Day One - Brisbane
I imagine the last thing you want to watch when your plane has just taken off is the film World Trade Centre. But that is exactly what happened to my new roomie, the Kitchen designer, en route to Brisbane from Bangkok, where he visited his brother for a day on his way here.
The sight of airplanes crashing into tall buildings is not likely to fill you with any confidence about flying - more likely it is going to turn you into a gibbering wreck, Denis Bergkamp style.
Anyway, The Kitchen Designer survived the experience, which is about all you can say about the both of us and our first day day at the Brisbane Test match.
Having negotiated Brisbane airport, where customs insist you declare nearly everything you possess (and God forbid you have a live chicken in your bag) I was finally collected by the Barmy Army bus driver along with two guys from Sunderland I could barely understand and another bloke who wasn't even a member of our tour party. Apparently he knew one of the tour reps and had blagged his way onto the bus.
By this time it was 8.15 and the Test started at 10. We then set off seemingly for our hotel, the Watermark, only to find that 10 minutes later we were pulling into another airport car park having done a complete circuit of the area. We were picking up the Kitchen Designer from a connecting flight from Sydney.
The gatecrasher on our bus was getting very irate - and rightly so - at the prospect of us missing the start of the First Test match and finally disappeared with his suitcase. Meanwhile, I decided to make sure things went a bit quicker by changing into shorts and T shirt in the back of the mini-bus.
After a 13 and a half hour flight from Dubai I was feeling pretty shattered, particularly after getting up at 5 in the morning and now finding I am in another country, on another side of the world, at 8.30 the following day.
Finally the Kitchen Designer turned up. Nice bloke, we immediately hit it off.
But there was little time for small talk. It was straight off to the hotel where we were met by a Barmy Army rep who asked us what we wanted to do. Without hesitation we decided to forego check in, put our luggage in storage and head straight for the Gabba Ground. This involved me taking everything I needed - cigarettes, money, tickets - in a duty free carrier bag to the ground.
We were all in different areas, so split up and then suffered the humiliation of watching England take a good thumping on the first day. I sat in my seat for about an hour until the shade went and the sun came down full pelt, then headed for the safety of the bar, where I stayed for the rest of the day in the company of a number of England supporters who were trying to make light of our team's frustrating position by winding up the Aussies with songs like "We get three dollars to the pound" to the tune of He's got the Whole world in his hands. Followed up by "We're so rich it's unbelievable".
Another favourite has been "God Save YOUR Gracious Queen". The Aussie comeback has tended to be along the lines of "F*** off you Pommie bastards". Highly amusing.
Anyway, things were going so badly I headed back to the hotel with about half an hour's play still remaining - and got completely lost as I tried in vain to find a taxi. I ended up with blistered feet, a bad headache and double vision from the fact I had been up for what felt like three weeks. When I got back to the hotel I lay on the bed and watched some cricket highlights just to confirm my misery.
By 7.30 the Kitchen Designer, equally shattered, was asleep. By 8 I had followed suit. What party animals we both are.