Celebrating a birthday and an unusual night ahead
Here we go, once more into the breach with little or no basketball and just more ruminations of a wandering soul.
(Not to worry, I’m heading home and we’ll be back to normal in a couple of days).
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
In an alley off Fleet Street – yes, that Fleet Street – built in 1667, a hang out of Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and if that doesn’t get my writing mojo going, I don’t know what will.
Anyway, it was a must-see spot, it’s like a rabbit warren of tiny rooms and small staircases and it just oozes old and something memorable.
Forget that it sells the beer that tops my list – Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager and a new No. 2 in Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Lager – it’s the atmosphere and the people who make it.
I’m standing there by myself, soaking up the ambiance and talking to the bartender when a fine gentleman approaches the bar, orders for himself and his three cronies and looks over at me and says, “let me get you a pint, young man.”
And that’s how I ended up being invited to the table to celebrate Derek’s 75th birthday with him and John and Roger and Steve and our two new German friends Michaela and Jochan.
The stories are flowing, at one point John starts reciting “If” by Kipling, the old lads break out in song every now and then for no other reason than they wanted to and it turned into one of the great pub days of a life.
Yes, this gig does provide some pretty good perks every now and then.
Seriously, how much of a train wreck is the Miami Heat?
Coaches talking about players crying in the locker room after losses, players quick to say it wasn’t them shedding tears, an “us against them” bunker mentality with references to going to “war” with each other.
And I imagine tens of thousands of fans just love it.
I can’t believe anyone connected with that team could possibly be surprised by the over-analysis that comes with everything they do.
After all, they made a spectacle of themselves last summer with the over-the-top party to celebrate the creation of Super Friends, they referred to themselves as The Heatles and they have told everyone who’ll listen that they know they have targets on their backs.
They are getting what they asked for and had to expect and, frankly, they are not handling well at all.
And I’m sure most of you love it.
I think I do.
I’ve just realized tomorrow night will be the first Utah Jazz game I’ve covered in my career that Jerry Sloan won’t coach.
That’s going to be quite odd.
This happens all the time in Toronto, right?
We get in a cab the other night not entirely sure where we’re going, we’ve got the name of a pub and a vague idea of the corner it’s near in Leicester Square and the cab driver’s never heard of it.
No big deal, we say, drop us here, we’ll ask a local and find it no problem.
“Right,” the driver says, as the meter shows about 5 pounds 60, “just make it a fiver and it’s fine.”
No, no, no. Make it seven and it’s all cool.
Nope, the guy not only wouldn’t take a tip, he wouldn’t take the full fare because he wasn’t able to drop us precisely where we wanted to go, even if we weren’t entirely sure ourselves.
I’m sure that happens all the time in Toronto.
The most fascinating thing about the London Underground? How far underground it is.
To get down to the Jubliee Line here at Canary Wharf, you take two escalators, each about three storeys down, to get to the tube.
That’s deep underground; messes up the Blackberry reception but it’s kind of cool.
When it doubt, always ask an old gent for a nice pub.
Wandering and looking for a respite from huge throngs of tourists, I ask a fellow on the street for a recommendation.
“Right, then. Go down the road, turn to your right, along the way about two or three turn-ins to your left, you’ll see one. Better class of people there.”
Where’s he send me?
To The Red Lion – which had come highly recommended by a fine research assistant/friend back home and a place I hadn’t found.
It was built in 1821, redesigned in the 1870s and one of the few places that completely survived the Blitz.
It’s full of these gorgeous ornate engraved mirrors that, according the blurb on the menu, are there because the local magistrate commissioned them to reduce the privacy of snugs and the activities of local prostitutes.
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a joint that’s had snugs where local prostitutes are a concern.
Check another thing off the bucket list.
I’ve just realized that tomorrow night will be the first game I’ve ever covered where an ex-Raptor was the head coach of the other team.
That’s going to be quite odd.
(Of course, I somehow forgot Mike Curry so ... never mind)
This is bizarre.
A guy goes into Lillywhite’s (this big sports store at Picadilly Circus) to perhaps find a Super Son souvenir or something and it’s jam-packed with jerseys and kits and all sorts of stuff.
Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, England, Scotland, Wales, you name it.
There’s one teeny tiny rack of basketball jerseys over the corner, I could see a Kobe one, there was a Gasol one and there was one that really stood out.
Yes, deep in the heart of London, a bloke could buy for 7 pounds a red No. 15 Raptors jersey.
With “Garbajosa” on the back!
At some point yesterday, I’m standing in a pub that was built more than 400 years ago, there’s a real coal fire burning just behind me and I’m typing notes on a Blackberry and I’m thinking “this is a case of worlds colliding.”
And then I had another pint and BBM’d a friend.
All right, I’ve got to go run through the shops at Canary Wharf to knock off the last of shopping and then head to Heathrow.
Wish me luck, you know that Air Canada and I haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye lately.