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Pity Me and other places

Our correspondent spends the final leg of India's tour of England guzzling wine, ogling the fashion-crazy, musing in parks, and relishing the countryside

Nagraj Gollapudi

September 18, 2011

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A cake that shows a dressing room of famous Hampshire players, England v India, 2nd ODI, Rose Bowl, September 6, 2011
The Hampshire dressing room cake: Who'd cut this? © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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September 2
Pity Me is the name of a place in Durham county. The cabbie is not surprised. "A mate of mine comes from No Place. Now he has been caught a few times for speed driving. Each time the cop asks him, 'Where you from?' this guy says, 'No Place'. The cop repeats the question. 'No Place' is the answer," the cabbie, who is from Sunderland, says in his north-east England accent.

September 4
You know London is getting ready for the 2012 Olympics when you see big train stations like Waterloo, St Pancras International, and Euston adorned with Olympic rings. You can take a trip to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on a bicycle along the canal for about a couple of miles. The main stadium does not turn heads in its unfinished state, so comparisons with the other European cities which have hosted the global event will have to wait. The Olympic mascot is Wenlock, inspired by Much Wenlock, a tiny place in Shropshire, where Baron Pierre de Coubertin got the idea of the modern Olympics after watching the Much Wenlock Games, which were inspired by the Olympic Games of ancient Greece.

September 7
Intelligent Life, a magnificent quarterly magazine (a bi-monthly going forward) on culture and food, has an engaging cover story on which city is the global capital of the world. For the moment let's stick to London. Food is an important yardstick if you are aspiring for the crown of "global capital", and London has an amazing palette of foods from all over the world. But it still is difficult for regular folk to find a good place to drink wine in a city where there is virtually a pub for every 10 people. So to find an exclusive wine bar in this sea of ale is a revelation. Gordon's Wine Bar - at the foot of Embankment bridge - is said to be one of the oldest of its kind in the city. If you like your red, ask for the St Emilion, 2005.

September 6
In England the counties take pride in decorating their legends. Statues, murals, stands, paintings and benches honour those who brought fame to the team. But Hampshire takes the cake, literally. At tea during the second ODI there is a cake decorated with the image of an all-time Hampshire dressing room. To the right sit Andy Roberts and Gordon Greenidge, looking at Malcolm Marshall and Shane Warne in conversation. In the background, to the left, are Robin Smith and Barry Richards. But who is the gent in whites at the extreme left?


Mannequins at a store
Mannequins or people with too much time on their hands? © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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September 8
Vogue Fashion Week's final evening is an annual pilgrimage for fashionistas and the hordes of people who queue up for hours outside the famous fashion labels on the lane that connects Green Park to Bond Street. They enjoy free flutes of champagne and wine, but the reason they flock in their thousands is the large discounts on offer on the clothes and accessories. An enduring image is that of real-life men and women posing as mannequins in the window of DAKS.

September 9
Kapil Dev is commentating on All India Radio, India's oldest and biggest national radio broadcaster. Till the 1990s, when cable television invaded households, Indians followed cricket in India and around the globe via AIR. Like they did their house keys, millions carried transistor radios around with them to listen to cricket commentary. Sadly, despite having the widest reach, AIR has lost its appeal. But Kapil has a solution. "Get important voices from every state as guests on the radio channel. That is one good way to attract more audience."

September 10
Londoners like to spend time in parks, museums and galleries. So to the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, in Hyde Park, where Peter Zumthor, a famous Swiss architect has constructed a "garden within a garden", otherwise known as "hortus conclusus", also the name of the exhibit. It's bewildering at first but once you sit inside, in front of the rectangular enclosed garden of wild flowers, and observe people around you lost in their conversations, you begin to understand why Zumthor says the garden is a sanctuary. The roof is left open yet you are cut off from the outside.

September 12
Alan Davidson is inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. Mark Nicholas asks if it is an honour. The fact that the ICC has inducted quite a few players who are no more is not lost on Davidson. "Better than getting it posthumously."

September 14
The final day of the inaugural World Cricket Business Forum, hosted by the ICC, designed for "providing strategies for growing the global game". An insightful comment comes from one of the top businessmen who avidly followed the two-day event. "Let us get this clear - most of the people are not here for development. They are all here for money.


The Ross-on-Wye
The picturesque Ross-on-Wye © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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September 15
Lancashire are celebrating their County Championship triumph. For a county famous for its tough industrial background, it's something of a surprise to see pictures of players in tearful joy. Have you ever seen Sir Viv Richards cry? No way, you may shout. But he did. Exactly 18 summers ago, after leading Glamorgan to Sunday League victory against Kent.

September 16
A strange cricket tour has come to an end. The mind is numb with all that has happened in the last two months. What a relief, then, to travel by road through Wales into the English countryside. It is a beautiful time of year too, with autumn in full bloom. Trees of all colours - burgundy, purple, golden, red, yellow - offer stark contrast to the greener plains they stand upon. In the distance is a rainbow. It feels surreal. The countryside is a delight on a good day, and today is definitely one as we pass Ross-on-Wye. Goodbye, then.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 18, 2011, 21:24 GMT)

I saw a picture once of a broken-down bus with its destination board set to "Pity Me". The magazine caption was - of course - "Poor bus!".

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (September 18, 2011, 18:43 GMT)

A lovely country this, the UK. As Canadians, we have always been in awe of our mother country. I had visited London as a small child in the 80s. It's been a while and I want to go back and see how it all looks now. I can definitely tell you folks that I won't be going there due to cricket. I want to go there for fun, to take in the sights, smell, sounds of the old world. I wouldn't miss a walk in the English countryside on a spring afternoon for anything.

Posted by   on (September 18, 2011, 11:02 GMT)

The gent in whites on the left: I'd wager it's Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie.

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