Monday 27th May 2013
6pm - The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
It's a lofted drive from the Padang over the long-on boundary and we're sitting in the Long Bar at the Raffles. There is an air of uncertainty as to how it may have come by its name as it is L-shaped and no more than a cricket pitch in the longer dimension - but maybe it's named after the Long Room at Lord's. It doesn't seem quite what it once was - well, it isn't, as it is no longer situated where it once was, in the lobby - and then there is the absence of the pukka-wallers seated discretely behind the palms, pulling the ropes to work the overhead fans, long since replaced by an assembly line of small, electronically-driven fans in line astern below the ceiling. We gather to bid farewell, au revoir, arrivederci, sayonara to our fellow travellers over a Singapore Sling, the iconic drink invented by barman Ngiam Tong Boon a century ago. The Long Bar becomes overrun with Aussie hockey players many of whom seem intent on practising their in-swinging Yorkers, googlies, doosras, and chinamen on any unsuspecting patrons, using the well-stocked bowl of peanuts adorning the tables for their ammunition. Hockey guru, Mike Craig is seen to be trying to bowl a maiden over, and is certainly keeping abreast of the situation. Messrs Hemingway, Maugham and Kipling would be spluttering into their pink gins.
But for us it is the finale of a three week tour that opened with a storm in KL, carried the message of Grand Masters Hockey to the Japanese and spread Australian goodwill as we travelled in the role of unpaid ambassadors (perhaps Julia's foreign affairs department might sponsor us next time ???!!!), and finishes with an apology to a storm in Singapore - it's time to draw stumps gentlemen.