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  • "Where are they from?"
    "Do they even have cricket in Iceland? What de hell dey doing here?"
    "Shhhh. Be quiet and just check them in."
    "But he's wearing a banana man hat! Hahahaha!"
    "Shut up, they can hear us...You people will get my ass fired!"

    This was the busiest month I had ever experienced growing up, living and working in Trinidad. February 1998.
    The 2nd Test was about to begin, followed by the third and oh my gosh.....Carnival immediately after. Working in the hotel industry was my own Test.

    Cricket followers from every corner of the earth were checking in and ready for the action at Queen's Park Oval.

    I've been to Lord's and sweetheart, no no no. Sit, clap, break for tea and comments of "Utterly riveting play, I say. Bertie? Bertie?"

    In 1998, I was at the Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad, in the Stollmeyer stand; one of the more civilised stands at Queen's Park I might add. The people on my left had a gas tank, a double burner and were cooking pelau; the group on my right had a radio with the commentary to back what we were watching, one man in front of me was dressed like a duck and another in blue spandex. People were dancing and drinking and drinking and when there was the 20 minute "tea break", calypsonians were on a stage in front of the Trini Posse stand and we were jealous! So we started a Mexican wave to confuse them. Fight broke out and security immediately descended onto our stand and removed the fighting drunks.

    The game was exciting with a lot of ooohs and ahhhhs and shouts of "Boundary!" My boy Chanderpaul was on a role and when the day of play was finished, the tourists headed to Cricket Wicket opposite the Oval and we, further down to Smokey and Bunty in St. James. Beer, a vagrant dancing on the pavement, a box of jerk pork, macaroni salad with barbeque sauce and a rasta man with a big pot of corn soup on the corner.

    This is heaven.

    St. James was just Cricket.

    We won the 2nd Test.

    When Curtly Ambrose came to my desk, I asked him to sign my cricket bat. Ambrose was my hero; for when I was a child, we played cricket in the street using empty soft-drink crates as wickets (this was easy to move should a car swing by) and I was always "Ambrose". My neighbours opposite were "Richardson" because their surname was Richardson. Anyway, Mr. Ambrose asked if I would sell the bat. "I am a West Indian." Is all I said to him. He smiled and signed my bat, along with a few others from both the West Indies and England teams and we waited for the 3rd Test to begin.

    Back in the Stollmeyer stand, first day of the 3rd Test I think it was, a streaker decided to run across the field with nothing but a Trini flag. Well, look here. The squeals of delight filled the Queen's Park Oval and we started to sing The Mighty Sparrow's Congo Man. "Aye aye ay I envy the Congo man. I wish I was he I want to shake he hand. He eat until he stomach upset, and I....I never eat a white meat yet." Politically incorrect and contextually correct.

    Unfortunately she seems to have confused our boys because we lost the 3rd Test to England by three wickets.

    It was the first time England won on our soil in 24 years.

    The England team decided to go down to Pelican (aka Pelos) to celebrate and one returned to the hotel being dragged by two of his colleagues. I won't call his name, but I need to emphasise that I have met these cricketers so many times before and never...never had they been anything but gentlemen. He had every right to be in his condition given the part of history they created that Test. They gave no trouble at all. Just lost a couple of room keys and slept half the night across my desk because, and I quote him, "The marble is nice and cool."

    And to Mr. Ambrose. I still have the bat.
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