Dinner With Mum, Dad and Janie at Lamberts, Balham, 29 June 2007

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A painful memory, this one. Not for the dinner itself, which was a culinary and social success, celebrating Janie’s birthday.

Painful, because we now know that dad only had a few weeks to live. There were just a couple of clues on the  night.

Dad was just shy of 88 and was finding it harder to get in and out of the car without help, but on this occasion he needed a lot of help; far more than he had needed before.

The other clue was that dad didn’t finish his meal. He said the food was very good but that he didn’t have the appetite for any more than he had eaten. This was a very unusual thing for dad to do/say, but we thought little of it at the time.

In fact, dad was riddled with cancer by then. In early August, when he collapsed and we were given the news that he was in such a bad way, the specialist couldn’t believe that he had been more-or-less symptom free until five weeks before he collapsed.

There are a few other photos from the evening including the one above – click here if you want to see them. 

Ged Tries To Keep His Head While Kev Fly Slips, MTWD “Lost Masterpiece” Three Part Match Report on Z/Yen v The Children’s Society, Holland Park, 26 June 2007

Normal people who simply want to know a little about a great fun works match between Z/Yen and The Children’s Society should look at my main Ogblog entry for this day – click here. 

The piece that follows is a ludicrously long match report, authored by me and Barmy Kev jointly. It was published as a three-parter on Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) over the winter of 2007/2008 when we were desperate for feature material.

Barmy Kev and others
Barmy Kev and others

It is one of the MTWD “lost masterpieces”; as explained more fully in the posting linked here – Sportnetwork managed to lose all the features that were published on all of its web sites during a period around that time. However, I still have all the features that I wrote and edited. The version below is pre final edits and pre division into three parts.

I realise now that I started using pseudonyms, such as Charley “The Gent” Malloy back then, as early as 2007, prior to my King Cricket piece days. I should note, though, that new dad “Alex DeLarge” in this piece is not the same person as “Big Al DeLarge” from King Cricket pieces such as the one linked here. 

It runs to over 4000 words. It is for connoisseurs, not normal people. You have been warned. Here goes:

Ged Tries to Keep Head as Kev Fly Slips

After 2 incomplete 20/20 games Monday and Wednesday, an MTWD editorial representation complete match took part on Tuesday. This match was full of drama and twists and turns and seeing our captain Ged becoming very animated.

 

Big Match Build Up – Qualification Rules – Ged’s View

The annual cricket match; Ged Ladd & Co v Charley “the Gent” Malloy’s Charity XI has become somewhat of a grudge match of late.  Ged Ladd & Co employs 10 to 20 people at any one time, whereas Charley the Gent works for a large charity which employs over a thousand of people.

Team selection has become a matter of great debate in recent years, with Ged trying hard to stick to staff, associates, WAGs/HABs/relatives of staff, close friends and the like.  Meanwhile Charlie “the Gent” had found a rich seam of massive Saffers (tangentially connected at best to charity staff), one of whom nearly killed someone last year by bowling proper medium pace to a man in his fifties with a serious heart condition.

Indeed, the Big Saffer qualification situation became severely muddied this year, as one of the Big Saffers, EK, fell in love with a member of Ged’s staff at the match 3 years ago and married her (now FK) a few weeks before this year’s fixture. Did this mean that some or all of the Saffers should now play for Ged?  No – we agreed this year that we should be far more strict about the qualification rule.  This made sense, but this year left Ged with a bit of a talent-pool shortage, despite having one Big Saffer unquestionably now qualified for Ged’s team by marriage, as several people from last year’s Ged team had hung up their boots to avoid the risk of further injury or worse.

 

The Pre-Match Encounters – Banter and Sledging – Ged’s View

Banter and sledging starts early for this fixture.  March time normally, when the pitch is booked.  Charley the Gent was dischuffed this year, as Regent’s Park was already fully booked so Ged’s people booked the synthetic pitch on Holland Park – coincidentally the scene of the initiating star-crossed lovers incident (EK & FK) three year’s ago and equally coincidentally the scene of the most recent victory by Ged Ladd & Co, in unseasonable weather conditions in 2004 (the evening before the abandoned Middlesex v West Indians fixture).

Charley “the Gent” was convinced that Ged had deliberately chosen “fortress Holland Park” to up his chances of a win. Ged would never do such a thing (have you noticed that great captains like Michael Vaughan and Ged refer to themselves in writing using the third person, by the way) but Ged certainly would get in early with the sledging.  Ged and Charley had a couple of pre match nets and Ged warned Charley that he’d worked him out but refused to say where he’d set the field for said “working out”.  Ged’s wicket-keeper, “The Tazmanian Devil” sent a long distance sledge, telling Charlie that Ged might as well tell him the field he’d set for him as Charlie lacks the talent to do anything about it, even if he knew what was on Ged’s mind a year in advance.

Meanwhile Ged had an horrific second net.  Everywhere the ball can go to hit unprotected flesh and cause maximum pain, Ged managed to get hit.  Below the pad on the front leg, above the pad on the back leg, both sides of the box and Ged even managed an upper cut into his own eye.   Bruised in both body and ego, Charlie’s obvious pleasure at Ged’s discomforture was uncharitable to say the least.  Charlie had a super net that day, bowling straight and putting Ged off his bowling line (it doesn’t take much) with some clean hitting.

You’d have thought that these were two bitter foes, but the reality is, once the grudge match is over, that Ged and the Tazmanian Devil join Charlie the Gent’s charity team for the rest of the season (one or two matches).  From nemeses to stalwarts is but a few short strides.

 

Team Selection – Do We Have Eleven People Who Can Walk Today? – MTWD to the Rescue? – Ged’s View

As the day of the match approached, team selection was not going well for Ged.  Indeed, Ged himself was struck down with a gastric bug a few days before the match and still felt very weak on the day before the fixture.  Ged was thinking about standing aside himself, when he got the call from his practice manager that day, concerned that two of the team’s “dead certs” looked distinctly “uncert” due to illness.  Ged decided that he’d have to play come what may.  He didn’t want to have to ask Jez Horne to play –  Jez is one of the founders of MTWD, a key member of Ged Ladd’s staff and one of the several who had suffered in 2006 and requested not to play.

But Barmy Kev had noticed Ged’s mention of the fixture on MTWD and e-mailed Ged to ask if he and Olivia could watch.  Ged thought he spotted an opportunity.  “By all means come and watch – copious beer and cake – you might even get a game”, read the e-mail.  “I’d like to play – I can sport my Middlesex pink”, came the reply from Barmy Kev.  “Got one”, thought Ged.

 

Big Match Build Up – Barmy Kev’s View

I had a last minute invitation to Ged Ladd’s company cricket event with possibility of playing. They weren’t desperate, honestly. Nor was I.  And Ged’s mention of copious alcohol being available was purely incidental in me agreeing to turn up.  I told Olivia that duty calls and so forth.  I also told her that she’d finally get to meet Ged and Daisy.  In fact, Ged has been saying for some time now that he and Daisy believe Olivia to be my imaginary friend, as I keep saying that she’ll be at matches and then she doesn’t come.

As, I arrive I am still uncertain whether I’ll be playing. The Ged Ladd & Co 11th man/woman has childcare issues and someone else had transportation delays. This is a logistical nightmare for captain Ged.  And a nerve-wracking nightmare for several people who have turned up on the strict understanding that they do not want to play, only to drink and watch.  Does Michael Vaughan have such problems when deliberating on final line-up before a test I wondered? Or Ed Smith when preparing Middlesex for a County Championship match?  (Well, possibly…)

I was picked and given an impression my role would be a JD World cup “can’t bat /can’t bowl but hey its always an honour to be there” role.

 

Let the Game Begin – Ged’s View

A few of the Ged Laddites warm up and Ged realises that Barmy Kev probably can’t bat, can’t bowl and can hardly field (ideally qualified for the Ged Ladd & Co team), but he does have a bit of a throwing arm, so he could be more useful than most in a key fielding position.  One of Ged’s favourite positions for amateur cricket is fly slip.  Catches go there off slow-medium bowling and the position can often save one or four.  It’s no-mans-land in real cricket but can become key in scratch cricket.

Ged also figures that his team’s bowling is probably not going to be strong enough to defend a total this year (crumbs, even Ged is going to have to bowl, the team is sooo short of bowling), so Ged will elect to bowl if he gets the chance.  The artificial surface neutralises most if not all “bat first” advantage.

The best laid plans – Ged wins the toss and surprises Charlie the Gent and his team by electing to field.  With quite a lot of cloud and a delayed start due to late arrivals, Charlie’s team are in no hurry now.  Ged’s elected to do his batting later – in the dwindling light.

 

Let the Games Begin – Barmy Kev’s View

As I took the field I felt my credentials were extended to can’t field as Ged told me to field at Fly Slip. A rare position normally, in my view, reserved for the fielder you need to hide. I within the wide scope of position occasionally moved around to deep gully and would then sneak closer at times to barmy backward point to add some pressure and be in better earshot for my sledging.

Our team got off to perfect start – 2 early wickets. More surprising the 2nd was a decent batsman top edging one of Ged’s dolly drops.  The very next ball the no. 4 batter, who was a woman, was deceived, I think by Ged’s flight, and stumped way out of crease. The umpire gave it not out, claimed unsighted. This woman later proved to be no mug with bat. It transpired she was a regular league  player from South Africa and contributed to the bulk of the opposition total.  “Co-incidentally”, another female in the opposing team was bowled 1st ball, and the same umpire belatedly called no ball.  Ged was not happy and was hoping, if required, for a similar concession for our team for our 1 female and me in Middlesex Pink.

 

The Opening Salvos – Ged Reports

Knowing the opposition of old, Ged knew that Ged needed to hold back quite a bit of the better bowling for their big hitters down the order.  So Ged decided to open the attack with EK’s military medium at one end and Ged himself with donkey drops at the other end.  This was expected to give Ged a pop at Charlie the Gent himself, but that plan went awry (or well, depending on how you look on it) when EK sent Charlie’s stumps flying during the first over.  Charlie was not having one of his better days so far.

Ged then bowled at a rather fearsome-looking tall lad named Matt, who lacked the Aussie accent that normally accompanies such a name but Matt looked like he could hold a bat and had chosen one with a long handle.  It’s hard for most bowlers to get one to float in above the eye-line of such a lanky batsman, but a donkey-drop specialist has no fear of air and the result was as planned – back lift exaggerated, shape to shot diminished, tiny bit of top spin effective and the ball goes vertical.  At that moment time stood still.  The Tazmanian Devil keeper had not seen the ball and was stationery.  It was like one of those horrible car-crash scenes in a movie in ultra slow motion and silence.  Ged intervened.  “Catch it, catch it”, cried Ged pointing in the direction of the descending missile.  Meanwhile (no doubt) air defences were being put on red alert and UFO spotters all over Kensington were pointing their telescopes in the direction of Holland Park.  The Tazmanian Devil set off on his run forwards and dived headlong to take a brilliant catch.  Ged had taken his first wicket in over 30 years (let’s be fair folks, Ged doesn’t usually bowl) and the oppo are two down.

Next ball, Ged decides to try a similar delivery again.  Ged knows that the larger-than-life South African woman before him, Charlene, is no mug.  She’s played cricket at a very impressive level in South Africa and is Charlie the Gent’s proposed secret weapon for the late July “UnPro40” fundraising fixture.  Up goes the ball (delivery), down the track comes Charlene, unaware of the almost infinite variations that might occur whenever Ged is daft enough to try to bowl, she is beaten hook line and sinker by the “flight” and is stumped by a good many yards.  The batsmen had almost crossed in fact.  Charlie the Gent’s umpire says not out and Ged is denied a chance at a hat trick.  Possibly just as well – Ged did once take a hat trick with donkey drops in a school game, more than 30 years ago.  Ged’s still talking about it (it’s a dull story folks, unless you happen to be Ged) and the schoolmaster who was umpiring the game has never really recovered from the fit of uncontrollable laughter the landmark event induced in him.

 

And Now, Back to the Match – Charity XI Innings – Barmy Kev Reports

Anyway, after a promising start the opposition run rate was increasing and Ged was getting flustered. I didn’t help Ged’s blood pressure by tactically moving myself from fly slip to close in to a new batsman. I was told to go back to fly slip in no uncertain terms.

Next over seeing a massive offside gap, I moved myself to point and was not spotted by Ged. Typically, a thickish edge looped over slip ahead of third man and guess who it would have been a chance for if he had simply done as he was told and guess who wasn’t happy with me??

My next contribution came soon afterwards,  Not wishing to wind up our stressed captain any further, I fielded at fly slip about half way back to boundary. A flying top edge came our way, bisecting me and 1st slip.  1st slip was running back and I was running towards the ball at easy catchable height. I was determined to catch this and shouted, “leave”, but either first slip was deaf or equally determined; I spectacularly pulled-out at the last minute, diving out of the way as 1st slip caught the ball comfortably. I’m not sure whether relief was the vital wicket or serious injury being avoided.

I was asked by our Tazmanian Devil of a keeper to move to point, rising the wrath of Ged, but there I stopped a hard hitting shot saving four runs and was pleased I made a tangible contribution in my more favoured position.

After 20 overs the Charlie “The Gent” Malloy’s Charity XI achieved 110 runs – in the  context of previous games a good total.  I was hopeful the 4 runs I saved would be significant.

 

And Now, Back to the Match – Charity XI Innings – Ged Reports

Of course, the Charity XI umpire being so generous to unfortunate young ladies was a subtle Charity XI ploy to secure a reasonable score.  Bolstered by the umpire and some good players in their middle order, the innings ebbed and flowed as a good 20:20 innings should.  We actually play 20:20:20 cricket for this fixture – a successful batsman retires at 20 to ensure that everyone gets a go, with a chance to return at the end of the innings once everyone else has had a chance.  Charlene and another Saffer, Big Malc, retired in such circumstances.  Ged’s ploy to hold back a fair chunk of the better bowling prevented the better batsmen from scoring too quickly and wickets fell at enough regular intervals to escape that feeling that the innings is getting away from you.

Of course, things might have been even better if fielders stuck to Ged’s game plan.  The worst offender was Barmy Kev who simply wouldn’t stay put at fly slip despite the fact that enough action was happening down there to convince him, surely, that this was a worthwhile place to field.  On one occasion a catch splintered off towards fly slip, only for Ged to observe a vacancy where the fly slip should have been – Barmy Kev had crept up to gully again surreptitiously.  On another occasion, when Kev was doing what he was told (for once), a skier went high up in the air between slip and fly slip, much closer to our (very competent) slip fielder, Martin.  Kev lunges in the direction of Martin yelling “mine” and then, just as it looks as though there would be no wicket and two casualty admissions to A&E, Kev bails out of the run, giving no audible warning that “mine” had been switched to “yours”; nevertheless Martin took the catch like a proper cricketer.  “Who is that clown?” asked one of the team regulars.  “Martin?”, enquired Ged.

110/9 was their final score – very respectable in our terms but distinctly gettable if the Ged Ladd and Co team perform.  And 110/9 is almost certainly a very accurate recording of the score.  But Charlie”the Gent” Molloy and several of his team mates found it very hard to believe that the scorer, our very own MTWD founder Jez Horne, with a first class degree in maths, could possibly have recorded the score accurately.  True, it was a difficult assignment to keep the score in those circumstances, with several members of the Charlie “the Gent” rabble trying to convince Jez all the time that the umpire had just signalled four/six/wide and that Jez had missed the vital signalling moment while looking down to record the events of the ball.  But Jez was undeterred and undistracted; he applied all that learning from his maths degree, combined with all those years of following cricket, to complete the scorebook with extreme precision.

 

Ged Ladd’s Innings – Barmy Kev’s View

Ged read out the batting line out to achieve target. I was wondering what my role was. It was an occasion like at school when playing football and players are against wall and you are last to be picked. When Ged chose 1-10 without me being mentioned, I am sure Ged picked me as 11, after looking out for other latecomers to turn up as my replacement. However, I respected his authoritative “ Kev you’re in at 11!

Ged himself was opening. This would have been clear to any of those present who did not know Ged – indeed to most of Kensington and the surrounding boroughs, with Daisy continually screeching “come on Ged” at the top of her voice.  Ged certainly played a sheet anchor (or something sounding a bit like that) role. He successfully was holding his end up and continually nurdling runs, not exhausting himself with any risky running between wickets.  With Ged having helped the team put on 45 in the first 7 overs (a great many of which were wides and byes), the South African lady whose stumping had been denied to Ged clean bowled him for a solid 12.  I realised that Ged could in fact run straight and fast, as after his dismissal he sprinted to the red wine bottle.

 

Ged’s Innings – Ged’s View

Ged opened the batting with fellow Middlesex supporting stalwart, Peter Bramley, far and away the best batsman on display that day.  An opera company were rehearsing some enormous Wagner monstrosity in the outdoor concert arena nearby.  The opening batsmen strolled out to bat to the strains of some heroic Wagnerian overture and for some reason the orchestra decided to strike up whenever Ged was on strike.  This noisy stuff seemed a bit distracting at first, but once the innings got under way and Ged got a few runs under his belt and saw Peter and the extras column getting off to a real flier, the heroic music seemed somewhat fitting, nay, almost encouraging.

Of course, you can tell the difference straight away between Tazmanian Devil style sledging and the Old Etonian sledging that Ged received.  When Ged said to the wicket-keeper “I’m finding the music rather uplifting”, the reply came “oh dear, I was rather hoping the Wagner was putting you Orff”.  Taz would probably have said “you’re such a cr*p batsman the DJ’s celebrating your wicket falling already, you stupid b*st*rd, anyway you could get a whole f*cking orchestra between your bat and your front pad when you try to play a shot”.  But mercifully, Taz was on our side and when Peter retired on 20*, Taz joined Ged and merely said, “hey, you’re going really well today mate, keep going”.  But soon Taz was also on his way, going for glory too early in his innings and skying one to the only member of the opposition team (Big Malc) who stood a cat-in-hell’s chance of catching that ball.

Ged was then joined by Alex DeLarge, who needed to bat early in the innings so he could go off and be a new dad as quickly as possible.  Alex is a regular in the team who sometimes comes off (leave it to him) or sometimes doesn’t (better stick around and anchor).  Alex was having an “on” day and got off to a good start with a couple of good 2s and then he struck a really good 4 with ultraviolence.  Ged knew that he might as well get on with it now and that retirement loomed soon if he could get a couple of big hits away himself.  That is usually a recipe for disaster, Ged-wise, normally in the form of lobbing an easy catch to someone.  But Charlene is a better bowler than that, had seen the gap between Ged’s front pad and the bat, and subtly switched tack to off-cutters.  It only took two of those to dislodge Ged.

 

Oh No, Surely We Can’t Lose It From Here – Kev’s View

An all too familiar Middlesex like collapse started to occur. At this stage I was beginning to enjoy the social side of occasion and still thought we were meandering to victory. Then with 7 wickets came a shout from Ged “ Kev get your pads on”. Our no. 8 was a female who didn’t look like could hold a bat and I was frantically trying to get pads on, done in my usual ungainly manner hoping a hat trick was not going to happen. There were enough overs left but wickets were problem. Everyone was crowding the bat around our female who was struggling to get bat to ball. We thought we might have to rely on umpires again developing selective myopia.

 

Don’t be Daft – Ged Never Doubted Us For A Moment – Ged’s View

The middle order left a little to be desired, once Alex DeLarge was removed, although by that time we’d got within 15 to 20 of the target and still had plenty of overs to go.  Also, EK was still there, although he was uncharacteristically going for 1s and 2s, perhaps awaiting the arrival of FK at the crease.  At 7 down, it was time for FK to have a go.  She has played once or twice before and is a generally sporty young woman, but Charlie “the Gent”‘s team spelt blood and strangely, their umpire seemed to have forgotten about the “no-one gets out first ball” rule when one of our other stalwarts got cleaned up for a primary.

So there you have it – about 12 runs still required, 4 or 5 overs to go so runs is not the problem, a couple of rabbits in the hutch plus one returnee.  But most importantly, you have a newly-wed couple at the crease, hoping to get the team over the line.  Charlie’s team are trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, giving no quarter,  EK was offering a great deal of assistance, one might say instruction, to his bride, FK.  The odd single here or there.  Then, FK plays the shot of the day. After the match, she claimed that she didn’t see the ball properly at first and just went after it once she got sight of it.  Ged describes it as a perfectly executed late cut for four – one of the hardest and most elegant shots in the game.  The Ged Ladd & Co supporters are in ecstasies and the target is down to very few indeed.  Soon, the scores are tied and EK is on strike.  He goes for glory – trying to wrap up the match with a big six into the crowd – and guess what? – he pulls it off and the game is won.  The honeymoon couple at the crease together winning the match for their team.  You couldn’t have made up the ending without seeming like the cheesiest writer since Barbara Cartland died.

 

Barmy Kev Summarises

Ged seemed mightily pleased with win and I felt his tension on what was a surprisingly competitive match. However, in true spirit of occasion, all parties were friends afterwards and enjoyed some more beers/wine.

It was a really fun afternoon despite my lack of contribution and receiving a few ticking offs. Mrs Barmy was there with a few other WAGS and we were made to feel very welcome. If invited next year I would certainly return and will be working on various aspects of my game, like listening to captain’s orders.

 

Z/Yen v The Children’s Society Cricket Match, Holland Park, 26 June 2007

The Z/Yen Team
The Z/Yen Team

This was one of the more memorable cricket matches between Z/Yen and The Children’s Society, not least because it was one of the very few that Z/Yen won.

Also memorable because we have a lot of artefacts from the match:

If Ian Harris can claim that even one good thing has ever come out of Z/Yen’s annual cricket match, (an event which boasted it’s 10th anniversary this year), it must be the resulting courtship and recent marriage of our Fran Birch with Eugene Kinghorn. Three years ago, Eugene played for The Children’s Society while Fran played for Z/Yen. One thing led to another after the (cricket) match and those two were matched (married) a few weeks ago.

This year we returned to the scene of the crime, Holland Park, with Eugene of course now playing in Z/Yen colours (qualified by marriage, cricket was always thus).

Suffice it to say that Z/Yen won the fixture this year, with several Z/Yen people exceeding all expectations (even Ian, I kid you not). But you couldn’t have written the script for the ending – Eugene and Fran batting together, knocking off the winning runs.

Scene of the crime seems like a suitable phrase for this match; Charles Bartlett being eyed with suspicion by the local constabulary:
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I recall taking wickets (ripping my fingers to shreds trying to spin the new ball)…
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…and scoring some runs opening the batting with Peter Cox, which sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy…
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…OK – in truth I think the frenzy was more likely to have been when Eugene and Fran were knocking off the winning runs and earning “match of the match” awards.
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Janie and Phillie’s Party, Sandall Close, 23 June 2007

This was a great party. Wonderfully well organised by Janie, with themeing help of course from Kim.

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The theme was tropical, as Janie and I had been to Cuba and Jamaica earlier that year.

It was the early days of iPod use for me, but I made up a well cool iPod playlist, which I have maintained (as best I can) and printed in pdf form here – 2007 Caribbean Party In Full.

The food was catered by Jo Buckingham of TRUFFLEhound. Olivier the butler and his team were hired to look after the guests. We also put a lot of effort into designing an amazing rum cocktail to be a centrepiece for the drinks.

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So what could possibly go wrong? Well, unfortunately I went down with the raging sh*ts overnight the night before, which left me not much use to anybody all day. I tried to sleep it off for most of the day, hoping to be fit by late afternoon onwards. But I didn’t get far when I tried getting up and helping out around 16:30, so I went back to bed again until just before the guests arrived.

As it turned out, I managed to get through the party more or less, but only by keeping away from the wonderful food and drink we had put so much effort into specifying. It really was only a 24 hour bug-type thing, so I was able to try leftovers on the Sunday, but that’s hardly the same thing.

Kim quasi-secretly hired a “butler in the buff” for the party. Naturally he arrived and needed to change soon after I had sloped off to the bedroom to lie down for a short while – as it turned out an even shorter while than I had intended. Here is a discreet picture of the gentleman:

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There are lots of photos from this event – some of them leaving very little to the imagination in the “buff butler”department.  The full monty (as it were) of the photo album can be found here.

The Pain and the Itch, Bruce Norris, Royal Court Theatre, 22 June 2007

We really enjoyed this play.  I think it was the first Bruce Norris play we saw and it certainly motivated us to look out for his plays.

We were due to see it on Saturday 23 June, but then realised that the only Saturday that made sense for a Worm family birthday celebration was that Saturday. The Royal Court very kindly swapped the seats for us at no charge, despite my insistence that the booking error was my fault. “That’s what friends are for,” was the response. I wish more arts organisations treated the term “friend” thus.

Excellent cast, with Matthew Macfadyen, Andrea Riseborough and Amanda Boxer perhaps the most memorable.

The Royal Court archive tells it all, including substantial extracts from the mostly excellent reviews – click here.

Academy of Ancient Music, Wigmore Hall, 20 June 2007

I’m not sure why we feel this way, but we sense something a little cliquey and clinical about the Academy of Ancient Music – perhaps it is the corporate-style branding.

The music of course is beautiful.  Not quite sure why I chose this particular serving of fairly standard baroque concert fare, especially on an inconvenient Wednesday night for Janie.  I think I might have been itching to hear the BWV1042 violin concerto live and wondering about Locatelli.

We enjoyed it all well enough.

 

AAM 20 June 2007

Middlebrook Mauls Middlesex, “MTWD Lost Masterpiece”, Middlesex v Essex at Lord’s, Day One, 15 June 2007

The background to the phenomenon of MTWD “lost masterpieces” is explained in this link – click here. In short, Sportnetwork permanently lost a swathe of published features from 2007.

But fear not; I tend to keep everything. So the following report, a visit to Lord’s with Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett, is available here for all to see.

I can think of at least two people who should still find this report interesting and amusing.

Middlebrook Mauls Middlesex

 

Ged Ladd reports on day one of the CC game against Essex at Lord’s.  Ged’s guest, Charley “The Gent” Malloy, returns for more cricket this year.  Charley, who last year was Durham to the core by the end of that day, turns out to be the quintessential Essex boy by the end of this day.   But the worst performance was the weather forecaster – the only real shower was some of the afternoon bowling.

 

Fashionably Late, Again

At 10:10 Ged receives a text from his guest, Charley “The Gent” Malloy, stating that he as at Newbury Park tube but still hopes to get to Lord’s for the start of play.  Some hope, thinks Ged, who sets off 5 minutes later, as planned, picnic in hand.

Ged arrives in time for the start of play and decides to go to the Upper Allen for a short time to watch while waiting for Charley.  Ged bumps in to Gerry the Bookseller up there, who gets very excited at the thought that Charley is coming, as there’s always a chance of book business when Charley is around.

Charley arrives surprisingly quickly, before 11:15, so he and Ged decamp to the Pavilion to enjoy some “behind the bowler’s arm” stuff.   From there, Silverwood’s LBWs looked pretty good to us – indeed Pettini could easily have gone LBW a couple of balls before he actually did go.

There was just a smidgeon of swing and the constant fall of wickets seemed odd given the flatness of the pitch.  Silvers and Vaas bowled well, as did Murtagh before he pulled up.

I saw that Murtagh injury as a really ominous sign, even while the wickets were falling, but daren’t mention it to Charley who was weakening his pint of Pedigree by crying into it.  Charley tried to remind me that he was a Durham man really, but I don’t fall for that stuff any more.  He consoles himself with some sausages and sausage rolls as nibbles – very nice with the Pedi.

Everything went right for Middlesex in the morning.  Ed Smith must have juggled Foster three or four times before holding on to the slip chance, for example.

Five down at lunch – what a great start for Middlesex.  We’re told that Chester-Le-Street is rained off for the day.

 

Luncheon

We take luncheon in the Coronation Gardens.  Pastrami and Swiss rolls washed down with a nice South African red.  We watch some youngsters playing cricket on the lawn – as usual Charley can hardly hold himself back from joining in.   Eventually the ball comes my way, so I indicate that I’d like to bowl it back.  I bowl a piercing Yorker at the lad who digs it out very well.  “Oh”, says the school master (straight from central casting in look and voice), “would you mind bowling him another?”  Naturally I oblige; another Yorker, another good safe defensive shot.  Charley looks well left out.  “May my friend have a go?” I ask.  “Of course,” says the school master.  So Charley takes the heavy-rubber practice ball and bowls a bouncer, which the young batsman leaves to sail a couple of inches past his nose.  “That’s what I was telling you about Andy Roberts” says the schoolmaster, “fiendish bouncers he bowled”.  How can you bowl a bouncer at a kid like that?  Charley’s problem is that he gets overexcited very easily, where cricket is concerned at least.

 

Lovely afternoon weatherwise

Given the weather forecast, and the fact it was clouding over, we thought we’d be lucky to see much cricket after lunch.  But the tiny shower soon cleared and Middlesex took a quick wicket after lunch.  Bichel joined Middlebrook and there they stayed for what seemed like ever.

We went to the bowlers bar and got chatting with some friends of mine – some more recent Lord’s acquaintances, some old friends from years gone by.  We drank, we watched a bit, we wandered round to the Upper Edrich, we wandered round to the Mound Stand.  We watched.  We ate some more (smoked salmon rolls, ginger biscuits).

Charley, of course, became increasingly Essex as the day went on and as the game turned Essex’s way.  Indeed, by the end he was telling me tales of bravery walking through Romford Estates at 3.00 a.m. or some such.  I wasn’t really listening.

Bichel holed out as soon as he reached his well-deserved 100.

The new ball did nothing – indeed Kartik and Joyce were bowling with it by the close of play.  Joyce had a big caught behind shout turned down.

 

So What Went Wrong for Middlesex?

Losing Murtagh right at the start was a huge blow.  If only we could have finished Essex off when we had them on the ropes, but now this match looks like a tough one, unless we can post a monster first innings score.  Frankly, there seems to be nothing in the wicket so perhaps that monster score is possible.

Rymps’ bowling looked well below par to me.  Silvers, Vaas and Kartik all bowled well but three main bowlers ain’t enough.  Kartik in particular I thought deserved more luck.  Ben Scott looked woefully out of sorts behind the stumps.  Most of the fielding was energetic and fine – the odd lapse but there usually is when in the field all day.

And you have to hand it to Middlebook, Bichel and latterly Tudor who batted well and made the most of the circumstances.

And of course the inspired captaincy of Pettini, not declaring on 97/6.

As always, of course, I still enjoyed my day at Lord’s.  As I always say on these occasions, I cannot spend a day watching 1st class cricket and not enjoy it.  And of course, as always, Charley “The Gent” and I have developed a cunning master plan for winning our “UnPro 40” match this year.  Our plot last year was so successful (we won at a canter) we actually need an even more cunning plan this year to ensure that we win, but only just.  Similarly, I don’t mind if Middlesex merely scrape a win out of this match now!  Indeed, a 12 point draw would be fine from here.

If by any chance anyone is still reading and wishes to see the scorecard from this match, here is a link to that very card.

England v West Indies, Day One and Day Two, Old Trafford Test, June 7 & 8, 2007

The usual Heavy Rollers gig is Edgbaston, of course, but this year there was to be no test match in Brum.

Indeed, there has been much musing and debate since June 2007 as to whether this outing comprises a Heavy Rollers event or not.

In short, it does as far as I am concerned.

The evening before the match started, we were supposed to have a net at Old Trafford.  Charles had arranged it all.  The Old Trafford lot had been reluctant at first, priority for test match teams, can’t have oiks in the same nets as international players, blah blah.  But when Chas explained that it was our tradition to net at Edgbaston the night before the match (based on a sample of one previous occasion, the year before, negotiated through similar reluctance), someone at Old Trafford was daft enough to relent and take our booking…but was then too polite to tell anyone to keep the place was open for us.

Result – disappointment the night before – only consolation being an amazing meal at Yang Sing (yes, my idea, yes, I know what I am doing, Chinese food-wise) for the four of us who had ventured that far north.  Given the fuss-pot group involved: Nick, Harish, Charles and “me-no-fuss-pot” , the Yang Sing team worked wonders with a feast with plenty of food for all to enjoy.

The first day at the test was a day to watch England batting pretty well.  Chas was still fidgeting about the net; I suggested that our best chance of real redress (i.e. a net) was to try and get them to allow us a net the next morning before the start of play.  So we went to see the indoor school people and managed to find a suitably apologetic and sympathetic lady.  She agreed that we had been seriously inconvenienced, to the extent that merely getting our money back was not adequate; she also managed to arrange for us to have our net at 9:00 am, before play the next day.  She even arranged for us to have a parking space at Old Trafford when the inevitable question came up.  Yes, Chas could then leave the car at Old Trafford all day.  Quite a result.

So in the end, we were able to drive into old Trafford for Day two of the test early in the morning, as if we owned the place.  Into the nets and let the fun commence.  Around the time I came to have my bat, a small posse of West Indian stars turned up in the adjoining net.  I especially remember Ravi Rampaul bowling to Shiv Chanderpaul.  I also remember having to encourage the heavy roller guys to bowl at me rather than rubbernecking at the adjoining nets.

Whether Shiv Chanderpaul rubbernecked to observe my technique I couldn’t say, as naturally I was concentrating hard on my batting – watching the ball all the time, all the way.  But Shiv did make a 50 that day, so I suspect he picked up a few ideas through observation in those nets.

The day got weirder once we were in our seats.  Someone behind us spent more or less the whole day on his feet in a Borat mankini.  He and his mates were also doing some strange business, passing around a whole cooked chicken while singing its praises.  And of course the inevitable Old Trafford beer snakes etc., as was the case Day One.

I also ran into Mike Redfern and a bunch of his mates from the Red Bat Cricket Collective. I noticed the Red Bat shirts walking past us and stopped the guys, asking them if they were by any chance still in touch with Mike.  “We sure are – he’s sitting over there with us”, was the reply.  Really nice to see him again.

Of course we went home at the end of Day Two (driving off into the sunset straight from the ground), but the test remained weird after we left Manchester, with a streaker incident the next day. Strangely, that incident was recently (at the time of writing, December 2015) reminisced about on King Cricket – here.

For the actual cricket, here’s the scorecard.

Taking Care of Baby, Dennis Kelly, Hampstead Theatre, 2 June 2007

Friday night at the Hampstead Theatre was our more regular habit, but the Carlos Perez concert had enticed us to the SBC the night before, so we plugged for the Saturday night for this play.

Probably just as well, because this was a truly troubling play that would not have worn well rushing to the theatre at the end of a stressful week.  It poses as a documentary drama about Donna McAuliffe, a woman convicted of murdering her infant children.  The story resembles in many ways the tragic Sally Clark case.

It was extremely well done and I am very glad we saw it.  We had enjoyed Dennis Kelly’s writing before, which was the main reason we booked it.  Hampstead was patchy to say the least in that era but the Dennis Kelly stuff was a rare exception and this one proved no exception to the exception.

Lyn Gardner spoke highly of it in the Guardian – click here.

As did Ian Shuttleworth for the FT – click here.

Philip Fisher in British Theatre Guide was less sure – click here.

Everyone agreed that Abigail Davies was marvellous.

I have the playtext for this one; unusual for the Hampstead but might well be worth a re-read, there was a lot going on in this play.

 

 

 

Carlos Perez, Purcell Room, 1 June 2007

This geezer could play.

Janie was on one of her classical guitar kicks at that time (pretty much perennial, they are, but she was especially on one of those that year), so we booked this Purcell Room concert, even for a Friday night.

It was very much part of a cultural programme through the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Society (LACCS) and the Chilean Embassy, so the great and the good from the Chilean community were out in force.

Friday evening after work, but the stresses of the week soon faded away as we listened to this wonderful music.

Did I mention that this geezer could play?  Well, you can decide for yourself, as the LACCS maintains an amazing archive – so you can hear some clips on this link…

…or if you would simply like to look at the programme and the programme notes, the LACCS has spared me the trouble of amateurish scanning by providing the programme here.  Jolly decent of them, as my dad would have put it.