“I’ve Got To Go And Do It For Grandpa”


Today a dirty-white shawl was cast across the sunless skies, so I scanned another batch of colour slides from my archives. These, featuring two afternoons of Oliver’s batting were from September 2008, in his second year of cricket.

The first set seems to have been from a junior match. My grandson takes his first strike with the scoreboard on nought. The next few photographs show the score mounting with the loss of one wicket. The series ends at 36 for 1. Could it be that his innings ended soon afterwards?

If so, he lasted much longer as the shadows lengthened on a splendid late Summer evening when my pride in his performance almost eclipsed any I experienced in my own. Only almost, mind you. The last photograph is of Michael, a non-cricketer, on whose innings I will not dwell.

This was the occasion on which Oliver played against my old club, Trinity (Battersea) – now (Oxley)  in honour of Stan who was one of the founders – for which I played during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The match was at Sanderstead. Oliver bowled two tidy overs off which very few runs were scored. Later he took an astounding catch on the boundary, diving to his left, and scooping up the ball with fingertips very close to the ground. When it was the home team’s turn to bat. the lad surprised me by not taking the field with the other opener. He had decided he had damaged his arm too much to bat.
Not very much later, Sanderstead, chasing something around 190, had lost 6 wickets for a little more than 30. Out came the youngster pulling, on his gloves. He then set about his business.
As a fast bowler, myself, I always hated bowling at boys. I felt on a hiding to nothing because my opponent was bound to be good to be worth his place, but I always held something back for fear of doing damage. Today’s Trinity speed merchant had no such qualms. His did his furious utmost to dislodge Oliver, to no avail. When our hero was finally dismissed, he had scored 57 – coincidentally the highest score I ever made – and there were just three runs required. The last man saw to that.
I asked my son what had changed his son’s mind. The answer was that he had said “I’ve got to go and do it for Grandpa”. In the bar afterwards the Trinity players expressed their displeasure at me, stating that, given that I had been one of them, they should have had first claim on Oliver.
This evening, Jackie and I dined on a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie meal. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of The Cabernet Sauvignon. Elizabeth will fend for herself when she comes home later.

No Play Today

Today was dank, dull, and overcast, in stark contrast to the glorious sunshine of yesterday.  Jackie and I stayed at home. This morning was spent on domestic tasks, and after lunch we watched Stephen Spielberg’s fascinating film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ on BBC iPlayer.
We had some considerable frustration in actually finding iPlayer and subsequently the film on television.  This is because the system of navigation has been changed and I, for one, hardly ever used the old one.  Nevertheless we enjoyed the production enough for Jackie to read Wikipedia’s version of the story of a juvenile con-man who impersonated a series of professionals and defrauded numerous banks out of millions of dollars in the late 1960s.
The opening credits tell us that the film is ‘inspired by a true story’.  Frank Abagnale Jr is the lead character, played brilliantly by Leonardo di Caprio, who as a rather older actor manages to be a quite creditable teenager who conducted his fraudster adventure before he reached the age of eighteen. In the process he impersonates a teacher; an airline pilot; a doctor; and a lawyer. The initial bravado and excitement, progressing through self-doubt and ultimate signs of panic are well portrayed. There are touchingly tragic elements to the story of this young man who set himself off on a roller-coaster ride and really rather wants to get off but doesn’t know how to do so. Tom Hanks is the FBI agent chasing his fugitive across half the world.  He presents a clever mixture of haplessness and useful observation and intuition.  Christopher Walken is convincing as the conman father on whom we are given to believe Frank has modelled himself. Wikipedia describes a very different Frank Abagnale Senior.  But then, the film does not claim to be a biopic and dramatically this works very well.
Di Caprio’s character is finally caught and imprisoned.  Through a developing friendship with Hanks’s FBI agent he is eventually released and works for the Investigation Bureau’s fraud squad.  Wikipedia confirms and expands upon this.
Number 41 in the ‘through the ages’ series of photographs features Garrick House Cricket Club, which I joined as an opening bowler in 1957.  This photograph was taken in the summer of 1958.
Garrick House cricket team
Garrick House in Southampton Street, Covent Garden was the home of theatrical publishers Samuel French Ltd.  The cricket club was that of the firm.  By 1957, no-one playing for the team worked for the publishers.  They therefore handed over ownership and all the kit to the current body of men. The club was, a year or two later merged with Trinity (Battersea) Cricket club, for whom a number of the Garrick House players, including me, turned out.  It was Stan Oxley, seated in the centre of the picture, who was one of the trio who formed the Battersea club, and spent his life as its Secretary, who recruited me, first for the team above, and the following year for the much stronger Trinity.  There was then no conflict of interest because Garrick house played on Saturdays at Cottenham Park, and Trinity was a wandering Sunday side.
From left to right on the top row stand Peter Gwilliam, Ray Chard, Norman Vigor, Mike Vaughan, and me.  Seated are John Baker, Jack Niblett, Stan, John O’Rourke, and Tony Woodward.  Bob Mitchell sits on the grass.
Peter was a classy batsman and occasional wicketkeeper lacking similar class. Ray was a powerful all-rounder whose input was somewhat variable.  Norman was a talented and stylish batsman and useful fast bowler, who married Eileen, an England off-spinner. Mike could turn a game with his powerful hitting, and was a good wicketkeeper.  Modesty prevails for the next one.
John Baker didn’t play often, but was a strong batsman and fast bowler.  Jack Niblett was the Alec Bedser of the side.  He resembled the great Surrey and England medium paced bowler in size and delivery, but lacked his variation. Jack, very successfully, wore down the opposition by placing the ball, from a remarkably short run-up, exactly on the spot just outside the off stump, at an unexpectedly brisk pace. Every time. Ball after ball. If you wanted to score off him you had to take a risk. I often thought he bored them to death. Matthew 9.71 He was definitely a number eleven batsman. Stan, I’ve mentioned above.  He was the hub of the club, and after his death sometime in the 1980s the club was renamed Trinity (Oxley) Cricket Club. John O’Rourke was not happy. He was a less than successful pace bowler. Tony was a keen photographer. He once borrowed a couple of my slides to submit to a photographic competition. He didn’t pass them off as his own, but they did receive some commendation.  One, unfortunately I’ve lost.  The other, taken in September 1971, of Matthew peering through my sister Jacqueline’s back door window, he entitled ‘No Play Today’.
Bob has featured before.  He was a fairly reasonable spin bowler and occasional batsman.
This evening we dined on battered haddock and chips, mushy peas and pickled onions.  Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Les 3 Lys Crozes Hermitages 2010.