Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Who hates all the pies?

Man, I feel guilty. Had another chat with Chung last night, it’s the only time I get to see him as he sleeps during the day and I’m out at the cricket. Then in the evening I’m out on the town and he’s wandering around the hostel. Then during the night I’m asleep, Mark’s snoring, and Chung’s staring out the window. Until 5am when he retires to bed.

But for a couple of brief minutes our paths crossed yesterday evening and we had a little chat. He asked me how the cricket is going, good, and I asked him what he’d been up to during the day, nothing. He told me he did leave the building though only to buy some groceries from the supermarket. He said he was planning to stay in Napier for another couple of months. He really likes this place. By that I guess he means this hostel.

He also asked me what my plans are after Napier and when I told him I was going to stay in Seoul for a night his face lit up. He’s from north of the city and he was so pleased I was going to visit I immediately felt ashamed that I have coined him ‘The Night Watchman’. And I’ve decided I will write about him no more, unless he does something seriously freaky.

Or makes a faux pas of the kind I did the other night. Nathan and Mark met two German girls in Hamilton and they are in Napier at the moment. I only met them briefly on the day I got into town but they were in my dorm when I got back from the cricket two days ago. All was going well as we chatted away and then the subject of getting ready to go out came up.

I asked the lads if they were going to bother getting changed. I was in shorts and thongs (flip flops or jandals as they’re called here) and said I couldn’t be arsed to get changed. It’s a lot more relaxed here than in Australia as there you can’t go into most bars unless you’re wearing shoes. As I started to explain.

Germans: Do you have to wear shoes when you go out here?
Me: I’m not sure. I don’t think so. Last night there were loads of blokes out in thongs. I can’t be bothered to put jeans and boots on. I’m going to go as I am.
Germans: Okay
Me: It’s not like in Australia. Man, the door staff there are like Nazi’s the..…way…..they…..

I trailed off as I saw there reaction and my face was an absolute picture as I realized what I’d said. But the worst thing about it was that I immediately felt like apologising. But that confused me even more. Should I apologise? And if so, what for? It all got too much and as they collapsed laughing at my obvious discomfort I looked for somewhere to hide.

Another man who looked like he was searching for refuge last night was the bloke who Nathan and Mark shared a dorm with in Wellington. The man who managed to keep them both awake all night all the time they were staying in the same YHA. He’s staying at the same hostel as us although in a different room. Mark overheard the bloke’s roommates talking to him while we were having dinner. It went like this.

Roommates: I’m going to punch you tonight. I’m going to punch you. Well, not literally, but I’m going to throw something at you if you snore like that again tonight.
Bloke: Ulp.

I wonder if we’ll ever see him again as the chances he’ll ever have a quiet night are pretty slim. Slim being one thing I am not. I am determined to lose some weight when I get back to the UK. I noticed I own a pair of love handles the other day. Not in the reflection in the mirror but on my shadow on the wall after having a shower. Not good.

Eating and drinking too much is part of the course for most sports fans on tour but it’s something only half witnessed this weekend. I wish I’d had my camera with me as it was one of the strangest sights I’ve seen on this trip and it came about because of the curious licensing laws in New Zealand.

During Easter the rules concerning the buying of alcohol are changed. On religious holidays it’s illegal to buy alcohol unless you are buying a full meal to go with it. And you can’t order a meal make it last all night and keep topping up at the bar. You can only buy one drink per serving. So unless you have worms or a lot of money drinking more than a pint is extremely difficult.

But in similar fashion to the sorely missed ‘G***n L**f’ café in South London which tried to throw a smokescreen over their marijuana selling practices by forcing customers to buy a carton of apple juice to deflect attention away from the bags of weed being bought at the same time. The landlord at the Barmy Army pub bent the rules somewhat (and was splashed over the front page of the newspaper after getting caught) and allowed us to buy a drink every time we bought a pie.

And this led to a pub full of boozed up patrons with pints in one hand and hundreds of half eaten or completely untouched pies everywhere you could see. Tables were covered with the bloody things. Towering plates of pies as far as the eye can see, the pool table with pies resting over the pockets, a TV remote stuffed in a pie, pies being trodden into the carpet, pies on the bar, pies on the dartboard and display cabinets.

And because the police were doing random checks and would demand to know where your food was if they caught you with a drink. Everyone had to keep a vigilant eye out at all times on where their most recent hot pie was. People were carrying them around like pets. In handbags, under the arm, on the shoulder, on a dog lead. It was bizarre.

Nearly as bizarre as the T-Shirt tan Nathan is carefully cultivating. He’s been here for three months now. He spent the first two working on a farm in the South Island before journeying up to see the cricket with me and Mark. And for some reason he’s kept his top on throughout the tour. Last night we found out why.


You could almost tell the time on that wrist. He should strap a mini sundial to it.

And one last thing before I go, I’ve got to give a big shout out to Nathan’s dad, Mike. He was directed to my ‘blog by Nathan one evening and he texted Nathan the following day. It went like this.

‘Just read Jon’s excellent ‘blog, mind you, yours is good’

Thanks for the vote of confidence, eh? Nathan’s been put out ever since! Ha ha!

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