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:
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.