I played real tennis at the convenient time of 10:00 – convenient that is for seeing a fair chunk of county cricket afterwards. I played a good game this morning by my own sporadic standards. By the time I had showered, changed and chatted best part of half the morning session had passed, but I found a nice sunny spot in the pavilion and hunkered down with my book, A Confederacy of Dunces, which I was determined to finish today, along with some more business-oriented reading.
I had taken with me the simplest lunch of nuts and fruit. A resuscitating coffee in the pavilion afterwards and then I went in search of more sun by relocating to the front of the Mound Stand. Fine spring weather it was.
Trego and Gregory were trying to ruin Middlesex’s day, but once Trego fell the wickets tumbled. Then Robson and Gubbins got to work in fine style.
Meanwhile I was making similarly light work of A Confederacy of Dunces; I shall write up that book in its capacity as cricket reading for King Cricket.
If anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the piece to here.
Once that was done, I read the Economist and then, as it started to get a little colder, decided to bail out while I was still enjoying myself – after all, I’d be back tomorrow for some more and wanted to clear some work from home.
A couple of meetings first thing towards the Middlesex strategy, then a few minutes before lunch to watch the cricket. I joined Brian and Judy for the first time this season, hoping to witness the completion of a couple of tons and a double century stand between Robson and Gubbins, but Robson fell on 99 with the team score on 198. But Gubbins did go on to complete his maiden county championship ton.
Again some reviving coffee at lunchtime, while watching Andy Murray snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Radek Stepanek in the first round of Roland Garros. Then I wandered over to the Upper Compton stand, in the hope of finding James Sharp of Googlies and Chinamen fame. So much for one man and a dog at county matches – there must have been a couple of hundred people up there. I asked a few people, who I recognised as Middlesex regulars, if they knew James, but they didn’t, so I e-mailed James with my location. But it transpires that James travels incognito, or at least without an e-mail device. He says he also looked out for me, but it wasn’t to be.
One of the more senior regulars up there suggested to me that Middlesex were batting so slowly that they might lose the match. I said I thought they were getting close to the position when only Middlesex could win, although the draw remained the most likely outcome.
Then as 15:00 approached, I wandered back round towards the main gate, as I was expecting cousins Ted and Sue as guests. I ran into Steve Tasker along the way and we had a good chat. Then I saw Harry and Blossom Latchman, and spoke with them briefly, until I spotted Ted and Sue at the Grace Gate. The stewards did their wonderful bit of making guests feel like honoured visitors. I showed them around the lower pavilion and we watched the last few overs before tea from there.
Then I showed them the upper pavilion and Bowlers Bar, where we had a drink and watched for a while, until Ted casually mentioned that he’d like to see the museum. I thought we’d missed the closing time, but the stewards kindly let us follow the last tour in so Ted and Sue could at least see the Ashes. Then I showed them the real tennis court, which they enjoyed for a while, then round to the Presidents Box for the last few overs before stumps.
An early dinner at The Bridge House (home of the Canal Cafe Theatre) and then a walk back to their Paddington hotel, followed by a short hike back to the flat for me.
Splendid, it all was.