Coach2.0 cancelled the afternoon net session. There is only so much a net session can deliver.
The Prof, Mr Darcy, The Natural and I travelled to Brighton again for the afternoon to visit the Royal Pavilion and stroll along the boardwalk tucking in a short detour to the Prof’s confectioner. Loafing in Hove has little to recommend it even in the halycon climes of a warm summer sun.
The Pavilion is a quiet place on a Thursday afternoon. The girl in the ticket box was very accommodating, casting long looks at the dreamy Darcy while the ticket machine disgorged the entry tickets. I think she mistook us for Australian tourists on one of those expensive cricket Tours. She oozed sympathy “Rain might almost be better,” she said. “It must be so demoralising. Shame, shame, shame. Do you have British passports?”
“Even Mommsen and the Scots,” – her lip ring and aquiline nose implied a distant Aquitaine ancestry – “think they can do better. Maybe you can arrange a passport swap.” she said. “National allegiances are as easily traded as football jerseys these days.”
She peeled off an extra set of tickets set to expire in 2020, a stick of free lager stubs at the Victoria pub, and winked slowly at Mr Darcy.
“Look, that’s one of them?” a pimply wag shouted. “A bowler.”
“A gold one with green plumage.”
“But the other one. His plumage has light green streaks. Very rare county birds never seen in the cities,” cried his truant mate, twirling a skateboard on his toe like a pro’. “So rare. Breeding takes years and is rarely successful in captivity. So endangered.”
“Are they protected?” came an artful reply from a cool woman in a sun hat and a long black dress some way back in the queue.
Mr Darcy wheeled on the avian experts faster than a wind cock in a changeable breeze. “Would you prefer an autograph?” he asked.
“Well… yes.” A few texts, tweets and posts later, 600 children were lined up at the ticket box with signature bats, old Dukes and pictures of the English XI. We shifted to the Pavilion gardens signing everything in front of us. We made sure we covered the pictures of Chef and the Essayist in particular in big black texta.
The crowd dispersed when the teachers called time. A few of the older wags with the signature bats, die hard young nationalists to be sure, quoted slabs of Othello at us as they left. It impressed the girl in the ticket box and the woman in the black dress but was lost on Lucky – it may as well have been Urdu.
Despite Mr Darcy’s protestations, we quit the Pavilion for the leisurely pace of the boardwalk precinct. The boardwalk held few delights. Brighton is a shadow of its Georgian heyday. Its once proud architecture hangs from its stone with the worn grace of a long departed party Prince. “Dreary and decidedly drab” said Darcy.
We met the confectioner at the Victory in the late afternoon armed with a round of ice-breakers. He presented us with a swag of premium chocolate – he promises its ‘safe’ .
The confectioner mentioned that a gastro bug had ripped through the English team overnight, undoing the PM, half the Cabinet, not a few Labourite waiters from the Parliamentary dining room, and some sheep in the Scottish lowlands. “I’m writing an article for the Lancet on communicable disease in sport,” he said. “It’s uncanny how easily one’s lips can be spread.” [Ed. his pink lip range]
Prof let out a slow satisfying sigh. “Comprehensively snooookered” he said.
“Perhaps,” Lucky replied signalling to me for a review. He read aloud the front page headline: ‘England XI gift to George: XI white Aussie bunnies’. Chef was quoted as saying the series hung in the balance, a third test sponsor’s line, with a photo of each of the team cuddling a fluffy white bunny.
“Plumb. Hitting middle” I said hoisting a finger from behind a fresh lager.
“Excellent review, Lucky” was all the Prof could muster knowing what it is like to be rapped on the pads knowing you have been nailed to the cross. “You’ve finally got the DRS nailed.”
OUT NOW – The Ashes Files 2013. The secret applications file that Cricket Australia assembled when they threw applications open to all comers. Ebook available at amazon now.
© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish