What follows is not intended to be a celebration of ignorance. It is an acknowledgement of ignorance and maybe a celebration of how sport can eat away at it just a little bit.
Papua New Guinea have qualified for the World T20. The magnificently named Norman Vanua made 54 off 48 balls to get them a key win over Kenya after they’d been 19-6 after four overs.
We don’t know much about the country of Papua New Guinea. Without a flimsy cricket pretext, we doubt we’d have added to our unimaginably limited knowledge any time soon. World T20 qualification means that we’re interested in the place more immediately.
For a long time, we were unusually well-informed about Papua New Guinea compared to most people we knew. This is because the average child doesn’t know a single thing about Papua New Guinea and when we were about ten, we read a kids’ book about it.
We use the term “unusually well-informed” very generously because the book in question arguably wasn’t a 100 per cent fair and accurate depiction of Papua New Guinea and the people who live there. We don’t know this for a fact, because we’ve barely added to our Papua New Guinea knowledge since then. It’s just a faint suspicion we have; one that you may begin to comprehend when we give you the title of the book in the next sentence.
The book in question was Cannibal Adventure by Willard Price.
We’ll give you that title again in case it didn’t quite register the first time around. The children’s book we are talking to you about right now is called Cannibal Adventure.
Cannibal Adventure is about two brothers, Hal and Roger, who travel the world studying and maybe capturing animals. We’ve half a mind they were conservationists, but in a 1970s kind of a way, which means they probably did more harm than good.
The conservativism was really just a pretext for them to go on adventures though. (Or rather ‘Adventures’ because the other Willard Price books about Hal and Roger are: Amazon Adventure (1949), South Sea Adventure (1952), Underwater Adventure (1954), Volcano Adventure (1956), Whale Adventure (1960), African Adventure (1963), Elephant Adventure (1964), Safari Adventure (1966), Lion Adventure (1967), Gorilla Adventure (1969), Diving Adventure (1970), Tiger Adventure (1979) and Arctic Adventure (1980).
From what we remember about Cannibal Adventure, Hal and Roger did actually meet some cannibals, or at least some people who’d once been cannibals and had since given it up. We’re pretty sure Roger found some shrunken desiccated human heads too.
Other than that, we learned that Papua New Guinea has some pretty mad animals, like Komodo dragons, and that crocodiles are surprisingly fast runners (which isn’t really a Papua New Guinea fact, it’s a crocodile fact).
We thought we’d also read about Papua New Guinea in Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, but turns out that it merely has a chapter about Komodo dragons in it and we’d assumed they’d gone to see them in Papua New Guinea because that’s all we know about Papua New Guinea. They actually went to see them on the island of Komodo, which is in Indonesia and we’re now wondering whether Papua New Guinea even has Komodo dragons at all, in which case our limited knowledge of Papua New Guinea somehow just deteriorated further.
What do you know about Papua New Guinea? No googling.