Six-pound papers, fake Wigan shirts & a cockney Bedouin Red
A joy of six. What IÃ¢ÂÂve come across recently:
1. Huge adverts for the English Premier league around AfricaÃ¢ÂÂs biggest city, Cairo.
They feature Ronaldo, Lampard, Gerrard et al. British marketing men rightly boast of the Premier League being the most popular in the world, though it omits one of the key reasons for its status in much of Asia - itÃ¢ÂÂs also the most trusted.
While games are bought in several major European leagues, the dirty practice occurs far less frequently in England. Gamblers like that.
2. Counterfeit Wigan Athletic shirts being the most popular English shirt in Egypt, thanks to their tardy forward Zaki.
3. A Bedouin youth wearing a decade old Manchester United shirt in Petra, Jordan (pictured). Like many of his peers, he bizarrely spoke English with an exaggerated cockney accent.
"Oi... this smells like a knock-off"
4. Raffish, nauseous grafters and taxi drivers. Egypt must be the worst place IÃ¢ÂÂve visited so far for aggressive men in bad shoes hawking tat and trying to rip you off.
IÃ¢ÂÂd been in Sharm El Sheik (go to Barry Island or Butlins Pwellhi instead) for five minutes when a scruff approached us.
Ã¢ÂÂWhere you from?Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂVery good. Lovely jubley.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂWe donÃ¢ÂÂt want to buy anything, thanks.Ã¢ÂÂ
He went onto introduce himself as an artist and said: Ã¢ÂÂAll I ask is that I give you my card please?Ã¢ÂÂ
Not wanting to be impolite, we said yes. Mistake.
A minute later we were in a shop being congratulated as the first customers of the day Ã¢ÂÂ on the bossÃ¢ÂÂ son's first day in the company too! Would you believe the coincidence? The shop owner (the artistÃ¢ÂÂs dad) looked at my fiancÃÂ©e.
Ã¢ÂÂEnglish women, the best in the world,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂMy wife is from Welwyn Garden City.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm Brazilian,Ã¢ÂÂ replied the better half.
Ã¢ÂÂBrazilian second best! Please sit down and let me give you a wonderful gift for free.Ã¢ÂÂ
You end up becoming embroiled in an argument because you donÃ¢ÂÂt want to buy a fake papyrus wallchart that looks like it has been drawn by the man who advises Stephen Ireland what colour car to buy.
"Allo me old china"
5. 10 minutes later, by a bookshop which didnÃ¢ÂÂt sell books, a man approached selling British newspapers. IÃ¢ÂÂd not seen one for a while and was interested. They all had their prices on the cover so I pulled the equivalent of ÃÂ£2 out.
Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs not the price,Ã¢ÂÂ blagged the blagger. Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs a code.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂIs it really? So how much is the paper?Ã¢ÂÂ
He wanted ÃÂ£6.
Ã¢ÂÂHow much you pay,Ã¢ÂÂ he shouted aggressively as if IÃ¢ÂÂd just informed him that IÃ¢ÂÂd kidnapped his parents. Ã¢ÂÂHOW MUCH YOU PAY?Ã¢ÂÂ
6. I met the pianist Christopher Schellhorn. HeÃ¢ÂÂs one of BritainÃ¢ÂÂs best and hails from Doncaster, from where he studied at ChethamÃ¢ÂÂs music school in Manchester and then Cambridge University.
Refreshingly, he had no interest in football. Given that my knowledge of tickling the ivories extended to a go on a Bontempi organ and attempting to play Ã¢ÂÂWhen the Saints go marching inÃ¢ÂÂ I could hardly talk shop with him.
Christopher took a taxi in Bombay for what should have been a straightforward 10-minute drive. The taxi stopped and the driver got out to see Ã¢ÂÂa friendÃ¢ÂÂ who owned a tailorÃ¢ÂÂs shop.
He invited Christopher into the shop for a drink. Five minutes later he offered to measure him up and make him a hand stitched suit for $50 dollars. The pianist couldnÃ¢ÂÂt believe the price and, while he didnÃ¢ÂÂt need a suit, felt he couldnÃ¢ÂÂt refuse one for $50.
He then spent 40 minutes being measured up, before the tailor told him to come back in four hours with the $500.
Ã¢ÂÂBut you said $50,Ã¢ÂÂ replied Christopher.
Ã¢ÂÂ$500,Ã¢ÂÂ raged the tailor. Ã¢ÂÂAre you stupid? Who can make a suit for $50?Ã¢ÂÂ