15 January 2002
Last week a father was convicted of manslaughter for having beaten to death
the father of another boy at a school hockey match. On Sunday, President Bush
became unconscious and fell off the sofa after having a pretzel go down the
wrong way while he was watching football on TV. All this suggests, of course,
that watching sport can indeed be a perilous occupation, but Peter and I laugh
at danger (or are usually blissfully ignorant of it) and decided to venture
down to the Mackey Arena at Purdue to watch the men's basketball team play Minnesota
men had started the season poorly, losing their first two games, but last week
they beat the more fancied Illinois team and we were hoping for great things
from them at this game. I originally suggested we walk the mile or so down to
the game, but it was threatening to rain and/or snow later in the day, and I
didn't fancy having to struggle back through that, so we drove to the main covered
carpark across from Peter's office. From there it was a short walk across campus
to the arena. Mackey Arena is an impressive facility. It is a brick, circular,
domed building, fully air-conditioned/heated, with tiered seating around the
centre court for just over 14,000 spectators. By the time the game started,
there were not many empty seats. No food is allowed in the seating areas (so
we were safe from pretzel mishaps), but there are plenty of food and restroom
facilities around the entry concourse.
the hype and razzamatazz that had enthralled me at the football was also evident
here at the basketball. The band, though smaller in number, and physically constrained
within a section of the stands, was nevertheless enthusiastic, energetic, and
entertaining. Purdue Pete was there again, as was Rowdy, the double life-size
inflatable mascot character. The boys and girls of the cheer squad were also
there to ensure that everyone cheered loud and hard for "the Boilermakers".
They formed pyramids, did backflips, cartwheels, and other feats of athleticism
that again had me fascinated. Tension and excitement built until at last the
teams came onto the court. The Minnesota team ran on and then came Purdue. Their
appearance was heralded by a fanfare from the band and evoked a huge roar from
the crowd. They did some warm-up manouvres and finally removed their black track
suits to reveal their white and gold outfits. They were dazzling!
Even more fanfare was awarded to Coach Gene Keady, a Purdue legend who has
been there for 22 seasons and has lead his teams to their fair share of successes.
Coach Keady obviously does not owe his cult status to his barber. He has one
of those wrap-around hairdos which unsuccessfully tries to pretend it is not
hiding bald patches underneath, but hundreds of adoring students showed their
admiration by wearing T-shirts proudly proclaiming them to be members of "The
Gene Pool". Centre court has also been named Keady Court in his honour.
Now basketball is a game I really enjoy and Peter and I cheered enthusiastically
as the Purdue players outclassed the opposition in every move. One guy in particular
was brilliant - intercepting, blocking, and scoring 3-pointers at will. Minnesota,
to their credit, did keep to within 8-10 points of Purdue, but seemed to be
doing it the hard way. Half time arrived all too soon, and with Purdue ahead,
spirits were high as a presentation of a cheque for $3m was made to Purdue President,
Martin Jitske, by 1964 graduate, Richard Dauch, who came onto the court with
his family. The donation was for a new alumni centre. We were told that the
total contributions made to the university by the Dauch family was now $9m.
Half-time entertainment was provided by a group of young dancers from Indianapolis,
and then the men returned to complete their conquest. Alas, the change of end
also brought a change in fortune for Purdue. If I've ever seen the wheels fall
off for a team, then I saw it in that second half. My hero from the first half
couldn't sink a shot, no matter what he tried. His friends were looking just
as bad as they missed shots and fumbled passes till it was almost too painful
to watch. All the moves were being made by Minnesota who looked as though they
might have actually swapped shirts with the Purdue guys during the break. They
bridged the gap and then mid-way through the second half, they took the lead
for the first time. From that point, it was a complete rout. Coach Keady, in
a post-game interview, suggested his team had some "chemistry problems".
It looked to me as though they ran out of chemicals altogether. The final score
was too horrible for me to recall. We should have waited till Sunday to watch
the women play Ohio State. They won 80-43. We will certainly get to a women's
game sometime in the future, when we pluck up the courage to become sports fans
once more. Of course the main threat we have to face at the moment is the weather.
Our other social event for this week was dinner on Friday night with Sue and
Kent Parkinson, the friends we had spent 5 minutes with on New Years' Eve. Sue
is a wonderful cook and we greatly enjoyed their hospitality and conversation.
I was most delighted to receive a special gift that Sue had made for me - a
snow globe containing a photo she had taken of Nick and me enjoying hot cider
on her snowy patio on Christmas Eve. After dinner we played a game (I forget
what it was called) which had printed phrases similar to those produced by your
voice recognition Dragon program, Laura. The aim is to work out what the phrase
actually means. It was great fun - mainly because Peter and I were absolute
whizzes. I think it may have something to do with the fact that we have had
to concentrate on understanding the different accents here, that we have picked
up an extra skill. Anyway, a great time was had by all!
Most of the rest of my time lately has been taken up with three main occupations:
1. Reading the fascinating accounts Murray has sent me of their trip to Bolivia
in September, and then the even more fascinating tales of his adventures in
Rhodesia and surrounding areas in 1974. If anyone is interested in reading some
or all of these, let me know. Murray has given me his permission to pass them
Making floor cushions for The Harbor project which is due to start next week.
Heather, the project leader, mentioned that she would like to have some cushions
made so that groups could sit casually and comfortably on the floor. I volunteered
to make them, and found out she wants 20 cushions made. Luckily, Sue is going
to help me with them. Each cushion takes 2 pillows, so yesterday I depleted
the stock of 19 pillows at the local Walmart and will go down later today to
collect the rest. Even trying to stuff 19 pillows into my car was interesting
enough. I'm glad they didn't have all 40 as I required. When I got home, I dragged
all the pillows up into the spare bedroom (Peter's study) to get them out of
the living room. When Peter came home and found them all there, he claimed I
had converted his room into a padded cell. I broke it to him gently that the
next half would arrive today. He'll really be able to bounce off the walls then.
3. Getting all my emails onto a website. With considerable help from Peter,
I have scanned about 90 photos and added them to the written reports I have
been producing (somewhat prolifically) over the past 5 months (5 down, 5 to
go). With a bit of editting and playing around on my part, Peter has now got
a website up and running which you can peruse at your leisure. You don't have
to read all the letters again, but you might like to see some of our pictures.
I will add to the website as I go now. If you have a minute or two to spare,
you can visit us at
If you have any problems accessing the site, or if it doesn't look the way
you think it should, let me know. I will pass on your questions and comments
to my technical adviser.
I am very excited that Philip has given mum and dad his old laptop computer
and they are now online at home. Most of the family were there the weekend before
last to see Philip and to send us the first email. I look forward to many more.
Even though it is still Tuesday afternoon here, people are already up and about
their daily business in Australia on this special day - Harvey's birthday. Happy
Birthday Harvey. I hope the weather cools off a bit for you. Have a drink for
I received lots of correct answers to my last week's question from the many
Beach Boys fans out there. Well done! Robert sent me the full lyrics and I have
since discovered I have the four-part harmony version among my Sweet Adeline
collection. Pat was able to quote Woody Allen who described Kokomo as a bar
or islands where the girls have fathomless beauty.
My question this week is: "What exciting sporting event would I be attending
this coming weekend if I were in Australia?"
Oh, yes, could you also please let me know the score after the event? Thanks for that.
Lots of love to all
|Last updated: March 30, 2002|