Da-Dewar run run run, Da-Dewar run run

We were fielding in the slips for the Anglo-Scottish Cavaliers against the Clause Four Clodhoppers
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The Independent Online

Since the recent sad death of Donald Dewar, the figurehead of Scottish devolution, I have received many letters of tribute to the great man and would like to publish a small selection today.

Since the recent sad death of Donald Dewar, the figurehead of Scottish devolution, I have received many letters of tribute to the great man and would like to publish a small selection today.

From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter

Sir, In all the eulogies paid to the late Donald Dewar, I have seen no mention of one of his great distinguishing characteristics, his abiding love of cricket.

I well remember fielding beside him in the slips while playing for the Anglo-Scottish Cavaliers, one of the occasional political cricket teams that sprang up in London in the 1950s. (Among others that I remember from that era were the Gaitskellite Grumblers, Tony Benn's Men and the Suez Suicides. Incidentally, what do you think Anthony Eden would have made of the fact that the England cricket captain is now called Nasser?!)

Where was I? Oh, yes, I was fielding beside Donald Dewar in the slips, against, if memory serves, the Clause Four Clodhoppers. During a dull moment, I turned to Donald Dewar and said: "I'd never thought about your name before, Donald, but are you any relation to the whisky?"

He looked at me sideways and said: "What whisky would that be, George?"

What a lovely dry sense of humour!

Yours etc

From Angus McPhail

Sir, I once played in the same side as Donald Dewar (the Gloaming Ramblers) and happened to pass him in the changing-room in a considerable state of deshabille. "Oh, Donald, where's yer troosers?" I sang out, at which he said, "If I had a penny for every time I heard that song, I would have spent a lot more of my life naked."

A lovely pawky sense of humour he had indeed!

Yours etc

From Sir Neil McDonald

Sir, I, too, have many memories of Donald Dewar the cricketer. A love of cricket is not common among my compatriots (I am not sure it is very common even among the Sassenachs these days) so we quite often met as colleagues in the Scottish cricket team the Border Raiders, which was active in London in the early 1960s.

I remember once getting into a heated argument with him about the role of cricket in an independent Scotland, if Scotland should ever be independent. Should not cricket be made illegal, I said, on the grounds that it was a colonialist and imperialist importation into Scotland?

"That's your trouble, Neil!" he said. "Always going for the cloudy philosophical argument and never for the practicalities of the situation. Do you think the West Indians abandoned cricket as a symbol of slavery? Do you think... ?"

It was at that point that the captain of our team strolled over and asked us to make less noise, as we were fielding in the slips at the time and disturbing the batsman. Nowadays, of course, it is quite common to carry on an insulting conversation on purpose to disturb the batsman (it is called "sledging", I believe), but not many people realise that it may actually have been invented by Donald Dewar.

Yours etc

From Mr George McDonald Fraser (no relation)

Sir, I would like to back up everything that has been said by the foregoing. I played alongside Donald Dewar in a peripatetic Anglo-Scottish cricket team called the Fact-Finding Mission, which was composed entirely of members of Parliament. I remember once fielding beside him in the slips, where he remained silent for the first hour of play, apart from once receiving a call on his mobile telephone, to which he uttered the single word: "Aye", then rang off.

By the beginning of the second hour, I felt I knew him well enough to say to him, "Donald Dewar, at the rate at which you communicate, it would be possible to question whether you are called Dewar or Dour!"

He turned his beady eye on me and said, "If I had a penny for every time I have heard that joke, I would now have £13 17s and 6d!"

I thought it was remarkable that he had been keeping count, and I would have said it was very Scottish of him, except that it is probably against the law to say so.

Yours etc

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