Saturday, September 24, 2011

A post of two halves: Rugby and Shopping

For those of you who don't know, New Zealand beat France in an International Tournament of the Oddly Shaped Ball match this morning/last night (apparently you're not allowed to say the forbidden words Rug. Wold Cup). I haven't been paying that much attention to the Cup, so I thought I'd rectify this and go and watch the game.

Where to see it, though? I figured a pub in Shepherd's Bush would be a good bet (round where lots of Kiwis and Aussies live), and there was also the added plus of a huge shopping mall five minutes walk away. I wanted new shoes, so I decided to kill two birds with one (or three...) tube journeys (track and station closures make things difficult) and go to the rugby and the mall.

First off, I'll admit that I don't know that much about rugby. I enjoy watching it. I know about tries and conversions and line-outs and penalties, and I can do my rugby maths. But every so often the ref will do something seemingly at random, and I just have to accept that I'm missing something. For this reason, I will not attempt to describe the game itself. I'd probably bore those of you who don't know rugby, and infuriate those who do.

I didn't actually get there in time for kick-off (sleep seemed more important when my alarm went off), but there was still most of the first half left. They had a bouncer who ID'd people at the door, which felt strange at 9.45 in the morning, and I nabbed a spot behind some not-too-tall people to watch. There were lots of people in black clothes and All Blacks jerseys, the smell of stale beer, and multitudes of television screens.

I was wearing my 'home' T-shirt that has a map of NZ on it (given to me by the lovely Kaleidoscopic PhD Star Girl), and since I wasn't too keen on a beer this early in the day, I asked for a coke. Half-pint or pint? asked the barman. Uh.... I said. A pint?

Never had a pint of coke before.

And almost everyone spoke New Zild! I could hear the accent for a bit, but then I got used to it and began to feel as if I might be back home. The game was exciting, and there's something about being squashed into a room with a couple of hundred other people, staring up at a huge screen and screaming or groaning or going silent in unison. Some girls screamed in excitement when Sonny Bill Williams came on, and some guys rolled their eyes. A few times a cheer went up, but I'm not sure what it was for, especially as everyone seemed to be looking away from the screen.

Apparently, people see beauty in difficult things that are done well. I really like watching the players throw the ball to each other as they run down the field, and catch it as if their hands are covered with glue.

I trust that their hands are not covered in glue.

The English commentator kept talking about a previous French comeback in a Cup game, and how it could all turn round in the last twenty minutes. We waited with anxious breath, but when the final whistle blew the game went to the All Blacks.

Then it was time for Shopping.

The mall reminded me of Charles de Gaulle airport - huge white struts and a soaring irregular roof, everything white and modern and upmarket. I collected cinnamon pretzel samples and wandered the shops, which included a Pumpkin Patch and a Lego store, and searched for shoes and the Perfect Sixties Dress.

Fashion in London is bold, with bright colours and patterns and sometimes-strange styles. I have seen purple Leiderhosen, pastel rose-covered jeans and garish tops. Disneyland Tax Girl wanted to know if people actually wore this stuff. The answer is yes.

There is some really nice stuff too, though. I quite enjoy seeing what people wear, and I'm tempted to amass a wardrobe of clothes that I wouldn't wear in New Zealand. I saw a girl on the tube yesterday wearing a pearl necklace to make Lisa Simpson jealous, and a woman in the supermarket with makeup and hair done like Amy Winehouse.

I admired some clothes in one window and considered entering the shop, but then realised it was Armani, and thus not within my price range. In the end, I couldn't find the Perfect Sixties Dress, but I found some quite nice shoes. So it was a successful trip :)

I feel this post has been more than half about rugby. Ah well.

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