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When an old cricketer leaves the crease

November 3, 2012

“On yer bike” was the battle cry from politician Norman Tebbit during the Thatcher era, when referring to the unemployed work shy, which is a description with which I am uncomfortably familiar. I was on my bike again yesterday cycling near Clymping in the freezing cold, wind-and-shower strewn morning. In between uplifting glimpses of the sun and the sea, I was soaked, frozen, dispirited and still fat. Such are the vagaries of life that befall a semi-retired old git with an unhealthy love of beer, good wine and good food.

Earlier I had been at the chemists waiting for a prescription served by a pharmacist with a very loud voice. The poor lady in front of me was asking very quietly about treatments for nits. I only know this because the pharmacist gave a very loud and complete run down on what was the best treatment, the gist of which I could have picked up from Brighton. A megaphone would have been a little more discreet.

My picture today is of the final resting place of one of England’s most famous cricketers. Colin Cowdray played for and captained England in the 1960’s, but I had no idea he was buried in a tiny off-the-beaten-track graveyard in a tiny hamlet called Poling, or Polling, depending upon which signpost you believe until we stumbled across it last week. I see this as a sign to invoke his spirit when, later this month, I set off for Australia to play cricket in the Golden Oldies Cricket Festival.

 final resting place of one of England’s most famous cricketers. Colin Cowdray

The last resting place for the late great Colin The Lord of Cowdray of Tonbridge, C.B.E

As we sat in the Black Rabbit last evening, my having cycled down just before dark as part of my dreaded exercise routine, and to allow me to partake of a couple of pints of Fursty Ferret, -a very passable real ale- the conversation turned, for some reason, to the practice of having a plaque mounted on the wall of houses where someone famous had lived. I said I wished we could have one on our house in Arundel to celebrate my achievements as a writer. Surprisingly that Nice Lady Decorator agreed, but it was, of course, a double-edged sword; she pointed out that these symbols of achievement were invariably placed on the houses after the celebrities death.

I asked her later if she liked my new haircut and she said she did but why did the barber not cut my eyebrows? This alone was a fair comment, however, she added “you look a bit like Joseph Fritzl” (the Austrian lunatic who kept his daughter prisoner and fathered children by her). I do like a woman with an acerbic tongue, which is lucky for me.

Being a Saturday, I can leave my thoughts about the value of moving foreign exchange via Currencies Direct and concentrate on leisure and exercise. It seems to me that Einstein was right. Every action should have a reaction, so, if I am to spend hours cycling and walking this morning, then I should be allowed to spend a similar number of hours over a few pints then lunch. As I write, the day has dawned bright and sunny so there is some hope that this will come to pass.

Should the weather remain clement for Sunday, there is a prospect of playing tennis with James, the landlord of the White Hart, John the Builder, and a fourth in the morning. If it happens it will be the first time I have ventured onto a tennis court locally. I am drawn to it as James has made clear that at 12.00, whatever the score, we adjourn to the Black Rabbit. This is my kind of tennis.

Chris France


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