Memories of a thinker and cricketer

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I have received many letters of tribute to the late Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher and founder of what became known as "deconstruction". I would like to print some of them today in his memory.

I have received many letters of tribute to the late Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher and founder of what became known as "deconstruction". I would like to print some of them today in his memory.

From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter

Sir, In all the glowing appreciations of the life of Jacques Derrida, I am amazed that nobody has seen fit to mention one of the great loves of his life, the game of cricket, which in a sense was the basis of much of his philosophy.

I first met Jacques in the late 1950s when I was playing for an expatriate cricket team based in Paris, called the Left Bank Eleven. He was fascinated by the game, and would often turn out to watch us play.

"Cricket is not like any other game in the world, Gubby," he said to me once. "It is the only team game I know in which almost half the players are absent from the field all the time. There is never any point at which all the players are playing. So in what sense is it a team game? It is also the only game which can last longer than a day. When you have a five-day Test match, are the players on the last day the same players who took the field on the first day?"

"Of course they are, you French fool," I said cheerily.

"How can you be sure? They are five days older. They may have changed their opinions, may have undergone significant experiences off the field. I think they may be different people."

"Jacques, you never change. You are an idiot," I told him, and he laughed.

Yours, etc

From Lord Wilderspoon

Sir, I lived in Paris in the 1960s, and played for an expat cricket club, the Eleven Disciples. Jacques Derrida would play the occasional match for us, as a useful spin bowler.

"You know, everything is relative," he told me one day, in the slips. "You bowl medium-fast, with the occasional slow ball. I bowl slow, and slip in the occasional quick one. Yet your slow ball is faster than my quick one! What does that tell us?"

"I don't know," I said. "What does it tell us?"

"I don't know yet," he said. "But I am working on it."

Bit of a nutter, frankly.

Yours, etc

From Sir Ronald Cashew

Sir, People sometimes dismissed Jacques Derrida as a bit of a nutter, but I think there was method in his madness. In the 1970s, I got to know him when playing for an expat Parisian team called, in honour of old Sam Beckett, "Godot Etc", and he expounded his philosophy to me once.

"It is very simple, Ronny," he said. "Every 20 years the French give the world a new thought fashion. Before the Great War it was Symbolism. Between the wars it was Surrealism. After the war it was Existentialism. It is now time for another gift from France to the world, and it is going to be Deconstruction."

"Explain it to me, Jacques," I said.

He laughed. "An Englishman would never understand it," he said. "Not that it matters. I am going straight for the American market. They will believe anything there, especially if a Frenchman says it."

"And where does cricket fit into all this?" I said.

"The only true cricket is French cricket," he said. "A bat, a ball, a pair of trousers. It is cricket reduced to its irreducible elements. Understand French cricket, and you can understand anything."

What a wally.

Yours, etc

From Mr Mephistopheles

Sir, I wonder if you can help me. A few years ago I struck a bargain with Tony Blair, in which I gave him unlimited power in return for his soul. Having awarded him the power, I recently applied to him for his soul, but he now says he has changed his mind and refuses to comply. I wonder if any of your readers have any suggestions as to how I can deal with the situation? Yours, etc

Miles Kington writes: Gosh, I don't know where that came from. Spooky. Back to normal tomorrow.

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