THOSE of you who waded through my Tales of a Tortured Traveller last week and managed to stay awake, will be pleased to know I am now in Nigeria – with only a little help from British Airways.
At least I was quickly re-acquainted with my luggage unlike my two travelling companions from France, who went five days without a change of clothes, and who are still waiting for two boxes of valuable television equipment, just two of the 6,200 missing items still whizzing round carousels anywhere between Heathrow and Honolulu, but definitely not Abuja.
Monsieur Bastard was not amused when he did eventually open his suitcase to find everything saturated.
Here, I should make something quite clear. Bastard really is his name, and not the expletive used every time he made an abortive journey to the airport in Gwagwalada.
The Nigerians think Jean Hugues surname is hysterical, which brings me to the point.
"What’s in a name?" is a silly old question. The answer is "everything".
As a boy I was captivated by the deeds of Albert Cheesebrough (Burnley) and whooped with joy when fiery Fred Trueman clean bowled Cyril Washbrook.
Ah, you don’t get any Alberts, Freds or Cyrils any more, but Nigeria has spawned some wonderful names for me to drool over on this highly-eventful trip to Africa.
For a start it’s EASY to get my favourite tipple, a gin and tonic, because Easy is the name of the genial waiter.
You don’t require PATIENCE, she’s serving fish and chips to the only other Englishman in the bar.
Predictably it was a taxi driver who took a LIBERTY by charging me three times the going rate to the local golf club, at least there I discovered the green-keeper was LUCKY, and I’m forbidden to tell you his surname, but a clue – it rhymed with Shanker.
They say CHARITY begins at home, but she also plays centre back for the FCT Queens – all ladies teams in Nigeria are called Queens to distinguish them from the men.
HAPPINESS was delighted when she was called on as a substitute and helped spark a 5-0 win, but MERCY and PRECIOUS in the opposing team from Benin were showing different sides to their nature.
FRIDAY turned up on Sunday for FC Abuja against Heartland, who earned a 1-1 draw, partially thanks to inspiration up front from WONDER SIGNS CHIMAMBO, while SUNDAY actually played on Saturday in Ranchas Bees 1-0 win over Naf Rockets. They’re not called Naf because they are, by the way. It stands for Nigerian Air Force. Still with me?
Ranchas also had FINE FINE in midfield, and he was pretty good as you’d expect.
Our own television crew here included WISDOM, GODSPOWER, BUNYAN, KIPLING AND BIMBO, who is definitely not blonde with long legs, and even a GEORGE MICHAEL.
And they think Bastard’s funny!
Just in case you’re wondering what the hell I’m doing in Nigeria, it’s nothing to do with the fact it’s 40deg here and it’s snowing on Emley Moor.
I’m running FIFA Broadcast Academies in Africa, and attempting to coach commentators before World Championships at Under 17 and Under 20 level in Nigeria and Egypt this year, and the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.
Not surprisingly, I’ve discovered some fairly primitive conditions and technical facilities.
For example, the commentators here have no talkback to a director, so the only way they know when to stop talking is when the adverts appear on screen!
Not since Adelaide two years ago have I turned on the television and been so distraught.
Then we threw away a test match it seemed impossible to lose. This time I had to rub my eyes in disbelief.
England were 27-7 when I turned in to proceedings at Sabina Park.
It had to be a caption error. Didn’t it?
Then I saw Ryan Sidebottom at the crease and knew it wasn’t.
Hang on a moment. Strauss, Cook, Bell, Petersen, Collinwood, Flintoff and Prior must have scored a hundred hundreds between them. And we’re 27-7.
This isn’t the local Sunday School League for God’s sake, this is a test match at one of cricket’s hallowed shrines.
You could have dug up W G Grace, Sir Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton and Wally Hammond now and we wouldn’t be 27-7.
As if that wasn’t bad enough captain Strauss and his crew were grinning like Cheshire cats on the balcony.
Ok it’s no good sulking, but they know the cameras are going to be on them, and 27-7 is hardly a laughing matter.
It was total humiliation, even if we did scrape past 50, and I’ve spent the past four days desperately avoiding eye contact with any Australians, South Africans, Bangladeshis etc, etc.