What am I to do in lockdown?

Life in lockdown for a ‘self-employed cricket watcher’ – in other words a ‘retired oldie who’s off to watch cricket wherever and whenever he can!’ What am I to do?

By this point in the 2020 season I should have watched a maximum of 10 days first class cricket spread between Lord’s, The Oval and Chelmsford and the prospect of loads more before the crash/bang/wallop stuff starts later on.

Also by this time I should have tried out my new battery powered heated bodywarmer, my (new) Kiwi beanie hat (I’ve promised to wear it in the Pavilion at Lord’s – seems you’re not allowed them at the Adelaide Oval!), retrieved my winter coat from its Spring hideout, plus gloves and scarves and packed my poncho just to be safe as the weather would take a distinctly cold turn as the cricket season starts – but this year no! We’re heading for the warmest and driest April on record/since time began. Sun-screen would have been the order of the day!

What are the odds that as soon as the cricket season does start, we’ll have the wettest and coldest July and August on record? With talk of the season being extended in October – assuming social distancing/bio-security allows – I reckon my beanie and poncho will be overused!

Incidentally, social distancing is nothing new for County Cricket watchers – you’re probably 10 metres from the nearest other spectator anyway!

So…what to do? Well, like most other people I’ve communicated with…we’ve collectively spring cleaned our houses to within an inch of their lives, prepared the garden as never before and so early in the year before, started DIY but then had to leave it as you needed more paint/brushes/paper/tools etc and DIY stores are not ‘essential’ (but it seems that they are self-proclaiming themselves as essential at the moment). Unfinished DIY doesn’t matter as no one is coming round to see you anytime soon!

The only ‘refurbishing’ is to make sure that the background in any video call or conference you do looks either as plain as possible, or has all the erudite books on display (admit it…you’ve read none of them!) and that the alcohol is out of sight! And you need to make sure you’re properly dressed and know how to ‘mute’ your microphone!

And then there’s your daily exercise! Given the obesity levels in the UK have done nothing for our general health, it’s surprising how much exercise is now being done by those who’ve never seen the outside of a house/car before!

And the constant worry is ‘am I over the time limit allowed? Will I be reported?’ – all very ‘1984’ stuff but at least Orwell was right – the animals are beginning to take over parts of the urban areas that used to be theirs! At least it’s a reminder that we’re all equal!

My exercise of choice for many years has been cycling – and yes, I’m one of the legion of mamils crowding the streets or more likely the lanes of Essex as we speed along; each of us thinking we’re Tour de France winners or Olympic champions as we squeeze every each ounce into what is ever-shrinking lyrca! I’m telling myself that muscle weighs more than fat!

And increasingly during these times, it seems there’s an unwritten code of conduct between cyclists as more take to this as a form of exercise. Mamils will not acknowledge any cyclist without a crash helmet; those wearing helmets earn a smile but no more; those in lycra earn different acknowledgements (and these come naturally after you’ve learnt the ‘laws’) – novices do a (hands off the handle bar) wave, the more experienced¬† nod as you speed along and the true experts wiggle the fingers of the right hand (in other words…I’m too busy and much faster than you to be bothered with anything else but I’ll acknowledge you anyway). I imagine secret societies may have similar idiosyncrasies! All strange stuff! But let’s hope that we do learn from this lockdown and we all do more exercise and we get fitter as a nation!

But what about cricket I hear you ask? Well, there’s loads to watch on TV if you’re still paying your sub…but that doesn’t compare to the real thing. Simulation games abound – I’ve mislaid my ‘Owzthat’ from my childhood – so what am I to do? The Times today has published an alternative using books and authors and imaginary teams. I’ve tried it and I can safely say that (here) Middlesex are 94-3 at lunch on Day 1 against Derbyshire. If only!

My cricket reading has been voracious – I’ve never read so many pages of the latest Wisden so early in the season – I could be on for 1,000 pages by the end of May! And I learn from the latest Surrey members handbook that Aiden Markram is the only test cricketer whose name is a palindrome! All useful/useless stuff should I ever enter MasterMind or Millionaire!

I must dig out my copy of CLR James Beyond a Boundary since I need to move on beyond cricket for a while. New hobbies and skills? Well, I’ve started to learn how to do some trick photography and with the legion of photos I’ve already got, some fun could be had!

Already I’ve photographed a light bulb that needs no power, turned a ring into a heart, managed to photo my hand inside my laptop and been amazed at how water can turn straight lines into curves.

img_2963

img_3002

IMG_3069 (Edited)

img_2947

Perhaps I need to get out more? Yes please!¬† But in the interim, it’s time for the afternoon session of the (imaginary) Middlesex/Derbyshire game!

 

 

There will be cricket again…always look on the bright side!

The aim of my blogging has always been twofold – firstly to comment on my cricket watching and secondly to share a few tourist photos from my various travels.

Clearly neither of these is happening now or fairly soon. So, what to do? Rehashing old photos may bring back memories (but we’ve been there before) and there are only so many photos of my garden I can take whilst in lockdown!

NZ v E 2019 Mt Tauranga Raval just fails to catch Burns

So, for today…some thoughts on where we are and some trick photos I’ve taken recently (seems this could develop into a hobby during lockdown and beyond!).

Last weekend the nation’s granny (or great-granny) spoke directly to her ‘people’ here and across the world and reminded everyone that we ‘will meet again’  – and so we shall and there will be cricket again! (She didn’t say that last bit – she wanted to but there wasn’t time!)

For me there are two days in the year which are more special than any others – birthdays, anniversaries and so forth – and they both fall in April (usually!). And this year will be more poignant than most.

First there is the arrival of the new Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack with its pristine saffron cover – and the chance to revisit and remember the exploits of last season, read the biogs of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year, the fortunes of the game across both here and across the world  (and why didn’t my photo win the annual ‘Photograph of the Year’?) and so forth in its 1500-plus pages. Sheer bliss!

Then…just a matter of days later, the first class season begins in earnest.

You just know that the weather will now take a turn for the worse, it will get colder and windier and you’ll freeze to death in the biting cold wind that rushes through the gaps in the ground and however well you wrap up against the elements, it will still feel like November in the Arctic! (I defy anyone to find a colder place in April/May than the top of the Lord’s pavilion but am open to suggestions!).

So today I should have negotiated the (probable) rail replacement bus service and rocked up to Lord’s for Middlesex v Worcestershire – the eager anticipation of the first ball of the season – will it be Finn, Roland-Jones or Murtagh to carve their way through the Worcester top order like a Sunday roast or will it be Gubbins or Robson to claim the first century of the Middlesex summer – or will they collapse like the proverbial pack of cards? Have they wintered well? Have things changed? Have we turned a corner? All questions to scramble the mind as 11.00 am approaches – but no!

Not this year…or rather not quite yet!

What will the season be like? At some point, club cricketers and others will be searching for the kit they so loving packed away last Autumn and asking themselves the same questions they ask – literally or metaphorically each year. Where did I put my kit? Do I need a new bat? How about pads/boots/whites? (I’m sure these whites have shrunk during the winter!) And – and it comes to everyone – ‘Should I make this my last season? (“Well, you said that last year didn’t you?” comes the reply from the voice in your head).

And you’ve been looking forward to these days since the end of last season, counting the weeks and days until life and sanity are restored but this year we just need to count for a bit longer – how much longer? Who knows?

We cricket lovers can take solace in that we are not alone – every sport has been closed down, half the people on the planet are in some kind of ‘enforced quarantine’ – and we all now appreciate how large a role in our lives sport plays – all sport plays. But it will return and the ache that we feel now of having such a large part of our ‘daily lives/routines’ ripped away from us will subside.

So, we need to keep believing that life will soon be restored to normal, the sun will shine (at some point in June, July or August but not for long!), cricketers of all ages and abilities will soon be crossing the boundary ropes, spectators will gather in numbers from dozens to tens of thousands, the camaraderie of the season will come back even stronger than before as we each become more forgiving (even when you drop a sitter which would have won you the match!) and thankful for each other and, of course, remembering those we have known who didn’t make it to the start of the season for whatever reason.

It won’t be long now – just hang in there! There’s light at the end of the tunnel as you can see below!

If water does this to straight lines, what does it do when we drink it?

At the moment everything seems out of focus, upside down, you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing or hearing or experiencing – just like a trick photo?

 

And water can turn diagonal lines into horizontal ones!

The light at the end of the tunnel!