It is 11 days since my last posting, 11 days of mind searching, trying to think of another subject for posting on my blog. It becomes demoralising sitting here at my desk at 4.30am trying to summon up a subject and find there is nothing. I had overdosed on Bede’s and its mismanagement and wanted to give Messrs Quinlan and Kearney a rest for the summer. My mind has been one lousy blank, just a few e-mails and comments on the blog to respond to, by 5.00am I was climbing the walls looking at a blank screen and not a word or a subject in my head. I have put it down to the fluoride infused water that the Irish government force us to drink, the mind numbing concoction that only an Irish politician could dream up. The Irish now all have a lovely set of gnashers but they are all dying of cancer before they can draw their pension. It is the only way out of the financial quagmire that poor old Mr Kenny, our senior politico can think of. Eugenics at its best.
But sod all that, I am not here today to criticise Ireland, it is a lovely place to live, if only we could rid ourselves of the greedy, robbing bankers, politicians, developers and lawyers and 50% of the rest of the population who seem to exist for their own benefit and not for the good of others.
Today is the 7th July, a month of birthdays for those conceived when the year is closing down and there ain’t that much else to particularly do. My brother Kevin was 66 last Friday, 5th July; my eldest grandchild, Joseph will be nine in 10 days time on the 17th, and my mother would have been 91 if she had lived and not been ploughed into eternity by a driver of a car one murky, dark November evening in 1988, a driver who had had a quiet drink on the way home from work.
But again sod all that, the lady driver will have been living that moment for the last 25 years and I would not wish to extend her torture. July is a month of sunshine or so I remember as a child, unfortunately although we have been promised barbecue weather all week, as I look out of the window I see a fine misty rain soaking the already well watered green sward at the front of the house. The temperature this morning is a cool 12C with a promise of 16C this afternoon. The omnipresent cloud which seems to live in Roscommon is still sitting morbidly over our heads and refusing to move either by wind or orbit.
However never fear, the Ashes Tests are upon us, Wednesday at Nottingham marks the first day of five, five-day encounters with the old enemy. A sporting festival not to be missed and it is my absolute privilege in 23 days time to be wending my way over to Manchester, courtesy of Ryanair, for the start of the 3rd Test Match on August 1st. I have not looked forward to a sporting event like this in years and I hope at least that the sun shines at that time.
I have been honoured this year with a magnificent gesture by daughter number 3 and her prospective husband, they are to be tied in matrimony later the same month and they thought it best to get me on their side before the big day. I am truly grateful for this gift and I just hope the month of July flies by and that I enjoy my day in tropical Manchester. Of course my day of cricket is only an excuse, the real reason for my visit is to see my new or not so new grandchild, he has just had his first birthday and here is a photo of him yesterday enjoying the weather I will be enjoying in three weeks time.
To try and make you understand what this day’s cricket means to me is really letting you, my dear reader, examine my rather narrow life. Cricket for me was and is my being and I tried to fit in getting married and fathering six children and working for 43 years into the lunch time interval and the break for tea at 4.15pm.
In my childhood and my youth I played the game, never successfully but always enthusiastically, for my Junior School, St Robert’s in Longsight, for my secondary school, St Bede’s College, for a succession of league clubs, Swinton, East Levenshulme and Longsight in the Lancashire and Cheshire league and for Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire whilst helping to push the M5 Motorway through the outskirts of the town in the late 1960s and for a host of scratch teams assembled for social occasions and summer cricket tours. From the age of eight until I was 30, I did nothing but play cricket and drink. My education, friendships and family went by the board until I eventually copped myself on and started to respect other things and other people.
My mother took me to watch an hour of a Roses match at Old Trafford in about 1954 when I was eight. The club used to let you in for nothing in the last hour, we were just biding time before we walked down to MetroPolitan Vickers in Trafford Park and waited for my Dad and 25,000 of his workmates to finish work. But on that fleeting visit I watched Johnny Wardle, the Yorkshire all-rounder hitting 6s for fun off the Lancashire bowling attack. So much so that I modelled my batting on his style which was very much to my later detriment. Three years later I was at Old Trafford for the Laker Test Match in July 1957 when Jim Laker took 19 wickets in the match. All I saw was Peter Richardson and Colin Cowdrey piling on the runs for England on that first day and I saw no Laker wickets at all. In 1971 I watched in amazement when Gloucester came to Old Trafford, again in July, for a semi-final of the Gillette Cup and David Hughes came out to bat for Lancashire with the street lights on at about 9.00pm at night needing 25 to win and hit 24 off his first over. The packed crowd was gobsmacked. I also remember the bad times as well, when Lock, Laker and the fast bowler Gibson of Surrey bowled Lancashire out for 27 in May 1958 and the times it lashed with rain as we sat undercover in the Ladies Stand being Junior Members of the club and when I went to watch the Australians play Lancashire one day in June 1963 instead of doing games and was discovered when games were cancelled and they did a roll call back at school and my absence was noted and Duggan excommunicated me the following morning and then my cricketing life really started.
I played with some of the best but was never good enough myself and all that quality never made me learn. I was always getting into scrapes with either authority or fellows rather larger than myself. I suppose my lack of talent made me needle these chaps and that nobody likes. I retired from the game whilst I still had a life to lead. But in my dotage I can still remember the great days and I hope this forthcoming day will give me more happy moments.