Woodham Mortimer Cricket Club - Pippy's Page

Enter the bizarre world of Great Uncle Isaac Pentangle
through the eyes of the ninth best spinner in the club,
Pippy.

Pippy's page. Part The First
Dear all, I have been asked by our esteemed Chairman to write a few words about cricket. It has been pointed out that I occasionally split badly my infinitives but this is entirely acceptable, whatever the public school set may say. (Normally, this is something along the lines of "Nurse- the screens!"). That is, however, a side issue. I recall, as a young cricketer of apple-cheeks and unkempt hair, failing to strike a single delivery all season. Once. Not being of a cricketing brain per se, I felt it appropriate to draw on the experiences of my most renowned relation, who had forgotten more about cricket than most people have. Anyway, I digress. Part the First:  

                                                                                                        One Man and his Ashtray  

                                                                                                      'Time past and time future
                                                                                           Allow but a little more consciousness.'  

Great Uncle Isaac Pentangle II recounted his experience whilst turning out for the Marconi Road Irregulars against Patsy’s Select XI, circa 1951. The game was close, by all accounts, with a late Patsy onslaught in the first innings securing them an enviable total of 47-9dec at lunch on the second day. There was a furore in the Irregulars dressing room as Bishop Arthur Singular-Tooth announced that no ashtray had been forthcoming from the serving wenches, whilst an offer to refill his stein had nevertheless been proffered. “Prong” (as his colleagues were wont to call him) declared that he refused to take to the crease until his request had been fulfilled. At this point, Dave “Ripper” Ripton (a lovely, homicidal maniac, by all accounts) came out in sympathy, saying that he would not pad up unless he had something to stub his Camel out in.

The dispute, if not the game itself, moved apace. It was pointed out to the said protagonist that no ashtray had ever been forthcoming: it had always been a matter of conscience for the individual player, involving a long walk to the bar. The one exception was the former doyen (now legend) of the Irregulars, Sir Philip Ten-Thwitt, who, apparently, had once been promised a receptacle for his Robusto, only ending up with the prospect of one should he practice his standing skills a little more. The game ended in a thrilling draw, the Marconi Road Irregulars eventually declaring on the fourth day ten minutes before tea on 45-7 in their first innings.

The game is memorable, said my great uncle, for the conspicuous consumption of not just curry but sweat-meats also. No ashtrays were given to either team- before or after their repast. The Marconi Road Irregulars were disbanded at the end of the season due to lack of interest and dysentery. In that calendar year, Great Uncle Pentangle had amassed, he claims, a total of six ashtray deployments. This figure was later amended, after meticulous study of the sketches, to include:

3x disputed
1x stealing an empty muffin case from Aunt Bernard.

You will be pleased to hear that the other two occasions when ashtrays were awarded constituted a first (and thus, sadly last) success for the gentlemen as they were, without doubt, earned stubbings.  

These fragments I have stored against my ruins  

See you all at nets.

Pippy
Pippy's Page. Part the Second.

Dear friends, what a month for cricket lovers! Nets are once more upon us and our brave boys (what remains of them) have disembarked the tramp steamer in fairest, bejewelled Inde (what remains of it). It is at times such as these when, under weight of expectancy, we can with some trepidation look forward to the onset of the glorious season and all that it brings. I recall, too, a conversation I once had with my Great Uncle Isaac Pentangle II, which goes some way to encapsulating what we are all feeling. Part the Second: 

                                                                                        On Matters Pertaining to Cheese
 
                                                                                                    I find myself agriev'd 
                                                                                           Yet insufficient to express the same, 
                                                                                            For it requires a thundering speech.

Great Uncle Pentangle was a compulsive netter. On one occasion, he remembers meeting Eric "Jerry" Chapstick: gentleman, player and erstwhile captain of Catford Old Girls. For those of you unacquainted with him, he was a man of undoubted reputation, second only to Nathaniel Goat-Song (he of the small chin and penchant for water biscuits). Those in attendance instantly sauntered over to the great man and he held court for some minutes with surprising good grace. The nets were duly assembled before the challenge came from Mr. Chapstick. Drawing himself to his full height (some seven feet, if the stories are to be believed) he announced with nipples erect in his booming falsetto:

Gentlemen, I thank you for your pains, and would fain discover which of you will pass muster. Come, the season is almost upon us, very now!
 At this juncture, he donned his paraphernalia, took his guard and gestured to my great uncle who was eagerly waiting at the head of the queue.
 
It should be noted that my relative was never renowned as a bowler, even though he had once been mistaken for one (which led to much embarrassment involving an umbrella, a copy of the Financial Times and the governor of the Bank of England). Nonetheless, he decided to try his mystery delivery, the so-called “Cheeser”. This, as cricket historians will know, was a ball so fiendish that it had been outlawed in most circles following the legendary Harris Debacle of 1911, it being generally considered unsporting to bowl out a gentleman.

Despite this, my Great Uncle Pentangle succeeded in not only “Cheesing” the brand new cherry, but also actually pitching it. The ball started on middle, ducked, shimmied and struck the rear “off” leg of Mr. Chapstick’s walking frame, rendering it (and thus the gentleman) useless. Mr. Chapstick’s mood changed from Cromity to Forties. He declared himself ochlophobic, demanding that all present should retire forthwith, allowing him an opportunity to, as he put it, “have a proper bloody net” on his own.

There was nothing to be done. The rest of the players sojourned to The Squirrel Arms for ale and an extensive selection of curries. They reflected on the magnitude of what they had just experienced, and on my uncle’s disgraceful conduct. Mr. Chapstick was last seen heading towards a copy of Wisden. Great Uncle Pentangle retired to a dark handbag to think about what he had done. Singing. 



                                                                                        Here I am, an old man in a dry month, 
                                                                                        Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
See you all soon
Pippy.

Pippy's page. Part the Third
Dear friends, and so we must take up the challenge of another season in but a few short weeks, hoping not for Pax but for Nike herself! Or some such. The most vital time is now as we strive to regain the confidence we gained but a handful of months ago. (Batting, bowling and fielding aside, I myself have felt the throb of cricketing confidence, if only for a fleeting moment). It would be beneficial for our younger, less wordly-wise readers to turn to the more senior members of the club for some advice, or at the very least some rousing words. We should all regale our colleagues with tales of arms and of the man, hoping that no one recognises our particular homunculus. Those unable to do so, however, may be interested to know that I recall, rather appropriately, a conversation I had with my Great Uncle Isaac, about just such a fellow. Part the third:

                                                                        Harbingers of a Man's Crisis of Identity in the Early Part of the Twenty-First Century  

                                                                                No one is accountable for existing at all  

Great Uncle Isaac Pentangle III recalled, one icy winter night, a most memorable and informative occurrence. It was summer, circa 1968 and the Navigation Road Bi-Annuals had advertised in The Times for a new all-rounder, the previous one having been mislaid during a team soiree at The Gentleman’s Unnecessary. (This establishment was famous, as gourmands will know, for its “All You Can Eat Bush Meat Bar”. That is another story, though).

No response to the appeal was forthcoming and my uncle found himself both apprehensive and uneasy at the prospect of having to take to the field on the following Saturday without their homme de base. Luckily, an eleventh-hour replacement was found, at one o’clock. Great Uncle Isaac, being Junior Vice-Secretary (Forced Selections) was anxious that the matter be resolved and arranged to meet the applicant at Harry’s Fish Bar. The advertisement had emphasised the need for all paperwork to be correct, so it was assumed that the aspirant would be available for the game that bullied-off just an hour following the rendezvous. Thus, my uncle made his way to the meet, hoping for the desired result. It is difficult, he says, to fully describe the gentleman who walked through the door.

Jonson Peach-Ungerton cut an imposing figure. Hailing from Jamaica and built like a bare-knuckle boxer he still looked, said my uncle, almost grallatoric. No mean achievement. On interrogation he replied, somewhat curtly, that yes, he had once opened the bowling; yes, he was slightly lethal; yes, he had once had a bat; yes, he enjoyed pastimes as diverse as slip-fielding, beer-drinking and curry-guzzling (though he was pressed on the latter). Most promisingly, all relevant paperwork appeared to be in order. All seven of his references were initially verified via pigeon and my uncle took it upon himself to recruit “Todger” without further ceremony.

An hour later and the game was afoot. Vice Sec and “The Todge” arrived just as the toss was duly lost. Finding themselves inserted on a paradise the “Bi-Navvies” decided to change up the batting order. The man Jonson was hastily padded-up and instructed to play himself in. What followed was truly remarkable. “Tod” (as he was by now called) proceeded to display his batting prowess for the next three hours. From my uncle’s colourful description, I can only conclude that defence was very much Mr. Peach-Ungerton’s idee-fixe. Suffice to say that all deliveries were dispatched to the in-field, directly along the ground, at slow pace.

Having amassed a total of 78 by the close of innings, the gentlemen were happy with their efforts, although Peach-Ungerton’s 3 not out seemed a trifle cautious, by all accounts. As it left their hosts chasing the third highest ever score at the ground since records began, my uncle and his compatriots took to the field with a considerable amount of confidence. The new man was thrown the ball and asked to open up from the Trench Foot End. His figures are memorable and are recorded below for posterity:

                                                                                                           2-0-58-0

They are memorable mainly because he pulled things back somewhat in his final over. A ball later and the game was lost, the bar was opened and curry and ale demanded. All availed themselves and rejoiced in the beauty of the game in itself.

This was Jonson Peach-Ungerton’s only game for the Navigation Road Bi-Annuals. While his efforts with both bat and ball were acknowledged as almost unsurpassable, my uncle discovered a discrepancy in one of his references. When things were looked into further, poor Jonson was summoned to The Squirrel Arms, summarily dismissed from his first team berth, and forced to self-vapulate on the square in full view of all paying members. As it transpired, the man was Scottish.

The preponderance of feelings of displeasure over feelings of pleasure is the cause of a fictitious morality..

See you sooner than you’d hoped.

Pippy.