The Children’s Society v Tufty Stackpole at Bentley CC, 29 July 2007

Daisy Heavy Roller

The banter for this match started early. It probably started as soon as The Children’s Society actually won the previous year’s fixture against Tufty Stackpole, at North Crawley; an event which seemed to displease the Tufties somewhat.

In the early days the Tufties complained that The Children’s Society were not putting up a competitive team, but over the years The Society’s access to big Saffers increased while the age demographic of the Tufties…also increased. You get the picture.

However, a message from Charles to Geoff 10 days before the event indicated that all was not well with the Children’s Society selection this time:

I am doing my best on numbers

I have had three players drop out and 2 of them proberly [sic] the best in the team!

Geoff responded within minutes:

Hi Charles

If two of your best players have dropped out, does this mean that Ian isn’t playing?

Role [sic] on the 29th

All the best

Geoff

I think Geoff was straightforwardly paying homage to my skills, but Charles inferred that Geoff’s response was a slur on my cricket ability. Or perhaps Chas wanted to lob another verbal grenade at the opposition. Whatever his reasoning, Chas wrote back a few minutes later as follows:

Geoff, I will have you know that Ian is playing the best cricket I have ever seen him play, so beware with your cheap comments and jibes about Ian!!

All the best

Charles

Chas’s role that year had in any case, unfortunately, become limited to organising the event and engaging in such bants, as he was injured/grounded for the match.

As usual, I had arranged nets and I can tell from the e-mail exchanges that Adam Hinks was at the net on Tuesday 24 July. It might have been just the two of us but I have a feeling that Matt Watson was there too. Lord’s looked a bit “after the Lord Mayor’s parade” that evening, I recall, but I don’t really remember what happened in the nets that night.

I have an extraordinary number of e-mails on the system of the “last minute drop-out”, “enforced team changes” and “could you find us another…” variety, from Charles, in the few weeks leading up to the match.

As the day drew nearer, though, Chas apparently abdicated the responsibility to Harish, who had let slip to Charles that he had friends and relations who like cricket. As the day approached, Harish wrote:

Dear all,

Just to let you know that my brother and my 14 year old nephew will be playing this Sunday. That means we are one short and Charles is waiting to hear nack [sic] back from Vishal. The team so far is as follows

1 Harish
2 Adam
3 Ian
4 Matt (Wicket keeper)
5 Nitin
6 Nitin’s friend
7 Malcolm
8 Matt Barker
9 Tarun (my brother)
10 Krishal (my nephew)
11 nephew’s friend 

Regards

Harish

But the weather played a cruel trick on us overnight ahead of the match; heavy rain. Charles called me quite early on the Sunday and said that it didn’t look good; the guys from Bentley CC had called him to let him know that a fair bit of the pitch was waterlogged.

Yet the weather had relented, at least in London and Essex it had, with some sunshine and a helpful breeze. We guessed that we might get a shortened match of some sort; just not a prompt start sort of match. But after some frantic calls between Charles and Geoff from the Tufties, it became clear that most of the Tufties had pulled out and that we would have to cobble together some sort of a game amongst those of us who took the time and trouble to turn up despite the limited match prospects.

When we got there, the first thing we realised was that Bentley CC is a really lovely ground and pavilion – Charles had found a little gem of a place for us out near Brentwood, Essex.

The second thing we realised was that waterlogged really did mean waterlogged at Bentley – but that only applied to some, not all of the pitch. Unfortunately, the bowlers run-ups were part of the problem, so we concocted a small scale game to be played on matting, away from the worst excesses of waterlogging, which would give those of us who had turned up to play a bit of a game.

The picture at the top of the page shows Daisy giving the sopper the full works. I recall Adam Hinks bowling at me in the nets and (to his horror) misdirecting a delivery fast and down the body-line, thus nearly taking my head off. The rain had spiced up the nets up good and proper (as the locals might put it). It was that near miss that convinced me to buy a helmet for the next season and never bat again without one.

I think Geoff and Derry Young might have been the only Tufties who (very kindly) turned up, whereas we turned up with a pretty full contingent, including some helpful folk from Bentley, so I think we played the fun game we eventually played was a seven-a-side game; perhaps even eight-a-side.

I don’t recall much of what happened in our mini match. I do recall a young Bentley CC local named Ryan, who had been especially helpful, working hard to try and get some sort of match going for us, proving also to be a very useful cricketer with bat and ball. Ryan turned out to be one of Charles’s main (not so secret) weapons the following year, when we returned (without the Tufties). I also recall a 14 year-old Bentley CC leggie named Andy playing in the game and causing all sorts of problems with his spin bowling and athleticism in the field.

I do also recall needing to dip my hand quite deep into my pockets, as did Charles, to make sure that the event wasn’t a loss and that the Children’s Society got a little something out of the rain-affected 2007 “Tufty Stackpole match that wasn’t.”

 

The Hothouse by Harold Pinter, Lyttelton Theatre, 28 July 2007

We really enjoyed this play and production. It is a rare example of a Pinter comedy, which he wrote during his heyday in the mid 1950s but I don’t think it got produced until a fair bit later.

Being Pinter, the line between comedy and tense psychodrama is a thin one. Indeed, plays like The Caretaker, The Birthday Party and The Dumb Waiter are sinister yet have plenty of humour in them. The Hothouse has plenty of humour yet is sinister; it is set in an anonymous government run mental institution. Say no more.

This was a superb cast and production. Stephen Moore, Finbar Lynch, Leo Bill and Lia Williams the standouts. For once, the awkward depth/shape of the Lyttelton stage could be used to good effect for an institutional look.

It was pretty well received by the critics on the whole:

 

 

 

England v India 1st Test Day 4, Lord’s, 22 July 2007

Sunday at the Lord’s test with Daisy. My recollection of this particular day is not special.

I think we sat in the Upper Edrich for this day, as we had for the ODI against the West Indies a few weeks earlier. I think this was the day we found ourselves sitting next to Michael Billington and his good lady, with whom we chatted for a while.

The scorecard reveals what happened in the match. The day started with England in a strong position, then England tried to abdicate that strong position, until a superb partnership between KP and Matt Prior restored England’s position of strength. Wonderful days of test cricket at Lord’s should always be thus.

Daisy and I took the following day off work but did not venture back to Lord’s. Had we done so, we would have witnessed a nail-biting ending live – instead we witnessed it from the comfort of home.

 

 

Cecil Taylor Quartet featuring Anthony Braxton, supported by Polar Bear, Royal Festival Hall, 8 July 2007

Oh dear!

We had enjoyed some real success fairly randomly booking jazz concerts and both felt that we wanted to broaden our jazz horizons yet further. We didn’t know what music from the “Free Jazz Movement” sounded like, but when paired with terms such as “avant-garde jazz” and “controversial”, we thought that the Cecil Taylor Quartet featuring acclaimed saxophonist Anthony Braxton might really be for us.

Better still, with my South Bank Centre membership and early booking, there were box seats to be had. Neither of us had ever tried the boxes at the Royal Festival Hall before.

Better yet, on the night itself, we really enjoyed the support band, Polar Bear, also billed as “experimental”. I remember the spokesperson between numbers introducing one piece they were working on, entitled “Lente”, because his Italian girlfriend would use the word “eccellente”, shortened to “lente”, all the time. I remember this, because Daisy and I to this day sometimes use this term to express a big yes. It all seemed well cool.

Great, we thought, this is our sort of Jazz. We were really excited during the interval. If the support band is that good, the main act must be unbelievable.

It was unbelievable, but not in the way we’d hoped.

What a noise. It really is hard for me to describe it. Frenzied. Lacking melody and tone for simple folk like us to engage with. Perhaps past its peak. Perhaps absolutely at its peak – can’t help you there – we really couldn’t tell. A Jazz Geek describes it here. A detailed piece from All About Jazz explains how historic and excellent (lente?) it all was. Possibly quite peaky, then.

There is an old adage about jazz that it is the only form of music where the musicians are enjoying themselves more than the audience. Perhaps that adage was especially written for the Free Jazz Movement.

At least we can say that we have seen Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton perform together, historically. Perhaps in our dotage this fact will enable us to come across as incredibly seasoned and sophisticated Jazz aficionados. Wide-eyed youngsters might gather round to hear us describe our experiences; “we suffered for our art back in the day, children, my how we suffered.”

Of course, this “free jazz” concert wasn’t free at all. £35 a ticket (for some reason I kept the tickets) – worth the price of admission for the more modern, experimental and accessible Polar Bear alone. Perhaps the old 1950s movement was known as Free Jazz because no-one in their right mind would pay to hear it.

Still, those box seats proved to be a boon for us. After enduring 40-45 minutes of the Cecil Taylor set (each number was quite long and we were determined to check this out properly), we concluded that we would get no more out of this experience. Those box seats enabled us to make a quick escape between numbers almost imperceptibly and without disturbing other patrons.

Free at last, free at last…

The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder by Matt Charman, Cottesloe Theatre, 7 July 2007

We quite liked this play, although I think we were more taken by the excellent production and cast than the play itself.

I think that means that we basically agreed with Michael Billington’s take on it – click here.

British Theatre Guide was luke warm – here.

Ditto  the Stage – click here.

London Theatre summarises the other, mixed reviews.

 

Middlesex v Essex T20, Ravaged By Ravi, A 2007 MTWD “Lost Masterpiece”, 6 July 2007

By 2007 I was one of the small band of Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) website editors and moderators. I especially liked the editorial side of things and enjoyed writing slightly left-field match reports.

In theory, every editorial piece ever written on MTWD remains live on the site, if you can be bothered to trawl the archive and/or know which key words to Google.  Except that, tragically, a swathe of 2007 match reports was lost in a Sportnetwork incident that was never properly explained.   I refer to those pieces as “the lost masterpieces”.  In truth, at least one of those 2007 reports is a fine piece of juvenilia by a then student, now award-winning journalist.

Except, of course, that my own scribblings never die, they simply get backed up in infeasibly strange places – such as the archive pit of my main computer.  (Indeed several other pieces, including the above mentioned juvenilia, have been preserved in their final but unpublished format).

So I am able to revive my report of the wonderful evening Janie and I (naturally in the guise of Daisy and Ged) spent with some close friends, also appearing under assumed names.

In scorecard terms, this is the match we saw that evening – click here.

As I cannot link to MTWD for this lost masterpiece, here it is restored/reproduced verbatim below.  Some connoisseurs of the “Vaughanian third person” will appreciate several references to myself as “Ged”.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Ravaged by Ravi, Bopped By Bopara

  

Ged Ladd reports on the Twenty20 betwixt Middlesex and Essex at Lord’s.  Daisy was there, so it had to be a final over nail-biter finish.  Meet Ged and Daisy’s friends from Essex, John-Boy and Maddja, plus their delightful daughters.  The match twisted, the match turned, the result was not what Ged and Daisy wanted, but it was a good match, it didn’t rain and a fun evening out was had by all.

 

In early

Daisy and I both quit work a little early to be sure of getting good seats for our whole entourage, which includes two small girls tonight.  Quitting work a little early was not as easy as it looked.  I was seeing a client in Whitehall, unaware of tube problems, the impending Tour de France (some navigational problems there, or have the Normans invaded us again?) and finally a “gas leak” leading to Notting Hill Gate being cordoned off.  Suffice it to say that I got home much later than expected and that I shall be doing an hour or more of work as well as writing this report at sparrowfart on Saturday!

 

Meet the family.  We’ll start with my very good friend from Essex, John-Boy, whom I have known since we started University at 18.  Then there’s his lovely wife, Maddja.  John-Boy and Maddja were childhood sweethearts on those Essex/Hertfordshire borders – a rare thing indeed for a relationship to survive while John-Boy was away at University for 5 years.  Especially hanging around with ne’er-do-wells like Ged.  Maddja’s mother’s family are of Eastern-European origin shrouded in history, mystery and stories that would make a fascinating mini-series for the BBC.  John-Boy and Maddja have two delightful daughters, Bela and Lugosi, now 11 and 8, who loved the Twenty20 at Southgate two years ago so much that they were still talking about it when we went to their house for dinner.  We simply had to set this evening up and so we did.

 

So, Daisy and Ged somehow manage to get to the ground by about 16:45 and have no difficulty securing seats right at the front of the Tavern Stand, where we think the little ones will have a good view.  John-Boy phones to explain that they are all stuck in various parts of East London and town, trying to get some form of public transport to get to the ground.  Ged estimates that they’ll arrive 45 minutes to an hour late.

 

A pathetic start

Middlesex then did their best to ensure that my good friends got to see no cricket at all.  Wickets fell at horribly regular intervals.  5/2.  31/5.  50/7.  If you want details, go see the scorecard.  It was clear that this was not an easy wicket on which to time your shots.  Daisy asked me at the start “what’s a decent Twenty20 score at Lord’s?” and I replied 160.  Soon after the start I suggested that 140 might be a decent enough score on that particular pitch.

 

With the score on 50/7 and Ged genuinely thinking that his friends might not even get to see any cricket, our mood was not great, despite the fact that we had started tucking in to the picnic (well, neither of us had had any lunch) and also some rather jolly pink wine to go with the Middlesex pink theme.

 

At 55/7 John-Boy phoned.  “We’re here.  The girls are in the loo but we’ll be with you in a jiffy.  What’s the score?”  “Middlesex are having a shocker,” I said, “55/7”.  “I don’t think I heard that right”, said John, “that sounded like seven”.  “Seven”.  “Blimey!”

 

Middlesex revive

So, our dear friends from Essex, John-Boy, Maddja, Bela and Lugosi arrive and at the same time Middlesex revive.  They are in very good spirits for people who have spent hours fighting their way across London and we all hunker down to our picnic and watch the show.

 

Murtagh and Keegan in particular show what can be done on this wicket once the batsman is in.  Both found it hard to time the ball at first, but once set the runs come quite easily and their bowlers find it hard.   Both of the Essex overseas bowlers, Bichel and Kaneria, go for plenty of runs.  A late flurry unperturbed by the risk of being all out gets Middlesex to 126.

 

We have a game on our hands.

 

John-Boy and Ged are reminded of the Southgate fixture 3 or 4 years ago, when Essex were rolled for not many.  Middlesex cruised to the total.  Would this one be a cruise or was 126 competitive?  Ged suspected “low end of competitive” and mused “Middlesex have bowled better than they have batted so far this season”.

 

Essex start slowly

Middlesex bowled well and Essex were no more able to use the first 6 overs than Middlesex.  They even took almost as many balls to reach 50 as Middlesex (over 60 balls in each case), but they kept wickets in hand and that proved to be vital.

 

Whilst Flower was blooming I kept saying to JohnBoy “if we get Flower now I think you’re in trouble”.  Then, once he had gone, the Ged mantra changed to “if we get Bopara now I think you’re in trouble” but that vital wicket never came.

 

Meanwhile Bela and Lugosi were on their best behaviour despite not being allowed to run all over the park during the interval and having been told in no uncertain terms that running around that particular park after the game was also prohibited at Lord’s.  However, Ged had a cunning plan for after the match, based on his trusty “run around the park tennis ball” and the Coronation Gardens.

 

Shrink that target

Maddja, who is an eminent psycho-therapist, was meanwhile busy telling Daisy about her latest therapeutic technique, a conversation so bizarre it is simply beyond parody.

 

And talking of shrinking, the target was getting lower and the score converging on that oh so helpful Duckworth-Lewis par score which gives you a very good idea who is on top and who isn’t, even when the skies are blue.

 

Rymps is not bowling well, and Ged muses that we have to find a couple of overs from somewhere (if not Rymps, who) and those overs will be targeted.

 

Murali Kartik meanwhile has bowled absolutely beautifully – Scotty is right back in the swing of things with “quick as a flash” stumpings.  Also off Kartik’s bowling Chad Keegan takes one of the best outfield catches you will ever see – he’s back in leaping salmon mode is Chad and let’s all hope he stays there.  And then, when Kartik comes back fro his final over, he also cleans up Ryan ten Doeschate and Ged realises that we might be back in the hunt if we can somehow hide those goat overs and/or somehow get rid of Ravi Bopara.

 

But it wasn’t to be.  With 11 needed off the last over, we had to prevent the boundaries and the one really poor ball Murtagh bowled at the death went for a heartbreaking six.  It was all over bar the shouting then.  JohnBoy and Ged had been trading clichés all evening.  (JohnBoy is a Leyton Orient man normally).  Ged described Chad’s catch as “worth the entry money alone” (as indeed was Murali Kartik’s spell).  With the six, it was “all over bar the shouting” and once it was really all over Ged was “gutted”.

 

Coronation Time

We get to the Coronation Garden to find a huge queue of kids.  Do you have to queue to throw a ball around the garden I mused, but soon realised that the queue was for autographs and a whole row of tables and chairs have been set up for the players to sign stuff for the kids.  I’d never seen this ritual before and was actually very impressed that the players spend so much time after the game doing that.  The queue looked almost endless.

 

JohnBoy, Lugosi and I start off with some catching practice while the others go off to the loo.  Then we all play a “piggy-in-the-middle”/”tag team” game which was great fun.  We rarely collide with the backs of the players who are too busy signing to care or even notice.

 

This is cricket for all the family as it is meant to be.  Of course I’m disappointed that we didn’t qualify – especially as we came so close in this match – and especially as the other results did go our way sufficiently that we would have qualified had we won.  But you can’t quibble with played 5 lost 3 didn’t qualify.  And you can’t quibble with the fact that we almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat tonight and that some of our players were just excellent.  And you can’t quibble with that row of players from both sides, making the kids happy – they were still signing away once we had exhausted ourselves with our silly game and were trudging home into the night.

 

Surreal Things Exhibition, V&A, 2 July 2007

Janie and I tended, even in those days, to take a day off work on the Monday after going to an international cricket match on a Sunday. We went to the ODI at Lord’s on the Sunday and I’m pretty sure we walked back to the flat after the match.

We had been talking about going to see the surrealism exhibition at the V&A for some time, so the Monday after the match seemed an ideal opportunity.

Here are some on-line artefacts about the exhibition:

We both really liked this exhibition. I can’t for the life of me remember what else we did that day. Probably not a lot.

England v West Indies, 1st ODI, Lord’s, 1 July 2007

It was just me and Janie that day. After Pauline’s extraordinary behaviours over cricket and Proms for two years in a row, Janie threatened to dump me if I was daft enough to get Pauline a ticket again in 2007. I took the hint.

I think we were in the Upper Edrich and reasonably near the front.

My main memory of the day was calling my folks from the ground before the game started – we always try to get in early ahead of the crush at the gates. Mum reminded me that dad had not finished his food when we all went out for dinner on the Friday before – described here. She then added that he had pretty much not eaten since, claiming that he had no appetite; she was worried. I remember trying to allay her concerns while agreeing that they should go to the doctor the next day (Monday) if he did not feel better in the meantime. I remember also confiding to Janie that I thought it was a very worrying matter. My dad being off his food was a non-trivial turn of events.

Ah yes, the cricket match. In truth, I really don’t remember much about this match.

Fortunately, for those of us with short memories for ODIs in years gone by, there is the Cricinfo scorecard to remind us what happened. An England win in an ODI at Lord’s – how could any of us forget?