Cricket's better than sex, was the judgement of Harold Pinter, whose departure before Christmas brought a not-insubstantial round of nostalgia concerning the playwright's other life at the crease. Never mind that he perfected the menacing pause as a dramatic device, nor that he barracked the political leaders of the day; the truest definition of Pinteresque, as it turns out, is a tendency to go weak-kneed over a sport in which two teams of cream V-neck jumpers stand around for days on end, walking a bit, catching a ball every 10 minutes, and always breaking for a nice cup of tea.
I like quite a few of the clichéd male pastimes: darts, pub crawls, avoiding domestic chores. Ten years ago on a summer's day my then boyfriend took me to Lord's. A one-day international, he assured me, would be "so much more exciting" than a Test match; the extreme pressure of having to wrap up an entire game in but a single day would make for a thrilling showdown, said he.
After paying £80 each at the gates, we sat on a bench in the sparsely occupied stands and waited for the action to start. From his pocket, he pulled out the little portable radio, and a pair of earphones. "See, this is what you do," he said, a quiver of anticipation in his voice, "you listen to the commentary and you watch the match at the same time."
I don't remember much after that; I found the beer tent, I think, while he sat in blissful isolation, plugged into the chatter of stats and folklore. Cricket's better than other people, is perhaps what the Nobel laureate meant to say.
I haven't given up on driving lessons and, in avoiding the crowds of Fulham v Chelsea at home, this weekend's route ventured into the wealthier postcodes of West London. Now that we've covered the emergency stop, my instructor was relaxed enough to throw in a few celebrity tidbits:
"Turn left at the end of the road, you'll need first gear here as it's a closed junction, signal please, and that's Simon Cowell's new place, it used to be apartments but he's bought the lot and is turning it into one house all for himself. More gas."
At the gigantic mansions of the Boltons in Chelsea, we slowed to a crawl to look at Frank Lampard's surprisingly rustic Christmas wreath, which could make a nice nest for a stork after twelfth night. I don't think I'm exposing Frank to undue risk from stalkers by revealing that his door is painted a loyal blue – of course it is.Reuse content