THE most I encounter sand these days is when a wayward golf shot lands in a bunker. Drat!
But over the past few days I’ve seen enough desert to last a life time.
Egypt is one vast stretch of sand – apart from the Suez Canal – and covering the World Under 20 Championships I’ve seen every grain of the stuff without going near either a golf club or a beach.
In visiting four cities, and spending the equivalent of two days in a passenger seat, I’ve come to the conclusion that all Egyptian drivers are certifiable and should have been locked up years ago.
Interestingly they all call themselves Schumacher, rather than Hamilton or Button, and I’ve yet to see a vehicle that doesn’t bear scars from the daily bumps and bruises that typify Death on the Nile.
Everywhere is a three-hour torture ride with nothing to look at apart from the odd mosque, not even a camel except those employed for tourist mug shots at the foot of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
There’s sand, sand and sandwiches on seemingly interminable journeys between Cairo and Alexandria, or all those other hot spots known as ‘Pearl of the Desert’.
Before I get on to the football I can’t help but comment on those drivers.
They’re completely crazy, as well as reckless, think nothing of going the wrong way down a three-lane carriageway, duck and dive between scooters, tut-tuts, cement mixers, tractors, pedestrians and even police cars at up to 190 kph!
As someone with three points on his licence for the heinous crime of touching 41 mph on a deserted road at 7 o’clock in the morning in the Lake District, you can imagine I’m a bit miffed about the difference in global driving regulations.
Enough of my social life. The football is also worth talking about.
Brazil have been breathtaking, Italy kicked off with a boring 0-0 draw, England got beaten by Uruguay, and Spain scored whenever they wanted against Tahiti – which was eight times.
So what’s new? Well, Tahiti for a start. How on earth did the Pacific Islanders reach the finals of a world tournament?
Answer, they overcame the might of New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. That’s all, yet from what I’ve seen they’d struggle to beat Emley’s Under 20 side.
At least it’s warm and watching the stars of the future is a pleasurable experience.
Trying to open a door and finding it blocked by a group of squatting, praying Muslims reminded me of an incident in Saudi Arabia a few years ago.
During a game between Nigeria and Japan in the Inter-Continental Championships (now the Confederations Cup) our television director was taken aback when one of his cameras stopped giving him pictures of the match and offered only a locked off shot of the halfway line.
Naturally bemused, or on second thoughts furious, he demanded an explanation and was told the cameraman had had to abandon his post to go and pray!
His reaction is unprintable but safe to say he was not amused and I never saw the cameraman ever again.
HULL CITY’S collapse over the past 12 months has been dramatic.
This time last year they were the toast of football, winning the most unlikely encounters against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.
The Tigers’ manager Phil Brown could do no wrong and made the mistake of saying there was no reason why his Tigers couldn’t storm into Europe.
Now they can’t win a match and Liverpool hit him and his team for six.
Brown said Reds striker Fernando Torres was the difference, the truth is the entire elevens were a mismatch.
And while he won’t admit it Brown’s troubles stretch back to the day he took the bizarre decision to give his players a half-time rollicking on the pitch at Eastlands.
In that 10 minutes he ‘lost the dressing room’ and never got it back.