Remember the times when nobody had a mobile phone, and you had to actually arrange to meet people at a place and time in advance? No need to be so organised these days: just ring your mates and tell them where you are, and keep talking until you find them. Simple. Unless, that is, there’s a major bike race going on and there’s a million extra people in the centre of the city. Then things get a little more complicated. We stood and listened this afternoon to an annoying South African trying to meet up with someone we’ll call ‘Steve’*. After about 15 agonising minutes he and Steve had established that they were about 200 yards apart, but still Steve couldn’t see him. The annoying South African could see Steve, or so he claimed. But no amount of inventive and energetic and above all loud direction giving seemed to help. The race was well underway, the first few riders had been through, and still the only commentary we could hear was a loud South African going ‘left from the big screen … Follow the crowd … I’m about three from the front … can you see me now? No? I’m right on the bend.’
Finally, after we could bear it no longer, the crowd joined in. First the stewards suggested he get Steve to look for the two guys in the orange jackets. When he realised that there were two guys in orange jackets at 100 yard intervals throughout the course he tried waving his hat (Annoying South African: ‘I’m waving my camouflage hat, Steve, can you see me now? Scottish voice at the back: ‘No wonder he cannae see you, pal, if you’re wearing camouflage’). Then, finally, one of the stewards suggested we ALL waved. We did. Steve saw us.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Still on the phone, the South African invited Steve to come and join us. ‘You can squeeze in here,’ he said, forgetting the rest of us were still listening. Oh no he couldn’t, we said. We were quite squeezed up enough. The South African agreed he’d meet up with Steve later, after the race. I wonder if he ever found him?
* because that was his name.