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Day 3: Tangier

Tangier, Morocco 
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Jonathan and Birdie enjoy a quiet moment.
Michael Palin - SaharaThe day ends on twin notes of anticlimax, both football related. Roger wants to film activity on the town beach, the public playing fields of Tangier. To integrate me in this happy recreational scene he has persuaded a local team to let me have a kick around with them. Considering their average age is about sixteen and there are distinct language problems, they do everything to make it easy for the elderly Englishman thrust into their midst, and I'm eager to show that, despite being two years short of sixty, I still know a few tricks.

One of these is the sliding tackle, which, together with the hefty up-field boot, was the basic essential of football as I was taught it. I win the ball, but, this being sand and not the Wembley turf I'm used to, I'm unable to move it, and as one of my legs sprints off the other one stays firmly beneath the ball. As my groin is prised apart I have no option but to fall flat on my back. I see the camera crew chuckling away on the touchline. Good old Michael, really entering into the spirit. This gives me fatal encouragement to get up and race off after the action. One more kick and something goes twang internally, and I hobble around, cursing. More laughter from the camera crew, and it's several minutes before they realise that this is not an Equity performance, but for real.

To have so recklessly disabled myself so early in the journey could pose all sorts of problems, but at least I satisfied the first rule of filming – if you're going to get hurt, get hurt on camera.
Tangier, Morocco 
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Tangerine children play on a canon commissioned by Sultan Moulay Hassan of Morocco in 1882 and built in Newcastle.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 3
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Tangier
  • Book page no: 22

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