Bunbury is a small town of less than 30,000 inhabitants right down in the southwestern tip of Australia. A seaside resort catering to weekend trippers from Perth and seasonal visitors from further afield, the town is gearing up for the start of the summer season. According to my "Lonely Planet" guidebook, the region has been determined scientifically to have "the most comfortable climatic environment for human existance".
I'm not sure that I agree, however! I arrived in 30x+ temperatures, and immediately had to survive the third hottest day in November since records began in the area, with 34x (someone said it actually touched 37x). But that didn't last, and a cold front passed over, dropping the temperature by over 10x to a chilly 21x, with a cool sea breeze and the threat of rain.
The locals seem quite happy with the thought of rain though, since this could be the last real precipitation, barring a few odd storms, until next Easter. But I shouldn't complain... it was -3x when I left Geneva on Saturday last!
Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day, and the whole country came to a standstill for a couple of minutes at lunchtime to watch the most famous horse race in Australia. The visiting croquet players were all fleeced of large amounts of cash before the race, as the local croquet playing "bookies" offered their sweepstakes around. The race is run over 3200 metres and was a very tight call, with No. 3, Might & Power, keeping his nose a couple of inches ahead of No. 2, Doriemus, who would undoubtedly have won if the race had been over 3201 metres. I'm not sure who came third, but it obviously wasn't one the that I'd put money on! Media tycoon Kerry Packer (yes, the Kerry Packer of cricket, rugby and polo fame) was apparently set to win a cool $6 million on the result. What's the trick?
The City of Bunbury croquet tournament is in full swing. The field of 91 players is made up mainly of Western Australian locals, with a fair representation of interstate Australians and a smattering of overseas players keen to get used to the Dawson balls and unforgiving hoops in the World Championship games. Play starts at 8:00 AM each morning and will continue right through the first few days of the World Championship. Results are being posted on the Nottingham Croquet Board, and prizes will be presented at the official Championship Dinner on Thursday, 13th November.
More news will follow as we approach the start of the 1997 WCF World Championship. The opening ceremony will be held on Saturday afternoon and play will commence on Sunday.
Peter Payne Profiles Himself
I'm 37 years old, of joint British and Swiss nationality. Born in England (Birmingham) I moved to Switzerland with my parents when I was 11 years old. I finished my schooling here and joined Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA in Geneva 20 years ago (yes, 20!), where I am now Head of Securities Dealing and also Regional Product Coordinator.
I played some garden croquet back in England, and also on a rather mountainous circuit around our chalet when we moved to Switzerland. However, it was only in 1989 that I found out that there was a croquet club in the Geneva area (actually, the only club in Switzerland at the time). I have never looked back.
In 1991, we founded the Swiss Croquet Association (ASC), of which I am variously Secretary-General, Treasurer, magazine editor, sponsor hunter, and several other things too. I was also instrumental, along with Carlo Farioli of Italy and Antoine Ravez of France, and with help from Chris Hudson and Bill Lamb, in the creation of the European Croquet Federation (FEC), of which I am Secretary (for my sins!). I am a croquet referee and coach and my handicap is presently +1/2 in England and scratch in Switzerland (essentially the same automatic system, but different matches count).
I could also tell you that I'm single, wear shoes size 12 (US), adore food, am partial to wine, beer, and whisky, drive a '97 Chrysler Sebring convertible, and like girls with very long hair... but you probably don't need to know all that.
I obviously spend a lot of time on my croquet activities. My work is also very demanding, and I have quite a job balancing the two. I do, however, enjoy writing and, if I ever left the Bank, would love to become a sports cum travel journalist. Wishful thinking, I'm afraid, since I have a mortgage to cover!
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