Archive for April, 2013

Man Out Of Time

Breakfast at Hulcote Towers. After one spoonful into my nutritious banana & honey enhanced wheat based cereal, our new lodger’s wrist watch happened to catch my eye. “Good Lord old boy, what’s that you’ve got on there?” “Aw, look mate”, replied Sammo excitedly and in tones similar to the first kid in the playground to have been given a GameBoy for Christmas, “This is the best three dollars I have ever spent.”


My goodness. Just look at it.

This is a genuine Roleks.

It features the fizzog of a Cambodian general. Sammo assures me it’s not Pol Pot. Apparently these are all the rage in Batdambang, especially amongst tourists in search of a unique Cambodian curio.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog* since its inception six months ago will maybe remember a chance encounter I had in a Mumbai bar with a gentleman who sported one of these….

The Chairman Mao wrist watch has to be by far and away my favourite time piece ever (Big Ben is a modest second).
This remarkable tribute to the pompous stupidity of Communism remains up there, along with Matthew Hoggard’s cover drive at Trent Bridge in the 2005 Ashes, Eats wearing all of Ambi Lee’s clothes at the same time one morning in Edinburgh, Dawn from my Sixth Form days’ chest, the Goosh singing Footloose, the Morecambe & Wise André Previn sketch and Super Johnny Hartson’s 1994 goal against Newcastle in the Cup among others, as one of the greatest things I have ever seen.

*Indeed over one hundred and fifty of you are following it as I type. Wholeheartedly, I thank you.

Following The Trawler

Morning everyone and straight on to Monday’s Big Question.

What does Anton Chekhov’s The Sea-Gull tell us about humanity?

I don’t know the answer myself yet, having only just started reading it, following a recommendation from Tebbs. Hopefully I’ll have a considered answer to share with you sometime soon.

That question again, what does Anton Chekhov’s The Sea-Gull tell us about humanity?

Have a great week.

Pie Day Saturday

Matt Sampson’s debut wasn’t the only momentous Antipodean first for Elstow Cricket Club yesterday. Thanks to a generous benefactor, Elstow CC now proudly boasts Bedfordshire’s and possibly anywhere south of Wolverhampton’s purpose built pie warmer. It was certainly the weather for pies at The Warren as, despite the welcome spring sunshine, the infamous Bunyan Breeze had a spiteful zing to it.
The visitors from Newport Pagnell joined in the preview opening of The Sammon Pie in the Willie Peck Suite as the pies sold out quicker than a respected Aussie Test umpire taking the rupees in a high profile T20 competition.

Working in conjunction with the greatest Anglo-Kiwi combination since, erm, Andrew Caddick, The New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company (; Elstow are proud to offer pies from the Newcastle based company’s range. Our menu has been adopted to suit local tastes and diners can choose from the following delicacies:

Milne & Cheese (see picture below)
Spin The Chicken & Mushroom
The Crowded House

Elstow CC offers discerning customers a choice of award winning pie along with a good selection of international beers as they take in the splendour of the Bedfordshire sunset. We now also boast an alfresco dining area in which to make the best of the summer evenings too.

Our new facilities will be officially unveiled next weekend as the club makes its debut in the Yorkshire Tea National Village Cup as we take on Preston of Hertfordshire on Sunday 5th May. The match starts at 13:00 and new visitors are encouraged to come down and experience for themselves our exciting new venture.

Happily tucking into a Milne & Cheese, washed down nicely with a Shepherd Neame Masterbrew following a decent afternoon’s cricket. A genuine Pig-In-Shit moment.

Although, the wallpaper, you’ll note, looks suspiciously like the colour of baby poo. Anyone wishing to donate a few pots of paint (preferably of the shade of jacket Richie Benaud would comfortably wear) to help our club, please get in touch at the usual address; via

Tom Ton Warms The Warren

Of the few small mercies from 2013’s endless winter was the success of Elstow’s indoor team. Two constants from the last few months were in abundance at The Warren in the season’s opening fixture against Newport Pagnell Town.
Firstly the prevailing arctic winds transforming Bunyan’s village into a tundra and secondly the white hot form of the indoor team captain Tom Wisson. His 109 not out here, his second Elstow century, plus the two wickets with the new ball confirmed Wisson’s return to his commanding best.
Newport Pagnell chipped and chirped away at him early on, and had a chance to second slip been taken in the second over, their opening bowlers’ work would have been justly rewarded. As it was, Wisson made the away team pay for their profligacy.

Cover driving with customary élan, Wisson warmed the cockles of the frozen Warren regulars hearts as well as the breast pocket of the umpire with his smiting. Where once upon a time would have been a cigarillo case, now sits a mobile phone and thankfully this was the only damage done to the official from a searingly vicious drive down the ground. Danger money in addition to appearance money may well now make up the umpire’s fee in future weeks. Let’s hope the league committee aren’t reading this.

Once past fifty there seemed little doubt of a three figure score as Tom accelerated through the gears taking his team through the points barriers as his boundary count continued through a variety of bulging sixes and crafted fours. He was helped firstly by an assured knock from Phil Johnson (27), who may well have gone on to some big runs himself but for a sharp return catch, then Matt Stevens and Chris Richards who both made decent starts. It was Wisson though who dominated the home side’s innings, leaving Elstow 233-5 from 44 overs at tea.

Wisson’s two early wickets put the jitters among Newport Pagnell and with a spritely looking Rob Tebbutt powering in from The Abbeyfields End, Elstow sensed an opening day win. Captain Stevens threw everything at the opposition using his bowlers well in pursuit of the thirty points but Pagnell, as they have done so effectively down the years, dropped anchor to secure a draw.

Late drama by way of four quick wickets gave Elstow grounds for optimism. Two wickets apiece from firstly the returning Tebbutt from the Wilstead Road End then debutant Matt Sampson set up a grandstand finish. Elstow needed one wicket from the last fifteen balls after Queenslander Sampson’s first two wickets caused a panic in the Pagnell ranks.
The last over, bowled amid lengthened shadows, looked like a Phoenix From The Flames replay from the first Ashes Test in 2009; an Australian bowler bounding in expectantly with nine round the bat in pursuit of a crucial victory. The English, memorably, prevailed that day in Cardiff. Frustratingly for Elstow yesterday, they did this time too.

Horner Shearing Man of Substance of the Day: T.W. Wisson. Brilliant all round display. He looks in the mood. Get him in your Fantasy Cricket Team.
Play here:

The Sammon Pie Moment of Success: Geoff Couling’s pulled six in front of square leg as Elstow quickened the tempo in the last overs rivalled anything that may have been shown on ITV4 at a similar time. Bombastic!

Clag Nut of the Day: R.S. Thiarra. No runs and a rather chastening afternoon in the field. We all have days like these. Indeed, some of us have made a career out them.
Plenty of cricket to come this year still… Head up fella!

A cricket ball, yesterday. Looking spent after an Elstow mauling.

Pie Hard

Thanks for bearing with the brevity of recent blog posts. It’s been a busy ol’ week and today’s been no exception. A snatched moment between shifts brings this week’s pie review.

The Green Man Pie courtesy of my mate Top Chef Neil is, in itself, well worth a trip to the scenic village of Eversholt in Bedfordshire. A substantial dish filled bubbling to the brim in a deep, rich gravy with succulent, chunks of prime steak allied to the greatest supplement possibly in the history of cooking, mushrooms, makes for a first class filling. Add to this the wispy brown pastry and this is a glorious pie to beat all comers.

Anyway, back to work now. Travelling was never this much effort…

Super County

I, along with several million other subscribers, pay over fifty quid a month to Sky. I do this because I love my sport and because Sky holds the viewing rights to the sports I love. The coverage, for the most part, is excellent. Today was even better.


The County Championship. Somerset vs Warwickshire. Live on telly. Magnificent.

Why don’t they show more of this?

It’s ideal for the old ‘uns, the unemployed, the revising students, the people between shifts at work, travelling Antipodeans, youngsters home early from school, even skiving office wallahs throwing sickies. There’s a huge audience out there.
Why is not enough live county cricket shown on television?
How many times on days off, with an hour or two to spare have I been greeted with repeats of inconsequential football matches, random and incredibly tedious ‘adventure sports’ shows or, God forbid, speedway.

If the person in charge of scheduling on Sky Sports is reading this; please can we have more County Championship on your channels? You’d make a lot of people very happy. And wrench some afternoon viewers away from the ‘other cricket’ on ITV4 too.


The build up to the Ashes continues apace. The release, by Cricket Australia, of their Ashes Tour Party this morning will further add to the already fervent anticipation of the highlight of the summer.

The 10th July will be here before you know it.

Meanwhile, closer to home, with the Mighty Elstow due to begin their season this weekend, some Aussie news of our own. Matt Sampson from Nambor, Queensland has taken time out of his world tour to turn out for us at The Warren this summer.

Matt is a big hitting, fast bowling allrounder, who among other things, is a dead ringer for a young Andrew Sachs.



We’re still working on his nickname. Matty or Matto? Sammo or Delilah? Manuel maybe? Either way here’s to a great summer of cricket and lots of Caaaaaaallld Ones.

Welcome to England Matt. Good on yer.

Take Pride






The pictures are a cryptic clue to remind any oblivious Englishman or woman reading this what day it is today.

Have a momentous day.

“There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England”
Winston Churchill

Von Ryan’s Expression

Following on from last week’s riotously successful Monday’s Big Question, where I asked you to name your favourite plait/platt (before seamlessly and in the same breath answering it for you); a precedence has been set. We move on to this week’s head-scratchingly searching examination.

Who is your favourite associate nations cricketer?

I know, I know. It’s something you’ve given a lot of thought to down the years. That question again: Who is your favourite associate nations cricketer?

Still stuck. Here’s some leading contenders.

Andre Leslie of Germany. A likeable German leader.

Hamid Hossan of Afghanistan. The Nangarhari Jack Brooks.

Dwayne Leverock of Bermuda. In Bumble’s immortal words, “Goooo on the big lad!”

Alan Lewis of Ireland. Used to play cricket for Ireland, now just annoys everyone as an international rugby referee.

Dotun Olatunji of Nigeria (No picture available, sadly.). The Lagos Lara.

Then there’s this man:


Ryan Ten Doeschate.

Currently plying his trade in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, the Port Elizabeth-born Dutchman is a sensational cricketer. Pyrotechnically wonderful, his big hitting and quick bowling has endeared Tendo to fans all over the world. As if this wasn’t enough, Ten Doeschate has just started a sideline as a literary critic. Yes, really.

Have a peek at the great man’s work. It makes for fascinating reading. Indeed, as with DWC, it’s WordPress, so you can follow his blog by clicking the bottom right corner of the screen when given the option to (Do the same with DWC if you haven’t already. Thanks!).

What a player. What a critic. What a guy. And right there, surely, is the answer to this edition of Monday’s Big Question. Have a splendid week.

Oi! Big Nose!

If yesterday’s ‘travelling moment’ was a touch contrived for the purists, here’s something a little more authentic.


This was taken on a Sunday afternoon in January at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia. In a bar. On the sea front. You can imagine the rest.

You’re undoubtedly correct.

I am nursing a Caaaaaaaaaalld One and supposedly contemplating the meaning of life. I am, however, probably ogling the bunch of splendid barmaids, deep in the moment, oblivious to the fact that months later people all over the Internet will be laughing at how hucking fuge my nose is.

China, my old mucker and co-campaigner of the sorties to Sri Lanka and Australia sent me this, along with some other shots from my time in the lucky country and a typically entertaining piece of correspondence. Salisbury’s finest is off to Columbia tomorrow to begin his four month South American adventure and to meet his future wife.

Buena suerte y buen viaje mi amigo.