Don’t worry, I’m not going to mention the football, this is all about cricket, where all is well ….
I went to Lord’s last week for the First Test – one of my favourite summer rituals. I drove to Kingham station to catch my train. The platform to London was crammed with like-minded work-dodgers. It seemed as if the whole of the Cotswolds had taken a day off, and there was quite the party atmosphere on the way up with multicoloured-blazered men breaking into their alcoholic reserves a touch early.
I was going as a guest and I felt bad not taking my 10-year-old, cricket-mad boy with me. “Where are you going today, Dad?” he asked as I was leaving. “Oh … London …” I prevaricated.
“Mum said you’re going to Lord’s. Can I come?” His little face looked so angelic that I thought briefly about hiding him in my bag and smuggling him into the ground. It was no use however, as he would have been discovered and definitely been deemed a security risk.
I recently took him and some friends to a T20 Blast game between Gloucestershire and Glamorgan. They wore Minion masks, jumped up and down, harassed fielders on the boundary and made quite the spectacle of themselves. Thankfully a torrential downpour cooled their impish ardour and the game was rained off.
Back at home, I had to explain that I had failed him as a father. I didn’t have a ticket for him and I had to leave, promising that I would take him to Lord’s very soon.
It is a father’s duty to do this sort of thing. My dad took me to Lord’s when I was a kid and I shall never forget it. It was particularly special because he had once played there in an inter-school match. He told me that he hit a respectable six but was then bowled out.
This seriously impressed me, but I always got the feeling that it had not been enough for him. I think it was one of those life events that he endlessly replayed, only this time he went on to hit a glorious century, raising his bat to an enraptured crowd.
Personally, I would have been happy with just batting there – the six would have been a Brucie Bonus. It’s one of life’s salutary lessons however, that you are never truly satisfied with anything. You always want that little bit more.
Seated in the baking sun in the Mound Stand, I certainly wanted a little bit more to drink and, by teatime I, like most of the crowd, was well on my way to drunkenness. On one of my trips to the bar a reporter from Lord’s TV grabbed me. Confusingly for TV, he had a microphone but no camera.
“Would you say a few words about your day?” he asked.
Flushed with fine wines I said rather more than a few words and ended up introducing my companion, an advertising bigwig in a floppy sun hat, as Remi from the Stone Roses. Excitedly, the reporter asked “Remi” what he thought of the game. He was quite surprised to hear him reply in a cut-glass accent, “Well, it’s really all rather wonderful”. It most certainly was.