He just stopped us. What could you do? The street was deserted. Chapel Market is a morning street – a rare thing in central London- and lower Angel makes way for Upper Street and all the bars, restaurants, grills, pubs and fringe theatres that come to life after lunch and into the evening. His motivation was to share his unbelievable shock and delight with the Mexicans beating Germany. Imagine!!! His level of sobriety was difficult to assess. He seemed pretty switched on not slurring his words and maintaining continuity and connectedness in his conversation. We were transfixed.
His dreds were pulled through the back of his Kenzo cap, his pale orange framed glasses contrasted happily against his dark skin and garnered a sense of fun and strangely, trust. He was on his bike and on his way to his studio.
Nicko had a story. Actually, Nicko, had lots of stories.
The interaction continued, and the conversation leaped from soccer to cycling, cost of living in Reykjavik and Oslo, and serious name dropping of very shiny celebrities.
John was curious to know who he would like to win the World Cup. He looked at us intently and said, “Wouldn’t it be just amazing to see an African nation win it?” He went on to describe how he didn’t think it would happen, that while the African men had all the strength, agility, endurance, speed and passion they were warriors and essentially individuals and the game was never going to be won by individuals. It would always be won by a team with discipline and a sound understanding of geometry.
We both admired his bicycle and another story erupted. According to Nicko this bike was exceptional. It was one of the bikes ridden by Eddy Merckx in one of his Tour de France victories. Eddy was a quintuple Tour Winner (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974), is considered, by some, as the greatest cyclist of all time.Nicko was very enamoured with his bike. In fact, he described how, the day he bought the bike home, he asked his wife, of thirty-two years, to abandon their marital bed as he had something really precious he wanted to sleep with.
The bicycle was exceptionally sleek, with tell tale signs of age and then hints of advanced technology such as hidden cables and a steel and aluminium frame. It also had embossed the word Eddy on the forks and on the frame beneath the seat, the name Eddy Merckx. Who knows, but it was a good story.
He told us he was a music producer and that he was actually on his way to his studio over near the London Zoo. I can’t remember why he told us, something in the conversation led to him telling us he was super, super rich. We thought it was funny. He went on to tell us some stories of his encounters with Ridley Scott (Rid) and Russell Crowe with whom he was not impressed. This was obviously as a result of Crowe’s treatment of his wife, of thirty-two years, who apparently is a hair and make-up artist and according to Nicko, the best on the planet. (No exaggeration of course!)
His was delightful. As a somber cynic, I don’t know how many of Nicko’s tales were fabrications but they were wonderful and we were thoroughly entertained.