I THINK I am going to spend the rest of my life dressed as Yoda, the grand master from Star Wars. What a pulling tool! If I could charge for every picture taken with me at the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne I would be a very rich man.
Xmas Day began in all-too British conditions. We strolled down to the Barmy Army barbecue and no sooner had we bought our beer tokens than the heavens opened and everyone got a good soaking. Within minutes the site chosen for this festive event resembled an open-air rock concert in Britain in late September. Rivers of water formed as we all huddled together under small parasoles designed to keep off the sun.There were well over a thousand Brits gathered in little groups throughout the site and the Aussie TV camera crews loved the chance to focus in on our misery.
But it couldn't dampen Barmy spirits for long and soon Billy the trumpeter stood in the middle of the site blasting out The Great Escape, We are the Army and Convict Colony before his now familiar rendition of God Save Your Gracious Queen. Then it was Jimmy's turn. When Jimmy steps up to sing Billy introduces him with a quick blast of Jim'll Fix it. By mid afternoon everyone was in full song.
One drawback of Christmas in Oz was trying to get phone calls back to England. I spent a good three hours having to deal with crossed lines involving about 10 different people all trying to speak to "Andy, Roger, Jean, Peter etc etc". Finally I got through to the Fat Kid just about the time she and the Vin Man were sitting down to have their Christmas lunch.
After that it was an evening drinking beers and the odd Black Sambuca (whose silly idea was that?) in the Turf Bar. It was a pretty rowdy occasion but good fun. The Designer's pal Tim and his girlfriend Josie turned up, while Watford Pete was accompanied by a mate from England, John, who is sleeping on his sofa. Never mind the fact the sofa is half the size of John and Pete has a massive double bed to himself.
Boxing Day and we all got into our fancy dress to walk to the cricket. I had to walk alongside Chewbacca who, despite all fears that he was going to boil alive, was delighted to see the cloudy skies and the rain that delayed the start of the game for half an hour.
Walking through town there were loads of shoppers stunned to see this disparate bunch of Barmy Brits walking amongst them. Olly, a Taunton lad who now lives in Oxford, was brilliantly decked out as the Grinch and managed to hide my light saber somewhere on his person so that we could get it into the ground.
Chewy (Hull boy Greg) was definitely the star of the show, but Yoda came a pretty close second, and when we stood together to signal four runs we were picked up on camera and made the local paper, The Herald Sun. We were also saluted by Trumpeter Billy, who played an impromptu version of the Star Wars theme.
I have just purchased a couple of copies of the local paper to show the folks back home.
Leaving the ground early I headed straight for the Turf Bar to watch the remainder of the cricket and met ex-pat Brits Holly and Scott, who were delighted to see some British faces. When Chewy turned up too, we started a good rip-roaring sing song. I was nearly as popular as Jimmy!
Greg and I didn't want the evening to end, though I was now getting steadily inebriated and the light saber was becoming not just a baton with which to conduct the orchestra but a pretty lethal weapon, too.
We went on to PJ O'Brien's where we stayed until 3am and I finally crawled back to the hotel. A wonderful day.