It has to be said that, up until this day, our attempts over the years, with Lavender and Escamillo Escapillo, to watch Middlesex and Lancashire play cricket, had been soggy experiences to say the least.
Indeed, previous attempts by just me and Escamillo Escapillo to watch our respective counties play each other had been thwarted for one reason or another until last season, where we managed to squeeze in a half day – Ogblogged here.
So after yesterday’s washout – delightfully filled with activities in Liverpool instead – it was a joy to see blue skies on the Sunday morning and a forecast that suggested little or no interruptions to play.
We aimed to get to the ground in time for the start, but hadn’t counted on the local Sunday trading laws, so although M&S (other sources of sandwiches, crisps and water are available) opens at 10:30, it doesn’t actually open the tills until 11:00.
Shopping is not something I like to do; I like to buy things I want/need, I don’t like to shop. So 10:35 to 11:00 that morning was not the most enjoyable/memorable part of the day. I won’t be making that mistake again on a Sunday morning.
Still, we had the Escamillo-mobile on stand-by, so we were still inside the ground and wandering around by 11:20.
We took up good front row seats in our chosen position quite quickly. Soon after that, Daisy got quite shirty with me because I didn’t want to start drinking at 12:00 on a Sunday. Escamillo Escapillo was driving anyway and I knew what was coming later, so we left it to the girls to start drinking that early in the day.
There were quite a few Middlesex supporters around on the Sunday – some came and sat quite close to us. Soon after lunch was called by the umpires, Barmy Kev came and joined us for a while.
Barmy Kev didn’t take it upon himself to remind me that I owe him a drink or three and I don’t need reminding. But I didn’t want to drink that early in the day; I knew what was coming later, plus I didn’t want to reciprocate Barmy Kev’s generous hospitality at Lord’s with the less salubrious (I really mean less expensive) offerings at the Trafalgar Ground.
Meanwhile Escamillo Escapillo and Lavender were both as happy as Larry; the former because Lancashire were doing well in the match, the latter because EE was as happy as Larry and she was getting a bit merry with Daisy on the fermented grape juice.
“So who is the third man?” I hear readers up and down the land asking, as we are now several paragraphs on from me setting that puzzle.
The third man is Frank Dillon, a good friend from the Keele days who lives in Merseyside. The reason for his appearance is partially explained in an Ogblog piece I wrote a few weeks ago about an old school-friends gathering – click here.
If that makes no sense to you, click the blithering link where the strangeness is explained. The long and short of it is that John Easom at Keele Alumni Central put me and Frank back in touch with each other and when I told Frank that we would be coming to Southport for the cricket in a couple of week’s time, he responded by saying that he had been half-planning to show up at that match anyway.
We’d bought plenty of sandwiches for everyone, while Frank wanted us to know unequivocally that, while we were visitors on his patch, he was going to buy the drinks aplenty. Perhaps there is some sort of by-law about this for Merseyside.
Escamillo Escapillo was becoming even happier than Larry, despite sticking strictly to driver’s lemonade, as Lancashire’s position went from good to seemingly impregnable. Lavender likewise for both of the reasons expressed earlier.
As tea came round, so the young couple said their goodbyes to us, as planned; they were heading home that afternoon/evening, whereas Daisy and I were staying on the extra night.
Frank said that he too would only stick around for another hour or so after the young couple left, but that was plenty of time for us to finish catching up with some of our news, swap some old stories and discuss the current political maelstrom.
In addition to his generosity with the drinks, Frank seems to have decided that I should be the curator of his Keele picture memorabilia, handing me an envelope with a few photographs, all of which will find their way onto Ogblog when I write up the relevant stories but can now all (all seven) be seen on Flickr, click here.
It was a really lovely day – at last Daisy and I have spent some time actually watching cricket with Lavender and Escamillo Escapillo – indeed it had been a lovely weekend with them. The years just fell away chatting with Frank; I do hope to see him again soon, probably in London next time.
After Frank left, Daisy and I stuck around for a few more minutes until it started to get a bit chilly again. We wandered round to the hospitality tent and got a chance to say goodbye to Keith Hayhurst and one or two others who hadn’t been around when we said our goodbyes there on Friday – click here to read about election day and Day One of this match.