Queen Victoria may not have said it, but I certainly did on learning that the last Test Match of the India/England series had been called off at the last minute, while those who had bought tickets for the first day were still traveling to the ground. I expect that Lancashire County Cricket Club were not amused either. Hosting a Test Match is an expensive business -, preparation money lost, on top of having to refund ticket holders.
Still, I concentrate on my own displeasure. The last match of a see saw series…the last Test match probably until next summer, unless Australia does something about its damn fool quarantine policies…and I had prepared for five days of hedonism.
Meals, both human and canine, had been planned for speed of execution….wok and slow cooker featuring largely. Wild suggestions as to making puff pastry for tarte tatin treated with contumely. Outer gate locked to repel boarders, the telephone to be off the hook until lunchtime here – end of play in Manchester – and no appointments booked before afternoon.
All set…and then the blasted Indians refused to play……. the virus, of course….
Or was it? The whole team had been out on the town in London to celebrate the opening of an Indian owned hotel chain’s latest acquisition and the head coach and a few other back up staff tested positive. None of the players.
An assistant physio later tested positive. None of the players.
Yet at midnight before the first day of the Manchester Test the players told their ruling body that they would not be willing to play, for if they caught the bug they would have to quarantine in Manchester and thus would not be available for the big money spinner for their board….the India Premer League, sbout to start shortly. The fact that the same players had partcipated in the earlier rounds when India was undergoing the ravages of the virus, before stands packed with fans with no protection whatsoever did not seem to weigh with them.
So sod the cricket lovers who wanted to see them…sod the arrangements already made…they were off.
Hell and damnation! All the things I had pushed aside reared their heads… tarte tatin….making sausages….pistolei….talking to the local association about making up the road….appealing a parking fine – .paradise lost.
But in a way, paradise regained. As I was readjusting my sights, I received an e mail from friends who used to visit us every summer when we lived in France. They braved the rigours of the last house we had in France when we had just taken it over….and made that summer special for us.
The kids took our little boat on the river at the foot of the gardens, the friends cooked a barbeque, we sat out in the late evening while Tim outplayed Owen Glendower…who boasted that he could call spirits from the vasty deep. Tim could do better…he could call owls.
We spent a magic hour while he called, and gradually indignant owls replied to his challenges, first one, and then others, until the woods on the river bank resounded with their eery cries. Sitting out there, in the dusk, as the bats whirled out of the eves, was the most magical evening I have known.
And to top it all they sent over a photograph from that year….which epitomises for me our happiness.
A new venture…everything before us…together.
Thank you, Tim and family.