Basketball? We don't need no stinking basketball
There is precious little basketball in here today, it’s more like a series of unrelated rambles from A Grunt Does London, Day 1.
Disembark from the tube thingy at Picadilly Circus and I can’t find a tent or a clown or a sideshow anywhere.
But it’s a good time to sit and start to plan the day and since there’s a pub every six steps it seems, best to sit and sip a London Pride to figure out the day.
And the day turns into a few stories, several local delicacies never before sipped and a story or two.
So we’re standing in the Flag and Lamb, which is now my favourite old London pub until I get to more today, and written on an arch between two of the tiny rooms is this:
“To die in a pub is my definite plan, with my mouth to the tap just as close as I can;
“The angels would say, when the singing began, ‘O Lord, please show mercy on this Boozy Man.’”
I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get that as my epitaph but …
If you try a London Gold Ale at one place, an Abbott Ale at a joint called the Tipperary and then a Doombar beer by Sharp’s at another place whose name escapes me at the moment, you come to realize that Doombar’s the best of those.
All in the name of research, folks; all in the name of research. And hopefully more today.
Every stop on the journey included a chat with the barman or the saleslady or whoever was in charge and, inevitably, the reason for the visit comes out. A few people were a bit shocked to learn there’d been two NBA games in their city at the weekend (not “on” the weekend but “at” the weekend because I’ve taken to the language over here for a bit) but everyone seemed happy to see a visitor from the colony.
One guy, the barman at Lamb and Flag, recounts this:
“A guy came in the other day and said, ‘I’m an American, what should I try?”
“Try telling people you’re Canadian.”
He’s there all week, folks; today I’ll try the veal.
Think if I make a sign that says I (Heart) Corgies that Liz will open the door at the palace today? She ignored me the other day.
Well, I don’t know squat about fashion, as some of you know, but I have to say that, for women, it seems that tights or leotards are back in vogue.
That’s about all I’ve got on that issue at the moment.
So, a guy goes away for a few days, loses touch just a wee bit, and comes to the realization that now the Miami Heat suck?
Yes, on my walkabout I did say farewell to Liecester Square.
(That might take some googling for the young ‘uns among you).
I’m pretty sure you didn’t see this but the European indoor track and field championships were all over the BBC on the weekend. And then there’s the breathless coverage of the cricket World Cup and huge, dramatic win for the English the other day and if I had any clue about how to keep score in that sport, I’d tell you what they won by.
But no basketball. Nada. Zip.
One of the cooler things here?
Names of pubs and bars.
You know about the Lamb and Flag and I’ve got to go to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (apparently Dickens hung out there) but how about this chain:
The Slug and Lettuce.
Sounds delicious, no?
And always – always – choose the garden peas over the mushy peas unless you want to eat something akin to baby food.
Sitting at the end of the day in the lobby bar, catching a bit of a break and the conversation comes around to how quiet it was after a weekend when nights ended with 100 or so NBA types – players, coaches, league bigshots, grunts – milling about.
He: “Were you here for the basketball?”
Me: “Sure was. Was a bit crazy in here, wasn’t it?”
He: “Yeah, we ran out of a lot of stuff. But it was fun. I went to the Friday night game.”
Me: “Cool. Not as good as Saturday but did you enjoy the game?”
He: “I’m not much of a basketball fan, but I liked the show with the dancers and the mascots and the music.”
Seriously, the best part of walking around this city, at least in the heart of it on a busy Sunday, are the places you’ve heard of and just happen across.
Charing Cross, Notting Hill, Covent Gardens, Liecester Square, Picadilly Circus.
All names that kind of resonate for some reason and you turn around a corner and there they are. I guess it’s the same with neighbourhoods in most cities but, frankly, I’ve never heard anyone anxious to fall into Malton, or High Park, or the Beaches, or anything like that.
Oh yeah, the Raptors.
Well, not sure what they’re up to except that I heard from a couple of people that they’re glad to be back home in their own beds and back to some semblance of normalcy.
But, because I’m still here doing some reporting for a story to come and not back until Tuesday night, there won’t be much live stuff here until we get to Wednesday’s game.
So, I’ll tell you what you’re most likely to read:
Reggie’s coming back, Jay will find it hard to mix in minutes for four bigs but he’ll manage them somehow; everyone will say publicly they enjoyed the trip and no one’s going to know for sure how tired or messed up they’ll be for Wednesday’s game until Wednesday night.
It’s like you don’t even have to be there to cover them, to cover them.
Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.
More walkabout and some work here today (and, perchance, some shopping because I think I need something from Saville Row) and that should yield more tales for tomorrow.
Then I’m going to sit in an airplane for a very long time and I think I should do some mail so, please, feel free to click here and send something along so I can fill up this space on Wednesday morning.