I have only one abiding memory from the afternoon, other than those captured in the photos above and me sinking into a glorious oblivious haze of relaxation arising from exercise, food and wine. Owais Shah’s agent, John E Barnett, for some reason “joined” us in our box for quite time, waxing lyrical about his boy Owais, enjoying our afternoon tea hospitality and watching Owais Shah himself score a top notch century.
Even more sadly/ironically/inappropriately, I am here to report that Sir Garfield Sobers has suffered the indignity of watching me and the Z/Yen team playing live, in person, at Lord’s.
It happened like this.
Middlesex County Cricket Club had very kindly offered me a Lord’s box for a day of County Championship cricket, as a thank you for some pro bono work I was doing with the club at that time. I decided to organise a Z/Yen awayday to take advantage of the box, including booking out half of the Lord’s Cricket Academy for a couple of hours. Of course Z/Yen had to pay for everything other than the box, so it was quite an expensive freebie in the end, but well worth it.
Linda’s e-mail to the team sets out the itinerary for the day:
As the day is approaching, I thought you should have an itinerary of the Z/Yen Away Day to Lord Cricket Ground (Home of Cricket) on Tuesday, 30 June 2009.
13.00 Lunch at the Sir Pelham Warner Restaurant retiring to Tavern’s Stand, Box E to watch Middlesex V Surrey
16.30 Afternoon Tea
In the end our lesson and game was mostly organised by Jamie Thorpe, not James Fielding.
I had told Richard Goatley (then Deputy Chief Executive of Middlesex) about our plans. He told me he had a meeting that morning but it should be finished in time for him to pop round and have a look at us in the Academy.
What Richard didn’t say in advance was that his morning meeting was with Garfield Sobers and that Richard had resolved to try and bring Sobers along with him.
Richard picks up his side of the story from there:
I can remember…
…you were bowling in a bandana.
When Don Bennett saw your first ball Don said, “oh Jesus, I’m done” and started to walk away.
Sobers said, “cmon Don, watch a little”, but Don left pretty quickly afterwards.
Anyway, Sobers was a far more discerning observer of Z/Yen cricket than “The Don”…or at least far more polite, as he did stick around for a good twenty minutes or so; longer in fact than Richard Goatley.
Then Sobers watched the youngsters who were playing in the other half of the Academy for a while, then at the end of it all stuck around for the youngsters and then us to have photos taken with him. What a delightful gentleman he is.
Phillie loved a birthday party, but by 2009 the zest for a big do with lots of old friends had passed. But 2009 did mark Pauline’s 80th, so we arranged a small, just family evening in Janie’s garden.
What could possibly go wrong on 27 June? Well, for one thing, the weather turned locally awful on us that late afternoon and evening. While some parts of London got away with it, Ealing copped huge amounts of rain. We braved it in the garden for a while between showers until a heavy deluge came, which led to our retreat indoors.
There are some pictures from that do, but the indoor ones (most of them) have more red eye than a New York to London overnight flight. Click here to see them in Flickr.
I made up a pretty decent play list for that do, one of my earlier efforts, but it still sounds pretty good on the old iTunes – here’s a pdf of it: Worms Party 2009 pdf.
There are a few in jokes and references on that list. Firstly, a lot of jazz from 1929, which was the year of Pauline’s birth. Secondly, more Barry White than you might expect on one of my playlists; Phillie was especially partial to the Walrus of Love. Thirdly, rather a lot of Neil Young. That is because Neil Young was playing in Hyde Park that night. Tony, Chris and I had secretly plotted to sneak off to see “The Youngster” if Pauline played up at all. She didn’t play up and/or we didn’t have the courage to mutiny, beyond the knowing grins and glances when the Neil Young tracks came around.
I often say that there are only two places remaining on earth where staff and stewards still call me “young man”: Lord’s and the Wigmore Hall.
So what better places to celebrate Janie’s birthday than both of those august institutions?
We’d probably booked the Wigmore Hall late night concert before we knew/realised that Middlesex were to play Essex in the T20 tournament at Lord’s that evening. Low marks to the cricket authorities for demographic matching for scheduling that fixture at that venue that night, but they probably won’t make that mistake again in a hurry.
Anyway, Charley “The Gent” Malloy was keen to see that fixture and suggested (once he knew it was Janie’s birthday and that we had a later evening engagement at “The Wig”), that we make that match a couples outing, with Dot (Mrs Malloy) up for the idea of a T20 game and a picnic at Lord’s. So that’s what we did.
Between a date yet to be excavated, I’m pretty sure in 1989, and this date in 2009, I played occasional “kitchen table” bridge with friends. Occasional, by which I mean a few times a year.
Maz (Marianne Tudor-Craig) was there at the very first and the very last of these sessions. The first one was at Daniel’s (Daniel Scordel’s) house near Wandsworth Common.
Many people came and went over that 20 year period. Maz, me and Andrea (Dean) were the most regular players throughout the period.
The bridge was only part of the deal; there would always be a decent meal to make the evening as much a social event as a game evening.
The 25 June 2009 evening was at Maz’s house. The other players that night were Andrea and Barmy Kev (Kevin Ziants).
I’m not sure why this long, occasional tradition petered out that night. There was no particular reason to think that it would. Barmy Kev was a recent addition and is for sure a much better player than the rest of us, so perhaps his enthusiasm waned quickly. Also, Maz was soon to change her life with Steve; perhaps by then she had decided that she wanted to take bridge more seriously than me and Andrea.
The reason I did this, I suspect, was that the match was a televised match and we hadn’t managed to find someone to commit to writing a post match report. Also, of course, because Middlesex were predictably awful in the T20 tournament that year, despite having won it the year before.
…”why not? Yes, by all means put my name in the ballot for pairs of debenture returns”…
…led to a very polite letter from the MCC, letting me know that, if I had really meant it, there were indeed ballot returns available for me, both for the last regular Sunday of the tournament and for this finals day.
“That would be absolutely spiffing,” I inferred, not by using those exact words, but by ticking some more boxes and writing a fairly substantial Gregory Peck.
Excellent value for my minimal effort and the money.
We had similar debenture seats for finals day as we had for the previous Sunday, just a little more central in the Grandstand. As the previous week, we were sitting very close to John McCririck. Actually, the previous week we had sat close to…”you know, that eccentric bloke who does racing, adverts and stuff on the TV”. I had to Google him between time to discover his name.
We certainly wanted to see the women’s World Twenty20 final – that was a big part of the excitement for us, especially as England had qualified for the final. So we set off in good time to catch the start of the first match – this also enabled us to avoid any crush at the gates. Daisy did the picnic again, I’m pretty sure, as we were in Sandall Close that weekend. I think she went more for a bangers and nibbles picnic this time, with the previous week’s having been a more sandwich-based affair. But it might have been the other way around.
On finals day, it was the England bowling that shone through – taking advantage of morning conditions to bowl. Not an enormous crowd for the women’s final, sadly, but a decent number of us turned up to support. The ground started to fill up as the match progressed.
It was a great feeling to witness live the England Women win a World Final at Lord’s.
For the men’s final, what had been the empty seat next to mine was taken by a young Asian gentleman from Birmingham who was supporting Pakistan. He got more and more excited as the match unfolded and was in a state of great euphoria by the end.
In truth, it wasn’t a very exciting match. The Sri Lankan score always seemed below par and at no point did the Sri Lankan bowlers seem capable of containing the Pakistan batsmen.
We left Lord’s and wandered over to Harry Morgan’s to wait for a cab in comfort with a coffee. Cars were driving around St John’s Wood hooting horns, hollering Urdu chants and waving Pakistan flags. I don’t suppose the residents of NW8 had ever seen anything like it before.
Thus ended my four days at Lord’s in less than a fortnight (which started here). I must say that these short-form International cricket matches make so much more sense to me in the context of a multi-country tournament than they do when they are simply a string of bilateral matches. I had enjoyed a couple of excellent midweek days with friends and a couple of super Sundays with Daisy. Well satisfied, I was.
This time Daisy is with me and I am pretty sure that she took on the picnic duties for this visit as we would have been in “the country residence” (Sandall Close) the night before.
We got to see two really good matches, as well as enjoy a good picnic:
Ireland v Sri Lanka – one of those matches where you always felt that the giant-killer/underdog (Ireland) was still in the hunt, yet sensed that Sri Lanka would eventually overcome them, which they did – click here for the scorecard;
England v India – a very exciting match, which England somehow managed to win, despite the sense that India would eventually overcome England’s seemingly below par score – click here for the scorecard.
We watched from the dizzy heights of debenture seats in the Grandstand, my “prize” for ticking a box requesting a shot at a ballot for a pair of debenture returns. These seats were not too far away from the Warner Stand seats I’d sat in earlier that tournament – that Warner side of the Grandstand and a lot higher of course.
My favourite memory from this day was Ravi Bopara’s six, which was caught in a beer skiff by one of the pair of gentlemen sitting next to Daisy in the Grandstand, splashing (mercifully little) beer all around us.
I have just looked up the BBC on-line commentary for that six – click here – which reports that the ball went into the Grandstand (last ball of the fifth over) and then simply says for the start of the next over “Umpire de Silva calls for a new ball”. What actually happened was that, after our neighbour returned the beer-sodden ball, both umpires had a poke at the ball and then a sniff at it, before deciding that the ball was no longer of the requisite quality. Our little section of the crowd, which knew exactly what had happened, took great pleasure in all that.
That England win kept England’s hopes alive for more than 24 further hours, until a rain-affected night match against the West Indies at the Oval proved a bridge too far for England.
But that Sunday, concluding with an unexpected England win, was a very happy day at the cricket.
I was familiar with the Shaffer, having read it (I think I might also have seen a TV film version of it), but I was not at all familiar with the Kopit.
Frankly, I could have done without the Kopit. It all felt so obscure I’m not sure I can even describe it to you. Beckett with even less action?
Had it been up to Daisy and/or had I not been familiar with the Shaffer, we might have left at half time and taken our Spanish meal at Don Fernando early. But I really wanted to see the Shaffer and we both agreed afterwards that the Shaffer had been well worth the wait.
I can’t find reviews by the usual suspects for this double bill. Perhaps Michael Billington was spending too much time at Lord’s and not enough time at the theatre that week. Or perhaps my web searching isn’t up to it for double bills.