Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty had ham hock for supper last night. I know this because yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of a guy that was off to dine with them later and I overheard him telling his friends.
In Buenos Aires (that’s in Argentina) a salad starter, followed by a 400g lomo steak (that’s spelt l-o-m-o), with sauteed potatoes, a glass of red wine, then finally rice pudding washed down with a desert wine costs £12.45. Were you aware of that ? No ? Oh well you should have been with me yesterday because you would have learnt all this and more, all from the same dull bloke.
Carluccio’s in St John’s Wood don’t take reservations for lunch – they don’t get very busy. A bottle of Wolf Blass Unoaked Chardonnay costs £22 in Tescos, yet one’s able to buy a bottle of, albeit a plastic bottle here today for just £19. I think that’s very reasonable, don’t you ? He did. It was, he said “one of my favourites”.
So where was I yesterday ? At a meeting of my wine club ? No. Cookery class ? Afraid not. Dining with friends at the Savoy Grill ? Not even close. I was, in fact, watching a cricket match at Lords cricket ground. Or rather I was trying to watch a cricket match, but my concentration and enjoyment was constantly ruined by this bloated English dullard sitting behind me, ‘entertaining’ friends or clients, though who could have been entertained by this fat git, Thomas Lord alone knows.
Ever been at the cinema when a bloke sitting behind you comments or commentates on every scene, recites every punchline or preempts every key scene ? Well you get the gist of my morning at the Home of Cricket. This bloke was boring. I mean he was DULL. Every shot, every ball, every catch, every run: not only did he have a comment or opinion on it, it was clear he knew absolutely sod all about cricket (though I guess I would have to bow to his gastronomic expertise. Judging by the size of him, he worked hard at it). He was wrong or boring or both on a number of subjects. When he produced his holiday snaps from his trip to Buenos Aires, my jaw hit my knees.
I lost count of how many facts and laws of the game he got wrong, and how ignorant he was, well, about everything really. I just know that when he explained what made Shane Warne “one of my favourite swing bowlers” I went for a pint. On my return to my seat he was waxing lyrical about the time in South Africa when he shared a whole bottle of sherry with “some coloured chaps” who were “frightfully charming”, then segwayed into an explanation of the apartheid system and why the coloureds and blacks had come out of it all right in the end. I got up and went for another pint.
The day didn’t going well from the get-go. The Aussies were in town and that only ever means one thing: legions of yellow-coloured cobbers, lugging eskis of laaager around with them bellowing encouragements and insults to their team in equal measure. One such groups of individuals had parked themselves near me. Within a couple of tinnies their leader (another fatty) was droaning such gems as “C’mon Ricky, yer big Galla !” or “Nurdle, nurdle ! Nurdle, nurdle! ” It was as if he’s swallowed a vuvuzela. He was painful to listen to.
He also fancied himself as an authority, not just on cricket, but on the Lords ground itself. He’d obviously been here once before and didn’t hold back taking his companions on a virtual tour of the ground, all conducted from where his fat arse was perched in row 2 of the stand and punctuated by gulps of the amber nectar. Again, his knowledge of the history of the ground was less than spot-on, but that didn’t stop him relaying the ‘facts’ that the Ashes were brought back to England by WG Grace (nope) and the ground was named after the House of Lords who used to play cricket matches here in the 1800s. Wrong again, mate.
Thankfully for all in the vicinity, he and his mob decided to move to a more sparsely populated part of the stand, presumably so they could spread out their cheeks in comfort, and my sanity and eardrums were saved. Until Sir Bufton Tufton sat himself behind me, that is.
Then came the last straw- he started telling jokes.
“One of my favourite examples of chitchat on the field – the Australians call it sledging- is the one when there was a rather rotund bowler bowling at some batsmen-or-other when the batter asked the bowler how many jaffa cakes he ate? ‘I have one every time I sleep with your wife’ retorted the bowler. Very funny, very funny”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone cock-up a story quite so spectacularly. As sledging stories go, that one’s probably the funniest and most famous, and only a complete berk like the bloke behind me could have fcked it up so completely. It really took the biscuit. Or the jaffa cake.
I made my excuses, picked up my rucksack, and watched the rest of the match on the tv in the bar. As I stood there watching the match, in peace and content to be 200 yards away from the Git & the Galla, I wondered how Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty were getting on? I reckoned they’d probably made good progress with the meal preparations as they had been without the distraction of their evening’s dinner guest’s fascinating stories, a pleasure enjoyed by us poor sods in that section of the stand at Lords today. I just hoped that when he finally arrived at their house, if he was as charming and as entertaining as he’d been to us, Sir Ivor would insert a ham hock into him. I suspect that wouldn’t be one of his favourites.