Diary finds Nottingham charming. It is a quaint, old place, with its churches and castles, its inns and cobblestone streets. In one corner of Nottingham Castle, Diary finds Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, a pub that declares it is the oldest in England. This claim is contested, and in Nottingham alone there is the Bell Inn that contends it is older, but who needs details. The pub is named so because legend has it that the Crusaders would stop here before setting off for battle. Ye Olde Trip is a fascinating place, carved into the rock at the foot of Nottingham Castle, leading to a labyrinth of sandstone caves. A board on the walls of the inn informs visitors that it was established in 1189, when Richard the Lionheart became King of England. There is no documentation to verify this, but research suggests the caves may have been used as a brewhouse for Nottingham Castle as early as 1068, when the structure was built by William the Conqueror. Water was filthy in the Middle Ages, so it was safer to consume ale, which was sterilized by the brewing process. These may not be the Middle Ages, but Diary is happy to quench some thirst this way, what with it being fond of history and all.
It appears that a great number of taxi drivers in Nottingham — as indeed the rest of the UK — are of Pakistani origin. Diary enquires of each of them it meets if they like the new Pakistan Prime Minister. By and large it seems the Wazir-e-Azam — Imran Khan — is a popular man.
“We needed a change,” says one driver from Mirpur in what Diary knows as Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. “Pakistan needs development, not the same corrupt thugs.” Another cabbie, from the Punjab, is not thrilled. “The counting was rigged,” he alleges. “Or how did this man’s party win so many votes all of a sudden?” A third, also from the Punjab, is thrilled to bits. “He is a great man. He’ll lead the country into a new era. But my only worry is that he’s surrounded by bad people.”
He’s upset by the kerfuffle in India around Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Pakistan visit. “So what if he hugged someone? Bajwa is also Punjabi. You tell me what’s wrong,” he thunders.
If Diary knows one thing about politicians, it is that they promise a lot but deliver very little, whatever side of the Radcliffe Line they’re on. But a taxi is no place for an argument.
Diary despises the Arsenal Football Club, but when offered the chance to watch a Premier League game between the Gunners and West Ham, he snaps it up. The Holloway Road underground station is full of fans in red and white as Diary heads to the Emirates Stadium. It is a comfortable, modern arena, with wide concourses, good seats and great views of the pitch from everywhere. But it is still home to Arsenal, a pompous, old club with inflated opinions of itself. Diary is out of his seat celebrating Marko Arnautovic’s opener, but the home team — helped on its way by huge slices of fortune — eventually wins 3-1. It is a massively flattering scoreline.
On its way out, Diary strikes up a conversation with the media centre’s doorman, a gentleman of Gujarati origin. He has been following India’s Test series and he believes Virat Kohli’s men ought to be 2-1 up in the series. “How did they lose that first Test? They had no business losing it. None of them can bat except Kohli,” he says. No batsman in the world could have played James Anderson on the second day of the Lord’s Test, Diary argues. “You are professionals. You ought to do better,” he shakes his head.
Diary is then asked what team he supports. His interlocutor shakes his head again: “YOU ought to do better.”
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