V&A v. The National Theatre
18th May 2013
V&A v. Town and Country Folks
3rd May 2014
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V+A v. GTs

V&A PLAYERS: Chris Mounsey-Thear [Skip], Nicky Bird, Tom Bird, Nick Emley, Dennis De Caires, Christiaan Jonkers, Rob Taylor, Andy Taylor, Ross Ashcroft, Rupert Morris, Lachlan Nieboer

What the fuck am I doing here, I mused as I umpired at the Henley end, at the beginning of our truncated 20/20 game. Rain and a freezing wind lashed the pitch. A typical April start to our season. I had wisely chosen the Henley end to umpire as the wind was behind me. Christiaan at the other end had it full in the face. The GTs are robust and not a one appealed for respite and a return to the pav. Of such stuff was the Empire made. I am a wimp in comparison. In fact I am a wimp compared to Larry Grayson.

The first game is like going back to school after the summer hols. The old place had a new coat of paint and new roof. Everyone was a little older, and in some cases more decrepit. Dennis, I think, pointed out that I was fatter. My present wife calls me Mr Blobby which is unkind as it is drinking whisky that makes me fat and that is cause for understanding not derision. However some people had bloomed. The beautiful eldest daughter of Christiaan had grown 4 inches or so, upwards, not like me outwards. Adam was abroad so I could not take comfort in someone more of a wreck than me.

We lost the toss and batted, opening with Ross and Rupert, the first over consisting of 5 wides. The bowling was not mean and our batsmen flourished, despite the difficulty of scoring boundaries in the wet. Rupert hit a brisk 18 with one elegant 4 before being bowled when Miles Martin came on, with the tally on 47. Andy Taylor then accelerated with a marvellous 31, and two of the biggest sixes I have seen, before holing out to the only fielder who could catch. Rob Taylor, unwisely heeding the calls from the pavilion to run an unlikely run, was run out. One should never listen to the oiks barracking from the boundary, what do they know.

Tom Bird came in, and out. Ross was eventually well stumped for a crucial 48 runs, and Dennis, with a beautiful 6, and Nick Emley and then Lachlan kept the runs flowing. We reached a respectable 131. Luncheon had been taken before the game, provided by the saintly Sarah. Terrible traffic on the South Circular and Remenham Hill meant stragglers straggled in while coffee and petits fours were being taken. Over lunch there was a discussion about Hitler and his sense of humour, which Christiaan thought lacking. I did not know him socially so cannot comment but I do not think he was strong on Polish jokes. Dennis suggested that if I had been present at a dinner with Adolf and Churchill these two famous bangers on might have been bored or cowed by someone rudely referred to as Radio Bird. Whatever. Hitler and Churchill were dubious dinner guests, Churchill drinking all your best wine, holding forth and blowing cigar smoke in your face, and Hitler with his vegetarian diet, inappropriate views on persons of colour, and flatulence, never welcome in the confines of a dining room. It is said that small people with genital deformities compensate by seeking world domination. I dispute this. Nick Emley has shown no such behavioural abnormalities

Chris Mounsey-Thear, skipper, opened with Dennis and Lachlan and they bowled so tightly that the GTs were in trouble with the run rate almost immediately. Christiaan and Rob bowled their openers with beauties and a fine throw from the deep by Chris ran out their No. 3. A Snickometer might have settled a brief dispute over a caught behind but another melodramatic one down the leg side was incontrovertible. Andy Taylor then bowled their No. 5 with a fabulous fast off break, and Chris picked up three wickets to decide the contest. The GTs fell short of out total by 19 runs.

When we finished the rain came again. A good day with 250 runs scored when the morning gloom made a game seem unlikely. Martin Bowden came but did not play, preserving his frame for a game on Sunday. Peter Linthwaite said he would turn up if we were desperate but that degree of desperation remains unrecorded.

The pavilion key has gone missing. Let me know if you have a spare. One does not want any old hobbledehoy marching in and nicking our historic collection of bats, scorebooks, old balls and pads, many bearing the teethmarks of mice. Our new blue and yellow sweaters were worn proudly for the first time, courtesy of Dennis. He says that the colours should be known as BOTTICELLI BLUE and VAN GOGH YELLOW as befits a museum side with pretentions to ponciness.


Nicky Bird