Monday, 26 August 2019


It was hard to be cheerful as England’s batting collapsed on Friday after the euphoria of Jofra Archer’s bowling the day before. Somehow Brexit,  Brazilian rain forests and prospective recession were put in perspective. I recalled the Teresa May’s role model was Geoffrey Boycott, the model test cricketer, whose own derisory comments eviscerated England’s pitiful performance. It was more like primary school cricket than Test Cricket. All I wanted to do was go to bed.

Yet outside the sun was shining, the “fishing-boat-bobbing” sea was twinkling blue and seagulls were shrieking “mine, mine” as they swooped on fish and chip gobbling tourists. Real summer. Real laughter. Yet I was miserable.

I’ve often been told “it’s only a game” but “only” isn’t good enough. It’s set the tone for my summers ever since I was an avid player myself long, long ago. Cricket has for me, and many others,  been a metaphor for life. It normally has a slow rhythm to it not the frantic hysteria we saw. The point of it for spectators always seemed to be that gentle unfolding of drama , one of the reasons that the Compton stand at Lords seems so full of actors relaxing before their evening performance. Yet the game has been reduced to pantomime “behind you Wade” (that’s a very esoteric joke reserved just for cricket buffs.)

The reason for this may be partly because of the dominance of short form cricket indicating our unquenchable need for speed. Speed dating, speed interviewing and so on. The operatic grandeur of the grand old game has gone. Slow and graceful has been replaced by Tarantino dramatics.

I wonder why our moods are so fickle and frail and why that frailty has become more pronounced. Perhaps because we are exposed to an increasing quantity of headlines on social media, in the papers and by commentators. John Arlott  was more mellow than Jonathan Agnew, more poetic more descriptive and less brittle.

Our lives are dominated by BBC Radio 4 Today-style interviewers and Daily Mail  headlines. I recall an old Private Eye cartoon in which a cheerful fellow walks downstairs and picks up the paper. Its headline is “It’s a disgrace” and his face creases in a dark frown “It’s a disgrace!!” he mutters, the tenor of his day defined and ruined.

Things got worse when I discovered that BA pilots are going on strike on the day we are going on a late holiday to Spain. The aeronautical equivalent of “rain stopped play”.

But my dejection improved when I itemised what was good in my life. My blessings far outweigh a batting collapse or a travel hitch.

The sheer delight of seeing five young people growing up all with different talents, the joy of writing and reading the abundance of great books that are being published. And most of all the huge number of incredible people I know, like and love.

It’s a curiously wonderful life…but better still if we batted properly.

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