Brothers Abroad brand

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dispatch from Osaka - El Hadj

You may be amused to learn that we ended up at The Hyatt Regency (courtesy of Alex’s efforts on the Net) and got upgraded to a killer, bay-view room on the 27th/top floor for half the price of the more central Hilton, can you believe?!



More amazing still was our discovery that some members of the Senegalese entourage appeared to be staying in the same establishment - lots of green, yellow and red about the place. The presence of the team itself was confirmed when the sneering El Hadj himself stepped into the lift with us, just when we thought we were running a bit late to collect our tickets and get to the game on time!


I woke up this morning realising that my chances of having a conversation (let alone a relaxed one) with him were slim, so I thought I should at the very least drop him a line. I drafted something which attempted to be pithy (does this necessarily mean brief-ish?) with Alex’s help and was going to have a shower before dropping it off at Reception for him on my way to a marathon buffet breakfast. Luckily, Alex had a bizarre hunch that the boys might be checking out at 9 a.m. having seen a few too many of them hanging around and rushed down to do a recce…. ‘‘You’d better come down, this minute’’ came the order by ‘phone!


I slipped on some casual-cool gear (OT, ‘‘mildly tangy’’ in our language!) and legged it to the elevator. At the rez de chaussee, I bumped into an animated feeleress with whom Alex and I had a brief exchange (of words only, I hasten to add) in the elevator last night. He’d been surprised by her English and I’d said she sounded Gambian. When I took her to task this morning, she said she lives in London - West Hampstead, can you believe?! I very nearly made the mistake of asking her to deliver my note/cards+coordinates (sealed) to El Hadj, but felt that she was just a bit more of a hanger-on than was ideal. I bided my time…


Minutes later, EHD emerged from the elevator to rapturous applause, flashing cameras and misc. appeals for photos (’‘El Hadj! El Hadj!). This was gonna be tricky. Worse still, he had in tow a serious-lookin’ honey: you know the deal -‘haess’, but not metisse, Parisienne no doubt - wearing unnecessarily tight jeans, headtie, shades, no-smile. Good show-biz stuff. Indeed, one was inclined to suspect that she might well have been responsible for his indifferent, far-from-sparky/spunky performance in the more public arena of the Nagai Stadium, Osaka! Anyway, I digress…! He was delayed taking pictures with folks and she walked on ahead. He himself managed to escape from his fans for a moment and I saw a split-second window of opportunity to make my pitch - although I wasn’t really sure what I was going to say…English, French, Wolloff…?


I hailed him like a reporter (as I imagined): ‘‘Monsieur Diouf, are you coming to Liverpool?’‘

He seemed to engage with me as if to a reporter, immediately but warily: ‘‘Yes. Do you speak French?’‘

’‘Oui, un tout petit peu…’‘


The circs were not ideal - he was late and hassled - but I was now walking alongside him, so I did my best, delivered the envelope and told him I was based in London…and of course, a Gambian [fyi. the emphasis of the note was much more on the seriousness(?) of my professional pedigree with all the implied benefits of my involvement in his UK affairs!] Alex, as a third party observer, was surprised how intently he appeared to be listening, so you never know, my card MAY not end up in the garbage…!


A decent morning’s work we felt, justifying the tax-deductibility of the trip - ‘‘nothing ventured’‘...and all that!





Posted by Dej on 03 Aug around 2pm

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