Friday, December 12, 2008

Finding my way to Manchester

As I rapidly approached Manchester with no lodging or means of transportation, I looked over my options and my phonebook. While David graciously offered to host me until the rest of the team assembled, I found a plan C. My good friend Patrick had studied for a semester at the University of Manchester and was going to be in town visiting. I had planned on going out to some pubs with him, but maybe I could make that tonight. Borrowing David's cell phone, I got ahold of him and found that he was going to a concert at the Old Trafford Cricket Pitch. I would meet him there and either get into the show or wait at a nearby pub.

When I got to the stadium, the tickets were 45 pounds ($90). This was not quite in my budget, but I decided to at least ask who the band was. To my delight it was one of my favourite British bands, Radiohead! I talked my way through security with my 60 pound duffel bag and collapsed in a seat. I managed to talk a girl into texting my friend and we met up after the show. We roamed aroung Manchester that night, pub hopping and I crashed on the floor in his friend's house (I never managed to meet the friend, but I was in and out within 7 hours).
The next day, I took public transport to Heaton Park and walked around until I found the courts where Paul Bennet was practicing. I hit around for a few hours, and we met a few locals including Paul Rigg who was working tirelessly to get the courts perfect and publicize the match.

Paul had already heard about my plate win in Nottingham and wanted Paul and I to do an early radio interview at the BBC the next day. Danny Huneycutt came by to practice and Paul Bennett helped me to find the hotel that I was apparently sharing with Ron and David. While I couldn't get ahold of Ron, I did find that the reservation was only for two, as no hotel rooms are suited for three people. Curious. I also found that Ron and David had called the hotel to say that their flight was delayed and they wouldn't be in that night, news to us! I ended up staying with Paul, and after an attempted move the next day, I realized that I was much better off on Paul's trundle bed than on the floor in Ron and David's room.
The next morning, Mr. Rigg took Paul and I into downtown Manchester to talk for about 2 minutes about croquet on air while being questioned about their topic of the day, customer service. Not the best publicity, but better that we can get in the states. Ron and David arrived, but without all of their bags or mallets. Now that our team was in place, finally we could start to focus on croquet.

1 comment:

Stuart said...

Hi Ben, hope you'll post some further installments on your adventures in England.

Very cool that you got in to see Radiohead and didn't even know they were playing until you got to the venue!