Posts from the ‘Blighty’ Category

Tooth Serum

It’s a damp, chilly morning in early October and I’m on a long overdue visit to see Pete, our affably accommodating and rather wonderful family dentist. After the chummy preliminaries have been dispensed with, I resignedly take my place in the chair. As much as the next ten minutes are going really bally well hurt, time in Pete’s company is always well spent, as the matters of the day, particularly cricket, are covered in great detail (well, as much detail as they can before the next patron starts kicking off about missing their bus to Lower Shelton, anyway).
The dentist’s assistant rolls her eyes as the pre-scrape n’ suck chat inevitably turns to Pete and I’s favourite topic, with England’s imminent, and similarly long overdue, visit to the United Arab Emirates and an encounter with Pakistan second on the agenda behind mine host’s revelation that he had a walk on part in last August’s Twenty20 Final’s Day awards ceremony. It’s a credit to Pete that in addition to all the wealth of dentistry based knowledge this young lady will gain from her well-spent time in his employ, she’ll be a font of all knowledge on great Northamptonshire cricketers from the 1980s onwards, as well as a world expert in explaining the lbw law too.
‘Dubai?’

‘Pah! Oh no, you couldn’t pay me to go there.’ ‘What? Milton Keynes On Sand? Ha! Perish the thought. No way.’
Fast forward to two weeks later, inexplicably here I am billeted up in my hotel room in Bur Dubai overlooking the neon-lit midnight cityscape (the less glamorous part) pondering what I’m doing here. A combination of keenly felt push and pull factors have jettisoned me to a destination, much coveted by some, but undisputedly nowhere near the top of my holiday list. Indeed, in complete frankness, I would place this bloated burghal of bling one or two places off the bottom of said list. However, listed in terms of the places to visit with England, the UAE is comfortably the least appealing. Even less appealing than Australia in fact. 
I couldn’t help myself though. Last week sat on the sofa watching the first Test Match from Abu Dhabi and the thought occurred. Farmer John’s text gave me a hurry up. Then a glimpse, on telly, of Eric, minus the inflatable swans and instead with his lovely companion on his arm, then Andy trying among a good field of contenders to be English cricket’s foremost beard, singing away amidst bemused locals in an under populated, over heated concrete bowl furthered my urgency. Cooky’s magnificent innings did the rest. 
Yes it’s hot, yes it’s apparently charmless, and apparently cheerless too. But England are here. England and every win, lose, draw or tie that following them around the world entails. I had to get out to Dubai. (Who knows, I might even enjoy it.) And thanks to some very understanding and accommodating colleagues here I am (Cheers fellas!).
To the regiment.

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Friday Morning, Coming Down

So it ended where it all began. The WACA, Perth.

Four weeks on from the beginning of the end for England’s men, I was back watching the start of the Women’s Ashes. Thirty degrees heat, the CBD dominating the backdrop, the Doctor on overtime blowing through an empty stadium, the field like fresh sheets, the anthem lustily sung (It was just me & Big G. The acoustics in a sparse stadium are rather wonderful, especially if it’s just you singing.), the players look pristine in the middle. The tension is at its most taut. The talk, talked. New beginnings.

I cannot get away from the fact that the opening moment of a Test Match is the most thrilling in thing in the world. But then, I guess, that also says everything you need to know about me. Till next time….

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Nanny Knows Best

So I’m late up. The bus for the SCG leaves soon. Not much time to get a blog out prior to the last rites that will surely be issued later. Here’s a talking point from yesterday and one of the reasons that, should the electorate go left next year, dear old Blighty could be as much of a Nanny State as sunny ‘Straya.

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Frightening.

Go to the booths. Stop this thing happening back home before it’s too late. You have been warned.

Orange Crush

All is quiet on New Year’s Day? Clearly Bono hadn’t reckoned with the packed Sydney high streets teeming with the thrifty, the hungover and the clinically bored. Or the scores of bathers struggling for sunstroke space on the busy sands of Bondi. Then there’s packed walkways strewn with baseball capped youngsters heading trance-like to the Domain for the NYD mash up. You’re welcome to the rave. Then there’s the Manly ferries resembling Titanic lifeboats bursting through Port Jackson to get the frantic beach dwellers to their slightly secluded havens.

In short, Sydney is a city that refuses to sleep. Even when it probably has every right to, given the effort it puts in for the big night before.

What to do today then? With my one track mind, a cursory glance at the sporting calendar would surely provide the answer.

The one or two token fixtures in response did little to stir the soul here. Back home, New Year’s Day is one big day of sport, a day chock full of football, rugby, racing and loads more besides. However, in Australia, New Year sport; Where the bloody hell are ya?

I’ve thought of little else since the news came through, like a love note from Blighty to the front, that my beloved Hatters have made it to the top of the table. It will go wrong, it always has, it always does. But for now, I’m passing Hope that gun again.

My team are at home to Barnet later, yet another test of our title winning credentials. That we are where we are is due to the part manager John Still has played in getting there. When he took over it was a shambles. Now we’re playing winning football. The players are behind him, the board are behind him and, pleasingly, the supporters, always a notoriously fickle lot at Kenilworth Road, are behind him too.

On the pitch, we are indebted to the goals of Andre Gray, the industry of Luke Guttridge, but also to our defensive lynchpin Steve McNulty.

Steve McNulty. The first time I saw him play he got sent off. Ignominiously. I have also seen him arrow, Keith Houchen-like, a diving header into the back of the net. Past his own keeper.

Standing squatly, with his closely cropped grey hair and his Sunday League pot belly, he looks nothing like a professional footballer. Indeed, when the Queen meets McNulty (when surely she will) to bestow honours, she’ll doubtless asks him ‘what does he do’. She’ll probably ask him again straight away.

Yet despite his un-athletic exterior, our McNulty is a leader of men. To watch him cajole a young defensive partner through a match is like watching the master, Tony Adams, back at work again. He knows the game inside out, as befits a man of fourteen stone, he uses his cunning to read situations and outwit opponents. Bedecked in Luton Orange, his long passes make him look like the Ronald Koeman of the lower leagues. And he’s capable of this as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBvWs_8ElxM

Honestly. Just watch it again. It’s preposterously brilliant.

If Messi or Ronaldo had done that they’d be playing it on a loop on Sky Sports News.

So, play well Luton. Not just today, but every match day here on in.

2014 is a big year for us. Come on you Hatters.

Dodgy Dossiers… The Final Cut.

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If Test Matches will finish early, this sort of thing will always happen. The thoughts of Tredwell Corner and our Best Ever England XIs. A happy, scribbled reminiscence of an otherwise forgettable day’s cricket watching.

Lists? Brahms And Liszt more likely….

This was Sunday. Tomorrow is Friday and the first day of the 5th Test. What would we give to have any (well, possibly not Greg’s selection) of these teams taking the field for us?

No matter. Whoever is entrusted with pulling on the Three Lions we will back heartily. England are in a corner, but, as in 2011, 2003 and in 1999, if we can win anywhere, it’s at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

www1.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/…/ashes-rewind-gough’s-hat-trick

Uncle Ben, my dad’s youngest brother and it should be pointed out here, not the old guy who does the rice, was there that day. It’s been a lengthy and mostly ugly tour. I don’t ask for much (Actually, I ask for loads of things, but let’s limit it to cricket for the moment shall we?), but, anything remotely as magical as this will put some much needed sheen on a rather drab few weeks.

We’re with you. Come on England!

Hap-Pie Christmas

Um, sorry folks. Ran out of time to Skype and text and all that, which is rather poor to be honest. So here’s a picture instead.

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The obligatory ‘I’m alright mum, I’ve got my best shirt on, had a shave, been to church and I’m just about to eat something’ picture that always reassures those keeping the home fires burning.

Just off to the MCG. I’m hoping England’s performance today matches the substance of the bacon, egg and cheese pie, i.e. dependable.

Come on England!

Yuletide Felicitations

Merry Christmas one and all. Thank you for sticking with my musings and for all your encouragement.

Apparently, I’ve missed the repeat of Escape To Victory on the telly at home. Bother. No matter, here, for me anyway, is what Christmas is all about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czc-0OqfhEM

Have a great time. X