TEST cricket returned briefly to Harare this week with the visit of the Proteas from South Africa and (to my amazement) Zimbabwe acquitted herself comparatively well, as I write this a couple of hours after commencement of the third day’s play.
Eating Out with Dusty Miller
Unlike Super Sport who lost coverage for most of the second day due to a major technical fault. Sunday must have been a bad day for the media.
Over Monday morning breakfast I paused and struggled to understand a story about a Lowveld n’anga (traditional healer/witchdoctor) heavily fined for stealing body parts of rogue lions, including their “pores.”
Another pause, then I realised the reporter meant “paws”!
The young hack’s English is almost certainly much better than my Shangaan or Shona, but that classic howler really shouldn’t have got through the numerous firewalls on today’s daily newspapers.
How’s that for dog-eat-dog?
As first-class cricket was being played at the Harare Sports Club oval, it cost US$3 to even enter The Centurion Bar and Grill (ex-Maiden Public House, formerly Keg & Maiden), despite my protests that if I were served quickly enough I’d be gone before the first (10pm) bowl was balled and in the Kopje office, typing this.
That would have been bad enough if a perky youth called Bright (surely misnamed?) charged with relieving me of the three-bucks whilst listening intently to “music” on his cellphone through an earpiece just under his baseball cap had been provided with a float and had change for my badly tattered fiver.
(Most US$ notes circulating in Zimbabwe are disgustingly dirty.)
I had to move from the first table chosen, because Centurion staff members were up step-ladders, obliterating Johnny Walker whisky billboards with Zimbabwe flags and black plastic sheeting.
Super Sport would be (hopefully) broadcasting to the rest of the world, including the cricket-mad Indian sub-continent, and there could be no free advertising shown on camera angles.
(Johnny Walker Whisky — locally represented by the Cold Chain Group — is a major sponsor of events at the Centurion on the 350+ days of the year when there’s no international cricket at Sports Club next door. I’d been delighted to sample their new ultra-smooth Johnny Walker Platinum Label scotch in the bar’s VIP section a week or two earlier.)
After the first two days’ play in brilliant sunshine, Monday (ironically in many people’s view the first day of summer, it had been August full moon the night before…a good job as much of the country was without Zesa!) was chill and quite grey with a biting wind.
Mugs of steaming filter coffee were very welcome as my companion and I perused the restaurant’s new menu. It looked to me like several prices had been trimmed. Big tick for that!
We both settled on the Western breakfast: two medium, golden-yolked poached eggs for me, scrambled for my host, lots of good bacon, a hamburger patty, maningi magnificent mushrooms, grilled tomato, big fat golden hand-cut chips and wisp of salad as garnish.
It outfaced us both (but I’d had Weetabix and honey and rooibos tea at home three hours earlier, dulling my appetite) didn’t test the big oval shaped platter to check if it had been professionally heated, but either it hadn’t or it cooled down totally in the crisp weather I have my reservations about the rather zingy barbecue sauce anointing the tasty burger patty.
I think, for breakfast, plain would be better. Offering a choice would be the best concept.
There’s a wide range of breakfasts ranging from US$4,50 to US$11,50; the Western job is US$9,50 including a hot drink. Several choices include toast (ours didn’t) I would have liked toast with a sharp, tangy Oxford-style thick shred marmalade after our savouries and with a second mug of Joe.
As Germans routinely drink copious quantities of beer with breakfast, and I’ve seen young Russians on packaged deal all-inclusive holidays to the Middle East.
(prior to the Arab Spring, after which they seem to prefer Thailand) glugging cheap and nasty Port Said-distilled vodka with the first meal of the day, I allowed my arm to be twisted and thoroughly enjoyed a chilled dry Savannah Cider after the artery-threatening cholesterol-feast, long before the sun was over the yard-arm.
(Incidentally a score or so noveau-riche, Russian “lads” now recently allowed to travel for the first time, after 70-odd communist years of grey depression and restrictions, high — or possibly low and morose — on unlimited free rot-gut spirits, and peeling lobster-red with sunburn is not a pretty sight.
Come to think of it, neither is boorish binge-drinking “laddishness” when the blokes are from Manchester or Merthyr Tydfil rather than Moscow. And I don’t suppose guys from Marondera, Marula, Mabelreign or Mount Pleasant would be on their best behaviour under similar circumstances, either, if Thomas Cook operated “all-inclusive” free booze holidays from here!)