Wednesday, December 20, 2006

grilled fish, chicken salad and loads of imodium

PERTH has sold out of Imodium - and I'm not the only one who has been buying it by the job lot. The reason this blog hasn't been updated for days is that I have been feeling what the Aussies term "Crook". I'm not sure whether it is gastro-entiritis, flu, some awful disease spread by those dammed mossies or even the bed bugs the local pharmacist suggested might have been taking chunks out of my skin.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I'm glad to be out of Western Australia and into the more civilised environs of Melbourne.
The last few days of the Waca test match are a bit of a blur. I headed back to the hotel early on the Saturday evening because of the stifling humidity at the ground, therefore conveniently missing Adam Gilchrist's sensational second-fastest Test century in history. I did manage to watch it from the hotel bar, however, and there was a round of applause from the Aussies grouped around the TV when he brought up his milestone.
We went out for a very nice, extremely cheap Indonesian meal later but whereas the Designer, Watford Pete and Bedford Malc went off to a quaint little club called The Shed to watch Liverpool on the telly, I suddenly felt wiped out and went back for a lie down.
I hardly moved for the next day and a half. I had to watch England's brave attempt to save the Test from my hotel room with an appalling migraine, bad stomach and soaring temperature.
The next day, though I felt little better, I persuaded myself I should support England in their final attempt to save the Ashes. Rather than walk to the ground with the others, I hopped aboard an air-conditioned CAT, the free bus service that operates in Perth, and travelled to the ground in comparative luxury.
The first hour went ok, but just after the drinks break I suddenly felt awful, sweating buckets and coming over dizzy. I struggled down the steps from my seat in the stands and wobbled around the corner, praying I wouldn't collapse.
Thankfully, I had spotted a St John's Ambulance Station nearby. They helped me inside, got me to lie down, administered oxygen and checked my pulse and blood pressure. These volunteer first-aiders are worth their weight in gold and I cannot thank them enough. Within 15 minutes I was feeling much better so they took me to a chill-out room where I sat and watched England's last rites with a large majority of the Perth police department. Obviously they were being underused a. Because hardly any Aussies turned up to celebrate the regaining of the Ashes and, b. Because contrary to the belief of the Aussie press before the tour, the Barmy Army have been impeccably behaved.
At lunch, with one wicket left standing, I felt well enough to head back to the hotel. With a 5am pick up for the flight to Melbourne the following day I just had a very basic meal of grilled fish in the hotel bar, missing out on the Barmy Army's farewell party to Perth.

Billy, the trumpeter, didn't, however. As we were checking out of the hotel he was just returning from a night at The Shed. He was hanging. Hadn't packed yet, but was on the same flight as us. Later he could be spotted snoringly loudly in the departure lounge as we waited for our flight. Poor old Billy. Because he is now such an icon the Army DEMAND he attend every function - and the same goes for Jimmy. They must have brilliant consitutions - better than mine, any how.

Melbourne and suddenly we are living in the lap of luxury. A superb apartment in a brilliant hotel complex with a swimming pool, sauna and gym. We have our own washing machine, cooker, dishwasher, toaster, kettle and spin dryer. I think we're going to really like it here.
Last night we went out for a quiet meal at the Spaghetti Tree, a small Italian restaurant, but I stuck to a warm chicken salad while the other guys went for the Carbonaras, Bolognaises and Raviolis. As one who can't stand salad yet loves to indulge in the other delights of Italian cuisine I felt pretty sick, I can tell you. But I'm not up for taking risks yet. I want to be fit for christmas.

Just down the road from us is the Turf Bar, one of the Barmy Army Headquarters. A very nice bar, all the five-Testers met their last night and we had a few drinks and a laugh watching the joke that is the Asia Cup draw. It was funny in an excrutiating way, a bit like watching the Eurovision song contest.

Standing out on the balcony of the apartment it suddenly hits home to you how hot the Bush fires must be. There is a smoke ceiling covering this big city at the moment and you can smell the fires in the air, even though they are some way away from us.

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