In the wake of the lamented death of George Harrison, I have received many letters in appreciation of the memory of the great man, and I would like to publish a few of them to day.
From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter
Sir, In all the admiring obituaries of the late George Harrison, I have seen no mention of one of the passions which illuminated his life – his deep and abiding love of cricket.
I first encountered George in the early 1960s when he was playing for a showbiz team, George Martin's Minstrels, against the team I captained in those days, the Waikiki Wizards (during the winter we doubled as a Hawaiian band), and it was obvious to me that he was a natural player of spin.
"Tell me, George," I asked him, "where do you get the patience to block shot after shot while waiting for the bad ball to come along so you can hammer it?"
"If you're used to playing third fiddle to John and Paul," he said, "you've got all the patience in the world. I call it the third way."
Perhaps by coincidence he also fielded at third man.
From TV Naipaul (no relation)
Sir, I can vouch for the sentiments of the foregoing. I often used to encounter George Harrison in cricket games when I was playing for Ravi Shankar's touring side, when George had first fallen in love with Indian philosophy. He told me it was his dream to bring about a fusion of English cricket and Indian techniques.
"Well," I said, "I do not think the techniques of Indian cricket are very different from English techniques."(Of course, I did not then know about tampering with the ball and match-fixing!)
"No, no," said George. "I mean the techniques of Indian meditation."
He then went back to his position at third man. But, at the end of the over, I could not help noticing that he reappeared at third man position on the far side of the ground without having walked over there! He seemed to have mastered some translocation technique that allowed him to dematerialise and rematerialise in his chosen position. If only he had let the rest of us know the secret, it would have revolutionised cricket and made it twice as fast!
From Mrs Sidney Paget
Sir, In addition to the above, you might care to know that he also experimented with techniques of meditation as an umpire, thinking that going into a trance might aid him to see the truth, and that Out and Not Out were another form of the eternal opposition of Yin and Yang, but, as this led him to lose count and have many 24-ball overs, it was not a success.
From Mr Graham Twyford
Sir, May I refer to the late George Harrison's involvement in the film world? Many people have mentioned the fact that without him there might not have been the wherewithal to complete The Life of Brian. Few are aware that the reason he was so keen on its completion was that he was under the impression it was the life story of the cricketer Brian Close.
We fed him this story as we knew he was keen on cricket, and thought that a man who was keen on so many world beliefs would not approve of the blasphemous nature of the real film. We thought that when he came to the premiere and found out the truth, he might cut up rough, but all he said was, with a twinkle: "Pity all the cricket scenes had to be left on the cutting-room floor..."
From Mr Al Seinplatz
Sir, I have one memory of George Harrison I would like to share. I was present when all four Beatles auditioned for the job of reading Thomas the Tank Engine. It was a fascinating contrast. John Lennon made the whole thing sound unutterably cynical. Paul McCartney was very sentimental, and burst into tears when the trucks were being naughty. Ringo Starr was dourly matter of fact. Only George gave it just that touch of world-weary sincerity we felt was ideal, and we offered him the job. Unfortunately, the dates clashed with a cricket tour of India he was going on, playing for the Karma Cowboys (a team of rock guitarists), so we got Ringo instead. He was OK. But the Awdry/Harrison teaming would have been great.
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