Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 5 November 2015
Cro has just commented on the virtues of cricket - or the qualities of the game which instil virtue. He didn't mention 'sledging' - the art of undermining your opponent's concentration and composure using snide and sarcastic comments. Here is my favourite piece of sledging, brilliantly counter-acted by the target.
A large England batsman was walking onto the pitch, and one of the opposing team said, "How come you are so fat?" The batsman replied, "Because every time I fuck your wife, she gives me a biscuit."
Over on Cro's site, there followed a little argument about the difference between Rugby and Cricket (and Rugby and American football, etc. etc.). Nobody mentioned Soccer, the game of the British lower classes.
I went to a school which played cricket in the Summer, and football in the Winter. It was a very rough school, packed full of juvenile delinquents, as they were called in those days. I hated football more than any other sport, and I hated all sports. I am just not a team-spirited person, I suppose.
I made a little break-through when I discovered that if you ran screaming and shouting like a mad person when heading toward a member of the other team in preparation for a tackle, this completely drove any thoughts of defence out of their heads, and they would often run in the opposite direction - leaving the ball behind - to get away from you.
I was only allowed to use this tactic for one game though, as the games-master said that it just wasn't cricket, so I went back to being the bloke who hung around in the background hoping the ball stayed well away from him.
During my brief stay in Cambridge, I fell in with a couple of spies who were involved in the whole espionage thing of the 1960s and 70s. I was in a cafe called 'The Whim', when a homosexual, Greek Don (named in the Burgess case as simply, 'The Greek') took a fancy to me and invited me over to his table. Believe it or not, I was quite a catch in those days, but there again, so was Jeffrey Bernard.
He introduced me to another gay but English spy, and we became drinking partners in a wine bar called, 'Shades'. This couple spent the whole day in 'The Whim', and the whole night in 'Shades'. On Sundays, they organised various sports activities between the groups of students who they were supposed to be teaching during weekdays.
One drunken Saturday night, the English one asked me if I would referee a football match on one of the college greens the following morning, and I said that I knew nothing about football at all, let alone had any grasp whatsoever on the offside rule.
He assured me that all would be well and I would be given all the assistance and training I needed on the morning, so - drunkenly - I agreed to turn up.
Early the following morning, I arrived at the green dressed in my ordinary clothes and shoes, and was met by the two teams - all dressed in expensive football kit. One team was English, and the other was made up of rich, Arab students. They looked at me with dismay, and began talking together in huddled groups, the Arabs with very stormy and worried looks on their faces and the Brits looking very confident indeed. Neither spy was in attendance, and I guess they were still at home nursing hangovers.
They gave me a whistle and told me to blow it. The game was on.
Every time the Arabs protested about some arcane detail which had passed me by, the English captain (and half of the rest of his team) ran up to me and hoarsely whispered instructions that I should find in their favour. This went on for an hour and a half, and the Arabs were losing badly, despite having scored many more goals than the Brits. I was told to ignore their protestations, no matter how forcefully they were put to me, and I began to fear for my life. These blokes obviously took the game very seriously indeed.
The final instruction given to me was - after they had told me to blow the final whistle - I was to run away and never come back to that college.
This was a great lesson in classic British diplomacy.