Letters (with a lot of flannel)

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The Independent Online
From Arthur Tremain

Sir: In all the fuss surrounding the re-emergence of Beatlemania, I am surprised no one has mentioned the fanatical interest that the late John Lennon had in cricket.

It is little realised that he was an obsessive Lancashire supporter, and hated to tour during the summer for fear of missing a Lancashire game or a Test match. During concerts, he would often watch videos of the latest Lancashire game on what fans thought were loudspeakers but were in fact TV monitor screens. If you watch videos of his later concerts, you can sometimes see him jump in the air at moments apparently unconnected with the music. Usually this was because someone had just been called out.

During his later years with Yoko Ono, who showed a sad lack of interest in the game, he would sneak off to play cricket with the Manhattan Minstrels, a New York team of expatriate cricketers drawn partly from British showbiz exiles and partly from West Indian immigrants. I remember standing beside him in the slips one day and watching him put down a difficult left-hand chance. "No one would have got that," I said, to comfort him, "except maybe Paul McCartney."

"Why him?" said John.

"Well, he's left-handed."

"Yes, but Linda McCartney would have got in the way," said John. How we all laughed.

However, the team abruptly lost John Lennon's services when Yoko Ono persuaded him to play naked one day as a protest for peace. He was never picked again.

Yours sincerely ...

From Mr Gary Bunyip

Sir: In all the fuss about the anniversary of the Sun Page Three girls, I am surprised no one has mentioned the cricket team which these gallant girls ran for many years. United by a common love of the game - and a generous subsidy from Mr Murdoch! - these fun-loving fillies often turned out of a Saturday to delight crowds all over the country with their skill as well as their stunning looks. Ignorant commentators have often supposed this buxom bunch played cricket topless, which shows a lamentable depth of ignorance and a degree of sexism on their part. In fact, these leggy lovelies preferred to play in French chambermaids' outfits with short black skirts and lacy cleavage.

Some of them were far from untalented. We had a fast bowler called Leslie Lindquist who could work up a fair head of steam, even though she was amply endowed in the chest region with a bust of more than 40in (or should that be in milligrams these days?).

On one occasion an opposing batsman asked her if she did not find it difficult to get her arm over with such a bountiful bosom. "Look, love," she snapped, "I don't ask if you have trouble walking or running, do I?" How we all laughed!

Yours faithfully ...

From Major-General Sir Norman Fishbolt

Sir: May I put in a word in support of my good friend Nicholas Soames MP? In all this Prince of Wales controversy he has come in for a good deal of flak, with many people unable to decide if he is genuinely paranoid or merely shamelessly trying to play for people's sympathy. Well, let me tell you, there is no one straighter and finer than Nicholas Soames, not least when it comes to cricket, in which game he is one of the stoutest fielders known to man - no pun intended!

I remember when he was a spectator at a cricket match at Windsor Castle, the annual fixture between Old Equerries and the Prince of Wales's Valets Past and Present XI. One of the equerries had to leave and Nicholas was pressed into being a substitute. "Blimey!" quipped one of the valets, as Nicholas strode on to the field. "They've sent on their 12th and 13th man!" How we all laughed.

Yours sincerely ...

From Professor Norman Carew

Sir: It would be a shame if Purcell's tercentenary were allowed to pass without some mention being made of the great composer's fondness for cricket.

I do not know if Purcell played cricket, but the musical world was stunned two years ago at the discovery of his cricketing cantata ("Blest Pair of Stumps") and a collection of cricketing rounds to be sung at sporting parties. Purcell had a weakness for writing rounds with rather risque words, and these cricketing ditties are no exception! I surprised a Wigmore Hall audience recently when, as an encore at a choral concert, I produced 11 men in white flannels who sang:

There was a very courtly lover,

Who quoth, "I need no extra cover

When with my mistress I do lay

And with her fine legs I do play ..."

And so on through all the fielding positions. How we all laughed!

Yours faithfully ...