And Now, On a Lighter Note…

During our stay at Auckland’s Prince’s Wharf Hilton (see mention last blog), Noel and I had a great time.  And now, on a lighter note than my last blog…

We stayed on the top floor of the hotel.  If you know the Hilton, it’s basically a long corridor with rooms spanning off each side.  At the harbour-end of the pier, there’s a large suite, but, to my knowledge, the remainder of the rooms are rooms, with some of them aiming out towards the water (with balconies) and a lovely view of a container wharf (soon to be a cruise ship passenger terminal… or so they keep saying) and the rooms opposite face into the narrow parking lot/lane running between the mirror-image of the Hilton on the other side of the wharf.

In the middle of the inner-side of the Hilton is where the elevators are.  Three elevators open onto a small lobby-like area on each floor, complete with chairs to wait for people, et cetera.  (Not anyone can go in the lift; you need a key to get in.)

We always get an outer-facing room, and I think we ran out of wine, so Noel and I decided to make a trek to the local Star Mart (kinda like a 7-11 for those non-New Zealanders reading this blog) which was at the city-end of the wharf.

The lift arrived, and we jumped into it.  Unfortunately, the elevator stopped on the next floor down, and two huge (as in muscular) guys got into the lift.  One of them was about 6′ 3″ (1.87m) and the other was about my height (5′ 10″ or 1.79m).  The tall one was still talking, going on about how he thought they were all “wank-a’s” and he was going to write that in his column.  Could he, he asked the shorter one, write that kind of stuff in his article?

After my mind wandered to, “Can this neadrathal write?”, then to, “Can I write it in my article, George? Please, George?”, I snapped back into the present and eavesdropped (as you have no choice to do when you are crammed in a lift with strangers).

The shorter guy just agreed because the taller one was having a good ol’ rant about something.  But then it struck me: they both had English accents.  They both looked like rugby (or American football) players.  And I really started thinking the guy doing all the talking was a bit of a “wank-a” himself.

We arrived at the ground floor and all spilled out into the lobby.  Other similar looking guys (you know, could knock-you-back-to-your-birth-with-one-punch kinda guys) were in the lobby and there was a symphony of various English accents.

Noel and I left the hotel to get our supplies, and en route I said, “Gee, I wonder if those guys are on some sort of team.”  (I did want to ask them, “Are you guys all on the same team or what?” but I didn’t fancy my chances of walking out of that one in one piece.)

Now, to totally justify myself, I have *no* idea who is playing what sport where.  I’m not sports-minded.  I never have been, and I probably never will be.  Images of my parents screaming at the TV during a Chicago Bears game (and me saying, “Uh, hello, they can’t HEAR you.  But the neighbours can!!!”) have totally put me off sport.

We didn’t think any more of it until we left our room once again to go get some dinner.  This time there was a really built guy sitting in one of the chairs.  Noel said jokingly to him, “You know, you don’t *have* to sit out here.  They give you rooms here,” and he laughed.  The lift arrived — the guy already hit the lift button — and we all piled in there.

Again, this guy was big.  Probably 6′ 2″ and very well built.  After he disembarked on the 1st floor (again, for some of you blog readers, in New Zealand, the 1st floor is above the ground floor), Noel turned to me and said, “Phaw. He must work out!”

We went to dinner, me still pondering who these guys were, and, once we got back to the hotel, I finally broke down and texted James and Jacqui to find out if, in fact, the English Rugby Team was in town for a match with the All Blacks.

No reply.

So I called them instead.  Jacqui sat laughing at me for about 5 minutes because I’d said “Football” instead of “rugby” (so bloody sue me) but said, yes, the English Rugby Team were staying in town because they were playing the All Blacks on Saturday.  I said to them, “Oh, I think they’re staying at our hotel because there’s all these huge guys with English accents staying here.”

This showed my naivety even further.  Jacqui was like, “Hello, that’s the WORST kept secret in the country!”

Hmph.  Again, I didn’t get the memo!

I think I would have caught on even if I hadn’t called Jacqui because the next morning, at breakfast in the White restaurant (on the 1st floor with a beautiful view of the harbour), the team were there, in a type of uniform, all saying “England” on them.

The Pulitzer-prize-winner wanna-be was there, scooping a large serving of eggs onto his plate, *still* spouting off about how so-and-so were a bunch of “wank-a’s” so I think the man must never shut up and have a great opinion of himself.

Anyway… it was interesting to see the difference.  Noel and I ran into the Canterbury team once in Whangarei, and they were really nice, down-to-earth guys.  Jillian and I ran into the All Blacks while taking the students for a tour of Champs-Elysees Day Spa at the Heritage in Christchurch, and they were also realy nice, down-to-earth guys.  But the English rugby team… wow, most of the ones we saw were really full of themselves and had little to no manners whatsoever.

They even had the cheek to act towards us and other guests as if we were a pain for being there, like we were going to all the sudden say, “Oooh!  Oooh!  Aren’t you so-and-so!  Oooh!  Can I get your autograph!  Please!”  As if I’d behave like that anyway!

Just as well Kiwis showed them good hospitality (if you’ve been following the media reports about some of the girls they met in an Auckland bar, I’d say some Kiwis showed them a better time than others!) and then handed their asses to them on a plate during their matches against the All Blacks.  Twice!

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