A beautiful day at Lord’s, the magnificent spiritual home of cricket, the sun shining, a light breeze cooling players and spectators alike, and an English (well by adoption) batsman flogging the bowling to all parts for a memorable double century. Could anything be more perfect? Not that I can think of.
Unfortunately I wasn’t there. I watched the spectacle on television, cursing my luck.
I was cursing because I was there yesterday, with friends, under a lowering, bruise-black sky, the rain finally sweeping in from the north at mid-afternoon, causing play to be abandoned for the day – though not before my bedraggled little band had drowned its collective sorrow for three hours in equine urine disguised as wine priced at an extortionate £20 per bottle. For this drenching privilege we had paid an entrance fee closing in on three digits.
Maddening: the weather, the wine, the expense, the whole damned silly thing.
How we English, residents of a country with one of the wettest climates in Europe – not to mention the most fickle – came to invent a game requiring a perfectly dry field and five days of sunshine is something that has baffled foreign observers of the Island Race for at least two centuries.
Yesterday, as raindrops plonked into wine glasses less chilled than those holding them, we came up with the only answer that anyone has ever offered, or I suspect ever will offer: we are stark raving bonkers, with masochistic tendencies.
“Have a nice day?” my wife enquired as I arrived home.
“Never again,” I vowed.
“Not until next year, darling,” she replied with a knowing smile.
She’s right, of course. I can hardly wait.