Friday, January 8, 2010

Joe Bennett - one clever bloke

Yesterday I started reading Barking, a collection of Joe Bennett's columns. I've already finished it and am about to start on a more recent selection, entitled Eyes Right (and They's Wrong). Boy do I wish I could write like Joe Bennett. Sometimes I even wish I could be him; I certainly envy his lifestyle. As it happens we share the same birthday. Joe Bennett, Adolf Hitler and myself: an unlikely trio.

My favourite column in Barking (there were plenty to choose from) was on the subject of apples: pick up any apple from a supermarket and it'll be a beautifully polished but utterly tasteless eight-ounce water bomb. As a kid we had four apple trees in our back garden: a Bramley (for making yummy apple crumbles), a Worcester and best of all, two of the delicious (and wonderfully named) Bohemian Blenheims. We sometimes had more than we could eat so when I was ten I started selling them, or trying to at least, outside the front gate.

His column on Singapore was interesting. I visited recently; my experience was very similar to his. We even stayed in the same hotel, the Excelsior. He was on the 21st floor while my room was on the 13th, a floor that most hotels superstitiously skip over. I tried to fit as much as possible into my four days: Sentosa Island, the zoo, the amphibious boat, the Singapore Flyer (their version of the London Eye), the river cruise, Chinatown, Little India, you name it. Like Bennett I got very sweaty in the process. He said Singapore was a very ordered place - mainly I agree, though a couple of exceptions that spring to mind are the seven-storey shopping malls with names like Lucky Dragon Plaza, and a rabbit warren of eateries in Little India called Lau Pa Sat Market, which serves appetising food so long as you can get past the signs:

I watched one of the women's tennis semi-finals today. At the change of ends before what turned out to be the last game of the match, Shahar Peer called on her coach. She said she was struggling to pick up Wickmayer's second serve. While this was interesting, which muppet decided to allow on-court coaching? I realise tennis players now have coaches, agents, physios, psychologists, the whole nine yards, but while you're on the court it has always been one-on-one, mano a mano, and should remain so. In Agassi's book he likened tennis to boxing, and there are definite parallels. While they're at it, could the WTA also eliminate those tactical momentum-upsetting loo breaks? And that supposedly high-octane doubles scoring system, which is in fact anything but, is also a farce.

I've been back in Auckland for four days and until this afternoon I had yet to make human contact. Lack of human contact is the biggest danger I face in being out of work - hell, it was bad enough in work - so I gave Brendan a ring. We chatted, or mostly he did, and we agreed to meet up tomorrow.

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