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Calypso Cuttings

Our two men at the World Cup - Neil Manthorp and Telford Vice - will be sending through snippets, quotes and anecdotes as they cover the greatest occasion in the game of cricket. Come back to this page on a regular basis to find out what's really happening in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Clips

Neil and Telford send us back the sights and sounds of the Islands:


And so, dear and gentle readers (assuming I have any), we come to the farewell instalment of these Calypso Cuttings. I have an utterly intoxicating espresso in one hand, the Buena Vista Social Club in my ears, and if I didn't need the typing finger on my other hand to bring you this missive, I'm sure I would also be holding a cigar.

Yes, the monster that was the 2007 World Cup is done, dusted, dead. Time, at long last, to do nothing but gaze at the Caribbean Sea itself as it oozes untroubled for untold kilometres. Can't get over how ridiculously blue it is. Must be something in the water ...

* Remember the earlier Cuttings in which several members of the South African media contingent had their hipness significantly boosted by mere dint of the fact that they were staying in a hotel that is owned by reggae legend Eddy Grant? Stand by for the sequel.

One of those South Africans was quietly chuffed when he was asked to be a lunchtime interview guest on the BBC's Test Match Special during a match in Barbados. At the appointed hour he bounded out of the press box and up the stairs and into the rarefied atmosphere of the TMS studio.

There he found host Jonathan Agnew in an obviously deep and meaningful on-air conversation with a sharp-eyed bloke wearing a bong - that's a big hat to keep your dreads natty - and a pair of seriously cool brown leather boots. "He'll only be five minutes," the producer assured the South African.

Forty-five minutes later Aggers and the bloke in the bong and boots remained entwined in the throes of one of those discussions we've all had, the kind where you solve the world's every problem and still have change to buy a dream or two.

"I'm so sorry," said the producer as the players re-emerged onto the field, heralding the end of lunch. "That's Eddy Grant, and try as we might we just couldn't get him off."

Our man was suitably impressed to have been upstaged by one so famous. "No worries," he said, sensing a story he could dine out on for years to come. "But next time try Bob Marley. He won't talk so much."

* Three South African reporters warmed up for Saturday's World Cup final by spending Friday afternoon - or what was left of it after they had filed their stories - in downtown Bridgetown, where they walked and talked among the locals and drifted in and out of many shops.

Having decided to break the walk back to their hotel into manageable chunks, they happened upon The Lime Tree Bar - the most local pub in the world, bar none. And, yes, there is a real, live lime tree growing outside and laden with fruit.

"Three rum and ice, please," was their order. Whereupon the journos were handed a bottle of rum, a jug of ice, and three plastic cups.

* The Lime Tree Bar is not a big place, and there wasn't enough room to seat the three South Africans within its cosy confines for what was clearly going to be a protracted stay.

So the barman carried a table and chairs across the street, and the party proceeded with the chairs perched in the gutter and the table on the edge of the road.

Pretty soon the barman, who had obviously decided that these South Africans were worth getting to know, left the bar to join the jol. He brought his own bottle of rum with him, and insisted that it was there for all to share.

* But the Saffers must have made less than sparkling company because, after a while, the barman stood up abruptly and went into the house next door. He emerged after a few minutes carrying a bible, which he proceeded to read silently between pouring shots of rum.

* One of the South Africans declared himself hungry, and asked the barman where he might buy a lead pipe. Now, in these parts a lead pipe is not only something you might find in a plumber's van.

It is also the most magnificent chunk of carbohydrate - a large wholewheat rusk bursting with raisins and sunflower seeds and all things good. "Follow me," said the barman. And as the pair of them walked down the street to a bakery not 200 metres away, he added, "'Dis is a bad, bad 'hood, y'know - ya cyant walk here alone: dey cut yer throat, easy like."

Once there, the reporter bought a wonderful homemade lead pipe, and the barman duly escorted him back to his colleagues still sitting on their chairs in the gutter.

* Just then someone noticed a message of many words that had been written in chalk on the wall of a nearby house. "Dear Lord, please bless the West Indies team and keep it safe," part of it read. "We pray for Brian Lara, please guide him and all who play under him." Somehow, the atheist in the group managed to say not a word ...

* Another man joined the steadily merrying throng. He was, he said, a cousin of Garfield Sobers.

A merchant mariner, he had sailed to South Africa during the bad old days before 1994. "Ma'an, doze people" he said. "Dey wanna lock me up jus' because I arrive! Jail! Me left. Quickly."

* At about that point a box of dominoes appeared and the South Africans found themselves included in a game that differed subtly from the one they played at home.

Competitive streaks ran rampant as domino after domino was slammed onto the table.

Then, just when it seemed as if the locals would make the most of their home conditions and win every game, up stepped a Saffer to snatch a stunning victory from under the nose of Garfield Sobers's alleged cousin. Take a bow Stuart Hess of The Star, you good thing.

* But all good things must end, and the time to leave was duly reached. The South Africans bid their new friends a warm goodbye and wobbled off into the night. Which brings us to this sad point. Sniff. It's been huge fun, but it's all over the bar shouting, as it were. Cheers. Right, where's that cigar ...

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