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July 14, 2003, by Léon Krijnen

Why Watchking?   

Every winter, been there, done that, i'm going Down Under. On the very first occasion, in november 1985 i was booked on Olympic Airways. TazzyDevilAfter the stop-over in Athens, it turned out i shared the back of the 747 with the national Australian soccer team. The previous night, november the 20th, they had played 0-0 in Scotland, so they were in a pretty good mood.

Holland wasn't, because that same wednesday night they did beat Belgium in Rotterdam 2-1, but a late Belgium goal by Georges Grun robbed us of a place in the 1986 World Cup. Not that the Aussies did mind about that. Somewhere halfway between Athens and Singapore all the gantries in the 747 were out of beer. After refueling in Singapore more beers followed, so by the time i finally arrived at Tullamarine after 22 hours of flying and drinking, it wasn't only jet lag i was experiencing. The three friends i had made a year earlier in Portugal, Damien Simmons (Simmo), Jon Garrard (Animal) and Graham Crockett (Croche) were waiting. That super trio and some other Aussies had spent parts of the summer of '84 sleeping in my bed or on my carpet during the daytime, recovering from long nights in Cafe De Beyerd. 'Gd'day mate, g'd to see ya, let's go party', and they took me straight from the airport to yet another couple of parties. On the first one, in an apartment painted completely white inside out, and apparently therefore called 'Mikonos', i was introduced to a big and very loud-talking guy, Andrew Ornsby. His nickname was 'The Big O', and by the time we met i could not know we wouldn't meet for another ten years.
That was because of some difficulties The Big O, his profession was cook, had with the Australian Tax Revenue. Minor he called them, but it turned out they were major enough to force him to go cooking in cities like Paris and Lyon for the rest of the eighties. Anyway, everybody in Australia has a nickname, and Andrew was the one who gave me mine.
'Leon?', he asked, shaking my hand, 'well, from now on you're The Watchking, mate'. 'Watchking?', i said, 'why that?'. 'Yes, pal, you're Leon the Watchking, don't bother why, eventually you'll find out why, so don't worry now about how or what, fair dinkum, you wanna beer, dude?
Weeks later i saw my namesake on television. It was a spot from some kind of joint-venture between insurance companies and the Victorian police, or maybe some national action against petty crime. In the sport some actors played thieve, pickpocket, joy-rider and more professions like that. They all had names and Leon, neat black mustache, golden teeth, was the guy who had his two underarms covered in silver and golden clockies: 'psssst, hey mate, wanna buy watch from Leon...?'
'Nope dude, i'm sorry, fair dinkum, no worries, no flies on me..' Never having bought stolen watches, i'll never ever lose that nickname again, at least not Down Under.

Posted: July 14, 2003 11:42 PM (504 words).   

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