Nowadays memory plays tricks and I don’t recall much after 9.30 pm. But some events in the season stand out. Not least Lachlan’s brother scoring 100 off about 38 balls and Chris Mounsey-Thear scoring 50 or so off half as many. Stunning. We had some nice days in the sun, fabulous lunches and teas, and lovely evenings at the Golden Bollock that made the jam in between, the cricket, almost irrelevant.
New blood is always welcome and Tom Ayling is both a fine cricketer and good company (meaning he tolerates my banging on). Nick Constantine and Phil Goodliffe are new blood that have graced our ground. Actually Phil is nearly 70, so hardly new, and he’s pretty deaf so my erudition escapes him.
Our trip to the South of France didn’t come off this year but we had a jolly BBQ at Christiaan’s gaff which is good for team cohesion if not for his cellar. I am told his cellar contains some particularly fine Rhone and Burgundy but this wasn’t in evidence, we had something in a screw cap but it was wet and alcoholic and that’s all I need. Or got. He made mock of my greed in his match report but he probably mistook me for Emley in the gloom, a man who talks posh about wine but necks it like Ernie. Don’t forget that in 2018 Dennis and Ross have organised a West Country two-match tour (May 4-7) on picturesque grounds, staying at a big house nearby. We need a good turnout, not least for after-dinner charades. Please try not to get pregnant and jeopardise your place.
Some of the cricket in 2017 was excellent. I like nice teams to play against who lose gracefully. We had the usual spats, LBW being a perennial spark for argy-bargy, as is caught behind. The trouble is some of us are in pretty ropey nick and a snick is inaudible. I prompted a bit of bovver when I gave a bloke out LBW – it was Tom Ayling’s hattrick ball – although the batsman had hit it. Perhaps we should abolish LBW to foster good relations. We have had a few spats with the Hermits over the years, particularly with the stroppy Mark Palmer, but he wasn’t playing in our last match, so Terry and Jerry Bevan stepped up to the plate and played the combative role, brilliantly I gather.
Relations of another sort were not helped by our relocating to the Golden Ball, leaving all the totty at The Crown behind, particularly the Estonian barmaid; although she fucked off with the chef and never left a forwarding address. Speaking of sex some of you mentioned that my comment that my target age range was 40-72 was particularly hurtful to Annette Jacot and our tea lady, as they just fail to qualify. I realise they will be disappointed but Sarah may take comfort that I am still in the family, her dachshund is within the upper limit in doggy years.
Some of us are getting a bit past it. My knees need surgery, so do Martin’s. He was much missed this year although he played at the end. We gathered afterwards at the new pub but he went to the old one at Pishill. A sad end to a season, drinking alone and worrying about your personal freshness. Nick P-G was also fucked for much of the season but, trooper that he is, played through injury when we were desperate. John Langley seems to have hung up his bat. He will be missed, not so much for his cricket as for his intellect, that took in an alphabet soup of arcane knowledge from aardvark to zeitgeist. We will be without Dennis for much of next season as he’ll be painting in some Barbadian studio; we will miss his cricket and his wife. Our esteemed Treasurer, Rupert Morris, defies the years and lack of technique and soldiers on, thankfully. Thanks to him we are solvent. Another absentee for most of the season was Sunil, which was a pity as he is an agreeable cove and can still bend and throw; and he has what Mrs May doesn’t – luck. How he gets all those caught and bowleds with such innocuous stuff is a mystery.
On a personal note, may I thank everyone for their nice words about my late father. You may have seen the obit I wrote in The Times and the fuller and better one in The Daily Telegraph. He was a man unafraid of Rommel’s tanks but shit scared of my mother. I am a bit like that but only in being shit scared of my wife. Forget the tank stuff, that would unnerve me too. He was a man of moderation, and some naivity. He once asked me, in my wife’s presence, whether I’d ever been drunk. My wife interrupted – ‘What!? He’s pissed every night!’ It was not a helpful remark.
Our family home at Turville Heath is being sold but our status as tenants at Stonor is assured. The V&A annual shindig will be at the big house on March 24 next year. Please do not laugh at the photo of me in 1966 in my velvet jacket, or vomit on the Gobelins. That is what the Axminster is for.