15st 5lb, 3.9 units. It was a perfect, English summer’s evening so what could be more appropriate than to go to a cricket match? Apart from the fact that I loathe and detest cricket, obviously, though admittedly not as much as I dislike every other ball game apart from rounders, croquet and sexual intercourse. The quintessential Englishness of the thing always makes me feel that I really ought to enjoy it. The fact that, at any time, more than 40% of the alleged players can be sitting in the pavilion drinking beer and/or smoking a fag also has much to recommend it. It certainly appealed to me much more than any of the other games options at school, for that very reason. I even enjoyed playing it in the days of infancy when we bowled underarm with a tennis ball. I went right off it when we graduated to those rock hard lumps of leather, calculated to do you a serious injury, and discovered that overarm bowling, like swimming, was one of those things I was never destined to master.
Anyway, Mrs H wanted to go because some of her colleagues had formed a team to play a village side at a ground no more than five minutes’ drive from our house. Given these facts, it is disheartening to report that we spent so long driving around in circles, attempting to follow the detailed instructions on how to get there. After about an hour and a half, we found ourselves passing our own house, which we normally reach from Mrs H’s office in less than half that time. We then adopted Plan B and put the cricket ground’s postcode into the car’s sat nav. Within half an hour we were driving slowly down a village street, agreeing that we might as well pack it in and go home for some supper, when suddenly we spotted an open gate with a cattle grid and, a couple of fields beyond it, a row of parked cars and a flash of white that might either have been a man playing cricket or a swan making an emergency landing. So we went for it. We turned out to constitute 60% of Mrs H’s firm’s supporters.
The Boy gets the hang of his national game
Mrs H’s lot were bowling, and many runs were being scored. I explained, from my minimal knowledge of the game, that this was not a good thing. The villagers all seemed frightfully posh, though I warmed to them after I was offered me a bottle of beer (a plastic bottle, presumably to prevent me from smashing it into someone’s face if the game did not go as planned). I was delighted to witness their star batsman summoned from the pavilion to the crease with a freshly lit fag in his hand, muttering “Wouldn’t you bloody know it?” So lighting up works for getting your turn at batting, too, just as, in the days before the smoking ban, it invariably brought your long-awaited food to the table seconds after you had taken your first drag.
The Boy tries to get the hang of his national drink.
The Boy had two new experiences this evening: watching cricket, and being licked in the face by a passing Labrador. I cannot be absolutely sure, but I sense that he probably preferred the cricket.
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