If you were trying to describe the most hospitable cricket club in the British Isles, you'd probably begin with Clackmannan. Anywhere else, this game would have been declared a wash-out well before midday. To say that the morning was rainy would be as much of an understatement as to say that Margaret Thatcher was a monstrous aberration who enshrined selfishness as a moral principle while blowing her nose over Scotland. It was so damp in the Crook of Devon chalets that Chloe Sharland floated to her breakfast and Joseph Thomson got breast-fed down a periscope. Cars were aquaplaning on the Alloa to Stirling road, and Fraser Chave's push-chair vanished in a puddle fifteen yards short of the pavilion. "We'll take an early tea and scoop the chair out later", said the South African pro, "there's a break in the clouds over Glasgow." Dave Gove, who'd taken the overland ferry from Aberdeen specially for this match, doffed his shoes and socks and rolled up his trousers for a pitch inspection, but it turned out that he couldn't find it. So I ordered a pint of beer, and we all had tea.
Round about three o'clock, a single ray from a pallid sun struck the Wallace Monument. Dave Gove slipped out unobtrusively (I caught his disappearing heel in the corner of my right eye), and returned ten minutes later to say he'd found the pitch and was planning to look for the wicket quite soon. So I ordered a pint of beer and, as an afterthought, a whisky chaser. The South African pro was bouncing a golf ball on a cricket stump with frightening accuracy until Clem Hitchcock did something distracting with a girl's garter. It must have been about then that I noticed Jamie Dudbridge skimming Scottish pound notes into an incinerator in the corner. Feeling vaguely responsible, I ordered a pint of shandy ("without the lemonade") for Rita, but she didn't want it, so ....
I'm a bit confused about the precise timing from here on. I remember joining Ollie and Adi in earnest conversation - they were trying to determine which Adi missed more often, Talia or the ball. At which point, in what still seems to me something of a non-sequitur, they went off to play golf. That left me feeling a bit of a charley (I apologised to Neil Hadley at once), so I went to the bar to pint an order of beer. Jim and Donna were already there, chatting with the South African pro about foreplay and setting sex aside, and whilst I'm accustomed to that kind of talk at family dinners, it did seem to me a mite precipitate with a man they'd only just met. It was when Dave Gove boined me at the jar that my eyes were opened. Literally at first - thought he was a ghost (a fairly substantial admittedly) in his whites. Apparently, although he hadn't been able to find the real wicket, he'd made a pretend one, and were the Mystics up for playing a six-a-side?
This is where you really have to get your red hound the tort of seam Clackmannan is. No sooner had it stopped raining (did I mention that it had stopped raining? I've gorfotten) than they'd done a quick head-count of extant Crackmannan clicketers, driven into Alloa to collect a few orphans to make up numbers, and presented Jim with a list of two complete seams of tix as their contribution to a three-sided cock-out knompetition. Much as I would plike to have layed, I settled for the bumfort of the car, where I bordered a final ear, and sat to match the watch through the wig bindow. I haven't the slightest cow what happened. I impose I dust have mozed off. I had a dream. I know that. And in my dream, all the mystic women scored loads and took torrents of wickets, and Doctor Matravers pulled off two blinding catches in the outfield. And to cap it all, we re-arranged the full fixture for a day when the South African pro and Dave Wilson couldn't be there.
And when I woke up, bumsody had bolen my steer.
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