I Don’t Like Cricket… I Love It….

cricket ground

While I can’t say that I recommend the rest of the lyrics of 10cc’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ that one line sums up my feeling for the game….and for the expression of that feeling, running from expertise to sheer tomfoolery, of those who also love it.

For those whose picture of England is coloured by John Major’s 1990s description of long shadows on county grounds, warm beer…..dog lovers….and Orwell’s old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the mists of an autumn morning, may I present another more contemporary image of the cricket lover, made by a gentleman named Kim Thonger who contributed his mite to ‘The Guardian’s over by over coverage of the First Test between India and England.

“I’m sitting outside Waitrose with the dog, listening to TMS through my hearing aid while SWMBO potters inside. When Stokes got Kohli I leapt into the air and now there’s a clutch of senior citizens eyeing me very strangely. I think one of them has called an ambulance for me.”

For the furriners among us, a glossary.

Waitrose. A supermarket chain which caters to those who consider Marks and Spencer ready meals to be downmarket.

TMS. Test Match Special, the ball by ball commentary on international cricket matches provided by BBC radio, staffed by people whose names are often given the suffix ‘ers’ – thus, Phil Tufnell, ‘Tuffers’, Henry Blofeld, ‘Blowers’, Jonathan Agnew, ‘Aggers’. The latter might have been called Johnners had that not been the soubriquet of a much loved and now deceased commentator called Brian Johnston, himself the originator of the ‘ers’.

Let it here be noted that Mr. Thonger has a dachshund, called, inevitably, Dakkers.

SWMBO. She Who Must Be Obeyed, from the white goddess/queen in Rider Haggard’s She’. Here,  as played by Ursula Andress – an actress whose name is often misspelled for some reason.

SWMBO is an alternative way for men to refer to their wives – though not, it seems, to their significant others  – and may derive from John Mortimer’s barrister character Horace Rumpole who, in respect of his wife Hilda, remarks gloomily that murder and matrimony both carry a mandatory life sentence.

hilda Rumpole

Stokes is a much tattooed chap who plays for England, except that he will be missing the next match as he will be on trial for alleged assault outside a nightclub. Perhaps he should have considered that the downside of tattoos is that they make one easily identifiable by the police.

‘Got’ here refers to the fact that he bowled, as opposed to allegedly assaulting,

Kohli, India’s captain, whose talent as a batsman almost matches his ego and who, in this context, had been making too many runs to please Stokes and his team mates.

I am aware that the glossary raises as many supplementary questions as it proposes answers, but that it the nature of the beast.

Just try getting your heads round examples offered by cricket lovers for everyday phrases as titles for dark thrillers….

A Tickle To Leg…There Was A Noise…First Slip…Chin Music…The Corridor of Uncertainty…It Reared Sharply Off A Length…The Wrong’Un….Deep Cover…The Man Who Was Mankaded…Whispering Death…

You’ll need more than a glossary for that lot…

So what is it that makes people…me included…sit up all night to hear a radio commentary on Test matches in Australia, New Zealand or Sri Lanka? We have not been able to watch cricket on TV unless forking out for a Sky subscription since the ECB sold the nation’s heritage for a bowl of baingan bharta. in 2006.

Glossary…ECB, England and Wales Cricket Board, not to be be confused with the European Central Bank even though both are staffed by people living in a fantasy world where you generate money in order to fritter it on mad schemes.

It is because we can see in our mind’s eye that which once we saw with the two others…the grace of a batsman who uses the bowler’s speed or spin against him…the art of the slow bowler spinning his webs to deceive….the thrill of a great fast bowler…

If you can bear the slow start, do take a look at this video of David Gower…a slight man, he uses the speed of the ball to send it to the boundary, seemingly effortlessly and with supreme elegance.

 

And just look at the peerless Larwood…perfect balance and speed

The matches, the players, the history, the enthusiasts….the ups and the downs….and, this year there is something special to celebrate.

The Scottish cricket team beat the English in a One Day International…it is 1314 all over again!

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Night of the Long Quills

The Ashes series ended early in the evening…my time. England collapsed again…even the captain going down to a bug caught by eating jelly and ice cream at his son’s birthday party.

Hang the selectors!

Hang the England – and Wales – Cricket Board who have sold the game down the river for a mess of Murdoch’s pottage!

Hang the ‘experts’ who ruin every promising young cricketer they get in their clutches by sending them to the gym to produce huge torsos on little legs and then rub every spark of originality out of their game!

Hang the sports psychiatrists and sports nutricionists!

Bring back Geoffrey Boycott! He might be in his seventies but his mind is young and his analysis is spot on.

boycott

And with him in charge the old guard of players hanging on to their lucrative central contracts might have to earn the money they rake in or make way for the youngsters. The way things are these days those youngsters might be drawing a pension before they get their chance.

Remarkably, after venting my spleen, I went to sleep as soon as my head had touched the pillow that night. Note to self…vent spleen more often…

Only to be awoken an hour or so later by the thuds as the bulk of Stein – one of the American Staffords – hit the bedroom window.

Not fancying the entry of Stein, who weighs more than forty kilos, surrounded by shards of glass I put on my dressing gown, took up the torch and went out to investigate.

No, he was not keen to join us…he had other prey in mind.

Casting the beam of the torch upwards I saw something clinging to the  eaves…

Putain de merde! A porcupine!

porcupine

Not what you want to meet on a dark night…and you certainly don’t want your dog to meet them.

When threatened they cast their spines which have tiny barbs, making them very difficult to extract…treat your dog at once if you want to avoid infection.

Too late to do much except to put Stein in his pen to avoid problems…such a good dog, he went quietly despite the attraction of the prey.

Back to bed.

One hour later, it was Bunter, the other American Stafford, kicking up.

The blasted porcupine had moved to the far side of the house and Bunter was at full stretch to try to catch it.

Bunter in the pen likewise..though with more difficulty as he is still – and always will be –  just a huge pup. More than forty kilos of pup.

Back to bed.

More uproar. The porcupine was in the rafters over the balcony and the thugs disapproved.

Thugs locked into the house, and peace finally prevailing.

Slept, dreaming of ECB worthies hanging from lamp posts.

The morning brought counsel.

The porcupine was still ensconced in a corner of the balcony. The dogs stilled wished to have at it.

Danilo arrived and we decided to trap the animal…which is a protected species…and take it to the appropriate authorities.

Dogs calmed with boiled eggs.

Momentarily.

Danilo collects an empty dustbin and balances on the wall of the swimming pool.

I take up a long pole and disturb the porcupine…which is displeased. A volley of spines is cast while I try to  encourage it down the electricity cable to which it is clinging.

It is the size of a small dog, its paws can cling well and its tail is prehensile.

Not to speak of the spines. Volley after volley fall about Danilo who is underneath it.

Poor creature…it is terrified, chattering its teeth and grunting…

Finally he traps it…then puts the barbeque grill on top of the dustbin and ties it shut before taking it to the car.

Not a passenger with whom one would care to share the space.

We drive carefully over to the local Environment Ministry Office.The door is locked.

Danilo calls out that we are here.

A woman answers that they are not open yet.

Yes you are. It is past eight o’ clock.

But they are in a meeting.

That’s all right. We have a porcupine here…we can just let it loose in the office for them to deal with later…

The door is unlocked and a chap  comes out with a vetinary cage.

Just give me a hand, will you?

The porcupine is unwilling to leave the dustbin and thus ensues a ballet of its feet and our hands trying to dislodge it without being spiked.

Finally it is rehomed and the cage is placed alongside that of a possum which has been brought in with machete wounds and is awaiting the arrival of the vet…

Both animals, once signed off fit, will be released in the National Park, some fifty  kilometres down the road from us .  Costa Rica cares for its wildlife.

We return home.

Leo is wondering why his breakfast is late…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Ward 10

san juan de dios

 

My husband returned from hospital today.

He was taken ill on Sunday last….he has a foul nasty now -after years of diagnosis, misdiagnosis  and stabs in the dark – known as CANOMAD and has had attacks from time to time over the last thirty years.

While it might sound like a variant of rabies the easiest way to describe it is that if he catches a ‘flu’ bug, instead of his antibodies attacking the bug his antibodies attack him, destroying the nerve sheaths and rendering him paralysed.

It starts in his lips, progresses via his tongue and throat and if not treated in time would paralyse his lungs….so we have to live near a hospital that can treat him with immunoglobulin – the only treatment known to medical science – which costs an arm and a leg.

Thus at three thirty on Sunday morning we were belting along in a CAJA (Costa Rican national health service) ambulance which swooped down the switchback curves of the road to the capital at a speed far in excess of that proposed for the conditions  – which was fine until we hit- in every sense – the intermediate town.

With a view to winning the elections the outgoing mayor had installed speed bumps on the main road through  the town centre.

‘Bump’ is not an adequate description…think Big Dipper.

Our driver had not passed that way since the bumps were installed so we hit them at a speed which achieved a fair semblance of lift off, Leo flying into the air from his stretcher and descending with an audible thump while I picked myself off the floor and extended my vocabulary by listening to the driver’s commentary.

I wish I had written it down….certain phrases had an almost biblical intensity, with use of the ‘selah’  at key intervals.

Unloaded at the Emergency department, into a scene which Cecil B de Mille would envy…patients, family of same en masse, Red Cross staff trying to reclaim their wheelchairs and stretchers, cleaners wielding mops, catering staff in hairnets distributing coffee while nurses, doctors and medical students produced organisation from chaos.

Luckily my husband is an inpatient at the hospital, so his dossier was available, diagnosis made and treatment ordered – as soon as there was a bed available in the Emergency department – no good looking further as the hospital was full to bursting point.

Bed finding was the speciality of a senior female doctor who bore a great resemblance to Granny Giles – without the hat.

grandma giles

She stalked the wards and corridors in search of prey…and pounced.

A gentleman in his sixties, safely esconced in a bed, was complaining loudly that no one would bring him a coffee.

Granny Giles studied his file and summoned a porter.

Get this gentleman back in his own clothes, give him a coffee and send him home by ambulance. If his lungs are strong enough to bellow like that he can bellow at home….

So Leo’s treatment commenced…

On Monday he was transferred to another ward….and I discovered the visiting system….

First, you have to obtain a visiting card. This card resembles a zoo entrance ticket in that it firmly forbids feeding the inmates.

Then you have to turn up at visiting hours: for anyone who remembers the NHS of the fifties and sixties this springs no surprises.

But this hospital has its own way of running things. There is a check point where staff make sure that no illicit pork scrachings, booze or sticky sweets are being smuggled in – and the queue runs outside the hospital and round two blocks.

Unless you are a pensioner. In which case you wait on specially reserved seats and are let through first to many cracks about age before beauty and give the young ladies priority to have the  time to titivate themselves…

Thank goodness for Danilo who held the fort while I took the bus to the capital…a three hour round trip apart from the visiting. Alone, trying to close up the sheep in the dark, I would have been pushed to the limits.

Still, daily life went  on regardless so late in the week I ‘phoned my mother to get her shopping list which would go online to Tesco and in due course be delivered to her door.

After close consideration of the merits of gammon as opposed to a beef joint business was concluded and mother got down to the events of the week.

Mother in Southampton, when on form, can give Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells a fair  run for its money and she was loaded for bear.

Sport mad, she cannot watch cricket as she will not pay for Sky but she was up to date with the news.

What’s all this about the West Indian Under 19 team running about naked?

Mind boggling gently I seek further particulars.

Well, they’re not wearing anything and the umpires are letting them!

How do you know…you can’t watch the match on the box.

They’re talking about it on Test Match Special….they’re running out men wearing no clothes.

Who is doing the running out?

Someone naked. His name begins with M but I can’t remember it…

A  cup of tea later I attempt to unravel the mystery.

It appears that the West Indies Under 19 team’s bowler ran out an opposing batsman in a way which was within the Laws of cricket but which was deemed unsporting.

The thing is called a Mankad– after the first chap to try it in the modern era.

What mother is thinking of is a Mankini…..

mankini_70576

I agree that players wearing mankinis might well encourage audiences…but what I would like to know is how mother discovered the mankini…

 

“If the French noblesse had been capable of playing cricket with their peasants, their chateaux would never have been burnt.”

The game of cricket and the music of the Rolling Stones have been two constants in my life….two separate threads which I never thought to see entwined: true, Mick Jagger did have a chateau in the area in which I lived in France and had links with the local expat cricket team, but as their captain was aware that I considered him to be a sycophantic snob of onanistic tendencies I was not invited to watch any cricket there.

chateau la rocheTheir team once played our bunch of antiquated British and uncomprehending French: they rejected the field in front of a lovely local chateau as being on a slope (I bet they wouldn’t have objected to the slope at Lords) and insisted on using the football pitch instead, set in the heart of the low cost housing on the edge of village, complete with canine calling cards and an open drain which had a magnetic appeal for our one and only cricket ball.

They played the game as taught by their coaches in their school and club sides in England.
We, lesser breeds without the law, played cricket in the spirit of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands where vendetta ruled supreme.

So bemused were they by the donkey drops, the underarm deliveries (it was after lunch) and our French umpire’s understanding of the Laws of cricket as translated by my good self that we won and they went home in high dudgeon.
Bad cess to them.

So imagine my surprise to tune into the T20 match(short form of the game) between Lancashire and Yorkshire yesterday only to learn that the fans of Yorkshire – that most dour of counties – had voted for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start me up’ as their contribution to a summer playlist for cricket followers.
I might not have been surprised had their choice fallen upon the Lyke Wake Dirge…but ‘Start me up’….!
Cricket had undergone a sea change since the days of my youth.

It used to be a serious business….county matches of four days..Test matches (internationals) of five…
No music…no rituals: except when the Queen shook hands with visiting international teams during the Test match at Lords.

The players were normal men…recognisable.
doug padgettI remember watching a Surrey v Yorkshire match at the Oval: a bored and portly Yorkshire fielder – Doug Padgett – passed his time by trying to balance on the boundary rope. The section of the crowd in his area became more interested in his attempts to perform his version of an Indian rope trick than on the events in the middle – but nobody cheered, booed or commented on his prowess.
We unwrapped our sandwiches, ate our pork pies and enjoyed the spectacle with what the French would call British phlegm.

barringtonThen the powers that be decided that cricket was too slow….they dropped players like that prince of batsmen Ken Barrington….only to bring him back when his flashy replacements couldn’t stand up to the physical harm caused them by the West Indies bowlers.

Bowlers who bowled – or threw – at high speed, in an era when batsmen wore no helmets and their idea of protection was to tuck a towel into their trousers.
Look at the body of Brian Close after an innings against the Windies:
Brian-Close-300x284

But the administrators of the game knew that the bloodsport attracted crowds…and instructed the umpires that they were not to penalise the West Indies bowlers.

The rot had set in.

English cricket had had a semi feudal character long before when the Gentlemen (well paid amateurs) had managed to bring the Players (poorly paid professionals) under their thumbs in the nineteenth century.
No more could a group of players set up their own teams and tour abroad or at home.
There was money to be made…and the establishment moved in.

And where you have an establishment you have control. Should a player in a county side defy his masters he was out…..if he wanted to move to another team he had to wait to qualify for four years…four years in which his talents would atrophy.

Gone were the days when a bowler who turned up for the match gloriously drunk and proceeded to marmelise the opponents could suggest to his club committee that – given the results – it would pay them to pay him to go on the rantan before every game….

In the aftermath of the ‘Bodyline’ controversy that great bowler Harold Larwood was thrown to the wolves: not so much to satisfy the Australians – grumpy because their hero, Bradman, had been shown to have a liliaceous liver – but rather to ensure that the English amateurs who ran the home game would not be subject to the same tactics and skill in case their own talents were called into question…and with their ‘talents’, their control.

When I started to watch cricket amateurs and professionals often had separate dressing rooms…and on some grounds still used different gates on to the field of play.
On the score card an amateur’s initials were followed by his name, whereas for the professionals the reverse was the case..

So when a young man played at Lords and was described on the scorecard as F.J. Titmus the discovery that he was, in fact, a professional led to a public address announcement in the following terms:
‘For F.J. Titmus read Titmus F.J.’
Status was important.

Things changed over the years.
Kerry Packer showed the importance of showmanship and the power of television….
Players began to wear coloured clothing to play one day games….
Players associations raised their heads – and the income of their members…
Money came into the game in a big way as commercial television bought the screening rights…
Players began to be subject to training regimes….I gather that as part of their current contract they have to have their body fat measured with calipers: the mind boggles. If they had tried that on Doug Padgett they’d have been sending out for fresh instruments.

And now the administrators have another concern – controlling what is seen on the screen.
Septic Cola sponsors a series?
Then no other beverage’s cans should be seen to be consumed on the ground by the eye of the T.V. camera, so stewards ransack the bags of spectators as they enter.
Salmonella Sandwiches Inc have the catering contract?
Bang goes your pork pie.

And it doesn’t end there.
ken higgsI remember defying maternal warnings as to the inevitability of contracting piles by sitting on the grass behind the boundary rope at The Oval and watching Ken Higgs tear the Pakistani batting apart….you were part of the action, at the players’ level.
Now cricket grounds are supplied with stewards (for which read bouncers) ready to keep the paying public in its place – on flimsy bucket seats in lurid colours in the stands – when not otherwise engaged in picking up champagne corks which have strayed from the ‘hospitality’ boxes where the guests of Septic Cola and Salmonella Sandwiches booze the day away.

As evidenced by that long ago fascination with Padgett balancing on the boundary rope it has to be admitted that cricket – in its traditional form at least – has its languors…its ennuis…
There are moments when you can produce a book, do your knitting, attack the smuggled pork pie….or, if in high spirits, attempt community action.

You can play with a beach ball….until the stewards confiscate it.
You can start a Mexican Wave….unless the ground has been designed specifically to thwart you.
Or you can start to make a beer snake.
beer-snake_3327645b

Now…it has its drawbacks.
There are people who do not wish to have drops of warm stale beer falling on their heads and their apparel as the joints of the snake flex under strain.
The answer is simple.
There are grounds for which the ticket requests ask whether you wish to attend in fancy dress.
If you do, then you are put in one stand with all the other assenters.
If you don’t care to sit among groups of hairy legged air stewardesses, Vikings, Shaun the Sheeps and H.M. the Queen, whose frequent beer fuelled sallies in search of the loo will be greeted by half the spectators rising to their feet and singing the national anthem, then your seats will be situated with the book readers, the knitters and the pork pie smugglers.

Just add the beer snake option to the ticket…and the job is done.

Bit it won’t be.
Because the beach ball players, the Mexican Wavers and the beer snake charmers are just enjoying themselves: they are not coughing up more than the exorbitant price of their ticket – so they must be controlled lest for one instant the eye of the camera is diverted from the advertisements for Toxic Bank of Tax Haven which line the boundary.

Francis Thompson mourned the Lancashire cricketers of his past:

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
For the field is full of shades as I near the shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run-stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro: –
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!

Shall I in my old age in exile in a land devoted to football be reduced to mourning

O the beach ball and the beer snake long ago.

Emerging from Hibernation

Afghanistan cricket team
Yes, I know that it is summer here…a summer which has come roaring in with searing heat and high winds, drying off the pasture and presaging no good for the months to come.
Still, summer or no, I have been hibernating.
Under the weather myself before Christmas, husband since after a spectacular fall resulting in large hole in leg, ten stitches and daily dressings at the clinic.
Then my dear Alsatian died, attacked by a galloping form of cancer, followed days afterwards by his ancient friend the Costa Rican King Charles Corgi….it might have been old age, but I fancy it was more like a broken heart.

Still, visitors arrived to rouse me from my torpor and the door to the hibernation cave is sealed up. Life, changed though it is, goes on, though no tail thumps the floor waiting for the breakfast egg.

I am following Scotland’s ‘progress’ in the World Cup….the One Day Cricket World Cup, that is.
Somewhere, distantly, I hear Adullamite beating his breast and crying ‘Ichabod‘ at this example of the decline of Scots values, but follow it I do.

As always with Scotland’s teams in whatever form of sport they suffer from an excess of sportsmanship.
They like to make opposing teams feel at ease by giving them vast leads and then fail gallantly to overtake them.

I consider that this is all down to the example offered by that flower of medieval chivalry the Good Sir James Douglas, companion in arms of the Bruce in the Wars of Independence who, charged with taking the (by now dead – yes, I know, but we are speaking about Scots here) Bruce’s heart on Crusade to the Holy Land,
A…hung about a bit before doing anything about it – Scottish team captains demonstrate the same tendency…
B…went on Crusade to Spain instead….Scottish football fans know the way by heart…
C…disobeyed orders and found himself cut off at which point he hurled the heart in its container ahead of him and followed it to certain death, bellowing ‘Lead on brave heart as thou was wont to do’ – a practice followed, though with less poetic language, by Scots rugby players and with the same result. Marmelised.

Add to that disadvantage the obligation on national teams to sing that dirge ‘Flower of Scotland’: and you begin to understand the obstacles to success under which they labour.

What was wrong with ‘Scots Wa Hae’, I should like to know,

Or, come to that, ‘Blue Bonnets’ which, despite having the lyrics written by Sir Walter Scott, manages to stir up the memories of the Border reivers, whose motto was ‘nothing too hot or too heavy’…that is, nothing too hot or too heavy to steal from their English neighbours.

Now that should inspire a bit of gumption!

‘The Ball of Kirriemuire’, as will be evident to anyone rash enough to look it up on Youtube, while well in the running in the enthusiasm stakes is more suitable to a victory celebration and is thus but rarely heard.

So far in the World Cup Scotland have been defeated by New Zealand – though they can comfort themselves with the thought that there is a great deal of Scottish blood in New Zealanders, not only from historic migration but also from ears bitten in encounters on the rugby field with the All Blacks.
I suppose that the Scottish cricket team should thank their lucky stars that the match was heralded by a Maori playing a didgeridoo rather than by several All Blacks performing a haka.

It’s enough to make you want to lie down in a darkened room with a cup of tea.

Unfortunately, Scotland have also been beaten by England.
For which there is but one appropriate musical reference…the piobaireachd ‘Too Long in this Condition’…. which while you’ll need the stamina of an ox to see it through to the end, does give time to smother all the untoward language which you might – if a Scot – wish to use on such an occasion.

After these performances Scotland can look forward to meeting Sri Lanka….prepare the mourning garments and the jet jewellery: Bangladesh….whose Asian players will perform the best?…and Afghanistan.

Scotland versus Afghanistan.
Given the current disparity between the teams the result can only be a re run of ‘Carry On up the Khyber’

And I have a horrible feeling that it will not be Scotland carrying on in the competition.

.

I May Be Some Time…

sporterinfoa2z.blogspot.com

In the U.K. a friend who was a big wheel in a major accountancy firm gave me a rule of thumb for estimating the trustworthiness of organisations in which you might think to invest or with whom you were thinking of doing business.

If they had a water feature in the lobby of their head office they were either about to go bust or they were running on funny money.

On that basis, then, my regular lawyer is neither going to go bust tomorrow nor is he dealing in narcotics.

I take his office for granted…I grew up in a period when money spent on offices was regarded as sheer waste…so climbing a steep flight of steps to a labyrinth of small rooms around a landing where the lawyer’s office door is closed by a padlock when he goes to lunch comes as no great surprise.
It does to various visitors from Europe who have accompanied me.

They take one look at the wooden bench in the joint waiting area and decide to go elsewhere for a coffee while I conduct my business.

They don’t know what they are missing. Like all waiting rooms, gossip is rife, but only in a lawyer’s waiting room in Costa Rica have I seen a client rise to his feet and sing to entertain the rest of us when the television broke down.
Very good he was too.

I have been frequenting offices lately, as I am off to Europe and need any number of documents notarised, even, in some cases, given an apostille by the Foreign Ministry.

Costa Rican legal documents bristle with fiscal stamps, legal stamps, stamps for the preservation of national parks – you name it there’s a stamp for it, not to speak of the enormous gold stars applied by notaires – as if you had done very well indeed while at primary school.
Whether you can read the text underneath this gallimaufry appears to be irrelevant.

But it’s not all indoor work.

If you need an apostille, then the notaire’s signature has to be confirmed by the notaires’ governing body and as this entity lurks in the bowels of an office block out in the suburbs you get a little tourism thrown in.
You get even more tourism thrown in if your notaire has made a horlicks of the stamps as you then have to go to a bank to buy the appropriate digital fiscal stamps.
Half an hour’s wait to buy a one hundred colon (0.1324 of a British pound) stamp does not appeal to me, especially as no one seems to sing in a bank.
I prefer not to contemplate what you would need to do if the notaire forgot a national parks preservation stamp….probably go out to net an unwary sloth.

Still, by tomorrow all should be in order – as far as the documents are concerned anyway. My packing preparations are, as yet, non existent, apart from bags of coffee for friends.
What will the weather be like? The current heatwave, or a reversion to normality? What to take by way of clothes? Where in the name of the wee man are my comfortable shoes for the ‘plane?

I don’t look forward to a long flight, jammed in a seat and fed buns by the keepers, but far worse is the fact that this trip totally upsets my cricket listening plans for the summer.

It is, should anyone not be aware, an Ashes summer. England versus Australia. The big one.

My routine is to rise at three thirty in the morning, make a cup of tea and switch on the computer in time to hear the start of the morning session on Test Match Special, that gem of broadcasting so far unsullied by the BBC’s predilection for political correctness and paedophilia.

Mark you I did have quite a surprise when returning from letting the sheep out in the lunch interval to hear Phil Tufnell refer to a Duckworth-Lewis blow job….but it turned out to be a reference to fellow commentator Henry Blofeld jamming with the Irish musical group the Duckworth Lewis Method, so that was all right.

But what will I do when in Europe? I’m taking the laptop…but most of my business will be conducted in the hours of play – lawyers on the continent of Europe having no conception of decency.
I think it will be all right in England…the lawyer there is a cricket nut too and mother will be glued to TMS from morning to night, thermos at hand, but until then I shall have to resort to sitting up all night in the guest bedroom of friends’ houses with headset linked to the laptop, listening to a replay of the ball by ball commentary on the BBC iPlayer.
If there’s a plug.
If their computer is switched on all night.
If the wifi works.

It doesn’t bear contemplating.

The First Test has shown that this is going to be an exciting series…and where shall I be?

Stuck in lawyers’ offices.
In a heatwave.
With no water feature.