Friday, August 17, 2012

Please don't say cheese, Graham

This man rarely smiles - and he should keep it that way. This is just scary. I wouldn't buy his book and risk getting a grimace like that stuck in my brain every time I picked it up. Not that I would - buy it, that is. Couldn't imagine anything worse than ploughing through a book about rugby. Augh! I'd rather poke toothpicks into my tearducts.

He's the retired coach of the All Blacks, and I bumped into him once: he was leaving the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste in Western Australia just as I was arriving. It was a beautiful day, the sea was sparkling, there were kangaroos in the scrub around the pretty white lighthouse - and yet he was scowling, as usual. Perhaps he was fed up because he hadn't seen a whale from the top. We did, shiny black humpbacks in the waves. There was a woman in our group who had never seen a whale and thought their existence was some sort of conspiracy - so when she finally laid eyes on some, we were expecting a blip of joy, at least. Not a bit of it: "Is that all?" she said. "No lifting their tails up?" I reckon she was a Henry too, at heart.

But I do have the All Blacks to thank for selling a story today, about Buenos Aires, where I had noted, purely mercenarily, they are playing later next month - so that's a good hook to hang a story from. It's actually hard to imagine (though how would I know) much fuss being made in that city about rugby - football is the passion there, and everyone rabidly supports either Boca Juniors or River Plate. Even Coca Cola has had to bow down before their intense rivalry: their ads on the hoardings around the Boca Juniors stadium are black and white, because red and white are the River Plate colours. The stadium is in La Boca, the dodgy but colourful area where the tango is meant to have started, so few tourists can get away without being nabbed by posers for photos. This is Peter, who was on the trip with me, having some fun (and Allen took the photo).

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