“We need Canadians to go and support Milos Raonic at the Thailand ATP 250 Tour Tennis….”
“I’m not Canadian.”
“You are in spirit.”
True. And I do like watching tennis...
“Where do I sign up?”
“The Embassy will get back to you with tickets.”
So, with one half of Les Quebecois in tow and the Diplomat completing a course on how to spend non-existent funding off I drove to the IMPACT Convention Center to see http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Bangkok.aspx. The only potential spanner in the works was the imminent serenading in the same place, that night, by Canada’s current most famous export – Justin Biebster. I have to say, one of my favourite ways of realising how ancient I am getting is to tell people that, for me, Bieber is a kid, a musical generation a touch too far behind as I enter my “liking-Jazz and lounge music” years. Yet, for Isla, Justin Bieber is a has-been, an ancient mariner who will be be in his 40s by the time she’s legally allowed to have her first tipple. Imagine Bieber with a comb over, a greying beard…you get the idea. That’ll be Isla’s perception of him.
One minor misdirection later we arrived at the place which was pretty empty to catch our first match: “Impeccably groomed” Gilles Simon v “bad-boy” Bernard Tomic. FRA v AUS. Suffice it to say the tactical nous of Simon proved too much for the hard-hitting kid (Simon is ranked higher in the world) and it was done and dusted in two sets; swiftly followed by a two set victory for Mikhail Youzhny over Denis Istomin, the latter wearing some eye-hurting neon yellow shirts and sunglasses. Now I come to think about it, why wear sunglasses inside? It’s a bit like that chap we saw on the back of a taxi moped at 11pm one night wearing sunglasses.
Too kool for skool, huh, chapster? The invariable thought that crosses my mind in such scenarios.
Before we actually got into the stadium we had to wait for a change of ends and the chap outside was clearly no tennis fan despite his T-Shirt declaring: “The Excitement Starts Here”. ‘Glum’ would be an apt description.
Anyway, given tennis isn’t a major sport here it was nice to be able to see some of the world’s top 20 players outside the crush of a Major tournament like Wimbledon. Also nice to pay £1 for a beer and not £5 like you do at the latter event. We had plenty of room given the sparse crowd, I managed to get myself on the big screen as I wore a tuque with “CANADA” emblazoned across it. What with the other 20 or so of us wearing red and three huge Canadian flags we found ourselves in a cheering match with a lone Aussie on the other side of the stadium. The big draw had arrived! Milos sauntered his lanky 1.96m frame down the red carpet, onto court and proceeded to serve us up some fast hitting, a 228km/h being the eye-watering pick of them. He wasn’t having a good match, to be honest; his serving keeping him in the game against the much lowered ranked Marinko Matosevic – an Australian. He took the first 7-6, lost the second and managed to grab match points in the third. What with the sole Matosevic fan shouting things like:
“Wrap it up, Marinko. It’s nearly beer o’clock!” against our Gregorian chant of “Milos! Milos!” it proved a moment of bonding for the Canadian expats and diplomats in Bangkok. I took some photos on a splendid new Galaxy S4 I got…
The match was over and everyone was happy. There was a long break before the evening session where, apparently, the Prime Minister was due to make an appearance before Richard Gasquet played so it was time to go. A good decision too….we headed home against the miles of traffic streaming from Bangkok’s centre towards the Biebster concert. It was clear a usual 30min drive would be 4hrs+ for some people, but hey ho, that’s the price you pay on top of your $400 ticket for the Canadian K-Popster.
Oh, before I go, it appears the Thai nation has discovered what came first. Chicken = gai ; Egg = kai. So, the chicken clearly came first (alphabetically). Nice to have that wrapped up.
Is this what diplomacy is all about?