreds of ticket touts outside the ‘home of cricket’ before one match – he was swimming against the tide of thousands of fans hissing ‘any tickets for sale?’ – and he turned around and kicked me with a warning to ‘take care.’
The washing machine in my mate’s flat broke down and I called the manufacturer who said it would be a £90 call-out charge to have a look. I asked a Polish man next door for suggestions and he sent his wife’s uncle around who mended a wire for £20.
Desperate for an interview on deadline, I sms’d Albie Morkel and he replied within five minutes and had a chat. He’s loving it, and rightly so. What a man.
A woman stopped me on my third lap of the cemetery to tell me how unfair it was that her husband had been taken away from her in the prime of his life. She was Bosnian, I think – or Serbian. Her husband wasn’t burried there – she didn’t know where he was buried – but she had chosen a grave amongst the thousands at which to remember him twice a week.
On the way to Lord’s for the double-header between Pakistan-Sri Lanka and India-West Indies, there were stewards on the streets with loud-speakers attached to their torsos announcing that “all tickets are sold, if you do not have a ticket then leave the area.” No wonder the touts and scalpers were edgy.
Half an hour before the Pakistan-Sri Lanka game had even ended, the stands looked half empty. The Indian fans were thronging impossibly around the Nursery End practise ground for a glimpse of their heroes. The heroes, of course, professionally didn’t notice.
Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis don’t scurry away after the post-match press conference and actively seek a ‘quiet corner’ to do my radio interview. They chuckle.
Such is life.
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